M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm 1:2.8 macro & Olympus OM-D E-M5 (M-43)
In September 2012, Olympus announces four new micro-43 lenses, including an Olympus 60 mm macro lens. Currently, the range of macro lenses for micro-43 cameras is still very limited, because the Panasonic 45 mm macro lens is the only macro lens for micro 43 cameras until the introduction of this Olympus 60 mm macro. The famous Olympus Four Thirds ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50 mm 1:2.0 macro lens, which you could connect to a micro-43 camera via an adapter, I conveniently ignore here.
That ‘old’ 50 mm four-thirds macro lens has been very good in tests. Will the Olympus 60 mm macro be even better than the Olympus 50 mm macro? We have taken the Olympus OM-D E-M5 to compare both lenses to each other.
The Olympus 50 mm macro (43), connected to an Olympus OM-D E-M5 via an adapter, reaches a reproduction ratio of 1:2 (left), while the Olympus 60 mm macro (m43) reaches a reproduction ratio of 1:1 with a minimum focal length of 19 cm (right).
Converted to a macro lens on a full frame camera equivalent, the Olympus 50 mm has a reproduction ratio of 1:1 and the Olympus 60 mm macro even has a reproduction ratio of 2:1.
Construction and autofocus
The new M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60 mm 1:2.8 macro lens feels solid despite its light weight. It is dust and splash proof, and therefore suitable for outdoor use under extreme conditions. The internal AF of the Olympus 60 mm macro is fast and virtually silent. Usually macro lenses increase considerably in length if you focus up close, but the length of this macro lens remains unchanged, like the Nikon 105 mm macro.
Macro lenses have a relatively long focal range and therefore a focus limiter is usually included. With a focus switch on the lens, you limit the focus range (0.19 to 0.4 m or 0.19 m to infinity or 0.4 to infinity). This way, the time that the Olympus 60 mm macro needs to focus is shortened even further.
The display on the lens (picture above) shows the actual focal length and the reproduction ratio. The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60 mm 1:2.8 macro lens can be combined with Olympus accessories, such as the macro-RF-11 ring flash and TF-22 twin flash (in combination with the optional FR-2 adapter ring).
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 with the Olympus 60 mm macro, 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 60 mm macro
For JPG and RAW files of the Olympus 60 mm macro, we have found the same Imatest values for vignetting. At full aperture, vignetting is a little more than half a stop. However, after just 1 stop, vignetting has completely disappeared. For macro shots, this vignetting is irrelevant and you rarely shoot at full aperture. Nevertheless, in a shot of a blue sky at f/2.8, it will perhaps be noticeable.
Distortion Olympus 60 mm macro
Olympus and Panasonic apply in-camera correction of lens errors at some lenses, such as chromatic aberration and distortion. Both jpg files and RAW files opened in Photoshop or Lightroom are corrected in the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (in this test, we used firmware 1.5).
The distortion of the Olympus 60 macro is very low, as with most macro lenses. No in-camera correction of Olympus 60 mm macro (firmware 1.0) jpg files takes place in the OM-D E-M5. The Imatest results for jpg and uncorrected RAW files are identical.
With open aperture, you get beautiful depth of field effects with the Olympus 60 mm macro because of the contrast between fine details and beautiful bokeh effects. At aperture 2.8, the Olympus 60 mm macro delivers a quiet background blur. The diaphragm consists of 7 blades that are not rounded, making the bokeh of light sources change from almost round to angular.
According to Olympus, the multilayer ZERO lens coating (ZUIKO Extra-low Reflection Optical) ensures a halving of the ghosting and flaring effects in bright light, compared to ordinary coatings. Indeed, it has taken effort to get flare or ghosting with the Olympus 60 mm macro. The image here is a practice shot taken without the (optional) lens hood, in which a streetlamp allows for ghosting just outside of the image. We have not come across ghosting with a lower contrast as a result in the practice shots.
Resolution Olympus 60 mm macro
The resolution of the Olympus 60 mm macro on a 16-megapixel Olympus OM-D is higher than many lenses that we have tested on a camera with an APS-C sensor! The resolution of the Olympus 60 mm macro is perfect at all apertures and from center to the corners. The highest resolution we have measured at aperture 4, but you will see no difference in resolution between a shot taken at aperture 4 or at aperture 2.8 or 11 with the naked eye.
This high resolution makes the Olympus 60 mm macro also well usable in other forms of photography, such as portrait photography (because of the beautiful bokeh at f/2.8) and landscape photography.
Chromatic aberration Olympus 60 mm macro
Lateral chromatic aberration is low at all apertures. Even in the largest magnifications, you will encounter no visible chromatic aberration. Axial chromatic aberration, green and purple spots in in front of and behind the focus point, we have not encountered with the Olympus 60 mm macro.Olympus 50 mm macro vs. Olympus 60 mm macro
Optically, the Olympus 60 mm macro scores almost as good as the famous Olympus 50 mm f/2 Zuiko Digital Macro, which we have tested with the same camera for comparison. The differences are measurable, but not visible to the naked eye.
The new 60 mm Olympus micro-43 macro lens takes away all the disadvantages that we have encountered in this test of the Olympus 50 mm macro. The Olympus 60 mm macro has a larger reproduction ratio, has a much faster and much quieter AF, is lighter, shows no color bokeh, has a focus limiter and has a constant length.
Conclusion Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm 1:2.8 macro review
- Very high image quality: Constantly high resolution at all apertures from center to the outer corners
- Dust and splash proof
- Constant body length & focus limiter
- Actually none, but if you are splitting hairs: expensive and big compared to the Olympus 45 mm 1.8, which offers the same optical quality (but no macro)
Actually, there are no real disadvantages of this Olympus 60 mm macro lens to consider. This is one of the best performing micro-43 lenses on the market now. The resolution of the Olympus 60 mm macro on a 16-megapixel Olympus OM-D is higher than that of the many lenses we have tested on a camera with an APS-C sensor. Compared to the famous Olympus 50 mm macro for four-thirds, this Olympus 60 mm macro lens scores virtually the same. The biggest difference between the two macro lenses is in terms of chromatic aberration, for which the 60 mm lens performs well, but the 50 mm excellent. You will not recognize these differences in a print. On the other hand, the Olympus 60 mm beats the 50 mm macro lens on many points: the lens is lighter, the AF is much quieter and faster, the Olympus 60 mm has a focus limiter, and the length of the lens remains unchanged, while the 50 mm lens becomes twice as long as you focus in the macro range.
Who is in possession of an Olympus 50 mm + adapter and is not annoyed by the slow, noisy AF, does not have to purchase a new macro lens in terms of image quality. If you do not need a macro lens or you find this lens to be too long, the Olympus 45 mm 1.8 is an optically equivalent, slightly more luminous, and cheaper lens. Furthermore, based on this Olympus 60 mm macro test, we can think of no reasons why you should not put this lens high on your wish list.