One of the most obvious advantages of a digital SLR compared to a prosumer digital camera is the ability to pick and choose lenses, to use specialist lenses for particular situations (such as macro or telephoto zoom). The E-300 features Olympus's all new 'Four Thirds' system lens mount which although new does provide for a wide range of lenses.

Current Four Thirds System lens line-up

  • Zoom lenses
    • Olympus ED 7-14 mm F4.0
    • Olympus ED 11-22 mm F2.8 - F3.5
    • Olympus EZ 14-45 mm F3.5 - F5.6
    • Olympus ED 14-54 mm F2.8 - F3.5
    • Sigma 18-125 mm F3.5 - F5.6 DC
    • Olympus EZ 40-150 mm F3.5 - F4.5
    • Olympus ED 50-200 mm F2.8 - F3.5
  • Prime lenses
    • Olympus ED 50 mm F2.0 Macro
    • Olympus ED 150 mm F2.0
    • Olympus ED 300 mm F2.8
  • Lens accessories
    • Olympus EC-14 Teleconverter (1.4x)
    • Olympus EX-25 Extension tube

The EZ 14 - 45 mm is the lens included with the E-300 Kit, is lightweight and provides a useful 28 - 90 mm equivalent field of view (of a 35 mm camera).

Field Of View

The E-300's sensor is exactly half the size of a 35 mm frame and hence the field of view provided by the 14 - 45 mm lens is equivalent to that of a 28 - 90 mm lens on a 35 mm camera. Because we still 'think' in 35 mm terms it's easier to refer to these 'equivalent' FOV's.

Resolution and sharpness

Below you will find a range of crops from a shots of our standard resolution chart. Each shot was taken at a different focal length and aperture combination. This should provide you with a good impression of how well each lens works from wide open to smallest aperture and at both full wide angle and full telephoto zoom. Remember no lens is sharp at maximum aperture ('wide open') nor at minimum aperture ('smallest'). It's also worth remembering that there can be some variance in manufacturing between one lens and the next.

Olympus EZ 14 - 45 mm F3.5 - F5.6 (28 - 90 mm equiv.)

The E-300's Kit lens performs quite well, exhibiting good sharpness at wide angle, a little softer at telephoto. Obviously it's a little soft at maximum aperture (almost all lenses are), but stopped down it produced good resolution. Note that the resolution bars are actually larger at 14 mm because of barrel distortion.

Wide angle: 14 mm

F3.5 (wide open) F8 F14 F22 (smallest aperture)

Telephoto: 45 mm

F5.6 (wide open) F8 F14 F22 (smallest aperture)

Olympus ED 14 - 54 mm F2.8 - F3.5 (28 - 108 mm equiv.)

The ED 14 - 54 mm is the E-1's "Kit Lens" and is basically twice the price of the EZ 14 - 45, and to be honest while it's a faster lens it doesn't really produce very much in the way of sharpness. Obviously it's going to have other improved attributes (distortion, contrast, flare etc.) but this comparison does help to demonstrate how good the 14 - 45 is.

Wide angle: 14 mm

F2.8 (wide open) F8 F14 F22 (smallest aperture)

Telephoto: 54 mm

F3.5 (wide open) F8 F14 F22 (smallest aperture)

Olympus ED 50 mm F2.0 Macro

The optimum 'test lens', a sharp fast prime lens the 50 mm F2.0 Macro was an obvious choice for us when comparing Four Thirds digital cameras to other D-SLR's. As you can see from the results below it's amazingly sharp even wide open (F2.0) and maintains fairly good resolution through to F14. We found it's optimum sharpness to be around F5.6 / F6.3.

Normal: 50 mm

F2.0 (wide open) F8 F14 F22 (smallest aperture)