Review: Olympus OM Zuiko 1:2.8 24mm on Sony a7

The Olympus OM Zuiko 2.8/24 is the smallest SLR 24mm you can buy. How much performance can such a small lens deliver on the 24 MP Sony a7ii? Read the review if you want to know.

Image Samples

You can find most of the images in this review in full resolution in this Olympus OM 1:2.8 24mm flickr set.

Specifications

Diameter 60 mm
Length 31 mm
Filter Thread 49 mm
Weight 180 g
Max. Magnification 1:7
Close Focusing Distance from the sensor 0.25 m
Number of aperture blades 6
Elements/ Groups 8/7
The Olympus OM 2.8/24 usually sells for around $100 used at ebay.com or around 130 at ebay.de (affiliate links). 

Versions

For practical purposes I see three versions of the Olympus OM 2.8/24:

  1. The Olympus OM H.Zuiko Auto-W 1:2.8 f=24mm is single coated which is why I wouldn’t recommend it and there are versions with “silver nose” and without.
  2. The Olympus OM Zuiko MC Auto-W 1:2.8 24mm shares the optics and mechanics of its predecessor but it is multi coated. This is the version I own.
  3. The last version is the Olympus OM Zuiko MC Auto-W 1:2.8 f=24mm. The MC was dropped from the name but that is the only change.

All three versions share the same optics but I would recommend to stay away from the first version (no MC in the name, H.Zuiko and f=24mm) because my experience with single coated Olympus OM lenses is that they flare a lot. I see no practical difference between versions two and three.

Data according to Olypedia.de

Build quality and handling

Olympus OM lenses usually combine a very small size and great handling. The Olympus OM 2.8/24 is no exception.

Focusing Ring

The focusing ring travels around 65 degrees from 0.25 m to 1 m and a further 15 degrees to infinity. This is a little steep for a wide angle but not much of an issue.

The rubberized focusing ring offers good grip and a pleasant diameter. The resistance is pleasant and a little on the low side on my copy. My copy has had a CLA recently so I don’t know if other copies will have a similar resistance.

Aperture

The aperture ring sits at the front of the lens and it has full stops from f/2.8 to f/16 which click into place very nicely. I think this is one of the best aperture ring designs I have come across.

Hood

I don’t own a hood for it but it would make sense to get one since the front lens is quite exposed and flare an issue.

Size and Weight

At 180g and with a length of just 31 mm the Olympus is very small but still large enough to be very pleasant to handle and very well balanced on the a7 series.

Optical performance

These results are based on the use with a Sony Alpha 7/7II.

Flare Resistance

Flare is definitely an issue with this lens. If you have a stronger light source in the image you get a very big ghost and veiling flare in a large area of the image. For me this is a limiting factor since I like to shoot backlit scenes.

I lifted the shadows in the image above, if you don’t lift them the flare issues aren’t very noticeable.

Without the hood I sometimes got strange red ghost in the corners. These could be eliminated by shading the front of the lens with my hand but I haven’t noticed such a behavior in any other lens before.

Bokeh

Classic wide angle lenses usually have rather busy bokeh and the Olympus OM 2.8/24 is no exception here.

At f/2.8 out of focus highlights are rendered busy with a defined edge and towards the corners cat-eyes appear. Stopped down to f/5.6 bokeh is smoother but the hexagonal shape of the aperture becomes visible.

 

Chromatic Aberrations

Axial CA are corrected very well, even in my worst case test there are hardly any CA to be noticed:

Lateral CA on the other hand is moderate to strong which is a good performance for a 24mm lens of this age but you want to auto correct CA

close to 100% crop from the corner | with CA correction | without

Vignetting

How can the Olympus OM Zuiko 24mm 1:2.8 be so small? Because it allows for a high amount of vignetting. At f/2.8 I measure a whopping 2.8 stops on my Sony a7ii, 2.2 stops at f/4, 1.8 stops at f/5.6, 1.6 stops at f/8 and f/11. There is also some slight color-shift.

Since vignetting is not gradual but happen rather sudden in the corners I often had images of blue sky with visibly darkened corners.

Distortion

The Olympus OM 24mm f/2.8 shows a low amount of distortion for a wide angle but since it is complex mustache distortion I can’t fully correct  it in LR. Still probably low enough that hardly anyone would notice for architecture though.

before: no correction | after: corrected with a +5 setting 

Sharpness

f/2.8: Very good in the center, good to ok in the midframe area and okayish with lots of spherical aberration in the corners.

f/4: Excellent in the center, good to very good in the midframe area and not much better in the corners.

f/5.6: Very good across most of the frame but the corners still have low contrast and only okay sharpness.

f/8: Now even the corners are good.

f/11: A tad softer in the center but the corners gain some sharpness.

As long as your subject is in the center images are very sharp from wide open. For off-center compositions I would recommend f/5.6 for very good results and for across the frame sharpness you need to stop down to f/8 where it performs on a high level.

At the close focusing distance I only checked sharpness in the center but here it shows very good performance from wide open with only a marginal gain in sharpness if you stop down.

Alternatives

Canon nFD 2.8/24The cheaper Canon is a bit larger and build quality is inferior. I would say optical performance is similar. Sharpness is quite comparable, the Olympus has a bit less distortion but a lot more vignetting. Choose the Olympus when size is your priority, otherwise the Canon is probably the smarter choice.

Minolta (plain) MD 2.8/24: My favorite legacy 24mm lens right now. Build quality is not great but better than that of the Canon. I think it performs a bit better against sun than the Olympus and it has no vignetting issues. Sharpness is similar.

Sony FE 4/16-35 ZA OSSAbout 2.5 times the weight, many times the size, about 10 times as expensive this modern zoom is not nearly as pleasant to handle but significantly sharper at wider apertures. At typical landscape apertures the ZA is still a bit sharper but not by much. More noticeable is the higher contrast but that can be added in post to some degree.

pros

  • Small Size
  • Good sharpness at f/8
  • Price
average

  • CA
  • 6 aperture blades
cons

  • Vignetting
  • Flare resistance
  • Bokeh
  • Softer corners below f/5.6

Optically the Olympus OM Zuiko 2.8/24 MC comes with a number of compromises: For good across the frame sharpness you need to stop it down to f/8 or even better f/11. Flare resistance isn’t very good either and vignetting is unusually high. This limits its usefulness but if you take the shortcomings into consideration the Olympus can give you very good results for little money.

I have very little but praise for the mechanics and the handling of the OM 2.8/24. It is built to high standards and both focus- and aperture ring are pleasant to use. Since it is so small it is a good choice for any small kit on a budget.

All in all I am a bit reserved about recommending the Olympus OM 2.8/24: It has shortcomings which limit the applications you can use it for. But since it is rather cheap and very small it can still make good sense in your kit because for some applications it performs very well.

The Olympus OM 2.8/24 usually sells for around $100 used at ebay.com or around 130 at ebay.de (affiliate links). 
If this review was helpful to you, please consider using one of my affiliate links. Thanks 🙂

Images Samples

You can find these and more images in full resolution in this flickr set: Olympus OM 1:2.8 24mm.

 

 Other articles

The following two tabs change content below.
I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

Latest posts by Phillip Reeve (see all)

16 thoughts on “Review: Olympus OM Zuiko 1:2.8 24mm on Sony a7”

  1. For sharpness it’s my favourite in MF lenses, though the Canon TS-E 24/2.8 MkII is supposed to be slightly better…in fact the sharpest 24mm in MF. (My MD 24/2.8 has worse corners, and I found the FDn to have “muddy” colours, though as you say, about equal sharpness.)
    Both the OM 24/2.8 and 21/3.5 can exhibit that unusual “red-ring” flare, and as you stated, the single coated version is worse for it.
    For me, only the sharp vignette is a nuisance, as I usually manage to flag off the sun, (not in frame obviously.)
    In comparison with my new, AF Batis 25, this OM is its equal for sharpness, (when closed down to F/8-11), though not for bokeh or flare control.

  2. Great review, thank you ! When i look at the size of this lens, I want to cry when i compare it to the modern lenses. Look how cute it looks, so small, light, imagine it without any extension tube. damn shame nobody is making suchm, except from loxia but that is too expensive. and no 24mm

  3. Excellent review, as alway. Thank you. I own and sometimes carry this lens. You described it very accurately.

    For my purposes, this lens is worth owning. I carry it as part of my comprehensive-carry, but it is never in my bag for a normal outing. I have excellent lenses at 21mm and 28mm, and one or both of those are likely to be in my bag and get used on most outings. This OM 24 is so small and light that it’s a no-brainer to add it to the mix just to have the focal length, and I know it will be good stopped down. Since I often have another OM lens with me, I don’t even keep an adapter on this lens, so it is really small and light. (The downside of that assumption of course is that I might be caught without an adapter when I don’t carry another OM lens.)

    It’s definitely not: “Ah this is such a great lens it’s on the camera all the time.” No.

    Instead: “Better to have a 24mm lens with me that might be pretty good stopped down than not have one at all.”

    I carried it around Iceland for two weeks last summer and it was the one lens I didn’t use at all. I probably would have used it if I had packed the 49-52 step up ring for my 52mm ND filter at waterfalls and tighter places, but in general use the trade off of precise focal length over lens quality didn’t favor the use of this lens in what I considered important use. I didn’t mind much that I carried it without using it because it was so tiny.

  4. Excellent review as ever, thank you. I like this lens for the reasons you give. It does need a hood and one from the Takumar 3.5/28 fits very well. You can reverse it to retain the compactness in your bag and I add a 49 mm filter ring with the glass removed to aid mounting.

  5. I am using a FOTGA digital adapters OM-NEX adapter in combination with Olympus OM Zuiko lenses 50mm 1.8 and 50mm 1.4. Both lenses have the same problem when turning the aperture ring. It only reliably works until 5.6. Then the aperture turns sort of sluggish for 8-11-16 by not further closing the blades properly. I verified it with the stop down button on the right of the lens. Pressing and releasing this button will further close/open the blades to the apparently correct value. First I thought it might be adapter related. Then I cross compared this finding with a Tokina lens OM mount which worked fine without the need to press down the button on the right. Now I believe it is Olympus lens related as I also have a third Olympus 35-70mm zoom lens showing the exact same problem. Any wizard here who knows the tricks as I am new to the world of Olympus manual focus lenses and would like to enjoy them too? (but please without the need to press down a button)

    1. Hi Carlo,
      there is a little metal nose at the mounting size of the OM lenses which is related to the aperture blade mechanism. By mounting the lens on the adapter this nose should be at the end of the small slit where the metal nose is installed. Otherwise you will see the problems when turning the aperture ring. Maybe you can correct the counterpart’s position of this metal nose at the adapter side. I’m using the novoflex and the K&F adaptors which are working well with my OM lenses.

  6. Thanks for you review.
    As far as I know, the “MC” version was only made for a short period of time. I have only seen the “MC” version with serial number 18xxxx and 19xxxx.
    Serial number less than 17xxxx are the H.Zuiko.
    Serial number greater than 20xxxx are the Zuiko without “MC”.
    It is surprising you have a 10xxxx with “MC”.

    My copies of the “MC” in 18xxxx – 19xxxx range are equal or better than my copies of the Canon FDn 24/2.8, the Canon FDn24/2, and the Minolta MD 24/2.8 at nearly all apertures.

  7. A very accurate and interesting review of the OM 24mm.
    Very well written indeed.

    Best regards
    Svenning Bjerregaard Jensen,
    Denmark.

  8. Nice review!

    One online source says that the third version (without the MC) had a slightly simplified optical scheme, sacrificing a bit of quality.

    In my own experience, the one sample of type III I tried was indeed noticibly less sharp in the corners than the type I & MC versions.

    Some people say the 24 2.8 has a lot of sample variation, so what I noticed could be due to that.

  9. I hav not tried this “multi coated” lens, I had Olympus F.Zuiko 24mm f2.8 and compared it with Canon fdn 24mm f2.8 on Sony A7rii. The edges and corners are much cleaner with the Canon. But I sold them all, and now I use Loxia 21mm f2.8 and crops the picture to gain 24mm and similar, at least when shooting landscapes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *