Old lens. New flowers.

I wasn't expecting to like the combination of the Panasonic Lumix GX8 and the 40mm f1.4 PenFT lens quite so much. The lens is around fifty years old and was made for the original half frame film cameras. It's worn in places on the barrel and is fitted to my camera with an inexpensive adapter.

But when I used it to make raw files yesterday it seemed like a brand new (to me) lens. I shot it mostly at f2.8, which is two stops down from wide open, but I think it was the latest upgrades to the raw conversion program I was using that made the final image resonate so well with me.

There is delicate but discernible detail in the white flowers and the color rendering of the green leaves is, to my eyes, superb.

It's sad to think that a company/division that could produce a lens this good in the late 1960's-early 1970's has just been sold to non-photo-centric company.  I hope everything works out well for them.

Someone mentioned that the new company should make far fewer camera body models and concentrate on making world class lenses for a wider market of lens mounts and formats. I think that's a great idea. In the interim I'm thinking we'll play across the best of two worlds: we'll find our favorite, current, Olympus lenses and mate them with Panasonic cameras like the G9.

Of the current lenses I've used from Olympus my favorites are the 12-100mm f4.0 Pro and the 40-150mm f2.8 Pro. Both are wonderfully sharp and have some nice magic to them.

If you shoot with Olympus lenses I'm sure you have a favorite...


Ken said...

My current favourite zoom lens is the 12-100. The optical quality of this lens has, in my opinion, set the bar for what a high-quality high-ratio zoom lens should be able to do. Nikon's Z 24-200 appears to be inspired by this little gem. (the 24-200 with the Z6/7 is similar to the G9+12-100 in size, weight, and cost, produces similar pictures, and has the shine of full-frame that seems to be in fashion). The 12-100 balances great on the G9... hmm, I think you know better than I do how well this combo works :)

My favourite prime is the Panasonic 20/1.7, but you asked about Olympus lenses :)

Gato said...

Another vote for the 12-100. A great lens, though I find it a bit harsh for portraits -- I take the edge off in processing. I also own and like the little 30mm macro. And as an oddball vote, I also like the 15mm f8 "bodycap" lens. It was the only lens I used on our last family vacation.

For years I used the Oly 14-54 from the old regular 4/3 system. Kept it when I switched to m4/3 and only gave it up when Panasonic finally came out with a 12-60, and then only for the much faster autofocus.

I owned a Pen-F half frame back in the day, though only with the kit lens. Amazing little system. Anyone else remember the ads showing a camera and lenses packed in a man's shoe?

Rene said...

I've been using the 12-40mm f2.8 Pro and the 75mm F1.8 Pro only with two cameras (an idea I picked up from you, Kirk, since I was mostly shooting protest marches and events) for several years now. They are kinda my limit for weight/size as much as I'd like the 40-150 mm f2.8 Pro for its range.

Michael Kohnhorst said...

I like the 12-40 f/2.8 and 40-150 f/2.8 zooms, especially for video. I always carry the 45mm f/1.8 and used to carry the 17mm f/1.8, but I've switched to the Leica 15mm f/1.7 for my wide auto focus prime.

Henk said...

I love the Olympus OM Zuiko 85/2. It has the right sharpnes already wide open and has beautiful unsharp areas aka bokeh. It is also lightweight and tiny.

Anonymous said...

The little oly 45mm 1.8 turns in some lovely results.

My best partner with the EP5 remains the lumix 20mm.

On other oly lenses, the pro Zooms are superb, as is the 75mm. Not really my length though.

In a few years I'll probably look to pick up the pro 17/25/45 set for cheap...

Mft is blessed with some fabulous lenses. But when I look at my photos despite having a nice range of options, 90% of my stuff is done with the lumix 20mm and the zuiko 45mm.

I've got some great shots with both and they're so small. Something about the rendering of both is just like magic dust.


Raskil said...

My favorite lenses are the Olympus 12-100 F4 Pro and the 60mm Macro.

Craig Yuill said...

I haven't shot with Olympus gear for quite a long time. A thief took care of that by breaking into my place in late 1994 and absconding with OM-1 and all lenses. I moved on to Nikon after that. I remember that the Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 and 135mm f/3.5 lenses were nice, sharp lenses - so I guess those have to count as my favourite Olympus lenses. I flirted with the idea of picking up one of the Olympus E-M5 bodies on a few occasions, but never went through with it.

Your post did inspire me to go out and shoot with an old "nifty fifty" lens, which hasn't gotten much use of late. I wound up photographing mainly flowers that were being visited by bees. It was rather fun to do that. I think I will next take out my old macro lens, which has also been subjected to a distinct lack of attention and use.