I actually like using wides close up to exaggerate size differences. I know the Olympus 24 2.8 and the 28 2.8 does not employ CRC/Floating Elements, but are they sharper than their Nikon counterparts?
The Nikon FA/FE/FM series are the perfect size for me, but I've never tried an Olympus. Plus the black OM bodies look so sleek.
Or am I just thinking about the grass being greener on the other side?
Bingo. Personally I'd stick with the Nikkors, and I have two Oly bodies, a 3 and a 4. I've never used them.
All three Zuiko 28's are very good lenses. As I recall, there is some slight variation in tonal rendering, but they all give excellent results. The f3.5 is often poo-pooed as a "slow lens" and as such is very inexpensive, but is a good performer with a respected reputation among Zuikoholics. And it is tiny, even by Olympus standards. I have taken landscape shots with a flower within inches of the lens with everything in focus to infinity, and gotten great results. Even the f2 is small by comparison to other manufacturers. The three 28's and the 24f2.8 all fit into two regular pockets in my lens case.
Like any Zuiko, the 24f2.8 is a very good lens. It got some use in a trip to Cambridge where restricted space inside buildings and along higgledy-piggledy streets made framing very difficult. Personally I find 24mm difficult to use. Large, close objects end up being distorted and distant objects just get lost; it is the high end of the "gimmicky" wides where you trying for an effect and not a realist photo.
The 24mm/2.8 OM Zuiko is an excellent lens. It is razor sharp and has great contrast and color rendition. I have read contemporary comparisons of this lens to its big name rivals and it topped them all.
The 28mm/2.8 is nearly its equal with less perspective concern.
And the 28mm/3.5 is probably the best travel/street lens. In daylight set it to f/5.6 or 8 and pre-focus for 4-30ft. Makes an excellent point-and-shoot. Shoot from the hip and never miss a shot.
For a great street setup, an OM-10 with auto exposure and a 28/35. can't be beat. If you drop it, lose it, or it gets stolen you won't be out a whole lot of $$$ (but you will cry over the lost shots still inside)
The combination of a 35mm (f/2.0 in my case) and a 24mm (f/2.8 in my case) is wonderfully flexible - although I add an 85mm f/2.0 for completeness.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2