Review of the M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ii R kit lens

M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ii R

When I bought my Olympus OM-D E-M1 I also bought a used M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R kit lens for $90 (full retail is $299) just so I would have something to tie me over until I bought some high-quality prime lenses. But I have actually been very pleasantly surprised by this tiny zoom.

M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ii R
M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ii R

Look at how small the lens is in the above picture (I have mid-size hands) and keep in mind that it weighs a mere 112 grams, so light I actually thought the box was empty when it arrived at my post office. Here are the specifications:

Equivalent F.L.

28-84mm

Angle of View

75 to 29

Min Focus

25cm

Magnification

.19x

Diaphragm Blades

7

Stabilization

No

Weather Resist

No

Filter Thread

37mm

Diameter

55.9mm

Length

48.3mm

Volume

118.5 cm3

Weight 

112 grams

So this lens is tiny and lightweight, just what I’m looking for with M4/3 primes, but this is a 28-85mm equivalent zoom! The biggest drawback of this lens is that you have to extend it before you can use it. If you forget to do it, the camera will remind you before you can actually take pictures. I find this frustrating at times, but I will eventually get used to it. As you can see in the picture below, once the lens is extended there is very little difference in length between the 14mm and the 42mm settings. The lens actually gets a little shorter in between the two extremes. There is a lock button that prevents the lens from retracting during use.

M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ii R
M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ii R

Now this is clearly not a very fast lens at f/3.5-5.6, but that isn’t much of a problem for outdoor shooting and even in some indoor situations thanks to the excellent IS system inside my E-M1. The minimum focus distance isn’t too bad at 25cm (.2x) but I do wish at times that it was a bit shorter, like 20 or even 15cm. This is also not a great lens for shallow DOF but that’s something I can get from my 45mm f/1.8 prime. This lens is also devoid of any focus distance or hyperfocal markers and doesn’t have a manual focus clutch, so if you want to focus manually you have to select that from the camera’s menus.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The build quality, while all-plastic, is actually quite good. There is no flop, both the focus and zoom rings operate smoothly. The autofocus is very fast and very accurate, it is also silent so this lens is suitable for video work, this lens is marked with MSC (Movies & Stills Compatible).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs far as image quality is concerned as I said above I was quite pleasantly surprised. This is no Leica prime but it defends itself quite well in good light. There is a fair bit of barrel distortion but it is automatically corrected on Olympus bodies. There is also a fair bit of chromatic aberration wide-open but it is very manageable and if stopped down a little bit it almost disappears. Resolution is quite good at wide-angle but a little softer at the telephoto end as is very common with affordable zooms. Contrast and colour rendering are quite good too.

Helicopter by the beach

Overall this is a pretty good lens for the price and it serves its purpose as a general everyday lens quite well when I do not want to carry or use several primes. It isn’t weather-sealed or quite as wide or as long as I like for a travel zoom, but it is a good walk-around or day-trip kind of lens. I like to keep it on my OM-D when I carry it in my briefcase to work everyday. It is nothing stellar but very good for the price and at less than $90 used from KEH, I think it was a great buy.

Coconut Shadow

Trip to Contadora