The OM 50mm 1.8 was the standard kit lens for the Olympus OM series film cameras. Olympus made quite a few good lenses and in this review I would like to explore the standard 50mm to see where it stands.
There are multiple versions of this lens. The consensus is the later versions are better optically, with the “made in japan” version being the best due to a sticky aperture fix and multi-coating improvements.
- Silvernose – “F.ZUIKO” label with a silver ring on the front. Single coated, 6 elements in 5 groups.
- Blacknose – “F.ZUIKO” label without the silver ring. Single coated, same 6/5 optics.
- MC – “ZUIKO MC Japan” label. Multi coated, new 6 elements in 4 groups design.
- Made in Japan (This Review) – “ZUIKO made in Japan” label. Multi coated, same 6/4 optics.
Build Quality and Handling
My favorite thing about this lens is the build quality – it’s a mostly metal design and seems very rugged. I initially thought the focus ring grip was metal but it’s actually a tough rubber, I wouldn’t mind seeing more designs like this. The aperture ring is on the front of the lens and is made of plastic, a sacrifice I’m not completely in love with. I feel a metal aperture ring would feel better as the plastic one feels a little loose. Regardless, the aperture has distinct clicks and is nice to use. The focus ring is smooth as well with just the right amount of resistance.
The size of the lens is also impressive, it’s just a little bit bigger than the adapter. I wouldn’t hesitate to call this one a pancake lens. With these types of small lightweight and fast lenses you can usually expect there to be trade-offs in optical performance, so lets see how the Olympus engineers balanced this lenses optics.
- 1.8 – The lens is moderately sharp in the center, less so in the corners, and contrast is reduced. There’s some spherical aberration here which is affecting the contrast.
- 2.8 – Spherical aberration is gone and contrast looks good. The center sees a big boost in sharpness while the corners only get a small improvement.
- 4.0 – The center remains very sharp and the corners start to make progress.
- 5.6 – Corners get another big boost and look pretty good now.
- 8.0 – Corners improve even more to great levels..
- 11.0 – Diffraction begins to slightly affect sharpness and contrast now.
Disclaimer – contrast seems lower starting at f/8 because the lens was catching a flare from one of my ceiling lights.
Quite a bit at f/1.8, significantly reduced at f/2.8, mostly gone at f/4.
There’s a moderate amount of barrel distortion – a lightroom correction of +4 corrects it.
I didn’t notice any longitudinal CA, what an excellent performance.
To Be Concluded…
I haven’t had much time to take my camera out shooting lately (#NewDadStuff) but once I get a chance I’ll give this lens a proper conclusion with some good pictures to boot.