One of the biggest advantages of Olympus PEN series ILCC systems, as I have felt, is that they fit nicely in your hand, providing better stability even when used with reasonably low shutter speeds.
Keeping their promise made last year, Olympus released a macro lens in mid-September. The 60mm f/2.8 Macro, like all Olympus M-series lenses, is very compact.
Design and Build Quality
The Olympus 60mm Macro has an engineering plastic exterior, yet it feels sturdy. The lens has a scale that displays magnification ratio and focus distance in both metres and feet. It has a focus limiter dial which can be operated by the left hand thumb. This dial allows you to choose between four settings—1:1, 0.19 to 0.4m, 0.19m to infinity, and 0.4m to infinity. The lens has a metal mount. The filter thread is plastic and hence you have to be very careful while attaching filters. It measures 56mm (dia) x 82mm, weighs just 185g, and has a dust and splash proof design.
The Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 120mm. It can be mounted on all Micro Four Thirds System cameras. The lens has a 7-bladed circular aperture and the aperture range is f/2.8 to f/22. The lens provides a maximum image magnification of 1.0x (35mm-equivalent of 2.0x). It is constructed with 13 elements in 10 groups including one ED (Extra-low Dispersion), two HR (High Refractive index), and one E-HR (Extra- High Refractive index) elements. These elements help to eliminate chromatic aberration and increase contrast in the images to a very high level. The lens has a closest focussing distance of 0.19m.
The lens has been designated as MSC (Movie and Still Compatible). This mechanism uses a floating element to focus internally by means of three drive systems. This ensures that there is no change in the overall length of the lens during focussing, which helps in maintaining the grip on the lens. It also makes autofocus quieter than usual, ideal for shooting movies. The lens features Olympus’ ZERO (Zuiko Extra- low Reflection Optical) coating, which helps to eliminate ghosts and flare. This coating reduces reflections in the range of 450 to 650 nm wavelength. The lens utilises ring-shaped seals at key locations to prevent dust and water from entering. The focus limiter dial is very helpful since it prevents the lens from hunting for focus unnecessarily and achieve focus faster.
We tested the Olympus 60mm Macro with an Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5. The lens is very comfortable to use, thanks to the small size and long-enough barrel. Combined with the small PEN series cameras, it offers excellent stability. Add to it the fact that all Olympus PEN cameras have sensor-shift image stabilisation. The focus limiter dial can be operated with the thumb. To lock the lens at 1:1 reproduction ratio, you need to hold the dial in place with the thumb. Manual focus facilitates very fine adjustment of focus.
The Olympus 60mm f/2.8 performed very well in our tests. AF was fast, quiet, and smooth. Since this is a macro lens, it has a very wide focus range. Hence it would be a good idea to use the focus limiter switch to fix the ideal focussing range for faster AF. The lens controlled darkening of corners very well. We did not observe any significant darkening even at f/2.8, which is very good. The lens did not produce any perceptible distortion. The 60mm Macro reproduced sharp images. Images were tack sharp from the centre to the peripheries. For the sharpest images, it would be better to use the lens from f/4 to 8. Sweet spot for our test piece was found to be f/8. We would advise you stay away from f/16 to 22 since diffraction affects the sharpness much in this aperture range (in fact, this is normal for any lens). We observed prominent flare along with chromatic aberration at wide-open aperture in strong against-the-light shots when the lens was pushed to its limits.
The 60mm Macro proved its worth in everyday shots and Macro images in real-time situations. Shall we say we were impressed?
Value for Money
The Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro retails at an MRP of Rs.35,990. At this price, the lens is excellent value for money.
+ Excellent performance
+ Good build quality
+ Compact and comfortable
+ Focus limiter dial
+ Distance/Magnification scale
– Prominent Flare and CA
– Plastic filter thread
|Design and Build Quality||18/20|
|Darkening of Corners||5/5|
|Value for Money||8/10|
The Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro is an impressive overall performer. With a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 120mm, this is ideal for a wide range of subjects from macros to portraits. With an affordable price tag, this is easily one of my favourites. That makes the Best Buy tag a mere formality to end this review.