Lens review

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED

7 April 2010
Szymon Starczewski

3. Build quality

At the very beginning I think it’s worth familiarizing oneself with the following chart, which presents a comparison between the parameters of the tested lens and those of similar instruments.

Although all lenses, shown in the chart, are designed for a small 4/3 sensor they differ a lot. M.Zuiko 14-42 mm is the smallest and physically the lightest of all. It’s easy to say why it compares favourably with a, say, Panasonic. In Panasonic we have an image stabilization system which forces a more complex optical construction. An ordinary ZD 14-42 mm features also one element more but is entirely build of plastic, including the mount, whereas the M.Zuiko 14-42 mm is more solid because its mount and the area around it are made of metal.

The picture below can give us a notion of the tested lens’s dimensions - it is positioned next to two Olympus “pancakes”: a ZD 2.8/25 and an M.Zuiko 2.8/17.

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED - Build quality

Everything would be perfect if only the lens kept such dimensions (only 41 mm of height) in working position. Unfortunately the picture above shows it in the resting position when you cannot shot any photos. Passing to the working position entails a significant increase of the dimensions – even to 75 mm at 14 mm focal length - so combined with an E-P1 it doesn’t look as compact and filigree as we would expect.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED - Build quality

The lens’s barrel and the inner tube on which the front element is extended are made of plastic but you can hardly expect magnesium alloys in a "standard" (budget) class kit lens…The zoom ring, with ribs improving the grip, is comfortable and it works correctly. The manual focus ring is worse – narrow, not very comfortable, without any distance scale. On the zoom ring you can also find a lock switch (UNLOCK) which prevents any uncontrollable lens extension in the resting position.

Returning to the inner construction we can say that the tested lens consists of nine elements in eight groups. Two elements are aspherical and others are made of low-dispersion ED and HR glass. Inside the lens we’ll also find a circular aperture with seven diaphragm blades which can be stopped down to f/22 regardless of focal length used. The lens ends with a 40.5 mm filter thread.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED - Build quality

The buyer gets only two caps included in box: a front lens cap Micro Four Thirds (LC-40.5) and a rear lens cap Micro Four Thirds (LR-2).