Every once in a while something comes along that leaves a lasting impression and a realisation that good things do indeed come in small packages. Sometimes a piece of gear is designed just right and its performance is every bit as incredulous. I’m talking here about the Zuiko 21mm F2 Super Wide Angle lens – a real grandfather of a lens, but one that still gives modern counterparts a run for their money.
The Digital Zuiko 50mm F2 Macro lens was introduced as part of the original line up of Four Thirds lenses in 2003 and purchased by me to complement my 11-22 lens, allowing macro capability, I soon realised this 50mm was capable of much more than this.
This was the first 'professional' lens I purchased when deciding to purchase my E-1. My E-1 was bundled with a 14-45 I kit lens, but I was never really impressed with its image quality, specifications or build. It was good enough to get me started, but after a couple of days shooting I was hitting the boundaries of its capabilities and longing for something more substantial.
As we do a lot of small item photography at PhotoArk, a macro lens is a fundamental requirement for our business. Not that we do not have one already - two exist in our collection; an Olympus Digital Zuiko 50mm f2 and the Olympus Zuiko 80mm f4. Given that Ethan now uses a K-5 it made sense to get a dedicated macro lens for the Pentax system.
When digital photography began its steady climb to popularity, I watched from the side-lines with great interest. At the time, digital SLRs were very expensive and some of the early models felt like a bastardisation of old film lens technologies grafted onto computers. As time passed it soon became clear that digital photography was here to stay, usurping films long established legacy.
My world collided with this model back in 1991 as part of an exercise to upgrade my existing gear and provide my OM1n with some relief, as this had been the only camera I owned for nine years and I was concerned that a breakdown would leave me camera less for the duration of a repair. This bothered me more when a once in a lifetime opportunity arose, where the results were significantly more precious.
In the years that this model has been available, there can be nothing left to write about it that has not already been said. When released it rapidly became the darling of the photo industry, praised for its compact size and robust build quality. It was used in harsh environments, taken to the top of the world and carried by some of the leading photographers of the day. Its popularity meant that it remained in production for around 14 years, during which time modifications were made to the original OM1 culminating with the OM1n. And as time went by many imitators rose and fell but few, in my opinion, left behind them such an impact on the photo world. It is not in the scope of this article to cover aspects such as this – a quick search on the internet will provide a treasure trove of information.