Oly 14-42 EZ – Reality Check

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by PatrickNSF, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. PatrickNSF

    PatrickNSF Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Sep 30, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Patrick
    I've had the 14-42 EZ for about a year, and received a new/refurbished one when my original malfunctioned last summer. I don't use the lens much, and when I do it's generally at 14mm. But I had it out last week, zoomed to 42mm quite a bit, and noticed that the images appeared softer than I expected when I returned home. Most of those were shot at f5.6 or f8.

    Did some very cursory comparisons this afternoon, and just wanted to see if this is about what others are seeing with this lens. With my copy, images at 42mm are soft at f5.6, acceptable at f8, but sharpen up nicely by f11. Images at 14mm are sharper across the board. Images below are 100% crops, at f5.6, f8 and f11 (starting from the right). Thanks.

    14-42a.

    14-42b.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2015
  2. MadMarco

    MadMarco Mu-43 Veteran

    298
    Oct 30, 2014
    Guildford, England
    That looks about the same as mine.

    It's great because of the small size when retracted, but optically it is rather poor. The old 14-42 that came with my E-PL2 was much sharper. I find the EZ to be softer than any m43 lens I've tried.
     
  3. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    Yes, my wife uses ours only for travel. The size is amazing. I find the 14-42 II to be sharper; and, of course a couple of primes.
     
  4. PatrickNSF

    PatrickNSF Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Sep 30, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Patrick
    Thanks. Just wasn't sure if the replacement was a dud, or if it was in the typical range of sharpness for this lens. I primarily use the 12-40/2.8 when using a zoom in this range, so the softness of the photos at 42mm caught me a bit off guard.
     
  5. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    I have the 12-40/2.8 as well. The EZ and 12-40 are very different lenses with the EZ's strength being size.
     
  6. DL Photo

    DL Photo Mu-43 Veteran

    216
    Nov 15, 2012
    Richmond, BC, Canada
    Dave
    Interesting. Took mine with me to Europe this summer. Used it extensively outdoors and had great success. Here is the link to one of the pics posted earlier today. Looks sharp even zoomed. Perhaps I got lucky with my copy......common with inexpensive lenses.

    https://flic.kr/p/rRG8W2
     
  7. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    It is not a bad lens, my wife took many pictures in Paris with ours.
     
  8. PatrickNSF

    PatrickNSF Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Sep 30, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Patrick
    Mine's also fine at 14mm, even at f3.5. It just breaks down a bit when fully zoomed unless stopped down to f8 or f11.
     
  9. DL Photo

    DL Photo Mu-43 Veteran

    216
    Nov 15, 2012
    Richmond, BC, Canada
    Dave
    The size was a dream for travelling though.
     
  10. DL Photo

    DL Photo Mu-43 Veteran

    216
    Nov 15, 2012
    Richmond, BC, Canada
    Dave
    They are known to be softer when fully zoomed. Most of the kit lenses will perform that way. I found that if I need to be zoomed, I was better off using my 40-150r at 40mm instead.
     
  11. PatrickNSF

    PatrickNSF Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Sep 30, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Patrick
    Thanks. I assumed that was the case, but just wanted to get a reality check.
     
  12. MadMarco

    MadMarco Mu-43 Veteran

    298
    Oct 30, 2014
    Guildford, England
    Same for me.

    The 12-40 sets an impossibly high standard for any kit lens to reach. As you have already stated, so long as you have plenty light available and stop down to f8+ then sharpness improves considerably.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I did some comparison tests of the 14-42 against the Panasonic 12-32. TBH, I didn't see a huge difference, but the Panasonic lens was definitely sharper, esp at 14mm. At 32mm there wasn't a lot to choose. I couldn't compare at 42mm obviously, but I did notice that the 14-42 was less sharp at 42 than 32.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. swede

    swede Mu-43 Veteran

    277
    Oct 25, 2014
    Mine is kinda soft to, but i wouldnt call it unsharp. The lens just lacks the "bite", i think they call it microcontrast or something that we se as the "pop" or 3d effect in other lenses. The 40-150 f/4-5.6 is such a lens imho that has great microcontrast but isnt sharp like a prime.

    Personaly i've always find it hard keeping kit lenses, but the 14-42ez is a keeper because of its size and weight. Its just a marvel of design there!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    PDK did those tests with a lens which I owned previously : I was happy with the sharpness and very impressed with the smoothness and useability.
    I think we're spoiled (from day one!) with sharpness across the whole m4/3rds system : G1 + 14-45mm was no slouch and the E-M5's Sony 16mpx sensor is very sharp indeed, then there's the 20mm, 75mm, Pro zooms etc.
    I believe the 14-42EZ is a sharp lens (example variation aside) but we cannot expect the earth if it folds flat too ...

    I still remember how shocked I was with DSLR kit zooms from Sony and Canon giving me the impression of coke bottle bottoms compared to the Olympus ones. ;)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. rpringle

    rpringle Mu-43 Regular

    102
    Jan 9, 2014
    So out of curiosity I decided to do a non scientific test of the 14-42 ez I got recently. This was at 42mm f5.6,f8, and f11 from a tripod with my E-P5 using Raw and no editing or sharpening applied. The results were surprisingly good to my eyes, it's slightly fuzzy wide open and at f11. However you wouldn't know that if you weren't looking at it 100%. To me f8 seems to be the sweet spot for that focal length. Perhaps I got a good one? Even if it was softer I don't think I'd mind because it fits in a small pocket. Great combo with my pen and 40-150mm r lens. Full image and 100% crops below.

    full.

    full.

    full.

    full.