Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Picking up a few Zuikos

Some months back, I decided to try some "alt glass" on my 1Ds II. There were some M42 (screwmount) lenses I was fairly curious about, so ordered a Fotodiox adapter. Noticed they had an OM adapter as well, and figured it wouldn't hurt to at least try it, since I had an old 50/1.8 Zuiko sitting around. Well, the M42 glass didn't knock my socks off, but the little cheap Zuiko did.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Zuiko 50/1.8 wide open

Didn't expect quite such sharpness, especially at f/1.8, from a tiny, very inexpensive piece of glass like this.

I did some more shooting with it, and continued to be surprised at how nicely it
renders, and how crisp the images were. Again, wide open (and check out the smooth bokeh).

Going through yet another gear reshuffle, I decided to part with the M42 glass and "standardize" on OM/Zuiko as my non-Canon, adapted glass. Did a little reading and based on my focal length needs and what I saw, found three lenses that I wanted to try out. A trip to ebay yielded a sample of each: 50/1.4, 28/3.5, 24/2.8 -- I would love to get my hands on the 85/2 but the Canon 85/1.8 is such a spectacular lens that I can't justify spending the $300 or so that the Zuiko runs.

The 50/1.4 arrived first, and I was eager to compare it to the 50/1.8. Alas, an unpleasant surprise awaited me when I opened the box.

It appears that a piece of light sealing material has come loose--likely from a deteriorating seal of some sort--and was moving around between two lens elements. In addition to that, the aperture blades moved at the speed of glaciers; this wouldn't be the end of the world since I am using stop down metering, but certainly was far from what I expected based on the description in the auction. Thankfully the seller is offering a 7 day return policy, so back it goes. I did try a few shots since shaking the lens a bit would move the thing out of sight temporarily, and found the lens to be very soft and low contrast, definitely far inferior to the hunble 50/1.8. I gather that later 50/1.4 lenses are far improved, supposedly those with a serial number in the 1.1 million or higher range. I might try to locate one of those later on.

A few hours later, UPS dropped a 24/2.8 on my doorstep. This one I was a little worried about when I bid on it since it was described as feeling a little "looser" than the seller's other lenses. For the price it was worth a gamble, I though, and was pleasantly surprised to find that whatever slop was in the focusing mechanism was so minor as to not affect anything at all. The lens came with the case and original metal hood (which I believe is the same as on the 28mm Zuikos), and the optics are in like-new condition. And like the 50/1.8, it's wonderfully sharp. The below shots wide open.

It is worth noting that the lens focuses down to 0.25 meters which gives you a lot of flexibility; not a true macro by any means, but close enough to get some interesting shots. The bokeh is a little "busier" than my Canon lenses, but not unpleasantly so. The sharpness does not come as a great surprise after I'd read this lens test which put it up against some top level Canon and Nikon glass, where it held its own admirably.

My 28/3.5 just arrived as I was typing up this post, so will post some images from it later. It appears to be in excellent shape, and for the money it should be quite the bargain. Yes, it's a little on the slow side, but where else would you find a decent performer in this focal length for the $30-40 they usually cost? Check out the Zuiko 28/3.5 love thread on FM for some really nice shots from these lenses.

One thing worth mentioning is that these lenses all use 49mm filters; if you are a frequent filter user (I am not) this might be a bonus.

As I spend some more time with these lenses, I will share some more images and impressions. For now, I think that they are true bargains when taking the optical performance and build quality into consideration.


roentarre said...

Seems like a couple of gems to use for your creative photography. Wonderful images you have displayed here

storpotaten said...

Thanks! Yeah, it seems like Zuikos are the bargain out there right now (though there are several nice M42 lenses worth consideration as well). The 50/1.8 can be had for $20 or less often, and the 28/3.5 for under $40. Surprised we don't see more 4/3 shooters adapting these.

musikgear.com said...

unfortunatly, I can't use them on my nikon D90...