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Lens review

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200 mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD

13 October 2009
Szymon Starczewski

4. Image resolution

The resolution of the Olympus 50-200 mm SWD, as the MTF50 values, has been tested on RAW files using an Olympus E-3. It’s worth notice that this body has the highest pixels’ density from all other cameras, used by us for lenses tests. This density is comparable to that of the 16 megapixels on an APS-C matrix. The average values errors, presented on the graphs, are about 1.0-1.5 lpmm near maximum relative aperture and about 0.2-0.5 lpmm, when stopped down. The dispersion field at the maximum aperture arises due to not only bigger measurement errors but also astigmatism of the lens.

Before we pass to the results for the Olympus 50-200 mm, let’s remind the results of other top-notch ZD lenses, whose aperture ranges at least interlocked a bit with the tested lens. For instance the fabulous ZD 12-60 mm could reach as much as 50 lpmm; the same story was in the case of the ZD 50 mm f/2.0 Macro. The ZD 14-54 mm didn’t have such great results because it reached 46 lpmm wide open.

Now, let’s look at the results of the Olympus ZD 50-200 mm SWD in the frame center.

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Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200 mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD - Image resolution

Honestly, I feel unsatisfied. I expected that at least for one aperture value the lens would reach the level of 49-50 lpmm and for others – 48 lpmm. Meanwhile the ZD 50-200 mm behaves nicely and evenly, it gives you sharp pictures wide open but the maximum level it reaches is about 46 lpmm. The Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VR, tested on a less dense Nikkon D200 matrix, could reach 47 lpmm so better than the Olympus. You must remember, though, that the Nikkor’s price is double what the ZD 50-200 mm SWD costs.

My unsatisfied feeling shouldn’t cloud the whole picture, which is very good. Lack of records can be compensated by the brilliant performance at the maximum aperture and all focal lengths and by the small differences between the range ends, which is rare with the instruments of these parameters.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200 mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD - Image resolution

Some unsatisfied feeling is also present when we watch results at the edge of the frame. Olympus should have advantage here in comparison with bigger sensor's systems. Here we don't see this advantage, and we notice clearly worse behavior for maximum focal length. On the other hand we can praise results at maximum aperture which are good for all focal lengths.

At the end we present you our test table crops, based on JPEG files saved along with RAW files.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200 mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD - Image resolution