Lens review

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35 mm f/3.5 Macro

28 September 2011
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

If you used only reflex cameras and lenses of other producers before, the first contact with the Olympus 3.5/35 might make you a bit lost – you would look for any distance scale and then for any AF/MF switch and you won’t find them because this lens simply doesn’t feature such things. What’s more, also on E-410 or E-510 bodies you won’t find any AF/MF switch. Olympus implements its own solution – the autofocus mode can be set from a camera’s menu level. You can get used to it but it entails several inconveniences. For example the 3.5/35 model, like many other macro devices, extends the front element system significantly when passing to the 1:1 ratio. If such an extended lens is all of a sudden taken off the body because you want to photograph a scene using another device, it must be reattached to the body again afterwards, you have to enter the menu and only then you can fold it - by choosing an appropriate option.

For a change it must be clearly stated that a manual focus ring moves smoothly, allowing you very precise movements. So far its high performance is thwarted by poor quality of the newest Olympus cameras’ viewfinders which limit the potential of manual focusing, provided by the lenses, so important when it comes to macro photography. However, we don’t assess viewfinders here, we test the lens; what’s more we hope that in the near future it will be possible to attach the tested lens to such a reflex camera which will use its potential to the full.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35 mm f/3.5 Macro - Build quality

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When it comes to the build quality the 3.5/35 model is beyond reproach, especially considering its price. The casing is solid, nothing creaks or bends, and the mount is made of metal. The lens’s dimensions are very nice - it is not heavy; all of it can be noticed in one of photos where the lens is positioned next to the 14-42 mm kit device and the ZD 2.0/50 ED Macro.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35 mm f/3.5 Macro - Build quality

When it comes to the inner construction we deal here with 6 elements positioned in 6 groups. The lens additionally boasts an aperture with 7 diaphragm blades and a non-rotating filter thread, 52 mm in diameter.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 35 mm f/3.5 Macro - Build quality

In the specifications the producer states that the minimum focus for 1:1 ratio amounts to 14.6 cm. It’s worth taking into account the fact that we deal here with the distance from the focal plane and not from the end of the lens. If you work using 1:1 ratio the distance of a photographed object from the front element is just near 1-1.5 cm. It’s good to remember that if you plan to buy this lens in order to take photos of small animated fauna and flora. To make it clearer: either you have to use a lens with a longer focal length or shoot using e.g. 1:2 reproduction ratio because every insect will go away if you only try to get as close to it as those 1.5 centimeters. Well, even if it don’t go, you will still have problems with finding the right depth of field and exposure of such a frame.