Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50mm 1:2.0 Macro Review
4 Conclusion & samples
Conclusion - Pros
- Superb image quality even wide open - sharp, distortion-free with no lateral CA
- Compact and lightweight compared to similar lenses for larger formats
- Fast maximum aperture for a macro lens
Conclusion - Cons
- Unrefined autofocus motor and no focus range limiter switch
- Susceptible to flare with bright light sources in the frame
- Bokeh chromatic aberration at wider apertures
- No macro ratio scale
The Olympus Zuiko Digital 50mm F2.0 Macro is a lens which we've held in high regard ever since we started using it for our reviews of Four Thirds camera bodies, and subjecting it to our full optical test suite shows precisely why. Certainly in terms of the studio results, it's the nearest we've yet found to a technically perfect lens (although it's important to appreciate that we haven't yet tested any comparable short tele macros for other formats). It's impressively sharp right across the frame even wide open, shows no significant lateral chromatic aberration or vignetting, and is near-perfectly corrected for distortion. Real world results not only bear this out, but also show that the lens maintains image quality across the entire focus distance range, making it suitable for macro, portraits and general-purpose short telephoto use alike - no mean feat at all. And in design terms it's compact and reasonably lightweight, yet solidly build and weatherproofed, providing a combination of features unmatched by any other manufacturer.
Of course there's no such thing as a perfect lens, and the 50mm F2 is not without its faults. Probably our biggest issue is with the focusing system, which is something of a let-down especially when compared to the internal-focus ultrasonic designs offered by competitors. The focus motor is relatively slow and noisy, and the lack of a focus range limiter switch can be a distinct irritation when shooting portraits. We're no fans of the electronic 'focus-by-wire' manual focus system either, as it's simply not as positive and precise as a well-designed mechanically-coupled focusing ring; overall this means the lens can sometimes be frustrating to use. The optics aren't completely faultless either, with a certain susceptibility to flare with a strong light source in the frame, and distinct bokeh chromatic aberration at wide apertures; however neither of these are particularly unusual problems in fast primes, and relatively rarely impact on the normal uses of this lens.
We expect many potential buyers will be interested in comparing the 50mm F2 Macro to the Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, which has been recently announced in Four Thirds mount. Our recent review of this lens (albeit in Canon EF mount) should give a good idea of what to expect; the Sigma is likely to be no slouch on Four Thirds, but unsurprisingly for a lens designed for a format with four times the area, won't quite achieve the same stellar levels of sharpness we see from the Olympus macro. The faster maximum aperture and more refined ring-type USM focusing will surely make the Sigma a compelling option for portrait shooters, but in all other regards the Zuiko is likely to be the better all-round option.
So in summary we have a lens which, despite its design flaws, offers a winning combination of optical quality and solid build in a compact package. The greatest strength of the Four Thirds system undoubtedly lies in the optics, and the 50mm F2.0 macro ranks alongside the likes of the Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 SWD as one of the finest lenses of its type currently available from any manufacturer. With its relatively fast maximum aperture, it also offers Four Thirds users the opportunity to use true selective focus effects. Quite simply, every E-system user should own one.
|Detail||Rating (out of 10)|
|Ergonomics & handling||8.0|
There are 25 images in the samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. A reduced size image (within 1024 x 1024 bounds) is provided to be more easily viewed in your browser. As always the original untouched image is available by clicking on this reduced image.
Olympus ZD 50mm F2.0 Macro Samples gallery
|Sophisticated construction by the nature by Orchideon|
|After the Rain by Flor Tempra|
from Macro - Something Pink
|Asilah by Limburg|
from Cozy Corners
With card readers disappearing from MacBooks, USB-C card readers are now a necessity. Macworld's helpful guide compares five models and decodes the current mess of card speeds and certifications.
A Sony a7S II mounted on the outside of the ISS' Japanese Experiment Module (KIBO) for the last seven months has sent back some impressive 4K video and stills.
A Federal judge has refused to throw out a copyright case against controversial artist Richard Prince, who used an image by photographer Donald Graham in an exhibition.
Sony has teased its customers with news of an upcoming announcement: it will soon take the wraps off a new CineAlta motion picture camera, one sporting a 36x24mm sensor.
QuikStories is integrated into the latest version of the GoPro app and automatically creates 'stories' using the video clips you've shot during a day.
Journalists photographing a protest in the US Capitol building claim they were told by Capitol Police to delete photos and videos of arrests.
The Meizu Pro 7 Plus secondary display can be used for music playback, date and weather-related information, or as viewfinder when taking selfies with the rear cameras.
Nikon is marking its 100th anniversary in many ways, including the creation of a new scholarship program for 'future visual creators' in the USA and Canada.
Take one Digital ELPH (or IXUS), rotate it vertically, add a fully articulating LCD and a lens with a camcorder-like focal length, and what do you get? Why, the Canon PowerShot TX1, of course. In this week's Throwback Thursday we revisit Canon's one-of-a-kind hybrid stills/video camera.
Just in case there was any doubt in your mind, here's the definitive video proof that yes, a $50,000 cinema camera beats the pants off a $50 camcorder in a side-by-side test.
Photographers who fly frequently in the US may want to finally invest in that TSA Pre-check status: in standard security lines, cameras and all other electronics larger than a smartphone will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening.
Images have appeared which claim to show Nikon's forthcoming D850 DSLR, the development of which was announced this week. If genuine, the pictures indicate that the D850 will offer illuminated controls and a tilting LCD screen, but no built-in flash.
To celebrate the Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 lens' successful Kickstarter campaign, Lomography has announced a chrome-plated version of the lens in Nikon and Canon DSLR mounts.
Nikon just released four new firmware updates, adding features and fixing bugs in the D600, D610, D750 and the KeyMission 80.
It probably hasn't made your landscape photography bucket list just yet, but there's a good reason to visit Idaho. Here are 9 must-visit locations in this beautiful state.
Oops... Adobe accidentally leaked their unfinished Lightroom-powered cloud-based photo editor 'Project Nimbus' to some Creative Cloud users yesterday.
Storm chaser and award-winning photographer Mike Oblinski just released his latest time-lapse, and it is absolutely stunning.
Looking to level up your video capture capabilities without buying a whole new camera? Blackmagic's Video Assist 4K is well worth considering, despite a few flaws and its lack of 4K/60p support.
We're big fans of Fujifilm's fast-growing GFX system, and the GF 110mm F2 lens is no exception. Positioned as the system's classic portrait lens, its optics are just as impressive with non-human subjects as well.
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.
Popular YouTube channel TastyTuts has put together this 33-video Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop—a godsend for anybody who wants to learn Photoshop from scratch.
The long anticipated replacement for the popular Rode VideoMic Pro is almost ready for shipping. The price of the upgraded VideoMic Pro+ will be £290/$300 when it goes on sale in mid-August.
A new iOS app called Explorest wants to help you find new locations to shoot. It's limited to Singapore for now, but the app is packed full of useful location scouting features.
Nikon's D850 development announcement is extremely light on details, so we assembled a wish list of upgrades and features we'd love to see.