The OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO is a long macro with a 2x magnification for the Micro Four Thirds system. To get the same effect on a 35mm camera, you would need a 180mm with 4x magnification. Such a lens does not exist, which immediately shows how special this lens from OM System is.
TESTRESULTS OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO:
The OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO is a unique long macro with 4x magnification when compared to 35mm.
The OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO is a new macro lens from OM-System for the Micro Four Thirds system. It offers macro photographers some fairly unique capabilities, some of which stem directly from the strengths of the system itself. Micro Four Thirds, the system for which Panasonic and Olympus make cameras, uses a sensor size that is slightly smaller than that of APS-C cameras and markedly smaller than that of 35mm. For nature and bird photographers, the big advantage of that smaller sensor is that for the same angle of view you need a 2x shorter focal length compared to 35mm. This allows you to go out with more compact telephoto lenses. Another area in which Micro Four Thirds excels is macro. With a true macro lens, which goes up to 1:1, you can get a 36mm sized animal in a frame-filling photo with 35mm. With Micro Four Thirds, you can do that with an animal 18mm in size. So the magnification ratio of a 1:1 macro on Micro Four Thirds is actually twice as large as on 35mm. The same is also true for depth of field. If on 35mm you need F16 to get your subject in focus from front to back, with Micro Four Thirds you can take the same shot with F8. That saves two stops of light, which you can translate to a faster shutter speed for sharper shots, a lower ISO for less noise or a less heavy flash. With the OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO, you get all those benefits and more.
It is a 90mm. There are plenty of 90mm macros for 35mm too, but because of the Micro Four Thirds sensor, this lens is equivalent to a 180mm on 35mm. And there aren’t that many of those. The OM System 90mm is also much smaller and lighter than 180mm macros for 35mm, and in the field this is quite nice. Because of this longer focal length, the working distance is 25 cm. from the sensor and – more importantly – 9.3 cm. from the front lens. You then get not 1:1 magnification, but even a 2:1 magnification. An animal or flower of 9mm in size will fill the frame. For the same effect on 35mm, you would need a 4:1 macro and these are very rare and do not exist as a long telephoto. The OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO is reasonably bright at F3.5 and has image stabilization that can cooperate with the stabilization in OM System cameras. The total advantage is then 7 stops. At macro distances image stabilization is always less effective than at normal shooting distances, but even if in practice you are left with a few stops of stabilization, that is already quite a gain. In keeping with OM System’s philosophy, the lens has an IP53 rating, so it is quite moisture and dust resistant and can therefore be used in almost all conditions. The OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO is the only macro lens we know of with an IP rating. As icing on the cake, the 90mm can also be equipped with OM System’s 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. With the 2x converter, you halve the angle of view, doubling the magnification ratio to 4x. This allows you to have an animal less than 4.5mm completely fill the frame.
Of course, the OM System 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO is quite a bit larger and heavier than OM System’s longest macro to date, the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8. This has to do not only with the longer focal length, but also with the extra magnification possible with this lens and the additional features such as image stabilization. The 90mm is almost 4.5cm longer and 1.5cm thicker. The 90mm is also nearly 2.5x heavier. So the OM System 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO is a serious piece of kit, compared to the 60mm which is much easier to carry around. The lens has a wide focus ring on the front that features a “focus clutch. So you can pull the focus ring back and thus switch to manual focus. You then also get to see a distance scale and a scale with the magnification measurements, ranging from 0.25x to 2x. The lens also has a switch for limiting the autofocus setting. That has three settings: from 0.25m to infinity, 0.25m to 0.5m and S/Macro. There are also a switch for image stabilization and a programmable button.
The optical design consists of 18 lenses in 13 groups and includes 2 SED lenses 4 ED lenses 1 Super HR lens and 1 HR lens. So a lot of exotic glass. The aperture has 7 blades and the filter size is a fairly modest 62mm. The lens is weatherproof to the IP53 standard. So you still can’t take it underwater, but it should survive a rain shower. Also, the 90mm F3.5 Macro is frost-resistant down to -10 degrees Celsius.
The OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO uses internal focusing. So it does not get longer. This is a big advantage especially for macro. So an insect in front of the lens does not suddenly see the front lens coming at it when focusing and is less likely to be startled as a result. This also keeps the balance better when working with a tripod or macro rail. For manual focusing, the lens has a so-called “focus clutch,” a focus ring that you can pull back. This activates the manual focus. You will then simultaneously see a distance scale and a scale showing the magnification.
This allows you to easily set the lens to 1:1 or 1:2 or 2:1. So the manual focus is linear, but the focus is still “focus by wire. That is, the focus ring sends a signal to the camera, which in turn drives the autofocus motor. There is always a short delay in between. The shortest shooting distance is 9.3cm between the subject and the front lens or 25cm from the subject to the sensor. Then you are at 2:1, so twice macro. If you only need 1:1, you can keep a lot more distance to the subject.
All that special glass contained in the OM System 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO should ensure high image quality. Of course, we already have extensive experience with the two other OM System / Olympus macros, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm F3.5 Macro and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro. Its performance is very good. It should be noted, however, that the 60mm in the standard range, that is, when you are not using the lens as a macro, is not as good as the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8. But that has been considered one of the sharpest lenses for Micro Four Thirds for years. The 90mm is in a higher segment both in price and construction than the other two macros. That creates high expectations about image quality. We are therefore not only very curious how the 90mm behaves as a macro, but also as a longer telephoto lens.
OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO
|image angle (diag)||14°|
|sensor format||Micro Four Thirds|
|min setting distance|
|filter diameter||62 mm|
|dimensions (dxl)||136×70 mm|
Micro Four Thirds
|retail price||€ 1499,00|
Conclusion test OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO
The price of the OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO is hefty, but then for the true macro enthusiast, this is an almost ideal lens.
The OM System M.Zuiko 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO is a very special macro and offers a combination of features not found in any other brand. For serious macro photographers, this is an almost ideal lens. It is certainly not cheap, but even if it would have been more expensive, it is still attractive given its unique performance.