Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro
This 35mm optic from Olympus, designed for their 4/3rds system, is a true 1:1 macro lens and, with the crop factor of 2x on the Olympus system, behaves like a 70mm macro on full frame cameras. We take a look here at how it performs.
- Focal length 35mm
- Max Aperture f/3.5
- Angle of view 34° (on 4/3rds mount)
- Construction 6/6 elements/groups
- Closest focus 0.146m
- Filter size 52mm
- Dimensions 71x53mm
- Weight 0.165kg
- Mount 4/3rds system
- Price (RRP)
Build and handling
Claimed as the world’s smallest true macro lens, this optic from Olympus is certainly small enough to slip into a pocket. Despite that, the lens is reasonably well, if simply, built. The only control on the lens is the manual focus ring, and even this does nothing unless it is switched on through the camera menu and the camera has enough battery power to operate the fly-by-wire MF system.
At the closest focus point of 146mm the front element extends by some 24mm on a single trombone that showed very little play. The trombone, as it extends, is marked with ratios at 1:1, 1:1.5, 1:2 and 1:4 giving an indication of the size of the image on the sensor. The trombone, and therefore the front element, do not rotate during focussing, an advantage to photographers using the 52mm filter thread.
The autofocus system, although by no means quick or silent, is much better than Olympus’ 50mm offering in this group of lenses and has got rid of the grating noise found there. The system still performs its jerky little check, as if confirming the focal point to itself before allowing an image to be taken though.
The mount is a metal one, although the remainder of the barrel is made of engineering plastics, accounting for the very light weight of the lens when you include the consideration that it contains just six simple elements.
Despite such simple construction, this lens produced quite pleasing results, although distortion, normally not a problem on prime lenses, is approaching the threshold where it becomes visible and measured –0.87% barrel on the Imatest module.
Control of chromatic aberrations is good, with no incidences recorded and only fractions, which are invisible to the eye, measured on the test. Resolution is also adequate for the purpose that the lens is designed for and, with the focal length/crop factor combination, suitable for portraiture too.
Once again, the performance peaked a little too early for small aperture macro photography but the lens did produce nice results when used at the wider apertures.
With no compound elements in the construction, the control of flare and ghosting is also well controlled and we found no evidence of this being a problem during the test. Contrast and colour rendition, again probably helped by the simple construction, were also good.
A 100% crop from the centre of the full frame shows the detail this lens is capable of capturing. Olympus E-500
The depth-of-field that can be achieved with this 1:1 lens is quite good for a Macro
Click on each comparision photo below to view full size versions
Below is our lens test data. To find out how to use these graphs look at this article: How we test lenses
The price of the lens reflects its simplicity and, for owners of 4/3rd system cameras, makes this quite a good buy. The light weight makes for carrying it no real burden and the focal length lends itself well to other disciplines such as portraiture and more general photography with the added consistency of a prime lens.
In summary, the positive points of the Olympus Zuiko 35mm f/3.5 Macro are:
Simple construction and light weight.
True macro although you do need to get close
The negative points are:
Manual focus through camera menus
Performance peaks early for a Macro lens
Check the latest price of the Olympus Zuiko 35mm f/3.5 Macro lens here
Discuss this lens and other related lens subjects here
Test by Ian Andrews www.wildaboutkent.com
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