Cheating on my Minoltas with Olympus

Since returning home from Malaysia, I’ve had a chance to go out and investigate the claims of Olympus fans, spurred on by their enthusiasm for the old OM Zuiko lenses on mirrorless cameras.  I checked a local shop and they did have a few but at that time I hadn’t yet received my OM-to-E-Mount adapter from Amazon and wanted to hold off on buying anything until then.  Fortunately, that delay provided an opportunity to chat with my Father-in-law who happened to have an old Olympus OM G camera with a selection of Zuiko lenses.  Over a cup of coffee we worked out a good trade deal.  I got a fully functioning 35mm Olympus OM G body w/ autowinder and the following Olympus lenses: Olympus OM G. Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.4 Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-W 28mm f/2.8 Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 From a local shop, I later bought an Olympus Zuiko Auto-Macro 50mm f/3.5 The camera and all the lenses were quite dusty inside and out.  The lenses each required a full teardown in order to free up the auto aperture mechanism, clean and lubricate the manual focusing helicoid, and remove the fungus growing on the internal glass elements.  Fungus is common for lenses this old however it is quite easily remedied with a 50/50 mix of Hydrogen Peroxide and Ammonia.  Many people, thinking the glass is ruined, refuse to buy the discounted lenses with this problem but in reality most of the time it can be brought back to perfect condition.  I now look for these “problem” lenses to save myself some money.  The only specialty tools I use are a set of American made Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) crosstip screwdrivers and a lens spanner.  Total cost for both items was less than $40.

iPhone
iPhone

My first outing with the new Zuiko lenses was to a local field of Sunflowers.  I brought the 50mm f/1.4 and the 28mm f/2.8.  The Zuiko 28mm I had attached to the OM G body loaded with a fresh roll of B&W Ilford Pano 50.  On my A7R I had my now-famous Minolta 28mm f/2.8 that went for a swim in the ocean earlier this year.  Almost everything I shot with the A7R I shot again with the film camera.  I haven’t developed the film yet so I’ll have to wait and see how those shots turned out.  Once I’ve developed and scanned the negatives, I’ll make a new post just for them… unless they suck. Ok enough about the boring stuff.  On to the photos! This first shot is from the A7R with the Minolta 28mm.  I still love the way this special-to-me lens renders a scene – they just glow!

Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8 AF
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8 AF

For the next few shots, I used the Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 at f/1.4 setting.  That’s my wife holding our newest addition to the family, Millie.

Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM G. Zuiko Auto-S 50m f/1.4
Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM G. Zuiko Auto-S 50m f/1.4

A Rose of Sharon in the backyard.  This 50mm sure has a really nice look to it when shot wide open like that.

Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM G. Zuiko Auto-S 50m f/1.4
Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM G. Zuiko Auto-S 50m f/1.4

I was just farting around in the house with the new toys.. I mean lenses.. when I snapped this one of my oldest boy, Wyatt.  That same buttery smooth rendering of the background.  I’m beginning to really like this lens!

Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM G. Zuiko Auto-S 50m f/1.4
Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM G. Zuiko Auto-S 50m f/1.4

This shot here was made with the Zuiko 50mm f/1.8.  It’s very sharp but the background looks a touch busy to me.  Considering the very minor size and weight difference between the f/1.4 lens and the f/1.8, I can’t see a reason not to carry the f/1.4 all the time.

Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-S 50m f/1.8
Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-S 50m f/1.8

Having messed around with the Olympus 50mm lenses, my favorite is definitely the f/1.4 version.  This brought me to the next question.  Would I have the Olympus 50mm f/1.4 over my Rokkor-PF 58mm f/1.4?  When you consider the size and weight difference between the two, I see no real benefit to the Minolta.  I won’t not use it but I definitely will choose the miniature Olympus over it when I travel.  Some folks may be tempted to put together some sort of comparison test with lots of clever technical chat about each but I honestly don’t care to take it that far.   From what I’ve seen shooting with both of them under real world conditions, I can say they’re both fit for duty but the Olympus is easier to carry so it wins.

(Right) Olympus OM G. Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 | (Left) Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 58mm f/1.4
(Right) Olympus OM G. Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 | (Left) Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 58mm f/1.4

On to the waterfall!  My family and I took a drive up to Virginia this last Sunday to go visit Crabtree Falls.  Naturally, I brought along my new toys.. I mean lenses… to see how well I liked shooting with them. I used the Zuiko 28mm f/2.8 for this shot of a stream fed by the waterfall further up the mountain.  Aperture was set to f/16, ISO set to 50, and I used an 8-stop Neutral Density filter to get a 15 second exposure.  I’m quite pleased with how well this lens performed.  Rich and contrasty, and sharp to the corners.  Micro contrast was excellent as well, yielding super fine details in the moss and the texture of the stones.

Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-W 28m f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-W 28m f/2.8

My wife shot this photo of me and the boys while I was trying to figure out my composition with the Olympus OM G camera.  You’d think after three weeks in Malaysia that my white legs would have taken a little hint of color.  Sigh… those Scottish genes.

iPhone
iPhone

Another perspective of the same stream, shot with the same camera settings.

Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-W 28m f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-W 28m f/2.8

One of the smaller cascades, I shot this rather simply and quickly.  No ND filter was used so my shutter speed couldn’t go any lower than 1/2 second.  I could have stopped down my aperture to the last click, f/22, but I feared diffraction would reduce the overall image quality.  Still, it’s a pretty photo in its own right.

Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-W 28m f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-W 28m f/2.8

I grabbed this shot while we were hiking.  Nothing special but I still like it for some reason.

Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-W 28m f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-W 28m f/2.8

On our way back home, we pulled into a boat ramp area alongside a lake so my wife could nurse the baby.  During that time, I walked around for a few minutes and got this final shot.

Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-W 28m f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-W 28m f/2.8

My overall impression of the OM Zuiko lenses is positive.  I’m not ready to say better or worse than the Minoltas but I can say that they are noticeably smaller. Carrying a little boy on my back and two cameras around my neck while hiking in the mountains, the weight savings is immediately apparent. The OM-to-E-mount adapter is so close in size to the MD-to-E-mount adapter that it’s not a factor.  The adapters are, however, an item consider for taking up valuable bag space and so I’m not sure how willing I am to carry two different adapters so that I can carry both Minolta and Olympus lenses.  I think on my next trip I’ll try carrying only the Olympus lenses and see how I like that. As always, I hope you enjoyed the photos and tidbits of information on the old lenses.

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One thought on “Cheating on my Minoltas with Olympus

  1. Interesting posting, Tom- I got all excited when I saw the title… I thought maybe you got a new OM-D or something!!
    Beautiful pictures, as always… and thanks so much for the always-interesting commentary as well. Beautiful family pictures- which I always love seeing.

    Like

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