Manual Focus Lenses on a Canon 60D – A Zuiko 100mm f2.8

This is the tenth of a detailed series of posts for photographers who want to try cheap but fast manual focus lenses on an APS-C DSLR. Moving up the focal lengths, this time it’s the Zuiko 100mm f2.8, a small mid range tele which is a bit of an oddity. Firstly on 35mm its in-between the classic 85mm portrait lens – and the Zuiko f2 is excellent – and the more normal starting telephoto focal length of 135mm. On an APS-C DSLR it’s an eccentric 160mm equivalent, so ‘neither fish nor fowl’ as some might say.

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On a good day with basic ‘auto levels’ processing reveals rich saturated colours and nice bokeh, even if it’s never really razor-sharp at any aperture.

The results are usually lacking contrast, and always need some post processing. It’s worst feature though is how easily flare occurs. This is a multi coated lens so it shouldn’t be a problem – but it is – and quite a bad one. A lens hood is pretty much a necessity.

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On not such a good day and shot into the light – quite the worst tendency to flare I’ve ever seen!

What’s so irritating/annoying, or endearing/quirky depending on your point of view, is how unpredictable the results are. Post processed shots taken of the same subject in the same light can vary from superb to terrible!

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It’s inherently low contrast mean that a wide range of tones are captured, and give lots of options in Photoshop for stretching apparent dynamic range. This is handy on a bright day as the shot below shows.

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Physically the lens is small and light, the minimum focus is an unspectacular 1 metre, apertures run from f2.8 to f22 and the filter thread is – you’ve guessed it – 49mm. Focus is quite easy, the focus turns from infinity to 1 metre is around 180 degrees. It’s balance on the 60D is fine – pretty much the same as the 85mm as they’re about the same size.

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So all in all a definite oddity of a lens, with an unusual focal length and an unpredictable character which some will love and others hate. If you can live with the post processing requirements on nearly every shot, it can produce some really good images, but don’t expect super sharp results. And if you’re thinking of using one, make sure you get a lens hood – unless you like using flare for creative effect in which case you’ll like this lens!

They’re quite rare on the second-hand market and usually sell for around £80 to £120.

Thanks for looking – hope you find this useful.

Update – 22/5/2013. This particular lens has been found to have a mild internal fungal growth by a specialist second hand dealer. This may account for some of it’s tendency to flare.

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