Focus speed with 43rds legacy lenses.

I have a small collection of some of the better quality 43rds lenses because it can be a less expensive way to build a system of lenses than going m43.  But the veracity of this statement depends on the type of photography being undertaken.   I neglected to include two very good macro lenses that I have from the 43rds family, the 50 mm f/2 and the 30mm f/3.5 – widely available for extremely reasonable prices.

So the same tried and true focus speed test was performed using a row of red featureless fence pickets some 40 feet distant,  Audacity and a USB connected microphone, and all lenses were shot at their maximum focal length and aperture and initially manually focused to their closest focus position to make the auto focus work the hardest.

The old E-500 43rds DSLR acted as baseline and this is essentially  a brand new camera with under a thousand actuations and converted to a true monochrome DSLR (see “The Joys of Monochrome Photography” elsewhere in the blog).  A real Olympus MMF-3 adaptor was used with the m43 camera bodies.   Time is indicated in seconds on the Y axis.


The results were a little variable.  I’d like to say 43rds lenses perform best on native 43rds camera bodies, but the 9-18mm performed far better on the E-M1s and the 50-200mm had equivalent focus speed on the E-M1s.  Then there was the Leica 14-54mm which hunted for several seconds before finally attaining focus with the E-PL5, and the 50-200mm never managed to ever attain focus at all again with the E-PL5.  The Leica 14-54mm refused to work with the E-M1(II), the view screen remained dark despite ensuring good contacts.

Although the 43rds lenses work, the focus appears to be accurate and the image quality of these very well designed and built lenses is excellent – their focus speed performance in general is much slower than native m43 lenses.  To be sure, some 43rds lenses don’t even have ultrasonic focus motors.  So if you indulge in sports, action or wildlife photography I think the 43rds lenses will work satisfactorily but not optimally.    Don’t forget that the Pro Capture feature only works with Olympus m43 lenses and there are times that  you need the near instantaneous, lightening quick Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO  and 300mm f/4 PRO.

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