Lens review

Olympus Zuiko Digital 50 mm f/2.0 Macro ED

15 January 2010
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

The picture below shows relations between MTF50 function values and the aperture of the tested lens, based on unsharpened RAW files from an Olympus E-510. Of course during the test the camera was standing on a solid tripod, with remote control shutter release and the initial mirror lock-up function active, set, in this case, at 4 seconds. In the article "How we test lenses?" you can find more about our testing methods.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 50 mm f/2.0 Macro ED - Image resolution

In the resolution category the ZD 3.5/35 won our praise because it reached the level of 48 lpmm. A question arose, then - if a prime macro lens, costing just 180 $, can show such nice MTFs how will perform a 2.0/50 which is twice more expensive? We know it should be more expensive because it is faster and features ED glass and these things oblige to rise the price. But do we get better optical properties as well? Undoubtedly it is the case. The lens is outstandingly sharp up from the maximum relative aperture and by f/4.0 it reaches the record level of 50 lpmm. Equally excellent situation can be observed at the frame edge where resolution values are just slightly worse that those in the frame centre. The credit for such a performance deserves not only splendid optics but it is also an additional advantage of 4 to 3 ratio of the sides. You can simply state that working with the 2.0/50 ED you will always get exceptionally sharp pictures, no matter what aperture value you are using and where you situate your subject in the frame.

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It’s worth mentioning that the record result of 50 lpmm was something we were expecting up to a point because the Olympus E-510, having 10 Mpix on a small 4:3 sensor, is much more densely pixel-packed than e.g. a Nikon D200 or a Canon 20D. We can add, then, that these 50 lpmm are the equivalent of more or less 46 lpmm on a Nikon D200 and 42 lpmm on a Canon 20D. However, these calculations don’t change our assessment of the ZD 2.0/50 in any aspect because the results of 46 lpmm on a D200 and 42 lpmm on a 20D have been reached by only the best lenses, tested on these bodies.

Below we can also see a test chart crop, possible to get when you take photos in JPEG files. Standard camera settings were used which automatically sharpen the picture significantly.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 50 mm f/2.0 Macro ED - Image resolution