Olympus OMD EM1 Gordon Laing, January 2014

Olympus OMD EM1 with Lumix 7-14mm

  Olympus OMD EM1 results
1 Olympus OMD EM1 Quality JPEG
2 Olympus OMD EM1 Quality RAW
3 Olympus OMD EM1 Noise JPEG
4 Olympus OMD EM1 Noise RAW
5 Olympus OMD EM1 diffraction compensation
6 Olympus OMD EM1 Lumix 7-14mm flare
7 Olympus OMD EM1 long exposure noise
8 Olympus OMD EM1 Sample images
On this page I wanted to discuss a lens compatibility issue involving the Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm ultra wide zoom and a number of Olympus bodies including the earlier OMD EM5. When this lens is used with Olympus bodies, images can sometimes suffer from purple flare artefacts which in some cases can be quite distracting and very hard to retouch. It most commonly occurs when your composition includes small but bright lights against a dark background, such as an interior at night or a city night-scene. Interestingly though, the effect is much less of a problem with Panasonic Lumix bodies, implying some difference in sensors.

I'm a big fan of the 7-14mm lens and wanted to see if the issue remained on the OMD EM1, so I took the same composition with the OMD EM1, OMD EM5 and Lumix GX7 to see if there were any differences. I took care to include a bright light to trigger the effect. Each camera was mounted to a tripod and fitted in turn with the same Lumix 7-14mm lens, set to 7mm f4 in Aperture Priority mode. All three cameras were also set to exactly the same exposure. Below are the three images with crops of the affected areas below - the crops are taken from the same area, marked by the red rectangle on the image below left.

Olympus OMD EM1
using Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm
Olympus OMD EM5
using Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm
Panasonic Lumix GX7
using Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm
Full image
Full image
Full image
100% crop showing affected area
100% crop showing affected area
100% crop showing affected area

As you can clearly see, the OMD EM1 suffers to exactly the same extent as the EM5 before it, suffering from quite dramatic purple blobs on the image. To be fair in this particular example they're quite well hidden when viewed at lower magnifications, but I have seen other situations where the purple artefact has been visible even with the image viewed on the camera's screen without zooming-in. It is a real issue if you'd like to shoot bright lights with this lens on an Olympus body.

Interestingly while many owners of Olympus bodies and this lens have reported the issue, most people have assumed Panasonic bodies avoid it altogether. As you can see from the GX7 crop though, this is not the case - the same flare blobs are present on the image when you know where to look, but crucially they're much less noticeable. As far as I understand this isn't down to digital correction, but more likely a difference in filtering on the sensor - as both Olympus and Panasonic use different sensors.

It's a shame the Lumix 7-14mm suffers from bad flare as it is otherwise an excellent lens - indeed one of the sharpest ultra-wide zooms I've tested across the frame. But the noticeable artefacts when mounted on Olympus bodies, including the new EM1, means I find it hard to recommend the combination unless you avoid interiors or city night scenes. If you do shoot these scenes with an Olympus body and want ultra-wide coverage, it's best to go for the slightly less wide Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 9-18mm instead. As for owners of Panasonic bodies though, I think the flare artefacts are sufficiently hard to see to not be a major problem - I've certainly shot with the Lumix 7-14mm on Panasonic bodies for many years without issue and it remains one of my favourite lenses.

Hungry for more tests? How about my EM1 diffraction compensation or EM1 long exposure noise?! Or if you've seen enough, check out my EM1 sample images or skip straight to my verdict!

Olympus OMD EM1 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise / 7-14mm flare / diffraction / long exposure

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