The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro: Doing more than macro in M4/3 format.

It may be the most curious looking lens of the entire Olympus optical line up for M4/3 format camera. Strange may be also another epitheth to describe it. Its physical aspect with its non-obvious function dials are giving to the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro lens a more confidential reputation based for a good part to its specialized first task intended i.e. macrophotography.

Close focusing photography has been always of a great interest for me as for many of us. Subjects in that field are infinite with various points of view. On a purely documentary side doing macro photography was at first on the scientific priority but very early on following the first spreading of the new medium we have seen beautiful artistic black and white and later on colourful macrophotographic pictures. We may qualify them as the prelude of abstract photography.

 

Although many fine lenses designed for more general purpose can produce very fine close focusing pictures camera and lens manufacturers had soon beging to offer specific macro lenses calculated mostly to cope the flat field exigence of reproduction purpose. That trend has been observed throughout the technical evolution of the photographic equipment. Today macro lenses are current part of many photo arsenal of photographers around the world.

Into the M4/3 format lenses you can rely on different models part of the Olympus and Panasonic line-up. All of them are exceptional contenders of their own. Normal focal ones such as the 30mm length are more suited to be versatile as macro and everyday lenses. Long focal counterparts such as 45mm and 60mm may represent a more powerful alternative for doing very small and near object or better tool for studio and reproduction works.

The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro represent a very interesting lens with close focusing ability at first and unprecedented characteristics such as its longer focal length and its all-weather construction. With an angle of view of 20 degrees it surpass many short telephoto for portrait work. Even with a maximum aperture of F2.8 it can be use for action photography in normal daylight condition. Of course close focusing can be its primary advantage combined by the fact that its longer focal length prevent most of its potential obstruction of light on the close subject.

Maybe the most spectacular part of the Olympus 60mm Macro is its oddly aspect if you compare it with others lens designs. But in the past many macro lenses had and still have that kind of visual aspect. I have to concede that it is not the most discrete optic I have ever used.

As for most telephoto macro lenses the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro is a very creative tool and versatile because of its close focusing ability. If you accept the fix focal length factor you will find many ways to produce very original pictures that emphasize your main subject. As usual telephoto lenses can be also very competent for doing landscape or urbanscape photography with their dramatizing compression of many subjects in one frame.

The Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens is a small optic which is part a the traditional M4/3 format line of prime lenses. With a focal length of 60mm it is magnification factor of 2.4X compare to a standard lens (25mm) with an angle of view of 20 degrees which is qualified the optic for portrait or for small telephoto work. At 185g it is also a very light package easy to bring with you as an extra lens but you have to pay more attention to your stability in use since it is not possible to count on its own weight inertia (like bigger telephoto counterparts), In that case the camera stabilisation option is a welcome feature.

Manual focusing can be performed nicely through its large and very smooth focusing ring. Using the 60mm with the OM-D E-M5 II and its EVF (Electronic ViewFinder) is easy and the image is clear and accurate in most photographic situations. Focusing speed is surprisely responsive for this type of (macro) optic and it qualify the 60mm Macro lens for all other subjects associated with the use of a medium telephoto.  And yes the use of the limiter dial can save you time (and picture opportunities!) if it is applied in the good working context. The reproduction ratio scale is an amusing gadget also.

Typical third-party screw-in (46mm) metal lens hood
for telephoto. (Always check for trace of vignetting)

There is always that annoying discussion about the utility of using a lens hood with the 60mm since Olympus does not provide one with the lens (which is also very annoying…) My answer is simple: if you can afford to buy and bring one dont prevent yourself to do so. I have found the Olympus official lens hood to be a clever design (like the one that came right from the box for the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F.2.8 Pro model !) but you may consider some third party options less pricy and less bulk
y available through the Web. Essentially lens hoods are preventing some lens internal reflections (flare) especially when you are pointing in direction of punctual light sources.

The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro is a very fine lens as it is intended to be. We are reaching pro level image results. Picture are crisp and rightly detailed. Colours are accurate and follow the Olympus expected bias without any adaptation compare to the other lenses of the Olympus line up. Out of focus areas are pleasant even considering the moderate maximum aperture of the lens.
The macro ability of this 60mm is flawless and enhanced by the longer focal length that reduce the risk of interfering with the subject light.

In bref it is fair to consider the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro lens as an all-around medium telephoto optic with very handy macro possibilities but also nice other abilities such as for spontaneous photography, portrait or even action subject.

 

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Green light for the Panasonic Lumix G85 (G80)

The Panasonic Lumix G85: the genius with modesty!

 

 

Selecting a Panasonic product will be the natural alternative in M4/3 format. Over the previous years I had the chance to own some of their most recent models such as the GX7, GM5 and GX85 that I have found equally competent products into their respective speciality field. And many reviewers have been impressed by the D-SLR like mirrorless Lumix G7. The Panasonic approach in designing cameras and lenses remind a lot the Leica way. Pure lines, basic controls, low profile presentation have been appreciated among spontaneous photographers for travel, street or casual portrait shooting.  Furthermore many Panasonic Lumix products are lightweight. It is true to add that the initial physical touch of their products seems to feel less robust than some similar competitor models but after the initial impression this perception tend to be forgotten in profit of the confort and the ergonomic of the Lumix products.

The Panasonic Lumix G85 is a D-SLR like mirrorless camera with practical virtues like a very secure handling (grip) along with control dials and fonction buttons that are easily reachable. Adding the optional power grip (DMW-BGG1) will simply give a longer battery life autonomy and a superior hand prehension when using larger lenses of external flashes.

Some aspects of the Lumix G85 have to be consider as inherent characteristics in parallel of the price point value of the model. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) for instance which very precise and handy for manual focusing is still more contrasty than the actual picture registered so appreciation can be falsely done. The LCD screen is a lot more accurate in that matter. The refresh rate frequency of the EVF is  on average and seems to slow down a bit in low light condition.

The Lumix G85 interface is reasonnabely intuitive et front forward as for the Quick Menu option. Controls dials and buttons are well located meanly on the right side of the camera and are configurable. The side door memory card access is also a nice touch. The LCD touch screen facilite the access to interesting fonctionnalities. Pivoting LCD screen is another practical option for videographers, macro photographers and photographers who like to simply protect and shut down the screen. As usual the custom camera configuration (C1, C2) allow you to program complex combinations and keep it for future frequent uses. Wifi interactions are also present with the Lumix G85 when you are using the appropriate Panasonic application for mobiles and tablets.


Small but fully appreciated attentions from Panasonic and the Lumix G85 are certainly the side door access to the memory card and the extra battery pack furnished free of charge with the vertical grip BGG-1 as for the lens hood which is also part of the whole package.

In-board flash option is another advantage if you want an easy fill-in light directly available. The Lumix can also manage an external flash in order to get a more powerful and versatile unit.

About the kit lens (Lumix G Vario12-60mm F3.5-5.6 Power OIS)
And dont prevent yourself to choose the Panasonic Lumix G85 kit that include the Lumix G Vario 12-60mm lens Power O.I.S. For the difference of selling price it is a steal. Although the Lumix 12-60mm is not particularly a fast lens it is a very versatile optic to carry all around. Its focal length equivalence in 35mm film format is 24-120mm which represent a very handy choice of angles of view and the G Vario 12-60mm can easily replace at least 2 or 3 prime lenses such as the 12mm, 15mm, 20mm, 25mm and 42.5mm but we must add with the expense of a much smaller maximum aperture. The imagery results from the 12-60mm will surprise you considering the dollars you have spent to get it.





Premium picture output on the spot!
Yes I am particularly pleased by the standard output issued from the Panasonic Lumix G85 both in colour and Black & White. And I must admit that I u
se almost exclusively Jpeg files over the RAW entertained option. It is a matter of personal choice to get fast and exploitable results to edit and share.
Exposure metering by the Panasonic Lumix G85 will give you a clear picture rendering but as usual I prefer to underexpose as far as minus 1 EV to get more profound colours and better details into the highlight areas. In doing so especially with JPEG files you will get a more useful chance to correct your exposure when you are editing your pictures. It follows the old slide film rule of metering your highlight and then correct your lowlight areas.

After working with the new Olympus E-M1 II for a few weeks I did received my new Panasonic Lumix G85 and right from the start everything was falling in place. I can get pleasant and prévisibles colour rendering and most important B&W pictures were again very impressive and comparable to Fujifilm rendering which I consider as one of the highest level standard in mirrorless camera offer.

Furthermore the Panasonic Lumix G85 is a bit less heavier body and that factor adds a lot to its duration confort especially if you carry most of the time the camera with one hand (to be ready to photograph on the spot…)

Another secret is the better interaction of the automatic white balance option of the Lumix G85 especially with mixed sources of domestic interior lightning and in particular with the new LED. In those cases the Olympus E-M1 II was really struggling to get a natural and balanced result. Automatic exposure accuracy of the Lumix G85 is asking less use of the manual exposure correction dial maybe because of its more general metering pattern nature.

Automatic focusing of the Lumix G85 is snappy and repetitive. The only exception will occur when you are facing low contrast subject with low light condition and even under those circonstances the Lumix G85 manage to do its focus eventually most of time. The continuous autofocus option may also struggle when you have a subject that tend to produce space erratic movements and as a result the system may shift from a subject to another. (In my sense you cannot call this “hunting the subject”) As usual manual pre-focusing techniques may a good alternative option for action photography.

A strong advantage of the Panasonic Lumix G85 is certainly its all-weather resistant construction that allows you to work in many adverse conditions without compromises and fear. It can sustain rain, freeze, snow but you have to remind you to combine its body with a lens that have the same ability like the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 OIS. Working with a AW camera such as the Lumix G85 is giving you the ability to bring the camera whatever is the environmental condition and in doing so it opens a lot a photographic possibilities neglected by others.

 

Green Light for the Panasonic Lumix G85

 


High ISO 3200 is very exploitable but you will loose some fine subject details…


At the end the Panasonic Lumix G85 is by far a more paisible instrument for the casual and expert photographer. It is a simpler package that give you fast and pleasant output with less fussy reconfiguration of the medium. It encourage you to bring the camera and experiment on the field by taking pictures. Photography has to be fun and rewarding and the Lumix G15 is perfectly adapted for that task. Dont prevent yourself to enjoy it.

Haro on the Panasonic Lumix G85 (G80)

The mid-range deep of field is on your side!

To Be or Not To Be (as for to have or not to have…)


Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm @ 42mm, 1/125sec F5.6 ISO200 Monochrome

There is the ones who are searching for the minimal deep-of-field and there is the others that are looking for a maximum deep-of-field. Portraits, sports, fashion are part of the first category and landscape, architectural, illustration are dedicated in the second type of photography. And to get such results within the traditional optical limitations i.e. maximum aperture in one case and less light diffraction in the other way you have to rely on specific cameras or/and lenses that may be expansive and far less versatile.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm @ 32mm, 1/125sec F5.6 ISO200

Since I am not very fond of big and costly photo equipment my answer to that challenge is simply the following. Why not exploring more abordable photo material and discover how to get image results that will fulfil those special tasks regarding the amount of deep-of-field (DOF) that will satisfy yours needs. Is it possible by using very basic optics such as so-call “kit” lenses? In my modest examples I have tried to outreach the usual standard imposed to these products.And dont forget in this digital world of wonders that most of the time “what you see is what you get” usually apply!

How can we definite mid-range deep-of-field (Mid-DOF)? Anything between two extreme: almost no deep-of-field or about infinite deep-of-field like in landscape photography. So Mid-DOF can be assimilated as an intermediate area between the closest and the longest(or infinite) distances. Most lenses for compact camera format (M4/3, APS-C and 24 X 36mm called wrongly “full-frame”) if not all have the ability to do mid-range deep-of-field by using their smaller aperture settings such as F4.0, 5.6, 8,0 or 11.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm @ 100mm, 1/800sec F7.1 ISO 200 Monochrome

The safety gap
If you are facing many various picture taking conditions it is good to rely on a certain deep-of-field margin. This “safety gap” ensure you that critical focusing is at least obtained for the principal subject  especially considering its volume aspect for example on a face, on objects with incrustations, etc. Sometimes you won’t be able or you will simply forget to double check the full clarity of your subject. This is why a mid-range deep-of-field will play as an insurance for your final image results.

Optical quality pick of the lens
Rarely you will get the optimum quality of your image by using the maximum aperture available on the lens. Furthermore we know already that the diffraction phenomena for an optics will appear by using its minimum aperture. So the best output will be registered in selecting the medium aperture such as F4.0, F5.6 or F8.0 on many lens model or even at F2.8 with lenses doted of a larger maximum aperture (F1.7, F1.8, F2.0).

Compactness
Lens models that are designed with a more moderate or modest maximum aperture are reckoned to be more compact and lighter package a big advantage if you have to carry them extendely. Their smaller size mean also more discretion or less intimidating aspect. All these consideration of better mobility and less carrying fatigue will be fully appreciated for your street or traveling photo projects or any other situation that required an additional effort from your part.

Good pricing on your part
Many moderate maximum aperture lens models are far less expensive compare to their “Pro” counterparts. Often they are available on special selling package with the camera at a ridiculous add-on price tag. I can recommend you without any doubts the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II R & 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ or the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm & 12-60mm both F3.5-5.6 OIS or the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 & 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 both OIS which are all excellent optical tools.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm @ 32mm, 1/320sec F5.6 ISO200

What you loose? Essentially a larger maximum aperture for a minimal DOF, a higher quality design and construction and often a better sealing protection for using the lenses in adverse conditions. But you will double or triple your price tag to get them. And you will have to bring them with you…

A picture should tell a story and that story can be very limited when you are selecting a very narrow deep of field or on the contrary the story can be very long (translate boring) if you choose an infinite deep of field. Something in between could be the best thing to do… The choice is yours but a mid-range deep of field choice is certainly on your side. And the beauty of
this is already available on the most affordable (kit) zoom lenses.