So, because I clearly have nothing better to do (or rather, because I am trying to avoid doing all those things I should be doing), I decided to try another extremely unscientific lens tests. Or, more accurately, I took a few casual shots to finish off the last few shots on a roll of Kodak Portra film.

Previously, I had run some informal and very subjective tests using a couple of Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm lenses on a digital camera. In that exercise, I took some photographs with Zuiko 50mm lenses attached to a Sony A7 full frame camera. The results were variable. But I wondered to what degree the fact that the lenses were on a digital camera, affected the final images.

So, a couple of weeks later, I ran a similar exercise with the same lenses, using what they were designed for – 35mm film. Using an Olympus OM1n camera, mounted on a slightly shaky tripod, and taken at ƒ1.4, here is what I got.  From what I can see, the apparent differences between the two lenses are less pronounced than the digital exercise. All images have had an auto-curve applied in Photoshop.

Photo of camera, box of film and test chart

Black tipped. Taken at ƒ1.4.

Photo of camera, box of film and test chart

Silver tipped. Taken at ƒ1.4.

Comparisons of two lenses

Left: Black-tipped lens on the top left. Right: Black on the left, silver on the right.

From what I can see, the black multi-contrast lens has a slightly higher contrast than the silver single coated lens. However, from a sharpness point of view, I’m not sure that there is much consistent difference between them. In fact, different portions of the images seem to display slightly different results.

What is also worth mentioning is that the film images have been scanned on my desktop film scanner (a Plustek 8100), so the quality is never going to be as good as wet printing, or as consistent as using a drum scanner, for example. And they certainly cannot compare with the digital version. But the digital image capture process is, at least, equally ‘flawed’ for each photo.

Just for fun, here is the image that I took with the Zuiko 1.8, which was noticably sharper than either of the 1.4 lenses. Obviously, taken at ƒ1.8, that would make sense.

Photo of camera, box of film and test chart

Zuiko 50mm 1.8 lens, taken at ƒ1.8.