Olympus Body Cap Lens 15mm F8 review
The Olympus BCL 15mm F8 performs about as well in the studio as its size and price suggest. In fact technically it's just not very good at all, with soft corners, chromatic aberration, vignetting and barrel distortion. Because the lens has no electronics, it can't communicate correction parameters to the camera, so distortion remains visible in the final image.
|Sharpness||Sharpness is decent in the centre of the frame, but drops quickly towards the edges.|
|Chromatic Aberration||Lateral chromatic aberration is quite high, indicating colour fringing will be visible across much of the frame.|
|Vignetting||Vignetting is quite high, at 1.5 stops in the corners, despite this lens being fixed to F8.|
|Distortion||The lens shows moderate barrel distortion, which is likely to be clearly visible in geometric compositions.|
It's slightly difficult to define a clear-cut minimum focus distance for a lens with so much depth of field, but we'd place it around 25cm, a bit closer than Olympus's specified 0.3m might at first suggest. But in a way this is academic; the wide angle of view means that the lens still only covers an area about 25cm across. So while you can shoot reasonably close, this is nowhere near macro - any of the Micro Four Thirds kit zooms will do much better.
In our flat-field chart test, image quality isn't especially good. The centre of the frame is pretty sharp, but the edges are distinctly soft, and red/cyan colour fringing from lateral chromatic aberration is visible across much of the frame. Barrel distortion and vignetting are also both rather pronounced.
Specific image quality issues
As always, our studio tests are backed up by taking hundreds of photographs with the lens across a range of subjects, and examining them in detail. Obviously the 15mm F8 doesn't look brilliant in the studio, and technically it's not great in real world shooting either. That doesn't mean you can't make nice images with it, but from a purely technical point of view, they'd probably be better with another lens.
Here we're using a detailed landscape shot to see how the 15mm fares in real-world usage. We've taken 100% crops from the marked regions of the frame - centre (at the top), edge, and corner. Exactly as predicted by the studio data, central sharpness is really pretty good, but things fall apart pretty quickly as you move off-centre when you look this close. It's not a lens for making large, detailed prints.
|Olympus Body Cap Lens 15mm F8 on Olympus OM-D-EM5,
ISO 200, 1/320sec. Crop regions are outlined in red.
|100% crops: from top,
centre, edge and corner
The 15mm also shows pretty obvious colour fringing due to lateral chromatic aberration, and unusually it extends quite a long way into the frame, rather than being mainly visible in the corners. Here we're showing 100% crops from two regions of the frame - the corner shows clear green/magenta fringing, while the more central area shows red/cyan fringing. Again, if you're in the habit of looking very closely at your images, the 15mm may disappoint.
|Olympus OM-D-EM5, ISO 640, 1/100sec||100% crops|
The 15mm shows quite obvious barrel distortion, and this results in bowing of straight lines towards the edge of the frame. This is shown in the example below - the lines along to the top and bottom aren't meant to be bent. This kind of distortion is normally corrected automatically in the Micro Four Thirds system, but not in this case as the lens has no built-in chip to store the correction data and pass it to the camera.
|Olympus E-PL2, 1/640 sec ISO 400|
Of course this kind of barrel distortion is only really noticeable in images like this, which have lines running parallel with the long edges of the frame. In most shots you probably won't notice it at all.
The 15mm can also be quite prone to flare in bright light, when the sun is either in the frame or slightly out of it. In the worst case scenario - a bright sun directly in-shot with a dark foreground - it can flare spectacularly, but most of the time it's not too bad. Because it's used on cameras with fully-electronic viewing, of course, you can usually see exactly what's going on, and take steps to compensate such as shading the lens with your hand.
The examples below are fairly typical of how we've found the lens to behave in real-world use. With the sun in the corner of the frame, flare patterns are pretty obvious, but not hugely objectionable. In a backlit shot with the sun outside the frame, there's purple flare at the edge of the frame, which could probably be eliminated by shading the lens or a change in composition.
|Olympus OM-D E-M5||Olympus OM-D E-M5, sun outside frame to the right|
Compared to Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH
Here we compare the 15mm to the Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH - the smallest autofocus lens for Micro Four Thirds. We've chosen this because of its similar focal length, which means it can be used for much the same purposes. Of course it's rather more expensive too.
In this comparison the camera was placed in a tripod, which means the 14mm shot has a slightly wider view. The aperture was set to F8, to match the 15mm; note that this results in slight diffraction softening, and the 14mm would give sharper results at larger apertures. It's worth pointing out that, in our experience, Micro Four Thirds kit zooms give broadly similar results to the prime at these settings.
Olympus Body Cap Lens 15mm F8
Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH
|15mm, F8 on Olympus OM-D E-M5||14mm, F8 on Olympus OM-D E-M5|
100% crop, centre
100% crop, right edge
100% crop, top right
Here we can see how the 15mm compares to a 'proper' lens, and as expected the comparison doesn't greatly flatter it. It's not far off the same sharpness in the center, but renders nothing like as much detail at the edge and corners. We can also see pretty huge coma here (the rendition of point highlights as extended triangular shapes), but then again the 14mm isn't without its own problems on the corner, with equally-strong coma and plenty of chromatic aberration.
Metering and white balance on OM-D E-M5 compared
One point we noticed shooting the 15mm F8 side-by-side with the Panasonic 14mm F2.5 on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 was that the camera showed an occasional tendency to select a cooler white balance and meter slightly brighter. This didn't happen every shot by any means, but meant that images from the Body Cap Lens sometimes came out looking less attractive than they might have done.
Olympus Body Cap Lens 15mm F8
Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH
|A mode (F8), -0.7 exp comp, 1/250 sec||A mode, F8, -0.7 exp comp, 1/320 sec|
|A mode (F8), 1/80 sec||A mode, F8, 1/60 sec|
The two examples above, shot in aperture priority mode with Auto white balance, illustrate this pretty well. In both cases the camera has chosen a cooler white balance with the Body Cap Lens, and produced a slightly brighter image. The result is richer and warmer colours in the shots taken with the 14mm. It's not clear why the camera should choose to do this - possibly because it doesn't know anything about the lens it's using.
May 28, 2014
May 28, 2014
Dec 30, 2013
Jun 19, 2015
|Rocks at Dawn by phucthang|
from The Rock
|Sarlat, France by poppyjk|
from Your City - Dinertime!
|Double Eagle by herbymel|
|Great White Egret vs Lizard by jose garcia|
from Strong - Weak
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.
Light gives us some insight into the preparations for the launch of the pre-order shipments of its much anticipated L16 multi-lens camera.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed in a tweet that the second lens on the back of the OnePlus 5 uses a 1.6x optical zoom and that digital zoom is used to reach the claimed 2x zoom factor.
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday article, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.
Rangefinder magazine asked five professional portrait and wedding photographers about posting on Instagram; no surprise, they got five different answers.
This captivating stop motion film was created by stripping away one layer of wood at a time. It's hard to look away.
It will enable users to simulate the presence of the sun, moon and Milky Way and see how they interact with an area's topography.
Since its introduction in November last year Instagram's live streaming feature has been used by millions, but videos could not be archived for watching at a later stage. A new update has now added the capability.
CopyTrack's study also found that the second most-stolen image is a woman wearing painted jeans. That's apparently a thing.
Forget expensive lenses with fancy coatings and special lens elements – photographer Robin de Puy took these portraits using just a water drop for a lens.
Adobe reports a record quarterly revenue of $1.77 billion for the second quarter fiscal year 2017 ended June 2, 2017.
Zeiss says its new lens is particularly suited for portrait photography but also a good all-rounder and can be used in video applications.
We present to you the top photos from the Kennel Club's 2017 Dog Photographer of the Year photo contest – take a look at 10 of the award-winning puppers.
In case you were looking for any more inspiration to go fly one.
Following a couple of successful Kickstarter campaigns, Videre 35mm's creator has re-tooled the camera with sturdier components and a simpler user assembly process.
The two hour long video covers everything an aspiring drone pilot needs to know.
This is what happens when a Canon 17-85mm F4-5.6 lens meets 60,000 PSI of water pressure. Spoiler Alert: the water jet always wins.
Andrew Harnik discusses the challenges – and rewarding moments – of a career making images for the Associated Press in his native DC.
The VMic Pro, VMic Recorder and VMic microphones are targeted at DSLR users who want to record high-quality audio.