M.Zuiko 90MM PRO IS Macro Review

This article provides my M.Zuiko 90mm PRO IS Macro review and is based on a good amount of field work done over the past 6 or 7 weeks. As regular readers know this is not a gear review website. We only do hands-on reviews of equipment that we actually own and use.

It is also important to state upfront that I have no official relationship with OM Digital Systems (OMDS), nor do I have any affiliate marketing relationships where commissions are paid based on ‘click through’ sales. Whether you choose to buy any camera gear… or not… has no financial impact on me whatsoever. So, there’s no intention with this M.Zuiko 90mm PRO IS review to encourage you to buy anything. My objective is simply to share my experiences using this lens.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 IS PRO with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 180 mm, efov 360 mm, f/10, -0.7 EV, 1/320, ISO-160, full frame capture, subject distance 520 mm, one-handed capture

Putting this hands-on review in context.

I think it is important to put any hands-on review in context in terms of someone’s photographic style, how they use the images produced, and what personal expectations they may have in terms of equipment performance.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 IS PRO with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 180 mm, efov 360 mm, f/11, -0.3 EV, 1/640, ISO-640, full frame capture, subject distance 320 mm

Since I am a dedicated handheld photographer this hands-on review does not make any reference to using the M.Zuiko 90mm PRO IS macro lens with a tripod or other type of camera support. I shoot handheld and love to experiment with my camera gear to push its limits, as well as my own skill level.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 IS PRO with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 180 mm, efov 360 mm, f/7.1, -0.7 EV, 1/640, ISO-160, full frame capture, subject distance 695 mm

An important factor for me is to work with camera gear that helps expand what is possible with my photography. I want to use gear that is easy to handle and expands my photographic options when I’m out in the field with it.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 IS PRO with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 180 mm, efov 360 mm, f/10, -0.7 EV, 1/320, ISO-2000, full frame capture, handheld in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 375 mm

I view my macro photography as a creative adventure and I don’t print any enlargements for sale. Any photographs that I create are used on this website, or may be incorporated in future eBook productions. Whenever possible I try to capture my images as full frames and I avoid cropping if I can. I’m not a pixel peeper so I don’t fret about minute differences at a granular level.

Macro set-up which includes OM-D E-M1X, M.Zuiko MC-20 (or MC-14) teleconverter, M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro lens, M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin Macro Flash

My current macro photography set-up.

Since acquiring the M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro lens, I’ve found that the range of what is possible for me to photograph has expanded exponentially. As a result my current macro photography set-up now includes an M.Zuiko teleconverter and the STF-8 Twin Macro Flash.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/9, 1/320, ISO-800, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 270 mm

Unlike many other macro photographers I shoot in natural light the majority of the time, and tend not to use flash very often. Since the M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro lens is compatible with teleconverters I quickly learned that I had far more macro image opportunities than I ever had in the past.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 250 mm

Many of these were in poor light, or were tucked away behind foliage, so I began to use the STF-8 Twin Macro Flash on a more frequent basis. My wife suggested a simple DIY approach to further diffuse the light from the twin flash heads by adding some veiling material tucked inside the existing diffusers.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 260 mm

While not perfect, this adjustment did make a significant difference in terms of reducing ‘hot spots’, which further encouraged additional flash use. The result was incorporating the STF-8 Twin Macro Flash as part of my standard macro photography set-up.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/7.1, -0.7 EV, 1/320, ISO-320, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 260 mm

In-field flexibility.

The M.Zuiko 90mm PRO IS expands the in-field flexibility available to macro photographers. Being able to go to 2X magnification by moving in slightly to a subject and flicking the focus limiter switch opens up all kinds of additional potential. Being able to use a teleconverter… in-camera focus stacking… Handheld Hi Res… flash… or Digital Teleconverter without having to take time to alter the physical set-up I’m holding in my hands is incredibly liberating.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 180 mm, efov 360 mm, f/14, -0.7 EV, 1/250, ISO-200, full frame capture, subject distance 385 mm

For example, I was in my backyard a few days ago and noticed a small damselfly darting in and around some foliage after a light rain. Since I already had the MC-20 teleconverter incorporated into my macro set-up I could get the damselfly to fill much of my frame, even though it was 385 mm (~15.2 inches) away. I quickly turned on my flash, turned off focus stacking, and captured the image above.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter, Digital Teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 360 mm, efov 720 mm, f/14, -0.7 EV, 1/250, ISO-200, full frame capture, subject distance 385 mm

Without having to look at my camera body, I had also quickly depressed the AEL/AFL button on the back panel. Since I never use back button focus I have this button set to engage the Digital Teleconverter on my E-M1X. The result was a RAW file at standard size (image 10 in this article), and another jpeg version of the same image at double the magnification as you can see above. Both of these images were created with the same shutter release motion.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 180 mm, efov 360 mm, f/10, -0.7 EV, 1/640, ISO-2000, full frame capture, handheld in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 495 mm

A few minutes earlier I had captured the same damselfly perched on a different leaf in natural light using handheld in-camera focus stacking. Being able to quickly and easily switch back and forth between shooting modes and computational photography technologies is creatively stimulating.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 180 mm, efov 360 mm, f/13, 1/2500, ISO-2500, cropped to 2799 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 785 mm

I’ve used the M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter in conjunction with Pro Capture H to photograph flies in flight with the 90mm PRO IS macro lens.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 180 mm, efov 360 mm, f/16, 1/800, ISO-6400, full frame capture, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, subject distance 285 mm

Photographing a death struggle when a small jumping spider caught a tiny fly was made possible with the 90mm PRO IS when combined with the MC-20 teleconverter and handheld in-camera focus stacking.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 245 mm

During a recent visit to the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory I had a lot of fun capturing images of butterflies as they perched at unusual angles.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 255 mm

Using the articulating rear screen of my E-M1X allows me to create images that may not have been possible with some other camera gear.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 315 mm

I’ve had numerous occasions when I’ve held my camera body at a 90 degree angle to my body with the screen angled out so I could get my desired photograph. I’ve done this even when using the STF-8 Twin Macro Flash.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin Marco Flash, efov 180 mm, f/13, 1/250, ISO-200, full frame capture, subject distance 370 mm

The image quality and sharpness of the M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS has been as I expected… top notch.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-500, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 245 mm

I’ve pushed some personal limits by using a combination of the MC-14 teleconverter, Digital Teleconverter, and handheld in-camera focus stacking to photograph some tiny flies up close.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/6.3, -0.3 EV, 1/125, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 455 mm

One of my favourite times to do macro photography is during a light rain. My M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 macro was instructive in this regard. Not having to care about wet conditions provides opportunities to create interesting images “in the moment” rather than after the fact.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter, Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, STF-8 Twin Macro Flash, f/14, -0.7 EV, 1/250, ISO-200, full frame capture, subject distance 295 mm

Weather sealing is one of the significant benefits of using Olympus/OM camera gear that is often understated. Especially for macro photography.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/11 -0.7 EV, 1/250, ISO-2500, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 315 mm

Using my M.Zuiko 90mm PRO IS with weatherproof MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters and the STF-8 flash during inclement weather is just a natural occurrence for me.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/9, -0.3 EV, 1/160, ISO-1600, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 285 mm

One afternoon I totally lost track of time and was out in the rain for several hours non-stop. I hadn’t even noticed that I was totally soaked by the time that I came back into the house. When I reviewed the resulting images all I could do was smile… with a deep sense of wonder about the natural world around me in my own backyard.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/7.1, -0.3 EV, 1/125, ISO-640, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 295 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, STF-8 Twin Macro Flash, f/14, -0.7 EV, 1/250, ISO-200, full frame capture, subject distance 440 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/7.1, -0.3 EV, 1/160, ISO-1000, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 270 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, STF-8 Twin Macro Flash, f/14, -0.7 EV, 1/250, ISO-200, full frame capture, subject distance 295 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/9, -0.3 EV, 1/160, ISO-2500, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 275 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter, Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, STF-8 Twin Macro Flash, f/14, -0.7 EV, 1/250, ISO-500, full frame capture, subject distance 475 mm

What’s important.

Everyone has their own assessment about what’s important when they read about camera gear. For some it’s a deep dive into specifications. Others may like to see charts and graphs of lab tests. Many folks like to pixel peep so they can examine small differences between competing products.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 250 mm

To be totally frank, none of those things is the least bit important to me. What matters to me is how I feel when I hold my camera gear. Does it help me become motivated? Do I feel creative? Am I inspired by the possibilities I see in the world around me?

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin Marco Flash, efov 180 mm, f/11, 1/250, ISO-200, full frame capture, subject distance 585 mm

Ultimately I care about what I can create with my camera equipment. The size of the sensor inside my camera doesn’t matter. How it is rated for dynamic range or colour depth doesn’t matter. What someone else thinks about my gear doesn’t matter.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 710 mm

What is critical is how I connect with my equipment. Does it feel that it is a part of me? Has it become a seamless part of my creativity that enables images in my mind to transform into reality?

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin Marco Flash, efov 180 mm, f/13, 1/250, ISO-200, full frame capture, subject distance 370 mm

In a way I’m glad that I initially didn’t buy the M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro lens when it was first introduced. Using the M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 macro for some additional time allowed me to more fully appreciate the technology and capabilities of my Olympus kit… and specifically my E-M1X bodies.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin Marco Flash, efov 180 mm, f/13, 1/250, ISO-200, full frame capture, subject distance 255 mm

The 60mm f/2.8 macro lens ignited a creative spark for macro photography within me that I hadn’t found with other equipment in the past. That superb little lens set the stage for where I am today with my macro photography and the M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin Marco Flash, efov 180 mm, f/13, 1/250, ISO-200, full frame capture, subject distance 460 mm

Whenever I pick up my 90mm PRO IS macro kit I’m excited about the image possibilities around me. I become a child again… full of wonder for the natural world. It is a place full of adventure and creativity.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-400, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 255 mm

So… for what its worth… those are my experiences with the M.Zuiko 90mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro lens.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld with the camera equipment  noted in the EXIF data. All images were created from RAW files or out-of-camera jpegs using my standard process in post. This is the 1,392 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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2 thoughts on “M.Zuiko 90MM PRO IS Macro Review”

  1. Excellent article Thomas. Amazing shots to boot! And the comments at the end is exactly why I love both my X’s, The camera is so capable and liberating as you say. And in the end, I too get a giggle when I see the photos.
    V/r Randy

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