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Brief test: Zuiko Digital 14-42mm vs Leica 14-50mm with Olympus E-400

The Olympus E-400 may be pitched as an entry-level DSLR, but thanks to its brand new Kodak 10 Megapixel CCD sensor, it becomes the highest resolution Four Thirds body to date. The Leica D Vario Elmarit 14-50mm may be the 'kit' lens for the Panasonic Lumix L1, but it's also one of the most exciting optics for the Four Thirds system. Are you thinking what we're thinking?

  Olympus E-400 with Leica 14-50mm
   
We couldn't resist fitting the most talked-about Four Thirds lens on the highest resolution Four Thirds body to see how the combination performed. You can find full technical resolution results in Our Olympus E-400 review, along with details of the Leica's corner sharpness, geometry and vignetting performance.

NEW:
We've completed a full review of the Leica 14-50mm using a variety of bodies including the Olympus E-410. See our Leica 14-50mm review and video tour.

In the meantime though we thought you might enjoy a brief page showing how the Leica lens compares against the Zuiko Digital 14-42mm kit lens on a real-life outdoor subject using the E-400.
   
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To compare real-life performance we shot the same scene with the Olympus E-400 using its kit 14-42mm lens and the Leica 14-50mm lens within a few moments of each other.

The E-400 was set to its best quality SHQ JPEG mode, Auto White Balance, Digital ESP Metering, the default Vivid Picture Mode and its lowest 100 ISO sensitivity.

The focal length of each lens was adjusted to deliver an identical field of view, and the aperture of each was set to f8. In our resolution tests with both lenses, the best results were achieved at this aperture.


The image above was taken with the Olympus E-400 using the Leica 14-50mm at 21mm f8 and at 100 ISO; the original measured 6.71MB. The crops are taken from far left, middle, right, top and far right portions of the originals and presented here at 100%.


Zuiko Digital 14-42mm
Using Olympus E-400
Leica 14-50mm
Using Olympus E-400
100 ISO, 1/160, f8
100 ISO, 1/160, f8
100 ISO, 1/160, f8
100 ISO, 1/160, f8
100 ISO, 1/160, f8
100 ISO, 1/160, f8
100 ISO, 1/160, f8
100 ISO, 1/160, f8
100 ISO, 1/160, f8
100 ISO, 1/160, f8


Despite the significant price difference between the two lenses tested here, the crops above show remarkably similar levels of detail and optical correction. The most obvious difference can be seen in the first crop, taken from the far left side of the image, where the Leica result is noticeably sharper. This can be seen across the roof tiles and surrounding foliage. The result from the Zuiko Digital 14-42mm kit lens is noticeably softer, losing the ultimate detail that's present on the Leica sample. Beyond this though, the results on this particular image are very similar.

Click here for the Olympus E-400 video tour

Of course there's more to judging a lens than a single outdoor shot, so for more details on how the Leica lens performs against both the new and old Zuiko Digital kit lenses, check out the results section of our Olympus E-400 review, and look out for a full standalone test of the Leica 14-50mm very soon; you might also want to check out our Panasonic L1 review. In the meantime though, this page shows the new Zuiko Digital 14-42mm kit lens stands up well against premium lenses when it comes to day-to-day outdoor shots. It's another good result for the E-400 bundle.


All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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