A couple of more tricks the OM-D E-M5 with 12-50 can pull off

Discussion in 'Four Thirds Forum' started by Jock Elliott, Dec 24, 2015.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    The 12-50 is the original lens announced for the Olympus OM-D E-M5, part of the overall weather-resistant package that was first announced, and I purchased it specifically because it is supposed to be rain, splash, and dust resistant. I haven't put it to the test as far as resisting anything is concerned, but I love the fact that the lens zooms and focuses internally and stays the same size. For some reason, this gives me the impression that the camera and lens are an extremely sturdy package.

    There are a couple of buttons on the side of the 12-50 lens that I hadn't paid much attention to until a couple of days ago. The first, located on the left side of the lens and toward the bottom quarter of the lens barrel, is labeled "MACRO." I had pressed it a couple of times while trying to focus closely and hadn't noticed that it did anything in particular.

    I found out what it does, and we'll get to that in just a moment, but first you need a little background. On the 12-50 lens barrel there are two rings. The first, out toward the far end of the lens, is for manual focus. It doesn't do anything unless manual focus is electronically engaged through one of the menus.

    The second ring, closer to the camera body, controls the zoom. This ring not only rotates around the lens barrel but can also be slid fore and aft along the length of the lens. The position closest to the camera body is for manual zoom, and I discovered to my surprise that I like the precise framing that manual zoom offers. The second position -- a click away from the camera body -- is for electric zoom. Twist the ring slightly in either direction, and it becomes a smooth power zoom. There is a small clear plastic window on the side of the lens barrel that indicates "M zoom" or "E zoom," and regardless of which mode you are using, the E-M5 displays the focal length in mm in the upper right corner of the EVF. Note well, however, that the displays shows the actual focal length (25mm, for example) and you have to double it if you want the equivalent focal length.

    What I didn't know, since the lens apparently doesn't come with any instructions, is that there is a third position for the zoom ring. Push and hold the MACRO button and slide the zoom ring an additional click away from the camera body and a couple of interesting things happen. First, the little plastic window now says "MACRO" and the lens now locks in to become a 96mm (e) macro lens.

    Here are a couple of examples, shots of the frothy foam produced by dish soap in the top of a glass:

    The second button on the side of the 12-50 lens barrel says simply "L-Fn," which I presume means some like lens function. Like any of the other Fn buttons on the camera body, it can be programmed to a wide variety of functions. This seemed like the perfect place to make manual focus available, so that's what I programmed it for. I also programmed the Fn1 button for the digital teleconverter, so that in one lens I have 24-200mm (e) with macro capability and rain, splash and dust resistance. Not bad.

    Cheers, Jock
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  2. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Real Name:
    Oh that's cool. It's like getting a christmas present from an old lens.
  3. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY

    Merrrrrrry Christmas!

  4. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin SC Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2011
    Portland, OR
    the macro mode on the 12-50mm is pretty cool. My wife is using the 12-50 and she's getting really nice results with it.
    (and everytime I pick up her EM5 with the 12-50 I go "huh, this is really the right size and weight" :) )
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  5. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Real Name:
    I've never understood some of the criticism of the 12-50. Yes, it's a bit slow at the long end but it starts at 12mm (24mm equivalent). I've seen real-world results from this lens and I don't know how anyone can complain. And, as Jock points out, the 12-50 offers WR, a very useable macro mode and your choice of manual or powered zoom. This is one of the best kit lenses I've seen - suitable for stills or video.
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  6. docfox

    docfox SC Regular

    Apr 2, 2011
    Hatfield, PA
    Dear Jock,

    Many thanks for posting this! I have had my 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko since February of 2014 and never realized it had this macro mode - like others, I puzzled over the "Macro" button, then moved on and just used the lens for all sorts of things. But today (August 2, 2017) I made my first macro image (below) with it. You have opened up new vistas for me!


    I have mine bolted to a Panasonic GX7 and really like this combination.

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  7. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Awesome! I am so pleased the post proved useful.

    Nice image!

    Cheers, Jock