Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ED Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - (Micro-)Four-Thirds

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published September 2009


The Olympus Digital M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ED is currently offered as a "kit" lens combined with Olympus E-P1. The focal length range is equivalent to about 28-84mm in full format (35mm) terms. The Micro Zuiko matches the "retro" design of E-P1 - upon first view it resembles a Pentax Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 of the 70s actually. It is an amazingly compact zoom lens (40.5mm filters!) - probably the smallest in the whole industry. It is even smaller than the "conventional" Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ED which is supplied with some classic four-thirds Olympus DSLRs. However, this compactness is also achieved by a trick - out of the box (in its "transport position") the lens is not ready for shooting - it needs to be extended to its working mode similar to a digicam lens which is something to get used to in the beginning (actually it didn't grow on me). In working mode it is then actually longer than e.g. the directly competing Panasonic G 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6.

The build quality is a bit of a mixed bag. In its transport position the lens feels tight and solid also thanks to the high quality plastics. This impression changes when using the lens in working mode - the inner lens tube wobbles quite a bit here especially towards the long end of the zoom range. Subjectively this feels somewhat fragile. The zoom action is reasonably smooth. The tiny focus ring is coupled to a focus-by-wire mechanism which is common in many four-thirds lenses. This may sound like a worrisome approach but you shouldn't mistake this with the rather cumbersome manual focusing in digicams - it works really well especially in micro 4/3 land because the camera switches to a high-magnification view as soon as you turn the focus ring. The AF performance of the conventional AF drive is about average although the current micro 4/3 cameras are certainly a limiting factor here as well.

Here's a comparison to its nearest competitor - the Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS:

M.Zuiko in transport position M.Zuiko in working mode (14mm)

Equiv. focal length28-84 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/7-f/11.2 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction9 elements in 8 groups inc. 2x aspherical, 1x HR and 1x ED elements
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.25 m (max. magnification ratio 1:4.2)
Dimensions62 x 43 mm
Weight150 g
Filter size40.5 mm (rotating)
Hoodpetal-shaped, snap-on, optional
Other features-