OM ZUIKO's on an E-330 BODY

16mm to 400mm crops for your perusal


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:





As the E-System moves on apace and the next generation of consumer grade bodies is about to hit the market - the E-410 & 510 - there are bargains to be had. The revolutionary E-330 that popularised a 'Live View' function only seen in compacts to the DSLR world, is reaching the end of its shelf life and is being cleared out at competetive prices by some companies.

Although I was personally not convinced by the hype surrounding the E-330's Live View modes A & B it was obvious from reading the forums that others who tried out the novel machine were. As time went on it seemed that more and more folks were extolling the E-330 virtues and it occurred to me perhaps it was only Olympus that had seen the real potential so early; the audience was simply catching up!

On May 1st I spotted the E-330 on offer in the UK from the well known for a steal, so I gave in to temptation and ordered the basic kit (body + ZD14-45mm, BLM1 and BLC2 etc.) Some 36 hours later it duly arrived. That's what I call service. I was a little wary that perhaps it would arrive with no charger (ala E-500 in UK) or with some other stuff missing. I was wrong; as promised it was the proper kit, brand spanking new with the added bonus of the Frank Spath book, a Cokin filter holder system and a DVD explaining the cameras salient features. All this for less than 350.00 including postage. I can certainly recommend the company.

After the usual familiarisation period and a firmware upgrade I decided to put the Live View mode B to the test and repeat the exercise I undertook nearly three years ago by testing a series of OM Zuiko's on it. On 3rd May 2007 I set up my tripod in the garden and hefted out most of my prime lenses between 16mm and 400mm to couple up to the E-330. On this occassion I chose only the slower versions of the non-standard primes and left out the 8mm FE, the 180mm x 2.8 and the 500mm Mirror. The day was a little too bright so I set the tripod and camera under the gazebo to offer some shade and set up the target exactly 100 feet away. Because of the superb conditions I set each lens at f=8 and with the camera in A mode, ISO = 200, WB = auto, all else default, -0.3 compensation and the 2 second self timer I used the wonderful Mode B with its 10X magnification to achieve focus, set about the task. And again, I didn't enjoy myself at all...............

Unlike the major testing session I did with OMZ's on the E-1 I restricted my choice of lenses to accord with lessons learned about the vagaries of OMZ's and also decided to show only one image of the basic setup but crops of all the target images resized to a uniform size but otherwise untouched.


Though I see the appeal of auto-focus zoom lenses for ease of use and focal length ranging capabilities, I still miss both the look and the feel of prime lenses. This 90mm Macro lens is best part of 20 years old but still looks good on any E-System camera as well as delivering cracking results. Manual lenses may not be as convenient but, to me the 'disadvantage' of focusing and stopping down are largely irrelevant; it adds to the joy of imaging.


As you already know the Zuiko Digital range of lenses is denoted by their focal length spread such as the ZD14-54mm zoom. This notation is totally correct and decribes the relationship between the lens and the sensor and expresses the correct focal length (and subsequent) field of view for the lens on a four thirds body. The pitch is then muddied by the manufacturer telling us the 35mm equivalent (in this case computed by a multiplier of 2x) giving an equivalent focal length spread (and subsequent field of view) of a 28-108mm zoom lens on a 35mm full frame camera.

If you wish to achieve the same field of view on a four thirds camera with a non four-thirds lens (OMZ et al) the focal length measure must be the same. For instance you will get the same field of view from the ZD14-54mm zoom set to 28mm and from the OMZ 28mm lens fitted to an E-system body with the adapter. The 2x equivalent only applies to the field of view comparison with the lens fitted to a 35mm full frame camera body. Thus the same 28mm OMZ prime lens when fitted to an E-system body gives the same field of view as a 56mm lens fitted to a 35mm camera. A 28mm lens is a 28mm lens.

The easiest way to remind yourself of this is to fit the OM Zuiko to an OM body, look through its viewfinder and note the field of view. Then mount the same lens on a four thirds body, look through its viewfinder and you will see the field of view is halved. You see only 50% of what you saw with the lens on an OM body. This is where the 2x multiplier comes in to try and describe the relationship. Personally, I think it's time the 35mm equivalent was forgotten.


The image below is about half way through the testing and is taken with OM Zuiko 50mm x 1.8 standard lens. You can imagine the target recedes when taken with less than 50mm FL lenses and gets nearer with lenses greater than 50mm FL. The target is 100ft from cameras CCD.

As stated above I started with 16mm FE and worked steadily through the selected lenses to finish with the OMZ 400mm x 6.3. Even using the 10X magnification on the Live View screen, I found critical focusing was not easy with any lens less than 50mm FL. The choice to set up under the shade of the gazebo was very wise as in its shade I could see the screen, certainly more so than out in the open sunshine. What is it about the British climate? It's either too dull or too bright!


Using the OMZ 16mm x f=3,5 the target was virtually impossible to accurately focus upon. It would be impossible to use the viewfinder of the E-330 as it is smaller and darker than the E-1. That said I remember having to repeat many wide-angle shots during the E-1 test session because focus on the ground glass screen of the E-1 was nigh on impossibe too.

However this is as accurate as I could get it and it demonstrates the 'poor' performance of wide angles generally if you insist on pixel peeping. Of course the performance is not poor; the lens is designed to gather light from a wide view so central detail is sacrificed and pushed back into the image resulting in loss of definition.

At 18mm accurate focus was still near impossible. Because the 4/3rds to OM adapter is slightly too thin, the registration of wide angle lenses is incorrect meaning you cannot accurately use the focus ring and depth of field scales on the OM Zuiko lens. In other words hyperfocal setting is not strictly possible.

At 21mm I could just begin to see a discernable difference in the image on the screen as the focus ring was turned through the critical point of focus. Still not possible to confirm accurately, more a case of least worst position! However, as the image shows the coloured blobs are beginning to show signs of a definate edge.

At 24mm the difference from the 21mm is marginal, but discernable. This may mean the 21mm lens is innately slightly sharper (it is the f=3.5 version) than the 24mm x f=2.8, but to be honest these differences between lenses are tiny and virtually meaningless. I'm pretty sure I managed to get the best focus possible from all the wide angles.

Again, at 28mm the slight sharpening of the image is about the same improvement as seen between 21mm and 24mm. But none of the shapes is distinguishable as anything other than blobs. Focusing is slightly easier but by no means a doddle!

At 35mm I can see a definate progression to a better defined image. The outlines are becoming well defined, as are the individual shapes on the jar as well as separate colours. Note too a slight yellowish cast due to my 35mm x 2.8 being a silver-nose with single coating.

The result from the 40mm is better than I anticipated. You can now see the scrawly lines are some form of text and the colours are better defined. You can also see two fish shaped objects. This is the first time an identifiable shape is seen.

At 50mm accurate focus is now achievable. I believe this shows the previous images were indeed focussed as correctly as possible as there's been no sudden increase in sharpness. Note the text is almost readable, the shapes are pretty clear and I can count at least seven different colours.

The 1.4 version of the 50mm standard lens performed terribly in on the E-1 test session. Here it seems to have marginally inproved the image over the 1.8 version but the difference is tiny.

This is the fastest of the standard lenses and generally performs poorly. Here I think it shows poorer performance than its two 50mm siblings. The image is generally softer all round.

As with the 50mm 1.2 the super fast 55mm (old) standard lens performed poorly in previous tests. I don't believe it's done itself any fovours here either. The additional 5mm of FL has achieved nothing in terms of sharpness or definition. It is slightly worse than the 50mm x 1.8 rendering. Note the very slight yellow tinge that may be attributable to the yellowing 'earth elements' used in its manufacture.

At 85mm we can see another leap forward in sharpness and definition. I should hope so too as there's been over 50% gain in focal length and to my eyes (and expectations) this is disappointing. The 85mm x 2.0 performed poorly in previous tests and is doing so again here when compared to the next result.

The 90mm macro is just a stellar performer. For a macro lens its long range performance is superb. I said it before and I'll say it again; if you can buy only one OM Zuiko lens, this is the one.

The 100mm produces a 'not bad' rendering that's on a par with the 90mm macro. But for a medium range telephoto that's not really good enough. I expected this one to do better.

The wonderful little ubiquitous 135mm x 3.5 does it again. Super result creating another clear stage in this series. Here the word GROWTH can be read easily as can the script VITAMIN C. Is it just my copy of the 135mm is so exceptional? I can't believe that.

Another great performer, the 200mm. This image has sharpened up greatly from the 135mm version with all aspects of shapes and colours well distinguished. You can almost see the separate letters making up the small black text. Excellent.

As you would expect as we move into the super telephoto range - a vast improvement. Here you can almost read the small black text and remember you are 100 feet away.

At 400mm there's another slight improvement over the 300mm version but it's only marginal. Once again all aspects become sharper and clearer but the black text is still not quite readable.


I can hear you asking! I too wondered how the modern zoom lenses would perform against the older generation primes. After all the great Maitaini designed many of the OM Zuiko primes and no-one would argue against his talent or philosophy. Surely a prime is a prime regardless of when it was made? And surely a prime will always outperform a zoom? Zooms are convenient but there are too many enforced compromises that have to be made.

To test this I ran a series of shots using three ZD zooms from the 7-14 to the 50-200 at focal lengths equal to the primes. All conditions were the same though it was slightly later in the day (by about an hour). I repeated all the focal length examples I done with the OMZ's but I've reproduced only a few here. I started with the ZD7-14mm at its longest which is slightly less than the FOV of the OMZ 16mm. This is slightly unfair on the ZD zoom lens but it gives us a starting place.


Here I used the ZD7-14mm at f=8 at a focal length of 14mm as a start to this series of images. In retrospect I'd have done better with the ZD11-22mm but I was wanting to progress the test as the sun was getting brighter by the minute. For the sake of the basic comparison it serves the purpose. Please make your decision based on a 2mm FOV difference between this and the OMZ 16mm.

At 28mm the image from the ZD14-54mm is not as good as the 28mm OMZ prime version. However, you can see how bright it was getting by the highlights on the jar and this has distorted the overall comparison. I still give this to the prime lens.

Here's the result from the ZD50-200mm set at 100mm. Though I was a little disappointed with the OMZ 100mm image, the same shot with the ZD zoom is not quite as good even taking ionto account the differing lighting conditions.

This is the ZD50-200mm at full stretch, the equivalent FOV of an OMZ 200mm on the E-330. The ZD comparison is good but to my eyes not quite up to the standard of the prime.


Please don't think I'm out to prove anything. I'm simply presenting the test results for your perusal. OMZ primes do provide slightly better images in this test sequence but they are fiddly to use and no where near as convenient as the later designed for digital ZD zoom lens range.

But the OMZ's offer a great way to cover focal length or special purpose requirements without heavy investment in the ZD system. For example I find the OMZ Macro offerings do everything I want to do for my personal macro needs. Yes, I am spoilt by owning the OMZ 90mm Macro, but the lesser 50mm x 3.5 is almost as sharp and very easy to use, especially on the E-330. The OMZ 50mm macro lens is readily available secondhand for about 60.00 or less whereas the ZD 50mm macro is 350.00. (NOTE: The OMZ 90mm Macro is very expensive).

Don't forget you need to use OMZ's in 'stop down' mode. When mounted on the adapter the aperture becomes permanently and mechanically linked to the aperture ring. If you mount an OMZ with its aperture ring set at f16 the image you see in the viewfinder is f16 - very dark - making critical focus difficult/impossible. You must open up the OMZ aperture to provide plenty of light to illuminate focusing. This is much easier to achieve on the E-330 in Live B mode and I found I could focus with the lenses pre-set to f=5.6 without problem. After you've focused remember to close the aperture (move ring to the RIGHT) to your predetermined f number consistent with conditions and metering. OMZ's do not work well wide open and require at least one click (or more) to close the aperture a little to ensure good AE. If you are regularly using OMZ's on your E-system camera you'll quickly get into this habit. I have tried my range of OMZ's on E-1, E-500, E-400 and E-330 and can only recommend their use on the E-1 and E-330 as the other two cameras have screens too small to allow accurate manual focusing. I haven't got the eye-piece magnifier so I cannot say if this makes a significant difference.

When I tested OMZ's with the E-1 there's a tendency towards over-exposure. It's not much but enough to spoil the shot. The same applies with the E-330 but to a slightly lesser extent. And because focusing is much easier in Live B mode you can preset the aperture to your requirementsand still get good focus. The general rule of using minus one or two thirds compensation also applies here. This way the camera protects the highlights and you can adjust it in post processing. Whether it's one or two stops is up to you.

Of no real concern to your use of OMZ's is the interesting fact that they will all focus beyond infinity. This is due to the adapter being slightly too thin. As you are focusing via the screen it is largely irrelevant but does mean that you cannot rely on the DofF scale on the lens for hyperfocal distance setting.


In my tests on the E-1, I suggested that anyone with a collection of OMZ glass will benefit form their use on the E-System cameras. They can nicely supplement the ZD zooms and provide a realistic alternative to the hugely expensive ZD fast primes. If like me you are not a great lover of zooms (though I admit I'm warming to the ZD's) OMZ primes can provide you with that 'retro' feeling of actually having an input into your photographs. The E-330's Live B mode offers a great way to accurately focus these older lenses and really shines in macro work with older OMZ's.

In my tests with the E-1 I ended the write-up with some recommendations covering the OMZ's I found worked best on that camera. The E-330 produced generally better results I obtained a much higher rate of 'keepers' with it. Perhaps it was the lighting conditions on the day, perhaps it is the easier focusing, perhaps it is the internal mirror and screen arrangement but during this test I found nearly all the OMZ's I tested gave pretty good results. Most disappointing were the super bright standard lenses 50mm x 1.2 and 55mm x 1.2 and the 85mm x 2.0. which just could not resolve sufficient detail. Some of the super-wide angle lenses (16mm, 18mm and 21mm produced good results with a little experimentation.

All in all a more heartening result for the older primes!

If you have any observations please contact me here.



Posted May 2007 23:04 Copyright © 2007 John Foster