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

OM System 90mm Macro Unboxing, First Impressions, and Limitations

OM Digital Solutions announced their new 90mm Pro Macro lens on February 8, 2023.  There was a lot of speculation in the message boards and blog comments that the lens would be delayed due to high demand.

I’m happy to say that my OM System 90mm Macro lens was delivered on February 23rd, just 2 weeks and 1 day after the OM System announcement.

In this blog, I’ll cover what’s in the box, my first impressions of the lens, and some limitations that I found with the lens.

Let’s Start with the Box

We’ll, my first surprise was the box itself.  This was my first purchase from OM Digital Solutions since they changed their packaging from their black look they inherited from Olympus to the new cardboard box look.  I prefer the black packaging.  The black packaging appears to hold a superior product compared to the cardboard box look.

What’s in the Box?

  • OM System 90mm Macro Lens
  • Lens Hood
  • Warranty Card
  • Manual
  • Cloth wrap for the lens.  For $1,500, I would have preferred a lens bag with a draw string like the ones that came with the Olympus 300mm f/4 and Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8.

First Impressions

Feather Macro - Single Shot @ f/16, 2X Magnification
Feather Macro – Single Shot @ f/16, 2X Magnification

Size and Weight

There has been much discussion that this lens is too large for a Micro Four Thirds lens. It’s true that it’s a lot bigger than the Olympus 30mm and 60mm macro lenses.  But it’s also 90mm, has Sync IS Image Stabilization, a Function Button, and a Manual Focus Clutch.  So, it comes with a lot more features for the size and weight.

You won’t be able to bring the 90mm along in your pocket like you can the 30mm and 60mm.  I’m holding on to my Olympus 30mm and 60mm lenses for that purpose.

Olympus Macro Lens Line Up Size and Weight Comparison

Specification90mm Macro60mm Macro30mm Macro
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

If you shoot with the Olympus 12-100mm f/4 Pro Lens, the 90mm Macro is similar in size and weight to the 12-100mm.  Although, the 9mm macro is about a ¼ pound lighter than the 12-100 f/4 Pro Lens.

90mm Macro and 12-100 Size and Weight Comparison

Specification90mm Macro12-100mm f/4
Dimensions2.7 x 5.4″ / 69.8 x 136 mm3.05 x 4.59” / 77.5 x 116.5 mm
Weight1 lb / 453 g1.23 lb / 561 g

Balances Nicely with the OM-1

The OM-1 with the 90mm macro feel nice in my hand and is nicely balanced.  Since I use the Olympus 12-100 f/4 Pro lens a lot of the time for landscapes and travel, I feel confident I could shoot with this lens on the OM-1 all day long.

The Depth of Field in Super Macro Mode is Super Shallow

The depth of field with 2X magnification in Super Macro Mode is very shallow, and it’s even more shallow at 4X magnification using the 2X teleconverter.

Circuit Board - Single Shot @ f/16, 2X Magnification
Circuit Board – Single Shot @ f/16, 2X Magnification

The above picture of the circuit board was a single shot taken at f/16 at 2X magnification.  I focused on the silver parts of the circuit component.  You can see how quickly focus drops off in the photo.

Circuit Board - Stacked, 2X Magnification
Circuit Board – Stacked, 2X Magnification

The picture above this paragraph was the same composition but stacked in camera at 2X Magnification at f/16.   I took 15 stacked images with a differential of 3 that brought all of the circuit board nicely into focus.

Circuit Board - Single Shot @ f/16, 4X Magnification
Circuit Board – Single Shot @ f/16, 4X Magnification

The photograph of the watch movement is a single photograph taken at 4X magnification at f/16.  You can see how quickly focus falls off. The picture below will provide an indication of the actual size of the watch movement and give you an understanding of how close you can get with 4X magnification.

Watch Movement Scale
Watch Movement Scale

If you want your images sharp all the way through, you will want to use focus stacking or even focus bracketing with more than 15 exposures.

Image Stabilization

I was able to hand hold the camera and 90mm lens for focus stacking in modes other than Super Macro.  I did get a few good stacks handholding at 2X, but I had a lot more failures than successful stacks.

If are not very steady or drink a lot of coffee (like me), you may need to use a tripod at these higher magnifications.

The above images of the circuit board and watch movement were taken with the OM-1 mounted on a tripod.  I also used the OM System RM-WR1 wireless remote and avoiding walking during the stack to avoid vibration. All images were taken using autofocus.

Aperture Limitations in Super Macro Mode

One thing that isn’t talked about in the lens introduction YouTube videos is the maximum (widest) aperture of the lens. When using Super Macro mode without teleconverters, the maximum aperture goes from f/3.5 to f/5.  I don’t think this is a big deal since the depth of field gets very small with 2X magnification at an effective 180mm focal length.

While it’s nice to be able to use Olympus teleconverters with the OM System 90mm macro lens, the widest aperture setting gets smaller as you add teleconverters to the lens, especially in Super Macro mode.

OM Systems 90mm Maximum (Widest) Aperture at Different Focus Limiter Settings

 Super Macro.25 – .5m.25m – Infinity
Lens Onlyf/5f/3.5f/3.5
Lens + 1.4x Teleconverterf/7.1f/5f/5
Lens + 2.0x Teleconverterf/10f/7.1f/7.1

 In order to get 4x magnification with 90mm macro you need to attach the Olympus 2.0 teleconverter.  The widest aperture with using the 2.0x teleconverter is f/10, which means you will need a lot of light or use a flash if attempting to handhold the lens.  You will probably want to use a tripod when shooting at 4x anyways.  Even on a tripod, you will need to add light or use longer shutter speeds when using the 2X teleconverter.

My CygnusTech Custom Macro Flash Diffuser Doesn’t Fit

I love my CygnusTech Flash Diffuser.  It shines a nice even light on your subject with minimal specular highlights.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit over the 90mm macro.  I can stretch it to make it fit but I’m afraid, that I will break it.  Also, if it did fit, it looks like it might interfere with the manual focus clutch.

If you use a custom flash diffuser, you may want to keep room in the budget for a new one that fits the 90mm macro.

Was it Worth $1,499?

I’ve really enjoyed photographing with the OM System 90mm f/3.5 Pro Macro lens during the short time that I’ve had it.  The pictures are sharp and it’s nice to have 2X magnification with autofocus built into the lens, and not have to use extension tubes or a Raynox magnification lens attached.

But, the real proof will be when I can take it outdoors to photograph insects; it’s still too cold where I live.  I think the increased working distance and magnification will be terrific for insect macro photography, but I want to try it out first.  So, more to come. 

Written by Martin Belan

Related Posts

A Comparison of Flash and Diffuser Options for Macro Photography
An Unbiased Evaluation of the OM System 90mm f3.5 Pro Macro Lens: Is it right for you?
OM System RM-WR1 Wireless Remote Control Review

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One Comment

  • Derek Dewey-Leader

    Some very helpful information Martin, particularly on limitions when using the teleconverters Normally I would jump in with both feet when a new macro lens comes on the market but this time I think I will sit back and await further test results particularly of insects in the wild. Meanwhile my 60mm and 30 mm Olympus macro lens continue to meet my needs.

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