What’s the best Olympus macro lens available?
That’s what this article is all about.
I’m going to share with you the absolute best macro lenses for micro four thirds cameras–so that you can start taking stunning close-up photos you’ve always dreamed of, immediately.
Note that I’ve included lenses in every price range, and for every type of macro photography.
So if you’re looking to buy a macro lens, this list should give you exactly what you need.
Let’s dive right in.
Olympus Macro Lenses, Ranked
If you’re looking for a quick list of the best macro lenses for Olympus cameras, then here it is:
Every one of the lenses on this list is capable of gorgeous, professional-quality photos.
That said, some are more powerful than others, which is why the title of absolute best macro lens for Olympus goes to:
If you can afford just one macro lens, get the M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8.
It’s a superb macro lens–for so many reasons.
But if I had to sum it up:
The M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 is capable of outstanding images, all for a very reasonable ($399 at the time of writing) price.
Here’s what you get:
- A compact, lightweight lens that you can carry with you everywhere
- A beautifully designed focus ring so that you can focus manually with complete ease
- Incredible optics. In fact, I recommend you be careful, because this lens is so sharp that you could accidentally cut yourself on it!
Of course, I’m kidding about that last bit, but the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 really is astonishingly sharp.
And at that price point, it’s a steal.
The M.Zuiko 60mm doesn’t offer any form of image stabilization, but as long as you’re using a recent Olympus camera, that’s okay; Olympus builds its top-of-the-line stabilization right into the bodies, so that you never have to worry too much about handholding at high magnifications or in low light.
As for the focal length, with the Four Thirds crop factor, you get an effective 120mm–which is perfect for photographing flowers, vegetation, natural details, and even some insects.
And speaking of photographing insects:
An added bonus for the M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 is the autofocus, which is surprisingly fast, and will allow you to have a decent time tracking moving subjects in the field.
Honestly, if you’re looking for a macro lens and you can afford this one, just get it.
It offers macro capabilities on par with the best-of-the-best lenses out there.
Best For: Serious macro photography of flowers and details
If you can’t afford the M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8, then this little lens is your best option:
The M.Zuiko 30mm f/3.5, which is compact, offers nice ergonomics, and offers excellent optics, all for an insanely low price of around $225.
In a lot of ways, it’s the ultimate “starter” lens for macro photography beginners; you’re not paying for the 60mm f/2.8, but you still get 1:1 (and beyond) close-up capabilities in a compact, well-made body.
So what does this lens offer?
For one, a well-designed focus ring that allows you to smoothly pick your point of focus. You also get very crisp images, even at f/3.5, and while this is pretty common among macro lenses, it’s nice to see such excellent optics for under $250.
One thing to be aware of is chromatic aberration, which manifests as colored fringing along high-contrast edges. It’s not too much of an issue, provided you use a post-processing program like Lightroom or Luminar, but this lens is somewhat susceptible, so it’s just something to watch for.
While I really do recommend you focus manually for macro photography, the M.Zuiko 30mm offers nice autofocus capabilities, which means it can successfully double as a street photography lens, a portrait photography lens, or a walkaround lens–and the latter makes a lot of sense, given how small and light this lens really is.
I do wish that the maximum aperture for the M.Zuiko 30mm went wider than f/3.5; this is going to limit your ability to achieve a beautiful soft-focus look, and will also limit the creaminess of the background.
Generally speaking, a 30mm lens (even with the 60mm effective focal length when the Four Thirds crop factor is applied) is on the short side for macro photography. You’re going to risk casting shadows on your subject, or even bumping your subject with the front of the lens–so that’s definitely something to watch out for.
But if you’re looking to get started with macro photography but you don’t want to spend on the more expensive M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8, then the 30mm f/3.5 really is an excellent choice.
Best For: Macro photography on a budget
Are you looking to create a beautiful soft-focus effect in your macro photography?
If not, then move on down the list.
But if a soft-focus effect sounds appealing…
…then there’s no better choice for an Olympus macro lens than the Lensbaby Velvet 85.
See, the Velvet 85 allows you to create a soft-focus “glow,” where your subject appears all soft and dreamy, like this:
It’s insanely artistic, and it’s exactly what you want if you’re looking to capture more creative, experimental images.
Here’s how it works:
At f/1.8, you’re going to get a strong glow.
Around f/2.8, this glow will start to fade, and the lens will become sharper.
As you continue to narrow the aperture, the Velvet 85 will become sharper and sharper–until you eventually can’t tell the difference between it and other conventional macro lenses on this list.
In my book, the Velvet 85 is one of the most useful lenses on the planet, but you should be aware of a few drawbacks.
First, this lens is manual-focus-only. It offers no autofocusing capabilities, which means that you’ll have to use the (sizable) focus ring to make changes to your point of focus. For an experienced macro photographer, this shouldn’t be much of a problem, but if you’re not used to focusing manually then it might take some getting used to.
Second, this lens only focuses up to magnifications of 1:2. This will limit you when it comes to capturing ultra close-up images of flowers and such–but you’ll still be able to get decently close, so unless you’re dead-set on a 1:1 magnification macro lens, the Velvet 85 will do just fine.
By the way, I’ve also included the Velvet 56 farther down on this list; while they both offer similar capabilities, I prefer an 85mm focal length compared to the 56mm focal length of the Velvet 56, because it makes for slightly better background bokeh.
Best For: Artistic, soft-focus macro images
If you’re looking to photograph insects (or any other subject requiring a significant working distance), then the Samyang 100mm f/2.8 is one of the only options available.
Fortunately, it really is a strong choice.
Now, with an original focal length of 100mm, you get an effective 200mm with which to shoot insects. This is a pretty ideal focal length, and it’s especially nice on Micro Four Thirds cameras because you can reach insects without carrying around a hulking 180mm or 200mm lens (which is what’s required if you shoot Canon, Nikon, Sony, or Fujifilm).
In a lot of ways, this lens is perfect for insect photography; you get 1:1 magnification, very sharp optics, even at f/2.8, and a nicely built barrel.
The problem, however, is that the Samyang 100mm f/2.8 offers no autofocus capabilities. This means that you’ll have to focus manually, even when working with moving insects.
To me, this isn’t a dealbreaker, but it is something that’ll take some getting used to. You’ll probably want to practice your manual focusing, and you’ll want to start out by taking a lot of shots, just to be sure that you captured one or two sharp ones.
(Though as you become more experienced, you’ll find that this becomes less and less necessary!)
In truth, if you’re looking to do any other form of macro photography aside from insect work, I’d really recommend grabbing the M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 (it’s cheaper, after all!).
But if you’re looking to photograph insects, then the Samyang 100mm f/2.8 Macro for Micro Four Thirds is your best bet.
Best For: Insect macro photography
The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is very similar to the Velvet 85 (as seen above) except, of course, the focal length is 56mm instead of 85mm, and you get a slight amount of extra light via the f/1.6 aperture.
As with the 85, you get that gorgeous Velvet glow, which is perfect for artistic macro photography and other creative-type images. If you’re looking to get the stunning soft-focus look, then it’s tough to go wrong with the Velvet 56, though it pays to remember that it’s manual focus only, and that you’ll only be able to go up to 1:2 magnification.
What else is there to know about the Velvet 56? Well, while it gives you the Velvet glow at f/1.6 to around f/2.8, it becomes progressively sharper, especially in the center of the frame, so if you’re also hoping to get some conventional macro shots, you won’t be disappointed.
(Though bear in mind that you may still get a little of the Velvet glow in the corners of the frame, even at higher apertures.)
You also get a nice big manual focus ring, a dedicated aperture ring, and a metal barrel that feels pretty darn indestructible.
If I had to choose between the Velvet 56 and the Velvet 85, I’d personally pick the 85, simply because of the longer focal length; at 85mm, you get slightly better background compression (for better bokeh/blur), and you also get a bit better working distance so you don’t have to worry about casting shadows on your subject.
But the Velvet 56 is a bit cheaper, plus it does a better job doubling as a wider portrait lens or even a street photography option, so if any of those facts appeal to you, then by all means, get the Velvet 56!
You won’t be disappointed.
Best For: Creative macro images of unmoving subjects
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Choosing the Best Macro Lens for Olympus (Micro Four Thirds)
If you’re looking to find the best possible macro lens for your needs, you’ll want to keep a few key pieces of information in mind, including:
Choose the Focal Length Based on Your Subject
Selecting the right macro lens starts with focal length–because depending on your focal length, you’ll end up with radically different macro capabilities.
Wider macro lenses (with an effective focal length of 30mm to 60mm) will offer very little working distance, which means that you have to get extremely close to your subjects if you want to shoot at high magnifications.
While this can work if the conditions are right, you do risk casting shadows on your subjects, and this can be a serious problem (especially at high magnifications, when light is already low).
That’s why I recommend more serious macro photographers work with an effective focal length of at least 70mm. If you’re going to photograph insects, you’ll want to be able to shoot at 150mm or longer; otherwise, the working distance may be too short to get close to your subjects.
Select a Lens With a Wide Maximum Aperture
Really, this depends on your style of shooting.
If you want to capture photos that are sharp throughout (as in, from the front of your subject all the way through to the background), then you can ignore this section.
But if you want to at least occasionally capture soft-focus macro images, like this…
…well, then you’ll want to shoot with a lens that has the widest maximum aperture possible. You see, to achieve an effect like the one above, you’ll need to use an aperture of at least f/3.2 (the wider, the better!).
So if you can, get a lens with an f/2.8 maximum aperture.
Make Sure Your Lens Is Capable of Capturing Plenty of Detail
Macro photography is all about capturing detail, which is why you want a lens that’s tack-sharp at all apertures.
Fortunately, most macro lenses do offer this, but there’s going to be some deviation among the cheaper options (I haven’t included any of these on my ‘best Olympus macro lenses’ list, though!).
One thing to watch out for is chromatic aberration; this manifests as fringing in high-contrast parts of your photo, and is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Generally, it’s possible to remove CA in Lightroom or Luminar, but it’s always better to avoid it whenever possible.
By the way, you’ll also want to grab a macro lens with true 1:1 magnification (or as close as 1:1 as you can get). This will ensure that you can capture highly-detailed images of your subjects, and can even get some creative, abstract-style images.
Go For a Lens With Nice Manual Focus Capabilities
Last, you always want to make sure that your macro lens can manually focus with ease.
Because macro photography often requires manual focusing, thanks to the precision required, as well as the inability of today’s lenses to nail focus at high magnifications.
Really, as long as your lens has an external focus ring then you can make it work, but I’d still recommend grabbing a lens with a large, stiff focus ring, so that you’re able to carefully and accurately select your point of focus.
The Best Macro Lens for Olympus: The Next Step
Now that you’ve finished this article, you know all about the best macro lenses for Olympus cameras–and you should be able to find the perfect lens for your needs!
But don’t stop there!
If you’re looking to keep taking your macro photos to new heights, I recommend you sign up for my email list, where I send all sorts of macro photography tips, tricks, and secrets that I don’t share on my blog.
I’ll also send you my eBook, free of charge:
Mastering Macro Photography: 10 Quick Tips for Stunning Macro Photos
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