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Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ review

The best pancake zoom lens ever! Meet the must-have Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ

5 Star Rating
Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ
(Image: © James Artaius)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ is, in our opinion, the best pancake lens ever. In full frame terms it covers a 28-82mm focal range in an impossibly small form factor – not only is this a genuine feat of engineering, but its optical performance punches way above its weight. This is the kind of lens that's only possible on Micro Four Thirds, making it an absolute travel and everyday essential for Olympus / OM System and Panasonic shooters.

Pros

  • +

    Ludicrously small

  • +

    Great performance

  • +

    Smooth, quiet AF

Cons

  • -

    Not the fastest lens

  • -

    Tough to manual focus

As you can see in the image above, the Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ is absolutely tiny. When collapsed, it's about the size of a pocket tin of Vaseline – which is astonishing, for a lens that covers a 28-4mm focal range in 35mm terms.

While size isn't the only thing that the Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ has going for it, it's a pretty big deal. Well, a pretty small one. But there are plenty of reasons why this is the best pancake lens (opens in new tab) on the market – and why it has been included as a kit lens for years with the best Olympus cameras (OM System) (opens in new tab)

And of course, despite the Olympus branding, like all the best Micro Four Thirds lenses (opens in new tab) it can be mounted on Panasonic, Blackmagic, Z Cam and any other camera that uses the mount. Indeed, if you've got a Panasonic GM1 (the smallest MFT camera on the market) this is an ideal pocket pairing.

So what makes this such a great pancake lens? Find out why this is one of the DCW team's all-time favorites…

Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ: Specifications

Mount: Micro Four Thirds
Lens construction: 8 elements in 7 groups
Diaphragm blades: 5
Autofocus: Yes
Image stabilization: No
Weather sealing: No
Minimum aperture: f/16
Minimum focusing distance: 0.2m (at 14mm) / 0.25m (at 42mm)
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.23x
Filter size: 37mm
Dimensions: 60.6x22.5mm
Weight: 93g

Olympus PEN E-PL7 + Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ (1/1000 sec, ISO200, f/4.9) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ: Key features

The biggest selling point of the 14-42mm EZ pancake is, of course, its ridiculously small form factor. For this reason it has been the kit lens typically sold with smaller Olympus camera bodies like the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV (opens in new tab), Olympus PEN E-PL10 (opens in new tab) and Olympus PEN E-P7 (opens in new tab)

It replaced the older, original 14-42mm kit lens – the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R – which is significantly taller and bulkier, albeit cheaper. (Optically the two lenses perform pretty similarly, though the R has two more aperture blades while the EZ has slightly greater maximum magnification.)

The electronic zoom mechanism (the EZ in its name) means that you can control the focal length by turning the zoom ring, with a smooth and quiet motor zooming in or out accordingly. 

This becomes very useful when shooting remotely, via the OI.Share app, as you can control the zoom without having to touch the camera directly – great for framing yourself for selfies from afar, or photographing subjects that are easily startled.

The lens is available in black or silver finish, to match the camera body you want to pair it with. 

Olympus PEN E-PL7 + Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ (1/160 sec, ISO200, f/8) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ: Build and handling

This is an exceptionally well-built little lens, feeling absolutely solid and sturdy both when collapsed and extended (unlike many manually extendable pancake zooms, which can feel flimsy when deployed). 

Unlike many pancake zooms, the Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ has a powered mechanism, meaning that you don't have to manually telescope the optic to deploy it. Simply turn on the camera and the lens will automatically extend.

This is either a blessing or a curse, depending on your perspective. Manually extendable zooms can in theory be deployed a lot quicker, should you need to shoot quickly. Likewise, the electronic zooming moves at a more leisurely pace than you could zoom by hand, meaning there is a risk that you won't be able to reframe in time.

That said, we've never once missed a shot because the lens took too long to reach shooting mode from the off position, or because the mechanism took too long to zoom to where we wanted it. 

However, the manual focus ring is so slim and the throw so tricky that it's barely worth using. Not that, in all likelihood, this lens is likely to be used for tasks where manual focusing is critical. 

Olympus PEN E-PL7 + Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ (1/320 sec, ISO200, f/7.1) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ: Performance

It's very hard to fault the quality of images that the 14-42mm EZ lens produces – and that's without even adding the 'kit lens caveat'. Certainly there are sharper lenses out there, but the images produced by the Olympus pancake are great whether wide open or stopped down, at all zoom ranges. 

As you can see in the below image of the swan, the level of detail that can be captured is very impressive. When you factor in that this is a pancake zoom, and indeed 'just a kit lens', the quality becomes pretty mind blowing.

Obviously we would love a faster aperture, or even a constant one, but again this is a pancake lens that measures just 60.6 x 22.5mm – we can more than forgive it being on the slower side. 

It's so small that you can leave it permanently attached to your camera, so that it's always ready to shoot at a moment's notice. The size likewise means that there's always room to keep it in your camera bag or a shirt pocket – it will always be with you, making it an unbeatable companion for travel photography and everyday use.

The motorized zoom comes in very handy for video and vlogging, too. Pushing in or pulling out of frame is brilliantly smooth, and paired with an image stabilized body this makes a great run-and-gun content creation lens. 

Olympus PEN E-P7 + Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ (1/1600 sec, ISO1000, f/8) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ: Sample images

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III (opens in new tab) + Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ (1/40 sec, ISO200, f/4.5) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III (opens in new tab) + Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ (1/250 sec, ISO100, f/3.5) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III + Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ (1/500 sec, ISO200, f/3.5) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Olympus PEN E-PL7 + Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ (1/125 sec, ISO200, f/5) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Olympus PEN E-PL7 + Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ (1/160 sec, ISO200, f/6.3) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Olympus PEN E-P7 + Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ (1/40 sec, ISO200, f/5.6) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ: Verdict

Astonishingly slim yet impressively performing, the Olympus M.Zuiko 14‑42mm f/3.5‑5.6 EZ pancake is a miniature marvel. While it's a capable lens, obviously its standout quality is the optical wizardry of squeezing a 28-84mm equivalent standard zoom (thanks to Micro Four Thirds 2x crop factor) into an optic that's scarcely larger than a tin of Vaseline.

That versatile focal range means that you really can slap this one single lens on the front of your camera and be covered for almost any shooting situation – making it a perfect choice for street shooting, travel photography, or just everyday walkabout use. In fact, it's so slim that you can leave it on your camera in place of a body cap, so that you can always grab your camera and shoot without faffing for a lens. 

It captures very respectable images, and very much comes into its own as a video lens, since the fully motorized zoom can smoothly and near-silently push in and out of your scene to record more dynamic footage. That electronic zoom also means that you can fully control the focal length from your phone when shooting remotely! 

Read more: 

Best Olympus lenses (OM System)
(opens in new tab)Best Micro Four Thirds cameras
(opens in new tab)Best Panasonic cameras (opens in new tab)
Best standard zoom lenses (opens in new tab)

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James Artaius
James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.