Skip to main content

A brief look at old zooms

I wrote previously about single-focal length lenses (primes) and how they'd gone from ubiquitous to specialized, while at the same time zooms had changed places with them, going from specialized to ubiquitous. I still have two zooms in my collection from the period I shot film; the Tamron 70-210mm f/3.5 BBAR and the S Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 zoom.

Sitting side-by-side, the OM-4 T and the E-P2 aren't that much different in practical size. Add the VF-2 electronic viewfinder to the E-P2, and the E-P2 stands taller than the OM-4. But again, it's nothing to make a fuss over.

Two Generations of Olympus

Looking down from above, it appears that the E-P2 is thinner than the OM-4, but that's due to the black top plate of the E-P2. The actual depth of the E-P2 is the silver metal secondary plate on which the black top plate sits. For all practical purposes the depth of the two bodies is the same, except at the mirror box on the OM-4 T; the E-P2 is mirrorless, and this much shallower depth allows the E-P2 to mount and use the S Zuiko with a simple mechanical adapter.

Where the two cameras noticeably differ in size is their lenses. The M.Zuiko 14-42mm (28-82mm equivalent) f/4-5.6 is far smaller and lighter than the S Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 lens. The S Zuiko has the advantage of being a fixed aperture through its zoom range, and in spite of its so-called slow maximum aperture, it's remarkably bright and easy to focus with. The M.Zuiko has a wider zoom range, but the 35-70mm covers the practical work-a-day range of medium wide-angle to short telephoto.

Top Comparison - Two Generations

What we have next is a comparison between the Tamron on the right and the ZD 50-200mm on the left. The ZD is bigger and heavier than the Tamron, but it covers a 4:1 zoom range vs the Tamron's 3:1 range. What's more the ZD is dust- and moisture-proof, where the Tamron is not. Finally, the ZD has autofocus, while the Tamron doesn't.

Optically, the ZD is better than the Tarmron, but then you're comparing a lens manufactured in the mid-1980's (the Tamron) with a lens that's 20 years its junior; you'd expect a little progress. Regardless, with the right kind of film, subject, and lighting, the Tamron produces results that satisfy every bit as much as the ZD on an Olympus 4/3rds body.

Olympus Digital vs Tamron Film

Over the years I've had many wonderful opportunities to own and work with a number of superb camera systems, both film and digital. There is no such thing as a 'bad' camera. It's purely a matter of personal taste, technique, and capability which camera you decide to own and use.


  1. nice comparison. I noted that my OM-10 was about the same size as my Panasonic G1 in a blog post of mine a while back too.

    Essentially to keep the cameras the same size (digital vs film) it seems that they've had to go to much smaller capture areas.

    Seeing the size of the Sony NEX cameras it will be interesting to see if we get smaller digitals in the future which are full frame.

    that is of course if anyone still wants full frame


Post a Comment

All comments are checked. Comment SPAM will be blocked and deleted.

Popular posts from this blog

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…

vm networking problem fixed

Over the weekend I upgraded to Windows 8.1, then discovered that networking for the virtual machines wouldn't work. Then I tried something incredibly simple and fixed the problem.

Checking the system I noticed that three VMware Windows services weren't running; VMnetDHCP, VMUSBArbService, and VMwareNatService. VMware Player allows you to install, remove, or fix an existing installation. I chose to try fixing the installation, and that fixed the problem. The services were re-installed/restarted, and the virtual machines had networking again.

Once network connectivity was established there was exactly one updated file for Ubuntu 13.10, a data file. This underscores how solid and finished the release was this time. Every other version of every other Linux installation I've ever dealt with has always been succeeded by boatloads of updates after the initial installation. But not this time.

Everything is working properly on my notebook. All's right with the world.

sony's pivotal mirrorless move

I'm a died-in-the-wool technologist, even when it comes to photography. I have always been fascinated with the technology that goes into manufacturing any camera, from the lenses (optics) through the mechanical construction, the electronics involved, and especially the chemistry of the film and the sophistication of the digital sensor. It's amazing that the camera can do all it's asked of it, regardless of manufacturer.

Of all the types of cameras that I've really taken an interest in, contemporary mirrorless (again, regardless of manufacturer) are the most interesting because of the challenging problems the scientists and engineers have had to solve in order to build a compact but highly functional camera. In particular I've followed the sensor advances over the years and watched image quality climb (especially with μ4:3rds) to exceed film and rival one another such that there's very little difference any more as you move from the smaller sensors such as 4:3r…