Using Zuiko OM lenses with a DSLR

beautiful freak 2
I decided to take a couple of the recently acquired cheap eBay Olympus lenses and see how they fared on a modern digital camera. I had to buy a small metal ring adapter from the internet to allow the lenses to fit onto a digital body.

The strangest aspect is how small these lenses look on the digital camera body because they don’t have internal electronics and servo motors. These 20 year old lenses actually work quite well. The focusing is manual, but the camera makes a reassuring ping when its internal focus circuit detects that a point of sharpness has been reached. The aperture needs to be stopped down manually too. For anyone used to film SLRs this is really no big deal, and for many people working beyond ‘point and shoot’ with digital camera this is also pretty normal.

The other interesting thing is the relatively inexpensive nature of what are really quite good lenses. I think the Olympus Zuiko lenses are surprisingly sharp and well-behaved when used in this way and for relatively small change its possible to build up a selection of prime lenses which have effectively been traded in by ex film photographers who have gone digital.

I spotted a few reviews by lens gurus comparing the Zuikos with various Zeiss, Canon and other lenses and the Olympus Zuikos generally came out very well, usually getting some top marks.

I won’t be as fastidious as that, but I am interested to see if they’ll take a good picture and so far the results are encouraging.

I think its quite a good little secret to be able to pick up a 50mm prime f1.8 with a filter for less than the price of a Canon filter alone. This also extends to quite a few of the other useful lenses; I acquired a 28mm f2.8 for the cost of a Starbucks Latte. Of course, this was part of my little eBay project and I thought it best to finish my collection before declaring anything in case the prices suddenly all went up.

I’ll add a few pictures when I’ve taken more than just some test shots, but for the moment here’s a couple of ‘straight from the camera to illustrate the effect.
depth of field test- Zuiko 50mm f1.4 on Canon DSLR full frame – No PS
rainy window – Zuiko 50mm f1.4 on Canon full frame – No PS
Zuiko 28mm f2.8 on Canon full frame – No PS


~ by rashbre on Thursday, 25 September, 2008.

17 Responses to “Using Zuiko OM lenses with a DSLR”

  1. The first thing that struck me was how small the lens looked on the camera. The resulting pics though are great. No wonder you’re pleased for the price you picked the lenses up for!

  2. They’ve turned out lovely. Especially that top one. I see huge camera on normal sized lens, but that’s just the way I am.

  3. Was there a specific adapter, from a specific maker that you bought, or are they all pretty much the same? I’ve been wanting to use Zuiko lens for a while now, but I don’t know how to go about buying an adapter.

  4. I bought an adapter from eBay.

    It was a so-called ‘confirm’ adapter because it has a small electronic circuit which links to the ‘in focus’ indicator on the Canon. They are available from Hong -Kong and UK sellers and the ‘Buy-it-now’ price is circa £10-£15.

    I got mine from a UK supplier in about 2 days. When I’ve bought batteries and suchlike from Hong Kong it usually takes about 10 days. Watch out for the postage charges in both cases. The adapter is well worth it for me because it liberates a large collection of Zuikos which are still excellent lenses and thrive on a full frame digital body (EOS 5 in this case).

    Of course you have to use manual focus and thats why the little circuit is handy because most DSLRs don’t have a split screen focusing centre so the little red dot in the viewfinder can be quite useful.

  5. I just started using Om Zuiko’s on my 4/3 Oly E-410! I love it! I am going to completely abandon digital lenses for the MOST part. I much prefer running the camera in manual mode anyways. My first Om lens is a 75-150mm zoom. It came in the OG leather case in MINT condition, no haze and very little dust! An adapter off ebay and I was good to go. Most people don’t understand how well these lenses work on the 4/3 Oly frames and how comparitively cheap they are! The lens and adapter both cost me less than 50$ Can. That’s a deal in my book. My next lens is going to be a 300 or a 400 mm Om Zuiko.

    Can’t wait!

  6. I’m using OM lenses with my Oly E-520 and they work like a charm. I have 28mm f/3.5 , 50mm f/1.8 , 135mm f/3.5 and 75-150mm zoom and looking to aqcuire more of them, also other analog lenses in other mounts like m42 that can also be used on dSLRs.
    One thing to point out is that those lenses on 4/3rds cameras because of the crop factor of 4/3rds sensor effectively double their focal length (so 50mm becomes 100mm)

  7. I am just getting started with these old lenses on a DSLR and am ‘loving it!’ A canon 50mm 1.4 here in the UK is £280 where as an Olimpus Zuiko OM lens is about £30-£40!!!! I am buying up as many lenses as possible before the prices go through the roof. I think i’m a LENSAHOLIC!!

  8. Being an Olympus OM user my entire life, I still own (and use on OLY dSLR bodies) some Zuiko OM lenses: 28mm/f 3.5, 50mm/f 1.4, 135mm/f2.8, 200mm/f4 and the most important and expensive piece of my small lens collection: a 350mm/f2.8. I use those on Oly E500 and E520 bodies with an OM to 4/3 adapter from Olympus. Rsults are very good, but focussing is difficult!

  9. Does anyone have experience with a Zuiko 400 mm 6.3 mounted on a Olympus OM-D? How about the brightness in the viewfinder? Does the OM have replaceable focusing glasses?

  10. I’ve been using OM lenses on my Canon 50D for about 6 years. I have generally found higher f ratio lenses (for instance, the 1.8 + vs the 1.4 – ) to be far superior as far as coma and to a lesser extent, vignetting. The longer focal ratio lenses seem to have better edge to edge sharpness/crispness. My primary use has been for astrophotography which will reveal these types of abberations immediately. I have the ZUIKO 28mm/f3.5 (ditched 28mn/2.8 – unsatisfactory), 50mm/f1.8 (ditched 50mm/f1.4), 135mm/f3.5 (ditched 135mm/f2.8). I’ve tried several Vivitar OM lenses and they were unanimously AWFUL – severe coma. obvious chromatic aberration and obvious vignetting. I do have a Hoya OM 200mm/f3.5 that is exquisite (sold the Zuiko 200mm/f3.5). I also have a 500mm/f8 lens that works well … and of course my Celestron C5 (1250mm/f10), Meade 107d (1000mm/f10 – same as deforked Meade 2045/2044), Celestron C11 (2800mm/f10 or 560mm/f2 with Hyperstar III). I have a Meade Etx-80 (400mm/f5) but it is mediocre. The Confirm chip does not seem to work for the longer focal lengths (>500 and spotty on the 500mm). The Olympus VariMagni works well as a focusing aid and slides right onto the Canon like it was made for it.

    I have an Olympus OM-1n and OM-2S and have used all the lenses for emulsion photography as well.

    For quick point and shoot / autofocus / minimal / lighweight camera I use a Kodak DX7630 which is ancient but performs incredibly well given the price.
    I purchased the adapters to use it on my C5 since the Canon 50d is wayy too big/massive/heavy for the Celestron 6SE/8SE mount. I purchased an adapter to convert the Kodak Lense Collar (37mm??) to T2 threads and I already had a T-ring for OM. Initially it was only an experiment to see if it would actually work but it does and it works remarkably well!. I use it on my C5 as a quick Grab N Go astrophoto setup. Since I had all the adapters, I also tried it with all my other lenses. Focus is a bit tricky since you are still using the original lens on the Kodak behind the Add-On lense – a bit awkward at best but the images are surprisingly excellent. I could not recommend buying the Kodak to use Zuiko lenses with on a daily basis … the camera is just not designed or intended for this sort of use. I ONLY use the Kodak with my C5 and ONLY because of the weight issue and ONLY for Lunar/Planetary/Solar photos.

    I’ve been keeping th Canon-OM match a secret for YEARS. I have had all the OM lenses I need or want since the early ’90’s so I guess I can share the well kept secret.

    Hope this helps someone

  11. Steven C Thanks for the comment and informative response. Like you, I wondered about telling people about the OM lenses with the Canon, but I suppose it is still a fairly ‘select’ market!

    I presume the confirm chip is partly light dependent, usually its f5.6 or more before these kind of things work?

    Have you also tried the lenses with the OM-D or a Panasonic? I know they’ll be double the effective focal length (eg 135=270 etc) but I wonder if that could actually help with astronomy? I have the Olympus adapter (expensive) although there’s quite a few aftermarket versions too.

    Pieter Just observing that if you use the OM-D and go manual focus, then instead of a ground glass area like a focussing screen, there’s a magnification fo the central part of the image to aid focus.

  12. OK, sounds great! But wouldn’t it be too dark to focus, with an aperture of 6.3 or even f8?

    • Yes: it’s difficult to focus and you’ll miss a lot of shots. This method of making pictures isn’t designed for action phoography… I always focus aperture wide open and reduce the diaphragm moments before taking the actual shot.

      • Pieter Just observing that if you use the OM-D and go manual focus, then instead of a ground glass area like a focussing screen, there’s a magnification fo the central part of the image to aid focus.

        rashbre said this on Saturday, 11 May, 2013

        Yes: it’s difficult to focus and you’ll miss a lot of shots. This method of making pictures isn’t designed for action phoography… I always focus aperture wide open and reduce the diaphragm moments before taking the actual shot.

        yvan said this on Sunday, 12 May, 2013
        @rashbre and @yvan: thanks for your reply. This basically means I should NOT buy an OM-D for working with my Zuiko 400mm F6.3? Replacing my telelens is too costly for me. Magnification is great, but if it’s still too dark to focus, it won’t help me. Should I buy an Olympus E (1, 3 or 5)?


    Here are some photos I took with the Zuiko 400 mm and 1.4x teleconverter, mounted on my good old Olympus OM 4. I’d love to be able to get the same results and the same smooth way of working with the OM-D, but apparently I should go for the Olympus E (very bulky camera, don’t like it, actually) 😦

  14. I was also an Olympus OM2 user since the eighties and I’m glad I see that I could use my old zuico lenses ( 50mm/1.4 , 28mm/2,8 ) with a digital one. How can I search for a suitable parts ? ( digital olympus camera + adaptor )

  15. Panos – I suggest eBay for inexpensive adapters. The Olympus one is quite expensive. Example listed here:

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