Thursday, 21 January 2010

14-35mm f2.0 horror to avoid

Hi there,
I guess many of you dream of owning the 14-35mm f2.0 as much as I did before having the strange chance to get it in a peculiar way. Well, it is a nice beast, but there can be a lot of headache with it. And I am not referring to the outrageous AF performance I am planning to write about - well, for a year now. No, it is not AF. It is the front lens.
You know what this is?
Well, this is the front lens of my copy and a dent on it! OMG - a dent! This is how it looks like as a 100% crop from the original:
Ugly, isn't it?

It is, but this is why I got the discount that allowed me to buy the copy. Knowing that even a big dent like this on the front lens does not affect image quality substantially (causing perhaps some weak flare or a tiny loss of contrast - ironically, reducing two important characteristics of this lens - never mind), I was very happy with the purchase and thougth that the previous owner was a careless bastard (OK, I do like the guy). But I was too happy too soon.

After some time, two smaller dents appeared after my own use. I could not believe what has happened. The first dent was caused by the lens cap falling off and something hard knocking to the lens, that is for sure. But what about the last two? I could not recall anything like this happening. And then I knew: it was the lens cap.

Although not as clever as the mechanism on the Nikon and Canon 24-70mm f2.8 zooms, Olympus supplies a shade as standard for this lens. It is a fine peace (covered with velvet in the inside), but it does not allow one to easily put on the lens cap. Even though the cap has a "pinch-type" release that can be operated even with the shade on, it is difficult to put on when the shade is on the lens. After the second and the third scratch I have realised: the original owner was not more careless than anyone else - this design is what provokes hesitant putting on the cap and thus the rim of the cap reaches not the rim of the front part of the lens barrel, but the front lens itself. The result is inevitably a scratch or a dent after some use.
I was never a friend of lens filters, because of the possible adverse effect on image quality. Since that moment of illumincation however, I prefer having cap on the lens. One good choice is the Clear B+W SX-PRO - this is a slim model that allows you to use the original lens cap (if you want to, after this).

Just to repeat: if you own a 14-35mm f2.0, you should seriously consider putting on a good quality clear or UV filter for protection. Yes, it will probably decrease the image quality a tiny bit, but will save some serious money for you.


PS: I was actually planning to buy the B+W filter ever since I was shooting with the 14-54mm in rain. Water resistance is nice, but if the water creates a film on your front lens, you can only save the lens, but not using it. The B+W filter has no windscreen-wiper either, but collects water, repells it if possible, but always makes removing it easier. Right, just one more reason.

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