Since shooting on the M43 format, I’ve had my share of various bodies and especially lenses in my hands. A lot of people ask me for help when choosing their best equipment and of course we get to cover a number of different topics. For the most part, it’s a major struggle between what people want, what they really need, and what they can afford. As a result, I decided to write something for each piece of equipment I had on my m43 in the scope of short practical observations. I scored all lenses on a scale of 1-10 in terms of processing, equipment and sharpness. I must admit that the quality of each lens that I had the opportunity to test or use for a long time is at a very high level and I can easily imagine having each of them as part of my gear. The uniform reviews allow you now to read a detailed evaluation for each lens reflecting exclusively my personal opinion. Each evaluation is based on actual in-the-field use and may therefore differ from, for example, lab tests available on the Internet. The page is divided into four logical segments – numerical rating | practical observations | sample of published photos from a given lens | FAQ, where you can find my brief responses to questions I received.
OVERALL EVALUATIONCompact-sized macro 1:1
M.Zuiko 60mm/2.8 Macro is my go-to lens for night macro. It’s a very small lens (185g) that feels like a key ring. Don’t be fooled by that. The workmanship is of high level, and its compact dimensions help greatly during long handheld shoots. It’s a lens that, thanks to its size and weight, fits into even a full backpack and I never leave it at home. Although it’s not a PRO lens, it is weather resistant. The fact that it’s splash-proof is important to me, and I often used it during night walks in Borneo, where unexpected showers were happening all the time. A single rotating ring is used for focusing and has an extremely smooth motion. This is especially useful for precise focusing at high magnifications. Paradoxically, when shooting at a ratio smaller than 1:1, the fineness of focus seems too great and going through the entire range by hand requires several attempts. Therefore, I most often use a combination of AF and, if necessary, fine focusing using the ring. Thanks to the in-built AF, it’s possible to maximise the Olympus functions such as Focus Stacking/ Bracketing, which allows you to shoot a great macro details without the need for external repositioning of the camera or subject. If the lens had in-built stabilisation, it would be a first-class macro lens with extended handheld shooting options. I often switch between the autofocus to the smallest focusing distance (1:1) to capture the finest detail. Unfortunately, a handy sun hood is not included with the lens and must be purchased separately. The hood’s mechanism is very smooth and incomparably better than the non-original version I had available in the past. If I was being picky, I would welcome if the sun hood was included in the box. When it comes to the fine detail, this is a very high-quality lens, yet being spoiled by a 300mm/ 4 or 200mm/ 2.8 I can imagine even better results. In particular, I’d welcome a delayed onset of diffraction and if it was possible to set a larger aperture without losing the fine detail. This can be partially rectified in the post-processing, but in principle it will not replace capturing of the uncompromising fine detail. Thanks to its small dimensions, robust construction and sharpness, it is a great helper for capturing interesting details when wandering through nature. It’s a great choice in conjunction with the Focus BKT. During the summer of 2020, when I focused mainly on macro in my home country, I worked with it almost daily and it became an integral part of my everyday gear.
MY Z M.ZUIKO 60MM/2.8 MACRO SAMPLE GALLERY
Q: Why did you choose the 60mm/ 2.8 macro lens instead of 30mm/ 3.5? Is it so much better?
A: I had the opportunity to use both lenses for a long time (30mm a bit longer), both mainly for night macro and “close-ups”. Both are so small in size that it’s hard to proclaim the benefits of the size of one to the other. In the same way, the sharpness is practically identical, although in the lab testing it may look different. I see the main difference in the use at night. Here, lighting (or lack thereof) is the main factor for me. The farther I have to be from the subject, the worse the lit-up scene, just as difficult the lighting is when you are too close. The 30 mm is more suitable for larger objects, such as snakes curled on a twig, frogs, lizards, etc., when it is necessary to go a bit closer to the animal and light up the scene better. For smaller objects, such as insects, it is necessary to go way too close (up to 9.5 cm from the sensor) which is often not as comfortable for animals; or for in-the-field lighting. In the end, I kept the 60mm for smaller species (frogs, spiders, ants etc), which has the optimal focusing distance. However, if the object is too big e.g. snake, larger lizard, etc. and the 60mm needs to be further away, I use the M.Zuiko 12-100mm/ 4 IS (read here), which can capture the scene thanks to its wider focus. Thanks to this combination, I ended up not using the 30mm Macro as often and I kept the 60mm.
Q: Is there a lens that you’d replace the 60mm with?
A: From the current offer of macro lenses, I’m most satisfied by the Laowa 50mm/ 2.8 Macro 2x. Apparently it has a slightly finer sharpness, I’m just used to Autofocus a lot, which I’m not ready to give up just yet. Likewise, I would have to abstain from using the built-in composite macro (again due to the lack of AF). Another alternative is the above-mentioned Olympus 30mm Macro, which I have used for a long time and I have very good experience with. For my photography, I can’t imagine the use of the recently announced (in development) Olympus macro “around” 100mm. Only time and further possible tests will show more.
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