New lens and brief review

My perspective is Olympus is walking away from their DSLR business in favor of the mirrorless cameras that are the rave right now.  It’s a business decision – I understand.  I continue to use my E-series system and like what I’m getting from it.  One benefit, however, is some emerging deals on the Four-Thirds mount lenses.  Olympus lenses have always been more expensive than comparable Canon and Nikon so any bargain is worth exploring.

This week I bought the 35-100mm f/2 lens and have had a couple of days to work with it.  So far I’m impressed; I see this lens being used more than I originally anticipated.  Although I have coverage of this focal length with two other lenses the benefit of a faster zoom (f/2 across the whole focal range) will present opportunities I may have shied away from in the past.

The specs you can see here but the basics are as follows:  35-100mm focal range (70-200 full format equivalent), f/2-f/22 across whole focal range, four ED and one Super ED glass elements, minimum focus 1.4mm, filter size 77mm, weight over 3.5 pounds.

It’s definitely a heavy lens but most of my work with it will probably be on a tripod so that doesn’t worry me much.  Compared to the 7+ pound 300mm version this one is almost hand-holdable.

Definitely have to recalibrate for the minimum focal distance, though.  I’ve already had to back away on some shots to get out of the minimum focal range but this isn’t a macro lens so that shouldn’t be an ongoing problem once I get used to it.  There is a three-way switch on the lens to control how far it travels while auto-focusing – good for distant compositions where you don’t need it trying to focus close.

This lens doesn’t incorporate the more modern auto-focus engine so it does make some noise while moving the elements.  And it’s not the fastest focusing in the world but nonetheless responsive when put in continuous focusing mode.

The rings to control focal length and manual focusing are smooth and responsive.  It’s about a quarter turn to go from 35 to 100mm.  Manual focusing was simple and quick.  There are four focus lock buttons located around the front circumference of the lens, making it convenient to hold focus while moving the camera.

What I have found so far is this lens is really sharp.  I’ve used some other pro level Olympus lenses and this one is looking like the sharpest.  Peak sharpness looks to be somewhere between f/4 and f/8, although it’s sharp enough at f/2 you would only see image degradation at 100% on a monitor.

ISO 100, 100mm, 1/320 sec., f/3.2 – hand held

Here’s a 100% crop of the above image:

As with most longer zooms the depth of field can be pretty narrow when focusing close and at f/2 this shrinks considerably.  It’s possible to achieve a razor thin depth of field at the longest focal length and wide open aperture with this lens but at the other end of the aperture range still find a good working DOF.  At infinity focus they’re about equal.

ISO 100, 100mm, 1/800 sec., f/2

ISO 100, 100mm, 1/50 sec., f/8

ISO 100, 100mm, 1/8 sec., f/22

One issue I found is shooting at f/2 in bright sunlight I maxed out the shutter speed on my E-3 (1/8000 sec.) so I shouldn’t have any problems stopping the action of wildlife!

This is the focal range of a typical portrait lens and the few test shots I’ve made show this lens has a nice, even transition from in-focus to out-of-focus areas.  If I ever take the opportunity to make portraits this will be my lens of choice.

ISO 100, 45mm, 1 sec., f/8

Overall I’m pleased after a couple of days.  I’m looking forward to some low light opportunities in the near future to really give it a workout.

Back when he was using more Olympus equipment Kirk Tuck did a short review of this lens – you can read his opinion here.

Expect to see more images from this lens in the future.


2 thoughts on “New lens and brief review

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