This is the third of a detailed series of posts for photographers who are thinking of using relatively cheap old manual focus lenses on an APS-C DSLR. This time it’s the Zuiko 50mm f1.4 – a very fast lens which can be used creatively for it’s narrow depth of field and superb bokeh. At around 3 stops faster than a standard zoom at 50mm it’s also pretty good in low light. On 35mm it gets a bit wild and woolly towards the edge of the frame at f1.4 – almost ‘Lensbabyish’. This is a crop frame sensor so it might avoid the worst of the poor edge definition at max aperture.
It’s effective focal length on a crop frame is around 80mm (the perfect focal length for portraits), the aperture range is f1.4 to f16 and its minimum focus distance is just less than 45cm. Filter size is a standard 49mm. Focussing is easy through the viewfinder at f1.4, but the LCD is recommended for very fine focussing.
So – some ‘scientific’ test shots on the18MP Canon 60D at ISO 400 and Olympus OM mount lenses using a Fotodiox adaptor. Images were taken in centre weighted metering mode, saved in RAW and converted to JPG with default settings in Canon’s DPP software.
For the test it’s back to the Mill, and another overcast day. Crops from the centre of the frame and very top right.
f1.4 – I hadn’t expected too much but this is fine – the usual ‘sheen’ at max aperture but not bad. I suspect any chromatic aberration is being masked by this soft blur across the frame.
f2.8 – sharp as sharp can be in the centre, a hint of red CA at the edge.
f5.6 – sharp everywhere and no CA.
f11 – just like f5.6 – amazing! f16 is identical.
Well I knew this lens was good but this is surprisingly good! As a general purpose mid telephoto equivalent it’s 3 stops faster than a kit zoom at 50mm and as sharp as it’s possible to get after f5.6.
Unlike the 28mm f2 lens reviewed here, this is more reasonably priced – around £70 to £100 – so it’s very easy to recommend, even if it’s only for the narrow depth of field. A modern AF equivalent is £300 plus so a saving for once! An Olympus OM lens to EF mount adaptor costs between £20 and £150 (which you can use for all lenses of the same mount obviously).
For a similar review of how well an old 17mm f3.5 performed clich here.
To see how this – and virtually every other known Zuiko lens known to man – performs on four thirds and micro four thirds sensors have a look here – an excellent series of tests at biofos.com!
Hope you find this useful and thanks for looking!
If you’re interested in using other MF lenses on your DSLR have a look at the other reviews on the film, camera and lens review index tab.