Film Photography

The 50mm f/3.5 Zuiko Auto Macro is a crackerjack lens

When you are walking about in daylight shooting whatever strikes your fancy, any Olympus OM SLR body and the 50mm f/3.5 Zuiko Auto Macro lens makes for a mighty satisfying kit.

OM Zuiko MC Auto-Macro 1:3.5 f=50m

Olympus made four versions of this lens over the years, all optically identical:

  1. Marked Olympus OM-System Zuiko Auto-Macro 1:3.5 f=50mm, single coated, silver-tipped outer ring
  2. Marked Olympus OM-System Zuiko Auto-Macro 1:3.5 f=50mm, single coated, black outer ring
  3. Marked Olympus OM-System Zuiko MC Auto-Macro 1:3.5 f=50mm, multi-coated, black outer ring
  4. Marked Olympus OM-System Zuiko Auto-Macro 50mm 1:3.5, multi-coated, black outer ring

The multi-coated versions are probably technically slightly superior to the single-coated versions, which have a reputation for flare. If you have a single-coated version, avoid shooting into the sun and you should be fine.

Because this is a macro lens, the focus scale is biased hard toward close shooting. That has the effect of making focusing on non-close objects simple: just leave it at infinity. Here are some of my favorite images I’ve made with this lens this way.

Carpentry Hall
Kodak Gold 200
Harvested by the barn
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400
Swimming pool
Fujicolor 200
The house across the street
Kodak Gold 400 (expired 1/08)
Ilford Delta 400

I especially enjoy how this lens renders color. It elevates consumer color films above their station.

Naturally, this lens lets you move in very close, down to 9 1/8 inches. At that distance, subjects render at half life size. To get full size rendering, add Olympus’s Auto Extension Tube 25. I made all of these close shots without the extension tube.

Kodak Gold 200
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400
Orange flower
Fujicolor 200
Drying paintbrush
Kodak Gold 400 (expired 1/08)
Concrete toes
Ilford Delta 400

You can pick up one of these lenses on eBay today in the $40-90 range, which isn’t bad for this kind of performance.

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11 thoughts on “The 50mm f/3.5 Zuiko Auto Macro is a crackerjack lens

  1. Jeroen says:

    Same goes for the 55 Micro Nikkors, my 2.8 is the sharpest lens I have. Great colour rendering and nice flat field, love it on my D700.

  2. I used to have an Olympus dslr and the Zuiko lenses that came with it are amazing. I swear that camera/lens combo would do anything this amateur asked them to do.

    Gorgeous color here. Looks like a great walking around camera!

  3. Greg Clawson says:

    Nice photos Jim! I especially like your close-ups, I’ve always been partial to flower/leaf and insect photos.

  4. Kodachromeguy says:

    Nice examples, Jim. I have one of these lenses, the type 4 on your list above. I retrieved it from the discard bin at the office (seriously).

    When mounted on my Fiji X-E1 body, this may be the highest resolution 50 that I own. The closest match might be a 55mm f/1.8 Super Takumar.

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