Some years ago I was going through a phase I called “delusions of Bresson“. It involved hanging around on the street corners of Perth with a range finder camera fitted with a 35mm lens. It enabled me get close enough to my subjects but not ground them. In modern terms 35mm is not considered a wide-angle lens – in fact quite a few photographers brought up in the digital age think that wide angles start at 20mm (35mm full frame equivalent) – 35mm is seen more as a widish standard lens. Either way it is how I have come to see the world and I consider a 35mm prime (or its equivalent angle of view depending on format size) to be an essential item in my camera bag and this brings me to the Olympus Zuiko 35mm f2 lens.
There are again multiple versions of this lens. The first silver nosed single coated version was 42mm in length, 230g in weight and had a filter thread of 49mm. This MC version is 43mm in length, 240g in weight and has a filter thread of 55mm. It has an optical construction of eight lens elements in 7 groups and a minimum focusing distance of 0.3m.
There is slight barrel distortion evident in the test image. CA is present when wide open and clears up on stopping down Wide open the lens is quite soft and lacking in contrast both in the centre and at the edges. Both sharpness and contrast improve in the centre when stopped down to f8. The edges show some signs of improvement but not as much as the centre. Wide open there is some vignetting but that quickly disappears as you stop down. The lens is quite prone to flare, especially ghosting flare, when there is a point light source in the frame. The solution is to use a lens hood or you can do as I sometimes do and use my cap as a French flag. The alternative approach is to embrace the flare and use it creatively in your photos and videos.
If you can find a good clean copy of the multi-coated version of this lens at a good price then I recommend you pounce on it. It is a wonderful characterful lens that makes its modern counterparts look sterile and boring.
My reviews of the Olympus 24mm f2.8, 35-105mm f3.5-4.5 and 50mm f1.4 can be found by clicking on the links.
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