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Consistency of Zuiko lenses

  1. Jim Simon
    Hello all. Just joined this group this morning. Have been using OMs for... 40 years! What a thought.
    Reason for post is to ask what others' experience is regarding the consistency of quality of Zuiko lenses. By quality I suppose I mean basic sharpness. Reason for asking is to see if it's me or does everyone have better and worse lenses? I first started thinking of this only after I bought a Leica M2 on which I had first an Elmar f3.5 35mm and then a Summaron f2.8 35mm. Then, of course, I began to compare these with my Zuikos. This then also led me to compare, more critically, the sharpness of my Zuikos with each other.
    I came to the conclusion that none of my Zuikos match either of the Leitz lenses, and that my 135 f3.5 and 24mm f2.8 were the best of my Zuikos, with the 50mm f1.8 not far behind. This is a bit of a shame because I prefer to use the OM's than the Leica. Incidentally, I had a Vivitar 28mm f2.8 for many years that I sold for next to nothing and I bought a 28mm f2.8 Zuiko because I thought it would be a good thing to do, but I'm now fairly convinced that the Vivitar was better... My f2.8 28mm and 35mm Zuikos are not particularly good, and the images from these lenses are much the same as I get with my XA or MjuII, sometimes not as good...
    I have, though, seen images that I believe were taken with Zuikos in books, and find them to be absolutely pin sharp to the eye. Is this because photgraphers who get photos into books have been through a filtering process and ended up with good lenses? Is it a scanning issue (though my scanner is ok, I believe, and it is my scanned Leitz/Zuiko images that I'm comparing).
    Obviously I can make my own mind up about what I do about any of this, but I do wonder if anyone else has similar experiences? Maybe I should keep ebaying for particular focal lengths and test them and then sell back the "duff" ones?
    Anyone care to comment?
    Thanks, and I look forward to participating in group stuff,
  2. Jeff L
    Jeff L
    I've just gotten in to OM/Zuiko. A neighbour gave me her OM2 because she had switched to digital P&S- she liked liked the convenience of switch on and go. I fell in love with the camera and bought a couple of Tamron mounts for some existing lenses. I then found a Zuiko 35mm f2.8 that is a great lens and very sharp. The 50 1.8 is good too. I am on the hunt for a 100 f2.8 them maybe a 21 or 24mm. I'll get the slow ones because of size and weight. Soon the camera will be off for service to likely John Hermanson. Long way to say that I'm surprised your 35 is not so good.
  3. mopar_guy
    What do you want to do? Run lens tests on multiple copies of a given lens? This might be feasible for some of the more common lenses such as the 50mm f1.8 or the 35mm f2.8, but try and get your hands on two or three 100mm f2.0 Zuikos at the same time (at $800-1,000 per copy). If I remember correctly, Popular Photography used to test a single lens supplied by a camera manufacturer. But say you want to test the 50mm f1.4 Zuiko: What version of this lens are you going to test? The 50mm f1.4 was in production for over 25 years and there were at least four versions made. It would not really tell you that you want to know unless you had several of each version. What means would you use to test? You should test at least three separate apertures and you should test at different distances from the subject.

    I think that some people get too much caught up in sharpness. I have eight or nine 50-55mm Zuikos, but haven't even used all of them to make prints. I have never really had the time to "test" any lens. I believe that my Zuikos are better lenses than I am a photographer.

  4. Jim Simon
    Jim Simon
    Thank you for your replies. I realise that one can get too hung up about sharpness. However I can't help but notice that one lens is different from another which is what prompted my post. I took a few "test" shots the other week, using same f-stops and exposure times across a variety of lenses which confirmed the conclusions I mentioned before. I also took a few shots with the Summaron 2.8 I have, using the same f-stops/exposures/film and, to my eye, it is in the micro-detail that a print, of whatever size above a 5" x 7" stands out or not. However, as I said before, I have seen Zuiko images that appeared to be as good as those derived from a Leitz.
    I wasn't proposing a mega-buying plan, but there are plenty that come up on ebay and I could as easily sell as buy - a sort of rolling programme of assessment. I'm only talking about the 50mm 1.8 and 28mm 2.8 and 35mm 2.8 so there are plenty about. My question was about whether there was likely to be much variation to differentiate one, say 35mm f 2.8 from another.
  5. George S.
    George S.
    Jim, after time passes, there could be big differences, or sample variation. It's a possibility. IMO, we can no longer make generalizations about OM lenses after trying out 1 or 2. After 30+ years, you have to take into consideration the care and storage factors with regard to these "old" lenses. Some have dust, some have haze, some have fungus, some need a CLA, some operate stiffly, some were stored in a damp basement or bag by the previous owner, some were dropped, some may have been disassembled and reassembled improperly, etc. etc. What was once a stellar performer could easily be a dog after 20, 30 years or so. Buy from a trusted source with a rteturn privilege.
  6. Chris Sweetman
    Chris Sweetman
    Excellent points George S. Most of the factors you have identified are of a visual nature. One can see dust, fungus etc... if one is viewing a lens directly! It is another matter if the lens is on an internet auction - PhotoShop could have been used to cover up any defects!

    BTW Photo mags when they 'test' lenses they always go for stuff that is new and supplied by the recognised distributor. In the real world what do all those graphs mean any way? The proof of any pudding is in the eating or in our case the using! The chances of buying that actual lens that has been tested by the mag are very slim indeed!

    Cheers Chris
  7. thuggins
    Back when folks cared about image quality and the camera mags performed lens tests, Zuikos invariably compared favorably with Zeiss/Leica glass and better than other manufacturers. As for you comments regarding the XA, remember that this was the professional photographer's pocket camera (I recall reading of professional shoots that were done with the XA). So "much the same as I get with my XA" is pretty high praise.
  8. wblynch
    If I paid thousands of dollars for a Leitz lens I would have to convince myself by any means possible that it is better than a fifty dollar used OM Zuiko.
  9. beegee675
    I've gone for the best zuiko group I can afford, that has reasonable sharpness an usability in actual shooting. Once you have that base of lenses to work from, the issue of sharpness is still several layers away from actual finish product. I've found that in just the action of focusing can lead to variations, not to mention the trip that started with the resolution of the film one chooses through exposure, developing, scanning and printing... Only by keeping those steps stable simple and consistent through time will yield something to compare roughly other variations to. And, some of this whole trip is still magic... if you got lucky, and like the shot you got hanging out over the edge of the canyon at sunrise, you're not about to repeat that easily with a comparative test of lenses... (although truth is, I always try to have the XA in the pocket as a backup).

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