Continuing this series of mini reviews of my favourite old lenses on the beefy A7R’s 36Mp sensor, this time it’s the turn of the tiny Zuiko 24mm f2.8. This was a cracker of a lens on the APSC Canon 60D so I’m hoping for lots of good things…. All shots taken in RAW mode and ‘developed’ in DXO Optics 9 using default settings.
The most striking thing about this all metal lens is its size – a shade more than 3cm (1 1/4 inches) long and weighs in at 220g (7.8 oz). It has almost the same dimensions as the Zuiko 50mm f1.8, and is about as small as it’s possible to make a manual focus lens and keep it useable. It accepts 49mm filter, apertures run from 2.8 to 16, the minimum focus distance is about 25cm and the aperture is – unfortunately – made up of only six blades which means hexagonal bokeh – if you ever see it with such a wide-angle lens.
Ergonomically on the A7r it’s perfect – the focussing ring is smooth and well geared and the camera/lens combo is wonderfully light and easy to use.
With an angle of view of 84 degrees it’s noticeably wider than a Zuiko 28mm lens (75 degrees) and not that far off an 18 mm lens (100 degrees) or the 21mm Zuiko (92 degrees). With this level of ‘wide angle-ness’ verticals start to heavily distort if the camera isn’t parallel with the subject so unless you really like correcting this in pp, be careful!
Vignetting is obvious at f2.8, gradually fading to nothing by f8 – nowhere near as bad as the Zuiko 18mm f3.5 at max aperture (few lenses are!) but something to bear in mind.
The contrast and colour are all as good as they were on the Canon 60D, but the A7R seems to over saturate greens with this lens which is odd but there you go.
Flare is a big problem with this lens, and the hexagonal nature of the aperture makes things worse. To be fair, most old MF lenses suffer from flare to some degree but this is worse than most. A lens hood won’t help much on such a wide-angle lens so you just have to be careful and recompose if necessary.
Chromatic aberration is minimal, probably removed easily by DXO Optics 9 when processing the RAW files for this test, so a major plus.
Resolution then – on to the mill.
The whole frame (showing that vignetting nicely at f2.8).
f16 (just for completeness)
The positive first then – the superb resolution at the centre is obvious from f5.6 to f11 just as it was on the Canon 60D. f5.6 is especially impressive. The obvious problem though is edge resolution – it’s very poor at f3.5, cleans up a little by f11 where it’s still not that good, and by f16 everything is starts to fall apart again due to diffraction. Quite a disappointment as I had high hopes for this lens.
This doesn’t appear to be a problem with the adaptor as the right hand side of the frame is just as bad as the left. I mention this after reading Lensrentals analysis of using adaptors with non-native lenses here (it’s an interesting article!).
All in all then, something of a mixed bag on a full frame camera. Centre resolution is excellent at the right apertures, colour and contrast are good, chromatic aberration never makes much of an appearance and distortion is controllable if it’s used properly. It’s wonderfully small and light and a joy to use. Set against that is pretty terrible flare, vignetting till f8 and the poor edge resolution.
If you aren’t too picky this isn’t bad for the price (sub £100), but it’s effectively a 24mm f5.6 (to f11) lens if you want the best results and I would imagine a modern zoom lens would beat it hands down at the edges (maybe not the centre!). On an APSC sensor where the weak edge definition and vignetting don’t matter so much it’s a different story, and for smaller sensors I can heartily recommend it as a 35mm – 40mm standard lens. For full frame sensors though it’s not quite so easy to recommend.
Thanks for looking, hope you find this useful.
If you’re interested in using other MF lenses have a look at the other reviews on the film, camera and lens review index tab.
Well done Robert!
I’ve been following these Zuiko minitests and, up to now, I thought i’d better stop reading them so I could escape the upcoming urge of “needing” a digital full frame.
I’ve had this lens with me on my holiday trip to Austria and put it on my OM2 and an OM-D.
To say something nice about this lens is that corner resolution for rather near objects will be a bit better.
Your #8 with the door+wall reminded me a bit of that. I think this shot really utilizes exactly that sort of behavior. It’s feature, not a bug :=))
One thing I am quite shure of is that you most certainly are not focussing on corner Objects. Just for the sake of it I would be interested in the results with focus loupe being on the corner.
Results on the mFT sensor are really smashing. I tested it against an M Zuiko-Digital 14-42 II and am cured about needing a modern lens….
I’ll be back,
Good to hear from you.
Everything in photography is a compromise of one sort or another! Increase the sensor size and resolution and all of a sudden you need new lenses as the old ones aren’t ‘good enough’. APSC and 4/3 is all most people need (me too probably), and chasing increasingly powerful technology without considering all the associated costs is a wild goose chase (I’ve been on one myself but just started to realise it).
Without a very deep pocket, lenses which will do justice to 36Mp of resolution are few and far between. I’m struggling at the moment to find anything past 100mm which is up to the job at a reasonable price.
I’ll have a look at using the focus point at the edge of the frame – not sure how well I’ll do as the edge resolution problem doesn’t seem to be a field curvature problem – just a simple lack of resolution. There is something of a welcome surprise coming up in a 50mm test….
Stay cured and thanks for the comment!
Hello Robert, thank you for taking time to answer my rather annoying questions.
I’ve read in another forum that the Sony A7 sporting a 12Mp sensor will be poor at handling old superwides, I feel somewhat unsafe at judging your pictures correctly ( beeing not a pro in that buisness makes this of course somehow impossible) when the results I see with a specific lens will be that far away from results given with filmcameras assuming a high megapixel digital would be coming nearer in comparison to the “low” megapixelcam.
In the end it might turn out that my beloved 24mm Zuiko is just as bad on film, but I’m not pixelpeeping at the corners. :=))
Looking forward to that 50mm test.
I think you’ve hit the nail in the head there. We didn’t have the opportunity to examine images from film, and in the past if the edges were blurry I’d blame the enlarger lens! The sharpness of most film made this a redundant exercise anyway (not CMS20 though!).
I’d imagine the A7 would reproduce what film would see – well roughly anyway – and at 12Mp any corner softness would be less noticeable.
The ‘solution’ I suppose is not to pixel peep!