Olympus 15mm f/8 is a tiny lens, extending only 9 mm from camera body. It has a closing mechanism and when closed it is like a body cap. Olympus even calls it Body Cap Lens. When opened it can be manually focused with the lever under the lens. End points are at infinity and 30 cm. Close to infinity is a hyperfocal setting which gives sharpness starting from 1m upwards. Aperture is set at f/8. The idea is to use hyperfocal setting for general shooting. When close up near to 30 cm you can actually try focusing with the lever.
The lens has three elements. Opitically it is okayish, I would say almost but not as good as kit zoom at the same focal length. I have not tried them head to head but will check that later.
What is it for?
I have seen several threads in the internet starting with the same message: I don´t understand what´s the point with this lens. Well, it depends what you are after. If you have Zuiko M. 17mm f/2.8 or Lumix 14mm f/2.5, you don´t gain anything with this lens but even better pocketability and instant lens cap. You can use both of those lenses at f/8, with fixed focus and get almost the same field of view plus do a lot more. And they are sharper, too. But then, there is a certain effect with some equipment. An effect which shapes how you shoot with it. This lens is one of those. It forces you to play with its terms or suffer. It is kind of a one trick pony with all it´s restrictions, but an interesting one.
Olympus is marketing it to be "ready for capturing wide-angle shots whenever a photo opportunity comes your way". Actually not really. Aperture f/8 is far too dim to be usable (without flash) casually in a traditional P&S style whenever, if you expect normally sharp images. You really have to set your eye and mind to f/8 and work with the consequensies of it, namely blur. Or then use flash as a signature, which also is interesting, but I have not yet been there with this lens.
Walking the dog
That´s what I do every morning. And it gave me a chance to do my first test for an idea for a particular shooting style with this lens. I attached 15mm lens to my old and trusty E-P2. I set E-P2 to shoot B&W jpeg with Auto-ISO up to ISO 1600. These 34 images are a short story from four morning walks: