Confused by OM 50mm lenses

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by hoojammyflip, May 21, 2013.

  1. hoojammyflip

    hoojammyflip Subscriber

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    Hi, I have been surfing the web all the morning (waiting for a bed to be delivered) regarding the OM 50mm 1.8 lenses. It appears that the most recent lens is in fact similar in layout to an enlarger lens, with 6 elements in 4 groups:
    http://www.star.ucl.ac.uk/~rwesson/esif/om-sif/lensgroup/manuals/50mm_f1.8.pdf

    Can anyone say whether this is also the case for the "Japan" version?

    Do I need to get an older one (F-Zuiko) in order to have the lens design similar to the 1.4 and Pentax M 1.7 50 which I am used to, as shown in the front page of the same UCL site, where the front group doesnt have the doublet?
    http://www.star.ucl.ac.uk/~rwesson/esif/om-sif/lensgroup/50mmf18.htm

    Thanks.
     
  2. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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  3. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Why are you worried about the design of the lenses? Most all fast normals for 35mm are a variation on the Double Gauss formula, with various tweekings to add the requisite degree of retrofocus. They all, once you get above a certain level of performance, behave similarly.
     
  4. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I agree that I wouldn't spend too much time fretting over the lens design. And with prices as they are, there's no reason that you can't buy both at a fraction of the original price. Shoot both and stick with the one that you like the best.

    Or if you really want the original, switch to a Contax (or Rolleiflex) setup and get a Planar. Zeiss has called this the most-plagiarized lens design in photographic history. That is, nearly every lens maker used the Planar design as the basis for their standard 50mm lens.
     
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  5. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    The Planar is a double Gauss design. IIRC the 50/2 Sonnars (or one of the other fast 50s) for the prewar Contax were also dG types, so maybe they'd be the original.
     
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  6. hoojammyflip

    hoojammyflip Subscriber

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    Thanks I've already looked at the Mir site: the lens diagram relates to the old 5 group 6 element 50/1.8. There is a 50/2 lower down with the same enlarger type lens diagram as the MIJ.

    I have just had a OM1n refurbished (by Michael Spencer, highly recommended). I am intending on moving over to Olympus in order to make full use of my Tamron SP 90/2.5 which I find to be an excellent lens. It focuses in the opposite direction to my Pentax lenses and often catches me out, whereas its the same direction as the Olympus lenses.

    Prior to committing to the move from Pentax to Olympus, I thought I would compare the Oly lenses to the Pentax lenses. Both the OM 28/2.8 and OM 135/3.5 I have seem to perform very well, even in comparison to my Pentax M 28/3.5 which is a very sharp lens, and also in comparison to the Tamron SP 90/2.5 which can act as a control, as it can be mounted to both the Pentax and Olympus cameras. Looking at my test negatives (x25 scope under a Nikkor EL 50/2.8N in the enlarger) I was struck by the MIJ being softer than the Pentax 50/1.7. In order to exclude the possibility of mucking up the test, I will simply shoot the test again.

    The significance of this is that I don't think I can print larger than 5x7 with the MIJ shots and have a sharp photo, whereas 12x16 would not be out of the question with the Pentax M 50/1.7.
     
  7. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    While there are some soft lenses, particularly the 50/1.4 Zuiko early versions, you'll likely find more sample to sample variation than maker-to-maker.

    When you say "enlarger lens" type, do you realise that the same basic designs are used, that there are Tessar, double-Gauss, Plasmat, Dialyt, and so on types of enlarger lens? That there is no such thing as an "enlarger lens type"?
     
  8. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    Certainly individual copies will show variances due to age and environment.

    My favorite OM Zuiko 50/1.8's are the silver nosed F.Zuiko and the first gen black nosed MC. The acclaimed MIJ and 'Japan' marked versions have sealed front groups that can not be cleaned. If they have internal haze or fungus you have to live with it.

    Although tie 1.8's are reported to be sharper or more contrasty, I prefer the 1.4's especially for their 8 aperture blades versus 6 on the 1.8's.

    I would like to add that my experience with OM lenses is they all benefit tremendously from the use of a lens hood in daylight.
     
  9. hoojammyflip

    hoojammyflip Subscriber

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    yep, referring to the common 4 group 6 element design of Nikkor 50/2.8N or componon S 50/2.8 etc
     
  10. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    That is the double Gauss design as used in the 50/1.8 Zuiko. You'll find them with 7 elements too, the 7 element f:1.4 Zuiko is also a dG.
     
  11. hoojammyflip

    hoojammyflip Subscriber

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    Thanks for this, this is the kind of specific information I am trying to dig up. I will get a Zuiko MC then and do a comparison. My MIJ is in literally perfect condition, as was the camera it came on. I guess that maybe there is potentially some lens alignment/collimation issue, but the surfaces of the glass look perfect and there is no sign of it having been dropped. The other explanation is that its been incorrectly focused by me during the testing, which is possible when I was fiddling with the MLU.

    I used a hood on all the lenses, and was shooting at 1/250 on a Manfrotto tripod with a FOBA ball head.
     
  12. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    If your 1.8 MIJ is clean then you won't find better. It has the best coating formulas of the family.

    Just a thought , have you checked your focus screen for proper installation? Could it be you are getting focus errors?
     
  13. hoojammyflip

    hoojammyflip Subscriber

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    oh well, in the UK these are about the same price as 3 rolls of film, so there is little or no cost associated in buying up several and finding the pick of the bunch, other than annoying the wife with a lens collection which is multiplying like a collection of gremlins under the stairs
     
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  15. hoojammyflip

    hoojammyflip Subscriber

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    yep, its been checked over by Michael Spencer, who is a former Olympus repair guy...also, I was shooting 3 other lenses at the same time, all of which were recording 60-70lp/mm.
     
  16. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    Yes they do that.. I have about 7 or 8 Zuikos and and probably the same number of Takumars =]
    They are very hard to send away!
     
  17. Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    Well you could go to Poundland shop and get Agfa Vista 36 exp for £1 :wink: The result are good.
     
  18. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    The great thing is that the Olympus 50mm 1.4 is not much more expensive than a 1.8. If your buying an entry level body, many times it comes with one attached making the 50 1.8 a bonus! I would always opt for the extra usability of a faster lens if there is not much of a price gap.
     
  19. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    I am always a little amused when someone estimates the size of a print which can be made from a 35mm negative or slide. The reason is that medium format equipment is very reasonable now and is suitable for much larger prints. I received a working Bronica GS-1 today from an eBay seller. The price? $17.16 (US) + shipping. You still need a back, a lens and a finder to start shooting but those parts are not very expensive either. How large a print can I make with the standard 100/3.5 Zenzanon? Much larger than what you will get with any 50mm lens and 35mm film.
     
  20. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    But this is the 35mm forum and a thread about Olympuc OM 50mm lenses. Not Bronica
     
  21. pen s

    pen s Member

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    As to size of print with 35mm. Back in the early 70's Olympus made a poster sized print from a Pen F 18X24mm negative.
    It was a photo of Kabuki theater player applying make-up before a show. It looked fine viewed from the right distance. The print was about 30X40 inches.
     
  22. hoojammyflip

    hoojammyflip Subscriber

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    I believe that the assertion that if a print is viewed from far enough away, resolution doesn't matter is commonly used to oversimplify or simply dodge thinking about print requirements. Further, who has the right to someone else what the correct viewing distance is to his own prints?! Taking the argument to the extreme, if you stand a mile from a print, the print resolution will indeed not matter. :smile:

    Its simple to quantify print resolution requirements, just using geometry. This is a simple experiment I have done: print a pattern of line pairs/mm up on a sheet of paper, alongside a smooth grey tone, and walk away from it. At the point the texture of the line pairs disappears, the two pictures will start to appear the same. Measure this distance. From here you can calculate the given number of line pairs a print requires for a given viewing distance, for you. You might pick a pattern with a frequency of 1.0 lp/mm. If the viewing distance at which this appears to become a smooth tone without texture is 4m, and one views prints at 50cm, then you have a print resolution requirement of 8lp/mm.

    Yeah, and the additional irony is that I also use a Bronica ETRSi!

    I mention print sizes as I think they are easier to interpret than raw lp/mm on the negative. When I shoot a batch test of lenses, I am in fact just calculating the resolution they are capable of laying down on a negative (this is a convolution of developer, agitation, tripod, focus accuracy etc etc). Its important to shoot a batch as then the relative performance can be seen easily and as resolution testing is a bit subjective in that the limit of the resolution is determined by the definition of acceptable minimum visible resolution. This is inherently dependent on the operator, or "nut behind the camera". By doing several lenses at once, it ensures some consistency though, and I can end up with a relative measurement. Whole thing takes about half an hour, I note it down in a book where I have previous results, and when I get a spare minute once the film is developed, check it out under the enlarger using a 25x scope and good enlarging lens.

    I think the first thing I need to do is retest the lens, with a F Zuiko 50/1.8 and a Zuiko MC Japan 50/1.8 for comparison. Will post back in case anyone ends up reading this thread and finding it vaguely interesting to know the difference between the various incarnations of the slower Zuiko 50's.
     
  23. pen s

    pen s Member

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    I'm sure Olympus maximized every detail in producing this print for an advertisement poster. It was B&W, no doubt a slow, very fine grained film, and impeccable darkroom work. You could see quite clearly every tiny bump and wrinkle in the makeup applied to the subject's face. If, however you walked right up to it and looked it over with a 5X loop.....then no, the detail would probably not have matched the same shot taken with a then current Hasselblad 500C and 80mm Zeiss lens.

    I shoot lots of half frame, and seldom go larger than 8X, or 6X8 inch on 8X10 paper. I have to set up the enlarger in a small, very cramped bathroom, and my 35mm only Durst enlarger was free and is very modest. Still, if you are willing to put in the effort, 35mm can be pushed beyond 8X10 for the occasional outstanding shot.
     
  24. hoojammyflip

    hoojammyflip Subscriber

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    I personally need 8lpmm in a print, which necessitates EFx8 in the negative, EF being the enlarging factor. Now if I am looking at a 12x16, which I suspect may be a sensible upper limit, I would need 96lp/mm on the negative. There are documents floating the web about using high res Adox CMS film which means this is entirely possible with 135, just google gigabit film. However, I'd rather just use my 120 negatives for that size of print, given arguments about tonal information being lacking prior to resolution limits being hit. Back to the point in hand though, the 50mm lens I have been testing scored 35lp/mm as its resolution limit. This means the upper limit of a print would be 5x7, but at that point, the lens is already being stretched, meaning it would lack contrast and tonal information in a 5x7. There is a benefit in having a lens which could reach higher resolution levels used in a smaller print, as the tonal information will be more detailed for any given level of resolution.
     
  25. hoojammyflip

    hoojammyflip Subscriber

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    The Mij is better than thought, here are some updated results. Make of them what you will. I am reading a book which I could recommend in terms of spirit of testing, written by Richard Henry "Controls in black and white photography". Notably, he makes the point that no one can be more accurate than 1 group in rating the resolving power of a lens using a tricolumnar test pattern. In this spirit, a key lens in my testing is the Tamron 90mm SP 50B, which I have as a reference and can be used as a control as it can be mounted on different camera bodies through the various available adapters. Further, its a notoriously sharp lens in an absolute sense, so it gives an indication of the upper limits available due to other factors in the testing such as the resolving power of the film used. So in this instance, I used the Tamron in identical testing of a MX about half an hour later, with a fleet of Pentax M lenses. I dont include the results as they are not really relevant to an Olympus group. The conclusions I would draw are: a) the MIJ is capable of hitting 60lp/mm at f8 b) at f5.6 its softer than the Tamron SP c) The Tokina made Vivitar S1 lens is pretty respectable compared to the Oly 135 prime. Further testing could include impact of tripod, cable release, filters, hoods, developer, film, exposure.

    Setup:
    25/05/2013, 15h10, sunny
    tmax 400
    190 tripod fully extended, Foba ball head, manual shutter (not cable release), no MLU
    target 36 inch wide Edmund test patterns, contrast reported to be 100:1
    metered using Lunasix F incident reading
    XTOL 1:2 10.5mins 20.0deg, 30s + 3 inversions every 30s
    Nikon 50/2.8, Microsight 25x
    f4 shots were overexposed by a stop, as the meter would have recommended shooting at 1/2000.

    name lens, focal length, distance to target, f4, f5.6, f8, f11
    Olympus 28mm 2.8, 28, 3000, 27, 67, 67, 53
    Olympus 50mm MIJ, 50, 3000, 42, 47, 59, 53
    Tamron SP 90 2.5, 88.5, 6000, 60, 60, 53, 60
    Olympus 135mm 3.5, 135, 6000, 43, 43, 55, 55
    Olympus 135mm 3.5, 135, 6000, 39, 43, 55, 55
    Vivitar S1, 70, 6000, 48, 48, 60, 67
    Vivitar S1, 210, 6000, 35, 44, 49, 49

    NB step in line spacing between patterns is 12%, so that 6 increments results in a doubling of the line frequency
     
  26. thuggins

    thuggins Member

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    If anyone is still following this thread after the detour to print size ... I have tested the 50f1.8 MIJ against an earlier version 50f1.8 (though not a silver nose). There was a noticeable difference, and the slides from the MIJ were sharp enough to cut yourself on. I have not tested the f1.4 against the MIJ, but really fail to see the advantage in the slight difference in aperture.