One of the least appreciated focal lengths in the world of photography is the humble 35mm lens. And I make a point to have one for almost all camera systems that I own. So I made a point that as soon as I got into the OM-System that a 35mm lens was on the shopping list. Like Nikon, the f/2 version carries a hefty price tag but like all systems, there is always an alternative. After a positive experience with the Nikkor 35mm f/2.8, I made a point to hunt down the Olympus equivalent. And it quickly became the lens of choice when I take out either the OM-2n or OM-1n into the field. It’s that happy medium between the wide-angle 28mm and the normal 50mm, and the lens performs exactly how I expect from any Zuiko lenses.
Model: G.Zuiko 1:2.8 f=35mm
Focal Length: 35mm
Focal Range: ∞ – .45m
Aperture: f/2.8 – f/16, 6 Blades
Structure: 7 Elements in 6 Groups
The 35/2.8 is a compact lens, fits perfectly with the overall design ethos of the early OM cameras, and fits well on any of the small-form-factor SLRs from Olympus. Well balanced on both my OM-2n and OM-1n. But could easily match up with an OM-3 or OM-4. The lens itself is all metal but maintains a light weight. The focusing ring moves smoothly and the knurling is comfortable in any weather. The aperture ring moved smoothly, but again it only stops at f/16, I would have preferred to have that extra stop to make up for the 1/1000″ top shutter speed. Although in this case, you do have that nice f/4 aperture stop. The lens has a 49mm filter ring, like the other Zuiko primes so I only have to carry a single set of filters when out with the OM kit. The one problem is that the front element is fairly close to the front of the barrel, so it’s a little more suspectable to flare, but more on that in the next paragraph.
If there’s one thing that you can find with any Zuiko lenses is consistency in image quality, and the 35/2.8 does not disappoint. One of the best parts about the lens is that the straight lines stay straight, there’s no distortion at a normal distance. I’m sure, like any lenses, as you move in closer you’ll get some distortion but on the 35/2.8 there is no major noticeable distortion in either direction. There’s no fall off as you shoot the lens wide open at f/2.8 and no vignetting at the corners. That should come as no surprise as it is only an f/2.8 lens. When it comes to sharpness, the 35/2.8 has the characteristic snap that I find with all Zuiko glass. And that sharpness is present at all apertures although the sweet spot is between f/5.6 and f/16. Being a wider-than-normal lens the depth of field doesn’t change much as you open up or stop down, but you can still get excellent subject separation between f/2.8 and f/5.6 if your subject is close enough to the lens. There’s little to talk about when it comes to the out of focus elements rendered by the lens. Nothing noteworthy, but they render out smooth. There is one noticeable thing to the lens that is worth pointing out, it has a tendency to flare so a hood is needed, sadly at the time of writing this, I don’t yet have one, but will be keeping an eye out at my local camera shop.
When it comes to a general all-purpose lens the one that I will always reach for is the 35mm focal length. It’s why I make sure I have one for all my camera kits. (Still missing one for the A-Mount, but eventually). And the Zuiko 35/2.8 fits the bill perfectly. Great for a travel kit and a happy in between the 28mm and 50mm lengths. A perfect lens for travel, landscape, architecture, group and environmental portraiture. While not the best at close focus, it wouldn’t be my choice for a cheap alternative for a macro lens, it’s just too wide for that purpose. Overall it’s one lens I do my best not to leave home without when packing any of my OM cameras. The f/2.8 aperture makes it an okay option for low-light work and being a wider than normal lens even at wide open, if your subjects are on roughly the same plane, opening up to f/2.8 and focusing accurately will ensure everyone is in focus.
The Low Down
Like its cousin in the manual focus Nikkor 35/2.8, the Zuiko 35/2.8 is often overshadowed by its slightly faster and far more sexy cousin the 35/2. The real difference is in the price tag and construction. The 35/2.8 varies greatly in price but you can easily find a copy for under 100$ and some that are over 300$. But don’t pay any more than 100$ for the lens, and even that price makes the lens far more affordable. Like any lens, make sure that it works, the aperture is smooth and the blades are free of oil. Just make sure to find a hood, they work well for my Nikkor lenses, and I’m sure they’ll do just a good a job on my Zuiko glass once I get one. But this lens, shouldn’t be overlooked at favour and price of the faster version.
Don’t just take my view on the Zuiko 35/2.8, check out these other reviews.
Vintage Camera Lenses – G.Zuiko Olympus 35mm 2.8 OM-System
SLR Lens Review – Olympus (OM) Zuiko 35mm f/2.8