Olympus 15mm f/8 body cap lens review

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Olympus 15mm F/8 body cap is pretty unique yet very simple product. The idea is simple: take a camera body cap, put a simple triplet lens inside, attach it to a mechanical focus lever and sell it. No one will have high IQ expectations so it can’t dissapoint, it will be a cool gadget to have and the smallest usable lens for mirrorless system. I guess development cost was next to nothing, and production cost must be a joke. So let’s see how it performs.

Olympus 15 mm F8 body cap lens specifications:

  • Focal length: 15mm (30mm in 35mm eq.)
  • Maximum aperture: F/8
  • Number of aperture blades:  1 (fixed aperture)
  • Construction: 3 elements in 3 groups
  • Min focus distance: 0.3m
  • Filter thread: none
  • Dimensions: 9 x 55 mm
  • Weight: 22 g
  • Average retail price: $40

Build Quality

Build quality is what you would expect from a body cap. Plastic up front, plastic in the back and more plastic inside. :)

Olympus 15 mm F8 body cap lens focusing

Olympus 15mm body cap is a manual focus lens (cap). It has only three marked positions: 30cm, hyperfocal and infinity. It is also possible to set focus somewhere in-between hyperfocal and 30cm positions. Anyways, it doesn’t really matter since it has fixed F/8 aperture and quite a lot of DOF.

When focus is set to infinity, everything from 1.8m to infinity will be sharp. When used at hyperfocal distance, everything from 0.94m to infinity should be in focus. At closest focusing distance of 30cm, the lens gives only 9cm of DOF, from 0.26 to 0.35m.

Chromatic aberrations

Visible, but not as bad as I expected. It is possible to remove them in post process without a sweat.

Light fall-off

Light fall-off is quite visible on some images. I had to set vignette-removal slider to 50 in ACR for complete correction. That’s a lot. You will notice it easily on samples further down this Olympus 15 mm F8 body cap lens review.

Geometry

Geometric distortions are not a problem with Olympus 15mm F/8 body cap. I found some minute barrel distortion, but less then I would bother correcting, especially given other optical properties of this lens.

Flare

Not a big issue, but still a bit worse than M. Zuiko 14-42 kit lens. Examples below, 15mm at left column, 14-42 right.

Sharpness

Compared even to “low-end” Olympus 14-42 F/3.5-5.6 kit lens, the 15mm is nowhere near sharp. In all samples below, 14-42 used at the F/8 aperture gives clearly sharper images in center. Corners are even worse, where 15mm sometimes looks bad even when viewed scaled to my monitor’s size (24″). But keep in mind at all times, Olympus 15mm costs $ 40 and is smaller than smallest available lens for micro 4/3 system. There had to be a trade-off somewhere.

There’s another issue though… when set to infinity, the lens has sharp corners, but somewhat blurred center; set at hyperfocal center becomes sharp (same scene with faraway subject), while corners lose a lot of sharpness. Check samples below (infinity left, hyperfocal right):

Well, you get what you pay for… this inconsistency is one of the reasons why I don’t recommend this lens for anything beyond pure experimentation and fun. Olympus 15mm is primarily an accessory and not a true lens, meant to be used for fun and combined with Olympus Art filters. They will distort the image even further and hide bad lens performance. Also, if you transport your camera without lens often, it is better to have 15mm on it than just ordinary body cap. 15mm cap will at least be able to take images if you find yourself in situation when there’s no time to change the lens.

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2 thoughts on “Olympus 15mm f/8 body cap lens review

  1. zamorec, as I just posted on the m43 forum of DPR:

    “The news is that I’ve now adapted it to a Sony NEX-3. It works much better than on my Olympus.

    I also tried it on my 5R but too much vignetting.

    I will be posting photos on the NEX forum.”

  2. Pingback: A new review of Olympus 15mm f/8 body cap lens - Blog for micro four third and competing cameras

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