Eric L. Woods

That’ll do series: Olympus OMD E-M5/14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ

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A lot of virtual ink is regularly spilled, myself included, about the latest and greatest gear. Perhaps a product of my nature and/or my Industrial Engineering degree minimum requirements are a bit of an obsession. This “That’ll do” series focuses on minimum requirements for my photography. The latest and greatest gear available is fantastic, but not everyone wants to, is able to, or even needs to buy into the latest gear. I focused on individual components already. Now I will focus on pairings as compared to much more expensive current alternatives. I will spend a little time on specs, make some comparisons, and then will share sample photos. Any combination suggested is not the only older gear that could suffice. Meant as a sample of what can be accomplished with gear that has a few years on it at a lower price. Or if you already have something similar it stands as an example of how upgrades are an option rather than a necessity for many.

The brief:

  • Normal zoom coverage.
  • Compact pancake design.
  • Power zoom a plus.
  • 16MP minimum.

Main Purpose:

  • Compact daily shooter.

The title gave away the subject of this post…

Pics for Blog Post - Olympus OMD E-M5
Olympus OMD E-M5 and 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ

…but I will start with a few more recent set ups that cost significantly more. Modern options outnumber my ability to try or mention. I will pull from past set ups I have owned or own so I can speak from experience and provide sample shots for comparison.

  • Full frame sample
    • Sony A7II w/ FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6
      • Pluses
        • Staring at f/3.5 it is pretty fast for a full frame kit lens. Starts faster at the wide end and bang for buck I prefer it over the more expensive Sony/Zeiss f/4.
        • Better in low light owing to the larger sensor.
        • Better battery life.
        • I really like this lens. Were it not for the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 I might still own it.
      • Minuses
        • More expensive.
        • Larger and heavier.
Sony FE 28-70mm
Cookout
100 Men In Black
  • APS-C sample
    • Sony a6000 w/ Sony PZ 16-50mm OSS
      • Pluses
        • Honestly not much if anything in my experience.
        • More advanced AF but that is lost on this lens in my experience.
        • Larger sensor theoretically should yield better low light performance but not really noticeable in real world use.
      • Minuses
        • No touch screen.
        • Meh IQ. Tried it twice because its form factor should have done it for me, but I will just say it. Similar to the Sony 20mm f/2.8 I do not like this lens. Sony really needs to release an updated version II.
        • Both the camera and lens are considerably more expensive but at the same price I would still likely choose the E-M5 and 14-42mm instead.
a6000
Chord
  • MFT
    • There are a lot of normal zoom MFT lenses available but unless you are willing to spend considerably more for a faster, constant aperture this is the best pick in my opinion. I cannot speak to the Panasonic 14-42mm power zoom option since I have not tried it, but it is rated lower at B&H, and while comparable price wise used it is considerably more expensive new. I did not warm up to the larger and slightly more more expensive Panasonic 14-42mm OIS lens and the OIS is not needed on the Olympus body. Olympus only offers one other lens at the same price point and that is the non power zoom collapsible kit lens. While a capable performer for a kit lens (Gallery here and samples below.) for the same money (New. The PZ costs a little more used.) I would recommend to all that they go for the PZ. It is a considerably better lens for the same money. The PZ has better optical performance in my opinion, is much smaller collapsed, and I much prefer the automatic extending over manual (Which I would often forget to do before trying to take a shot.).
Washington DC
Washington DC

The least expensive option listed above, the a6000 and Sony PZ 16-50mm OSS, does not cost that much more at about $450 combined. But when considering these two options in isolation I actually prefer the Olympus pairing even with the smaller sensor. The Olympus lens is that much better. I have tried and sold that Sony lens a couple of times with no luck and very few photos to show for it.

Value:

How does about $280 all in sound? I paid $132 for my bargain grade used OMD E-M5 and a 14-42mm EZ will run you around $147 used when I last checked.

Features:

I point you to my write ups on the camera and lens for details but here is a high level overview.

  • 16MP.
  • 9fps… 9fps!
  • 1/4000s top shutter speed.
  • Solid IQ. I really like this lens as well. Good sharpness and colors. It performs well above its price point and makes the most of the modest aperture and MFT sensor.
  • Fast, silent AF.
  • Touch AF.
  • Many, many actually useful image modes and special features.
  • Articulating touch screen.
  • Lens is downright tiny when off.
Shot for Blog Post
Shot for Blog Post
  • Camera is downright tiny.
  • Combined they are tiny.

What is missing?:

Practically speaking not much actually. Especially given the price point.

  • Oddly you cannot review images in the EVF, only on the back screen.
  • Contrast only AF does not impact stills performance honestly, but video AF suffers. I was surprised when I found out it did not have phase detect. But that was not what this camera was made for.
  • Battery life is not the best. A common malady for mirrorless cameras. Nothing surprising, but carry extra batteries.

Samples:

The two together.

Olympus 14-42mm EZ
Olympus 14-42mm EZ
Olympus 14-42mm EZ
Olympus 14-42mm EZ
Olympus 14-42mm EZ

Below are shots w/ the lens alone since I have owned it before.

14-42mm Samples - Elias - New Years's Photo Walk
Taken by my son over my shoulder.
Down
Field
Tunel
Mess of mopeds
Tower
Donut shop.
Night Gallery

Summary:

This is a great set up. Plain and simple. Far better than the tongue in cheek “That’ll do” descriptor in the title. This is a fine set up that I would have no issues using on a daily basis. Which is good because I often do.

Pics for Blog Post - Olympus OMD E-M5
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