The solid build quality of this 14-54mm zoom, coupled with its relatively wide f/2.8 maximum aperture, mark it out as a lens intended for serious use...
The solid build quality of this 14-54mm zoom, coupled with its relatively wide f/2.8 maximum aperture, mark it out as a lens intended for serious use. The zoom ring is located nearest the body and has a rubberised grip that rotates smoothly, while the manual-focus ring is located at the front and also turns smoothly. The lens has external markings for 18mm, 25mm and 35mm focal length settings, and is equipped with a focus-distance window but no depth-of-field indications.
The zoom movement extends the lens barrel by about one-third of its original length but all focusing takes place internally so there is no rotation of the front element. This last point is important not only to avoid disturbing filters but also to maintain correct alignment of the petal lens-hood that is supplied with the lens. For what looks very much like a pro-specification lens, it’s a shame that the Olympus Digital’s f/2.8 aperture is lost almost as soon as the zoom is moved from its shortest focal length, reducing to f/3.1 at 25mm, f/3.2 at 35mm and finally f/3.5 at 54mm.
We first looked at this lens in 2005 when there were few optimised lenses. Olympus now has more competition, but the lens manages to maintain excellent results. At its wide and standard settings it shows excellent performance. The longest focal-length is not quite on the same level but is still very good indeed. Similarly CA is well controlled, and there’s some barrel distortion at the shortest focal lengths but
this is not serious and could reasonably be expected in such a wide
angle of view. A small amount of chromatic aberration is also present, but resolution figures are impressive.
Overall, this is a great lens that offers both a wide zoom range and excellent resolution. Though there are a few niggles, the 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 is likely to impress heavyweight users with both its on-paper specification and its real-world capabilities.