E-330 and 18-180mm

E-330 addenda also a brief test of 18-180 f3.5-6.3 10x ultra zoom lens.

© Danijel TurinaYesterday I went around a forest and shot some nature with 7-14 and 50mm macro. The LCD preview can really help with getting macro shots of impossibly placed things, but you really have to be careful with the DoF, camera shake and similar things, as hand-holding a macro shot with one hand isn't a trivial task. I was shooting in pretty extreme light yesterday and today, and all I can say is this sensor seems to hold its own under extreme pressure. I shot into the sun with a 7-14 and both metering and sensor latitude proved to be excellent; my E1 would probably give me a very underexposed image in those circumstances, but here not only did it preserve shadows, it also kept very good detail in the clouds.

© Danijel TurinaColor of the sky is great, and it turns to cyan only around the sun, which of course can't be avoided. Actually I don't know any camera that can give better latitude in such harsh light. I think we have a champion here. Also, the tonality is beautiful. The colors are rich, vivid and vibrant. It renders both realistic and rich tonality, and that's jpeg from the camera, with auto WB and "natural" settings. I didn't test it together with E1, but I actually think this new kid beats the old champ.

© Danijel TurinaHere's another sample of latitude and metering. The metering was set on ESP, aperture priority, no corrections, auto WB. The metering system proved to be excellent in dealing with unfavorable lighting conditions, where the cameras usually underexpose severely. It even managed to correctly expose shots where I shot right into the sun.

© Danijel TurinaOn web forums I was asked whether the camera still flips the mirror in mode B when using fully manual exposure and aperture (M mode). I tested it and the answer is „yes“, although I agree it's not necessary, if the sole purpose of doing it is to bring light into the metering system. There might be another reason I don't know of, for instance resetting the sensor in the dark. Also, there was a question whether „anti-shock“ (mirror lockup) works in mode B. The answer is also „yes“, it does work and you can set various time delays. There's also a question of what the camera looks like with 7-14 f/4 on. It is pretty bulky and I always had to use two hands to hold it while shooting; when you shoot from the waist, it has almost the bulk and weight of a Hasselblad or a Rollei with a 80mm; with battery and card, this combination weighs around 1.5Kg. It would be interesting to try the camera with a 8mm fisheye, but I would really like to have a fast compact rectilinear ultrawide prime lens; it would be lighter and less conspicuous for urban photography, and f/4 isn't really ideal speed for this kind of work. I would wish for something more in line of f/1.4, because you are usually out of light and end up using high ISO. Also, the 7-14 is expensive compared to the new generation of APS-C ultrawides (such as Canon 10-22 or Sigma 10-20), but to be honest, it's such an excellent lens it's probably worth it; the build quality is fantastic, colors are bright, clear and realistic, resolution is great, and the only gripe I had was flare. As it is to be expected from ultrawides, it is rather prone to flare, although I don't have any other lens to compare it with, to see if the flare is above or below expected levels.

50 mmMacro © Danijel TurinaI also tested a 18-180 10x zoom lens. I intended to make a full review, but frankly there's not much to write. It is light and flexible, but image quality is somewhat below par. I put it on, tried it out and replaced it with better glass almost immediately. Here's a comparison with 50mm macro; both images were just resized without sharpening. It is good as a vacation lens, where you would really hate to bring a bag of heavy lenses with you just to take standard vacation snapshots. For this purpose it's a very useful lens to have, as it gives you the range from moderate wide (36mm) to really long (360mm). If you want to convert your SLR into a 10x ultrazoom digicam, this is the way to go.

18 - 180 mm © Danijel TurinaThe build quality is comparable to 14-45 and other low-end lenses from Olympus, and although I didn't conduct any scientific tests the image quality appeared to be below that of a 14-45 kit lens. Lacking image stabilization and being very light, it isn't very useful at the telephoto end, at least without a tripod. Also, being f/6.3 at the long end doesn't help either, especially since you need to stop it down to f/8 to get decent sharpness. Still, if we have in mind that on summer holidays you might very well have more than enough light, this doesn't have to be a fatal drawback. On E-330 it negates any advantages this camera has over other, more classic dSLR models, as you can't effectively shoot with a telephoto looking at the LCD; the vibration is simply impossible to control. Also, E-330 proved to be best at macro and ultrawide, and this lens lacks either. Furthermore, you can't see anything on the LCD if the light is strong enough to use this lens effectively, and in less than ideal light the viewfinder proves to be too dim for its aperture, or should we say lack thereof.

As you can see, I'm giving it a lukewarm reception at best, and I would never recommend having this as your main or only lens. However, it does have its uses, and if it doesn't cost much more than a 14-45 kit lens it might be a useful thing to have. I would still recommend a dual kit of 14-45 and 40-150, which will give you better image quality, wider angle and better aperture, and is still dirt cheap. If you really hate changing lenses on your vacation, 18-180 is the thing for you, though.

Danijel Turina

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Objavljeno: 20.02.2006.