9/30/12

Olympus Body Cap Lens 15 mm f/8


Olympus introduced this small and fun lens in Photokina this year. The lens is really small and hardly bigger than a body cap, as the name implies. The body of the lens is plastic including the bayonet, but it is still reasonably sturdy and does not feel like a cheap toy. Because of the small size and light weight I feel that the plastic is plenty strong for almost any use.
The lens is really small and light.
The optical construction is three elements in three groups. There are no aperture blades or mechanism, because the lens has fixed f/8 aperture. In the front there is a small lever for focusing, and the lever has three marked positions: infinity, distant focus and close focus. That same lever also actuates the built in lans cap. There is no electrical connection between the lens ad the camera body.

Using the Olympus Body Cap Lens is rather fun experience. The small size makes handling of the camera different than with any other lens. There is no natural place for left hand. You can still support the camera from the bottom, but not like with with any normal lens. I shot many pictures only with one hand and that felt actually quite natural even though I would not do that with my other lenses.

It is possible to focus the lens, but that is not easy, because of the great depth of field and the short movement of the focusing lever. If focused carefully the lens is rather sharp in the middle of the frame, but the edges are always a bit blurry.
100% crop in the middle of the frame.
The camera to subject distance is about 1 m.
I set the focus lever to "distant focus" and shot everything like that when I was outside. That was fun because there was no need to worry about the focus at all. I just fired away. That fixed f/8 is not practical for interiors or any available light shooting indoors. Or in dim light generally. You need to crank up the ISO to be able shoot hand held or anything that moves. However, that should not prevent you from experimenting either with long exposures or high ISO.

I think this lens is not for pixel peepers, but a fun lens that should not be taken too seriously. It makes a nice and cheap addition to any m4/3 system for some of those special occasions. Used with any of the  PEN bodies the combination is practically pocket size.

I made these pictures with Olympus E-M5 camera with aperture priority, which makes sense with a fixed aperture lens.


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