OM System 90mm f3.5 Pro Macro Lens
Macro,  Olympus / OM System,  Photo Gear

An Unbiased Evaluation of the OM System 90mm f3.5 Pro Macro Lens: Is it right for you?

I have to admit that I had sticker shock when I saw the announcement for the OM System 90mm f3.5 Macro Lens. I had been excited about this lens ever since it showed up on then OM System’s Lens Roadmap.  But at $1,499.99 this lens is almost 3 times the cost of the Olympus 60mm Macro lens.

So, is this lens worth the price over the Olympus 60mm macro?  As I researched the features and specifications of this new lens, I found that there was no other Micro Four Thirds Lens with this combination of focal length and features.

Specifications & Features

Image Stabilization

The new 90mm macro has Sync IS image stabilization which gives you up to 7 stops of image stabilization.  Even though the focal length is 30mm longer than the 60mm, this should help with focus stacking and bracketing, as well as shooting in lower lighting conditions.

2X Magnification

This lens provides double the magnification of the Olympus 60mm Macro Lens (2X vs. 1X).  This should let you get really close macro shots without needing to use extension tubes.

Compatibility with Teleconverters

The OM System 90mm macro is compatible with both the Olympus 1.4x Teleconverter and 2.0x Teleconverter.  Both the Olympus 60mm and 30mm Macro lenses are not compatible with teleconverters.  Adding a teleconverter to the 90mm Macro will give you up to a crazy 4X magnification.

Longer Focal Length with Increased Working Distance

The increased working distance of this lens is a great improvement for macro photographers who photograph insects and other small animals.  It will allow you to get close up photographs of your subjects without scaring them away.  The increased working distance will also allow additional light to hit your subject.

Focus Scale with Magnification
Focus Scale with Magnification

Manual Focus Clutch

A Manual Focus Clutch lets you to quickly toggle between manual focus and autofocus by pulling / pushing the focus ring on your lens.  The OM System 90mm Macro Lens also displays the magnification markins when you pull back the Manual Focus Clutch.

Weatherproofing

The 90mm lens has been upgraded to IP53 weatherproofing which seems to be the standard on new OM System lenses.  The Olympus 60mm Macro lens is listed as Splashproof and Dustproof on the getolympus website.  I’ve used the 60mm Macro in the rain and snow several times with no damage to the lens.  But, it never hurts to have additional weatherproofing for nature macro photography.

Olympus Macro Lens Comparison

Below is a comparison of the specifications that I researched while deciding whether to purchase the new OM System 90mm Macro Lens.  A few things stand out in the comparison of the specifications:

  • The 90mm Macro lens is over 2 inches longer and .5 inches bigger in diameter than the 60mm macro.  So, if you have a custom diffuser like the CygnusTech, it may not fit on this lens. 
  • Also, if you like to bring a macro lens along in your pocket while photographing other genres, the 90mm may not fit.  I frequently do this with the 60mm macro while photographing birds, just in case I find a macro subject on my hike.
  • The 90mm is almost 9.5 ounces heavier than the 60mm macro.  This is a Pro lens with Sync IS and improved weatherproofing so the extra weight makes sense.  But if you a looking for a lightweight lens, the Olympus 60mm macro might be a better fit.
  • The price is almost 3 times the price of the 60mm macro and 5 times the price of the 30mm macro.  You can also pick up the 60mm and 30mm used for even lower prices.  If will be a while before the 90mm macro is available on the used market.
90mm Macro on the OM-1
90mm Macro on the OM-1

Specification Comparison of the Olympus Lens Macro Line Up

Specification90mm Macro60mm Macro30mm Macro
Focal Length (35mm equivalent)180mm120mm60mm
Maximum Aperturef/3.5f/2.8f/3.5
Minimum Aperturef/22f/22f/22
Minimum Focus Distance8.8” / 22.4 cm7.48″ / 19 cm3.74″ / 9.5 cm
Maximum Magnification2X (4X using 2X Teleconverter)1X1.25X
Optical Design18 Elements in 13 Groups13 Elements in 10 Groups7 Elements in 6 Groups
Image StabilizationSync ISNo (Camera Only)No (Camera Only)
Filter Size62 mm46mm46mm
Dimensions2.7 x 5.4″ / 69.8 x 136 mm2.2 x 3.23″ / 55.88 x 82.04 mm2.36 x 2.24″ / 60 x 57 mm
Weight1 lb / 453 g6.53 oz / 185 g4.52 oz / 128 g
Price$1,499.99$549.99$299.99

Pricing Compared to Similar Lenses from Other Camera Systems

It was difficult to find price comparisons with other camera systems at this time.  Canon has discontinued it’s EF 180mm macro and hasn’t produced an RF version yet.  Nikon also doesn’t have a current 180mm macro lens.  However, it’s fair to conclude that Micro Four Thirds lenses don’t have the pricing advantage that they previously had.  Below are some of the prices that I found.

  • Canon EF 180mm F/3.5L Macro USM Lens – $1,299 USD (Discontinued)
  • Sigma 180mm F/2.8 APO Macro EX DG OS HSM Lens For Canon – $1,369 USD
  • Canon RF100mm F2.8 L Macro is USM – $1,299 USD

Who is this Lens for?

If you are a serious nature macro photograph, this lens is well worth considering.  The extra reach and working distance, compatibility with Olympus teleconverters for extra magnification, and other features listed above may be well worth the price.

If you occasionally do macro photography, it may be hard to justify the price.

Did I Buy the Lens?

Like I mentioned above, I’ve been excited about this lens since it appeared on the OM System Lens Roadmap.  But the price of the lens, made me hesitate on pressing the buy button. 

I went ahead and pre-ordered the lens today after conducting the research presented in this blog.  I frequently do nature macro photography and I think the features of this lens are perfect for that style of photography.

I’m also selling all my Canon gear that will help offset the cost of this lens and the Olympus 150-400mm lens that is still on backorder.   I still plan on keeping the Olympus 60mm macro.  It’s a great little lens that easily fits in my pocket, and with the small size I don’t hesitate packing it on a trip.

The OM System 90mm Macro is expected to ship in early March which should be perfect timing for the spring blooms and insects to come out.

Related Posts

A Comparison of Flash and Diffuser Options for Macro Photography
Settings for Using Flash for Macro Photography on Olympus OM-D Cameras
8 Tips for Handheld Focus Stacking for Macro Photography on Olympus / OM System Cameras

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One Comment

  • Mark Gall

    Thank you for the article. I have the 60mm, and am considering the 90mm. As I travel overseas in the tropics, for several reasons including photography, I need to think hard about the size/weight factor. That was my main impetus for beginning MFT. Great aticles!
    Mark

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