The Zuiko 85mm f/2 lens is a small portrait lens for the Olympus OM system. It is extremely compact and light, especially compared to many other portrait lenses for other cameras. It is only a bit longer then a Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 and a little heavier. I purchased this one through Collectible Cameras website (www.collectiblecameras.com) and got a reasonable deal. The lens is in basically perfect condition and is one of the last versions of the 85/2.
The Zuiko 85mm f/2 lens was made in 3 different versions. The first version was of 6 elements in 4 groups. The second and third versions were of 5 elements in 4 groups. If you look at the optical diagrams you can see that moving to the second version one of the groups became a single element instead of two cemented elements. At least based on others’ test data this does seem to have improved the lens sharpness and contrast, especially wide open.
The other distinguishing difference between the 3 versions was whether the lens was multicoated and with what coating.
- Version 1, Serial number 100,000-115,000 had F. Zuiko on the lens, chrome ring, was single coated and had the old optic design.
- Version 2, Serial number 116,000-130,000 had a black ring and were marked MC (multicoated) and were of the new optic design.
- Version 3, Serial number 200,000-221,000 were marked Zuiko MC (200-204k) or just Zuiko (204k+) and apparently in literature were labled as NMC (New Multicoating? Nano Multicoating?). There is a difference in the reflective qualities of the version of lens I have (210,xxx, the 3rd version of the 85/2) and the 50/1.4 below SN 1,1m (probably of the ‘older’ multicoated design. I suspect the 50/1.4s after SN 1.1m have the NMC coating as well).
The two optic design diagrams are
I like the size and weight of the lens (both low). Focusing with f/2 is great, even in pretty low light. Its not quite as handy as say my 50/1.4 or 28/1.8, in part because it isn’t quite as fast, but also with the longer focal length a higher shutter speed is needed. That being said it can still be used in pretty low light and is small enough to fit in a pocket. I do wish Zuiko had gone ahead with production of the prototype 85/1.4 they had show cased (information here).
I managed to do a test of the lens recently at several apertures. I didn’t compare it back to back with anything, though since I used a similar test target (book shelf and books) I can loosely compare it to the Zuiko 50mm lenses I tested. In this case it is easily on par at the same apertures or even slightly better then any of the zuiko 50mm lenses. I tested the lens (from left to right in the image) at f/2, 2.8, 4 and 8. If you look closely you can tell that at f/2 it is very slightly softer then when stopped down, but it is a very tiny difference and at f/2.8 and smaller there is no visible difference, super sharp! Don’t forget the image is a 100% crop at 3200dpi from an Epson 4490 (and 3200dpi is really a bit beyond its true capabilities). Click on the picture for full size (100% crop) of the middle of the frame. The edges were about as sharp, sorry no included blow ups of it, but at f/2 things are sharp, and they get sharper at f/2.8 and f/4 (again very small differences, but a bit more room to improve then the center of the frame at f/2, but only a bit). You wouldn’t likely notice the difference in corner or edge sharpness at any aperture in an 8×12 print. Keep in mind this test only shows a single sample and one of the 3rd version, there would certainly be optical differences between the 1st and 2nd/3rd versions and possibly between the 2nd and 3rd as well.
Length: 48mm (46mm Version 1), Diameter: 60mm, Weight: 260g, Aperture: f/2-f/16, Filter: 49mm, Minimum focus distance: .85m (2.8ft) (1:6.9)
Comparison between Zuiko 50/1.4 MC and Zuiko 85/2 MC
Zuiko 85mm f/2 at about Minimum Focusing distance and wide open, shallow DOF abounds.
Shot at f/2.8
Credit: Some information courtesy of Photography in Malaysia (www.mir.com) and Konrad Beck (SN range for change over in designs)