While I’m not always a fan of third-party lenses, every so often, one comes along that impresses me as an alternative to an OEM lens. And the Osawa is one of those lenses that I probably would have used more if I had known what a sleeper I was sitting on. Unlike Vivitar, Osawa is a lens manufacturer in their own right and produced lenses starting in the 1970s when many SLRs were beginning to gain popularity in the consumer market, and many were clamouring for inexpensive alternatives. While working with this lens in an OM-Mount, they also produced for other major camera makers like the Pentax, Canon, and Nikon.
Model: Osawa MC 1:3.5-4.5 35-105mm MACRO
Focal Length: 35-105mm
Focal Range: ∞ – 0.28m
Aperture: f/3.5 – f/22, 6 Blades
Structure: 13 Elements in 11 Groups
The sturdiness of the lens’s construction should come as no surprise without being overly heavy or throwing off the centre of gravity for the camera. It works well on small form factor SLRs like the Olympus OM-System. The lens is all metal in construction, with good rubber coating on the focusing and zoom control. The zoom is controlled through the typical push/pull mechanism; thankfully, the 35mm point is closest to the body with 105mm at the farthest; it certainly helps keep the lens and camera body balance. The zoom function is smooth, as is the focusing. And it is surprisingly short between infinity and the close-focus point. Smooth, with enough resistance to allow for both gross and fine movements. The one problem I have is with the macro functions; while the lens has a standard close focus of about a meter, you can get down to the 28cm closest point by using a dedicated macro focusing helical. Not the most central system, but it certainly does work well.
Interestingly, this lens’s image quality is not consistent, which threw me off a great deal. First off, this lens produces wildly different image quality between the 35mm mark and the 105mm mark. However, neither are perfect either, which has me on the fence about this lens’ quality. From a technical perspective, in a controlled environment, at 35mm, the lens is pretty soft at close focus and wide open (f/3.5-5.6), although once you zoom into 105mm, you start to get some sharpness when wide open (f/4.5), which continues through the rest of the apertures. When you’re in the field, you still get a bit of softness at 35mm and wide open (f/3.5), which goes away once you stop down past f/5.6, with the sweet spot being further stopped down at least past f/8. There is also no fall off at any aperture and any focal length. There is nothing at 35mm; if there were, I’d have some serious questions. Once you hit 105mm, there’s some pinching, nothing too severe but present. The out-of-focus rendering is nothing overly special but smooth all the same.
The Osawa 35-105 is an excellent choice for a one-and-done lens for your Olympus kit, especially if you’re on a budget. While it might not have the best optical performance as a travel lens or something, Photowalk gives you a decent range of focal lengths for average shooting. If space is an issue and you only have space for a single lens and body, this is an okay choice. While it would not work well for low-light and inside work, outside, it’s a strong performer. In a pinch, it can work as a Macro lens, but you do want to have it zoomed into 105mm, where it will perform the best, in my opinion. You can also use it for portraits, but again outside and zoomed right into 105mm.
The Low Down
I have a strong feeling this lens is a copy of the actual Zuiko 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 although it has a different optical construction. I’m honestly on the fence about this lens, part of me wanted to like it, and there are some likeable qualities about it, but then there are other things that turn me off the lens. On the used market, these lenses are incredibly cheap, with most running at a maximum of 45$ which honestly seems a bit steep; on average, they range from 25-30$, which is a fair price or they come mounted on that camera body you wanted to buy. Try and find the OEM lens, or stick to your prime lenses.
Don’t just take my view on the Osawa 35-105mm; check out these other reviews.
No other reviews found