Friday, September 21, 2012

Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro Review: Extreme Close Up Shooting

Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 2.
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images, except slight brightness/contrast balance tweak. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

UPDATE 1: 21/9/2012 7.00pm
[1]  A group of enthusiastic and amazing local Malaysian photographers, a group called ZUIKOHOLICS led by great friend and macro shooter Amir Ridhwan have also posted up their review for this beautiful Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens (click here to go to the review). Amir's macro photography work has become a strong inspiration and influence to me, and I looked up to him as a mentor and friend. I am glad Olympus has also loaned them the 60mm macro lens for testing and reviewing purposes. Do check out their site, and say hi!!
[2]  In addition, Ming Thein, no stranger in the world of photography gear review has also posted up his review of the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens. Ming Thein specializes in product photography (his work with close up expensive watches is simply astounding), hence it is significant to hear what he has to say, coming from a professional environment. Click here to go to Ming Thein's review. 



I have had two full day shooting experience with the newly launched Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens, kindly loaned to me for my blog review purposes from Olympus Malaysia, and I have so much to say and share with you beautiful people. If you have not read my initial impressions of the lens, please kindly do so here (click). For this round’s review of the M.Zuiko 60mm macro lens, I shall break it down into two separate blog entries, discussing primarily on the different purposes the lens is used for: Part 1 – extreme close up macro shooting and Part 2 – general purpose shooting. In this particular first part of my review, I shall put more emphasis on the Image Sharpness and AutoFocus performance of the 60mm macro lens. In addition to that, I shall also try my best to answer how well does the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens perform in comparison to its older sibling, the much revered Zuiko 50mm F2 macro lens?

Before we dive right into the review, allow me to clarify a few items. This review will be written from a photography-enthusiast’s point of view, because I am not a professional photographer. This will be a user experience based review, sharing on what I think and feel as I use the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens (mounted on Olympus OM-D E-M5) in real life shooting situations. Therefore, this is not a technical review as there will not be elaborative technical explanations, which can be easily accessible from many professional review websites such as DPreview and DXOmark. 


1/60sec, F/5, ISO200


All images in this entry were taken at Orchid Garden and Butterfly Park, Kuala Lumpur. The main subject of this shooting session was insect macro (which also includes spiders). Since the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 is a dedicated macro lens, it was only appropriate to test it for its intended purpose that was specifically designed for. 

MACRO GEAR SETUP

Before we go on further, allow me to explain the techniques on how I shot some of the extreme magnification images. For general shooting where extreme magnification is not required, I used standard AutoFocus to lock my subjects. Do bear in mind that the following technique is only employed for high magnification images more than 0.5x magnification on the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens. 

Gear Setup

Body: Olympus OM-D E-M5, with the bundled flash attached, and switched ON all the time
Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens
Flash: Olympus FL-36R flash



My execution on macro shooting:

1) Olympus E-M5 with 60mm macro lens was held single-handedly by my right hand

2) External flash, FL-36R was held by my left hand, with wireless TTL mode activated and ready to fire.


3) I used the DIY made "Shoebox Flash Bouncer (click for more details)" on the flash head all the time. The direction of the bounced flash was aimed at the subject mostly from the side, slightly above their head level.

4) General camera settings: Shutter Speed from 1/60sec to 1/125 sec (to capture a little bit of ambient light, if possible for a more natural look), Aperture from F/5.6-F/14 (to control and maximize depth of field required), ISO200. 

5) Manual Focus, with the lens set to the amount of magnification required (for magnification of 0.5x or higher). I rocked myself back and forth until the zone of focus-interest was seen clear/sharp on my viewfinder, and I fired the shutter button.

6) Autofocus, with the focus limiter switch set to 0.19-0.4m, for larger subjects.I shall elaborate on my reasons for choosing the Autofocus or Manual focus in the later part of this blog entry. 


1/60sec, F/4.5, ISO200
Image Sample 1

100% crop from image sample 1


1/60sec, F/4.5, ISO200
Image Sample 2

100% crop from Image Sample 2
Take note of the Moiré pattern on the butterfly's eye

1/60sec, F/5.6, ISO200
Image Sample 3

100% crop from Image Sample 3
Take note of the Moiré pattern on the dragonfly's eyes.


IMAGE SHARPNESS

The wonder of macro photography is the ability to reveal the tiniest of details, opening up a whole new world  that the human naked eyes cannot see. Therefore, it is extremely crucial for a macro lens to be as sharp as possible to be able to capture and resolve as much details as possible. 

Lets go straight to the point, this M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens is extremely sharp. When I was shooting with the 60mm macro lens, I almost thought I was using the 50mm F2 macro lens instead (probably due to the very similar focal length, 60mm vs 50mm). While reviewing the images shot on the camera backscreen, it was evident that the 60mm F2.8  lens is sharper than the 50mm F2 lens, perhaps by a small margin, but the difference was visible, and there was no slight hesitation for me to have a strong impression that the 60mm was the winner. This was just a quick mental comparison I made while I was shooting on the field, and may not be conclusive at this point, because no side by side real comparison at 100% view on gigantic computer monitor screen to justify such claims. That, shall come a bit later. 

The 60mm F2.8 macro lens is so sharp, capturing too much details that Moiré pattern has become an issue for a few photographs that I have taken. Take for example Image Samples 2 and 3, strong traces of Moiré pattern can be seen on the butterfly's eye and dragonfly's eye respectively. I have rarely encountered such issue when I was shooting with the older 50mm F2 macro lens (almost never). The good news is, we can be very reassured that this 60mm F2.8 lens is indeed, undeniably, exceptionally sharp. The bad news is, using the 60mm macro lens on the E-M5 body that has very thin anti-aliasing filter, the Moiré pattern can pose a real problem. Olympus' claim that the Moiré problem can be corrected by internal software is not happening as I have seen the problem in quite a few numbers of my macro shots. Perhaps, a lens being too sharp is not necessarily a good thing all the time after all. 

I seldom find the need to shoot at full magnification 1:1 ratio, and most of the shots shown in this review blog entry were shot at 1:2 (or 0.5x) magnification or lower. Therefore, for the sake of testing the macro len's capability, I have forced the lens to focus at its full magnification factor of 1:1 out of the necessity. When I was reviewing my shots taken at full 1:1 magnification, it appeared that the image was also very sharp, but somehow not as crackling sharp as I have hoped for. It was not as sharp as I have remembered seeing while I was shooting at lower magnification ratios, such as 1:2 or smaller with the same lens. I shot a few more attempts, and the results were similar: still incredibly sharp, just not as sharp as it should be as seen at lower magnification factor. I have a few theories thought out immediately:
1) At full 1:1 magnification, the depth of field is so shallow that I needed to stop down the aperture to F/11 or narrower to capture sufficient zone in focus. Using narrower aperture could be the cause of the slightly softer images. 
2) Hand Shake issue. I was shooting at 60mm (equivalent of 120mm in 35mm format) with a single hand, at full 1:1 magnification. As much as I believe that the magical 5 Axis Image Stabilization system can work miracles, sometimes being practical, I cannot be entirely sure that there was completely no hand shake. I was faced with a situation where tripod was impractical. 

A practical explanation for this scenario is high likely due to diffraction phenomenon of the lens shooting at narrower aperture (F8 or narrower). Diffraction is a very common technical flaw that every lens inherits. Moreover, the diffraction is further amplified when the magnification factor increases, hence the noticeable small decline in overall resolution. Using very narrow aperture in combination with the full magnification factor may not yield the best performance the lens can offer. Therefore, for serious macro shooters, various techniques have been employed to mitigate this problem, such as composite images and focus stacking, in order to avoid using highest magnification factor and also smaller aperture. Working within the optimum parameters of the lens will surely bring out the best performance one can expect from it. 

Perhaps after all the years of experience with Olympus Zuiko's beautiful optics, I am expecting nothing short of perfection !!

Though the images at 1:1 magnification was not as crackling sharp as I have hoped for, they were still very, very good, retaining excellent fine details. Examples of 1:1 magnification images are shown below.

Make no mistake, this 60mm F2.8 lens may just outperform any other macro lenses from other manufacturers in terms of image sharpness.


1/125sec, F/14, ISO200
Image Sample 4 taken at 1:1 full magnification

Center Crop (not 100%) of Image Sample 4

1/100sec, F/10, ISO200
Image Sample 5 taken at 1:1 full magnification

Center Crop (non 100%) from Image Sample 5

1/80sec, F/9, ISO200
Image Taken at 1:1 full magnification


AUTOFOCUS PERFORMANCE

One of the main problems with the older Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 macro lens, and to a certain extent even the 35mm F3.5 macro standard grade lens, was the poor autofocus performance that can become frustratingly unreliable in challenging shooting conditions, especially at large magnification shots. It is a huge relief to us Olympus users that this issue has been looked into and resolved in the new M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 lens !! The fact that the autofocus has been significantly improved is one reason strong enough for many people to consider having this lens, knowing very well now the sharpness of the lens is not compromised at all. 

Before we go on further, I would like to talk more about the focus limiter switch. Primarily, the focus limiter has 3 options and one shortcut. The 3 options varies according to focusing distance, while the one shortcut allows quick access to full 1:1 magnification factor. It was very thoughtful of Olympus to include the focus limiter switch, which conveniently optimizes the lens' autofocus performance in all range of shooting circumstances. 





1) 0.4m to infinity. This is the normal general purpose shooting range. For non-macro shooting purposes, and using the lens for other purposes such as portraits or street shooting, this is the best option, as it prioritizes images away from the macro shooting zone. I shall explore this focusing range in my next blog review, where I bring the lens out for non-macro shooting.

2) 0.19m to infinity. This is the setting on the focus limiter switch that allows full range of focusing distance, from full close up macro of 1:1 magnification to infinity. I strongly do not recommend the use of this setting, and while doing a short test using this shooting mode, I did encounter some very annoying hunting and hesitating of the lens, going back and forth. While the focusing is still generally very fast at this setting, it is not optimized for any shooting purposes at all. If you are leaving the lens to a friend that has no idea about how the magnification factor or focusing distance works, then this setting should minimize any confusion of not using the right focus limiter switch for the job. 

3) 0.19m to 0.4m: This is the close up macro range. At 0.19m (distance measured from the image sensor to the subject), you get full magnification ratio of 1:1, and that is the closest you can get to your subject, and the full performance of the macro lens. At 0.4m distance, the magnification ratio was just slightly smaller than 1:4 (0.25x) magnification ratio. This setting on the focus limiter switch is optimized for close ranged, extreme magnification macro shooting only. 

4) Shortcut to 1:1 magnification. This is not exactly an option on the focus limiter, because it is not a fixed setting. You can twist the dial to the 1:1 setting and the dial won't set there, and it will roll back to the 0.19 to 0.4m (which is the option 3: close up macro range) option. The 1:1 setting is just a shortcut to allow instant access to full magnification, and this works both when you are using Autofocus or Manual focus. I would say this setting is more useful for manual focus, because once you used the shortcut, the focus is set to full 1:1 magnification ratio, and it won't be changed unless you move the focusing ring. I am sure many of you have issues starting the camera and lens (especially those who have lens reset to infinity option on for power-off), and to go from infinity to full magnification 1:1 ratio by twisting the focusing ring can take quite a bit of time. This new 1:1 shortcut eliminates this problem. 

If you are accustomed to the focus limiter switch already and have selected the best option for your intended shooting purposes, you will find the lens to focus very optimally. You get the blazing fast AF that the OM-D E-M5 is known for, and having such capability for macro shooting is even more impressive. 

I have tried the Autofocus extensively on my macro shooting session, and I must testify that the autofocus worked very, very efficiently. Nonetheless, for extreme close up shooting with 1:2 magnification to 1:1, I actually preferred to use the manual focus. It was not because I did not trust the camera, it was more of me not trusting my own hands. Therefore, using the manual focus to set the focusing to a desired magnification factor (say 1:2) and allowing myself to rock back and forth until I see the part of the subject (eg the eye) is in perfect focus through the electronic viewfinder, I instantly clicked the shutter button. 

Please take note that I did not use any magnify assist or zoom in zoom out function to help me focus. It was far more efficient to just trust what I saw on the viewfinder, rather than fiddling with so many buttons. I was holding the flash on one hand, and the camera (with lens) on another. Surely the whole magnify assist in live view thing is not feasible in my shooting approach. 


1/60sec, F/7.1, ISO200
Image Sample 6

100% Crop from Image Sample 6

1/80sec, F/8, ISO200
Image taken at Full 1:1 Magnification (very tiny baby mantis)

1/80sec, F/5.6, ISO200

1/80sec, F/8, ISO200
I realized the DOF was not sufficient, as I readjusted my position and stop down the aperture, the loving couple decided to fly away. 

1/60sec, F/9, ISO200
As you can see in the green background there are dusts (possibly smears of something else) on the E-M5's sensor. The previous user of this review unit must have brought the lens to some very extreme conditions, and decided to change lens in that extreme condition. 

HANDLING OF THE LENS

How does the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens handle in macro shooting environment? The 60mm macro lens handles well. Mounted on the OM-D E-M5, the combinations feels balanced and very comfortable to hold. The lens was substantially long enough for comfortable holding of the left hand. The lens was also very light (at only 185g). If you intend to shoot with two hands (like most normal sane photographers do) then you do not need the extra battery grip pack to improve the handling. However, I was shooting with the lens and camera on my single handled right hand, hence I added the horizontal/landscape grip for additional stability. 

The minimum focusing distance for full magnification at 1:1 ratio was rated 0.19m, which was measured from the image sensor on the camera body to the focal plane of the subject in focus. Effectively, you get approximately 10cm (0.1m) working distance from the front of the lens to the focal plane of subject, which is still very usable in most conditions. The 10cm working distance was merely my educated estimation without actual measurements. (I am an engineer, my estimation is usually very reliable). Employing such high degree of magnifications, the subject you are shooting must be exceptionally tiny, and 10cm may seem like very near but it was still very comfortable to work with. 

I did some simple calculations to verify my 10cm claim. 

Working Distance = Minimum Focusing Distance - Lens Body Length - Flange Focal Distance

Working Distance = 190mm - 82mm - 20mm

Working Distance = 88mm

Not to forget, small part of the lens mount at the rear of the lens goes inside the camera body, hence adding perhaps another few millimeters to the working distance. Therefore, adding that few millimeters (say 5mm screw-on mount) my initial estimation of 10cm was near accurate. 

1/60sec, F/7.1, ISO200

1/80sec, F/9, ISO200

1/80sec, F/8, ISO200

1/80sec, F/11, ISO200
Image taken at full 1:1 magnification

1/80sec, F/8, ISO200

1/80sec, F/9, ISO200



LEICA RED DOT COMPARISON

As I was looking through the images and marvelled at how sharp the images taken with the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens was, I have this unsettling feeling that still doubted the ability of the 60mm F2.8 macro to surpass what the original 50mm F2 macro can do. It was because of that unsettling feeling that I decided against my usual style of not doing any comparison with any other camera or lenses in my gear review. I wanted to see for myself is that 60mm F2.8 lens better than the 50mm F2 lens, in a controlled testing manner.

I was searching high and low for a small item suitable for macro shooting purpose. The only item I could find in such short period of time lying around my room was the Leica red dot pin which I have received for attending one of the Leica Store Malaysia function earlier this year. I have left the Red Dot pin unused and lying around collecting dust and rust, and it was about time to put it to some good use.

I set up the camera, Olympus OM-D E-M5 on a tripod. I fixed the lens focus to 1:2 magnification, and fine tuned the 60mm F2.8 to match as closely as I can to the ratio captured by the maximum magnification ratio of the 50mm F2 lens. The focus ring was then not touched anymore, and the tripod was moved toward or away from the subject, until the red dot appeared to be in perfect focus. Images were taken at F2.8, F5.6, F8 and F11, to test the variability of sharpness at different aperture values. The tripod was readjusted again, and similar set was taken three times, and the best of the bunch was selected for display in this blog. Same procedure was done for both the 50mm and 60mm lens. Camera was set to Aperture Priority mode, center weighted average metering, IS OFF, and use of Anti-Shock 2 sec delay to minimize shake. The light source was a single fluorescent tube from the ceiling.

The following are the comparison test results of 60mm F2.8 vs 50mm F2.0 macro lenses, taken at different aperture values.






I admit that this simple, very straight forward test is flawed in many levels, and should not be used as an ultimate reference to sharpness comparison between 60mm F2.8 macro and 50mm F2 macro lenses. The purpose of me doing this comparison was to have a rough indicator of how well the 60mm F2.8 stood against the old legendary 50mm F2 lens, partially because I did not believe my own eyes that the 60mm F2.8 lens in the first place could in any way outperform the 50mm F2 in terms of image quality. I acknowledge there are many ways that the test can be standardized and improved for better accuracy, but lets not get too far ahead of ourselves. We shall leave the real tests to the pros (with the MTF chart plots and resolution chart tests with those definitive horizontal and vertical resolution lines). I just wanted a quick answer, hence the quick test.

My observations from the above side by side comparison:

1) At F2.8 and F5.6, the 60mm F2.8 lens is clearly the winner, showing greater details and sharpness. The 50mm F2 was not far behind, in fact it was only upon very close scrutiny that one can find any difference in terms of sharpness. My initial assumption while testing on the field shooting macro that, at F2.8 to F5.6, the 60mm F2.8 macro lens performed extremely well, even better than the 50mm F2 by slight margin, was proven true.

2) At F8 and F11, the 60mm F2.8 lens is no longer the winner, and it is clear that the 50mm F2 lens is sharper, but not by much. The difference between the two lenses at F8 is very small, but the 50mm F2 shows more finer details. At F11, however, it was very obvious that the 50mm F2 is the winner. For the 50mm F2 lens, the degradation of image sharpness was so gradual and minimal that even using the lens at narrower apertures, the sharpness produced is still very optimized. This is not the case for the 60mm F2.8 macro. Shooting with the 60mm F2.8 macro at F8 and above, there is a noticeable decline in sharpness, though in real world applications this should not be much of an issue. This finding also agrees strongly with the 1:1 full magnification images that I have taken at F/14 that was not as sharp as I have initially expected.

3) 60mm F2.8 has better micro contrast. The images taken with the 60mm F2.8 looked punchier and bolder, as if there was a "pop" quality.

4) Color output from both lenses were different. While the 50mm F2 macro was more neutral and balanced, the 60mm F2.8 was more vibrant and warmer. I suspect this was mainly due to the different coatings used on both lenses. The stark difference can be observed in how the red on the Leica pin was rendered.

The simple Leica Red Dot Comparison Test has confirmed my initial suspicions. Indeed, on the whole the 60mm F2.8 macro lens appears to be sharper than the 50mm F2 lens, but that amazing sharpness is limited to use of larger aperture openings. The punchier and higher contrast output of the 60mm F2.8 lens added to the impression that the 60mm F2.8 lens was indeed outperforming the 50mm F2 lens.

All things considered, it is very obvious that the 60mm F2.8 macro lens is possibly one of the sharpest macro lenses out there. I am expecting more reviews by other photographers comparing the M.Zuiko 60mm macro against great macro lenses from other manufacturers, and I am very confident that the 60mm macro lens will shine. Just keep an eye out for such comparisons soon.

For your pixel peeping pleasures, I have included the following items for your downloads:

60MM MACRO SHOOTING TEST

LEICA RED DOT COMPARISON TEST

I still have a lot more to say about the new M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens, and I have brought it out to another shooting session, this time, for general shooting with non-macro purposes Of course, there are some complains and issues with this lens, which I shall explore in the next blog entry of this review. I am working very hard to push out that entry soonest possible. 

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to say something in the comment section on this blog entry, or email me directly at hamish7ian@gmail.com

177 comments:

  1. WONDERFUL write up as usual. Always the first person I want to hear from!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I originally wasn't planning on getting this bad boy....but not so sure now... :)

      Delete
    2. If you do shoot plenty of macro, you MUST have this lens !

      Delete
  2. Nice work Robin and interesting findings on the sharpness at the narrower apertures. I generally use narrower apertures whilst shooting underwater and am generally limited to only using autofocus underwater so the addition of a limiter switch is also welcomed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Shaun,
      Thanks for the compliments !! That focus limit switch SHOULD have been on the original 50mm F2 !!! That was the missing component.

      Delete
  3. Awesome pics Robin, and very interesting that it compares well with the 50/2 Macro at wider apertures. Won't hurt it as a portrait lens, looking forward to the next part of your review.
    I don't intend to use this lens for insects as much as for flowers, and that floral shot is great. Keep it coming!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tom !!!
      Plenty of portrait shots coming in the next entry !!

      Delete
  4. Great work, as always! Thank you for that. I'm not a macro shooter at all and I find the lens too big for my taste, but I begin to feel a certain itch :)

    Can't wait for your second part.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Andreas,
      Second part is coming very, very soon. It is all about NON Macro shooting.

      Delete
    2. As I'm especially looking forward to. Don't get me wrong, I love your macro images, it's only that a lens for purely macro purposes does not work for me. On the Nikon D300 I had a Sigma 70/2.8 Macro that I used almost exclusively for street and landscape shooting. If this Olympus macro doubles as a nice general purpose lens, I may be very tempted to buy it.

      Delete
    3. I brought it out for my usual street shooting, and attacked a local wet market. You will get a rough idea of how the lens performs as a medium telephoto prime lens. My quick answer, its actually doing very well !!

      Delete
    4. Walter - Germany9/27/2012 11:38:00 PM

      Dear Robin,

      it always is a pleasure to read your profund reviews, sharing your honest personal impressions.
      I'm afraid, I will have to raid my purse and purchase the 60mm lens as soon as it is available.

      Best regards
      Walter.

      Delete
  5. awesome review Robin! i was eagerly waiting for your review as i have predicted that you will be one the first who will get to hold on this very nice lens. being a macro addict myself, i really love how detailed you did your review on this lens. those shots of yours gave me more reason to get this bad boy :D keep it up and i am looking forward to the 2nd part of the review ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Romz!
      Glad to find another macro shooter too, and if you use micro 4/3,you must have this lens, you won't regret it I am very sure.

      Delete
  6. Thanks Robin! I was bit nervous about ordering (Olympus US Stores has it in stock) w/o looking at any review and how it would compare with 50/f2. After reading your review, I am glad I ordered the lens :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello sagar
      Ready assured I am not the only reviewer out there, more reviews will come and I am very sure we all agree this is a wonderful and sharp lens.

      Delete
  7. Great shots Robin! I would probably use this lens more for general shooting and portraits than macro so looking forward to your next post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks wataru!
      Working on part 2 now. will post it up in a day or twos time!

      Delete
  8. Thank you Robin for your reviews.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Robin

    Thank for your review,this lense is like the 45mm f1.8,high quality for a reasonable price. Your pictures were beautifully taken. Olympus should not loan it to you,they should give it to you for good as only good hand take good photo.

    Francis from Toronto

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Francis for such kind remarks. I don't think I deserve the lens, as there are more better reviewers out there. don't just take my words for it, do wait for the other so you can get a more well rounded idea.

      Delete
  10. Hi Robin!

    As always you never let us down. You're review is very extensive especially when you tried to compare it with the 50mm f2 macro. I did not regret per-ordering this lens even before you did this review. Your review re-assured me that I made the right decision and am happy. Looking forward to part 2 of your test. You've torture testing this new lens indeed. Keep up the good work!

    Eric V
    Edmonton Alberta Canada

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Eric for the kind compliments.
      Only by torturing the lens we can know now the lens performs !

      Delete
  11. i could say less but AMEn to your review... haha great work robin...

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  12. i couldn't say more but AMEN to your review...
    great work ROBIN Wong

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  13. A great review, Robin.

    I like the fact that you did a lens comparison, even if it was not scientific, because a lot of people have been speculating about the sharpness of the new 60mm versus the older 50mm.

    I also like that fact that when you encountered issues regarding sharpness at narrow apertures and moire, you offered some thoughful opinions as to why those issues were occurring.

    It's not easy for a reviewer to be objective when he relies on a big company to offer him review samples, so I appreciate your candid comments.

    I'm really looking forward to your next review of this lens. You might want to comment on the price, which is apparently quite low for a lens of such fine quality.

    Newzild/Scott

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Scott,
      thanks for the kind compliments!! Have not heard from you for a while too, do remember to let me know if you drop by KL, we must catct a beer or something.
      well, I am doing my best to discover as much as I can during my short time with the lens, and I may have missed out some crucial.points, but I'm sure other reviewers will cover them. I tried my best to present as honest of an opinion as I can, and I may sound biased coming from an Olympus user background, but that also means I know Olympus equipment better than non Olympus users!

      Delete
  14. ...oh yes, I forgot to mention that your photos are great.

    Scott

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  15. What is the working distance from the front lens?

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    Replies
    1. As I have mentioned in the review its about 10cm

      Delete
  16. Wonderful work, not reading the article yet, but see the photo at first glance.
    May you describe more on no macro scene ? example for is it good for portrait ?
    Thanks again for your work :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As mentioned, part 2 of my review will.be completely non macro shooting. I can't possibly cover everything in one blog entry.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, I have started to read it and eager to see the normal purpose. sorry for my patience.
      Hope it can get close with the expensive 75mm/f1.8 :)

      Delete
    3. NO worries ckwin,
      Since the lens is a macro dedicated lens, it only makes sense to review its macro shooting first.

      Delete
  17. What is the working distance from the front lens at 1:1 1:1 full magnification?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hello Robin,
    as always, pretty good stuff and thorough analysis! Knowing from my own photo blog how much effort is required to write up a good article, i highly appreciate your writing!
    All the best from Germany and looking forward to your next post!
    Henrik

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Henrik,
      Thanks so much for your understanding, yes it took me plenty of time and effort to shoot and organize everything into this blog entry. Hence there will be some gap (hopefully a day or two) before I can publish the next part.

      Delete
  19. Robin, thanks for this great review as a MFT-macro lens is on my wife's wishlist. However she is using the Panasonic G2 which means there is no stabilisation within lens and body when using the Olympus lens. Would you consider this a reasonable setup given that she is too lazy to use a tripod most of the time?
    All the best, Ulrik

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello ulrik,
      thanks for commenting and the kind words. it would be a huge bonus for having the image stabilization. however if there is enough light, or with a good use of camera flash, and some good hand holding techniques, shooting at f2.8: I think the 60mm lens is very workable!

      Delete
  20. Not bad at all! Coming from a guy that really just wants to see comparative charts (but that's what DPReview is for).
    The past 8 years I really compare close up', though not necessarily 1:1 to my legacy Nikon coolpix 5000 (don't laugh).
    These images look great but I ponder weather they are worth the extra money of the lens than made them?
    BTW:"Diffraction is a very common technical flaw that every lens inherits."
    I would call it a law of Quantum Mechanics an not really a 'flaw' per se. Sure wish we could beat diffraction but it's unlikely in this universe unless Einstein comes back from he dead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks anonymous, but please leave a name the next time you comment. my compairosn was just a simple one to test out some theory in mind. its not to be used as a reference.

      Delete
  21. Excellent work, as usual, Robin. A very thorough and honest review of a no doubt amazing lens. Like you, I did see some evidence for diffraction artifacts here and there - indeed it seems the 60mm is at peak performance if not stopped down too much.

    But what a lens! Like I said before, the Force is strong with this one. Amazing shots!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Andre. Was trying to be as honest as I can. I did notice some softness. And most importantly all the images were not processed and no additional sharpening was added.

      Delete
  22. Hi Robin - great pictures, great comments
    I prefer real life examples to sterile technical shots to introduce a new lens
    it's like a teaser of what you can hope to get out of the lens (and thankfully with some comments about your shooting technique - handheld, flash always on and held off camera... )

    Any chance to compare this to the Panasonic Leica 45mm/2.8 macro ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Peter, my blog is mostly about practical application and shooting in real life world conditions.

      I strongly believe a fellow Malaysian photographer who is also reviewing the same lens, Ming Thein, will be comparing the 60mm F2.8 macro head on to the 45mm F2.8 in his Part 2, should be released within a day's time.

      Check out his blog and do say hi!

      http://blog.mingthein.com

      Delete
  23. With the introduction of the Oly 75mm lens, I discovered your reviews/pics and have benefitted greatly from them (purchased the 75mm). Thank You so much! Your insect shots with the 60mm macro are amazing! I shoot with a GH2 and Panny 45mm macro and am curious if the Oly 60mm is sharper. Impressive that you are a skillful photographer, reviewer, and yet humble. I look forward to your future reviews.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Monkeyarms,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. May I point you to a friend and fellow reviewer of the same lens, Ming Thein, I strongly believe he will be comparing the 60mm F2.8 against the 45mm F2.8 lens. It should be up very soon.
      http://blog.mingthein.com

      Delete
  24. Thanks Robin, checking his blog right now.
    It says "Come back again tomorrow for part two: a four way shootout between the M.Zuiko Digital 60/2.8 macro, Panasonic Leica 45/2.8 Macro-Elmarit, Zeiss ZF.2 2/50 Makro-Planar and Nikon AFS 60/2.8 G Micro!" - so exactly what I needed.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peter, I myself, am excited and can't wait for Ming's Part 2 !

      Delete
  25. OMG Robin!!! The pictures are so clear, so much detail! What an awesome lens. :D On my must get list already. Haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Carmen!!!! That lens is very very sharp!!!

      Delete
  26. Thanks Robin, again a superb review with superb sample pictures. Thanks also for providing the above links. I wonder how this lens perform in portraits.

    Best regards,

    Marcelo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Marcelo,
      thanks for the compliments. I shall be shooting non macro.subjects including plenty of people in part 2 of my review. coming soon!

      Delete
  27. Thanks Robin. It was a nice and plain review. Just wonder a) if you recorded a macro movie b) whether performance of IBIS in macro is as decent as it is with the other lenses / focal lengths. Would be delighted if you can comment...

    Best wishes from Turkey...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello barbar,
      the video movie test has been.done.by my fellow friends at zuikoholics. check out their review of the lens, http://zuikoholics.wordpress.com

      Delete
    2. For the image stabilization, I was using E-M5, hence it was very effective. I did not try the lens on older micro 4/3 bodies.

      Delete
  28. This is a good review indeed for the lens. Thanks for this, Robin. I've always been a fan of macro photography seeing this kind of sharpness on a M.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 is really fascinating. But i have to admit the flaw when it comes to 1:1 ratio magnification. Does this come too often when shooting down to that ratio? I mean the Moiré pattern. Other then that, I'm stunningly impressed. Good job Robin. Thumbs up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words. Indeed the image quality is indeed impressive. The moire does happen more frequent than I would like, but it is still controllable, and should not be too much of a problem.

      Delete
  29. Robin, I am shaking my head vigorously through out the blog. This lens is not beating 50/f2 at f8 or higher.I know the IQ of 50/f2 inside out all the way from f2 to f11. I dont believe the 60/f2.8 threatens its IQ based on what I have seen here. I just wont believe that its your technique- you have a very nice macro style, its gotta be the lens thats letting you down! The close up image of dragon fly that you have labelled as"1/125sec, F/14, ISO200, Image Sample 4 taken at 1:1 full magnification" is no where close to the details from 50/f2 shot at 1:1. Just compare that shot with this shot of E-m5 + 50/f2 + EX-25:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bhooshaniyer/7976083798/in/set-72157631510721235

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bhooshaniyer/7999839865/in/photostream


    The two shot are comparable in exif, magnification and camera. ONly thing that changes is the lens and slight variation in aperture. But look at the difference in details!!



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Booshan
      The 50mm F2 macro seems to have some advantage when shooting at higher magnifications than the 60mm F2.8, that was what I have mentioned.
      However, do take note of several items:
      1) no sharpening was applied to my photographs. It was straight out of camera.
      2) The photographs used in comparison was composed in a very different manner. I shot from the side, while you shot from front head on, which should be able to allow for more depth of field, even at lower F/number. In my shot, less zone was in focus.
      3) F/11 and F/14 can yield a whole world of difference in terms of diffraction.

      Well I can go on and on, but the photograph you have shown is not exactly suitable for comparison, and it was not exactly fair.

      Delete
    2. Hello Robin, I grant you the point on sharpening in PP but over all I am not seeing the killer punch in the pictures that it puts it over the 50/f2.I also grant that the bacjground color rendering of the 60/2.8 is more warmer(like you put it), richer and artistic. Perhaps its the autofocus and usability factors that creating so much favourability among all 3 reviewers! Because IQ wise I am not seeing anything that the 50/f2 couldnt do. I may have a problem with the clear pronouncement of a winner here- but heck, its a great review and quick turn around from all 3 of you! Bhooshan

      Delete
    3. NO worries booshan. Nonetheless, as a macro lens, the 50mm F2 is still a very good lens. I am still loving it, and I foresee using it for a long time to come.

      Delete
  30. Realy Nice work Robin, a very inspiring blogg With impressive Pictures! :) Keep up the good work!
    Best regards
    Norway - Terje

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent review (as ever)... I can't help but wonder how this lens performs for portraiture, with the lens working at the "sweet spot".

      Thanks

      Graham

      Delete
    2. Thanks Graham,
      The Part 2 of my review for the 60mm is up, and there's plenty of portrait shots there.

      Delete
  31. Reading Robin's review is like looking at his photographes: a 'joy'.
    Thank you so much for this informative review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ricci. I did enjoy shooting and doing the review very, very much.

      Delete
  32. Thanks Robin for the great review. I am really looking forward to your part 2. Is it coming today?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sammerize,
      It has just been updated minutes ago !! Hope you enjoy reading it ! Cheers

      Delete
  33. It's a pleasure reading your review on the 60mm/2.8 micro lens. I like your technique and style of photography. The lens is very sharp indeed as seen in the images posted by you. Yes, diffraction kicks in when it is stop down to f:11 and beyond. Due to the M4/3 sensor size you need not close down compare to full frame 35mm.

    You have not wrote much on the focusing of the lens. Is it focus-by-wire as do the 45mm/1.8? Have you try out the manual focusing ring on its ease of use in macro works? I might consider getting it too provided the focusing is friendly. The Canon 100mm f;2.8L (which I owned) focusing ring sucks, the turns on the focusing ring do not have good tolerance for macro works.

    Thanks,
    Alex Foong

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Alex,
      Thanks for the kind words, it was my pleasure to shoot and share my thoughts.
      Yes the lens is like all Olympus lenses, uses focus by wire. The focusing is very friendly, but you might want to use the AF too, unless you do extreme magnification like more than 1:2.

      Delete
  34. Great review and nice picture!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi Robin ,Thanks for the review,since buying my om-d e-m5 I have been getting back into photography after using top end canon point and shoot for the last 7 years and good old SLR film for the 20 years before that.I love the size,I.Q.and the usability of the micro 4/3 system and never got into digital SLR as to heavy and bulky for me.I will definitely be buying the 60mm macro after reading this and Ming Thein's review(thanks for the link).I know it might sound a bit over the top but I actually get more emotionally involved with this camera than with any I have used before!I take lots of photos on boats(I am a fisherman in Tasmania)and find the IBIS system incredible,at 150mm and on a rocking vessel it still gives me a sharp picture.Thanks again for the time put in to do this review,Tony

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Tony,
      It was my pleasure to do the review, and I am very glad that you have rediscovered the joy of photography again, and taking more photographs with the OM-D. It is a great camera that encourages the user to shoot more, and yes, like you have mentioned, it works wonders too.
      Keep shooting more, and using photography alongside your passion which is fishing, I actually cannot think of better ways to ask people to shoot !!

      Delete
  36. Hi Robin,

    I really admire your work and your reviews on Olympus.
    Since you are using Olympus flash light FL-36R on your macro photography shoot, I would like to know what is your preference in general for flash light option between FL-600R and FL-36R in the micro 4/3 photography? And why? Currently, I am shooting with E-PM1, and will upgrade to OM-D soon; that is the reason why i would like to know what do you think of and your opinion on these flashes for general photography.

    Best Regards,
    swong

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hello swong,
      I apologize for getting back to you here late. I prioritize newer blog updates, and I only occassionally roam into my older entries. You see in my blog I have more than a thousand entries now, so I need to pay attention to the newer ones first.
      There is no preference. When I bought FL36R 3 years ago, I only had two choices, FL36R or FL50R, and I was under budget constraint, hence I opted for FL36R. If I have a choice today, under better financial conditions, I would surely go for FL600R.

      Delete
  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Dear Robin
    I got my e-m5 before a holiday to Norway this summer. And i love the e-m5. I have read all you reviews with great interrest, and your positive results and great pictures did influence my selection of the om-d, i must confess.

    I visited K.L. last summer (with my old OLY 8080) so I also enjoyed your pictures from the many sites and of the people of your city.

    Now to the question: Have you done any side by side comparisons of pictures taken with the new macro lense and that of the macro mode in the 12-50 lense like You did with the Leica?

    P.S: I'm looking forward to the time where Olympus will launch a BLACK 45mm/1:8 - if that moment will ever happen, I will by it 10 seconds later. Again your street photos is the best recommendation of that little wonder. ;-)
    Regards Jan M

    ReplyDelete
  39. Great review Robin - linking this to my "list project" @ mu43.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  40. Excellent review, Robin! As a Pentax K-5 user, I am most into image sharpness, as you can see from my work at totalqualityphoto.com. My qeuestion is whether these images from the OM-D EM-5 (and Oly 60mm macro) can be enlarged to around 16x20 and beyond, while retaining the great sharpness I see here. I can enlarge my Pentx K-5 (APS-C) files to 24x36 and still retain great sharpness. If your anser is yes, then I shall strongly consider this m4/3 system! (Also, I wonder how this Oly 60mm macro compares in terms of sharpness to the Oly 75mm, which I understand is also extremely sharp! Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
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  49. Looks like you got some nasty spam comments. But I'd still like to comment on this as well: What you said about the 1:1 reproduction being a bit less than you would expect when seeing the 1:2 results made me wonder. Is the amount of detail in the 1:2 shots about the same as what you see on the 1:1 shots of the same subject? Or is there still improvement in detail resolution all the way to the 1:1 setting, being it at a less steep curve than you were hoping for? Otherwise you could just crop your 1:2 images instead of using the lens on the 1:1 setting...

    Thanks, greetings,

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    Can you tell me how you are triggering the flash with your om-d? Are you using the clip on flash?

    All the best,

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