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Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro Interchangeable Lens Review

Olympus' 35mm macro gives an equivalent angle of view similar to a 70mm lens used on a full-frame camera and it offers 1:1 life sized magnification too.

|  Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm F/3.5 Macro in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and features

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm F/3.5 Macro
Gary takes a close look at the close up world of Olympus.

The 35mm f/3.5 is a low-priced macro lens designed specifically for Four-Thirds digital SLRs.

It's not often that a marque macro lens can be had for under £200, but that's what we have here.

Due to the smaller sensor size found on Four Thirds cameras, no third party manufacturers offer a direct equivalent to this lens. Sigma's shortest macro available for Four Thirds cameras is their 105mm f/2.8 macro, which costs around £380 and offers the same magnification, but at around three times the working distance as this lens will behave like a 210mm lens when mounted on a FourThirds camera.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro: Handling and features
For a 1:1 macro lens, Olympus' 35mm is very compact and lightweight. Despite this, the lens feels solidly put together and the fit and finish is excellent. The lens almost doubles in length during focusing and the front element can be seen extending towards the filter thread at its closest focus. The extension isn't much of an issue, although it does mean that care needs to be taken not to shade your subject when taking pictures at the lens' closest focus.

Typical of many, many macro optics, focus speeds aren't blindingly quick, but are certainly acceptable for most applications. No focus limiter switch is provided to prevent the lens from hunting though the entire range of focus when it can't obtain a lock easily, which would've been a welcome addition. Manual focus is performed by Olympus' fly-by-wire system, which basically means there is no mechanical link between the manual focus ring and the lens. Although this system performs adequately, I found the system a bit 'woolly', making it more difficult than normal to make fine focus adjustments.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro: Performance
For this review, the lens was tested on a 12Mp Olympus E-30 using Imatest.

At f/3.5 this optic produces images of good sharpness in the centre, with acceptable resolution towards the edges of the frame. The centre resolution peaks at f/8, where it performs excellently. f/11 yields the best quality across the frame with very good resolution from edge to edge.

Resolution at 35mm
Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro Resolution at 35mm
Colour aberrations are not an issue with this optic. Imatest struggled to detect more than a quarter of a pixel-width of fringing.

Chromatic Aberrations at 35mm
Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm F/3.5 Macro Chromatic Aberrations at 35mm
Light falloff towards the corners is impeccably controlled. At f/3.5 the corners are only 0.5stops darker than the image centre, which will be difficult to spot in most normal image taking scenarios. Stopping down to f/5.6 produces completely uniform illumination.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro fern leaf
Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro cactus

Although not overly disturbing, the distortion levels are quite high for a fixed focal length lens of this type. Imatest recorded 1.08% barrel distortion, which although not overly high when compared to a wide-angle or super-zoom optic is quite high for a macro optic. This may pose problems for applications such as copy stand work, where straight lines are of absolute importance. Luckily the distortion is pretty uniform, so shouldn't be too difficult to correct in image editing software afterwards.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro flower Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro watch

Thanks in part to the simple optical design employed in this lens, the flare and ghosting performance is excellent. Strong point sources of light in the frame barely cause any flare or loss of contrast at all. Light sources outside of the frame pose few problems also, thanks the the deeply recessed front element which is adequately shielded from extraneous light.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro: Verdict
Those looking for a handy-sized, lightweight introduction to macro photography for their Four Thirds format SLR can't go far wrong with this optic. At the asking price of a shade under £200, it also represents excellent value for money.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro: Pros
Compact, lightweight design
Good optical performance
Good build quality
Good flare and ghosting performance
Great value

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro: Cons
Indirect electronic manual focus system is an acquired taste
Barrel distortion


Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro: Lens specification
Price: £199
Filter size: 52mm
Format: Four Thirds
Construction: 6 elements in 6 groups
Angle-of-view: 34 degrees
35mm equivalent focal length (on Four Thirds body): 70mm
Internal focusing: No
Image stabilisation: No
Minimum focus: 14.6cm
Maximum aperture: f/3.5
Minimum aperture: f/22
Weight: 165g
Size (lxw): 53mm x 71mm
In the box: Lens caps

The Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro costs £198.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro

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Toonman 12 1.4k 2 England
5 May 2010 12:23PM
I have been waiting for a review of this lens. I can't afford the 50mm macro so now i'll get this one. I'm assumming that it a good portrait lens to.


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