Leica M-D, Canon 7s, Leica M3, Olympus PEN-F: Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun
Bank holiday Sunday and the sun was shining. So I called Adam Lee and arranged a meeting of four rather exceptional cameras in London's Covent Garden. I had a good excuse. The Zeiss C Sonnar T* 1.5/50 ZM lens was nearing the end of its two-week test session and the rather fabulous built-like-an-brick-outhouse Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm 1:2.8 Pro (hereinafter called the 7-14) had just arrived for twinning with the recently acquired Olympus PEN-F. They needed exercising and fuller reports will follow.
From Adam's point of view, the trusty double-stroke M3 and dual-range 50mm Summicron needs no introduction, nor testing. This is Adam's pride and joy and his one-camera-one-lens outfit that stands him invariably in good stead. But he brought an outlier this time: A Canon 7s film camera with the "dream lens", Canon's 50mm f/0.95 classic. Despite being the equal of the Leica Noctilux, this is actually quite a compact lens. My friend James Fox-Davies swears by his, and it is permanently attached to his Japan Camera Hunter-repainted M3.
I had intended to spend the afternoon shooting with the Leica M-D and Zeiss Sonnar but the Oly ever-so-wide zoom proved irresistible. I don't often use wide-angle lenses but this little gem is a marvel of sharpness and good behaviour. For a lens with a full-frame equivalent range of 14 to 28mm it is exceptionally sorted at the wide end. Distortion is less pronounced than I have seen even with a 21mm and it comes into its own for architectural work.
In fact, with the longest focal length at a reasonably normal 28mm, the 7-14 makes a really good fist of being an all-round city lens. However, I mentioned its build quality, which means weight (535g), and it is just about manageable on the little PEN-F. I think I would prefer the bigger grip of the OM-D E-M1, even though I have the accessory grip for the PEN.
But the 7-14 is exceptional and, together with the 12-40 zoom, offers a professional suite of lenses covering 14mm to 80mm in full-frame terms. I'm going to enjoy putting it through its paces.