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Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?
  
 
rdeloe
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


EDIT: If you're considering OM 135/3.5, it's actually much better than I suggested in this original posting. There's an update from me several messages down that provides a proper assessment.

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I have a little gap in my OM mount lineup I need to fill. I need a prime lens that fits between my 100mm lens and my 180mm lens (a Tamron 180/2.5 SP that is excellent... but really big and bulky compared to what I want).

For simplicity, the lens I'm looking for needs to be an Olympus OM mount, but it doesn't have to be an Olympus OM lens.

Can you help? Buying lenses only to have to sell them because they're not as good as people have said is getting old. I'm hoping to get some concrete feedback to let me avoid that fate...

Some background: I have an Olympus OM 135/3.5 that I got for a song. It's perfect in every way: light, compact, nicely made... except it's really soft compared to my OM 100/2.8, so I'm spoiled now. See comparison photos below, where I'm comparing what my OM 100/2.8 can do to what the 135/3.5 can do. Look at the tall, dry grass and the funny looking tree on the left. That's not focus error. That's as sharp as OM 135/3.5 can get. Those shots are at f/5.6. It's not better at f/8.

The logical candidate is the big brother, OM 135/2.8. If there's something on the Internet or in this forum that's been written about the Olympus OM 135/2.8, then I've found it. The problem is reviews are quite mixed. I know it's not as good as a Contax 135/2.8 (but that lens isn't an option for me because I really need OM mount).

Question #1: have you compared OM 135/2.8 to OM 135/3.5 or OM 100/2.8, and if so, how did it do?

The next option is a Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 Close Focusing lens. That's this guy (see picture below). Note that it's NOT one of the many other Vivitar 135s (i.e., the 135mm f/2.8 Komine, the 135mm f/2.3 Komine, or any of the other variants branded as Vivitar). The Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 Close Focusing lens has a good reputation, it comes in an Olympus OM mount, and the aperture and focus rings turn in the "right" (i.e., Olympus) direction.






Question #2: have you used and compared the Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 Close Focusing lens to other 135s (especially other Olympus 135s), and if so, how does it do?


And finally, any other ideas?

Thanks, Rob





Olympus OM 100/2.8 at f/5.6 on the left. Olympus OM 135/3.5 at f/5.6 on the right



Edited on Dec 09, 2017 at 08:18 PM · View previous versions



Dec 06, 2017 at 01:40 AM
jlehet
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


Have not tried any of the Oly 135s, but I do have the Vivitar Close Focus as well as a handful of other vintage 135s. My go-to 135 carry these days is the Canon FD 2.8, thanks to Phillip Reeve's review (https://phillipreeve.net/blog/review-canon-nfd-2-8135/).

The Vivitar Close Focus 135 is pretty good, and especially good close up, but in a critical comparison of the edges at infinity my copy is very poor compared to the Canon. The Vivitar is also bigger and heavier. I think I will keep the Vivitar for closer work, but maybe not. The Vivitar is not worth carrying as a landscape lens, IMO, but for portraits it is very likely better than the Canon, which does not have a very close focus distance.



Dec 06, 2017 at 02:42 PM
rdeloe
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


The FD 135/2.8 is a really nice lens. But I really need to get something with an Olympus OM mount so that I can use it on my tilt-shift adapter.

I also don't like having to look at every lens to remember the direction things move! For me having the focus and aperture rings go in the same direction is important. That's why the Tamron 180/2.5 SP is such a good find: rings happen to go in Olympus direction. The only drawbacks are it's bigger and heavier than I prefer, and I do find that 180mm on APS-C is just a bit too narrow and angle of view (hence my search for a 135mm lens.

Thanks very much for the feedback on the Vivitar close focusing 135. The rings on that one go in the right (Olympus) direction, but I will be using it mostly for landscape-type work so it's good to know in advance that it's not great. Ironically, I don't need it's best feature (close focusing) because I have a nice OM 90/2 and an OM 50/2, both of which get to 1:2 and are spectacularly good lenses.



Dec 06, 2017 at 03:29 PM
Musicman
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


I must say I am surprised your Zuiko 135mm f/3.5 is that poor. Mine is very much better, at least on full frame (a Sony A7)


Hop Exchange by Rob Telford, on Flickr


Roundel by Rob Telford, on Flickr

It holds up pretty well under close inspection

The OM 135/3.5 is wonderfully compact and light; I'd use it more except I'm in the reverse position of being mostly a Canon FD shooter, with a good selection of FD 135s.



Dec 06, 2017 at 11:42 PM
rdeloe
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


It does seem churlish of me to complain about this lens. It's so tiny and well made -- a perfect little travel tele. When you add what they cost it seems like a ridiculous bargain. My first one was free with some other kit, and my second one was $30.

But... both copies I've used don't hold up to close inspection. The images they make can look OK at first blush, but in comparison to other lenses the overall softness you can see in the sample I posted above starts to show. Your images look great so I suppose it could be my copies. However, I'm not so sure because my two copies perform the same and they're in excellent condition.

I have to confess that my bar for quality is fairly high. I'm trying to find an OM mount lens at 135mm that produces files that print well to at least 17" x 25" from my X-T2. It also needs to shift 8mm with good quality. The why and the how of that is here: http://www.robdeloephotography.com/Pages/Tiltshift-on-APSC

I've also been spoiled by other Zuikos. I'm using OM 50/2 and OM 90/2 and they're both extremely strong. OM 90/2 in particular is stellar. It easily holds its own against the Fuji XF 90/2, which is a superb lens, and it shifts to 10mm with no noticeable loss of image quality even at f/2.8.

Rob

Musicman wrote:
I must say I am surprised your Zuiko 135mm f/3.5 is that poor. Mine is very much better, at least on full frame (a Sony A7)

It holds up pretty well under close inspection

The OM 135/3.5 is wonderfully compact and light; I'd use it more except I'm in the reverse position of being mostly a Canon FD shooter, with a good selection of FD 135s.





Dec 07, 2017 at 01:17 PM
Musicman
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


Well, I suppose I shall just be thankful that mine works well if you are seeing the same issue with two copies. Perhaps I got very lucky?

I have a bit of a weakness for 135mm lenses - just arrived in the post for me this afternoon (sadly after the light was gone) was a C//Y Zeiss 135mm f/2.8, which I hope to check out tomorrow. ;-)



Dec 07, 2017 at 11:08 PM
rdeloe
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


When I make a post like this I'm always worried that what I'm seeing is user error. Especially for vintage lenses, it's crucial to have accurate information out there. So I checked again very carefully, this timing shooting against an ISO 12233 chart in addition to that scene I posted above. Results below, comparing OM 13/3.5 on the left at f/8 to the Tamron 180/2.5 SP at f/8 on the right. I wish I could say the results were different. It's not that the 135/3.5 is terrible; it's not. It's just that I'm trying to get the most out of my little APS-C sensor... Anyway, if you're getting good results, don't sell your copy!

The C/Y Zeiss 135/2.8 is supposed to be really good. I hope you like it. Unfortunately, nobody makes a tilt-shift adapter for that mount. Kipon makes a shift adapter and a weird looking tilt adapter. Sigh.

I like this angle of view too by the way. I'm using an APS-C system now, so for me 90mm is giving me roughly what you're getting with 135mm on full frame. I have the XF 90/2 and yesterday I got an OM 90/2. Both are spectacularly good lenses. The old OM doesn't give anything to the modern Fuji. For a fun read from someone who isn't on our side, see this: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2016/01/open-mike-ii-the-perfect-lens.html

Musicman wrote:
Well, I suppose I shall just be thankful that mine works well if you are seeing the same issue with two copies. Perhaps I got very lucky?

I have a bit of a weakness for 135mm lenses - just arrived in the post for me this afternoon (sadly after the light was gone) was a C//Y Zeiss 135mm f/2.8, which I hope to check out tomorrow. ;-)








Comparison of OM 13/3.5 on the left at f/8 to the Tamron 180/2.5 SP at f/8 on the right




Dec 08, 2017 at 12:05 AM
 

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rdeloe
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


It looks like I have some crow eating to do...

After scouring the web for alternatives it became clear to me that in the 135mm focal length, for OM-mount lenses, the f/3.5 or the f/2.8 remain the best options. I couldn't get past the fact that your images with the 135/3.5 look so good. Therefore, I decided to give OM 135/3.5 one more shot.

I took my OM 135/3.5, 100/2.8 and 90/2 lenses on the road and made a set of real-world comparison groups with multiple samples for each focal length. In real world photography, with much more attention to nailing focus and multiple frames per scene, the 135/3.5 showed me what it can really do.

Long story short: It's a very low contrast lens and the files need extra work in post-processing. Sharpness is not as good as OM 100/2.8, but is considerably better than I concluded initially. Some of what I thought was lack of detail was actually the contrast issue; boosting clarity and contrast in Lightroom resulted in a much stronger image. I can only attribute my initial result (above in the original post) to poor technique and not enough attention to the contrast issue in post-processing the test files.

So, to be fair to this nice little lens, I felt obliged to update this thread! Here's a new ISO 12233 comparison (using the old 2010 standard chart) at f/8 and 100%. OM 135/3.5 looks OK (not as good as OM 100/2.8 by any stretch, but definitely OK and better than in the previous chart test I posted above). But look at this comparison of a grain storage facility I made during the real world tests (both lenses at f/8 and images zoomed to 100%). The images are processed with my black and white workflow. The OM 135/3.5 that I maligned in this thread produced a file that I can easily print at 17"x25".

The take-away for me is that OM 135/3.5 can produce a high quality file, but one has to pay a lot more attention to focusing to get get critical image resolution. I look forward to seeing if OM 135/2.8 is at least as sharp and has better contrast. If it doesn't, OM 135/3.5 will serve me well now that I know how to use the thing properly.



Musicman wrote:
Well, I suppose I shall just be thankful that mine works well if you are seeing the same issue with two copies. Perhaps I got very lucky?

I have a bit of a weakness for 135mm lenses - just arrived in the post for me this afternoon (sadly after the light was gone) was a C//Y Zeiss 135mm f/2.8, which I hope to check out tomorrow. ;-)








OM 135/3.5 at f/8 on the left. OM 100/2.8 at f/8 on the right. No additional post-processing







OM 135/3.5 at f/8 on the left. OM 100/2.8 at f/8 on the right. Processed using my black and white workflow, with extra clarity and contrast for OM 135/3.5




Dec 09, 2017 at 08:12 PM
Musicman
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


Quite a result! I'm very happy you gave it another chance.

The C/Y Sonnar 135mm/2.8 is a lot better than I'd heard from some other quarters, BTW. It has very few vices.; low axial CA and no discernible distortion (which is great as I take a lot of pictures of buildings).



Dec 10, 2017 at 12:36 PM
rdeloe
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


After doing a bit of shopping, I can now provide an update on 135 options.

OM 135/2.8 is a better option than OM 135/3.5. Itís a slightly larger lens, and weights a bit more than OM 135/3.5 (360g versus 290g). Nonetheless, itís still very tiny. Importantly, OM 135/2.8 is sharper overall than OM 135/3.5, and has much better contrast. As I explained earlier, Itís definitely possible to make a good photograph with OM 135/3.5, but it takes more work in post. Shift performance of OM 135/2.8 is excellent, with 10mm shifts producing slightly reduced but still very good image quality at the far shifted side. Overall, if you were building a shift kit using only Olympus OM lenses, and you needed this focal length, then Iíd recommend OM 135/2.8 over OM 135/2.8. The price difference is not large.

I also evaluated the Tamron 135/2.5 Close Focus lens. Because itís an Adaptall-2 lens, it mounted directly to my Kipon OM-Fuji X adapter with an inexpensive Tamron Adaptall-2 OM adapter. As a bonus, the focus and aperture rings of Tamron Adaptall-2 lenses turn in the same direction as Olympus lenses, which is important to me because my other lenses are OMs and I donít want to have to think about which direction the rings go!

Tamron 135/2.5 is a bit bulkier than OM 135/2.8 and weighs a bit more (410 grams versus 360g for OM 135/2.8). Tamron 135/2.5 focuses closer than OM 135/2.8 (1.2 m versus 1.5 m) Ė hence the name. Itís multi-coated and has a built-in hood (which is too short to be very useful). The colour produced from Tamron 135/2.5 is very similar to the Olympus palette (another bonus). Wide open on APS-C, OM 135/2.8 is much sharper and more contrasty across the frame than Tamron 135/2.5. By f/5.6 Iíd call them closely matched (but OM 135/2.8 remains ever so slightly sharper and more contrasty). Shift performance of Tamron 135/2.5 is good at 10mm, with only a slight loss of image quality at the far shifted edge at f/8. Again though, OM 135/2.8 is clearly slightly better at 10mm of shift.

Tamron 135/2.5 and OM 135/2.8 are both very good performers. However, on balance, Iíd say OM 135/2.8 is the better choice if you donít need the ability to focus slightly closer, and especially if you want to shoot wide open. Iím currently using Tamron 135/2.5, simply because I got a good deal on a nice copy, and the copy of OM 135/2.8 I bought had oil on the blades and went back to the seller.

One last comment on telephoto options: I also picked up a Tamron 180/2.5. This lens has an excellent and well-deserved reputation. It can be extended with the 1.4x teleconverter, with very little impact on image quality. However, Tamron 180/2.5 is very heavy Ė so much so that I can actually see the mount moving on the Fuji X-T2 when the camera is attached to my tripod with an L-bracket and the lens is supported entirely by the mount. I would not recommend this arrangement. Tamron 180/2.5 really should be on a tripod mount of some kind (but it doesnít have provisions for one). Unless you absolutely need the longer focal length, Tamron 135/2.5 or OM 135/2.8 are much safer telephoto options.



Dec 22, 2017 at 01:39 AM
AmbientMike
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


My 135/2.8 M42 mount Vivitar seems noticably better, at least in the center, than my 135/2.8 or 3.5 OM. And Hektor. It needs to be stopped down, though, but it seems at least decent by f/4.

There are possibly several versions, though, so you might have to try a few. Mine looks different than the one you posted a photo of.


I mostly shoot m4/3 lately, for alts, so I don't know about the edges on ff. But I shoot a lot of close up, anyway.

I really like OM lenses, but the 135's just didn't work that well for me. They are good enough, but I'd recommend the 65-200 OM, although it needs to be stopped down. But it is an excellent lens at f/8, I like f/5.6-11. Decent macro at 200, too.

Also the latest version of the 70-210/4 Tamron. The one that replaced the 80-210, and has 1:2.8 macro. Mine has a focus shift, though.

There may be better versions of the OM 135's out there, especially the 135/2.8, perhaps mc. But mine performed abut like the modern photography test, not that well.

I really like my 100/2.8, I think it is later than the MP tested one, and seems really good.

Seems like there's a 135 I'm forgetting.....

The 80-200/2.8 Tamron has a tripod ring, and is good. XX-300 zooms tend to do well up to about 200mm.

My 75-150 OM is good, too. I think I got a late version, though. But the MP test on the earlier one looks good.



Dec 22, 2017 at 04:40 AM
rdeloe
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


If you ever see one for a good price, the Vivitar 135/2.5 Close Focus is supposed to be better than the 135/2.8. I haven't tried it (and someone else earlier in the thread suggested it wasn't great for landscape, so who knows.)

I surely hope the OM 135/2.8 I mailed back to the vendor yesterday because of oily blades wasn't a rare exception! That would be a shame and a pain in equal measures. This one was a later MC version. If I decide the Tamron 135/2.5 I'm using now isn't cutting it after all, I'll round up another OM 135/2.8 MC.

Thanks for the insights into the OM zooms. I had the 35-70 f/3.6 years ago. It was quite decent, but it flared like it was designed to do that.

If you like the OM style, two I can recommend without reservation at the OM 50/2 Macro and the OM 90/2 Macro. The OM 50/2 Macro costs a lot more than OM 50/1.4, which is probably just as good, but I like the close focusing ability of the 50/2. The OM 90/2 is in a league of its own. I use the exceptional Fuji XF 90/2, and the OM 90/2 is easily its match. It's a big heavy beast for an Olympus OM, but the image quality is simply fabulous.


AmbientMike wrote:
My 135/2.8 M42 mount Vivitar seems noticably better, at least in the center, than my 135/2.8 or 3.5 OM. And Hektor. It needs to be stopped down, though, but it seems at least decent by f/4.

There are possibly several versions, though, so you might have to try a few. Mine looks different than the one you posted a photo of.

I mostly shoot m4/3 lately, for alts, so I don't know about the edges on ff. But I shoot a lot of close up, anyway.

I really like OM lenses, but the 135's just didn't work that well for me.
...Show more




Dec 22, 2017 at 02:27 PM
AmbientMike
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Olympus OM 135/2.8 -- recommended?


Based on my experiences with OM 135's, I don't think it is a rare exception. The 65-200 is excellent, though.

As far as the 135 Vivitar close focus being better than the 135/2.8 Vivitar, which 135/2.8? Some people claim the 135/2.8 Vivitar is bad, so perhaps they have a different version. Mine does quite well by f/4.

Maybe I'll get around to posting some photos with these on m4/3 after Christmas. I hate doing lens tests, though. But let me know if you are interested.

I have never used the 35-70/3.6. Or rigorously tested the 65-200. But the photos look good, and I use it. I don't really use the 135's.

rdeloe wrote:
If you ever see one for a good price, the Vivitar 135/2.5 Close Focus is supposed to be better than the 135/2.8. I haven't tried it (and someone else earlier in the thread suggested it wasn't great for landscape, so who knows.)

I surely hope the OM 135/2.8 I mailed back to the vendor yesterday because of oily blades wasn't a rare exception! That would be a shame and a pain in equal measures. This one was a later MC version. If I decide the Tamron 135/2.5 I'm using now isn't cutting it after all, I'll round up another OM 135/2.8
...Show more



Dec 22, 2017 at 04:14 PM







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