Olympus M. Zuiko Premium 30mm f/3.5 Macro ED Lens Review

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Pros
  • High sharpness
  • Low CA
  • Virtually no distortion
  • High magnification
  • Fast, accurate AF
  • Lovely bokeh
Cons
  • No weather sealing
  • No focusing scale
  • No depth of field scale

2 sec | f/16.0 | 115.0 mm | ISO 100

This new lens from Olympus is part of the Premium range, a selection of high-quality prime lenses for the MFT system cameras. 30mm equates to a “35mm format equivalent” of 60mm, quite a useful focal length, if somewhat unusual. Let’s have a look in more detail and see how the lens handles and performs, using the Lumix G6 body for this review.

Handling and Features

3 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100

The lens can only be described as compact, and as such, it is ideal wherever it is desired to keep equipment to a minimum. It weighs in at a very modest 128g and although it may be tiny it is also obviously well made using high-grade plastic materials. The finish is excellent.

The front element is also tiny and we can see the 7 bladed, rounded diaphragm quite clearly. The filter size is 46mm, which is in keeping with the overall size of the lens. No lens hood is provided, which is a pity as it is always a desirable accessory for any lens. The front element is not so recessed that it would be redundant.

The large manual focus ring is electronic in operation and very smooth. There is no facility to tweak the focusing point in AF mode, a feature that can prove to be advantageous. Nothing else adorns the lens as all functions are controlled by the camera body. The AF system is fast, accurate and locks on very positively. There is no hunting.

Focusing is down to 0.095m, a maximum magnification of 1.25x and a working distance of 14mm from the front element. Unfortunately, there are no distance scales and no depth of field scale, so some useful information is sacrificed to give us this ultra-compact form. To be fair, the absence of these features may not impact greatly on general macro shooting and the extra magnification is very welcome. Most macro lenses stop at 1x magnification (1:1).

Lens construction is 7 elements in 6 groups, with 1 Aspherical ED (Extra Low Dispersion), 1 DSA (Dual Super Aspherical) and 1 Aspherical element.

As mentioned, 30mm (60mm equivalent) is slightly unusual for a macro lens – most would be 50mm or 100mm in 35mm-equivalent terms. However, in practice, it proves to be very convenient and it does lend itself well to the shooting of portraits. We are given the greatest freedom, though, with the lens’s ability to focus from infinity all the way down to ultra-close macro seamlessly. This makes for a powerful slightly long standard lens, in all respects except of course a large, bright aperture.

3 sec | f/16.0 | 115.0 mm | ISO 100

Performance

Sharpness at the centre is excellent from f/3.5 through to f/11. Diffraction reduces this to very good at f/16 and just fair at f/22. The edges do not quite match this, but are very good from f/3.5 to f/16, again dropping to just fair at f/22 as diffraction takes hold.

MTF Charts

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Lumix G6 using Imatest.

CA (Chromatic Aberration) is approaching zero at the centre of the image and is still well controlled at less than 1 pixel at the edges. It is difficult to be sure how corrections are affected by the MFT bodies themselves, but in any event, the end result here is excellent. If necessary, further correction can be applied using software.

Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens’ inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Lumix G6 using Imatest.

Short telephoto lenses usually display some distortion, and some can be measured here, but at -0.01% barrel it is as near to zero and perfect drawing as could be wished for. Being the MFT system, we cannot be sure that some correction is not happening in camera, even on the RAW output, but whatever the case the end result is very impressive.

Flare performance is excellent and even quite bright backlighting does not cause much discomfort in terms of loss of contrast or unwanted artefacts. This is despite the lack of provision of a hood. A hood would still be a good idea as it offers physical protection against knocks as well as shielding the lens.

Bokeh is very pleasant indeed and the smoothness of the out of focus background detail is commendable.

Aperture range

1/320 sec | f/3.5 | 30.0 mm | ISO 400

1/100 sec | f/5.6 | 30.0 mm | ISO 400

1/50 sec | f/8.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 400

1/25 sec | f/11.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 400

1/13 sec | f/16.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 400

1/6 sec | f/22.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 400

Sample Photos

1/40 sec | f/8.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 400

1/20 sec | f/8.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 200

3.2 sec | f/8.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 200

1.6 sec | f/7.1 | 30.0 mm | ISO 200

1/25 sec | f/8.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 200

0.8 sec | f/4.5 | 30.0 mm | ISO 200

1/500 sec | f/4.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 400

1/80 sec | f/5.6 | 30.0 mm | ISO 400

1/15 sec | f/8.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 200

Value For Money

The Olympus M. Zuiko Premium 30mm f/3.5 Macro ED is priced at £249, really quite a modest amount for a premium macro lens.

The nearest equivalent would be the Panasonic 30mm f/2.8 Macro Lumix G Aspherical Mega OIS at £269. Although this does offer the image stabilisation and a slightly wider maximum aperture, it doesn’t have quite the same magnification. It only focuses down to 1:1, life-size.

Verdict

An uncommon but useful focal length, excellent performance and very close focusing all make the new lens an interesting option. It is compact, efficient, although lacking in some features that can be useful on a dedicated macro, such as the focusing and depth of field scales. We are also missing weather sealing.

Nonetheless, if a compact, inexpensive lens is required then the performance will not disappoint.

(photozine.com, https://goo.gl/L17D6W)

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