This blog is named after my favourite lens – the Zuiko 28mm f2, so this mini test is overdue. It’s been tested on a Canon 60D, but not on a 5dMk2 – it’s ‘native format’, full frame 35mm. Lets hope it’s as good as I’ve always thought!
This is a manual focus lens from the days of film mounted using a lens to camera adaptor, so no image stabilisation, no autofocus and no communication with the camera so some missing IPTC data. The exposures can be a bit random using old lenses like this – aperture priority centre weighted metering and RAW is the best way to use them, but even then you may need to bracket exposure.
Mounted using a Fotodiox OM to EF adaptor. The lens and body are evenly balanced due to it’s all metal build and the amount of glass in there.
Focussing is smooth and it’s relatively easy at f2 on the standard focussing screen in good light. In low light it’s better to use the distance scale if the subject is at infinity – ‘infinity’ for a 28mm lens isn’t that far away, look at the distance scale. The next marked distance is 3m! Alternatives are to focus bracket, use the depth of field scale and f8 in which case everything between infinity and around 2m is in focus, or to use the LCD .
At f8 the resolution is very,very good – there isn’t much CA in low contrast conditions, the colour is faithful, so all good.
Crop from the centre – superb! f8
Crop from the edge top left and again – superb. f8
A good start! As I’d hoped at f8 it’s as good as it gets – but this is an ‘easy’ scene, front lit with gentle autumn light. Let’s push things a bit.
In more extreme conditions shooting into the light there can be some light flaring around silhouetted areas which I quite like. This isn’t unusual in older lenses – I suspect there’s some internal fogging of the lens elements. This lens is over forty years old! f4.
Shooting into the sun there can be some internal reflections/flare – not surprising for a lens of this age and speed. This was taken at f2. Easy to avoid with some slight re-framing but something to be aware of. Alternatively it could be used for creative effect. The bokeh here for a wide-angle lens is pretty good.
There’s a touch of blue/green CA in the tree branches – this is uncorrected in this shot but can easily be fixed in PP. Otherwise this great.
Indoors in a dark church at f2. Note the distortion (not corrected automatically). It’s sharp enough though.
This is the best bokeh I could get for this test at f2 – not bad with a slight curve. I like it but others might not.
Close up – this lens has floating internal elements which optimise performance at close distances. Overall it does a good job though using a 28mm as a close up lens is somewhat eccentric!
So time for the standard scene –
The complete frame. Note the vignetting at maximum aperture.
Centre f2 – a tad soft but useable – this is a huge enlargement.
Edge f2 – top right and soft at the very extreme edge.
I won’t bother posting any more – the results are identical to f11, softening at f16. F2 results are a little soft and the vignetting is quite strong – this isn’t unusual for a fast lens. Note that modern lenses can have their vignetting automatically corrected by software like DPP or DXO, but for older lenses this will have to be done manually.
In summary then, a cracking lens for its time, very sharp when used in optimal conditions, but showing its age when pushed to take shots into the light when flare and internal reflections can be noticeable. Going back to manually correcting vignetting and distortion manually is a bit of a nostalgic pain.
This is where you’ll fall into one of two camps.
You’ll go for a modern made lens which probably isn’t as well made or sharp at f8 but has AF etc and behaves better when shooting into the light
OR you’ll like the technically flawed results under difficult conditions and use these optical faults creatively to give your shots a ‘vintage’ look.
I’m in the latter camp as I generally like some ‘character’ in lenses and I don’t mind messing around in PP.
So highly recommended with some caveats – often the story with old lenses. This lens is quite rare on the second hand market and go for $250/£160 so cheaper than most modern 28mm lenses. Things may change when the new Sigma 28mm f1.8 ‘Art’ is released – if it’s as good as the 50mm, the standards by which a 28mm lens is judged may change!
A comprehensive technical description of this lens can be read here, and an interesting discussion of the use of lens adaptors by Roger Cicala of Lensrentals can be found here.
Hope you find this useful – 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.