One of the Lightest and Most Compact of its Kind With Excellent Light-Gathering Power
The Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD Zuiko Zoom Lens is a high-performance zoom-telephoto lens that features, for the first time, the SWD (Supersonic Wave Drive) autofocus system. ED lens elements are used extensively to correct the color blurring that can occur when telescopic lenses are extended to their maximum focal length, while the digital-dedicated design ensures high-definition performance with clear, crisp images from edge to edge. It offers an equivalent focal length in 35mm terms of 100-400mm.
The lens' autofocus is powered by Olympus' innovative SWD focusing technology. SWD combines different technologies to provide both high speed and high precision autofocusing, while allowing the lens to be operated with lower noise than before. Optimized for use with the new E-3, this lens enables the camera to demonstrate the full power of its high-speed capability, providing extremely fast focusing.
Special optical glass elements are used to correct various types of aberrations,
while the 100% digital design ensures high-definition performance with clear,
crisp images from edge to edge. Close-up shooting capability is also superb,
with a minimum shooting distance of just 3.9' (1.2 m) throughout the zoom range.
Supersonic Wave Drive Technology
SWD technology allows for ultra-fast, whisper-quiet, high-precision AF. Two compact, high-powered SWD devices power autofocus at an ultra-high speed by exciting unique elliptical oscillations, while an ultra-compact 5.3mm x 4.3mm optical encoder detects and controls the lens drive position using direct rotation detection without reduction gear. This enables it to achieve a level of precision that's accurate to 5 microns (5/1000 mm). When used in combination with the E-3, which offers improved AF computation and lens-body communication rates, the SWD motors provide the fastest focusing speed of approximately 170 ms (0.17 seconds).
High Optical Quality
Features 3 ED elements to correct for various types of aberrations.
Internal Focus system makes focusing smoother and faster.
Sharp and Fast, December 7, 2009
By -Ashi- (San Jose, CA United States)
I've been wanting this lens ever since I was doing my research on which DSLR to buy. After I purchased my Olympus E-620, this became my second in line on my lens-to-buy list (first being 14-54mm II because I need a general purpose zoom). I bought this lens when it was on special, but right after the order was placed, a foul feeling overwhelmed me. I cannot afford this lens!!! I bought 14-54mm II instead of 12-60mm because of budget. I also bought a 50mm macro so I was super tight on budget. I was determined to return this lens and get the 70-300mm instead to fill the telephoto need, but the quality of this lens made me change my mind. So I sold 50mm macro to fund this lens.
Here is the alluring fact why it made me forget about budget... (and I'm usually financially prudent).
1. Very sharp. While at F2, 50mm macro is definitely brighter and well known for being one of the sharpest lens around (of any brand), this lens, I suspect it being sharper than 50mm at that focal length. While looking at the MTF chart, 50mm definitely wins, but in real world situation, you'd have to look really hard.
2. Very fast. SWD is quiet and fast. I don't think I'm an action shooter (I usually shoot landscape), but I could shoot many bird pictures with it with excellent accuracy. I mean, they were flying in the middle of the sky and I still got them.
3. Bright enough. Usually you'd see a telephoto lens of this price range starts with F4, not F2.8. F2.8 is a very flexible aperture, which allows many photo shoots to be done hand-held without the aid of a cumbersome tripod.
4. Beautiful colors. While my 14-54mm II can also do 50mm, for some unknown reason, this lens does it better. The color tends to be a little richer. Maybe it's the oversize lens hood that changes the lighting, I don't know the actual reason, but the difference is noticeable. 14-54mm II and 50mm tend to shoot pictures which look "digital." On the other hand, 50-200mm tends to shoot pictures that are more cinematic.... Just look at user photos (done by others), and that's pretty similar to what I get from it also. There is a film look to it, yet it's not grainy!
Things should be aware of:
1. It's heavy. Hold the lens rather than the camera body when carry it. Hooking it to a a smaller camera body like E-620 will definitely get front heavy. I suspect the tripod stand itself is about as heavy as the E-620 body only. You can take it off when you don't need it. You'll get plenty of exercise carrying this lens around. However, it feels assuring in hand.
2. It's huge. It's one of the smaller lenses of the class, but it's still really girthy. When fully zoom out, it's well..., quite long. The hood is HUGE. The whole lens looks well-proportioned, but you're definitely going to get a lot of attention with it.
3. Tactile feel. SWD lenses have mechanical manual focus. That means it's harder to turn. I personally don't find it that different, but it's noticeable. At both ends of focal distance, it becomes harder to twist, though it doesn't stop. Zoom ring, however, will get very difficult to turn near 200mm end. Mechanical MF gives you the benefit of turning it any time you want, even when you're in AF mode. Very beneficial if you are the MF kind of guy/gal.
4. Weather proof and focal distance meter. Yes, like all pro line lenses produced by Olympus (except 70-300mm), it has those mission critical features.
5. Others. Lens hood has a window so you can turn your polarizing filter (67mm). There is NO auto focus limiter, but I don't find it big of a deal, since most of the time AF focuses accurately under good lighting condition. The lens comes with a semi-hard, cushioned lens case (with shoulder strap), instead of the standard-issue soft pouch (a plus).
Bottom line: if you can afford it, definitely get this lens. Many people who have it call it their favorite lens (though I also wanted this lens badly, but I thought they were on a free-for-all hyperbole trip). With a 35mm equivalent focal range of 100-400mm, it's good for portrait (at 100mm) and wildlife shooting (because AF is so quick!). Though I think the minimum focus distance of ~1.2m is a little far for general portraiture. If you don't use this focal range extensively (100-400mm, 35mm equivalent), 70-300mm seems to be a good purchase with a much lower price tag.