Olympus 50-200 zoom lens review

Having just taken delivery of my brand spanking 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 lens to replace the factory one that came with my E-500, I realise I’ve never said anything more about the 50-200mm I got a while ago. So here’s a few comments from an amateur…

First off, the lens feels solid in the hand. It feels like a thousand bucks, which is good since that’s about what it’s worth. I just took it though Peru for three weeks and I think it survived all the dust admirably, especially since I used it more than the normal zoom, and we went places like Cerro Blanco, which is a combination of sand dune and desert. I think photos like the one below speak volumes for what one can do with a lens like this…

Child at the llama farm

So what are the bad things? The first downside (though maybe this applies to all lenses, I don’t know) is some reflections when pointed directly at bright lights (e.g. the sun). The way around this is obvious I guess… though I do like sunsets.

sunset in NY, note massive reflection

Another thing is some vignetting at medium zooms, like around 100mm. I’ve only noticed this recently in photos with even backgrounds, such as the sky so it’s not particularly obvious. The image below is at 117mm and f/5.6.dog nasca line with fading around the edges

Aside from those two things, I love this lens, and currently use it more than the normal 17-45mm (this may change with my new purchase however). I like that it feels solid, I like the sleeve tripod mount (which I use to carry it with sometimes. I don’t own a decent tripod yet, which you need for the weight of the lens), I like that I can get close to things without having to.

I think I’m finding that this lens is consistently sharper than my 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5, which has never really wowed me. I’ve recently become somewhat disillusioned with the Olympus ISO performance and picked up a D700 with a 50mm f/1.4G, but have kept the Olympus basically because the 4/3 2x crop means the 50-200mm is a great zoom to have, and way cheaper than anything comparable I could get for a FX Nikon.

So go on, buy it! However, I’m not any more than someone who likes taking nice pictures, so if you want a proper review by someone who knows there are some out there (e.g. here here and here).