Showcase Olympus 90mm f2 Macro OM

3dpan

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It's just about my favourite lens. (Well, besides the 7-14.) It is incredibly sharp and contrasty at macro, infinity, and in-between. It has an extra mechanism for a moving element group that is engaged in the macro range, which might be how they achieve such a feat. It focuses to half-life-size (1:2) without any extension. I find it also works great with an extension of 116mm, which is the Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube, fully extended. (Some macro examples, both at 1:2 and with 116mm of extension, are here.)



The kilobuck ones are typically mint. Sometimes you can find "brassy" ones with perfect optics for half of that. But because of their collectable status, they seem to go nuts on evilBay. If you're looking for an inexpensive copy, you might do better with KEH, or periodic queries with the New York camera merchants that carry a good selection of used gear. My notes say I paid $650 for mine (not mint), nearly 20 years ago. So they have held their value!

Whether or not they are "worth that much" is a personal value judgement. If I didn't already have one, I'm not sure I would spend that much on one today, but since then, I've left high-paying high-tech work and taken up farming, and watch my money much more closely. If I had a good paying "real job," I might feel different about this lens.

I would say it is certainly one of the world's great lenses, so the market price is really a bargain, compared to some Zeiss or Leica glass.

I wish you hadn't said that, well the part of me that controls the bank balance does.
However the part of me that covets fine glass is very pleased with your reply.
Now, shall I sell something or just go a bit deeper in debt ?

PS there's currently 28 listed on eBay, ranging from $547 US to $1455 US. That's almost $2K in our funny money.
 
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the part of me that covets fine glass is very pleased with your reply.
The fast OM wides were in a class of their own, known for being sharp and contrasty, corner-to-corner, even wide open. At one time, I had almost all of them. The 28/2 was perhaps the best among the outstanding, and I used it a lot for copy work when I was doing fine art reproductions.

In a fit of insanity, I sold my OM fast-wides when I bought into the E-System. Considering the "crop factor," I couldn't really justify adapting them. Likewise, the 21/2 was "world class," sharp corner-to-corner, unlike the Canikon fast-wides. That was one of my favourites in my film days. The 50mm f2 macro was also "world class" lens, but I got the 4/3rds version, and couldn't justify having both. The 4/3rds is undoubtedly good, but feels "plasticy" compared to the substantial OM 50/2.

PS there's currently 28 listed on eBay, ranging from $547 US to $1455 US.
Yea, there are always "phishers" at the high end. Unless you just gotta have one now, I'd avoid anything much over a kilobuck. Check out completed listings; it appears that if you are patient, and willing to bid and snipe, you can get a nice one for under $600. But if you want a "Buy it now," you'll pay a lot more.

One possible "con" to OMD fans: that sucker is heavy! But perhaps I should say "substantial," because it is built like a tank. It has a real nice feel on the EM1.2.

If you're going for it, you should also seriously consider the Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube. I don't know of anything else like it. (I have this fascination with "unique" bits of gear…) Works like a charm! Much easier to use than a super-long helicoid. And IBIS makes the combo hand-holdable.

But then, you'll have to also collect the whole set of OM-TET macros, from the near-microscopic 20/2, to the super-macro 38/2.8, the "perfect" 1:1 80/4, and the superb 135/4.5. The TET has markings for reproduction ratio for each of these.

My name is Jan, and I'm a Zuikoholic. My last shot of 90/2 was a few hours ago…
 
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If you're going for it, you should also seriously consider the Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube. I don't know of anything else like it. (I have this fascination with "unique" bits of gear…) Works like a charm! Much easier to use than a super-long helicoid. And IBIS makes the combo hand-holdable.
I looked it up and looks interesting but a little bit spendy.
How does that massive helicoid (?) work differently than let's say bellows?
 
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I looked it up and looks interesting but a little bit spendy.
Don't know your definition of "spendy," but I see them for under $100 on evilBay.
How does that massive helicoid (?) work differently than let's say bellows?
It is not a helicoid. You do not continuously turn it to focus.

Rather, there are three concentric telescoping sections that freely slide in and out, and a simple locking mechanism to hold them all in place.

So typically, you quickly slide it in and out to get a "rough" focus, lock it down, then use the lens focus helicoid (or simply move back and forth) for fine focus.

I find it simpler to use than either a bellows or a helicoid (rotary) focus. With the long helicoid found on many manual macro lenses, you spend a lot of time racking it in and out. With the TET, it's twist, slide, twist, and "Bob's your uncle!"

Here is some more information about the TET.
 
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piggsy

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The Tamron (Adaptall) 90mm a reasonable placebo?
I asked over at MFlenses a while back -

Olympus OM 90/2... versus...

basically from the responses from people with both the OM 90/2 and others in the same range - it is a good lens and the prices they go for aren't out of line with how they perform, but, there really aren't many 'bad' 90-105 macros around and you're looking at very small hairs being split. Like - I get the impression it is the kind of difference you see between say, the Vivitar and Tokina 90 2.5 macros - the Tokina is very slightly better, but unless you are shooting it in very challenging conditions or at very high magnifications and then 100%ing the results, it can be difficult to see much it does better specifically.

TBH I think once you're over the psychological barrier of "I'm gonna spend a 4 figure mark for a macro lens", you have a few other lenses which are genuinely flawless to consider too.
 
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Don't know your definition of "spendy," but I see them for under $100 on evilBay.

It is not a helicoid. You do not continuously turn it to focus.

Rather, there are three concentric telescoping sections that freely slide in and out, and a simple locking mechanism to hold them all in place.

So typically, you quickly slide it in and out to get a "rough" focus, lock it down, then use the lens focus helicoid (or simply move back and forth) for fine focus.

I find it simpler to use than either a bellows or a helicoid (rotary) focus. With the long helicoid found on many manual macro lenses, you spend a lot of time racking it in and out. With the TET, it's twist, slide, twist, and "Bob's your uncle!"

Here is some more information about the TET.
I understand now; thank you for the explanation.
Yes, sometimes the turning of the barrel to extend/bring in the helicoid can be a bit tedious especially if I am totally out of focus and don't even realize if I am racking in or out...
 

3dpan

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I asked over at MFlenses a while back -

Olympus OM 90/2... versus...

basically from the responses from people with both the OM 90/2 and others in the same range - it is a good lens and the prices they go for aren't out of line with how they perform, but, there really aren't many 'bad' 90-105 macros around and you're looking at very small hairs being split. Like - I get the impression it is the kind of difference you see between say, the Vivitar and Tokina 90 2.5 macros - the Tokina is very slightly better, but unless you are shooting it in very challenging conditions or at very high magnifications and then 100%ing the results, it can be difficult to see much it does better specifically.

TBH I think once you're over the psychological barrier of "I'm gonna spend a 4 figure mark for a macro lens", you have a few other lenses which are genuinely flawless to consider too.
That's some interesting replies from your MFLenses link.
To quote shapencolor on the OM 90mm, "much better microcontrast and more saturated colours".
The OM 90/2.0 was produced up to about 2003, and presumably has the benefit of Olympus' later multicoating techniques. Especially compared with the much earlier Tokina AT-X 90.
BTW, I have both the Tokina AT-X 90 and the Vivitar 90 macros, with 1:1 extenders (but I've never used the extenders).
I used the Tokina on some star shots recently and found I had to close down a couple of stops to minimise blue halos around bright stars. I'm hoping the OM 90 will perform better there.
I'm also thinking of introducing the Metabones Ultra to the equation, to improve sharpness and speed of both the Tokina and OM, (especially if I need to stop down for the halos).
Our exchange rate with the USD is currently slowly improving, making the eBay lenses just a bit cheaper, so I'm trying to be patient before hitting the BuyNow button on one of the OM's.
Cheers to all,
 
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I have both the Tokina AT-X 90 and the Vivitar 90 macros
It will be interesting to see how they stack up, in your opinion.

I'm not a "golden eyes" person. I just read a lot before buying, then hang onto what pleases me. Most of my info about the 90/2 came from the OM mailing list, an eclectic group of OM fans, who not only said it surpassed the Tokina, Tamron and Vivitar offerings, but said it surpassed the mighty Leitz 90mm f/2.0 APO-Summicron-M and Summicron-R. It seems to especially outrank the others in corner sharpness.

(Links are to Gary Reese lens test data.)
 
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piggsy

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That's some interesting replies from your MFLenses link.
To quote shapencolor on the OM 90mm, "much better microcontrast and more saturated colours".
I think in the context of it, that was as compared to other earlier OM lenses from Olympus rather than generally.

The OM 90/2.0 was produced up to about 2003, and presumably has the benefit of Olympus' later multicoating techniques. Especially compared with the much earlier Tokina AT-X 90.
BTW, I have both the Tokina AT-X 90 and the Vivitar 90 macros, with 1:1 extenders (but I've never used the extenders).
I have both too, and the Tokina extender - I ran some tests on a real subject a while ago and found it very hard to notice much difference at the same magnifications vs using the raynox achromatic diopters for it though.

I used the Tokina on some star shots recently and found I had to close down a couple of stops to minimise blue halos around bright stars. I'm hoping the OM 90 will perform better there.
I'm also thinking of introducing the Metabones Ultra to the equation, to improve sharpness and speed of both the Tokina and OM, (especially if I need to stop down for the halos).
Our exchange rate with the USD is currently slowly improving, making the eBay lenses just a bit cheaper, so I'm trying to be patient before hitting the BuyNow button on one of the OM's.
Cheers to all,
Well, for me the ultimate drop dead would be, once you've decided to spend a lot, at what point do you just go bugger it, and get the Voigtlander 125mm f2.5 Apo-Lanthar Macro, or a super expensive apochromatic enlarger lens, the Coastal Optic 60mm, etc. Because I dunno if the OM 90/2 is quite up there with those ones :D
 

3dpan

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Well, for me the ultimate drop dead would be, once you've decided to spend a lot, at what point do you just go bugger it, and get the Voigtlander 125mm f2.5 Apo-Lanthar Macro, or a super expensive apochromatic enlarger lens, the Coastal Optic 60mm, etc. Because I dunno if the OM 90/2 is quite up there with those ones :D
Unfortunately the eBay prices have gone through the roof over the past couple of years, and as I'm not a Lotto beneficiary the answer to your question is quite simple, :)
 
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Coastal Optic 60mm
Lens Authority says, "If you want a great Macro lens, save a lot of money and buy one of the other ones." :)

Yea, after a while it gets a bit silly.

I'm happy as a clam with the OM 90/2, which can be had for under $600, and at least one lens tester† called better than the Leitz 90mm f/2.0 APO-Summicron-M, which at a cool $4,999, is up there with the ones you mention.

Value is an individual thing. The difference between $524 and $4,999 is, like, TWO OMD EM1.2 bodies! Whereas the difference between the OM 90/2 and the Tamron 90/2.5 is a used OMD E10. :)

†Gary Reese's tests show the Leitz better than the Zuiko at ƒ5.6, but the Zuiko beats the Leitz wide open, and in the corners.
 
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piggsy

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Lens Authority says, "If you want a great Macro lens, save a lot of money and buy one of the other ones." :)

Yea, after a while it gets a bit silly.
Yep, I mean - just purple fringing elimination wise - a lot of even modern lenses will do it if you give 'em a nice glossy black surface, a flash striking it, and shoot at higher than the 1x magnification they were designed for. I'm not sure how many lens tests for general purposes really get into that level of performance either - pretty sure from reading a thing lensrentals did on properly testing macro lenses, most lens tests you see aren't shot at even pseudo-macro kinds of distances.

So for our fringe behaviours, only really alternative is, well, either a couple of clicks in lightroom to defringe, or, you go to lenses designed to be apochromatic into purple/UV and stop it at the lens level. Some of the enlargers might be the most cost effective way of getting to that point, especially at past 1:1, but they're not really my expertise.
 
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most lens tests you see aren't shot at even pseudo-macro kinds of distances
Yea, I hear you. Gary Reese's lens test main page says, "All tests photographed at a 1:40 magnification ratio, on Fujichrome 64T (original type) film."

Another interesting thing on that page: "An A+ grade for centers and corners is set to the performance of a 50mm f/2.0 Zuiko Macro at f/8." So, that's the standard, folks! :)

Yea, I know. A lot of people test a lot of lenses. I like Gary Reese's because 1) he tested virtually all Olympus OM lenses, and 2) he tested tons of other lenses, as well.
 

piggsy

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Yea, I hear you. Gary Reese's lens test main page says, "All tests photographed at a 1:40 magnification ratio, on Fujichrome 64T (original type) film."

Another interesting thing on that page: "An A+ grade for centers and corners is set to the performance of a 50mm f/2.0 Zuiko Macro at f/8." So, that's the standard, folks! :)

Yea, I know. A lot of people test a lot of lenses. I like Gary Reese's because 1) he tested virtually all Olympus OM lenses, and 2) he tested tons of other lenses, as well.
Doesn't film negate testing for purple fringing though? I mean, I thought the whole issue was basically one like flat rear element sensor reflections where old lenses were never designed to be used with something so sensitive to that colour.
 
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And for a change, a non-macro example.
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