Revisiting Old Gear: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ

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Obvious statement ahead. Gear can be really expensive. I have bought used vehicles that cost less than some recent camera and lens releases. This latest round of camera releases has gotten me to thinking.

Are the new releases better? Objectively yes. Higher MP. Higher video resolution. Better in low light. Faster fps with less or no noticeable viewfinder blackout. So on and so forth.

Are they worth it? Subjectively yes. If your use case demands or would be greatly benefited by these top tier bleeding edge devices then yes. These high specs may scratch a long struggled with technical itch for some. May. To true videographers these cameras are a blessing that could save them from purchasing even more expensive gear.

Are they needed? Want is a valid justification. We are all grown. Have at it. But if the use cases alluded to above do not apply to you then no, they are not needed.

I personally do not need these cameras. It may be the dooms day circumstances unfolding around me talking but I cannot say that I want them either. The cameras I have more than meet my needs as is likely the case with many others. I recently wrote a post about what gear I would start with if building a kit from scratch. But this raised a question for me. Do I really even need this kit that I have? What if I went even lower? Far lower price and spec wise in fact.

This matches up with current times because who would want to think about spending thousands in these uncertain times. The ask. Could I build a viable kit in the hundreds instead of thousands?

What if I started from scratch with an eye towards the absolute minimum spend. Ground rules:

Well I already chose a camera and will update this blog with that soon. But the title of this post gives away the lens system. I started my interchangeable lens gear churn odyssey with micro four thirds and I still appreciate. While it has long not been my main system I never did leave MFT entirely, but even with Olympus being sold and Panasonic’s seeming move towards a Full Frame future micro four thirds does have it’s merits.

  • True mirrorless gain of compact size. With a small sensor small lenses are possible with their smaller cameras and lenses.
  • Image quality.
  • Swift and accurate autofocus.
  • Solid built little devices and many bring weather sealing.
  • Olympus MFT bodies have very effective IBIS.
  • If you are able to refrain from GAS (A big if. Lenses like the 75mm f/1.8 are hard to resist.) there are great values to be had. Sony’s mirrorless advantage over full frame rivals is largely due to having been out so long. Well Olympus was in the mirrorless game before them.

But with the ever dropping cost of entry for APS-C and Full Frame cameras brand new MFT ibodies are a hard sell right now. And in my opinion Olympus did themselves no favors with their recent releases. As I have written about before one thing I did not want from Olympus was a massive, expensive camera no matter how capable. They are not playing to their strengths in my opinion. I also have little interest in is new models with marginal, very safe incremental improvements. I would rather they had released something more like a new model in the vein of a true vintage film throwback camera instead of the digital camera masquerading as film PEN F. I would buy a proper film PEN FT minimalist clone with a digital sensor that includes a PEN F lens adapter in the kit immediately. The PEN F I bought/tried/traded was not that camera. Heck. Do something completely out of the box. You could build that M Mount full frame digital rangefinder clone a la Voigtlander Bessa or Zeiss Ikon film cameras I have been prattling on about. Sounds crazy but I would buy either of those last cameras before a giant expensive MFT camera. Back to the task at hand.

We have never utterly abandoned MFT around here. When my wife asked for a camera her first and main requirement was very small and light. That is MFT all day. Further no tilt screen or viewfinder needed. The local camera shop had just the one lens kit. Added another favorite that I will write about again soon and she was set. Both are fantastic bargains and tiny but I will start with the tiniest but more costly of the the two.

Shot for Blog Post

I have written about it briefly before. Chose this over a pancake prime for versatility but it is a sharp lens as well and capable of great images. A prime will be needed to make the most of MFT but this will definitely be my walk about lens. Good value since this lens goes for the same price as the non power zoom variant kit lens. That lens was a decent performer also,…

Washington DC
MFT day one. DC in the before times as a school trip chaperone.
Washington DC
MFT day one. DC in the before times as a school trip chaperone.
Washington DC
MFT day one. DC in the before times as a school trip chaperone.
Washington DC
MFT day one. DC in the before times as a school trip chaperone.

…but I quickly grew to dislike the manual unlocking before use thing and larger size. The EZ power zoom has the exact same lens specs (14-42mm f/3.5-5.6) and is better built with a metal mount and easily slips in pockets when the camera is powered off.

Shot for Blog Post
Shot for Blog Post

And it extends and retracts swiftly and silently. The power zoom is very smooth as well. All for for the same price new as the kit lens. Even better value used, which is what I would recommend for around $150.

Here is the usual run down lifted from the This Old Lens posts with AF added.

  • Flare
    • Have not witnessed any offensive flare with this lens. There is a tower sample shot pointed directly at the sun below.
  • Sharpness
    • A sharp lens. This is not a surprise since I have never come across a bad Olympus lens. I am glad that this extends to power zoom lenses as well.
  • Colors
    • I really like the colors that this lens produces. Vibrant and accurate.
  • Bokeh
    • I was surprised by this, because of the MFT sensor and modest aperture, but bokeh is possible if you really get in close to the subject.
  • AF
    • Fast, silent, and accurate even with older bodies.

A great all around lens. It served my son well on a New Year’s Day photo walk.

14-42mm Samples - Elias - New Years's Photo Walk
14-42mm Samples - Elias - New Years's Photo Walk
14-42mm Samples - Elias - New Years's Photo Walk
14-42mm Samples - Elias - New Years's Photo Walk
14-42mm Samples - Elias - New Years's Photo Walk
14-42mm Samples - Elias - New Years's Photo Walk

And it has served me well in the past.

Cable and light
Mess of mopeds
NCCU Chancellor Interdenominational Service
Donut shop.
Ferris wheel.
Night Gallery
Night Gallery
Old gear in the toy store.

A solid little lens. I expect I will be adding more photos to this ongoing gallery soon.

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