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|Product:||Olympus Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm|
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD - Gary Wolstenholme tests the Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm lens which features a relatively bright maximum aperture and also has a silent SWD focusing motor.
A cheaper alternative covering a similar focal range is Panasonic's 45-200mm f/4-5.6 G lens, which is a much lighter and compact optic, thanks in part to the modest maximum aperture. This lens can be picked up for around £275.
Another interesting alternative is Sigma's 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro HSM II, which retails for around £660. Although this lens doesn't cover as wide a range as the Olympus optic, it does maintain the bright f/2.8 maximum aperture right through to 200mm.
In this review we will investigate how well this super-telephoto optic performs.
The lens accepts 67mm filers on the front and as focusing is performed internally the filter thread does not rotate, making it easy to use polarising and graduated filters. Zooming the lens to 200mm extends it by about three inches. The zooming is very smooth throughout the range and there is enough resistance in the mechanism to prevent zoom creep when the camera is tilted towards the ground.
It is easy to make fine annual adjustments to the focusing as the manual focus ring is well damped. Auto focus is very quick on the Olympus E-3 used for testing and the minimum focus distance of 1.2 metres allows you to get quite close to your subject, for frame filling shots.
Zooming to 100mm results in a slight reduction in resolution recorded at maximum aperture, but still the quality is very good across the frame here. Peak quality for this focal length is achieved at f/5.6, where again, the sharpness approaches excellent levels across the frame.
Finally at 200mm, sharpness in the centre of the image area is good at maximum aperture, and fairly good towards the edges. Stopping the lens down to f/5.6 results in very good sharpness in the centre and good sharpness towards the edges of the frame.
|Resolution at 50mm||Resolution at 100mm|
|Resolution at 200mm||How to read our graphs
The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.
The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.
For this review, the lens was tested on an Olympus E-3 using Imatest.
Chromatic aberrations are remarkably well controlled, especially as this is an area where super-telephoto lenses like this generally suffer. Imatest was only able to detect fringing of 0.3 pixel widths at 400mm and f/22, which is the worst you can expect to see. This level should be invisible in normal images, even at very large print sizes and from very harsh crops.
|Chromatic Aberrations at 50mm||Chromatic Aberrations at 100mm|
|Chromatic Aberrations at 200mm||
How to read our chartsChromatic aberration 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 an Olympus E3 using Imatest.
Levels of distortion are mild at either end of the zoom range. At 500 Imatest detected barrelling of 1.19% and 0.712% pincushion distortion at 200mm. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame at both ends of the range, which should make it simple to correct in image editing software afterwards.
A deep circular hood comes supplied with the lens which can be reversed for storage. Light sources outside of the frame can cause flare and loss of contrast so it is a good idea to use the hood wherever possible. Shooting into the light also causes a slight loss of contrast.
|Maximum magnification – ISO100, 1/125, f/8, 200mm||Wildlife – ISO200, 1/320, f/4, 200mm|
|Wide-angle – ISO100, 1/250, f/3.5, 50mm||Bokeh – ISO100, 1/200, f/4, 200mm|
Although the price may be higher than other alternatives, this is a premium lens that provides premium performance and if quality matters, it may well be worth the extra money.
|An excellent performer in every area|
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD: ProsVery good to excellent resolution
Negligible levels of chromatic aberration
Excellent weather resistant build
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD: ConsA petal shaped hood may give better protection against flare
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
|Construction||16 elements in 15 groups|
|Angle-of-view||24 - 6.2°|
|35mm equivalent focal length (on Four Thirds body)||100-400mm|
|Image stabilisation||No (Olympus boddies have stabilisation built in)|
|Size (lxw)||86.5 x 157mm|
|In the box||Circular lens hood, Case, Lens Caps|