On paper, the focal range of this 14-42mm lens makes it just slightly less capable than the pricier 14-54mm alternative from Olympus. In practice, though, the two zooms could hardly be more different....

Product Overview

Overall rating:

85%

Olympus Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6

Overall score:85%
Features:85%
Value:85%
Performance:80%
Image Quality:90%
Design:85%

Pros:

  • Impressive entry-level standard zoom

Cons:

  • Nothing, given its price point

Product:

Olympus Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£179.00

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On paper, the focal range of this 14-42mm lens makes it just slightly less capable than the pricier 14-54mm alternative from Olympus. In practice, though, the two zooms could hardly be more different.

As well as a more restricted focal length the 14-42mm zoom is smaller, lighter and features a more modest maximum aperture. This last point is especially significant at the ‘telephoto’ end of the scale, where the maximum apertures are f/5.6 and f/3.5, giving the 14-54mm lens another full f-stop of light-gathering power.

Coupled with its more restricted zoom range, the aperture penalty seems like a huge disadvantage; however it must be remembered that the 14-42mm zoom is only about 40% of the price of the 14 -54mm, and is also much easier to carry. Being compact it’s perhaps unsurprising that the lens lacks a focus-distance window. The zoom ring extends the barrel by about 50% of its original length. The manual-focus ring verges on being too narrow to be comfortable but is usable. There is no rotation of the barrel when the lens is focused. In terms of performance, there is obvious but not unacceptable barrel distortion at the shorter focal lengths. Likewise, chromatic aberrations can be seen but are not so severe as to cause serious degradation of image quality. Resolution is a major strength.

Image Quality
Resolution is very good indeed throughout its focal range. There is a slight loss of sharpness at maximum aperture but even at this reduced level the lens performs better than many other lenses.

Verdict

Overall, the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 is a very competent standard zoom and excellent entry-level performer. The fact that it hasn’t scored higher is due to the way in which the total figure is calculated, with just one of the five factors directly reflecting value for money.

Full Specification

Filter Thread:
58mm
Focus Method:
AF/MF

Other:
Lens hood
Weight:
190g

Minimum Focus:
25cm
Dimensions:
66 x 61mm

Minimum Aperture:
f/22 (fixed)
Maximum Aperture:
f/3.5-5.6

Focal Length:
14-42mm
Maximum Format Size:
Four Thirds

Lens Mount:
Olympus Digital