Friday, 10 August 2012

From FD to OM – More experiments with Retro lenses

Photo taken on a Canon 550D/Rebel T2i  DSLR with Olympus 50MM OM lens attached.

Following a suggestion by a few of the friendly folks over at the new Magic Lantern forum after we posted a link to our FD lens video test, we decided to try some other retro lenses on our Canon T2i, ones that didn’t require an adapter with glass.

After a fair bit of research, we decided to go for Olympus OM lenses.

Why Olympus? Well, anyone who’s used one seems to love them and in the comparison charts we found online, the Olympus lenses always seemed to be up there in the top four or five, beaten only by lenses that cost tens times more expensive (well quite a bit more expensive anyway).

Although still dirt cheap compared to digital primes, these lenses are a bit more expensive than the FD lenses.  After hunting around on, yes you guessed it, EBay, we purchased a 28mm and a 50mm for about £60-70 each, (two-three times the price we paid for the FD lenses) and decided to shoot a similar video to the FD lens test one (more flowers and nature shots) so we could compare the two and see if the extra price meant extra quality.

Again, you need to buy a special adapter to fit these lenses to a Canon EOS camera. We picked one up for about £16.

OM lenses have the aperture control located on the opposite side of the lens barrel to the mount, but once we got use to that, we preferred it – you didn’t have the danger of accidently loosening the mount… And it was nice to have the light controls next to each other when working with a vari ND filter attached to the end of the lens.

We definitely felt these lenses produced a cleaner, crisper image than the FD lenses, although still softer than their digital equivalents. Not a major problem if you like the creamy softness of celluloid film and besides there is a certain amount of sharpening you can do in post to an image. We’ve found the Magic Bullet sharpen look is pretty good at this (be prepared to experiment with the settings though).

Again, the images responded to grading beautifully and the detail in both shadows and highlights impressed.

Strangely though, we’re not sure if we actually prefer the lens flare you get with FD lenses, we were slightly less blown away by the way sunlight caught the lens than we were shooting with FD lenses (although we still got some beautiful results). Having said this, we’ve not had the chance to really test them out in different situations yet.

Also we noticed the “bokeh” (the out of focus blurry part of the image) on the Olympus images were a little less creamy than the ones captured with the FD lenses.

Over all though, we did prefer the images the Olympus lenses produced over the FD lenses. Decide for yourselves, we’ve re-posted our FD lens test here too for comparison.