Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II M.Zuiko Digital

Lens Reviews / Olympus Lenses i Lab tested

Olympus Japan has announced the M.Zuiko 14-42mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 II lens. Compared to the previous 14-42mm M.Zuiko, this new lens features an updated design for its optics, autofocus drive, and barrel.

Focal range and maximum aperture are unchanged from the previous lens, but the previous model's collapsing mechanism has been replaced with a new two-stage design.

A change in optical formula for the new lens allows a reduction in weight of some 25%, which falls from 150g in the old model to 112g in the new one. Where the previous lens had nine elements in eight groups, including two aspheric lenses, one extra-low dispersion lens, and one high refractive lens, the new model has an updated optical formula with one less element. With eight elements in seven groups, the new design has no ED or HR elements, but adds one additional aspheric element, for a total of three. The new lens also has a smaller barrel diameter of 56.5mm (down from 62mm), but increases the collapsed length from 43.5mm to 50mm. Filter size has been reduced from 40.5mm to 37mm, which should somewhat reduce the cost of filters.

Another significant change in the new lens design is the adoption of Olympus' MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) design, as seen previously in the M. Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 and M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0-5.6 lenses. Olympus MSC lenses have autofocus motors which are tuned to focus quickly and accurately, as well as silently, making them better-suited for high-definition movie recording. Minimum focusing distance is unchanged at 25cm, but the maximum magnification is now 0.19x (equivalent to 0.38x on a 35mm camera), versus 0.24x (0.48x equivalent) in the previous design. As with the old design, the new lens has a seven-bladed circular aperture.

The Olympus M. ZUIKO Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II lens will be available in Japan starting December 2010, with pre-tax list pricing set at ¥35,000 (US$420), and web store pricing of ¥29,400 (US$350). It will also be available bundled with the newly announced Olympus PEN Lite E-PL1s.

Note: All US prices in this article are approximate values based on conversion of Japanese pricing at current (11-16-2010) market rates, and ignore exchange rate fluctuations, taxes, and duties.