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Review Olympus 50mm macro (43)

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Olympus 50mm f/2 Zuiko Digital Macro & Olympus OM-D E-M5 (43)

Until the introduction of the Olympus 60 mm macro in September 2012, the Panasonic 45 mm macro is the only macro lens with a micro-43 mount. Owners of an Olympus micro-43 camera may be using the famous Olympus Four Thirds ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50 mm 1:2.0 Macro lens from 2003, through an adapter.

Will the new Olympus 60 mm macro be even better than the Olympus 50 mm "macro"? We attached a Zuiko 50 mm Olympus macro lens via an adapter to the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

Olympus 50mm macro review

Sample image Olympus 50mm macro lens
Sample image Olympus 50 mm macro @ f/2

The Olympus 50 mm macro is an ideal lens for close-up shots in which you combine a very high resolution with a beautifully woolly background blur, as in the above picture. The ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50-100 mm 1:2.0 Macro lens offers a field of view corresponding to the field of view of a 100 mm lens on a camera with a full frame sensor. The focal length and the high luminosity of this Olympus macro lens make the lens highly suited for portraits. The Olympus 50 mm lens includes an ED element for a low chromatic aberration and a bright color reproduction, and gives a magnification of 1:2 (half of the actual size). However, due to the smaller sensor size of micro-43, this magnification ratio corresponds to a 1:1 magnification ratio on a camera with a full frame sensor.

Olympus macro lens
Panasonic GF1 + Olympus 50 mm @f/2, 1/60 sec, hand held (RAW file)
Move your mouse over the image for a 100% crop.
Zuiko 50
Olympus 50 mm macro @f/2.5, 1/40 sec, hand held (RAW file)
Move your mouse over the image for a 100% crop.
 
Click (twice) on the image above for a full-size (compressed) sample image.

Construction and autofocus

 

The waterproof and dustproof construction of the Olympus 50 mm macro feels solid. The mount is made ​​of metal. If the lens is set to infinity, is the same size as a standard 50 mm lens. Nevertheless, if you focus on a distance of 24 cm, the lens is almost twice as long. The front lens does not move when you focus, which is nice when using a polarization or ND Grad filter. Focusing, both manually and AF, is done through the "focus-by-wire” system, which the AF motor controls. This means that when you focus manually, you feel no resistance and the lens does not block at the end of the scale.

M32-adapter

The autofocus of this lens makes a lot of noise on a micro-43 camera and is very slow in comparison with micro-43 lenses. Focusing may take up to a few seconds. It is too bad for macro photographers that this lens has no focus limiter with which you can limit the focus range, such as the one the Olympus 60 mm macro has. For macro shots, it does not have to be a problem, but if you use this lens as a normal lens, for example in street photography, it will disturb you.

Specifications
Olympus 50mm f/2 Zuiko Digital Macro
Image Stabilization:-
lenses/ groups:11/10
length x diameter:52 / 71
filter size:52
Weight:300
Lens hood:+

Image stabilization

 

Olympus uses an In-body Image Stabilization (IBIS), which enables image stabilization in each lens. In this test, we have not tested the image stabilization, but in other tests with Olympus lenses on the Olympus OM-D E-M5, the integrated image stabilization appears to work well. However, image stabilization generally works less well at very short distances, as is the case with macro.

Vignetting Olympus 50 mm macro

 

We have found the same results in our Imatest vignetting measurements for jpg and RAW files of the Olympus 50 mm macro. At full aperture, you may sometimes encounter visible vignetting, but from f/2.8, there is no visible vignetting. This is a very good result for this macro lens, which is rarely used in macro applications at f/2.

Vignet Olympus 50mm macro

Distortion

 

No in-camera correction of distortion by the Olympus OM-D E-M5 takes place. The Olympus 50 mm macro exhibits the same, extremely minimum distortion in RAW and jpg files. This distortion is so low that you may regard it as negligible in practice. Yet the Olympus 60 mm macro lens for Micro-43 is even better, when it comes to distortion.

distortion

Bokeh Olympus 50 mm macro

 

At full aperture, the Olympus 50 mm macro shows a nice round bokeh. Move your mouse over the right image for a practical example of the Olympus 50 mm macro bokeh.

The aperture blades are not round, making the bokeh have an angular shape after stopping down a few stops, as you can see in the pictures below.

Bokeh micro-43
Bokeh-Olympus-50mm-macro Bokeh-Olympus-macro

Flare

 

Venice, Olympus 50mm macro

Olympus 50 mm macro,f/8, 1000 ISO, 0.4 sec

In bright backlight, the Olympus 50 mm macro has had little to no problems with glare or ghosting in our test. You can encounter star diffraction with bright light sources directly shining into the lens: the 7 diaphragm blades deform a bright point light into a sun with 14 rays, as shown in the evening shot of Venice above.

Resolution Olympus 50 mm macro

 

This relatively old lens is characterized by an excellent image quality when it comes to resolution, even on a 16-megapixel camera. Already at full aperture, the resolution of the Olympus 50 mm macro is very high, to achieve an extremely high maximum (with a 16-megapixel test camera) at f/5.6. From aperture 5.6, the resolution gradually decreases due to diffraction, but even aperture 16 is still good to use. At all apertures, there is no difference in resolution between the center and the corners.

 resolution Olympus macro lens

Lateral Chromatic aberration Olympus 50 mm macro

When designing the lens, Olympus has selected an ED glass element to minimize chromatic aberration. For the lateral chromatic aberration (possibly visible as red and blue edges at sharp contrast transitions in the corners of the picture), this is well done. Lateral chromatic aberration is, as evidenced by our Imatest results, low at all apertures.

ChromAb

Axial chromatic aberration

 

Axial chromatic aberration, or color bokeh, is a phenomenon that you will encounter in practice with this luminous lens. Axial chromatic aberration can be recognized by purple and green edges behind and in front of the point of focus. Because these colorcasts occur precisely in the blurred elements, this is also called color bokeh. This phenomenon occurs at f/2, but once you stop down, the axial chromatic aberration is no longer visible. Here you see the antennae of the butterfly from the image at the top of this page.

chromaticboke

Olympus 50 mm macro vs. Olympus 60 mm macro

 

The new 60 mm Olympus micro-43 macro lens takes away all the disadvantages we have encountered in this test of the Olympus 50 mm macro. The Olympus 60 mm macro has a reproduction ratio of 1:1, has a fast and quiet AF. In addition, the Olympus m-43 macro lens is almost 50% lighter than the Olympus 50 mm macro, shows no color bokeh, has a focus limiter and a constant length. Optically, the 60 mm macro scores almost as good as the 50 mm macro of this test. The differences are measurable, but not visible to the naked eye. For a further comparison, please see our Olympus 60 mm macro test.

Click on the image for a comparison of the resolution of the recently released Olympus 60 mm macro for micro-43 compared to the older Olympus 50 mm macro (for 43) of this test.

Olympus 50mm macro vs 60mm macro

Conclusion Olympus 50mm f/2 Zuiko Digital Macro  review

Zuiko-50mm

Look in our list of reviewed lenses or in our list of reviewed micro-43 lenses to compare the performance of this lens with that of other lenses.
ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you save the files in the camera as jpg, including all in-camera lens corrections (distortion, chromatic aberration). This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
50
100
7.9
7.2
9.2
8.8
8.3
6

Pros

  • High luminosity
  • Very good optical properties, particularly very high resolution, and very low lateral chromatic aberration
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • After stopping down 1 stop, extremely low vignetting
  • Additional sealing against dust and splash water

 

Cons

  • AF is very slow (sometimes seconds) and noisy
  • No focus limiter
  • No real macro lens (1:2 reproduction ratio)
  • No fixed length when focusing
  • Longitudinal chromatic aberration (`color bokeh ') at maximum aperture

The Olympus 50 mm macro is one of the best lenses that we have tested, even on a 16-megapixel camera. In our test, this macro lens with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 provides (using an adapter) exceptionally sharp images, at each aperture, from center to the corners. For a (micro-) 43 lens, the bokeh is very nice, even though the bokeh becomes increasingly edgy when you stop down, because the diaphragm blades are not round. The other optical qualities and construction are very good too. In terms of image quality and finishing, this lens belongs to the best lenses that we have tested on a micro-43 camera. The autofocus is the biggest drawback of this lens: noisy and very slow; focusing sometimes takes a few seconds. At that point, the Olympus 50 mm macro is a dinosaur of the digital age. Fortunately, the AF is very accurate.

This Olympus 50 macro lens is heavier than the new Olympus 60 mm macro micro-43 lens. The new Olympus macro lens takes away all disadvantages mentioned for the Olympus 50 mm macro in this test and is optically almost as good. Yet we wonder whether an Olympus 50 mm macro test with a camera with, for example, 25 megapixels will yield even higher results for resolution.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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