Olympus Zuiko 35mm f2 Lens - An Underrated Gem

Written by Posted in Lenses.

Olympus, OM System, Prime, Zuiko, 35mm, Wide Angle

A late addition to my OM Zuiko collection, coming as something of a surprise to me. I had no real intention of getting hold of this lens but, in October 2005, was offered one brand new in the box (old stock), at a price I could not refuse.

Olympus Zuiko 35mm f2I recall reading mixed opinions regarding the optical performance of the 35mm, some good and some not so good. It was partly this reason that I decided to purchase one, allowing me to find out for myself. I think my example comes from the 1980's, is multicoated and came with the original box, case and lens hood. The box is very worn and the case has degraded with time. The lens and hood, however, are new.

I figured I would put the lens to use on some local walks, as the angle of view appears to be a good compromise between 50 and 21mm. It is neither too wide or too 'normal' giving me the opportunity to take just a single lens out in the field. It seems equally useful for landscape or group people pictures. The results from my sample were nothing to be disappointed about - contrast and sharpness are as good as many other Zuiko's I have. Consequently, I have taken to using it more and more, as it gives me the opportunity to travel very light.

As with other Wide Angle Zuiko's, the optics a beautifully multi coated, and it has the typical Zuiko pedigree regarding build quality and compactness. It also shares the same filter size (55mm) as my 21 and 135mm lenses. The front element is pretty big, so use of a protective filter is recommended. It appears the cost of 35mm F2's seems to be falling. Not many years ago, they commanded premium prices, but this doesn't seem to be the case any more. To those people out there who, like me, are concerned about image quality, I would have no hesitation in recommending it, but look for an example in good condition.

The last couple of years have seen me use the 35mm more and more, due to it's ability to cram more into the frame but not distort things too much. I have found it an ideal walkaround and landscape lens, which has resulted in me taking far less gear out with me on hikes. Sometimes, it has been the only lens to come along with me. If I was honest I would say that, along with the 50mm f1.2, the 35mm has grown to be one of my favourite focal lengths, consequently making the Zuiko 35 one of my favourite lenses. The last couple of summers have seen me shoot around 80% of my holiday slides through it, and the results have been beautifully sharp and contrasty.