By Kirk Tuck
You’ve got to hand it to Olympus: they get the optics right. Very few people will disagree that, almost across the board, from kit lenses to the high-priced choices, they produce lenses that make users smile. But there are several that Olympus fans believe to be legendary. I’m a pretty vanilla photographer in terms of the focal lengths I like to use on my cameras and I’m nearly always drawn to what has always been the "holy trinity" of lenses that has reigned since the 1950s: 28mm, 50mm, and 90mm. If you are strictly traditional you might favor the even more constricted 35mm, 50mm, and 100mm or 105mm trio. I’m rarely ever searching through a catalog for esoteric wide angles like 14mms, and I’ve never owned anything longer than a 400mm equivalent. So, when I bought into the Olympus Zuiko Digital system last summer I went looking for two things: 1) a conservative, two-zoom system that would handle the bulk of my event and portrait shooting assignments, and 2) extremely high quality optics that were fast and able to be shot wide open.
I quickly found two lenses that fit the parameters. The first one I bought is the Zuiko Digital 35–100mm ƒ/2 zoom (above right). It’s dust- and moisture-resistant (I’ve spilled red wine on it and washed it off under the tap). It uses four pieces of ED glass and one element described as Super ED glass. It weighs a ton and is solid as a rock. While deliberating the good sense of buying a $2600 lens, I was able to use a loaner and test it. What I saw when I shot wide open on a tripod made me open my wallet. Wide open. Optically, it's great.