Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED review

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro is a compact lens that allows you to bring tiny objects into sharp focus.
Photo of Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro ($499.99 direct) is a weather-sealed lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras that produces the field of view equivalent to a 120mm optic in full-frame photography. It can focus on objects as close as 7.4 inches, which allows for true 1:1 macro magnification. If the object you’re shooting is one inch in length, the lens will project it onto the image sensor at the same one-inch length.

The lens is a bit larger when compared with most Micro Four Thirds lenses, but its dust-proof and splash-proof design necessitates that its focus remain entirely internal—most macro lenses extend in length as you focus closer, this one does not. It measures 3.2 by 2.2 inches (HD) and weighs 6.5 ounces. There’s a focus limiter switch on the barrel, so you can set the lens to focus at any distance, only on distant objects, only on close objects, or set it manually to its closest focusing distance.

I used Imatest to check the sharpness of the lens when paired with the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5. At f/2.8 its center performance is excellent at 2,590 lines per picture height, but its edge and corner performance leave a bit to be desired. This brings the center-weighted average down to 1,690 lines, just a tad shy of the 1,800 lines we use to define a sharp photo. Stopping down to f/4 increases the center-weighted score to 2,123 lines, and it hits 2,306 lines by f/8. Close the aperture any further and you’ll start to see evidence of diffraction, which can rob an image of some sharpness—at f/11 it dips to 2,095 lines, and crosses over into soft territory again at f/16 and f/22, where it notches 1,618 and 1,118 lines respectively. Macro shots often require you to close the aperture for increased depth of field, and the smaller size of the Micro Four Thirds sensor actually helps to keep more of a shot in focus at f/11 as compared with a full-frame camera. Old photo pros who are used to shooting macro shots at f/22 and f/32 should be mindful of the disadvantages of using a Micro Four Thirds camera at such small apertures.

If you’re a Micro Four Thirds user in the market for a dedicated macro lens, you only have a few native-mount options. The other, the Panasonic-made Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS, offers a wider field of view and only supports 1:2 magnification, and commands a much higher $900 sticker price. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro might not be corner-to-corner sharp at f/2.8, but it gets better as you stop down, delivering excellent resolution from f/4 to f/11. It’s sealed against dust and splashes, making it ideal for use with the all-weather OM-D E-M5. Panasonic Micro Four Thirds shooters may be a bit hesitant, as the lens doesn’t offer stabilization—that’s a feature that Olympus builds into camera bodies, but Panasonic does not—but the small apertures that go hand-in-hand with macro photography generally necessitate the use of a tripod for the best results.

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Verdict
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro is a compact lens that allows you to bring tiny objects into sharp focus.
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