Thursday, February 21, 2013

Olympus OM-System Zuiko MC Auto-W 35mm f/2 and The First Rose of Spring

Zuiko's on the right.
I added a new 35mm to the bunch.  The Zuiko 35mm f/2 doesn't have a reputation for being a great lens, but it was available for a good price, so I couldn't resist.  I put it through the same paces (more or less) as the Rokinon and Canon 35s I reviewed previously (here).

The new Zuiko was a bit scruffy on the outside, but the glass was perfect. Here are a couple more pictures.


Here's the chart:

The Olympus sharpens up in the center by f/2.8 and there isn't really any noticeable sharpening  beyond that.  The edge is not great and doesn't really seem to sharpen up much at all with stopping down. The corners are dismal wide open and improve incrementally towards bad the more it is stopped down.  It's important to add that there is some weird glowy halation wide open that seems to affect only the bright highlights.  It has the potential to be distracting.

Here are the comparisons with the Rokinon and Canon 35mm:

It's hard to tell for sure, but I think the Zuiko has less color fringing than the other lenses at f/2 and is as sharp in the center, and maybe a hair sharper by f/2.8.  The Rokinon sharpness seems to lag behind the others just a wee bit throughout the range.

 Rokinon > Olympus > Canon at the edge of the frame. The Olympus and Canon both have chromatic abberation that the rokinon does not. They all get pretty close, sharpness wise, around f/8. Pretty poor showing for the canon.

Rokinon > Canon > Olympus in the corners.  The Rokinon is by far the winner here and it gets pretty sharp by f/4.  The Canon lags far behind the Rokinon and the Olympus is even softer. The hierarchy holds through the entire aperture range.

Here's the bokeh ball comparison:

 I think the Canon has the best bokeh balls wide open.  The Olympus gets some weird outlining near the frame edges due to mechanical vignetting. It also has a ninja star shape at f/2.8.  It's not awful, but it is the clear loser in this department.

Here are some Tiki torch photos like in the other review:

 The background blur might be a little better than the other two, but that might just have to do with the time of day I took these pictures.  Softer light. Certainly not a very significant difference.

On top of these pictures, here are some things that might be pertinent.  The olympus f/2s have a moving element that adjusts to maintain sharpness at close focus. This lens is pretty sharp at minimum focusing distance.  I also think it might have a more "3D" rendering than the other lenses.

So what's my conclusion?  The Rokinon and Canon are better.  If you can find the Olympus for less than $200 it's a good deal. It's a decent lens.  Fun to play with.

A couple of photos:

Orchid Blossoms: Canon 5D w/ Olympus OM Zuiko 35mm f/2 @ f/2.8, minimum focus distance

And finally, the first rose of spring. @f/4


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