Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Legacy - Olympus OM-System

They are a set of Olympus OM-SLRs and all-glass, all-metal barrel, fully-manual Zuiko and compatible lenses in my collection - some of them are already in service over 30yrs (since 1979).

During those good ol days uncle.D had three "work-horses" with one  "backup" - The OM-1, OM-1n, OM-4 [each loaded with B&W film, color film and Kodachrome 25 respectively] and the photocell Trip-35 as back-up camera.


[the word "legacy" here means obsolete in a respectable way....]

Olympus "OM" is the system uncle.D grew up with and still in use today. Despite that fact that Olympus have now abandoned this market in favor digital cameras, they made some of the finest and innovative manual focus SLRs and lenses of all time that are still in use today by many amateurs and professionals alike.

**The following are the remaining six legacy prime lenses still in use by uncle.D on 4-thirds digital-SLRs .

L-R: 400mm, 200mm, 135mm, 50mm, 28mm and 17mm

note:  MF-1 adapter is required  to use these Legacy Lenses on the new four-thirds digital-SLR cameras,   .

TOKINA RMC 17mm f3.5Rectilinear super wide-angle lens.
Bought this lens in 1988. Super wide angle legacy lenses are less useful on dSLR [even on the full-frame CCD/CMOS] for two obvious reasons: 

1. the images quality formed on the full frame CCD/CMOS by super wide angle lenses are generally bad at the four corners/periphery - on most wide-angle lenses, corner softness is the most common issue, pictures must be cropped to get rid of those unwanted portions, hence losing the function of the wide angle lens as well as the full-frame advantage.

2. for APS [Canon, Nikon], Foveon [Sigma] and Four-Thirds [Leica, Olympus, Panasonic] CCD/CMOS with crop factor or focal length multiplying factor of more than 1 - the wide angle lenses loses its role too, for instance, the super wide angle 17mm f3.5 rectilinear lens on the four-thirds dSLR covers only 65deg. angle of view even though it is designed for more than 110deg. on 35mm film/slide - makes it equivalent to 34mm focal length on 35mm full-frame.

Anyway, the 17mm lens rectilinearity, depth of field and the definition/details are amazing. It focuses anything all the way to infinity at almost any f-number! Uncle.D loves it.

17mm f3.5 @ f8 1/250sec ISO100 - NATURAL biased>

17mm f3.5 @ f8 1/250sec ISO100 - NATURAL biased

17mm f3.5 @ f8 1/180sec ISO100 - NATURAL biased

17mm f3.5 @ f8 1/125sec ISO100 - NATURAL biased

ZUIKO MC 28mm f2.8 - "standard" wide angle lens.
Bought in 1987 in Japan. This little gem was so popular with the 35mm full frame cameras because...
  • it has been nick_named as standard wide angle lens.
  • it produces dramatic perspective effect
  • it has been used to create many great photos
  • when photographers want to get rid of their lenses, the trio 28mm, 50mm and 135mm remain
28mm f2.8 @ f4 1/200sec ISO100 - VIVID biased

28mm f2.8 @ f4 1/50sec ISO100 - VIVID biased

When used on the four-thirds system the 28mm lens yields about 40deg field- which is almost the same as human eye angle of view [45deg.], hence equivalent to the standard lens on 35mm SLR.

28mm f2.8 @ f8 1/10sec ISO200 - VIVID biased

ZUIKO MC 50mm f1.2 - "standard" lens.
Bought in 1986 with Olympus OM-4. 50mm lenses have been accepted as standard on 35mm SLR because of the focal length which is approximately equal to the diagonal dimension [43mm] of the image captured on 35mm film/slide. Another reason is that the 47deg. angle of view almost similar to the visual angle of the naked eye of around 45deg.

50mm f1.2 @ f4 1/45sec ISO100 - VIVID biased

These pictures were shot today around 7:00pm. No Post Processing, 100% from camera - except pixel reduced to 25% and cropped to 2:3.

50mm f1.2 @ f4 1/20sec ISO100 - NATURAL biased

On the four-thirds system the angle of view of this standard lens is tighter, around 24deg. - equivalent to 100mm lenses on 35mm SLR cameras. Hence are good for shooting still life objects such as portrait, scenery, street scenes, etc.

50mm f1.2 @ f4 1/13sec ISO100 - NATURAL biased

With an extension tube this lens can also be used for close-up shots. With just a 14mm extension tube, 1:2 magnification is possible.
50mm f1.2 @ f11 1/125sec. ISO100 [+14mm extension tube] - VIVID biased

Friday Night Critical Mass Cycling at Putrajaya - a good opportunity to shoot the action with the super bright 50mm f1.2 classic.



TOKINA RMC 135mm f2.8 - "standard" telephoto lens
Bought in 1988. Read more about this lens.
Lenses in the 100's mm class have small angles of view than that of naked eye - tighter further when used on four-thirds system dSLRs with crop factor [or focal-length multiplier] of 2. The angle of view approx. 9 deg. on the four-thirds makes this compact telephoto lens equivalent to 270mm on the 35mm full-frame SLR.

135mm f2.8 @ f5.6 1/30sec ISO100 - VIVID biased

The prime 135mm lens was the must-have for beginners in telephotography of yesteryears. The lens was very practical for use in many fields. Due to its popularity and mass produced, 135mm lens was the second "cheapest" after the standard lens.

135mm f2.8 @ f4.0 1/180sec ISO200 - MUTE biased

135mm is actually the most suitable focal length on the four-thirds dSLR for shooting full-face portraits while keeping a comfortable distance around 2~2.5meters away. Using the similar lens on 35mm [full-frame] system, the camera has to move forwards about 1 meter in front of the model - too close for comfort!

135mm f2.8 @ f8 1/125sec ISO100 - NATURAL biased

TOKINA RMC 200mm f3.5 - "medium" telephoto lens
Bought in 1988.
The viewing angle [field] is 25% of standard [50mm] lenses when used on 35mm full-frame SLR cameras, but the viewing angle of the 200mm lens on 4-thirds dSLR system is 6 degrees, hence equivalent to a 400mm lens wrt 35mm film format.

200mm f3.5 @ f11 1/125sec ISO100 - VIVID

200mm f3.5 @ f8 1/250sec ISO200 - VIVID

Taking people photo [and portraiture] is the last thing Uncle.D ever do in digital photography because of the failure in getting the exact skin tones as on Kodachrome 25 color slides which Uncle.D had been using for more than two decades.

200mm f3.5 @ f8 1/160sec ISO100 - NATURAL

This picture was taken 3 meter away. On the 35mm format it would had captured the whole face/head, fortunately on the four-thirds d-SLR with 2x crop factor the 200mm lens doubles the magnification. The photographer doesn't have to go too close for comfort to take this close-up shot.

200mm lens is also the right glass for taking animal picture while keeping a safe distance in between.

200mm f3.3 @ f5.6 1/30sec ISO200 - VIVID

DANUBA 400mm f6.3 - "super" tele-photo lens
Bought in 1980 in Sydney.
uncle.D wished he had bought a 1000mm-lens [or longer focal length] to explore the golden moon surface a little bit closer at higher definition [without cropping].

400mm f6.3 @ f16 1/90sec ISO100

It is well accepted that the lens with 300mm focal length is the limit for hand-held photography, but today with the built-in image-stabilization [IS] in camera body such as Olympus E-510, NEW Olympus E-520, Olympus E-3 etc. coupled with the compactness of the super telephoto lenses makes hand-held shooting the moon possible even at shutter speed of 1/60sec or less.

Nevertheless, [as a 'beginner'] after locating the distant object Uncle.D grabbed the dSLR with the super telephoto lens and tried to snare the object image in the viewfinder, Uncle.D can't locate it! ... because Uncle.D was still a newbie in handling super telephoto lenses. Uncle.D had to learn and practice to center the object image. There is no substitute for practice.

Not all pro and veteran photographers are familiar with super telephoto lenses. Some of them are newcomers to the realm of super telephotography just like most of us too - may find more difficult in handling than they have ever assumed.

Looks like there is a missing lens in the arsenals. Any seasoned photographer shall be able to immediately pin point the lost lens from the series:  "17mm - 28mm - 50mm - ??mm - 135mm - 200mm - 400mm".

The missing lens is in between the 50mm and 135mm.   It is the 85mm lens. right? ... was actually replaced with the take-anywhere  70mm~210mm zoom lens. On normal photo outings uncle.D used to carry only this zoom along side with the most abused lens, the 28mm f2.8 std wide-angle lens.


Earlier, the duo was taken care by Vivitar 28mm~135mm zoom, but too slow, heavy and bulky. Finally was sold.