I’m still putting my new Olympus OM-D E-M5 through the paces with the “kit” 12-50mm lens. I love the idea of a weather-proof lens with an extremely versatile 24-100mm effective focal length. It’s not the fastest glass (f/3.5-6.3), but it’s still OK for a general purpose lens. If it had a constant f/2.8 aperture it would be a much bigger, heavier and more expensive lens.
I wanted to try out the macro mode on the 12-50mm lens. The specs list the focusing distance in macro mode as 8″-20″. There is a button on the lens barrel that you press and move the zoom ring to switch the lens into macro mode. In this mode the lens is locked at 43mm, and the maximum aperture is f/6.0.
As a macro package it’s hard to argue with the E-M5. First of all, the size of the gear. The E-M5 and most m4/3 lenses are SMALL. I can carry a m4/3 kit with a few lenses and a small Benro tripod for hours without sore shoulders. The 16mp sensor in the E-M5 captures a great deal of detail and seems to have quite a bit wider dynamic range than the previous Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras. The large, tilting touch-screen LCD makes for easy viewing at any angle. The pop-up flash that comes with the E-M5 can act as a commander for Olympus speedlights. I got an Olympus FL-300R flash free after rebate when I purchased my E-M5. This tiny flash seems kind of silly at first glance, but it is just right as a hand-held wireless macro light. I have been using it with the built-in wide angle diffuser for close-up work.
For the shot above I set the release mode for a 2-second delay and used the touch screen to focus and fire the shutter. The E-M5 focuses almost instantly with the 12-50mm lens, and the touch screen makes it easy to easily focus exactly where you want to. I held the flash above and slightly behind the plant to give a sunlit feel to the shot. I closed down the aperture to f/8 for maximum sharpness. While the m4/3 format can’t match the shallow depth of field of a full-frame sensor, you can definitely get a nice background blur with this set-up.
For my eyes this lens does a great job in macro mode. When you factor in the weather sealing and versatile zoom I think this lens makes a great companion to the E-M5. If you are more serious about macro shooting you may want to hold out for the Olympus 60mm macro lens for m4/3 that should be released sometime this summer.