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85 - 250 f5 - 32 zoom

Jerry Green , Oct 16, 2010; 06:59 a.m.

I'd be interested in any personal experiences and opinions on the above lens. I bought it new years ago when it was current and only used it a couple of times but was disappointed at the difficulty using it without a tripod, I even bought a pistol grip but still got shake. I'd be interested in opinions on the minimum speeds for hand held and grip use and any other views on this lens. Tks Jerry


Mike Gammill , Oct 16, 2010; 10:22 a.m.

Rule of thumb for handholding: Shutter speed is one over maximum focal length. For a zoom that ends in 250mm that would be 1/250 second minimum. If the lens is excessively heavy or if you don't feel steady you might want 1/500 second.

Jim Baker , Oct 16, 2010; 01:53 p.m.

I'd echo Mike's comment. I don't have that zoom but I do have the 135, 200 and 300mm Zuiko primes. Even on a tripod with mirror lock-up and aperture pre-fire, I found that vibration limited their performance unless the shutter speed was 1/250 or faster. When assessing lens performance vs. aperture it's normal for the exposure to be constant i.e. when you change the aperture you have to change the shutter speed to compensate. It's assumed that with the above precautions this change in shutter speed does not matter. But I've found the shutter speed does have an effect with these longer lenses. It's difficult to assess lens performance vs. shutter speed at a constant aperture because you have to control the exposure. I was assessing my 135mm lens by photographing a disc with writing on it (see below). The word 'lanterns' was 0.1mm high on the negative. It was outdoors and by chance the sun came out so I was able to make three exposures, all at f8, with shutter speeds of 1/2000, 1/250 and 1/125th. All the exposures were made with mirror lock-up and aperture pre-fire. What surprised me was that there was a slight improvement from 1/250 to 1/2000th. So as I said, 1/250 is my minimum shutter speed with these lenses.

1/2000, 1/250 and 1/125 respectively

Matthew Newton , Oct 20, 2010; 02:28 p.m.

Different strokes. I find with my 135/3.5 I can handhold at 1/125s acceptably. There isn't much improvement moving up to 1/250s (its there, but small). Tripod mounted it works just fine at slower shutter speeds, though I've noticed it is better at around 1/30s then it is at 1/125 and 1/60s (and better at 1/250s and faster than at 1/125 and 1/60). (note the 135/3.5 shows more noticable softening at f/3.5 over f/5.6 or smaller aperatures than it does at 1/125s or 1/60s).
A couple of other lens work just fine at slower speeds on tripods. My Sigma 400/5.6 APO works fine at 1/250, 1/125, etc. My Sigma 70-210/2.8 works fine on a tripod at any shutter speed. This is doing 100% enlargements from 3200dpi scans. If there is a difference, it is to small to notice in most cases.

Not that I have done all that much scientific testing of this, but there isn't a shutter speed with any of my lenses (mounted on a tripod at least!) that aren't at least acceptable for a big print.

Jim Baker , Oct 27, 2010; 09:10 a.m.

We are in agreement, Matthew. All lens manufacturers, Olympus included, for their depth-of-field scale on their lenses, work on the assumption that a point source is acceptable as an image if it less than about 0.03mm in diameter. That's why I always look at the word LANTERN (0.1mm high). On that basis, all the above images are acceptable. In fact, all my Olympus primes produce acceptable images (in terms of sharpness) at all apertures...yet all apertures are not the same, most peaking around f8-11. However for the longer lenses I noticed vibration was limiting the lens performance unless the shutter speed was 1/250th or faster. The images may well have been OK, but vibration limited the performance. Several lenses are prone to vibration at certain apertures: for example, my 85mm f2 is fantastically sharp at f2.8, but less so at f4, recovering again by f8. I assume this must some kind of resonance in the camera+lens since the optics alone cannot account for it. If I have a few shots remaining on my film, I fire off a few test shots so I can send it off. That's the limit of my scientific testing!

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