Review: Olympus M. Zuiko 30mm f3.5 (Micro Four Thirds)

You really have to give it to Olympus: even when you’re not working with their highest-end glass, the image quality is still super stellar–and that’s the case with the new Olympus 30mm f3.5 Macro lens. It isn’t one of the company’s best built lenses, but it also isn’t one of their worst. Rendering the equivalent of a 60mm f7 field of view in the full frame equivalent, you have little to no reason to stop a lens down like this.

And beyond there, there is a whole lot to love here.

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You see, the Olympus 30mm f3.5 Macro lens focuses closely: really, really closely. Like, creating a whole new world type of closely. And that’s pretty fun.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Good image quality

Cons

  • Slow focusing, and it’s also probably the least accurate when it comes to focusing.

Gear Used

The Olympus 30mm f3.5 Macro lens was used with the Olympus Pen F and the Flashpoint Zoom Lion radio flash.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from Olympus’s page listing

  1. Focal Length
    30mm
  2. 35mm Equivalent Focal Length
    60mm
  3. Lens Construction
    7 Elements in 6 Groups (1 DSA lens, 1 EDA lens, 1 aspherical lens)
  4. Dust & Drip Proof
    No
  5. Closest Focusing Distance
    0.095m
  6. Maximum Aperture
    f3.5
  7. Minimum Aperture
    f22

Ergonomics

When you look at the Olympus 30mm f3.5 Macro, you’ll see a pretty standard looking lens in many ways. It’s a bit longer than normal though. Also a tad thinner.

Then you’ll look at the front of the lens and see how it basically is the same as most other macro offerings on the market.

Build Quality

No, this lens isn’t weather sealed, and in fact it’s a bit large for a body like the Pen F. But it doesn’t feel cheap. It’s very lightweight.

Ease of Use

Slap the lens on the camera and you’ll essentially just use autofocus. But when you’re focusing down to the macro ranges, you’ll probably want to use manual focusing. In fact, I wish this lens had the snapback manual focus ring that many of Olympus’s other lenses have.

Autofocus

This is where I was incredibly surprised during my review period. Olympus is bar none the best in the world when it comes to autofocus performance. But then this lens made me scratch my head. Over and over again it missed candid moments. It also just missed focusing in lower lit situations–which doesn’t really happen with Olympus.

For the first time in years (since maybe 2011), I have to say that I’m incredibly disappointed here with Olympus’ autofocus.

Image Quality

Despite my qualms about the autofocus, I can’t really complain about the image quality. Olympus tends to overengineer their lenses and the output is often beautiful.

Bokeh

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This image was shot wide open at f3.5. Clearly, this lens is designed to be shot at macro levels and very little else considering the f7 depth of field equivalence.

Chromatic Aberration

Very, very little amounts of fringing were found in my images. You really have to pixel peep in order to see it on a screen. If you print a 13×18, it will be very subtle.

Color Rendition

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As is always with Olympus, the color rendition here is fantastic. I tend to like it better vs Panasonic’s offerings, and Olympus overall just has good colors. My favorite still has to go to Voigtlander.

Sharpness

When a flash is used with the scene, you’ll get even better sharpness than you’ve seen previously. That’s a heck of a lot of sharpness.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusions

Likes

  • Small size
  • Sharp image quality

Dislikes

  • Autofocus

The Olympus 30mm f3.5 is a pretty good lens. If you’re going to use it though, I recommend just using it for macro work and carefully set-up imagery. Plus, use a flash. On top of that, you may want to use manual focusing. For the price of [amazon_link asins=’B01ERLMUD2′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’dd472449-dda8-11e6-b22e-df10134d4a43′] you really can’t go wrong as long as you know what you’re buying.

To be very clear here, I’m not a major fan of most macro lenses for the Micro Four Thirds lineup. I look forward to the day that Olympus or Panasonic produce a more pro-oriented version.

The Olympus 30mm f3.5 Macro lens gets three out of five stars.