For over a year I have been thinking about picking up the Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens from Olympus, but never pulled the trigger. I decided before the trip to Estes Park that I should rent the lens from Borrow Lenses and evaluate if it would be worth the investment. I’ve been shooting with it off and on for the last three days, and I’ve decided. It’s time to buy. This lens has been a pure wonder. It’s super sharp, has great bokeh when wide open, and is completely versatile. From candid portraits, to landscapes, to panoramas, the lens can handle it all. Tonight’s test provide the clouds hold back, star trails.
After spending a total of seven hours of hiking through various trails at altitude it’s safe to say I had my ass handed to me. The photo below was at Lilly lake after hiking up to Jurassic Park trying to find rock climbers. No rock climbers, but a great view from the top was great.
This is a mallard duck couple over in the marshland South of Lilly Lake. The challenge, getting them to sit still, not fly off, or swim behind tall marsh grass. Using a tip from a wildlife photo blog I set the OMD to aperture priority, set the f-stop to f-11 and started shooting. The 150mm to 300mm did a great job and the OMD’s image stabilization saved me. This is all the way out at 300 with the birds at about 50 yards.
Minor post processing was done in Snap Seed on the iPad with a little tone adjustment.
One of the things I love about staying at Tim’s place in Estes Park, Colorado is the abundance of wildlife so close to the property. The image below was taken just a half mile from his house, South of the Lumpy Ridge Trail Head. I was testing out the 150 to 300mm (300 to 600 on a full frame DSLR) with the OMD.
The camera did a solid job of stabilizing the shot, but I need practice with the lens though. Especially at maximum focal length. The shot below has the lens all the way out. The coyote is about 75 yards away.
What I noticed was all the grass seems sharp, as well as the coyotes face. The mid section of his body seems a bit soft though. I think I need to increase shutter speed and find the sweet spot on an f-stop that renders sharpness across the depth of the frame.
Last week and over the weekend I spent about 4 days shooting images with the Olympus Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD Zoom Lens in Colorado. I rented this lens for wildlife and some landscape photography from borrowlenses.com and did it ever pay off. After the last 5 days with this lens, I want to buy it.
This is by no means a comprehensive review of Olympus’s 50 – 200mm f2.8 lens. It is a hands on review of this lens paired to my Olympus OMD EM5 using the micro 4/3 adapter for the lens. To keep things simple and to the point I am going to break down the pros and cons and post a few sample images with a brief overview.
First things first. If you rent this lens, or buy this lens make sure the firmware on your camera is up to date if you are using the micro 4/3 adapter. It will make all the difference with autofocus speeds with this lens. I found autofocus to be speeds to be adequate in bright light and open spaces. Where autofocus didn’t hold up was when I was shooting a subject where there were objects close to the subject or breaking into the frame. The lens simply couldn’t make up its mind on where to focus. This was really the case when the lens was zoomed all the way in. For most of my shooting I switched to manual focus. It was simply more accurate, and easier. If I had updated the OMD before I left, autofocus probably would have preformed better.
Second. This lens is big and heavy. It weighs in at two and a quarter pounds. If you are not used to using a lens that ways this much you’ll be in for a surprise. Collapsed it is almost seven inches long. Zoomed out, it is closer to ten. The lens hood will add another three. Be prepared to carry around a large, heavy lens.
Now with that said, the weight and size are a tribute to the quality of materials used in this lenses construction. It is a high-grade lens with a hefty amount of glass in it. Your payoff for all the weight and size is crisp, bright images with creamy bokeh when the aperture is fully open.
The minimum focus distance is just under four feet. When zoomed out and focused this close, the lens takes incredibly sharp macro images. When using it for distance shots, the zoom has incredible reach with the same level of detail found in those images as well.
Over the course of five days, half of the images I shot were with this lens. It provided me with a solid zoom that could be used to dial in on wildlife subjects that I just couldn’t get close to. I found this lens to be optically fast, precise, and accurate with sharpness and detail across the entire zoom range. In short I fell in love with it, even though I didn’t upgrade my camera firmware before putting it to use.
- Sharp images
- Fast aperture
- Great zoom reach
- Autofocus speed with 4/3 adapter
On the last day of the mini photo vacation, we ran into 5 or so Big Horn Sheep in Big Thompson Canyon. This is why I’m glad I rented the 50mm to 200mm lens for the OMD. I’m going to write up a review for the lens and using it with the OMD when I get back home later this week. Lemme just say, I think I might have a purchase coming in my future.
I’m on a mini vacation in the Rocky Mountains snapping photos and video with the Olympus OMD for the next few days. That means fewer posts thanks to limited connectivity to the interwebs. One thing that I will be posting about when I get back is shooting with the Olympus Zuiko 50 to 200 mm f2.8 lens that I rented from Borrow Lenses. I’m using it on the OMD so it is the equivalent of a 100 to 400mm lens. So far so good but it’s to early to really tell.