Review Olympus 9mm BCL

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© Olympus Europe

Background

Sometimes things are just so inexpensive and different that you need to experiment. This was the case with the Olympus 9mm f/8 Body Cap Lens (BCL).

Retailing at just $99, you may not think much of this "lens", which Olympus officially has listed in their catalog as an accessory. Along with the 9mm, Olympus also makes a 15mm BCL. Others that have reviewed them both state that the 9mm is the better of the 2.

Let's find out how it performs.

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1/160, f/8, ISO 200
Olympus PEN-F

Handling/Size/Weight
This is tiny. Barely sticking out from the camera body at all. It is made of plastic so it weights next to nothing as well.

This is a constant/fixed f/8 aperture lens so there is no aperture adjustment or aperture ring to contend with.

There is honestly not a lot to say about this lens.

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1/500, f/8, ISO 200
Olympus EM1 Mark II

Weather Sealed

Not on this guy! This is an all plastic body cap lens.

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1/100, f/8, ISO 250
Olympus EM-5 Mark I

Image Quality

Let's level set. This is not going to be the sharpest lens in the tool kit. However, this lens is actually better than you'd expect it to be.

You are already starting out at f/8 so you have a ton of depth from front to back of your image. Sharpness is actually pretty good considering.

This is a fisheye lens too, so expect that kind of rendering and distortion in the final image.

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1/60, f/8, ISO 2500
Olympus EM-5 Mark I

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1/100, f/8, ISO 1250
Olympus EM1 Mark II

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1/100, f/8, ISO 2000
Olympus EM1 Mark II

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1/640, f/8, ISO 200
Olympus PEN-F

Focusing
Focusing is done via a 4 position lever at the bottom/front of the lens. Position 1 is closed and protects the lens element. The next 3 progressive positions are for close focus, middle focus(where it is probably used the most) and infinity focus.

I found that the lever was easily bumped from position, so if using this lens, be careful to ensure that the lever stays in your intended position.

VR/IBIS - Lens or Body Stabilization

This is an m43 lens, so it can take advantage of the IBIS (in body image stabilization).

Bottom Line
This is not going to be your go to, everyday lens. What it can be is a fun experiment or a special occasion lens that gives you something different. Being f/8 it really works best when there is ample light, but with m43 IBIS or putting it on a tripod for low light - you can still get some good images in those situations.

While $100 might not be worth it to you new, you can find these used for half that or less.
 

relic

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VR/IBIS - Lens or Body Stabilization
This is an m43 lens, so it can take advantage of the IBIS (in body image stabilization).
Excellent, useful review-- thank you. I just wanted to add, as a reminder, that I think one must set the focal length manually to get IBIS with this lens since there are no electrical connections to the camera.
 

Mihau

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Poland
Thanks for the informative review.

Regarding IBIS this is really important. I've just ruined my shots by forgeting to set it correctly. You may not be aware of the problem especially if you disable half shutter press stabilization to save battery. Hey Olympus, there could be some kind of notification when turning the camera on. ;)
Until then I put some stickers on the cap and legacy lens adapter as a reminder.
 

mcgruff

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May 29, 2013
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Pulled this a couple years ago with this lens. (Some noticeable fringing) It’s such a cliche, but it applies to this thing: “it is what it is”. It weighs nothing and you can literally put it in your shirt pocket. It has never disappointed because I know what it is.

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I find this diminutive lens very useful in capturing an unique POV or placing the subjects in the context of environment. Mounted on a E-PL6 this looks so innocuous that onlookers often ignore it as a P&S and allow candid shots.

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Varanasi Ghat morning by Achin Chitrakar, on Flickr
 

Drdul

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Lightroom users who want to correct the distortion from the 9mm body cap lens can use the profiles available here. For those who also/instead use DxO PhotoLab, you can correct the distortion equally well. Go to the Geometry panel, and in the Distortion section choose manual correction, fisheye type. An intensity setting around 63-68 is optimum.

Edit: Autocorrect typo
 
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lchien

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Aug 7, 2014
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Texas
As mentioned, this is not a lens you can use too much, but for an occasional shot with a new perspective, its a lot of fun. The other great thing about this lens is the size and weight... throw it in a shirt pocket or side pocket of your bag, it goes almost anywhere and I take it on all my travels when my other fisheyes stay home because of their size vs. percentage of use.

As for cost, it is a lot of bang for $100. But I would consider the Meike 6.5 mm circular fisheye for $149, if you want really extreme fisheye effect.
 

Armand Di Meo

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Aug 28, 2018
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I have had this lens for about two years. It is not an exceptional performer in absolute terms but for the $100 price tag, it is a value that cannot be beat. It has given people like myself an opportunity to experiment with an extreme wide/fisheye lens that they might not have otherwise. Thanks for your review, which I thought was spot on.
 

Olyver Mark

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Jan 26, 2018
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I bought that lens just after moving to m43 in February 2017. I was about to travel and felt the need to have a wide lens but didn’t want to spend too much (read not more then the price of my standard zoom lens) since I’m not using this focal length often. I’m glad I did it because I still appreciate looking at some of the shots I took during this trip. And yes! even if there is a lot of chromatic aberration when I pixel peep!
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It`s a “cliche photo but I felt the result feel not too boring with the sun and the framing I was able to make with such a wide lens.
Few months later I bought the Laowa 7.5mm shortly after its introduction on the market. Unfortunately I play less with the lens since then.
 

Hypilein

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I bought that lens just after moving to m43 in February 2017. I was about to travel and felt the need to have a wide lens but didn’t want to spend too much (read not more then the price of my standard zoom lens) since I’m not using this focal length often. I’m glad I did it because I still appreciate looking at some of the shots I took during this trip. And yes! even if there is a lot of chromatic aberration when I pixel peep!
View attachment 775753

It`s a “cliche photo but I felt the result feel not too boring with the sun and the framing I was able to make with such a wide lens.
Few months later I bought the Laowa 7.5mm shortly after its introduction on the market. Unfortunately I play less with the lens since then.
I had a very similar experience with this lens. I bought it at the beginning of my mu43 life. I was about to travel and only had the 20mm that came with the camera and the Sigma 60mm. My profile picture here is actually shot with this lens! I soon moved to the P7-14 and then the PL8-18. I still own it, but it doesn't get used much. Usually when I do though I am happy with the results.
 

agentlossing

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Andrew Lossing
I owned this one for a while, never took to it however. perhaps it's a result of living in the rainy Pacific Northwest, but f8 just doesn't do it for me. With list price around a hundred bucks, you can buy a used 17mm f2.8 for a similar price and have a lot more flexibility with a similar, slightly "lomo" feel. Whenever I have wanted the added wideness of the 9mm, I've also wanted sharpness.
 
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