Olympus 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II Lens

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Portable, High-Quality
Digital Zuiko Wide-Angle Zoom

Olympus 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II Zoom LensThe Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II Zoom Lens is part of the High Grade Series, and this II version has been upgraded with several improvements. The lens is a portable, high-quality Digital Zuiko wide-angle zoom that provides edge-to-edge sharpness and superb color reproduction.

This II version has improved magnification, with up to 1:2 (half life-size) magnification possible. It now uses a 7-bladed circular aperture mechanism, which produces more attractive background defocus points. It also integrates with the "High-speed imager AF" system included in recent Four Thirds DSLRs.

The fast f2.8/3.5 aperture makes it ideal for low-light situations while rendering a bright viewfinder image in the camera for easy focus and composition. 

Features

High-Speed Imager AF
When used with the Olympus E-30 D-SLR, the lens' High-Speed Imager AF allows the photographer to preview the E-30's new Art Filter effects in real-time with the convenience of a Digital Camera Review by Gene Wright - thanks to Live View.

Optical Quality
Three aspherical lens elements and 4 cemented lens elements minimize distortion

Close-Up
Offers minimum focusing distance of just 8.66" (22cm) for all focal lengths

Splash and Dustproof
Exterior joints are sealed to provide splash and dustproof standards high enough to withstand the rigorous demands of professional use

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Specifications
Overview
Lens styleZoom lens  
Max Format Size FourThirds  
Lens focal length14 54 mm  
Stabilization type No  
Camera mount Four Thirds  
Angle of view 75-23  
Aperture
Largest aperture opening F2.8 - F3.5  
Smallest aperture opening F22.0  
Includes aperture ring No  
Total diaphragm blades 7  
Optics
Total Elements 15  
Number of Groups 11  
Coatings / special elements 3 aspherical glass elements  
Focusing
Minimum focus distance 0.22 m (8.66")  
Maximum magnification ratio 0.26 x  
Autofocus type Yes  
Lens motor Micromotor  
Full time manual focus No  
Focusing method Internal  
Focus notes with floating mechanism  
Lens distance scale Yes  
Depth of field scale No  
Physical
Overall weight440 g (0.97 lb) 15.5 oz  
Lens diameter 75 mm (2.93")  
Overall length 89 mm (3.48")  
Sealing Yes  
Lens color Black  
Zooming method Rotary (extending)  
Filter thread size 67 mm  
Lens hood included Yes  
Lens hood code LH-70D  
Tripod collar included No

Accessories

Reviews
Excellent Prime Zoom for E-620, October 3, 2009

By -Ashi- (San Jose, CA United States)

I bought an Olympus E-620 as my first move from P&S world to DSLR (hooray!). After I read a serious amount of reviews, I decided to go with Zuiko 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 II because I believe it's the best first/primary lens for the money.

For comparison purpose, my other lens considerations include: 1) Olympus Zuiko 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 ED SWD (I can't afford it, but it's the highest rated lens of its type; has some complex distortion at its widest end); 2) Olympus Zuiko 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 ED SWD (also highly rated, but I need a prime zoom first before I invest more); 3) Panasonic/Leica 14-50mm OIS (can't afford...). The P&S camera I stepped up from is Panasonic DMC-LX3, which has a fixed Leica Summicron F2.0-2.8, focal length is 24-60mm (35mm equivalent). I did not purchase the kit lens (which is Olympus ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6), so I can't do a proper comparison. That lens is lighter and shorter, and this one is marginally sharper, from what I read. That lens is made in China and this one is made in Japan and with metal body construction (that one does not have metal body nor metal mount).

As mentioned before, this lens is used with my newly purchased E-620; I had no prior experience with DSLR other than playing with my brother's Minolta Maxxum 7D briefly. This is my first DSLR lens, so no other first-hand experience with other lenses. For image quality (IQ) comparison purpose, the Leica Summicron on my Panny LX3 will be used as the benchmark.

    1. Construction: This item is just like E-620 body, which is built like a tank! At 440g/15.5oz, the lens feels very solid and high quality in hand. The lens, lens hood, and rear lens cap are built in Japan. The lens cap is built in China, as well as the soft lens carrying pouch. The high quality plastic lens hood is attached to the lens via bayonet mount and fit snugly. It can be stored by reversing the hood toward the body, and will partly block the focus ring when the lens is at its shortest length (but you can still turn it with a little effort). It'll gently click to let you know it's properly locked into position. Both rubber rings (zoom and focus) are butter smooth when turned. The lens is from Olympus's Pro line and the quality matches that of the name.

    2. Balance: This is the kit lens for Olympus's mid-end E30, but it balances with the much smaller E-620 very well. The combination feels very solid. The size of the barrel matches that of the mount on E-620 as if they were made for each other. I ran on a hiking trail with the camera secured in hand without feeling the lens might dive south. That's a good balance. The lens barrel is about 4" long when retracted (at 14mm focal length) and about 4 3/4" long when fully extended (at 54mm). See picture I submitted for detail.

    3. Image Quality: Compare with the result coming from LX3, which has a smaller censor (1/1.6" CCD vs E-620's 4/3 LiveMOS), the IQ is marginally better, but cleaner noise level with sufficient natural light. It also has a much better dynamic range (no surprise). The water reflection can look mirror like instead of mushy. In low light condition, LX3's larger aperture will turn into its favor, providing better end result than E-620/Zuiko combination. The image is very sharp corner to corner.

    4. Chromatic Aberration (CA): This color-bleeding highlight problem is much better managed with Zuiko lens (LX3 has a rather pronounced purple fringing, but fixable with Adobe Lightroom). I haven't seen a CA from this lens that would kill a photo yet.

    5. Flare: When shooting directly toward the sun with the lens hood on, flare can still happen occasionally. I had Sigma's Sigma EX DG 67mm Multi-Coated UV Filter on, so I wonder if that might have anything to do with it, despite it is a high quality filter. Overall, the flare is still very well managed, especially when on consider this lens has no ED glass. When glare does occur, it is quite soft and (I know I'm going to get yelled at) it actually looks kind of nice. It gives that nice sun beam look.

    6. Color Banding: I noticed when I shot some sunset scenes with back lighting, color banding problem appeared as concentric circles around the strong light source. After some online research, it is a known problem to Olympus's E-system cameras. It only occurs under very specific circumstance (high contrast lighting) but it should be noted.

    7. Auto Focus (AF): AF is very quick, thanks to high speed Imager AF feature this Mark II version provides. However, live view's AF performance is not faster than LX3's, which is in turn, slower than my antiquated Canon S1. If you use Live View extensively, than a P&S will trump a DSLR at any rate. If you use the view finder (the reason why you use a DSLR, right?), you'd be very happy it's just like using a 35mm film camera! Please do read my Olympus Evolt E620 review for AF performance in detail, since it's a topic highly correlated with the camera body.

    8. Vignetting: I notice this lens does have dark corners sometimes. I took the filter out to check, and the problem persisted. Only certain situation it'll happen and it doesn't seem to be from a specific focal length. You can use Lightroom to do a white vignette to counter it. Or you can simply crop the edges out. It's not really dark vignette, but it's noticeable. I think it's important to mention this so you can plan ahead and get the most out of your photos.

    9. Flash: Like 12-60mm SWD, the longer lens barrel will cast a shadow with E-620's built-in flash even when the lens retracted to its shortest length. Keep this in mind if you are going to use flash often with that body (I don't use flash often). I believe if used with E-30 body or external flash, it shouldn't be a problem.

    10. Other: There is one more very important difference between the original 14-54mm and this Mark II version. No, it's not the fancy schnazzy Olympus blue band (which I like), but the aperture is now circular in shape. This supposedly makes the bokeh (or out of focus area) much smoother, which is something photographers are looking for in a macro shot. Indeed, I compare the photos shot with Panasonic G1 seen online (which uses the same LiveMOS sensor), the bokeh is much smoother.

Conclusion: At this price range, you're getting a very high quality lens for the money (the advantage of going through Olympus route). None of the problems I mentioned are deal breakers, but annoyances. At this price range, this lens is known as a star among many reviews. The focal and aperture range, as well as the image quality make it an excellent primary lens.
Images

Olympus 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II Zoom Lens

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