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OM Zuiko 50mm f3.5 Macro vs Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro

Chris Smith , May 19, 2010; 09:14 a.m.

Hi all,

I'm looking to purchase my first macro lens for my OM-4, and I was wondering if anyone has any experience of using either the OM Zuiko 50mm f3.5 Macro or the Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro lenses? What is Sigma like as a manufacturer of third party lenses? Are there a discernible difference in terms of performance, build quality and/or optical quality between the two lenses?

In terms of price, I've seen the Zuiko for between £90-120 (negotiable) and the Sigma for £70. Do these prices seem reasonable? Does it make sense to stretch to the extra £20+ to go for the Zuiko?



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Starvy Goodfellows , May 19, 2010; 09:40 a.m.

That Zuiko is a fantastic bit of kit. You won't regret it. If you are using an OM4 body, it rarely makes sense to buy brands other than Zuiko unless there is a price premium.

Matthew Newton , May 19, 2010; 09:59 a.m.

I have the sigma. It is a fairly big lens, but it is very, very sharp and goes to 1:1. Other plus is it is 2/3rds of a stop faster than the zuiko. In my experience with other zuikos, most have their own special character, in a good way. Something this Sigma doesn't have, its just simply a good lens. It doesn't have the je ne sais quoi that most/all Zuiko lenses seem to poses.
However, it could be more useful with the extra speed and extra magnification that the Zuiko doesn't have. If you are going for the Zuiko look, than of course get the 50/3.5. If you need a small lens get the zuiko. If you want extra speed, extra magnification, or shaving sharp pictures get the sigma (it really is super sharp). I bought my copy of the Sigma 50/2.8 macro, cosmetically in bad condition, but mechanically and optically in great condition, for about $50.
My review of the 50/2.8 and a bit of a comparison, at least specs, to the Zuiko 50/3.5 and 50/2. Included are a bunch of 50/2.8 sample pictures.

Chris Smith , May 19, 2010; 10:42 a.m.

Thanks for your responses so far. I've just had a quick look at your review Matthew, and I was wondering if you could help me to understand something else?

In your review you said the Sigma reproduces images at 1:1 verses the Zuiko's at 1:2. Can you explain what you mean by this, as I'm not all that familiar with marco lenses? Is it to do with how closely the lens can focus on the subject? In terms of how the image appears on the film shouldn't they be the same size if the focal length on all three lenses in 50mm?


david carroll , May 19, 2010; 10:52 a.m.

1:1 macro reproduction means that the lens can project a life-sized image onto the film/sensor (for example, if you took a pic of a penny at 1:1, you could superimpose a real penny onto the developed negative image - a penny shot at 1:2 would yield an image on film that was half the size of an actual penny). Since both lenses are the same focal length (same magnification), the increased macro reproduction of the Sigma is a result of the ability to focus closer. Using the same logic - you can increase the reproduction ratio of a lens using an extension tube, a non-optical device that simply allows the lens to focus closer by moving it away from the film plane.

Mike Gammill , May 19, 2010; 07:38 p.m.

I really like the Zuiko macro. I often use it as a walking around lens.

Tim Kohlman , May 20, 2010; 09:02 a.m.

+1 for the zuiko macro.

Only issue for me is the speed, I've had issue with it using 100iso slide film photographing flowers in shade handheld, it becomes a bit limiting, other than that it's a sensational lens.

Tim Kohlman , May 20, 2010; 09:03 a.m.

also just to add. I think it's the best value for money zuiko lens that you can get in the OM system.

Chris Smith , May 20, 2010; 11:29 a.m.

Thanks for all your help. In the end I've opted to go for the Zuiko lens, as I can pick it up directly from the shop and inspect it before purchasing it, rather than relying on descriptions alone. Also by the time I'd factored in postage for the Sigma, that was going to cost the best part of £80, and I'll only be paying £90 for the Zuiko, so that clinched it for me.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll be able to post some nice macro frames. I should probably try and get some slide film in too!

Jeff Adler , May 20, 2010; 04:19 p.m.

I have the Zuiko and two slightly different versions of the Sigma. The Sigma lenses are in Canon FD mount. The Zuiko has a floating element design and is sharp at all apertures and subject distances. If you want to get 1:1 magnification with it you can get a 25mm extension tube. Prices for the Olympus tube can be high or low, usually high. If you want to retain auto diaphragm control make sure you get an auto tube. Olympus also made manual tubes. As has been mentioned, the Sigma goes to 1:1 without an additional tube. I find the Sigma lens to be quite good but I have not tested against my other macro lenses. On the short side for Canon I also have two 50/3.5 FLs, two 50/3.5 FS SSCs, two 50/3.5 New FDs, a 55/2.8 Panagor and a 55/2.8 Viviter. The Panagor and Vivitar lenses also go to 1:1 without an additional tube. If I know the light won't be perfect and I might like the extra brightness for focusing I will take one of the f/2.8 lenses. For Olympus I have two of the Vivitar 55/2.8 macro lenses in addition to the Zuiko.

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