The Olympus OM Auto-Macro 50mm f/20 Review

Olympus is famous for the quality of their lenses. In the OM line, the 90mm Auto-Macro f/2 and the Auto-T 100mm f/2 lenses were quite famous for their quality. The same could be said for the likes of the 24mm f/2.8 and the 35mm f/2.

The OM Auto-Macro 50mm f/2 is lesser known. And that’s unfortunate. It’s a fairly late 1985 design with floating element design and a crazy 9 elements in 7 groups–very complex for a double gauss 50mm lens, especially one that was designed 30 years ago (incidentally, my copy is from 1996, at little newer).


But it’s complexity gives a few advantages. For one, it has a perfectly flat field. There’s basically no field curvature at all. On top of that, it is incredibly sharp. It’s one of the sharpest normal lenses I’ve ever used–competitive with the Contax Zeiss 45mm f/2. And it has the strength of being extremely sharp across its entire focusing range, which means its an able-bodied lens for normal shooting and also close-up work.

Vignetting exists at f/2, but disappears at f/2.8 and it doesn’t flare very much at all. All in all, a high quality lens that I would highly recommend. I love it on my Sony A7, but I also use it with a Metabones Speedbooster on my Olympus OM-D E-M5 for an awesome 35mm f/1.4

It’s a bit pricey for legacy glass–$300 should be expected, less than that is a steal–but there are few MF lenses that can compete with it in terms of its balance of resolution, aperture size, and close-focusing ability. A 25mm extension tube will give it true 1:1 macro ability too. I use that combination for slide copying with my A7.

All of these photos were taken with the lens…sorry about all the gear shots–I really like my E-M5 & 75mm f/1.8. More photos with the Olympus OM Auto-Macro 50mm f/2 can be found in my Flickr Album for the Lens: Auto-Macro 50mm f/2


2 thoughts on “The Olympus OM Auto-Macro 50mm f/20 Review

  1. I have or had the 90/2, 100/2, 24/2.8, 35/2, 135/2.8, 55/1. 2, 35-70/3.6, 300/4.5, 50/1.4 and 1.8. As well as the 50/2m.

    In my experience of using them all, the 50/1.8 is the best lens for size, weight and value. It is pretty good optically as well, especially the later versions. It is unquestionably a great all-rounder, however the 100/2 is my favourite portrait lens, it is awesome. The clarity is superb along with very low vignetting at f2. If you see one cheap, get it.

    The 90/2 is world class. It is better when used for near subjects. It is a nasty portrait lens. Your girlfriend will hate you if you use it on her as it shows every blemish. But for macro and detail at weddings etc it excells with awesome bokeh.

    The 50/2 m you mention is a great copy lens. Every gallery should have one to showcase their artwork. It is so realistic at f/8-11 it hurts.

    The 24/2.8 is nice. On the cool side colour wise but a keeper. The 35/2 in my opinion has been not so hot. For ‘arty’ vignetting at f2 it does a good impression of lomo toy camera look. Great if you like that. Or use a cameraphone and use software for a retro look.

    All in all if you don’t do macro, get the 50/1.8, 24/2.8 and 100/2 and you’re good to go. If you love macro then use the digital versions unkess you have a lust for om glass.

    1. That’s a nice collection of lenses. I have a great copy of the 24mm f/2.8 and plans for eventually getting the 100mm f/2. I think the 24mm, 50mm macro, and 100mm will make a nice little trio.

      If you can find them, you’ll see that the 24mm f/2.8 is one of the best 24mm’s made in during the 70’s and 80’s, but that none of Olympus’ OM 35mm’s were particularly great…a theme which they seem to be continuing with their 17mm lenses for μ43, unfortunately.

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