The Zuiko 28mm f2 on a 5D MK2 (at last)

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.

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

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 .

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

At f8 the resolution is very,very good – there isn’t much CA in low contrast conditions, the colour is faithful, so all good.

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

Crop from the centre – superb! f8

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

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.

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

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.

 

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

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.

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

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.

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

Indoors in a dark church at f2. Note the distortion (not corrected automatically).  It’s sharp enough though.

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

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.

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

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 –

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

The complete frame. Note the vignetting at maximum aperture.

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

Centre f2 – a tad soft but useable – this is a huge enlargement.

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

Edge f2 – top right and soft at the very extreme edge.

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

Centre f4

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

Edge f4

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.

Either

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.

Canon 5d Mk2 Zuiko 28mm f2

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.

Advertisements

A Few More Rollei Blackbirds

Bruce Robbins on his blog theonlinedarkroom recently raised some interesting ideas about one of my favourite films – Rollei Blackbird. Having been concentrating far too much on digital (especially video) lately it seemed a good excuse to get out the OM2N and shoot off a few rolls. It was pure heaven!

Rollei Blackbird, OM2N

OM2N, Zuiko 85mm F2, closed down to f16 to give a shutter speed of 1/30th, plus some panning.

All shots at 100 ISO (25 ISO is too contrasty for me), developed in ID11 stock (identical to D76) for 10 minutes.

Rollei Blackbird, OM2N

OM2N, Vivitar Series One 70-210mm F3.5 Series One

Interestingly these two rolls seemed a little less contrasty than normal, and the developer didn’t turn end up with a dark fine sludge after use – in fact it turned yellow. This may be due to old developer (4 months old) or possibly the formulation of the film has been changed. Whether this confirms the speculation on Bruce’s blog that Rollei Blackbird is re-branded Rollei Retro 100 is open to debate, though it does muddy the water (if not the developer).

Rollei Blackbird, OM2N

OM2N, Vivitar Series One 70-210mm F3.5 Series One

There was a mixture of lenses used here. The Vivitar Series One 70-210 performed wonderfully as it always has, but I’d forgotten how heavy it was. The day became increasingly overcast which made focussing at F2 with the 85mm easier than the 70-210mm at f3.5.

Rollei Blackbird, OM2N

OM2N, Vivitar 70-210mm F3.5 Series One

All of these were taken on one day at a local fair, the vintage cars and carousel horses being the best subjects around.

Rollei Blackbird, OM2N

There’s something very attractive about some of the lines of old cars. New ones seem bland by comparison. 85mm F2.

Thanks for the link Bruce. I’m not sure I’ve answered the Blackbird/Retro question, but to me at least it doesn’t matter. Blackbird is still a favorite (along with Ilford PAN F) which produces results which are difficult to accurately ‘fake’ in digital, making its continued use worthwhile.

A few more examples of Rollei Blackbird shots are here and here.

Hope you like these – thanks for looking.

 

Manual Focus Lenses on a Canon 60D – A Zuiko 50mm f1.4

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.

_MG_8410s

The depth of field at 1.4 is minimal – and it’s rendering of out of focus areas is very smooth. Post processing consisted of a quick ‘auto levels’ as the contrast at max aperture isn’t that good.

_MG_8420s

The happiest looking scarecrow I’ve seen for a while! Subtle colour rendition is one of the plus points of this lens.

_MG_8407s

Close focus at 1.4 and maybe not its strong point – still it has a certain softness which is appropriate to the subject.

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.

IMG_0084s

On the DSLR it’s all metal construction and heavy glass make for a nice balance.

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.

f11s

This is pretty much as it appeared – ‘cloudy’ white balance applied and that’s all it needed.

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.f1.4cmp

f2.8 – sharp as sharp can be in the centre, a hint of red CA at the edge.

f2.8comp

f5.6 – sharp everywhere and no CA.f5.6comp

f11 – just like f5.6 – amazing! f16 is identical.f11cmp

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.

Manual Focus Lenses on a Canon 60D – A Zuiko 28mm f2

Manual Focus Lenses on a Canon 60D – A Zuiko 28mm f2

This is the second 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 28mm f2, my favourite lens on 35mm SLRs (hence the name of this blog), which sometimes graces the Canon 60D when it’s very lucky as a fast standard lens.

abstract8

What it’s capable of in bright conditions at f8 – sharp, superb colour and saturation. This was take on an Olympus 620.

00147247

Same boat from the front – so sharp it hurts!

_MG_8372s

On a very dull day – depth of field at f2 at close focus distance. Not much room for error but easy to focus!

_MG_8369s

Close up at f2 – the mill (see below) is in the background. The rendition of out of focus areas is very pleasing – the bright edge on the out of focus verticals (just behind the snowdrops) disappears at smaller apertures. The Sweet 35 Lensbaby does the same thing.

It’s effective focal length on a crop frame is around 45mm, the aperture range is f2 to f16 and its minimum focus distance is just less than 30cm. To improve close distance photography it uses ‘floating lens elements’ which move to compensate for near distance abberations- unusual in a lens of this age. Filter size is a standard 49mm.

IMG_0066s

In use – nicely balanced – like the previously reviewed 17mm Vivitar lens, it’s all metal and quite heavy. The focus throw is short and smooth. All in all – lovely!

On to some proper tests – all test shots on an 18MP Canon 60D at ISO 200 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. The only tweak was to the white balance – the 60D was in auto WB mode and the shots had a very blue cast – corrected in DPP.

So – the test and it’s back to the Mill which has become a test standard :-

f8.2s

A dull day with not much light, so something of a challenge in the contrast department. Given the conditions, nice contrast, colour and sharpness.

Starting at f2 – wide open and more of the ‘sheen’ seen in the 17mm lens test caused by light bouncing around the mirror box. Not bad but there’s a bit of soft purple chromatic aberration in the centre shot. These are huge enlargements from the frame though and these faults wouldn’t be seen on a 10×8 inch print – or larger probably. Nit picking!

f2.2

f4 – The ‘sheen’ has gone – edge slightly softer (strange) and centre as sharp as it’s going to get.f4

f8 – out resolving the sensor I’d say …f8

f16 – some softening in the centre again but the edge is fine.

f16

Chromatic aberration – other than some soft purple and blue CA at f2, there isn’t much at all, maybe a few pixels at most.

All in all, this is a bit of a special lens, and I’m very lucky to have one having bought it for my OM system 20 years ago. To be honest, buying one second-hand is quite expensive and doesn’t make that much sense, when Canon make an AF 50mm 1.4 for around the same price – I’ve seen mint condition ones go for £300. If you come across one for less or get the chance to ‘inherit’ one from someone – snap it up!

In summary then – at f2 it’s two stops faster than a standard zoom and pretty good. At f5.6 to f8 the resolution is as good as it gets.

There are f2.8 and f3.5 versions which are much cheaper but I’m afraid I haven’t ever used them – but I know where I can borrow one!

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!

Thanks for looking – hope you find this useful.

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.

How to Improve an Olympus OM1N – an OM2N?

Well, it’s just possible to improve an OM1N – Yoshihisa Maitani put an auto exposure mode in a body of the same size and weight but kept to the same design ethos. Olympus didn’t just put a simple ‘aperture priority’ mode in the OM2N, they put the most advanced exposure control system for its time in place – more sophisticated than most even today.

_MG_8269s

Basically the same as an OM1N from the front – the film rewind release to the left along with the self timer ratchet.

Flick the top plate switch to ‘manual’ and the OM2N is essentially the same as an OM1N. Push it into ‘Auto’ mode and the  OM2N’s ‘Off the film’ (‘OTF’) exposure control takes over. The exposure indicated in the viewfinder is an approximation – the final exposure is determined in ‘real time’ by the OTF exposure system. Variations in light during exposure, from natural or from multiple flash systems is all taken care of. Exposures of from 1/1000th of a second to 120 seconds will be used – however film reciprocity failure is not catered for (how could it be?) so beware. Pretty amazing nevertheless.

_MG_8266s

Standard OLY 35mm controls – from top to bottom – aperture, focus and shutter speed. The blue shutter speeds indicate the risk of camera shake which is a bit superfluous but looks pretty. Exposure compensation/film speed dial and film winder on the left of the pentaprism, main mode switch to the right.

So what changes were made? The basic controls stay the same. The film speed dial is incorporated into a dual ISO/exposure compensation dial on the top plate – in ‘auto mode’ you might need dial in exposure compensation. The only unfortunate omission is the lack of a mirror lock up – something which is useful on the OM1N but wasn’t possible with the dual metering system.

OM2 Metering Display

The 3 metering mode displays available in different exposure modes. The displays seem to be transparent plastic and slide in and out of view as the mode switch is moved.

One significant feature is that it’s possible to use the camera even when it’s mode switch is in the ‘off’ position. The ‘OTF’ exposure system trips in and sorts it all out , limiting  the shutter speed to shorter than 1/30th of a second as a safety mechanism against battery drain during accidental activation. The ‘B’ mode is only available via a release switch and is the only mechanical shutter speed.

If you plan on using slow film – Adox CMS20 for example – the lowest ISO rating is 12 which is one of the recommended ‘box speeds’.

As the shutter is electronically controlled and is dependent on battery power, there’s a check/reset setting on the main control lever just in case the batteries run out, the shutter is tripped and the mirror locks up.  When the batteries have some charge this setting provides a battery check from an LED on the back plate. As an added extra there’s somewhere to push the card film box top into to remind you what film’s loaded – very sophisticated!

_MG_8267s

Back plate showing – well not much other than wear and tear! The battery check LED is to the left of the viewfinder, and the film reminder thingy in the centre of the back plate. This pic shows the black paint wearing through to the metal body under the film winder – I hadn’t noticed that before…

The OM2N is 100% compatible with the OM1N – the complete range of small and fast OM lenses, motor drives and focus screens etc. It shares the same massive, clear viewfinder, smooth shutter release and lovely handling.

Problems?

None really other than those of an obsolete system. The seals may need replacing which is a cheap and easy job. I’ve got two OM2Ns, and they both just keep going faultlessly – bought not as collectors items but as working cameras ‘earning’ their living.

The batteries are cheap 2xSR44’s silver oxidies – don’t use alkalines as their charge drops slowly over time. If they run out of power the OM2N is dead – unlike the OM1N. Rumours abound that the camera will still fire at 1/60th of a second without power – I’ve tried it and it’s not true on the OM2N but is apparently on the OM2SP (which is where the confusion has arisen). The dependency on batteries isn’t really as much of a problem as I used to think it was – I change them every year and have had no problems.

So all in all a real pleasure of a camera to shoot with. Put it into ‘auto’ mode for average scenes or when you’re feeling a bit lazy. Where the lighting is more tricky switch to manual or stick to ‘auto’ and use the exposure compensation dial.

Cheap, simple and rugged, adding a bit of sophistication to an OM setup – though for some reason I still prefer the OM1N but only by a whisker! For those who dislike ‘pure manual mechanical’ cameras it’s worth a look, and at under £100 for a good working example definitely worth a try.

Thanks for looking – hope you find this useful if you’re considering one.