photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Let down by a lens

tools + bad workman syndrome ?

in GAS , Tuesday, December 23, 2014

As part of a dedicated weight saving exercise before leaving for Colombia, I decided to buy the Olympus 14-42EZ “pancake” zoom. According to reviews it is better optically than the standard 14-42, which I already feel is pretty good for a kit zoom, and so it seemed to be a good idea- Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t. The 14-42EZ is the worst Olympus lens I’ve ever used, in fact the only one I’d qualify as bad (or even less than very satisfactory). The results from it are uniformly soft, far more so than could be explained by poor technique on my part. This was not helped by the terrible “shutter shock” behaviour of the E-P5 body.  Yes, I know there’s a fix for that, yes I installed it, but not having read all the reams of internet chatter about this, and in the absence of any guidance whatsoever from Olympus, I failed to set all the correct obscure menu entries. And since I hadn’t really used the E-P5 much I hadn’t noticed the issue before (actually it seems to be much worse with lighter lenses).

Drm 2014 11 29 PB291539

This photo looks ok as a small web jpeg…


...not so good at 1:1

I also had the 40-150 “plastic” zoom with me, and that worked pretty well, as ever. I’m not sure why that lens gets so dismissed by the forum denizens. But in general I’m pretty disappointed with Olympus in general, and not regretting my decision to pass up a good offer on an E-M1. It seems that camera is plagued with exactly the same issues for which the company does not appear to want to invest in research for a fix.

At this point then I’m wondering what to do next. I’ve sold off a lot of gear this year, initially to fund a Linhof 612 (which I chickened out of), and now I have no “rugged” camera. My general idea was to buy an E-M1 at some point, but now I’m really questioning that decision. I’ve been using Olympus cameras since the introduction of the E-1 in 2003, so changing brands now would be a major shock to the system. I find the Sony A7 series interesting, but the lenses are expensive and there’s no realistic telephoto. Also, I tend to believe that rather than an expensive camera makes you a better photographer, you should first be a good enough photographer to justify an expensive camera, and my output doesn’t merit a Sony A7 system. Another option, going against the flow, would be a Nikon DSLR, but the same caveat applies. However that would open up the potential to use tilt/shift lenses … but then again, would go totally counter to the objective of having a lot weight, good quality travel kit. Based on personal experience I wouldn’t touch Fuji X-series cameras with a bargepole. Too fragile by far, and slightly ridiculous with all their design pretensions and luvvy owner clubs.

Perhaps my 14-42EZ is a “bad sample”, a concept I’ve always been a little dubious of. From a sample of internet reviews is does seem to get a mixed press, and some report very good results. But even if that’s the case, and even if I could get it replaced, which would be pretty hard in Switzerland, the damage is already done. And my confidence in Olympus Quality Assurance is severely dented. I have one major trip planned for next year which without doubt would require me to replace my now sold Olympus E-5s with something equally robust and flexible. However at present I’m feeling more like cancelling the trip and taking several steps back from photography. This might sound like a major over-reaction to disappointing performance from a (fairly) cheap lens - well, also from a fairly expensive camera, but in fact it’s perhaps the final of a whole series of nails. Investing all this time, money and emotion in photos which attract little interest except from me is getting a bit ridiculous.



David, may I ask... why wouldn't you touch a Fuji with a bargepole...?
Well, I for one have chosen a Fuji X-E2... And couldn't be happier. My DSLRs so far have been Olympus E-1, then E-420, then Nikon D200, and finally D700 (which I still have and like a lot). But I wanted something smaller and less imposing, and did not want to invest in the latest Fuji.
I liked the look of the X-E2 (and the aspect of the camera is important, at least for me). I am far from being a fan boy, but the results I get from this camera please me very much. And the photos require much less work in C1 than those from the D700.
I also have a major trip planned for January (Karnataka), and the Nikon will stay at home, I'll take the Fuji with its 2 zooms and 2 primes. I'll see...

By Bernard, on December 25, 2014

Oh, I forgot the Ricoh GXR with M mount and M lenses, which I love and still use, but I need autofocus more and more, my eyes not being what they once were...

By Bernard, on December 25, 2014

It's purely a personal thing. I've had a really negative experience with my girlfriend's X-S1, not only with the camera, which is shockingly unreliable, but with Fuji Customer Service (for example, nearly 3 months to send a new camera to replace the first one that went kaput the first time we changed the battery). Having said that, "Customer Service" is generally not a concept that Switzerland is familiar with, and I'm sure that Fuji in general produces reliable cameras. But added to the fact that there always remains a doubt about the workflow with Raw files, and that there's no significant difference between Fuji X-Series and m43 in terms of results, I'm not much tempted. And I'm the only person on the planet who thinks the X-T1 is really ugly :-)

By David Mantripp, on December 25, 2014

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