OMZ LENSES & AF CONFIRM ADAPTERS

8mm to 40mm on the E-3


OM ZUIKO LENSES ON OTHER OLYMPUS D-SLR's

Before reading this article I'd like to draw you attention to other articles on this website that test many OM Zuiko lenses on various E-System bodies:

OM ZUIKO LENSES TESTED ON E-1 8mm to 500mm.

OM ZUIKO LENSES ON E-330 16mm to 400mm.

OM ZUIKO LENSES ON E-P1 (DIGITAL PEN) 8mm to 600mm.

OVERVIEW:

Since I moved from 35mm Olympus SLR cameras to digital SLR in 2004 I have had a fascination for maintaining the use of my rather large collection of OM Zuiko (OMZ) lenses on the E-System. One of the first articles I wrote for this website was about using OMZ's on the E-1, an article you can read here. This is still one of the most viewed articles on the website and has been in the top ten for the last 5 years, so there is an obvious interest in using OMZ lenses on the modern DSLR.

The first series of tests I undertook demonstrated that while OMZ's could be used, all was not well in the enforced marriage with exposure issues that have never been satisfactorily explained and optical issues (resolution and chromatic aberration) that simply have to be accepted. Most of the wide angle OMZ lenses (8mm - 40mm) proved not so great and the super fast f2 OMZ lenses, in general, performed poorly wide open. Manual zooms (of which I have quite a stable) are just a pain to use in stop-down mode, though some of the more exotic ones produce half decent results.

But there are some winners without doubt. Some OMZ's perform exceptionally well; 21mm x f3.5, 24mm x f2.8, 100mm x f2.8, 135mm (both), 200mm (both), 300/400mm super telephoto, 500mm Mirror, as well as the ubiquitous 50mm x f1.8 standard lens. These results to me anyway, make the use of OM legacy lenses well worth the effort.

Their use however is largely dictated by the E-System screen and the large E-1 screen allows quite reasonable manual focus, the larger E-3 screen is a further positive step, but the entry and mid-level range screens do little to encourage the use of these lenses as they are small and comparatively dark. Of course the E-System is designed to use AF lenses so huge screens (ala OM1) are no longer required for critical manual focus.

With the coming of Image Stabilization came the surprise announcement from Olympus that IS could be used with legacy lenses and users can now simply dial in the focal length of their manual lens through the cameras firmware. But the company has been reluctant to enable AF confirm despite a plethora of requests so it's been up to the Russians and Chinese to develop a solution. The latest generation of AF confirm chipped adapters work with all Olympus 4/3rds cameras and can also be programmed to integrate a reduced range of apertures with the camera and display as well as being able to record aperture and lens focal length in the EXIF information. AF Confirm in this context means using the AF confirm signals already in the camera - focus lamp & beep - by fooling the camera circuitry into thinking there's an AF lens installed via the chipped adapter. There is no AF function - these are manual focus lenses.

Of course, argue Olympus, there is no need for such devices as the modern offerings have Live View through which very accurate focusing can be achieved and whilst true, it is simply not viable on anything other than tripod, for table top or macro work. The E-3, E-30 and E-620 have poseable screens making using LV a little more effective but it is simply no replacement for optical viewfinder use.

Having watched the development of the chipped adapters through several incarnations to what seems the finished product available now, I decided it was time to try one out to see if they do make any difference. If successfull I will certainly look at the results from the wide-angle lenses and perhaps may revisit my lengthy article of five years ago by repeating the whole exercise with nearly all OM Zuiko lenses and the AF adapter - we'll see.

SOURCING THE ADAPTER

What would we do without eBay? Like it or loathe it, eBay has surely shrunk the world and offeres selling opportunities to many who previously would never have made it with their niche-market products. Chipped adapters are one such market and there are several retailers both in China and Russia selling them. I got mine from www.big-is.com which is linked here, but there are many such outlets. My choice was nothing more than I preferred the brushed satin finish of the ring over the alternative black offered elsewhere as it is similar to the mounting/DofF scale ring of OM lenses.

Image of the adapter from eBay. Note the overall brushed satin finish.

Close-up of chip and pickups.

Here you can see what the DANDELION chipped adapter looks like. Pretty straightforward; a slightly deeper ring than the Olympus 4/3rds to OM adapter onto which is glued (and screwed) a small crescent shaped board holding the electronic signal pick up tabs and the instructions chip. Four-thirds one side; OM the other. (Having said this I wouldn't know where to start and admire folks who can deliver this sort of DIY product)

I ordered mine on 1st May and it arrived on 14th. Not too bad. Cost: 16.20 + 4.00 postage. The small parcel was marked as a gift with a description of 'Camera Part' and a value of $10.00. The instructions were emailed as a PDF about 3 days after purchase. I have made the instructions available on this website here.

The adapter looks quite well made with a brass body and a brushed chrome finish turned brass mounting ring screwed thereto. On close examination I noticed quite a lot of very fine brass frass on the inner black surfaces so I gave the adapter a good brush followed by a blast from an air can before mounting the lens. I suggest you do the same to avoid any frass getting into the camera internals. When I mounted the lens on the adapter I was disappointed to see (feel) the lens was loose in the mount, resulting in a bit of 'slop'. It required some delicate adjustments to the slots in the three mounting claws with the flat blade of a high quality screwdriver by just easing the slots open a tad. This firms up the lens mount and the lens to adapter coupling now feels fine.

Next, and being a wary soul, I dismounted the OM lens and offered the bare adapter to the camera (E-3) with it switched off. I made several 'mount and partially turn' tries to ensure all was well before allowing the adapter to lock onto the body. I repeated this several times just to make sure nothing was going to jamb or foul anywhere. On removing the adapter I could see the pick-ups were very lightly marked by the pins in the camera body indicating correct lining-up, so all seems well mechanically.

Before going further I found a spare OM lens and body cap to fit the adapter to protect the board when not in use. This may sound a little OTT but I'd be annoyed if it got damaged in my bag.

TRYING IT OUT WITH THE E-3

Now to see if it works. I read the instructions and realise these are for programming the chip only - not for general use. This infers there are no particular settings to adopt or steps to follow - good, this means the adapter can just be used without any messing about. I mount my OMZ 90mm f2 Macro lens set wide open to the adapter and then the combined unit to the camera and switch on. I normally use A mode and S-AF and leave these settings in the camera. I half-press the shutter and in the VF can see the adapter is not recognised as the f number is showing f2.8 and nothing happens as I turn the camera aperture control wheel. As I turn the aperture ring on the lens I see the exposure changing accordingly, so the meter is reacting just fine.

Without half-pressing the shutter I turn the focus ring and watch as the image comes into focus. The VF remains un-lit. I repeat the exercise with the shutter button half pressed. This time the green AF lamp in the VF pulses on/off as the image approaches correct focus. Now I slow my turn on the focus ring and sure enough within a few degrees the focus lamp suddenly glows solid, the AF red light glows momentarily and the camera beeps to confirm focus. If I move the AF point away from this area to elsewhere and half-press the shutter I receive no AF beep, but when I take the AF point back to the original point of focus and half-press the shutter the AF beeps confirmation because I haven't touched the focus ring on the lens. This of course is how I'd expect it to work but it's good to see that it does. I repeat this with modes set to P A S & M and receive AF confirm in each mode, as anticipated.

Now I set the E-3 to MF and repeat the above. This time all I get is the green AF lamp in the VF suddenly pops on when in focus, no green pulsing lamp, no AF point red lamp and no beep for AF confirmation.

Now I set the E-3 to S-AF+MF and repeat the above. This repeats the experience I had with the setting at S-AF though I suspect not quite as robust as it missed the AF beep a couple of times in this sequence.

It appears to me the best setting is S-AF in any of the four modes but I'll stick to A. So far so good.

On balance I prefer the S-AF focus mode for the chipped adapter because it gives me all the focus indicators as well as the final confirmation beep. In MF the AF point lamp and the beep is disabled; you have to rely on the green AF lamp only. Yes I can see the green lamp in the VF but on other models like the E-420 & 620 it's not as easy to see. Yes, I'm sticking with S-AF.

AF ADAPTER IN POOR LIGHT

I tried my combination in dismal conditions. I am surprised to see the camera strobes the on-board flash to allow focus and when achieved stops strobing and allows exposure. This exceeds my expectations. Yes, it's a bit cumbersome but it works.

I also replicated small aperture work indoors by progressively closing the aperture and seeking AF confirm. In an artificially lit room with a target at 10 feet I received AF confirm at apertures 2.0 - 11; beyond this the AF adapter did not work (flash closed to stop strobing). However in normal daylight I can't see why the adapter shouldn't work at all apertures. NOTE: After writing this I specifically tried with the OMZ 16mm x f3.5 to see how it fared outside in normal daylight. Solid AF was achieved up to f8 only - above this there was just insufficient light hitting the AF sensor, so no AF confirm. I will check the other lenses soon and report back.

TESTING THE ADAPTERS AF ACCURACY INDOORS

With the OMZ 90mm Macro still fitted I set up a table-top subject and have the E-3 tripod mounted. I select a specific area on the target and let the chip do its AF confirm routine. Without touching anything I flick the camera into Live View and press the OK button for 10X magnification. The result is excellent - correct focus; not out a smidgin either way, bang on! I repeat this with various of the 11 AF points and get the same results on all but one occasion when the result was a tad out. Repeating that particular test I find I was too fast on the lens focus ring and went a little further on the ring after the AF beep. Operator error - typical. This is good.

But, longer focal length lenses work better in general with the E-system; the test will be with the wide and ultra-wide lenses. I suspect the AF confirm adapter will not be as good with the wider lenses. To demonstrate this I mount all my OMZ wide-angle lenses and repeat the same exercise as above with an indoor table-top subject well within the minimum focus distance. The results are pretty good to excellent. All my W/A lenses except the 8mm Fisheye work well with the AF confirm adapter providing accurate focus (confirmed with LV 10x) in 95% of test cases. Now and again there is a 'slightly out of focus' result of perhaps 1 degree on the focus ring, but I can live with that. I found there to be little difference whether coming back from infinity or going forward from minimum distance on the ring. But don't hurry - too much haste = poor results. Wait until you hear the beep. The poorest performer was the OMZ 8mm that consistently delivered small errors.

Here's the culprit that does so badly with the chipped adapter; it's probably the 23mm image circle that's causing the (mis)focus issue. In some ways it's no bad thing as this lens can be a nightmare to use and easy to damage! It was always an ultra special purpose lens anyway. But one poor one OMZ out of all W/A's is a great result.



These results go beyond my expectations; I expected a focus failure rate of between 15 - 20%. I'm really very impressed. The adapter works in combination with the camera functions, is very accurate in confirming AF and achieves AF confirm with small apertures and in dismal conditions. Yes there were the odd occasions it missed but no more than the camera does using a ZD lens in difficult conditions. I'm very pleased with my 20 purchase.

TESTING AF CONFIRM WITH OMZ WIDE-ANGLE LENSES ON E-3

In my long testing session using OMZ's on the E-1 and E-330 with its LV mode B, it was plain that most wide-angle lenses did not fare well on the digital body. These were not only my findings. I have to admit that over the years since I have tried out the poorer performing OMZ's with various E-System bodies as I've upgraded. I noticed a significant difference for the better on the E-3 and E-620 but as yet I've had no time to repeat my previous extensive tests. I suspect the improvement I've seen is down to better metering and (unknown but suspected) mirror box and/or AF receptor improvements but having AF confirm will eliminate a major cause of poor results with manual lenses - out of focus (OOF) shots.

WA lenses push the subject away from the photographer; the wider they are the smaller the subject. OOF shots are much more likely with wide-angle lenses as there is simply not enough detail on the ground glass to help you manually focus, nor can we rely on the distance scale calibration and by inference the DofF scale. But, as soon as you get to 50mm focal length this improves and then gets better (easier) as focal length increases.

I'm going to test a range of my WA lenses; OMZ 8mm Circular Fisheye, 16mm Fisheye, 18mm, 21mm, 24mm, 35mm and 40mm for testing. This time I'm going to publish the crops and a comparison with the equivalent ZD focal length. So, here we go.......

CAMERA SETTINGS

The idea of this test is to simply show the results from a wide-angle OMZ with the Dandelion chip on your E-Camera. How you control the shot when you make it is entirely up to you. I'm using the E-3, IS OFF, Metering ESP, Centre point AF (small), ISO 200, LSF+RAW, No compensation, Sat = Normal, WB = Cloudy - so pretty basic settings. If anyone wants the RAW files let me know or I'll bin them. The day is cloudy with intermittent rain and I'm not using any compensation.

NOTE: I take all the OMZ images first and then the same focal length shots with equivalent ZD zooms sometime later. Of course, being Britain, the weather changes in this relatively short time which accounts for the difference in exposure between those with OMZ's and the ZD's.

AT 8MM

I'll start with the OMZ 8mm. Knowing this lens proved troublesome indoors I shall be wary in this test. The following compares the OM Zuiko 8mm Fisheye with the 8mm setting of the ZD 7-14mm. I set up the levelled tripod then achieve AF confirm with the adapter and take the shot. I repeat using LV for critical focus then repeat again (later) with the equivalent ZD lens set to the same focal length.

OMZ 8mm fisheye lens with AF confirm; I notice the chip gives correct AF over about 3-4 degrees of turn on the focus ring - too much to deliver sharp focus consistently. See how much wider the overall image is compared to the ZD at the same FL. Colour rendering is about true to my eyes - overcast day but reasonably bright. (No compensation applied; results straight from camera.) You can easily see the shading in the corners.



With LV + 10X; slightly better focus achieved with LV though it is not that easy. The subject is pushed that far away the image even at 10X magnification is still very small on the screen.



The ZD lens proves just fine. The difference in exposure is as noted above due to the time difference, but note the completely blown skies with the same settings. Also note how much less wide this is compared to the 8mm OMZ because of the lens rectalinear construction.





Centre crop; You can see this image is soft due to being out of focus. It is even worse in the corners.



Centre crop; Much better, in focus and delivering as much resolution as this lens can.



Centre crop; In focus but to my eyes not as sharp as the OMZ = LV. Also a tad less contrast which might account for apparent lack of sharpness.



COMMENTS: I applied no compensation but closed the aperture to f5.6 before taking. These results are fascinating and far better than those I obtained from the same lens on the E-1. Looking at the two images above I actually prefer the OMZ's rendering of the overall scene - it has a nicer balance somehow and gets more into the frame. It's possible to see the extent of the corner shading.

AF CONFIRM PERFORMANCE: With the OMZ 8mm the chip was not good at obtaining correct focus. I tried with the lens wide open to ensure plenty of light was reaching the sensor. However, correct focus was missed by quite a margin. When checked with LV 10x mode it was plainly obvious focus was out. I tried achieving focus from both ends of the focus ring - that is coming from infinity one way and closest focus the other - to no avail; the error was consistent both ways when checked in LV. There is a portion of the focus ring that 'confirms' focus in error. Relying only on the AF adapter is not wise - there is a definite lack of precision. This is probably due to the way the light hits the AF sensor. AFC performance = 6/10 with this lens.

OBSERVATIONS: If you take your time, use a tripod and check focus with LV 10x, providing the day is good (bright and quite contrasty) you can get quite reasonable results with the 8mm Fisheye; you have to work at it. The 8mm offers a unique perspective, unlike anything I've seen before and crams a lot of visual real estate into the frame by shrinking it to the centre portion. (Unfortunately I cannot compare the OMZ 8mm with the ZD 8mm Fisheye but I'm thinking they might be similar.) The 8mm results suffer from exagerrated darkened corners because of the optical construction of the lens. Quite good for very wide angle snap shots but that's about all. Difficult, but fun to use.


AT 16MM

Next is the OMZ 16mm 'diagonal' Fisheye. From the same tripod position I achieve AF confirm with the adapter and take the shot. I repeat using LV for critical focus then repeat again (later) with the equivalent ZD lens set to the same focal length.

OMZ 16mm fisheye lens with AF confirm; Here the AF confirm chip gives a more accurate 'feel' for confirmation - there is only one point on the focus ring that beeps its AF and focus also looks good on the VF screen.



With LV + 10X; Aagin, LV focus is not that easy but I think it has produced a very slight improvement over the AF confirm adapter - but it is marginal.



The ZD 12-60mm lens at 16mm; note again the difference in exposure. The image is less wide than the OMZ rendering but only by about 2 degrees. This must be due to the placement of the elements in the zoom compared to the much less deep OMZ lens. ZD12-60mm is about 4" long, the OMZ 16mm is 1.75".





Centre crop; This is pretty sharp to my eyes. Note the white window frame appears almost blown.



Centre crop; This is a smidgin better but it's very close!



Centre crop; The ZD delivers a well focused and sharp image but down on contrast.



COMMENTS: I applied no compensation but closed the aperture to f5.6 before taking. I'm pleased with these results as they are a considerable improvement on my session with the same lens on E-1. This has got to be down to more accurate exposure as even wide open the results are much better than before. However it pays to close the aperture down a couple of clicks.

AF CONFIRM PERFORMANCE: Very good with only a trace better focus achieved with LV. When checked with LV 10x mode it was immediately obvious the AF Confirm focus was good. AFC worked both ways on the focus ring. AFC performance 9.5/10 with this lens.

OBSERVATIONS: This is a great result. The 16mm diagonal Fisheye was a 'speciality' OM lens. It is now a useful 32mm wide-angle capable of nice colour rendering. The AFC chip makes this lens very useable.


AT 18MM

Next is the OMZ 18mm Ultra Wide-angle lens. From the same tripod position I achieve AF confirm with the adapter and take the shot. I repeat using LV for critical focus then repeat again (later) with the equivalent ZD lens set to the same focal length.

OMZ 18mm ultra wide-angle lens with AF confirm; Again the AF confirm chip gives good confirmation with little margin for error - there is only one point on the focus ring that gives accurate AF and focus looks good on the VF screen.



With LV + 10X; Again, LV focus is not that easy but it has produced a slight improvement over the AF chip adapter - small but readily seen.



The ZD 12-60mm lens at 18mm; note again the difference in exposure. This time the ZD image is wider than the OMZ rendering by about 1 degree. This must be due to the position of the elements in the zoom.





Centre crop; This is just slightly off being sharp - a tad but enough to soften the edges.



Centre crop; This is about 1 to 2% better and is now sharp. I think this is as sharp as you'll get.



Centre crop; The ZD gives a sharp image, slightly sharper than the best the OMZ can give.



COMMENTS: I applied no compensation but closed the aperture to f5.6 before taking. This is another good result. I still close the aperture down a couple of clicks out of habit and to give better sharpness.

AF CONFIRM PERFORMANCE: Good with slightly better focus achieved with LV. When checked with LV 10x mode it was immediately obvious the AF Confirm focus was slightly out. AFC worked both ways on the focus ring. AFC performance 9.0/10 with this lens.

OBSERVATIONS: This is a good result. The 18mm x f3.5 ultra wide-angle lens 'becomes' a middling 36mm wide-angle but will deliver sharp results even wide open. The AFC chip makes this lens very useable.


AT 21MM

Next is the OMZ 21mm x f3.5 Ultra Wide-angle lens (I do not have the f2.0 version.) This lens performed well on the E-1 all those years ago and I expect great things on the E-3. It also delivered a slight yellow cast. This is one of my all time favourite lenses even though I'm no great wide-angle fan. From the same tripod position I achieve AF confirm with the adapter and take the shot. I repeat using LV for critical focus then repeat again with the equivalent ZD lens set to the same focal length.

OMZ 21mm ultra wide-angle lens with AF confirm; The AF confirm chip gives good confirmation with little margin for error - there is only one small point on the focus ring that gives accurate AF and focus also looks good on the VF screen.



With LV + 10X; Again, LV focus is getting easier at this focal length and it produceds a slight improvement over the AF chip adapter - small but readily seen.



The ZD 12-60mm lens at 21mm; note again the difference in exposure. Here the image is wider than the equivalent OMZ by about 1 degree.





Centre crop; This is just slightly off being sharp - a tad but enough to soften the overall effect.



Centre crop; This is about 1% better and is nicely sharp. I think this is about as sharp as you'll get.



Centre crop; The ZD gives a sharp image, slightly sharper than the best the OMZ can give. This crop is slightly smaller than those above due to the ZD lens giving a wider angle of view.



COMMENTS: I applied no compensation but closed the aperture to f5.6 before taking. This is another good result. I still close the aperture down a couple of clicks out of habit and to give better sharpness. There is a hint of that yellow cast to the images from the OMZ 21mm, probably due to its single coating - my example is a silver-nose. However, you can soon deal with the cast in processing.

AF CONFIRM PERFORMANCE: Good with slightly better focus achieved with LV. When checked with LV 10x mode it was apparent the AF Confirm focus was very slightly out. AFC worked both ways on the focus ring. AFC performance 9.25/10 with this lens.

OBSERVATIONS: This is a good result. The 21mm x f3.5 ultra wide-angle lens 'becomes' a standard 42mm wide-angle but can deliver pretty sharp results stopped down a little. The AFC chip makes this lens very useable.


AT 24MM

Next is the OMZ 24mm x f2.8 Wide-angle lens (I have both versions but this test is done with the f2.8 version.) This is another lens that performed very well on the E-1 so it should do well on the E-3. There was no colour cast with this lens. From the same tripod position I achieve AF confirm with the adapter and take the shot. I repeat using LV for critical focus then repeat again with the equivalent ZD lens set to the same focal length.

OMZ 24mm wide-angle lens with AF confirm; The AF confirm chip gives good confirmation with little margin for error - there is only one small point on the focus ring that gives accurate AF and focus also looks good on the VF screen.



With LV + 10X; Again, LV focus is getting easier as focal lengths increase. In this case LV seems not to have improved on the AFC.



The ZD 12-60mm lens at 24mm; note again the difference in exposure - almost blown skies. Again the image is wider than the equivalent OMZ by about 1 degree.





Centre crop; This is pretty sharp - there's nothing between AFC and LV.



Centre crop; No difference I can see - this is as sharp as you'll get.



Centre crop; The ZD gives a sharp image. The crop is slightly smaller and a little darker and may give the impression it is marginally sharper - though I don't think it is actually sharper than the OMZ equivalent.



COMMENTS: I applied no compensation but closed the aperture to f5.6 before taking. This is another cracking result. I still close the aperture down a couple of clicks out of habit and to give better sharpness.

AF CONFIRM PERFORMANCE: Excellent with no better focus achieved with LV. When checked with LV 10x mode it was not possible to fault the AFC. The AFC chip worked both ways on the focus ring. AFC performance 9.5/10 with this lens.

OBSERVATIONS: This is an excellent result. The 24mm x f2.8 wide-angle lens assumes the standard length of 48mm but produces a very useful field od view the same as a 50mm on a 35mm camera. Yes, I should have compared the OMZ 24mm with the ZD 25mm x 2.8 but I'm afraid the weather beat me. The AFC chip makes the OMZ 24mm lens extremely useable.


AT 28MM

Next is the OMZ 28mm x f2.8 Wide-angle lens (I have both versions but this test is done with the f2.8 version.) This lens performed poorly on the E-1 so I'm interested to see if there're any improvements. From the same tripod position I achieve AF confirm with the adapter and take the shot. I repeat using LV for critical focus then repeat again (later) with the equivalent ZD lens set to the same focal length.

OMZ 28mm wide-angle lens with AF confirm; The AF confirm chip gives good confirmation with little margin for error - there is only one small point on the focus ring that gives accurate AF and focus also looks good on the VF screen.



With LV + 10X; LV focus is getting decidedly easier as focal lengths increase. In this case LV seems to have improved on the AFC by a whisker.



The ZD 12-60mm lens at 24mm; note again the difference in exposure. Looks like sound AF with sharp results.





Centre crop; This is pretty sharp - there's only a smidgin between AFC and LV.



Centre crop; A very slight improvement using LV for critical focus.



Centre crop; The ZD gives a sharp image. Crop is a little darker and may give the impression it is marginally sharper - though I don't think it is actually sharper than the OMZ equivalent with LV confirm.



COMMENTS: I applied no compensation but closed the aperture to f5.6 before taking. This is a pretty good result considering how poorly the OMZ 28mm did on my previous tests. It's not quite as good as the 24mm but not bad. I still close the aperture down a couple of clicks out of habit and to give better sharpness.

AF CONFIRM PERFORMANCE: Very good with only a slight improvement with LV. When checked with LV 10x mode it was just possible to see slightly out of focus with AFC - but we are talking of a marginal difference here. The AFC chip worked both ways on the focus ring. AFC performance 9.25/10 with this lens.

OBSERVATIONS: This is a great result. The 28mm x f2.8 wide-angle lens assumes the standard length of 56mm but produces a very useful field of view just over a 50mm on a 35mm camera. The AFC chip makes the OMZ 28mm lens very useable; the issue now is how useful is 56mm?


AT 28MM

Next is the OMZ 35mm x f2.0 Wide-angle lens (I seem to have misplaced my f2.8 version so I'm using the f2.0 version for this test.) This lens also performed poorly on the E-1 so I'm interested to see if there're any improvements. From the same tripod position I achieve AF confirm with the adapter and take the shot. I repeat using LV for critical focus then repeat again (later) with the equivalent ZD lens set to the same focal length.

OMZ 35mm wide-angle lens with AF confirm; The AF confirm chip gives good confirmation with little margin for error - there is only one small point on the focus ring that gives accurate AF and focus also looks good on the VF screen.



With LV + 10X; LV focus is getting easier as focal lengths increase. In this case LV seems to have improved on the AFC by a smidgin.



The ZD 12-60mm lens at 35mm; note again the difference in exposure. Sound AF with sharp results.





Centre crop; This is pretty sharp - there's only a smidgin between AFC and LV.



Centre crop; A very slight improvement using LV for critical focus.



Centre crop; The ZD gives a sharp image. Crop is a little darker and may give the impression it is marginally sharper - though again, I don't think it is actually sharper than the OMZ equivalent with LV confirm.



COMMENTS: I applied no compensation but closed the aperture to f5.6 before taking. This is a pretty good result considering how poorly the OMZ 35mm did on my previous tests. It's about on a par with the 28mm results but bear in mind this is the f2.0 version whcih may be a tad softer than the f2.8 version. But, it's not bad at all. I still close the aperture down a couple of clicks out of habit and to give better sharpness.

AF CONFIRM PERFORMANCE: Very good with only a slight improvement with LV. When checked with LV 10x mode it was just possible to see slightly out of focus with AFC - but we are talking of only a marginal difference here. The AFC chip worked both ways on the focus ring. AFC performance 9.25/10 with this lens.

OBSERVATIONS: This is a great result, better than anticipated. The 35mm x f2.0 wide-angle lens assumes the mild telephoto length of 70mm. The AFC chip makes the OMZ 35mm lens very useable; the issue now is whether 70mm is a useful focal length to have?

AT 40MM

Next is the OMZ 40mm x f2.0 Standard lens. This lens performed particularly poorly on the E-1 so I'm more than interested to see what the results will be like on the E-3. From the same tripod position I achieve AF confirm with the adapter and take the shot. I repeat using LV for critical focus then repeat again (later) with the equivalent ZD lens set to the same focal length.

OMZ 40mm standard lens with AF confirm; The AF confirm chip gives good confirmation with little margin for error - there seems to be only one small point on the focus ring that gives accurate AF and focus also looks reasonable on the VF screen.



With LV + 10X; LV focus is easy at this focal length. In this case LV does not seem to have improved on the AFC.



The ZD 12-60mm lens at 40mm; the difference in exposure is getting less. Looks like good, solid AF with sharp results.





Centre crop; This is reasonably sharp, but probably the poorest of the lenses and there's little difference between AFC and LV - both seem a little soft so this probably infers the lens is to blame.



Centre crop; No difference between this and the AFC result.



Centre crop; The ZD gives a much sharper image without doubt. Less brightness and more contrast help too.



COMMENTS: I applied no compensation but closed the aperture to f5.6 before taking. This is a reasonable result considering how poorly the OMZ 40mm did in my previous tests. It's not as good as most of the other OMZ's, but not glaringly bad. I still close the aperture down a couple of clicks out of habit and to give better sharpness.

AF CONFIRM PERFORMANCE: Very good with only a slight improvement with LV. When checked with LV 10x mode it was just possible to see slightly out of focus with AFC - but we are talking of a marginal difference here. The AFC chip worked both ways on the focus ring. AFC performance 9.5/10 with this lens.

OBSERVATIONS: This is a reasonable result. The 40mm x f2.0 standard lens assumes the mild telephoto length of 80mm and it's f2.0 maximum aperture might prove useful as a portrait lens. But, to be honest, I don't think I'd choose it either for its performance or focal length. Even as a portrait lens I'm not convinced it would deliver consistent results. A little disappointing. The AFC chip makes the OMZ 40mm lens useable, certainly, but is it's lack of sharpness useful for portraits? Might be but much depends on what sort of out of focus effects it produces at mild telephoto.


CRITIQUE AND SUMMARY

The combination of the new E-System bodies and the latest generation of AF adapter chips has made the use of manual lenses much more acceptable that say 3 years ago. Looking over these results I've got to say I am impressed at some of the results the old OMZ's deliver. I had more or less written off most of my sub-50mm focal length lenses because they were so difficult to use, even on the E-3's enlarged viewfinder. But this new AF adapter gives these lenses a new lease of life - providing you have a use for their focal lengths. And therein lies the problem. The ZD 12-60mm covers virtually all these lengths in one convenient zoom. The older OMZ primes are not blisteringly fast so offer little in terms of speed, and I suspect that in brighter conditions you'll certainly have to step them down in any case as well as compensate. So there's not a great deal of advantage using them. Unless of course, like me, you already have a stable from your 35mm days, in which case why not use them? You can see from the results above that some will give you damn good output.

There are a few things to remember:

1. The point at which AF confirm is presented is the solid green lamp and the beep. Of course you are actually turning the focus ring when this happens. The precise point when you actually stop turning the ring is imperative. I opted to watch the focus point (centre) and listen for the beep as I turned the ring, rather than watch the green focus lamp. I also watched the image come to focus on the screen too and tried to stop turning as soon as the beep sounded. This is quite precise but not infallable.

2. Whilst LV at 10X is perfectly achieveable on the tripod it is out of the question for off tripod (normal) photography. You will have to discover and remember the very best method at (1.) above that gives you the highest success rate with the beep confirmation. Perhaps a slight 'rock' of the focus ring after the beep? When you set the camera to S-AF focus will be re-confirmed by the beep on every subsequent half-press of the shutter button - providing you don't move significantly. If you do you will have to repeat the focus sequence.

3. You may have to accept slightly imperfect results because you cannot undertake LV 10X checking with every shot. The AF adapter will give you good to excellent results 95% of the time but I suspect you may 'think' you can nearly always better these with LV 10X confirm. Well this might be true, but it is simply not practical. These adapters offer you a huge advantage over visual manual focus, so practice; practice makes perfect. And the longer the lens the more accurate is the AF confirm.

4. Remember the nearer you are to your subject the more critical the focus. Stand still, brace yourself, do not sway fore and aft or you will never get the shot! Any good photographic technique will help you.


CONCLUSION

Are these gizmo's worth the money? If you use any legacy lens the answer must be yes. Are they worth the fiddling about? Only you can answer that! Together with the better performance of legacy glass on the E-3 (E-620 appears the same as E-3 and the E-420 is improved but awaiting test confirmation), I believe the adapter has breathed new life into most of my wide-angle OMZ's.

What about zooms? I still have mixed feelings. Personally I don't think they are worth the trouble but yet I have used my 35-80mm to good effect. The adapter works with them as well (quite well too) I'm just not sure if the additional ring to control makes them viable. I suppose I'll have to have a testing session with zooms.

I will be testing more lenses - standard and telephoto's - with the adapter as soon as I get time. Please keep looking.

While I have read about the DANDELIONS ability to be programmed and studied the instructions, I have not messed with this side of its capabilities. It really does not bother me to have the correct focal length or aperture in the EXIF and providing the metering is accurate I do not necessarily wish to see the correct (restricted) aperture in the VF readout. After all I've been using OMZ's for a number of years now and I don't miss this information. I know when I have an OMZ on the front. Maybe if I was using them all the time, but I'm not. To be honest there's enough to remember!

26th JULY UPDATE - IMAGE STABILIZATION (IS) & AF ADAPTER

I've got to thank Andy Elliott of UK for bringing this to my attention. I say above that having the correct focal length (FL) in the EXIF information is no big deal to me - which it isn't - BUT if you wish to use the IS function of most Olympus DSLR's it is essential the adapter chip is programmed with the correct FL. Because the adapter 'pretends' to be a Zuiko Digital lens it provides certain information to the camera's processor. One such piece of information is the lens' FL so that if you initiate IS the unit knows the correct stabilization curve to apply. If you leave the chip unprogrammed it has a default FL value of 65535mm which is, obviously, out of range. In this case the IS does not work even if initiated. I confirmed this with the E-620 (that has a quite noisy IS mechanism) and sure enough, if the chip is left unprogrammed the IS unit remained silent even when switched ON. As soon as the correct FL was programmed into the chip the IS mechanism worked as expected. Of course this also means that the CORRECT FL must be entered or the IS mechanism will work, but use the wrong stabilization curve.

It boils down to two choices: either you programme the chip correctly for each focal length you use and be able to use IS, OR you choose not to bother with programming the chip and preclude yourself from being able to use IS.

Programming the chip is quite simple though there are a few steps required and you may like to make yourself an aide memoire. The adapter instructions tell you how to programme the chip for correct FL but the original author is Chinese. The instructions need to be read a few times.


NOTE: This article seeks nothing other than to inform. Only you can decide what equipment you want/need for your use. I own most of these cameras/lenses, out of my own pocket; I have nothing to gain or lose by publishing this article, photographs, examples or opinion.


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Posted may 2009 Copyright © John Foster, Biofos Publications 2009.