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Zuiko OM 400mm f6.3 lens test on Oly E3
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:02 pm    Post subject: Zuiko OM 400mm f6.3 lens test on Oly E3 Reply with quote

I have just bought an Olympus Zuiko OM 400mm f6.3 lens to add to my (slowly) growing Zuiko collection. At 300, this is the most expensive manual lens I have bought, but i think it was worth it. These lenses seem to be very uncommon in the UK and this one is in really superb condition. The picture below shows my 200mm and above Zuikos. From left to right:

Zuiko OM 400mm f6.3
Zuiko OM 200mm f5
Zuiko OM 500mm f8 catadioptric
Zuiko OM 200mm f 4
Zuiko OM 300mm f4.5



November in Northern England is not the best time to test a telephoto lens. It was generally overcast today, with just the occasional bit of sun. All the tests were done with my Olympus E3 @ISO200, tripod mounted, using remote release and 5 second mirror lock up. All shots are unprocessed jpeg from the camera. Focusing was by live view.

The first shot below shows my standard test target at a distance of 26x the focal length from the sensor. The "48" means 48 lines per inch. At roughly 25:1 demagnification, this means 48 lines per mm at the sensor.



The next three pictures are 100% crops from shots taken at f6.3, f8, and f11. The lens easily resolves the finest lines even wide open. There is a hint of colour fringing to be seen around the white lines and in the black line bordering the enameled plate. At f8, contrast improves a bit and the fringing is a little reduced. The resolution may be a little better, but the exposure is a little higher and this confuses the issue. (I always find telephoto lenses give increasing exposure as they are stopped down with the E3). The shot at f11 shows the slight increase in exposure and a slightly cooler white balance. the colour fringing is absent. All in all, an impressive result. However, i expect the colour fringing will be more obvious in bright sunlight.





I found it hard to take a "real" picture due to the lack of light. For the shot below I had to use ISO1600 to get a decent shutter speed, and there is still a bit of motion blur. Again, this is an unprocessed jpeg from the camera with the lens at f6.3. The lens was supported by a bean bag. Focus was by AF confirm chip and eye.



PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice collection . Surprised The lens looks great, but contrast seems a little low. CA is low as well.


PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am unsure worth to pay this sum for a slow 400mm lens even if I am fun of Zuikos. Congrats for your collection and welcome to our forum!


PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stingOM wrote:
Very nice collection . Surprised The lens looks great, but contrast seems a little low. CA is low as well.


I agree contrast needs a bit of a boost, but this is a very easy fix and so doesn't bother me unduly.


PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great test! I haven't seen any tests of this lens previously and you've done a great job...the lens has some good resolution. I'm not sure about the CA control though on the test card (this is what put me off the 300/4.5).


PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Attila wrote:
I am unsure worth to pay this sum for a slow 400mm lens even if I am fun of Zuikos. Congrats for your collection and welcome to our forum!


I agree it is a lot of money for a lens with the same basic specification as a 40 preset "long tom". I certainly thought long and hard about buying it. However the low max aperture doesn't bother me at all as I will be using it mainly for motor sports where depth of field is important. I expect to use it mainly at f8 or f11. I did have a 400mm preset. The Zuiko at f6.3 beats the preset any aperture in terms of sharpness and CA (and so it should). It is also much more useable (easy to balance, nice to focus etc).

Mark


PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ManualFocus-G wrote:
Great test! I haven't seen any tests of this lens previously and you've done a great job...the lens has some good resolution. I'm not sure about the CA control though on the test card (this is what put me off the 300/4.5).


Here you go: Wink
http://www.biofos.com/cornucop/omz_e330.html
http://www.biofos.com/cornucop/omz_e1.html
http://www.biofos.com/cornucop/omz_ep1.html


PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ManualFocus-G wrote:
Great test! I haven't seen any tests of this lens previously and you've done a great job...the lens has some good resolution. I'm not sure about the CA control though on the test card (this is what put me off the 300/4.5).


Thanks!

I share you concerns over CA. I do a lot of historic motor sport photography and bright sunlight and shiny metal brings out the worst in any lens when it comes to CA.

I will make a separate post on the OM 300mm f4.5. The CA is there, especially wide open. However, I got a lot of really good shots with it this year and wouldn't call the CA a problem (I used mainly f8 or f11 to ensure adequate depth of field and this helps with the CA). This was in complete contrast to the Tamron SP 300mm f5.6 (54B) which came out very well in my "standard" test but produced low contrast and strong fringing when used in action in bright sunlight even when well stopped down. It was a big disappointment and this was why I got the Zuiko.

The bottom line (IMHO) with CA is that the visibility depends on the subject and shooting condition. I suspect it also depends on the type of DSLR. Since it is (mainly) produced by the micro-lenses on the sensor, this would be entirely logical. I have not had a telephoto lens (except catadioptrics) with focal length of 300mm or longer that did not give some CA on the E3. Maybe other camera makes are less prone to this effect? Zuiko lenses are the best I've tried, but the competition has only come from Tamron and some no-hope cheapos (Optomax, Promura, all junk).

The only serious competition I have for the Zuiko 400mm is the Sigma APO 400mm f5.6. based on this first test, the Zuiko is much better. However, my Sigmas (I have two and bits of a third) are not in the best shape. It is a very hard lens to find in good condition. But that is another story...

Mark