Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 Review: Macro Shooting at Butterfly Park, KL

Side Note:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and developed to JPEG in Olympus Viewer 2.
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color set to OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. Minimal post-processing applied to the images. Only exposure compensation (brightness/contrast) and cropping performed for better consistency and overall presentation. Apart from that, the images were as good as straight out of camera (color and sharpness)

Today I was contacted by Olympus Malaysia, the newly launched Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 was finally available for my testing and review purposes.

Only F3.5-6.3?

A lot of buzz has been surrounding this new lens since its announcement, particularly the negative reaction towards the slow aperture range of F3.5-6.3. That alone is sufficient reason for many people to look away from the lens, and I must admit I cannot blame the crowd, expectations of larger aperture lenses have been the craze as of late. I personally think that Olympus has always prioritized size/weight over performance ratio, thus keeping the size small enough and comfortable enough to be used on the current PEN micro 4/3 bodies, the F2.8 constant aperture that everyone wanted would have doubled the size and weight, making it impractical at this stage. I dare admit that I too, wish that the lens had been wider in aperture, but I am not the lens maker, and we were given this new lens as an option. Choices are good, and we should not turn down this lens so quickly, even before looking at the other good things that it brings.

User-experience based review

As a reminder, and a note to first time visitors, this review will be written from a photography-enthusiast’s point of view. This will be a user experience based review, sharing on what I think and feel using the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 mounted on PEN E-P3 in real life shooting situations. Therefore, this is not a technical review as there will not be elaborative technical explanations, such as explanation of corner softness, optimum aperture range, chromatic aberration and so forth. In addition to that, I will not be doing direct side by side image and performance comparisons with other lenses. What I am presenting in this entry is merely what I can do with the Olympus 12-50mm lens for my usual shutter therapy session.

I am NOT bought, I do this because I WANT to.

Also, many discussions on online photography communities (forums) have come to my attention that some people claimed my opinion is biased and bought. No one bought my opinion. In fact, I am doing all this review work for FREE. Yes, I received a free Olympus E-5, which was actually in a form of payment for some photographs that Olympus Japan bought from me for their advertising use. I have not received anything else from Olympus ever since. I did not even expect any of you to click anything on my blog that links to online stores such as Ebay, Adorama or B&W, simply because I refuse to advertise on my blog. If that is not enough to convince you I am independent and free of any commercial ties, I do not know what else to say. You do not have to give me anything in return, I do the review simply because I love doing it, and I know this will be helpful to many others who have considerations on purchasing the lens. I am only doing my small part in sharing my passion and love for photography, and contribute in whatever ways I can to the society.

I am an Olympus user, and I love Olympus, that is no secret. I know Olympus camera systems inside out. I know the hidden settings, and how to optimize the camera setup to get the best results. Though my opinion may sound “overly glowing” when I said good things about Olympus products, rest assured that my photography work does not lie. The photographs taken by the camera and lens speak for themselves, You do not have to agree with my write-ups, but please, just look at the photographs, because my reviews are mostly heavily photography oriented. Judge the photographs for yourself, not me.

Phewww, now that we have cleared the old cob-webs, lets get on to the interesting part !!

So what is so special about this new Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 that made it stand out from typical standard zoom lenses?

1) 12mm wide angle. This provides good wide angle coverage, a lot more generous than the previous kit lenses at 14mm

2) The lens is fully weather sealed from moisture and dust.

3) Motorized zoom (power controlled zoom), desirable for smooth zooming action especially in video recording purposes.

4) Macro capability of magnification up to 0.36x (on 35mm equivalent format, its 0.72x due to 2x equivalent field of view on Olympus micro 4/3 sensor)

5) Linear motor drive for focusing, promising silent and faster AF (fastest of all Olympus lenses up to date).

This lens is very ambitious, it tries to do a lot, for just a mere standard zoom lens. For full specifications please go to the Olympus Official Website here (click).

I shall break down my review write-up into two (I will add more if I have the time) parts:

Review Part 1:
To try the Macro Capability of the Lens
To test the sharpness and overall image quality of the 12-50mm optics
Overall lens performance, handling and focusing for macro shooting

Review Part 2:
Use of 12mm wide angle of the lens
Test shooting on Landscape and Scenery

1/60s, F11, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Autofocus

1/80s, F8, ISO200, Built in Pop Up Flash, Autofocus

1/160s, F8, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Autofocus

1/125s, F8, ISO400, Built in Pop Up Flash, Autofocus

1/60s, F10, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Autofocus

1/60s, F10, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Autofocus

In today’s session, I have brought the M.Zuiko 12-50mm mounted on the E-P3 for a spin in Butterfly Park, Kuala Lumpur. I only had one purpose in mind, to test the lens purely for macro shooting. I fully understand that this is NOT a macro lens, and it does not even come close to the qualification of a true macro lens (having minimum magnification factor of 1 to 1 true life size). However, having maximum magnification factor of 0.36x is very respectable for just a mere standard zoom lens, and this translates to practical usage of 0.72x (2x equivalent field of view for micro 4/3 and 4/3 sensors), which can generate very decent close up shots, if used correctly. I have always loved shooting macro, and I one of the best ways to test how good the optical quality of the lens is to squeeze out all the pixels that the lens can capture from a macro shooting workout.

Macro Shooting Gear Setup and Settings

Here is my setup for the macro shooting session, which is my usual macro shooting technique which I have been using for quite a while now:

1) Olympus PEN E-P3 with the M.Zuiko 12-50mm lens mounted 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. I have al-cheapo omnibounce flash diffuser cap on the flash head all the time. The flash was aimed at the subject mostly from the side, slightly above their head level.

3) General camera settings - Manual Exposure: Shutter Speed from 1/100sec to 1/125 sec (to capture a little bit of ambient light, if possible for a more natural look), Aperture from F/8-F/13 (to control and maximize depth of field required), ISO200 to 400

4) Manual Focus, with the lens set to the amount of magnification required, mostly full 0.36x magnification. 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.

5) Autofocus, when I do not intend to shoot at full magnification.

1/180s, F6, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Autofocus

1/125s, F13, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Autofocus

100% Crop from previous image

1/160s, F9, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Autofocus

1/125s, F11, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Manual Focus

1/100s, F11, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Manual Focus

1/100s, F13, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Manual Focus

100% Crop from the previous image

Shooting Macro with the 12-50mm lens

To activate the macro mode, you have to press and hold the “macro” button on the lens, and slide the zoom ring down until the word “macro” appears on the mode indicator. (don’t worry, once you have the lens you will know how this operates, its very straightforward). When the macro mode is activated, the lens is fixed to 43mm focal length, and there is no capability to zoom in this shooting mode. 43mm is good enough, providing sufficient working distance between the front of the lens and the subject. Minimum focusing distance would be approximately 20cm.

If you have shot with the older versions of the kit lenses for PEN (all generations), the 14-42mm, you would know the suffering when it comes to close up shooting, when the focusing always fail to lock on the nearest target, struggling most of the time, and even when it finally locked the focus, it was always not that accurate. It is good to find that the focusing works flawlessly even in macro shooting mode for the 12-50mm lens, which was a huge improvement when it comes to user experience.  I no longer have to use manual focus override all the time, and the focusing was actually reliable enough for me to nail high hit rates. Nonetheless, the camera will only autofocus on whatever that is nearest to the lens, and there are situations when that is not the point of interest, hence I still needed to do manual focus in some of my shots. But to know that the AF has improved significantly especially for close up shooting, this is certainly good news to all.

I find that the lens to be just the right size and weight, though I know we all wish it to be smaller. It feels good on hand, and it is a lot more reassuring in comparison to the old plasticky feel of the 14-42mm lens. Handling with this lens is quite balanced with the weight of the E-P3, I cannot say the same with smaller and lighter bodies such as E-PL3 or E-PM1, because E-P3’s metal body has sufficient bulk to counter the extra weight of the lens. I have no problem holding the 12-50mm lens mounted on the E-P3 single handedly by my right hand.

1/125s, F11, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Manual Focus

100% crop from previous image. Focus was slightly off, to the lower fang, instead of the eyes. User error.

1/100s, F10, ISO320, Wireless TTL Flash, Autofocus

Same butterfly as the previous image, but now, at FULL magnification of 0.36x.

1/80s, F11, ISO320, Wireless TTL Flash, Manual Focus

100& Crop of the previous image

Now, lets go further than 100%, and see how much more details we can pull out of this lens.

200% crop, of the same image as the one before this. I know this is not necessary, but still, the patterns of the eye is fully visible !!

1/100s, F11, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Manual Focus

Lens Sharpness

For a standard zoom lens, the sharpness that this lens produces is very remarkable. Although it is not a true macro lens, the amount of details it captured is sufficient for some minor cropping works and the images would still appear very decent. Pixel peeping on the images I have shot revealed that this lens is no slouch when it comes to delivering the famous Olympus Zuiko zoom lens’ sharpness. I am generally very satisfied with the optical quality of this lens. Now, if you can find a standard zoom lens at the same price range from any other rival manufacturers, and use it for close up/macro shooting, show me if there is any better lens than what this 12-50mm lens can do.

Please take note that I have turned off the noise filter entirely, hence the images may exhibit more coarse JPEG compression artifacts than usual. I understand some of you may scream until the windows shatter when you see the unbearable noise/sharpening artifacts (E-P3’s default sharpening is quite high). The problem can be fixed by reducing the sharpness settings or applying the noise filter to low. I find the noise filter in the E-P3 to be rather aggressive, even at the “low” setting, which would have eliminated much of the useful details. Therefore, I left the noise filter “off” to show all the captured details. The purpose of this part of review is not to produce award-winning, technically perfect images, but to show how sharp and how much details the 12-50mm lens can capture.

1/60s, F10, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Autofocus

1/60s, F10, ISO200, Wireless TTL Flash, Manual Focus

1/100s, F9, ISO320, Wireless TTL Flash, Autofocus

Is this lens sharper than the 45mm F1.8? I did not have the chance to do side by side comparison, but somehow based on the experience (my memory of course) I did feel that the 45mm F1.8 is a little bit crispier, and somehow the images had more punch than the 12-50mm. However, the 45mm is NOT a macro lens, thus both lenses serve their purposes very differently. I could be wrong in this regard, just the impression from my own user experience.

I know more and more questions will pop out of nowhere, like how does the 12-50mm compare to Zuiko 14-54mm, or the 12-60mm, in terms of image sharpness. To be honest, I am not here to do all the comparisons, and I do not have the time to carry out all that !! Please be reminded that this review is not meant to be a technical review, and I have minimized my comparisons. I prioritized what I loved to do best, which is shooting, and through shooting, I have shared the photography work and experience that came with the shooting with you all. That is the best I could do.

This is not the end of my review for the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. There will be a Part 2, so stay tuned people !!

At the mean time, if you have any questions or feedback, kindly leave a comment below, or email me directly at hamish7ian@gmail.com


  1. What a marvelous lens..kena poison lagi...heheh

    Olympus EPL-3

  2. Great review. I think this is another good lens from Olympus.

  3. Hafeez,
    Indeed the lens is very good. Can't wait to bring it out for another run.

    Hey Kelvin,
    Thanks !!

  4. I hope you did some street shooting with this lens. :) It was an interesting read. Waiting eagerly for part 2.

  5. I must say, I often come to your blog to see if you have any updates because I find them interesting and fun to read, and this also counts for your reviews. Congratulations with your birthday and best wishes for 2012

  6. Please note that the patterns of the eye (of the butterfly) look not really like the actual eyes facets. It looks more like a interference with the (sub)pixels of the sensor and the true pattern of the eye.

  7. hello bartosz,
    Thanks !! I will surely bring it out to the streets.

    Hello Eugene,
    Thanks for the kind compliments !! It was my pleasure to share my thoughts and experience on my reviews !!

  8. Robin,

    The 200% crop of eyes show strong Moire effects - something I experienced with E5 before. The pattern is most definitely not the insects. The ep3 must have a very light as filter aka the e5.

    I'd be interested if you shot raw and if this is recoverable.

  9. hello mark,
    thanks for highlighting the problem. I have suspicions that it was moire pattern too. It was shot in raw, but i converted the image directly, without any modifications. I want to show the images as truthfully as possible

  10. Robin, you can post all you want you are not bought and that's nice, but when anyone receives free equipment that is a conflict of interest. There are even studies how opinion gets influenced in subtle ways.

    Now, you may be objective (though you have posted a few things in the past that I don't quite agree with) but that's not the issue- the issue is that it does raise a valid question. Look up conflict of interest sometime.

    I am not trying to say your review is not valuable, but you seem very surprised that some people bring this up. Look up conflict of interest, you'll see why.

    1. Raist3d Really! Is that all you can contribute? This a review of a camera lens, not a fraud case in a court of law.

      Robin simply did some work for Olympus, once, does that make all his reviews questionable? If you think so, then leave the site and don't return. Others. like me will stay and look at the great photos Robin has offered for consideration.

      The more I read blogs the more irritated I get by people who don't focus on the real issues, be constructive (not necessarily positive) but for heavens sake stay on the subject and with that in mind....

      Robin, thanks for the great photos, they helped to put a highly technical review of the lens into perspective. I am a relatively beginner in photography and and want to move from a super zoom to a 4/3rds set up. If I go any bigger I know the camera will just stay at home ( and I've got plenty of photos of that already :-)) So size will always be a trade against IQ but your photos helped me to appreciate what the lens can do.

      Looking forward to part 2

  11. Great Stuff Robin... I appreciate your devotion and sharing of Knowledge with the Olympus Gear. I am an Oly Nut as well... Thanks so much

  12. raist,
    i never said i was surprised, i am fully aware of whats happening. Conflict of interest or not, those photographs were still taken with the real lens and camera. My opinions are only reports of my personal findings.
    What i am surprised about is how people can overlook my personal opinion and treat me as if i am like any other professional review sites, which i am clearly not. This blog is a personal blog and its only fair to say that its contents reflect my own thoughts only.

    1. Hey Robin, very good photos you've shared here. Don't get too worked out by opinions if you intent to write blogs for the public. For reasons rightly or wrongly focused and comments positively or negatively penned, you'll get people on each side of the fence. You're an engineer, so do you statistics and be proud that the mode is on the positive side regarding your blog. I am a newbie in photography and recently bought an EM1 but was troubled with making the decision to go for the kit lens 12-50mm or the pro lens 12-40mm F2.8. Your photos have given me clear confidence that I'll just be as happy with the 12-50mm and save the extra bucks for prime lenses should my skills improve overtime and my shooting style identified. Do you think this line of thinking makes sense? Thanks!

  13. This is the review i have been waiting for after reading the news that Olympus is launching the new lenses !! Actually buying one zoom lenses but with the extra excellent macro capability, i think really worthwhile to consider. But I just bought my second hand Lumix G3 (under budget constraint) last week, I think the G3, which without image stabilizer, will need to further increase the shutter speed or ISO to reduce the handshake, will further reduce the performance. what a pity for me ...

  14. BTW, do you know the price and launch date of this lenses? and also, i saw the L-Fn button, what is the function of this button?

  15. Nice review, very nice images. I can't get over how easy you find insects, especially to stay still long enough! I don't have this here in US. I feel you are mostly unbiased. I love Olympus stuff too and probably are biased to a degree but like you can be truthful regarding the shortcomings although there are not many.

  16. Nice review, very nice images. I can't get over how easy you find insects, especially to stay still long enough! I don't have this here in US. I feel you are mostly unbiased. I love Olympus stuff too and probably are biased to a degree but like you can be truthful regarding the shortcomings although there are not many.

  17. hello RickeyG,
    Thanks for the kind compliments !!

    Hello Dreamie,
    Thanks for the kind words. Yes on G3 you have to watch the shutter speed, but is suspect the handling would be even better due to the larger hand grip on the body, and the ergonomics which is similar to DSLR.
    I was told that the lens would be available in local stores (malaysia) in the mid of January next year. Pricing as of now (official from Oly Malaysia) is RM1699.

  18. Hello Carl,
    Thanks for the support, and kind compliments !!
    I understand that some may not agree with my sharing, which is fine and I am not troubled by that. Nonetheless what I am asking them to do is look beyond my "personal thoughts" and just see what the camera and lens can do, because thats what my review is all about, photos photos and more photos. It all comes down to what I can do with the lens at the end of the day, rather than just what I think about the lens.

  19. Hello Robin, I first came here for your review of the Oly 45mm a few months ago, but I stayed because of your beautiful pictures and specially for your wonderful insights on photography, particularly for beginners like myself.

    Now... darn you! I was just settled with my Panny 20mm and an old Vivitar 55mm Macro (plus a few more gifts I got this Christmas), and now you show these pictures that got me completely taken by gear lust again :)

    I was looking for something sharper than the kit 14-42mm, and having faster focusing and macro capabilities to kick in, this lens will probably make me poorer early next year :)

    Can't wait for the second part.

  20. Thanks dothraki,
    I appreciate your kind words.
    How is that vivitar macro lens performing? I am sure it is sharp as well, just the hassle of doing manual focusing but you get much better magnification.
    I am sure you will be happy with 12-50mm lens, if faster focusing (at all situations) and close up capability are your main concerns.
    The second part will not be up that soon. Do allow me some time to catch up with my own breath !!

  21. Robbin, I would like to continue this on e-mail if you don't mind. beep me at raist 3d at gmail dot com. (concatenate all the letters).

  22. Great, detailed and sharp images!

    For many of us shooting in low light conditions would love to know about the image quality shot aperture wide open.

    Any plans to post images with f/3.5 - f/4?


  23. Hi Robin,

    Interesting stuff, as usual. Your photos are great. I went to the butterfly park a few months ago with the E-P3 and 40-150, but really missed having macro capability.

    I do agree with your memory of the 45mm f1.8 - I think it is a touch sharper than the new zoom, although it does look good even at 100%.

    Just a couple of questions: a) what kind of external flash did you use? b) where did you get the E-P3? (I seem to recall that you own an E-PL1).

    I've given this review a mention on the dpreview.com forums.

  24. Hello EPL,
    Thanks !! I will surely shoot with the widest aperture in the coming entry. Part 2 will be up by this weekend.

    Hey Newzild,
    Glad to have you here again, thanks for the compliments and thanks for the link up on DPreview, though I am not sure how it would be received there.
    Now to answer your questions:

    1) The external flash was as indicated in the first photo, and as described in my macro shooting setup session: Olympus FL-36R

    2) I got the E-P3 loaned unit from Olympus, because I sort of miss the camera a lot.

  25. Great review! as always...
    I'm waiting for the other parts :)
    maybe you can get additional detail using a G3/GX1 16Mpxl sensor instead of the EP3...

  26. Hello Kralin,
    Thanks for the kind words.
    However, I do not have any other cameras to test. I have no connections to Panasonic. Even the E-P3 is a loaned unit.

  27. Great photos, first time I see your blog and I really enjoyed . I m waiting to see part 2.

  28. I always enjoy reading your reviews. They are more ' real life situations' . When this lens came out, I knew this is the perfect kit lens. Wider at the lower end plus macro capabilities, its unbeatable. Now I have a problem. I already have the 14-42 II kit lens and the MCON macro converter.
    Anyway thanks for the public service. I am waiting for review #2. Happy New Year.

  29. Hello and thank you for great photos. The only question is will macro mode work with Panasonic body?

  30. Hello William,
    Thanks !!

    Hello Anonymous,
    Thanks for the support, and dont worry about the 14-42 and the macro converter. If you think that so far that combo works, then there is no reason to upgrade.

    Hello Dmitry,
    Thanks !! It was my pleasure to do the review.
    Yes, the macro mode works with the Panasonic body. It was a mode to enable the lens to focus closer to the subject, which has nothing to do with the camera body.

  31. Eric from Edmonton Alberta12/29/2011 09:02:00 AM

    Hi Robin,

    I always check your website to keep me entertained and upto date with Olympus products. This lens is a great compliment to any micro 4/3 user. The macro capability is very good plus it's weather sealed. Makes u wonder that the PEN Pro is not far away. Looking forward to part 2 of ur review. Excellent user based review otherwise!!!

  32. hello eric,
    thank you so much for your constant support and encouragement!! I have enjoyed myself shooting and blogging about them, really happy that many find this useful and entertaining.
    Part 2 should be up by this weekend.

  33. Hello, Wong.

    I've heard this lens has power zoom ability but I can't understand how it works. Panny's X lens has zoom lever on the left side but this lens has macro and L-Fn button. How does it works? Is there a lever on the right side? I can't find 360-degree image so I can't figure it out. Please let me now!

  34. Hello 안틸레스.
    The power zoom is activated when you push the zoom ring slightly downwards until the display shows "E-Zoom". It is easier demonstrated than described here.
    When in "E-Zoom" mode, you only have to gently twist the zoom ring and the zooming will be performed electronically by the built in motor. Twisting it in a more rapid motion will increase its zooming speed.
    I am hoping to do a video to demonstrate how this works, if by the time I have done with Part 2 of my review, no one has demonstrated this online.

  35. Thanks, Wong!(I changed my nick to english) I can't wait for it as well as review part 2!

  36. "but when anyone receives free equipment"

    It wasn't free. He already explained that it was payment for use of his photographs. So maybe you can let that one rest?

  37. Hello Antilles,
    Thanks !! Should be up this weekend, I am doing my best.

    Hello Zaph,
    Thanks for agreeing, and for the show of support !!

  38. Robin, thanks! You made my day =) I wanted to order Panaleica 45mm macro and now I'll wait for that great Olympus lens!
    BTW did you try Panasonic G3 or GX1?

  39. bro,
    how does the lens fare in low light shooting? Hope you have time to do some testing for me. =)

  40. hi Dmitry,
    Sorry I do not have any Panasonic cameras to test out.

    hello Xav,
    I will be shooting again for the coming Part 2 of the review. Will keep the low light shooting in mind. Thanks.

  41. Hi Robin,

    Most comments at the other website are complimentary - at least, they are complimentary about your photography, if not about the lens...

    I've never shot macro and am keen to give it a try, but the Panny 45mm f2.8 is too expensive, and I don't think I'll buy this Olympus kit lens just for its macro ability, so...

    Today I sprang $60 for a Marumi 200 diopter. Will see how that works on the 40-150.

    Macro will be a real challenge for me, especially using flash (I've always been a natural light guy). Anyhow, I've gained some inspiration and a few tips from your reviews - good to see Micro Four Thirds can produce great macro results.

  42. You nailed that dragonfly shot! Great review.

  43. Hello Newzild,
    Thanks for the kind words, and yes, thankfully most response has been rather positive !!

    if you do not shoot macro all the time it is not worth to get the Panny 45mm F2.8, but if macro is your game then I am sure it will bring a lot of benefits !!

    It is my pleasure to share my techniques and tricks for shooting in this blog, and I hope you find some of them useful in your coming macro shooting !!

    Thanks !!

  44. Love the pix of the bugs, they are so cool!

    I only wanted to learn one single thing in your lens review, unfortunately it is either not there, or else I missed it somehow after reading the whole thing twice. So here it comes:

    Is this an internal zoom mechanism lens, whereby when you zoom from 12 to 50mm, the front element does not move out at all? Or is it the cheaper, old-school barreling/telescoping type of a zoom? If the latter, then how bad is zoom creep?

    If the lens has internal zooming mechanism, there would be no zoom creeping possible, as the lens would always remain the same fixed length. Big difference in design and usability, of course.


  45. Hi Robin
    Happy 2012 and thanks for the lens review.

    You know there are lots of jealous guy envy of what you have done and your relationship with Oly. They can call you what they want said what they like. If they don't like what you do here they don't have to come to view you blog. No want hold a gun on their head to force them to come here.
    You can ignore them too this is a free world.

    Someone on another forum said you are Olympus best saleman who take no salary. He said it with a compliment and he hope there are more people like you.

    Keep up the great work and when you think you are doing the right thing that is what really count.

    I have one question that is when this lens is set on macro what is the max aperture? 5.6 or 6.3

  46. Hello F.Carver,
    Thanks for the kind compliments !!
    Yes the lens has internal zoom mechanism, meaning the lens' length is fixed, and there is no extension when zooming in from 12mm to 50mm.
    It also has internal focusing, meaning the front element will not rotate when AF is performed.

  47. Hello Cha,
    Thank you so much for the show of support and words of encouragement. Yes I follow the happenings in DPreview forums, and I am aware of the discussion going on there. Thanks for highlighting the kind comment from one of the good guys.
    When you set the lens to macro mode, it will be locked to 43mm focal length, which corresponds to F6.0 maximum aperture opening.
    Happy New Year to you too !!

  48. Thank you for that, Robin, I was stunned actually when I called Olympus America exactly about this internal zoom or telescoping zoom question on Friday (Dec, 30th), and they had not clue at all.

    But given that the zoom is internal and and focus is also internal focus, that is why it can be classified as weather sealed. I would have thought that they (Olympus) would mention this nice fact on the product page. This zoom is no finally cine-lens class and professional video lens class in its design. Too bad that it is so very dark.

    Incidentally, I know about the variable speed zooming by turning the rearmost ring, but how about turning the zoom ring manually for a traditional manual control zooming -- is that also possible, or only the servo?

    Maybe Oly will give as an F2.8-3.5 version soon?

  49. Hello F.Carver,
    I think that Olympus has distributed only limited copies of 12-50mm, and not many people have encountered the lens, especially the customer service department whom you have called (my guess). It is a very new lens, not many information is available.
    Yes, there is an option to operate the zoom ring manually, or to use the power zoom. I still prefer to zoom the lens manually though.
    Faster zoom lenses? Lets hope they will come up with something !! I am sure we all WANT it.

  50. Great photos Robin, though I can't say I am really into this new lens. I love that m4/3 is getting weather sealed lenses though! I am now looking into getting a m4/3 camera soon! Maybe an E-PL2 and some small manual focus lenses. I really want something inconspicuous to shoot photos with on walks hiking.

  51. Hello Ian,
    Great to hear from you again. Thanks for the kind comments !!
    Indeed a smaller micro 4/3 camera is very tempting. E-PL2 is a great choice, but have you tried the newer E-PL3 and the E-PM1? Their focusing speed has improved dramatically.
    If you intend to do manual focus a lot (since you will get some nice manual lenses), do consider the EVF, it helps tonnes when I do manual focus on those tiny insects.

  52. I have to say I'm stunned by the photos you have shared.
    The lens seems awesome.

  53. Hi Robin,

    You obviously have an enviable relationship with Oly, and whilst I doubt you're completely unbiased, your photos really speak for themselves.

    I own and love a Pana GF-1, but have been waiting for a pro Oly body like a smaller E5. I pre-ordered the OMD and 12-50 but have read one review of the lens which showed it to be no better than the kit lens (14-42).

    However, 24-100mm equiv' coupled with weather sealing, super fast AF, power zoom for video and now having seen your incredible macro shots, have made me sure I've done right ordering the kit (Lens half normal price in kit, also got the 2 grips free for pre-ordering).

    Whatever your connection with Oly, as a big Oly and 4/3 fan myself, I don't really care and can't wait for part 2. I've bookmarked your blog and will send you some photos once I get my OMD, thanks!

  54. I love photographing bugs! This is the third post you have done that makes me happy that my E-M5 with the 12-50mm is preordered. As I said in a previous comment, I usually use my 20mm Pannie f1.7 and the Oly 45mm 1.8. But as I don't have the nice 12mm f1.8 and can't presently afford it, the 12mm 3.5 on the zoom will come in handy, especially given the low light performance of the new camera. I haven't been this excited about a camera since the E-P1

  55. Those are freaking awesome photographs ! And I'm not even a bug lover... But that's just jaw dropping quality and detail there. Respect !

  56. Beautiful work! And even more impressive that you did it with "standard" equipment. A great example that the photographer's eye and technique/expertise/talent is so much more valuable than specs (tho' of course optics do help).

  57. Great work! Looking forward to your part 2. You've just nailed the new set for me (EM5 12-50).

  58. Thanks for your insightful reviews on Olympus products, Robin. I really enjoy reading your opinions and seeing your photography!

  59. Fantastisch Robin
    Wat een mooie foto's heb je met de 12-50 mm gemaakt
    Ik heb hem ook pas gekocht met de OM-D EM5 en de 45mm 1.8
    Ik hoop dat ik net zulke mooie foto's als u kan maken
    Hartelijke groeten uit Holland

  60. Hi Robin!

    Thanks for the great review! I have two questions though. If the lens is F3.5-6.3, how come you can use up to F11??

    I am doubting between the OM-D with this lens, or the Panasonic G5 with it's 14-42 lens kit, as the G5 is half of the price. Can you give me some advice?

    It would be great if you could answer me on my blog or email at OtherMix (at) live (.) nl, because blogspot has no reply notifications. If you have time to do so, it would be great! Thanks!

    Aside all that, you took great pictures! Wow!

  61. Nice pictures Robin,


    you shouldn't shoot butterflys with any flash because they could be blind after that.

    Please think oft this. It was told me in the butterfly park in Wittenberg (where is it not allowed to use a flash).


  62. Highly descriptive article, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a
    part 2?

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  65. I am trying on the macro setting of this lens on my OMD however it is failed to have such a sharpness of the photos as you shoot. I think it might be my skills problem. Pls feel free to have a look on my pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cammy90210/8611537011/ and pls give your professional advice. Thanks a lot!!

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  71. Some different web pages i read about this lens not good comments ! But here it is looking very good. This macro photos is wonderful for me. Thanks for this very good review.

  72. Thanks for the nice review. U had helped me to make up my mind on buy a OMD EM5 with it kit lens. Just a quick question, did you use any trigger when using TTL flash on your left hand?


  73. The quality of your images speaks for itself.
    Even if Olympus paid you a million, a billion or a trillion, so long as you took those shots yourself with the gear as you state (and I don't doubt you at all) ... then so what?

    I've just bought an OM-D with above lens and now have a very steep learning curve ahead ... my first camera was a Brownie 127, my first real camera a Yashica Electro 35, my first reflex an Olympus OM2N. When I went digital it was with an Olympus C-740 UZ. I admit to having dabbled over the years with other brands but nothing can beat Olympus; I have been very well served. You have helped me a great amount already, for which I thank you.

  74. Hello Robin,

    don't use a flash for butterflys! They can be blind because the flash destroys their eyes.


  75. Thanks for doing such a great review. Cant wait to try it out on my new EM5 Mkii

  76. Thanks for doing such a great review. Cant wait to try it out on my new EM5 Mkii

  77. Thanks Robin

    Astonishing photos and useful discussion.

    I have only recently found your blog and now go to it first for sensible comment. We have EP1 and EPL1 and I have EPL5 arriving (I also buy Macs from eBay, when others are rushing for the new).

    I have noted on some newer pages that you have added a top note about your position with Olympus which is valuable. But it's very obvious that your opinions, while filled with affection for Olympus, are independent and intelligent. Thanks for that

    - in Australia: http://ongoingtomexico.blogspot.com.au/ - the 'street' shots are EP! with Lumix 14mm pancake, hip level, learned pointing and you can feel through your hand the focus delay... I'm not fussed about eyepieces and LCDs. You can see what's in front of you, you can learn to point from the hip, overhead you only need one or two trees or people or things to know if the camera is pointed in the right direction, if you are mainly looking in front of you. But I am bringing the gear up a notch :-)

  78. Hi Robin. Any idea what's the maximum magnification of the lens if the macro mode is turned off?

  79. Hi Robin. Any idea what's the maximum magnification of the lens if the macro mode is turned off?

  80. I think a clear description on the lens which came with my OMDE 5. But I need all the help I can with my camera.

  81. Just starting to discover this lense and my new Olympus caméra. Thanks Robin for such important and valuable info found on your blog.

  82. is this M.Zuiko Kit lens 12-50 mm is good value for advance photographer to invest and use it on their older EM 5 Mk1/ 2 for street photography? What is the new market price for this kit lens in today year 2020? If I said RM 700 for this new lens is extremely value for money buy, what do you think, Robin??

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