Saturday, February 9, 2013

Olympus 15mm Lens Cap Lens - mini review

When I bought my Olympus OM-D E-M5, Olympus Australia had a promotion where you got a small bundle of goodies by redemption. The goodies included a lens cap lens, leather camera strap and a camera wrap. The 15mm lens cap lens is the subject of this review.

Lens Cap Lens is a good description and it is a fun little thing that is little more than the depth of a standard lens cap. It is made of 100% plastic and I believe it is a simple 3-element lens.

I like the lens on the E-P3 - the combination is truly pocketable - even in a shirt pocket - but I would be very caution of putting it into a shirt pocket. I don't like the feel of the lens on the OM-D as it doesn't feel right as the OM-D camera design provides a less positive grip compared to the standard screw-on grip of the E-P3.

Coming from the SLR world, it feels a little strange not having a lens barrel as part of the means of holding the camera but you soon get use to it - holding the camera like a point and shoot device.

The only control on the lens is a slider that reveals the lens and provides a simple focus adjustment. Other than closed, focus adjustment has 3-stops - infinity, a mark for the hyper-focal distance, and 0.3m. The control itself is fairly sloppy and too light. There are indents for the hyper-focal distance which is reasonably secure enough, and an exceedingly light one for infinity. You just slide the control all the way to the 0.3m end for the close focus.

Checking a depth of field calculator, the hyper-focal distance at f/8 (the only aperture you get for this lens) is approximately 2 metres. Everything from around 0.9 metres should be in focus.

Sharpness ins't strong at the hyper-focal distance and I often find infinity is a better option. This should have everything from around 1.4 metres should be in focus.

The close focus setting should have a depth of field of about 90 mm.

The lens works but expectations should not be high. The small aperture of f/8 makes focusing difficult - even when magnified on the screen so distance guesstamation is best. The lens has all the sharpness of a 'toy' lens and on the Olympus OM-D or E-P3 makes a very expensive way of getting pictures that are not particularly sharp but then this will never perform like a proper lens. Overall - the images are fine for posting on the internet or even viewing at reasonable sizes on a computer screen. I expect they would look fair enough printed out to 6x4 size but forget about doing an A2 poster print.

I got the lens for free and it is a lot of fun - especially when used with the Olympus ART filters. The focus lever needs to be more firm and the infinity indent more positive.

The lens sells for around USD49 in the US (less than $48 dollars in Oz currency) but $99 in Australia. What is it with Olympus in Australia? There is no excuse for the more than doubling of the price. At $49 it would be a good buy but questionable at $99.

Here are some pictures done in grainy black and white...

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