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

Olympus M. Zuiko Premium 30mm f/3.5 Macro ED Lens Review  - John Riley puts the new Olympus M. Zuiko Premium 30mm f/3.5 Macro ED to the test.

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Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 30mm 1:3.5 Macro in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

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.

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

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

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 30mm 1:3.5 Macro 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.

 

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 30mm 1:3.5 Macro 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.  

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 30mm 1:3.5 Macro Aperture range

 

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 30mm 1:3.5 Macro Sample Photos

 

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 Lumix G 30mm f/2.8 Macro Asph. 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.

Other mirrorless camera ranges have their own compact macro lenses, and for the sake of comparison there are the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM (£277), the Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro (£199), the Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 E Macro (£749) and the Fuji 60mm f/2.4R Macro (£579).

The new Olympus lens is definitely excellent value when considered against this general backdrop.

For more options have a look at our Top Macro Lens suggestions.

 

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

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

  • High sharpness
  • Low CA
  • Virtually no distortion
  • High magnification
  • Fast, accurate AF
  • Lovely bokeh

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

  • No weather sealing
  • No focusing scale
  • No depth of field scale

Features3.5/5
Handling4/5
Performance4.5/5
Value4.5/5
Overall Verdict

 

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 30mm 1:3.5 Macro Specifications

ManufacturerOlympus
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length30mm
Angle of View40°
Max Aperturef/3.5
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size46mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalent60mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnification1.25x
Focusing
Min Focus9.5cm
Construction
Blades7
Elements7
Groups6
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight128g
Height60mm

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Comments


ChrisV Plus
11 2.0k 26 United Kingdom
5 Oct 2017 6:15PM
Seems to me the only thing this lens has going for it is the level of magnification. £249 is not a huge amount of money. For a modestly built, not especially sharp, slow, 30mm lens that covers the MFT imaging circle, it sounds like daylight robbery.

To add insult to injury, not even an included hood. Some of Olympus recent lenses make me gasp as the rival Canon - for ludicrous pricing.

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8 Oct 2017 2:14PM
@ChrisV

Available reviews are rather unanimous: this lens has very good (not outstanding) optical quality. The extra magnification is a plus. Saying £249 is a 'daylight robbery' sounds like a big overstatement... especially since nobody forces you to buy it.
ChrisV Plus
11 2.0k 26 United Kingdom
9 Oct 2017 2:49PM
@Alex

I think it's fairly obvious nothing would induce me to buy it. If you want to contrast it in terms of value, there's the Oly 45mm f1.8 - not a macro lens, but a more sensible AoV for macro and much, much sharper. It's also available these days for under £200, [it was never quite as expensive as the one in question on launch].

If you want a true macro there's also the Oly 60mm f2.8. Again, optically superior, faster, with weather sealing, a distance scale and a range limiter. It's around £100 more and of course the level of magnification is only 1:1 [but again a more sensible AoV for macro work]. I'd say both those lenses are pretty decent value - contrasting them with this one makes them look like super-bargains. Rather than that being the case I think it's more indicative of a disturbing trend of gradually inflating prices over what might previously have been expected.

Personally I feel the last thing the MFT format needs is more slow lenses. A lack of limitation of subject isolation is not the biggest of issues with macro work, but it's a limiting factor for the format as a whole. I'm heavily invested in MFT kit, but I've really zero interest in zooms [let alone primes] that start off with f3.5 apertures or smaller - sharp or not. I'd struggle to think of such a slow lens [unless it was an ultra-wide] as a prime, even for a larger format.

As long as some people are willing to part with fair amounts of cash for modestly specc'd glass Olympus [and others] will bang them out. That means that truly good lenses will be increasingly pushed toward the luxury end of the market. This lens has no impact on me, but the corollary does and that somewhat annoys me.

Feel free not to let my annoyance bother you.
11 Oct 2017 12:41PM
CrisV - Wow. Opinionated and easily annoyed. You really should stop reading these reviews. IMHO this review is fairly unbiased and rather helpful. But hey - each to his own.
ChrisV Plus
11 2.0k 26 United Kingdom
11 Oct 2017 8:28PM
Actually a 4 star review on EPZ is pretty damning. Something has to be inescapably awful to earn less than that. If you read more of these reviews you’d know that. Perhaps you wouldn’t need to be quite so humble then.
11 Oct 2017 8:58PM
ChrisV- O.K. Whatever. Cool sarcasm.

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