So Christmas is near, so is my birthday and I decided that I deserve something to pamper myself with. I decided to splurge (OMG) and bought something which I do not really need, but I do desire to have, an F1.2 lens. Unfortunately the Panasonic 42.5mm is just too far a stretch out of my affordability. Hence I settled with something low key and more wallet friendly, the old OM Zuiko 55mm F1.2 lens.
I know the lens is an old one, and it comes with a bagful of imperfections. I totally understand that at F1.2 the image is soft and I do need to stop down to at least F2 to obtain reasonably useful and sharp results. I also understand that such lens will exhibit plenty of other flaws such as chromatic abberation, and well, I think many of you can fill in the blanks better than I do. The main point is not enough obtaining a perfect lens or the best lens, if I wanted that, I would have gotten so many other amazing digital lenses from both Olympus and Panasonic. The idea of using an old lens, was purely just for the fun of it. Who cares if my images are not exactly that sharp, who cares if they were all technically flawed? This is probably one of the cheapest F1.2 lens I can ever get (the CCTV lens does not count) and I am loving it so far!
I found myself a OM 55mm F1.2 at a reasonably good price, and in mint condition (no scratches, no dents). The glass does have a little fungus and foreign aliens growing inside but they were minor issue and did not affect the image quality much.
I have used the OM 55mm F1.2 lens on my Olympus OM-D E-M5 and so far I am loving what I see from this combo!
The lens is not sharp at wide open F1.2, but the image is still perfectly usable and you do get very soft out of focus area. However, the bokeh can get busy and is not creamy buttery smooth. Nonetheless, it was not distractingly harsh, and is considered better than many other older lenses.
Stopping down the lens to F5.6, it is actually very sharp and I believe the image quality is close to what we can expect from modern lenses.
Somehow the camera has difficulties handling the white balance properly when using the old OM lens and I needed to correct the white balance manually in post processing.
Again, another F1.2 shot. There are issues with blooming and edges softening effect when the subject is shot against bright light.
Manual focusing was a pain, and I immediately treasured the ability of Olympus fast focusing system in the Micro Four Thirds system. I tried using the focus peaking (hacked, using the art filter method) on the E-M5 but it was not very successful when I was dealing with F1.2. Therefore, I resolved in using the focus to magnify the area that I wanted to focus.
Shooting at F4, the image comes out pleasantly beautiful
Whenever faces with bright light, the F1.2 images turn out to be rather soft.
Even by just stopping down to F2 the image quality improvement is significantly better. The aperture ring control only allows stepping down from F1.2 to F2, then F4 and F5.6. There is no finer stepping of F1.4 or F1.8.
At F1.2, the shallow depth of field is something to marvel at.
An example of not so nice bokeh
When using the lens to shoot food, I found the big challenge, getting sufficient depth of field. At 55mm, the lens is actually very long, and even at F4 or F5.6, the depth of field is still very shallow, and not enough to cover a wide zone of focus which is required.
The OM 55mm F1.2 makes a great portrait lens. There is an overall feel of softness and smoothness over the frame. This is Anna, who currently uses Olympus PEN E-PL7 actively. You can check out her images at her blog here (click)
Say hi again to Carmen, who has made numerous appearance here before. She also has an Olympus PEN E-PL7 which has helped her in her beautiful photographs on her blog.
headshot of Anna
Image credit: Tian Chad
We had an outing to shoot portraits with wireless flash system. Say hi to Jackie and Tian Chad, both awesome bloggers that I know.
Sophia performing live at Live @ The Actor Studio.
Amir Shariff checking out the 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens.
I am sure some of you come from a long history of using Olympus system, even all the way from the glorious film OM days. If you have used, or still own the OM 55mm F1.2 lens, kindly share your thoughts and experience on the lens!
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