The Worst Mirrorless Lens Ever Revisited

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

barn.penFI recently wrote about my interest in the Olympus 15mm f/8 Body Cap lens that someone whose opinion I respect once told me, “That lens is truly worthless.”

I ordered a black lens from B&H but there  are also white, red and silver versions. Sorry I got off topic because I know you’re dying to hear my take on this ”worthless” lens: The short answer is that it’s a darn good lens for $50. I’ve tested $500 mirrorless lenses that were not as well made for the price. Sure there’s lots of plastic and you have to manually focus. But I was surprised how thin it is; It’s thinner the Oly’s 9mm lens cap lens.

The lens’ biggest failing is the way it focuses. It’s not that it’s manual it’s just that Olympus didn’t take the time to put even a tiny distance scale on it. You may find that some of your images are in focus and others are not; it’s not the optics fault is just that you’re focused in the wrong place. There is also some slight barrel distortion when you tilt the lens up or down—it is a 15mm lens—but that’s easily corrected in any version of Photoshop and, what the heck, it may not even bother you.

17mile.IRI traveled to 17 Mile Farm Park near Parker, Colorado taking along an Olympus Pen F and a Panasonic Lumix G5 I had converted to infrared by LifePixel to make these photos. I’m sure that Panasonic’s $597.99 Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens is a better performer; It’s got a f/1.7 aperture, it’s AF and a Leica lens but it costs $550 more so that should not be a surprise.

For less that $50 bucks the Olympus 15mm f/8 lens should work great for what I intended it to do. Reminder: I bought the lens to use at car shows with my Olympus Pen E-P3. When I write about using the 15mm lens on my car blog, JoeFaraceShootsCars.com, I’ll update this with a link to that new post.

What have we learned today? There are really two possibilities of why the Olympus 15mm f/8 is not as bad as you’ve been told by others:

First, DxO was wrong. All of you who have lost arguments about gear at the camera club with your opponent quoting DxO stats will probably prefer that answer.

The second possibility is that Olympus, who introduced the lens in 2013, fixed the problems and the current version is pretty good. Both possibilities prove one thing and that’s you can’t always trust what you read on the Internet.