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We Concoct an Optical Plan B Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

25 June 2019

As we mentioned in the Friday Slide Show, our seven-year-old Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens with which we've taken 7,192 photos (exactly, according to Lightroom's count in the filter bar Lens listing) started reporting a status error to the camera rendering it useless. The funeral was yesterday morning.

Glen Canyon. The Rexatar at 28mm on a Nikon D300 at f8, 1/125 second and ISO 400 after processing with Piccure+ and Adobe Camera Raw.

And yes, we are grieving. You get attached to a certain optic's way of seeing the world.

At 14-42mm it was the equivalent of a 28mm to 84mm focal range. That's wider than we usually go (but sometimes need) and not quite as long as we often like to be. So we were never really content to work within that 14-42mm range.

But when we were composing our shots in that range, we really liked what we got. And we especially liked being about to rely on autofocus. It's the only Micro Four Thirds lens in our collection that can autofocus.

Olympus. 14-42mm kit lens for $300.

So we were in mourning yesterday morning.

We'd spend the night before surfing all the Web sites we could think of that might have an inexpensive 14-42mm replacement. Used camera gear outlets, eBay (of course), refurbs from Olympus.

But a couple of things gnawed at our resolve.

One was that the $300 14-42mm kit lens, now in rev. II (without that nice glass front protection, might have had a congenital problem. A design problem, that is. It's that lock button. You have to unlock the lens to use it and lock it up afterwards to compress it.

We'd prefer to avoid that complexity. So we looked for a lens without a lock button.

Olympus Electronic Zoom. 14-42mm pancake for $225.

Olympus does make one. A $225 pancake 14-42mm Electronic Zoom (it's motorized) that's tiny, motorized (like your digicam's zoom) and looks very interesting. Because image stabilization is body based, it doesn't need to add that weight and cost to the equation. It isn't cheap and we could not find any used or refurbs floating around.

Panasonic. 14-42mm with IS for $250.

Being a Micro Four Thirds issue, we aren't limited to Olympus, of course. And plenty of online advice extolled the benefits of a Panasonic Lumix. Those $250 14-42mm zooms are handsome. And the 37mm filter size of Panasonic's $380 pancake is perfect for our Lensbaby macro converters.

Panasonic Electronic Zoom. 14-42mm pancake for $380.

But they all included image stabilization so they weren't cheap. Panasonic prefers to put image stabilization in the lens, not the body, generally speaking.

We grew weary of the chase, went to bed, got up for the funeral and then looked at our little E-PL1 and wondered just what we were going to do with it.

A camera needs a lens.

We don't have a lot of options, frankly. If you've been following the bouncing ball around here, you've read about all of them by now. We have no secrets.

None of them are Micro Four Thirds lenses. They're designed for bigger sensors. So their focal lengths don't approach 14mm.

Then too we wanted a zoom because the E-PL1 is our street camera. You need some focal flexibility to avoid missing shots.

The closest we could get to our 14-42mm was our Rexatar 28-50mm f3.5-4.5 zoom. We extolled its virtues in May 2013. And then we used its images to test Piccure+ a year and a half later.

So why not mount that 56-100mm equivalent zoom on the E-PL1 with the Lensbaby Tilt Composer until a new Micro Four Thirds zoom drops out of the sky like manna? At least it will protect the sensor from dust.

So that's the plan. A Plan B, admittedly, but a plan. And not being a best laid plan, we have no fear of it going awry. We're too busy plotting Plan C for that.

Stay tuned!

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