Olympus 600mm f/6.5

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by davecaz, May 27, 2018.

  1. I thought I'd share my "new baby" with you. As the title says, it's an Olympus 600mm f/6.5 supertelephoto. I've wanted a 600mm, or longer, lens for most of my life, but never thought I'd have one. So, when I happened upon this one and was able to buy it for $350, delivered, I had to buy it, even though I've been trying (not very successfully) to resist spending more money on gear.

    I'm afraid my photos are not up to the usual level of camera porn seen here. They were shot with my phone, just after returning from my first outing with this lens, and I didn't think to dust or polish it. I was still dusty and sweaty, myself, so I may have added some of those fingerprints while I was arranging the lens for the shots.



    It is a big lens, measuring 377mm, or just under 15", with a retractable hood that adds roughly another 7" when extended, and a 100mm front element. Still, this is relatively compact for a lens of this focal length. It weighs 2,880g, or a bit more than 6 pounds. It has a maximum aperture of f/6.5 and a minimum of f/32. One weakness, in my view, is that it's closest focus is 36 feet, or 11 meters. I'll obviously need some extension tubes for this lens.

    20180525_180033-SM.jpg 20180525_180134-SM.jpg

    One thing I found odd was that my Canon EF-mount extension tubes would not fit onto the OM-EF adapter I was using. I didn't really investigate why, but it seemed like an adapter that works with a given mount should work with a tube that uses the same mount.

    In order to get quick results, I shot the lens on my Canon 6D, rather than my OM-1. I found it pretty easy to focus on the 6D, unlike some manual lenses. But, I think my diopter may have been set wrong, because there were a lot of shots where I was sure it was focused correctly, but the results disagreed with me. Most of the missed shots were focused just beyond the subject, so at least it was consistent.

    Another issue I ran into is that it's too easy to change the focus by simply pressing my face against the camera, and pushing the lens extension in. There is no focus lock, as far as I can tell, and the rack-and-pinion focus mechanism works very smoothly and easily. Sort of a double-edged sword. It would also be nice if the hood would lock into position, but that doesn't seem to be a feature of this lens. Those are personal preferences, of course.

    I was able to get some results I was happy with, particularly at the end of the outing, when I was more practiced with the lens and the subjects weren't moving. The birds were more challenging; the cactus much more cooperative.

    A Red-Eared Slider, formerly an American species that is now found on every continent but Antarctica, apparently. For the non-nature lovers, it's not actually their ears that are red; it's just a marking above their ears. This was actually my first subject of the day, but he wasn't moving much, either.

    This appears to be a hybrid Mallard-x-domestic duck. This is a 100% crop. I consider this the shot of the day, since the duck was swimming diagonally away from me.

    And a Saguaro cactus in full bloom. This one is producing a massive number of blossoms. The knobby looking buds bloom a few at a time, to extend the breeding season, in case their pollinators are busy elsewhere. Saguaro are pollinated by an unusually high number of species, including bees, bats, moths, and a number of bird species. Once pollinated, the blossoms transform into fruits which contains thousands of seeds inside a sweet, pulpy red flesh that is highly prized by Native Americans.
    marc_bergman|1 likes this.
  2. Nice results. If I had one of those I'd be tempted to cobble together an adapter that would allow its use as a wide field telescope with some of my better eyepieces. \
    While f 6.5 isn't supper speed, it's still an improvement over the typical f 8 found in earlier long teles. I look forward to seeing more images.
  3. Wow! That's impressive. I'll look forward to seeing more from this giant. Somewhat coincidentally, I have the baby brother, the OM Zuiko 300/4.5 boxed up ready to send away for a clean, and the repositioning of a little screw that's rolling around among the elements. I hope the quality of it's images will be as good as your 600mm. Thanks for an interesting and informative post.
  4. One of the advantages of a lot of used gear going at reasonable prices is if one finds a desirable lens such as the Olympus 600mm f6.5 or the 300mm f4.5 (as well as other lenses in whatever mount you find) it's usually not a problem to pick up a working body in the necessary mount. Much more desirable, IMHO, that using adapters. Currently, with my stable of various used cameras, I can use lenses in any mount excerpt Exacta, Leica, Konica F (before Autoreflex), Fujicia X (bayonet), and Mamiya Sekor (bayonet mount). For example, if I decide I want an f 1.2 normal lens all I have to do is find one to fit any of the SLR systems I have.
    Rick- I look forward to seeing what that 300mm f4.5 can do. I must get out my Soligor 300mm f4.5 (in Konica Autoreflex mount) and give it some exercise.
  5. Thanks, Mike. Yeah, it's not the Canon 600 f/4 that I'd really like, but it's not bad. And I do have a nice OM-1 to use with it, but I wanted quick results, and there's also a learning curve that's cheaper when shooting digital. So, once I think I'm ready, I'll pop the OM-1 on it and see what it can do. It should definitely be easier to focus, for one thing.

    Thanks, Rick. From what I gather, there are some differences in the coatings on these lenses, between earlier and later production runs. I think mine is an earlier one, though I haven't found any serial number lists for it. It definitely suffers from fringing, under certain conditions.

    I took these shots in my backyard. The plant is a Mexican Bird of Paradise that was waving in the breeze, but this isn't the part that I was focusing on, either. These are 100% crops, to make the fringing visible, where it occurs. The first shot is at f/6.5, and it shows no fringing.
    This shot was taken, I think, at f/16, and you can see the difference quite easily.

    But, it is very easily fixed in LR5, with just a couple of clicks.
    I may have overdone it, a bit, but it would be easy enough to correct if it mattered. For this purpose, it's not important.
    Mike Gammill likes this.
  6. Here's another 100% crop. Metering doesn't seem to work the way I'd expect. I thought that, if I used AV mode, and told the camera I was using f/6.5 (6.3, really), it would meter based on that, but it doesn't seem to. So, it's strictly trial-and-error. I was also surprised to learn that the moon is not in focus at infinity. I had to back off, a bit, to get it in focus.
    Mike Gammill likes this.
  7. 600mm, especially with a digital crop, is good not only for large moon images, but also for lunar eclipses. Also, Jiupiter's four largest moons can be seen at that focal length.
  8. I wouldn't even know how to find Jupiter, much less its moons.

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