Daily Inspiration #390 by Jim Zafrani – The Olympus BCL-15mm f/8 “Body Cap”
I am a long time reader and have you to thank for introducing me to the MFT camera systems. Prior to reading your blog, I always carried with me my camera backpack full of Canon equipment (I shot mainly landscape). MY current setup is the Olympus OM-D with a set of Panasonic and Olympus lenses (all primes).
A couple of weeks ago, however, I read your review of the Olympus 17mm f1.8 and, as I have done previously, gone to Amazon to pre-order it. Amazon did not take pre-orders but what they did have was this strange-looking lens that came up in their “users always bought” section. It was the BCL-15mm f8.0 Body Lens Cap. It instantly intrigued me. On my Panasonic GF-1, the package lens was the 20mm f1.7 (amazing lens) but here was a lens that was a 10th the depth of that lens. Granted it is a fixed f8 lens and does not really have much in terms of focus control, but it sounded very interesting. And at $49, I had to try this lens.
The lens itself is very strange. When on the camera, it hardly makes a dent in the camera’s overall depth. It has a single lever that controls the lens cap and focusing distance. From a focusing perspective you get two choices – infinite and 0.3m. That’s it. It is not a sharp lens either. The center is generally a little soft and there is vignetting on the corners. Also the color reproduction is, in my opinion, awful compared to any of the other lenses that I own. Overall, it is an awful lens. But when paired with the OM-D’s art filters, that is when the magic happens. Attached are several images that I took of my favorite subjects – my 16 month old and 7-year-old girls playing outside all taken with this strange lens that, in my opinion, gave the pictures their own style.
Thanks again for the opportunity to share these with you. And by the way, the 17mm f1.8 finally came in and it is one amazing lens. I put it on the OM-D and screwed the lens cap on (which I agree with you is very much overpriced – but it still looks amazing) and right away got many compliments on how it looked. I must say that I really like the pictures too but that is for a different daily inspiration… 🙂
Every m4/3 user should buy this body lens cap and enjoy the photograohy!! Forget the sharpness, the high ISO noise, the chromatic aberrations, just enjoy! it’s the funniest lens I’ve ever tried. Look samples and comments (is spanish, sorry) at my blog…
Wonderful photos, Jim!
I do think you misunderstand the lens a bit, though. “From a focusing perspective you get two choices – infinite and 0.3m.” Not quite true. The center detent is the hyperfocal distance, not infinity. There’s a smidgen of focus from hyperfocal to infinity, just before the lens cap begins to close: you need a very deft touch to get it, but it is there. And the lens does focus between hyperfocal and 0.3m So the lens really has infinity focus, hyperfocal focus, and a bit of range between 0.3m and hyperfocal distance.
I got interested in the lens after finding a review on Thom Hogan’s site and perusing some images on Flickr. As Thom pointed out, the lens performs in classic triplet fashion: sharp at center, smearing at the edges. I got the last one in stock (the demonstrator) at my local camera store last week.
I can’t comment on the color rendering compared to my other lens, the 12-50 kit zoom (I have a slow zoom and a slow prime–what the heck?) since I haven’t done a side-by-side under the same lighting conditions. Weather here in San Jose has been all over the map since I bought my EM-5 last month. It’s 42 degrees Fahrenheit and foggy as I write this.
I really enjoy this little stinker. DxOMark rank the lens at #3017 in their database. We’re Number Last! We’re Number Last!
Very nice images, thank you for sharing. Yet another “it’s the photographer, not the equipment” case in point.
Yes, the monochrome Art Filter is really nice. The most interesting of all the art filters in my opinion.
Jim, you definitely can focus the lens between 0.3m and infinity, it´s not only two choices. Especially distances of around 1m benefit from this possibility a lot. Correctly focused the pictures are definitely ok concerning sharpness.
I personally also don´t have complaints about color but that may have to do how you develop the pictures.
lovely photos! but it’s not the lens (which sounds rubbish) – it’s the photographer, and obviously the
I own an OMD, currently with just the 20/1.7 pana lens and the kit.
I wanted to ask which lenses do you use for landscape photography.
“I especially like the way you’ve processed them!”
Looks like it is the Olympus ‘grainy film’ art filter.
Yep, the lens may not be sharp, I don’t care, the pictures are good!
Photos like they used to be! And they are just right for the subject matter. Remind me a bit of my Brownie E box of sixty years ago!!
Thanks for sharing.
Very nice photos Jim and I especially like the way you’ve processed them!