Early vs Late versions of the OM Zuiko 50mm F/1.8

Started Feb 1, 2010 | Discussions
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SoundRich New Member • Posts: 9
Early vs Late versions of the OM Zuiko 50mm F/1.8

Hi all,

I currently use, fairly regularly on my E400 and E600, an early version OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 (silvernose, SN: 266668), but I’m not quite happy with the sharpness wide open and at f/2.8. I know that the later versions (i.e. with "Made in Japan" on the front are supposed to be better than the later versions.

Given the price the latter lenses typically go for on ebay etc, do you think I would see much improvement from acquiring one of the later series lenses, or would do you think the money be better saved towards acquiring a ZD 50mm f/2 macro, i.e. I wouldn't be satisfied with the later lens? I never use the OM lens wide open anyway because of ghosting so the loss in max aperture doesn't bother me.

I make heavy use of focus confirm adapters, so the lack of autofocus doesn't bother me either, but if the later series manual lens isn't a significant upgrade, then it sure would be a nice feature to have.

The other idea would be other manual focus lenses, such as an OM 50mm f/2 macro. I definitely don't want to go any slower wide open than F/2.8, so performance at F/2.8 and wider is quite important to me.

Any suggestions?

papillon_65
papillon_65 Forum Pro • Posts: 25,663
Re: Early vs Late versions of the OM Zuiko 50mm F/1.8

I can only give you my experience of the 50mm 1.8 "made in Japan" variety. Mine is razor sharp at 2.8 and beyond. You might also consider the OM 50mm 3.5 macro which is the sharpest lens I own and is also exceptionally sharp at 3.5 and beyond.
The 50mm f2 would be the obvious choice but it is considerably more expensive.

I also own the OM 28mm 2.8 and again it is nice and sharp and is effectively a 56mm prime.
-
Tony
http://the-random-photographer.blogspot.com/

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sevenseas7 Forum Member • Posts: 53
Re: Early vs Late versions of the OM Zuiko 50mm F/1.8

I recommend the 50mm f3.5 macro. Great lens.

DMATH Regular Member • Posts: 214
Re: Early vs Late versions of the OM Zuiko 50mm F/1.8

I have the earlier 'silver nose' and a more recent 'Made in Japan' with a serial number of 1.5 mil (give or take a few 10 thousand). The 'silver nose' is terrible at all f-stops. It must have been dropped a few times. It should not be this bad. My more recent 'Made in Japan' is very sharp. I did just buy on Ebay the most recent 50 f1.8 with no serial number. These latest 50 f1.8 lenses are designated by having no serial number but having an 'MC' on the front of the lens which stands for multi-coated.

As soon as I receive the lens, I will do another lens test (visual at 100%) to compare resolutions between my 'Made in Japan' with serial #1.5 mil and the most recent multi-coated lens. Other than maybe better CA, I am not expecting much of a difference.

David

WGArts2 Senior Member • Posts: 1,073
Re: Early vs Late versions of the OM Zuiko 50mm F/1.8

SoundRich wrote:

Hi all,

I currently use, fairly regularly on my E400 and E600, an early version OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 (silvernose, SN: 266668), but I’m not quite happy with the sharpness wide open and at f/2.8. I know that the later versions (i.e. with "Made in Japan" on the front are supposed to be better than the later versions.

Given the price the latter lenses typically go for on ebay etc, do you think I would see much improvement from acquiring one of the later series lenses, or would do you think the money be better saved towards acquiring a ZD 50mm f/2 macro, i.e. I wouldn't be satisfied with the later lens? I never use the OM lens wide open anyway because of ghosting so the loss in max aperture doesn't bother me.

I make heavy use of focus confirm adapters, so the lack of autofocus doesn't bother me either, but if the later series manual lens isn't a significant upgrade, then it sure would be a nice feature to have.

The other idea would be other manual focus lenses, such as an OM 50mm f/2 macro. I definitely don't want to go any slower wide open than F/2.8, so performance at F/2.8 and wider is quite important to me.

Any suggestions?

The mij 50/1.8s are very good lenses. Better even than the 1.4. You probably will see a difference from silver if you're a real stickler.

The OM-Zuiko 50/2 though is a real world class lens. Reviews of the ZD 50/2 are top-notch as well.
If u don't want to get into macro, then save the $$$s and find an mij 50/1.8

irmo Regular Member • Posts: 394
Re: Early vs Late versions of the OM Zuiko 50mm F/1.8

gosthing - fixed by black paper on back of lens ;).

OM 50 f3.5 is cheap and it's one of the sharpest lenses I ever sow.... It's just crazy.

I have OM zuiko f1.8 early version are realy bad (not worth of buying tham) the silver noise version are better ... but Carlz Zeiss is the way to go, atleast for me I got the f1.4 OM zeiss and at f1.4 it's bit unsharp (still useable)22 but at f2.0 it's razor sharp already ;).

shutter2533 Senior Member • Posts: 1,476
How much do you want to spend?

SoundRich wrote:

Hi all,

Given the price the latter lenses typically go for on ebay etc, do you think I would see much improvement from acquiring one of the later series lenses, or would do you think the money be better saved towards acquiring a ZD 50mm f/2 macro, i.e. I wouldn't be satisfied with the later lens? I never use the OM lens wide open anyway because of ghosting so the loss in max aperture doesn't bother me.

I don't know what the OM 50/1.8 sell for in the UK. In the US they can be found for less than $50. Avoid the MC versions as they used a lubricant that causes sticky aperture. SN above 3,XXX,XXX are trouble free. There were variations in lens coating suggesting glass types were substituted to lower costs. Production ended with SN in the high 5,XXX,XXX. SN on these later lenses were engraved on the lower side of the lens mount. If ebayers don't specify the SN, ask!

These later OM 50/1.8s have much better contrast at f1.8 giving a sharper appearance, though resolution was improved also. By f5.6, the older F. ZUIKO versions are comparable in performance.

The other idea would be other manual focus lenses, such as an OM 50mm f/2 macro. I definitely don't want to go any slower wide open than F/2.8, so performance at F/2.8 and wider is quite important to me.

OM 50/2.0 macro is a rare find and would probably cost more than a new ZD 50 macro.

Any suggestions?

For non macro lenses, I like the Pentax-M 50/1.7. I have one with SN 2,XXX,XXX and another 6,XXX,XXX and the performance is near identical.

Minolta's 45/2.0 is sharp and contrasty at f2.0. Have to grind down the aperture pin or drill it out completely to fit on 4/3 bodies.

Macro lenses:

Vivitar/Panagor 55mm/2.8 macro was an excellent lens. Hard to find now and I don't know what prices are.

Nikon's 55mm/2.8 Micro AI-S is a good choice too. Not cheap, but easier to find.

Trevor

OM 6Ti Plus Contributing Member • Posts: 741
Re: Early vs Late versions of the OM Zuiko 50mm F/1.8

SoundRich wrote:

Hi all,

I currently use, fairly regularly on my E400 and E600, an early version OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 (silvernose, SN: 266668), but I’m not quite happy with the sharpness wide open and at f/2.8.

Plus a bit I have snipped. Then you further wrote - after another bit I snipped

I never use the OM lens wide open anyway because of ghosting so the loss in max aperture doesn't bother me.

I make heavy use of focus confirm adapters, so the lack of autofocus doesn't bother me either ....... I definitely don't want to go any slower wide open than F/2.8, so performance at F/2.8 and wider is quite important to me.

Any suggestions?

I haven't contributed before now because those bits puzzled me. If you never use it wide open why worry about the sharpness wide open. If the ghosting is a problem rather than the sharpness that is a different issue which may require different solutions; do you use the appropriate lens hood/shade? The early coatings on the silvernose 50/1.8 do not control flare as well as the later coatings in my experience and a lens hood can improve contrast as well. As irmo mentioned one suggestion for reducing ghosting is to use a black insert in the adapter to reduce the diameter of the image circle. There have been a couple of threads - the most recent by John King IIRC on this subject. That would be worth reading.

As regards sharpness, I note your heavy use of focus confirm adapters. The weakness of these, I suspect, are that they mislead the camera into thinking that it has a lens attached which will stop when told it has focus lock. The problem is that by the time our eyes register the light coming on, our ears hear the beep, transmit that to the brain and the brain says "we have focus lock" and tells the hand to stop rotating the focus ring it has gone through the point of optimal focus. I don't, as yet, have an AF confirm adapter, just a dumb one. I guess one may need to go through focus, out the other side, then back up a little before half-pressing the shutter release and slowly going into focus again. For all I know you may be doing all this already, so if eggs and grannies are in your mind I apologise in advance.

I have a siver nose OM 50/1.8 of fairly early serial no.; in the 464xxx range. I did some quick test shots with it of the Tim Jackson Focus Test Chart. I suspect that your complaint about lack of sharpness wide open may be down to not getting focus spot on. At F1.8 my lens has about 1" of the chart in focus, outside that you could say it wasn't sharp . At F2.8 that 1" goes up to nearly 2" and by F4 it hasn't quite reached 2 1/4". That is, of course, pretty close focused - around 30" away from the chart. I would have uploaded them to accompany this post, but Adobe doesn't like my down-level version of Flash player and insists I close all browser windows to do so. Consequently no images embedded I'm afraid.

I have no problems with the sharpness of my OM 50/1.8, rather, with an E-510 viewfinder I have problems with accurate focus; the focusing screen is designed for maximum brightness, not maximum accuracy of focus . If you haven't already done so, it may be worth doing some tripod-based static subject testing to eliminate the possibility of it being a focus issue

If you have and continue to use any of the OM film bodies then it can make sense to use the manual focus OM lenses, but the Olympus DSLRs do not make ideal digital backs for the shorter focal lengths. If you are coming unencumbered to Oly DSLRs then the purpose designed lenses are invariably a more appropriate choice. I would personally prefer that Olympus had demonstrated more vision in supporting existing brand users who had supported them in the past, but those are old arguments not relevant to this thread so I will say no more on that.

regards,

Mike

jscott Senior Member • Posts: 2,253
Save for the ZD 50mm f2 (n/t)
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