Suggestions for Building an OM System

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by ben_hutcherson, May 31, 2019.

  1. In the past month or so, I've really started to fall in love with the size and handling of the OM cameras, and I'd like to "flesh out" the basic system I've acquired a bit more. It's not going to replace my Nikon MF system, but I see it as a nice supplement to it.

    At the moment, I have the following

    OM-1 MD
    OM-2n MD

    28mm f/3.5
    50mm f/1.8
    50mm f/1.8 "made in Japan"
    Kiron 80-200mm f/4.5

    As much as I'd like to have a 50mm f/1.4, I've seen internet discussions that peg the f/1.8 Made in Japan as the best of the bunch, so I'm happy to stay with that if I wouldn't necessarily see an improvement other than the extra half stop(I haven't found either 50mm lacking in IQ).

    I'm a wide angle guy at heart, so feel like I need some sort of wide lens(28mm is not a favorite FL of mine). From what I've seen, a 24mm seems a good balance of performance and cost in the OM system, and even though I like/can make use of wider lenses, I'd be happy with that to round out the wider end of things(unless someone can suggest a good 20mm). So, with that in mind are there any particular ones I should look for?

    I'd also like some sort of macro lens-~100mm is generally my preferred FL for this sort of lens, although ~50mm is fine. What are my options here?

    Finally, I have a high opinion of Kiron zooms, and have found that the Nikon mount ones I've used have often been at least as good if not better than similar Nikkors of the same vintage. With that said, I wouldn't mind having either a ~100 or 135mm prime(a 100mm Macro could do double duty here). Also, are there any Zuiko zooms worth considering that cover the ~70-200mm range?
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  2. The OM4 Ti in silver finish is one of the cameras I lusted for but never got around to owning. Great time for film shooters.
  3. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    My first SLR system consisted of an OM-1 and three Zuiko primes: a 28/3.5, 50/3.5 macro, and 85/2 tele. All were nice lenses. I used the macro as an all-purpose standard lens. Later I sold the 28 and got a more versatile Zuiko 28-48/4 zoom, which is quite compact and a good performer. The 28-48 is fairly uncommon, though, and tends to sell for higher prices now.

    I find the larger tele zooms a bit awkward to handle on the small OM bodies unless you have a winder attached. The Zuiko 75-150/4 is quite compact and decently sharp, but being an older design is a bit lacking in contrast compared to the primes. Olympus also introduced a 65-200/4 around the time of the OM-4 which I haven't used, but I believe it got good ratings from Modern Photography when it came out.
  4. SCL


    Not a Zuiko, but usable on your bodies with good performance is the Tamron 90/2.5 macro Adaptall. I use mine more than my other 3 macro lenses put together. If you want to spend more, there is the Lester Dine or its Kiron 105/2.8 macro which goes to 1:1 in an OLY mount - a truly magnificent lens...I only had the Canon mount version.
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  5. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Also, some of the Olympus tele zooms seem to be prone to internal haze. I've seen this with both the 75-150/4 and 100-200/5.
  6. Thanks guys.

    I like the sounds of the Kiron micro, but the ~$300 I'm seeing them for on Ebay isn't overly appealing to me. I'll look at some of the other tele suggestions here. I do like primes, and know that zooms from the 80s and earlier can be iffy.

    And yes, I do agree that the 80-200 I have now seems a bit unbalanced on an OM body.

    Any thoughts on my wide angle question? Any thoughts on the 24mm f/2.8? What about the 20mm f/4?
  7. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Ben, I haven't used any Zuikos wider than 28mm. The 24/2.8 is very compact and their fast ultra wides (24/2 and 21/2) are highly rated, but no doubt pricey if you can find them. Wide-angle zooms weren't Olympus' strong point compared to the other major manufacturers, with the 28-48 being as wide as they offered.

    I wasn't aware of a 20mm f/4--did you mean 200mm f/4? The faster short teles (85/2 and 100/2) can be combined with the 2x teleconverter, if you are traveling light and want a bit of extra reach with reasonable speed.
  8. SCL


    I've never owned it, as I prefer primes, and it was, and is, still pricey, but the FD 24-35 f/3.5 L was highly prized by pros in the day and said to be sharper than the prime equivalents. I owned the 100/2 an 135/2 until about a year ago and both were outstanding lenses.
  9. Sorry, I was looking at a listing of Zuiko lenses, and saw it listed as a "20mm f/3.5 Macro." From the photo provided, it looks to be a preset bellows lens, and I'm guessing is not terribly common. I can't imagine dealing with bellows on a 20mm(it's bad enough on a ~50mm) so it looks like that's not the one for me.

    The 21mm f/2 sounds VERY appealing, but I'm also guessing that it's more than I want to put in the system. So, it sounds like the 24mm f/2.8 is the practical choice.

    I'm honestly not big on wide angle zooms in the first place. For my Nikon kit(late AF film and digital) I have the 14-24mm f/2.8. I have it because honestly it's better than most of the primes in that range, but it also weighs a ton. I have a couple of cheapies-a 10-20mm DX zoom that can be used on a full frame camera from 14mm-20mm, but needs a body introduced after ~2012 to focus(auto or manual). I also have a film-era AF 18-35mm that is honestly pretty bad-both of these lenses were bought more out of the fact that they're small, slow, and mostly plastic so they're also light weight. The 17-35mm f/2.8 was nice enough on film or low-res digital, but unfortunately mien met an unfortunate end falling out of the back seat of my car(that was an expensive mistake) and also weighed a ton.

    In any case, like I said I'll hunt for a 24mm f/2.8 and be done with it. I have other ways to go wider than 24mm, and throwing a big fast lens on the front of an OM body seems to kind of defeat the whole "feel" of the system.
  10. I started with an OM1 back in 1976, moved to Pentax MX in '77, bounced back to the OM1 in '78, and stayed there until I could finally afford my dream Nikon FM2n + F2AS combo in 1991. Over the years I've accumulated WAY more vintage Nikkors than I ever did Zuikos, for a couple reasons. One, I had an unusual run of bad luck with "lemon" Zuikos, and two, Olympus annoyingly never made a version of my go-to lens (fast 35mm) that handled well on the OM body.

    The Zuiko 35/2 lens felt too big and clumsy on the OM1, kind of the same way most Zeiss lenses are on small Sony A7 bodies today, and I didn't like its performance vs the Zuiko 50mm. The OM bodies with 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 or 3.5 macro handle like a dream, but this delicate balance falls apart with the alternate Zuikos I wanted. Loved my OM1 with a 50, hated it with the 35/2. The affordable slower Zuiko wides I tried were disappointing: the 28 was dull, my two copies of the delightfully compact 24mm f/2.8 were tack sharp but had more barrel distortion than a beachball reflected in a funhouse mirror. The faster versions were too expensive to be an option for me then, by the time I could afford them I'd already given up using the OM1 for a new Nikon FM2n (which felt "just right" with its compact Nikkor-O 35mm f/2, Nikkor-NC 24mm f/2.8 and 20mm f/3.5 AI).

    Other than the 50/1.4, 50/1.8 and 50/3.5 macro, the only Zuiko that really knocked my socks off was the original bulky two-ring 35mm-70mm f/3.6 zoom. This came attached to a demo OM2S Program that I got for a song when the Camera Barn my buddy worked in shut down. The zoom had amazing color quality and sharpness, the best I've ever experienced with a zoom (and better than many primes), but again was just too big for me on the OM bodies. I wish I could be more flexible on this point, but it really bugs me: OM with 50mm is perfect, anything larger or heavier kills it. Meanwhile I happily used the big old heavy 85mm f/1.8 Nikkor HC on my FM2 with no complaint- go figure subjective handling.

    I'll never part with my OM1n: to my eye its the most beautiful SLR ever, and I love the whisper-quiet shutter sound. The sharpest B/W images I ever shot were taken in '70s Manhattan with that OM1n and its 50/1.8. One of these days I'm gonna get an OM2n + 50/1.4 to keep it company, and I've always wanted to try the legendary 21mm f/3.5.
    Last edited: May 31, 2019
  11. Hi,

    Okay, just my thoughts

    You have the bodies nailed!
    Wide - zuiko 24mm f2.8 - perfect balance and cost point, 21mm f2 awesome but costly
    Macro - Zuiko 50mm f3.5 + Ext Tube gives 1:1 and is awesome, hands down though the 50mm Macro f2.0 is even better but costly, Zuiko 90mm Macro is king, costly though, but the wildcard is the Tamron 90mm macro 51B, simply fantastic and can be had for a reasonable sum, if you get this get the 2x flatfield Teleconverter which will also give 1:1, you'll be hard pressed to beat this for quality and cost
    Zoom - hmm, love the 65-200 but nearly always suffers from a foggy rear element, if you get one that's clear it's highly likely it will go foggy at some point. Now, the 85-250mm is again excellent,more of a tripod job but more than useable handheld and personally think this isu
    Never used one but the 50-250mm is supposed to very good.

    Good luck!
  12. Let me go back a step and talk about the concept of a 'system' or 'kit'.

    The standard sort of kit for film cameras before the improvement of zoom lenses was one or two (for different film) slr bodies
    and a "wide angle" lens in the 28mm to 35mm range. Then you would have had your normal lens (almost always a 50mm). You would also have a telephoto (at that time around 135-200mm). Perhaps an 85-105mm "portrait" lens as well.

    Zoom brought in the ranges of the wide and telephoto lenses being expanded.
  13. I have a Tamron 90mm macro and dislike the fact that it produces an odd colored spot in the image center, when stopped down. - Otherwise a great lens for open(ish) portraits, if you get along with the focus throw. Not entirely nasty but a bit challenging for me.
  14. Not a macro lens but I like the 135mm 3.5 It's compact, has a built in retractable lens hood plus they are readily available and inexpensive. If it turns out you don't like it, you've got little invested in it.
  15. Well, I did happen across a 35mm f/2.8 at the local camera store yesterday for an attractive $25.

    I'll watch for a nice and affordable 24mm f/2.8 on Ebay, and may splurge on a 21mm f/2(although there's a beautiful motor driven black F at the local store calling my name also). The 135mm f/3.5 is an easy pick for what they seem to bring.

    The jury is still out on what I'm going to do as far as a 100mm range prime-I'll look at the Zuiko, Tamron, and Kiron.
  16. Is there an OM lens not made in Japan? If not where was it made?
  17. As best as I can tell from reading the discussion of OM users, some 50mm f/1.8s were simply marked "Japan" and others were fully spelled out "Made in Japan." I've seen the latter abbreviated "MIJ" to differentiate it from the simple "Japan" one. I have an example of both versions. Considering that my "Japan" lens came on an OM-1 and the "Made in Japan" came on an OM-4, I'm guessing the latter is later.

    The one marked "Made in Japan" seems to be held in somewhat higher regard than the simple "Japan" one, although from what I've seen both are excellent.
  18. I have one OM-1n and one 50mm f/1.8 and the winder. My 50mm f/1.8 said "lens made in Japan" on the lens mount.
  19. The one I'm referring to says "made in Japan"-note the capitalization-on the front trim ring. Starting at 12:00 and going clockwise, the one I'm holding in my hand at the moment says "ZUIKO AUTO-S 50mm 1:1,8 made in Japan OLYMPUS OM-SYSTEM" on the front trim ring. I don't have my other 50mm close at hand, but it is marked somewhat differently. The 35mm f/2.8 I'm looking at now says "LENS MADE IN JAPAN" on the mount, but not on the front trim ring.

    There again, it's my understanding that the "made in Japan" lenses are considered some to be the most desireable-I haven't shot enough side-by-side to draw my own conclusions.

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