A Closer Look at Macro Mode on Olympus 12-50mm Zoom

One of the features on the new Olympus ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 zoomthat intrigued me was the macro capability. I'm asked all the time if "macro modes are any good." I thought I'd run a quick test with the zoom mounted on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 16MP bodyand show you the uncropped results.

Macro Mode On Macro mode on Olympus 12-50mm zoom.

Macro Mode Off No macro mode.

Not only does macro mode on the 12-50mm zoom get you closer, it also renders a softer background. Not too bad for a compact lens (3.3 x 2 x 2 inches) that only weighs 7.5 ounces and is weather sealed.

To enable close up mode, press the "Macro" button on the side of the lens and move the zoom ring forward to the front optic. Once it locks into place, your world just got a little closer.

The zoom sells separately for $499, but you can save yourself a couple hundred bucks if you buy it in a kit with the OM-D.

So is macro mode any good? Well, it's not as close as your dedicated 100mm glass, but I like having this option on an all-purpose zoom that's easy to pack. So, I would say, "yes!".

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just waiting for mine. glad i picked this over the 14-42

I'm glad you picked it up over the 14-42 also! I like the 12-50mm zoom in general. It has more features and is weather sealed. The power zooming action is fun too.

Does this mean we can expect a review of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera soon? I like the look of this camera and think it might go well with (or replace) my E-PL1 model.

Yes, Roderick, we should see it soon, hopefully by the end of the month. The model I'm testing seems fully baked. I have one ordered too for personal use. Hoping it comes not too long after I send my review copy back :)

Awesome! I have pre-ordered also. I look forward to your review!

I went with the 14-42 with my E-M5 over the 12-50. I also bought the macro converter, so I ended up saving about $150 or so. Hidden and great bonus: the Olympus macro converter works flawlessly with the 45mm 1.8!

Optically, it seems the new 14-42 IIR is no worse than the 12-50. Sure, I lose weather sealing and some reach on both ends, but the the IIR is super small (it's noticeably slimmer than the original 14-42 that I got with my E-P1 and the 14-42 II), while the 12-50 is almost identical in size to the 14-150. For me, I feel like if I'm going to carry a lens that big, I might as well go with the 14-150.

Derrick - just got my EM-5 - but can't seem to find any confirmation that the macro button on the kit lens is doing anything? (I have set the zoom ring to manual, then to 50mm) - regardless of which mode (P, A, iAuto etc.) I see nothing in the EVF or panel that seems to confirm I'm in macro mode, nor does it seem to make any image setting changes when I push the macro button? Thanks!

Marc, there are three positions for the "zoom" ring on the 12-50. Closest to the camera body is manual zoom. Slide the ring forward into the middle position and you have the power zoom. And when you push the macro button and slide the zoom ring to the forward position (farthest away from the camera body) you are now in locked into the macro mode. The camera body doesn't have anything to do with it. It is the lens itself that sets the aperture and focal length.