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Comparing the old and new m.Zuiko 14-42 kit lenses (Part 1)

Is the Mark II Olympus Pen standard kit zoom an optical improvement?

On the left, the bigger and bulkier Mark 1 lens compared to the new Mark 2 on the right (pictures supplied by our sibling site, Digital Photography Now)

The other day Graham, one of our regulars on the FTU forum, posted a question asking which was better - the original m.Zuiko 14-42mm standard kit zoom, or the new Mark II version that was introduced at the beginning of the year along with the Pen E-PL2. This question is a very good one. Olympus has started from scratch with the m.Zuiko 14-42 II. It's narrower, lighter, has a new faster and much quieter focus motor, and it even has a metal lens mount instead of the original's plastic arrangement. Optically, nothing at all is carried over. The original lens had focus system that rotated the end section of the lens, while the new version focuses internally, enabling an optional petal-type lens hood to be used. The lens design itself is completely different, with none of the ED or high refractive index glass elements that were used in the old lens. Instead new lens relies on several aspherical lens elements.

As the first stage of a two-part comparison of the two lenses, we have compiled a gallery of camera JPEG and RAW image files that you can download and evaluate. The gallery compares the two lenses under the same conditions at different focal lengths and apertures, both mounted on a Pen E-PL1, and in turn the camera was tripod mounted for stability. The camera JPEG images were recorded with the standard noise filter setting. At this stage we won't comment on the optical results, but we welcome your feedback!

Next, we will lab test the two lenses using our DxO Analyzer test suite and publish a technical appraisal in Part 2.

 

To view or download the full size original camera JPEG image, click on its associated thumbnail from the gallery view below. You can also download the associated RAW file by clicking on the appropriate link:



Image 1: m.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ED (Mk1)