|OM2 v XE-7 v Nikon F|
I had an email from a reader on Monday asking why I used the 50mm Zuiko f2 macro with the OM2 - a camera known for its compact size - when the lens itself was so big. I think I may have given the wrong impression when describing its bulk in the previous post I wrote.
In the great scheme of things, the OM2/50mm f2 isn't really that big a combination - but it's not the smallest I have either. Yes, as the reader was keen to point out, the standard 50mm f1.8 or even the f1.4 are a better match for the dainty proportions of Maitani's masterpiece. There's little doubt that the Zuiko macro wouldn't make it onto the podium in a beauty contest nor that it makes the OM2 look unbalanced. But let's put it into perspective.
Here's (below) a Nikon F with 35mm f2.8 Nikkor - now that's a big and very heavy pairing! Or the XE-7 and 50mm f1.4 MC Rokkor which is somewhere between the OM2 and the Nikon. And don't mention the Nikon D700 I still have sitting around now almost as a paperweight such is the use I make of it (it came in handy for photographing the house before putting it on sale, though).
Any of these three would leave your shoulder aching a little after a day's photography. The OM2 and 50mm f2? Not nearly so much. Just out of interest, I weighed the various cameras and got the following:
OM2/50mm f2 macro 839 gmsThe OM2 and 50mm f1.8 weigh a mere 683 gms, quite a bit less than my M2 and 50mm Summicron on 833 gms. Looking at all of this another way, the OM2 and macro are more or less the same weight as an M2 and Summicron. Hopefully, that will give some readers more of an idea of the size of the Olympus pairing. Seen alongside the Minolta and Nikon, it doesn't look so much like a different camera as a different format.
Nikon F/35mm f2.8 1027 gms
XE-7/50mm f1.4 1077 gms
I did actually give some consideration to the best standard lens to use with the Olympus. I don't have an f1.4 but I have a few copies of the f1.8 and they're all pretty much the same which is to say very nice. There wouldn't be much point putting the f2 on the camera unless it offered some advantages over the much smaller standard and, indeed, it does.
|The 50mm f2 Zuiko excels at capturing wee vignettes such as this.|
|The other side of the tracks. Another from the f2 Zuiko.|
I think I mentioned these in my earlier post but they include better bokeh, closer focusing and better build quality. The f2 is a tiny bit sharper but not so you'd notice unless you're shooting wide open. Stop them both down to something like f5.6 and I don't think you'd tell them apart even in quite big enlargements, if at all.
Overall, then, the f2 is a very nice blend of attributes in an acceptably-sized package that feels very much like a high quality item - enough good reasons for me to plump for it over the f1.8.
Speaking of size, it's amazing how little difference there is between the Leica M2 and the OM2. OM designer Maitani set out to create something along the same lines as the Leica rangefinder but in SLR form and succeeded spectacularly well.
Maitani loved the size of the screw mount Leica IIIf and the M3's whisper quiet shutter and tried to recreate their best elements in a package half the size of existing SLRs. That perhaps explains why the M2 and OM1/2 are so alike in many ways.
There even seems to be something of a thing going on among photographers who are into both rangefinders and SLRs with many of them owning the same or similar Leica/OM outfits that I have. It's anecdotal but I reckon an OM1/2 is the most likely SLR to be teamed up with an M. But take a look at the two of them and it's not difficult to see what the attraction is in the first place given their size and appearance.
As individual SLR and rangefinder, they could easily have emerged from the same design team at the same factory. What wouldn't Leica give to be able to go back to the late 1960s and steal the OM design!
Postscript: I've really got to get more use out of that Nikon F! It's maybe a big brick of a camera but every time I handle it I'm reminded what a wonderful, iconic and inspiring tool it is. If only I had a decent 50mm for it. The XE-7 is no slouch either.