Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD mini-review and C&C pictures

Started Jul 11, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Athonline Regular Member • Posts: 170
Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD mini-review and C&C pictures

I don't usually do reviews or such posts, but the Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD is truly a unique lens. An unfortunately event at the of my photo-walk, added to the reasons I wanted to write this mini-review. Please excuse my English and writing style. Feel free to ask any questions.

Unlike people who went from an E-M5 to an E-M1 to use their existing 4/3 lenses, I did the jump in order to BUY 4/3 lenses. Before I went to Nikon, I was an E-520 owner with the double kit lenses and the 70-300mm. Cheap lenses, but surprisingly good. Due to being a student and thus my economics low, the HG and SHG lenses were a "dream". Last year I came back to Olympus with the E-M5 and recently upgraded to an E-M1. Now that I got a research funding in Computer Vision, I decided to spoil myself with a HG lens. Afterall 4/3 lenses, as a "legacy" system, are often on offer and "cheap" on eBay. I found a new copy of the 50-200mm at a descent price and I pulled the trigger instantly. The lens was deliver to me yesterday.


The lens focus fairly fast -not 12-40mm fast, but still faster than most lenses- on my E-M1. On a bright light, it locks in less than a second, only indoors and low light conditions it does a bit of focus-hunting. With a bit of training, I believe it will be satisfactory on sports as well.

Note: I did not check for any firmware updates on the lens, which may improve the AF further.

Image Quality:

Words can't justify this lens enough, neither do my photography skills. I attached a few shots from my walk in the woods near my office today. Due to the poor lighting, I had to step-up my ISO to keep the lens handheld. Out of the camera JPEGs, with minimal post-processing applied.

For the people complaining about the 4/3 bokeh:

From moving subjects:

Not the best shot, but shows the AF speed of the lens. This is probably the most energetic dog I ever met:

Bonus picture, a crop from a bird shot. Not really used to bird photography and this one was fairly far away. Yet the lens performed better than my friend's 70-200mm.

Build quality:

In most reviews this usually the first part. Due to a bitter experience, where unfortunately I tested the build-quality first-hand I left this part last.

The lens from the moment you unpack it, it screams "professional high-end gear". It is heavier and more bulky than other 4/3 and m4/3 lenses, which is somewhat expected from the focal length and fast aperture.

While I was heading back to my office, due to the muddy hiking road and my lack of proper hiking shoes, I slipped and fell. My pants and backpack got covered in mud -I only got that backpack today as well(!)- but to my horror, the camera and lens got covered by mud. The lens hood absorbed any damage, scratching it only slightly. After getting back home, I simply clean my lens and E-M1. Other than the massive lens hood which "sacrifice" itself, the rest of my gear is still in a completely new condition. This is the third time I saved a lens from complete destruction by using a hood. Not including hoods is probably my only "complain" on the m4/3 m.Zuiko lenses.

Bonus points to Olympus for their great dust/weather/splash sealing on both the camera and lens and to Kata for the bag.

Closing statement:

If you own an E-M1 and want a long-tele, this lens is perfect. You can get it for around £600 used on eBay or £800 (grey-import) making it a good value. The non-SWD should be cheaper and similar quality -maybe only a tiny bit slower AF.

 Athonline's gear list:Athonline's gear list
Olympus E-M1 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm 1:2.8 Macro Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Voigtlander Nokton 25mm F0.95 Type II +3 more
Olympus E-520 (EVOLT E-520) Olympus E-M1 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD
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