The Olympus 35-100mm f2 in Use

Picked up the 35-100mm f2 yesterday, and within hours it was in use shooting one of the dimmest live performances I've done in a while, the dress rehearsal for Tapestry New OperaWork's production of The Shadow.

This is a high speed medium telephoto zoom (the fastest lens in it’s focal range that I’m aware of) with an equivalent focal length of 70-200mm - the classic 'go to' lens of the working professional. It’s fully weather sealed, so on an E3 body it will give you a dust and moisture proof combo.

Some scenes from The Shadow, a modern opera written by Alex Poch-Goldin and composed by Omar Daniel that will be enjoying a short run at the Berkeley Street Theatre Mainspace until May 30.

It's a dark menacing tale with a very modern abstract score (atonality abounds). Having since been to the opening night, the score really seemed to start working for me in the latter half of the piece where there were more melodic fragments to contrast with the dissonance.

The singing overall is terrific with Soprano Carla Huhtanen's Allegra and Bass Baritone Peter McGillvray's powerful vocal performance (seen above) plus CounterTenor Scott Belluz (below) as The Shadow particularly standing out.

Tenor Keith Klassen adds some comic relief as the waiter.

The lens when mated to an E30 body generally did an excellent job. Owing to the tightness of the space we had for shooting I photographed this opera all handheld.

First impression - man this thing is big! I mean it's only a 35-100mm lens, but it’s the size of a Canon 300mm f4. Of course, it is also a very bright f2 and designs for high speed lenses are always going to make you pay a price in terms of size. But adding to a general impression of bigness is an almost comically over-sized lens hood (seal the bottom, put a handle on it, and you could put a pitcher of draft beer in there)

Despite the size and weight I really didn't find it that taxing to do handheld for the hour and a half duration of the production. Every so often I'd just switch to using the 12-60mm on the other E30 and that would allow me to get the feeling back in my fingers. No all joking aside, it's really not that bad.

It’s a good lens for isolating subjects as the fast aperture allows for softer burred backgrounds when shooting wide open, and in fact it was this more than the increase in effective shutter speed in low light, that I was looking for from the 35-100mm.

Of course, everything works as advertised. Excellent sharpness wide open, nice contrast and saturation, focusing in dim, dim light was generally good.

Michael Cooper was photographing the production for the house with a Nikon D3, and there were a few instances where he got a shot I didn't because of the camera failing to find focus in time. But generally the E30 seemed to keep up with the D3 surprisingly well.

I had hoped to use the 35-100mm for street shooting, but might need a new plan for that. Pointing something this intimidating at strangers on the street may actually be illegal in some jurisdictions.

However for indoor shoots it's perfect.

All photos captured with the Olympus E30 w/ 35-100mm f2 lens
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