Olympus Zuiko ED 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5

This telephoto zoom from the Olympus stable, designed for the 4/3rds mount system equates to a 100-400mm in 35mm terms when you apply the 2x crop factor that the 4/3rd system uses. We take a look at how this optic performs.

Olympus 50-200mmSpecification

  • Focal length 50-200mm
  • Max aperture f/2.8-3.5
  • Construction 16/15 elements/groups
  • Angle of view 24-6°
  • Filter size 67mm
  • Hood LH-70B (Supplied)
  • Dimensions 87x157mm
  • Weight 1.07kg inc tripod adaptor
  • Price (SRP) £739.00p

Build and handling
The lens is billed as a professional product and is claimed to be splash-proof. It comes supplied in it’s own padded zip-pouch which is well designed for protection and has a carry-strap although lacks a belt loop.

The lens certainly appears well made and robust enough with the tripod mount collar just forward of the mount, followed by a wide zoom ring marked at 50, 70, 100, 150 and 200mm. Torqued to be slightly stiff, it did not need a zoom lock mechanism. A distance window is next up on the barrel and, as normal, is marked in metres and feet with no attempt at a depth-of-field scale. The fly-by-wire ‘manual’ focus ring is the only other control on the lens and this can only be used by switching it on through the menus in camera.
The autofocus is relatively quiet, with just a slight whine as the lens finds the focus point but it is not as quick or quiet as some of the opposition’s sonic motors.

The zoom mechanism extends the barrel through a single trombone by some 65mm but this operation does not rotate the front element, making life easy for users of the 67mm filter thread. A supplied plastic hood utilises a relatively positive bayonet fixing to fit in place and although this is not too substantially made, offers some protection as well as shielding.

Optical quality
In the optical department, there are some surprisingly nice results with general performance across the frame being consistent from corner to corner and throughout the zoom range. There is also little drop off in that performance from the short end to the longer focal length and although, as would normally be expected, it is there to a degree, it is not in the horrendous league of some other lenses we have tested.

Neutral colour rendition combines with good contrast and control of chromatic aberrations, along with no visible distortion to produce quite pleasing images.

Resolution, although not stunning, is certainly up to the job and again, holds up well throughout the aperture range.


A 100% crop from the centre of this image of a male Broad-bodied Chaser, shot at f/5.6 at the 200mm end of the lens goes some way to showing the capabilities of this lens.
Olympus E-500.

The wide apertures available make out of focus backgrounds quite possible as shown in this shot

Click on each comparision photo below to view full size versions

50-200mm set at 50mm and f/8

50-200mm set at 200mm and f/8

50-200mm set at 50mm and f/2.8

50-200mm set at 200mm and f/3.5

Below is our lens test data. To find out how to use these graphs look at this article: How we test lenses

The optical performance of this lens warrants the price on it’s own although the build quality is also quite good and the claimed splash proof design should help endear owners likely to spend time in outdoor environments. No fan here of totally electronic focussing, I would worry about the delicacy of this type of system and the delays it causes in confirming a focus fix, but, short of destructive testing, I have no way of knowing how robust the system is likely to be. Overall, the lens performed well enough.

In summary, the positive points of the Olympus Zuiko ED 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 are:
Excellent optical performance across the board
Good build quality that is externally simple and splash proof
Nice carry case supplied

The negative points are:
Manual focus/over-ride only through camera menu
Autofocus a little slow. Takes a second to lock on.
Hood seems a little fragile for class of lens.

Check the latest price for the Olympus Zuiko ED 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 here

Test by Ian Andrews www.wildaboutkent.com

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