M.Zuiko Digital ED 90mm f/3.5 Macro IS PRO lens

      Photo Review 9.0

      In summary

      Macro photographers who use OM Systems’ cameras should give this lens serious consideration, particularly if they want to photograph living subjects and/or take extreme close-ups.

      The M.Zuiko Digital ED 90mm f/3.5 Macro IS PRO lens offers both versatility and performance that will justify its relatively high investment cost.

      Full review

      Announced on 8 February, just ahead of the 2023 CP+ trade show in Yokohama, Japan, the M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 Macro IS PRO lens takes a slightly different approach to macro lens design by providing a lens capable of up to twice life-size magnification. This is higher than any previous lens we’ve seen thus far. In addition, it also features IP53 weather resistance; the same high level as the OM-1 camera. Furthermore, with a weight of less than 500 grams (hood included), it’s no great burden to carry.

      Angled view of the M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 Macro IS PRO lens without end caps and lens hood. (Source: OM Digital Solutions.)

      The optical design of this lens contains 18 elements in 13 groups and includes six extra-low dispersion (ED), two of them made from special extra-low dispersion (SED) glass, plus two high-resolution (HR) elements, of which one is a Super HR element. A fluorine coating on front element repels moisture and grease, making the lens easy to keep clean.

      Top: A cutaway view of the lens showing the arrangement of the optical elements. Below: This diagram shows the positions of the exotic elements in the lens design. (Source: OM Digital Solutions.)

      Proprietary ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coating minimises the incidence of ghosting and flare, including with backlighting. Spot flaring, which often occurs with macro lenses, is also suppressed.  The seven-bladed iris diaphragm creates a near circular aperture to ensure natural-looking background blurring at wider aperture settings.

      This illustration shows the external controls on the M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 Macro IS PRO lens. (Source: OM Digital Solutions.)

      In-lens stabilisation is driven by a voice coil motor and claims to provide up to six stops of shake correction for handheld shooting. When the lens is fitted to a compatible camera body with sensor-shift IS, 5-axis sync-IS is supported and the combined systems provide up to seven stops of shutter speed compensation for angular shake along with enhanced shift compensation.

      The High-speed Imager AF system is movie and stills compatible and is driven by an internal stepping motor for high precision. Like other PRO series lenses the new 90mm f/3.5 Macro lens features a manual focus clutch. A focus limiting switch is also provided to minimise hunting and enable fast macro shooting.

      The minimum focus distance is 22.4 cm, which allows a good working distance when shooting at 2x magnification. Users can take advantage of both focus bracketing and focus stacking if they are supported by the camera. We tested this lens on an OM-1 camera body, which offers both options.

      Who’s it For?
      This lens is targeted at serious macro photographers, particularly those whose work takes them out in the field where they may encounter inclement weather and other kinds of challenging conditions. Fitted to an OM-1 camera body, it delivers IP53 splashproof and dustproof performance, the highest level of weather resistance available in any current non-waterproof camera and lens combination.

      It also has a fluorine coating on the front element to repel moisture and dust, making it easy to keep clean. Generous, easy to reach and operate controls are a feature of this lens and the manual clutch pulls back to reveal a series of macro positions for setting the lens precisely to magnifications of 0.25x, 0.5x, 1xm 1.5x and 2x with manual focusing.

      Although it is in fact more versatile than the average shorter focal length macro lens, this lens will be particularly useful for photographers who require higher than 1:1 reproduction ratios. With a maximum field size of 8.7 x 6.5 mm, it offers up to twice life-size  (2:1) reproduction and this can be extended as far as 4x (with a field size of 4.3 x 3.3 mm) when the lens is used with the MC-20 teleconverter.

      Autofocusing is also supported across the full focus range from extreme close-ups to infinity.  Manual focus over-ride, when necessary, is easily engaged by pulling the clutch ring back. This displays the focusing positions for the 0.25x, 0.5x, 1xm 1.5x and 2x magnifications to make precise settings easy for users.

      All these features make the 90mm f/3.5 Macro lens ideal for photographing small subjects and its long reach provides enough working distance to photograph easily-spooked insects, arachnids and other tiny creatures. It can also be used in situations where you would use a normal 180mm (35mm equivalent) focal length lens, making it quite a versatile lens.

      Build and Ergonomics
      The IP53 weather-resistance rating virtually guarantees this lens will be solidly constructed. With a metal barrel and lens mount and industrial plastic buttons and rings, it looks and handles like a premium product.

      This diagram shows the positions of the weather-resistant seals in construction of the lens. (Source: OM Digital Solutions.)

      The front element is approximately 30 mm in diameter and surrounded by a partly-ridged black ring that ends in the 62 mm diameter filter thread. The bayonet mount for the lens hood is located on the outside of the lens barrel at this point. The supplied cylindrical lens hood is 50 mm deep and had a locking button t prevent it from being accidentally dislodged.

      The focusing ring is 43 mm wide and has three bands of fine ridging to provide a secure and comfortable grip. It pulls back by about 8 mm to expose the manual focus markings.

      Behind the focusing ring is a 25 mm long section of the lens barrel that carries the main controls. The first of these is the focus limiter slider, which has three setting positions: S-MACRO, 0.25-0.5m and 0.25mm to infinity.

      It’s worth noting that within the S-MACRO focusing range the effective maximum aperture changes according to the degree of magnification used.

      Subject distance (metres) 0.50 0.33 0.25 0.23 0.224
      Magnification 0.25x 0.5x 1x 1.5x 2x
      Effective max. aperture f/5.0 f/5.6 f/6.3 f/7.1 f/8.0
      Exposure compensation 0 +1/3EV +2/3EV +1EV +1.3EV

      Note: Manual exposure compensation adjustment isn’t needed when using the camera’s auto exposure modes.

      Below the focus limiter is the image stabiliser switch, which can be set to ON or OFF. When combined with the sensor-shift system in a compatible OM Systems camera, up to seven stops of shake correction can be achieved.

      Further round the barrel is the programmable lens function (L-Fn) button, which can be set to operate one of the camera’s functions (functions available will depend upon the camera). Autofocusing is disabled while this button is pressed.

      There are no other controls on the roughly 50 mm length of the rest of the barrel, but the barrel steps in a couple of times and carries a metal branding ring before sloping inwards to the metal mounting plate.

      Inside the mounting plate are 11 gold-plated contacts for exchanging signals between the lens and the camera body. The lens is supplied with the LH-66E lens hood, LC-62G lens cap, LR-2 lens rear cap and CS-53 wrapping cloth.

      Our Imatest tests showed the review lens to be a decent performer on the OM-1 body, which was supplied with the lens. The measured resolution in the centre of the frame modestly exceeded expectations with JPEG files but was well above expectations with ORF.RAW files.

      Raw file resolution remained consistently higher than JPEG resolution across the aperture range and above expectations in the centre of the frame at all apertures up to f/11 (inclusive). The two graphs below show the results of our tests.

      Lateral chromatic aberration measurements fell well within the ‘negligible’ band for both JPEGs (which benefit from automatic in-camera corrections) and uncorrected ORF.RAW files. For clarity we’ve only provided the graph for the raw files, with the vertical red line marking the boundary between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA.

      Like chromatic aberration, vignetting and rectilinear distortion had to be assessed through raw files with all optical and profile corrections disabled. We found a small amount of vignetting, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a macro lens, but rectilinear distortion was effectively negligible, as you’d expect in a lens of this type.

      The seven-bladed iris diaphragm produced attractive 14-pointed sunstars when the lens was stopped down to its minimum aperture of f/22. We found a few flare artefacts and a trace of veiling flare – but only when the light source was relatively large. With small sources and normal backlighting, flare was effectively negligible.

      Autofocusing was a mixed bag, which is normal for a lens of this type. Within the ‘normal’ 0.25 metre to infinity range, focusing was generally accurate and instantaneous.

      When shooting with high magnifications, the depth of field is so shallow that some hunting is virtually inevitable.  Fortunately, the manual clutch mechanism made it easy to switch to manual focusing in such situations and it was only an issue with very low-contrast subjects in low light levels.

      Because of the relatively shallow depth of field, bokeh was smooth and attractive in most situations, as you’d expect from such a high-magnification macro lens. It’s easy to make background shapes merge into a homogenous blur and create ethereal-looking macro shots with slight over-exposure, as shown in the Samples section.

      The built-in IS system worked well with the 5-axis IBIS in the OM-1 body to enable us to take all of our test shots with the lens hand-held and use shutter speeds as slow at 1/13 or 1/15 second. A couple of times the camera’s focus stacking function failed due to camera movement while the sequence of shots was recorded; but this was mainly due to poor ambient lighting (in one case) and while trying to take extreme close-ups of a spider that was only a few millimetres long with the camera held at full arm stretch (in the other).

      Aside from that the M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 Macro IS PRO lens performed remarkably well – and at times somewhat better than we had expected – in all the situations we presented it with. To highlight its versatility we’ve included some instances of non-macro use of the lens is the Samples section of the review.

      The positions of the key controls make it comfortable and easy to use and the high level of weather-resistance allows it to be used confidently in challenging environments. There’s certainly a lot to like in this lens.


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      Picture angle: 14 degrees
      Minimum aperture: f/22
      Lens construction: 18 elements in 13 groups (including 2 Super ED, 4 ED and 1 Super HR, 1 HR elements plus fluorine coating on front element)
      Lens mounts: Micro Four Thirds
      Diaphragm Blades: 7 (rounded aperture)
      Weather resistance: IEC Standard IP53 Dustproof, Freezeproof, Splashproof with similarly-rated camera body
      Focus drive: High-speed Imager AF (MSC)
      Stabilisation: VCM-driven 5-Axis Lens Sync IS; 6 steps of lens IS; 7 steps with OM-1 camera body
      Minimum focus: 22.4 cm in S-Macro mode
      Maximum magnification: 2.0x (Micro Four Thirds) / 4.0x (35mm format)
      Filter size: 62 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 69.8 x 136 mm
      Weight: 453 grams (without Lens Cap, Lens Rear Cap and Lens Hood)
      Standard Accessories: LH-66E Lens Hood, LC-62G Lens Cap, LR-2 Lens Rear Cap, CS-53 Wrapping Cloth

      Distributor: OM Digital Solutions Australia Pty Ltd, 1300 659 678



      Based on JPEG files taken with the OM-1 camera.


      Based on ORF.RAW files recorded simultaneously and converted into TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.



      Vignetting at f/3.5.

      Rectilinear distortion.

      Sunstar and flare artefacts at ISO 200, 1/13 second at f/22.

      In-camera focus-stacking;  ISO 200, 1/80 second at f/5.

      Bokeh  at ISO 200, 1/30 second at f/5.

      S-MACRO range; ISO 200, 1/50 second at f/5.

      S-MACRO range; ISO 200, 1/40 second at f/5.

      ISO 200, 1/20 second at f/3.5.

      S-MACRO range; 65 ISO 200, 1/15 second at f/3.5.

      ISO 200, 1/320 second at f/6.3.

      ISO 200, 1/200 second at f/5.

      ISO 200, 1/25 second at f/8.

      ISO 200, 1/40 second at f/5.6. (From an ORF.RAW file.)

      S-MACROrange; ISO 2000, 1/200 second at f/5.

      ISO 640, 1/200 second at f/5.

      Normal subject distance close-up; ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/4.0.

      ISO 1600, 1/200 second at f/3.5. (From an ORF.RAW file.)

      ISO 800, 1/200 second at f/3.5. (From an ORF.RAW file.)

       ISO 200, 1/40 second at f/9.

      ISO 200, 1/25 second at f/3.5.



      RRP: AU$2199

      • Build: 9.0
      • Handling: 9.0
      • Image quality: 9.0
      • Autofocusing: 8.9
      • Versatility: 8.9