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Insectography with Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

Admit it or not, we all LOVE Macro lenses! So far as I can remember myself, I started ‘photography’ with a close up of some colourful flower; and so did my cousins, and some of my friends too; and I guess, likewise the 80% of people with their first digital camera. It is basically the nature of human eyes to get attracted by tiny colourful details of things. The idea of a Macro lens is rooted deep inside this basic concept. Give a small digicam to a kid and teach him to press the shutter, and if you follow him, you will see he is going to the garden or some colourful object, very close, and clicks with a trembling grip. I love that! A macro lens actually brings out that kid inside me… It reminds me of the ‘fun’ for which I chose to take photography as my hobby.

Cute-Face (ISO-400 ; Shutter Speed – 1/125 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Unedited)

After choosing Micro-four-thirds as my format, and an Olympus OMD-EM5 as my primary camera-body, it was easy to choose Olympus’ 60mm f/2.8 as my all round lens. Seriously, a fast Macro lens is a do-all lens to have in one’s kit. It gives u good portrait output, great sharp macro texture, and even good landscape and wildlife possibilities. Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 is not an exception. It is small and light, produces 1:1 macro, dynamic, with great features and gives sharp output on every occasion with great colours. Olympus is bang on with their next-gen lenses for MFT and this 60mm is just another league of its own.

Armored (ISO-200 ; Shutter Speed – 1/250 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Unedited)

Ant on an LED Screen (ISO-400 ; Shutter Speed – 1/125 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Unedited)

Though I will tell you about this lens’ portrait performance and other unconventional possibilities in another article, let me start with this lens’ traditional macro performance when I went to shoot insects. This lens is ‘Weather-sealed’, therefore it is meant for outdoor shoots. It is quite plasticy but sturdy enough to evoke confidence. Focusing is ultra-fast if you know what you are shooting. Let me explain it a bit: It has a small dial with four different setting positions on its body. 1) 0.4m to infinity (for medium to long distant subjects) 2) 0.19m to infinity (the whole focal length) 3) 0.19m-0.4m (for 1:1 to close-ups) and lastly, 4) 1:1 Macro mode. After, using this lens for only 3 days, the whole AF mechanism went so fluent, now I can shoot very quickly two subjects back to back with the help of my left thumb operating the AF option dial while eying the viewfinder. Very swift mechanism and Bravo Olympus for this!

Autofocus Dial on the Lens

Peeping Eyes (ISO-200 ; Shutter Speed – 1/200 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Unedited)

Attack Position (ISO-800 ; Shutter Speed – 1/125 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Unedited)

The lens is not stabilized itself, but with Olympus body, it becomes stabilized, and on my OMD-EM5, it is stable like a rock. The purists will say that, to shoot a 1:1 macro, you should use a tripod. But with this lens, I have shot all these handheld and have no complain on sharpness! I have shot animated insects with it in 1/100 sec shutter speed and the results are quite jaw dropping sharp! Yes, you can use this lens handheld all the times.

Bugger (ISO-320 ; Shutter Speed – 1/125 Sec ; Aperture – f/3.2 ; Unedited)

Rainbow in Her Wings (ISO-800 ; Shutter Speed – 1/125 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Edited in Photoshop CS5)

This lens is made for the MFT users, so it does not give you a depth-of-field according to an f/2.8 on a full frame sensor. It becomes something like an f/5.6 in terms of depth of field on a full frame sensor. But it is quite shallow when you are trying to use 1:1 in wide open or close to it. Below examples are how gentle shifts of your grip can make your desired focus-zone defocused completely. (Though I love both shots here!)

Exmaple 1 (ISO-200 ; Shutter Speed – 1/160 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Unedited)

Example 2 (ISO-200 ; Shutter Speed – 1/160 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Unedited)

Shooting various insects is a patience demanding task! You have to take many shots of a planned frame if you want a subtle use of bokeh. Shooting wide open is fun as well as challenging with this lens. Challenging because, you have to play with so shallow a depth-of-field, and fun because, you have the blazing fast AF at your disposal. It always helps you tracking those small animating insects, or a spider swinging with wind in its web, or a butterfly on a mission. The combination of an OMD-EM5’s stabilization and this 60mm Macro’s AF is so lethal, it gave me about 70% of success rate with focus on desired point, which is incredible for a Macro setup used handheld only.

The Artist (ISO-800 ; Shutter Speed – 1/50 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Edited in Photoshop CS5)

Collecting Colours (ISO-200 ; Shutter Speed – 1/160 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Edited in Photoshop CS5)

Well, shooting insects may not be considered to be the greatest art of a photographic genre, but it is probably the most fun and sometimes the most amusing to its spectators. With M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 this fun increases with more success rate.

Rider to the She (ISO-400 ; Shutter Speed – 1/320 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Edited in Photoshop CS5)

In conclusion I must repeat that, an M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 is a must buy for the MFT users for its versatility. I have used it outdoor, drenched it in rain (thanks to OMD-EM5), soaked it in sea water (though I will not advice you to do that), made the front element dirty while shooting some muddy-foliage, and it still works like a BELL! It has a unique ability to use it in most of all photographic occasions and will get out of them with stellar images. I am just in love with it! Drawbacks? Well, may be the bokeh is a bit harsh (noticeable only when you compare it with that of awesome M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8); and a tiny little amount of purple fringe when you shoot against very bright light (though according to me, it is very much repairable through post-processing). I will soon be back with an article on this lens’ portrait performance. Thanks a lot for your time…

Binary Bugs (ISO-250 ; Shutter Speed – 1/125 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Edited in Photoshop CS5)

For Your Colours Only (ISO-800 ; Shutter Speed – 1/125 Sec ; Aperture – f/4 ; Unedited)

Swinging with Joy (ISO-200 ; Shutter Speed – 1/125 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Unedited)

Fallen to the Pink (ISO-400 ; Shutter Speed – 1/500 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Cropped)

Detailed Eyes of a Fly (ISO-400 ; Shutter Speed – 1/125 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Unedited)

Mosquito (ISO-200 ; Shutter Speed – 1/640 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Unedited)

Eye on a Fly (ISO-400 ; Shutter Speed – 1/125 Sec ; Aperture – f/2.8 ; Unedited)

Note - All the shots are captured HANDHELD and in NATURAL LIGHT, without any flash or strobe or any artificial light (apart from that ant on the LED screen).