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Comparing the Digital Zuiko 50-200 old and new
New SWD version on the left and original 50-200 on the right

Are the two different versions of the 50-200 f/2.8-3.5 that different?

Download our sample images and make your own mind up

I have been asked on more than one occasion if I think the new SWD (Supersonic Wave Drive autofocus) version of the trusty Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200 f/2.8-3.5 ED zoom (on the right, above) has been improved in an optical sense. On paper, its design looks identical, with To help further the debate, below are links to samples taken with both lenses using an Olympus E-3. I took sample images at 50mm, around 100mm and 200mm, both with the aperture wide open and stopped down to an optimal f/5.6. The in-camera JPEG and RAW files have both been made available for you to examine.

The new SWD version of this lens does have slightly altered optics. It's plain to see just by looking down the front of both lenses side by side. My guess is that the SWD version had to be altered to accommodate the big sonic ring motor at the front of the lens. Physically, the new lens, especially with its over-size hood - complete with door for accessing a rotating filter, looks appreciably bigger than its predecessor. However, the new lens is actually slightly lighter - possibly because of the SWD focus motor. The tripod mount flexes less than the original version, which is a welcome improvement.

It was a rather grey day when these samples were recorded, but there is a reasonable amount of fine detail and contrast to test the lenses. I haven't yet bench-tested the new lens, but as soon as I have, I will let you know!

Click on a thumbnail below to view the full size in-camera JPEG on your browser (around 4-5MB) or right click and download the target file. Underneath is a download link for the corresponding RAW file.

 

P4188861 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD @50mm, 1/500th, f/2.8, ISO 100.
P4188862 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD @50mm, 1/100th, f/5.6, ISO 100.
P4188863 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD @101mm, 1/320th, f/3.2, ISO 100.
P4188864 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD @101mm, 1/100th, f/5.6, ISO 100.
P4188865 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD @200mm, 1/320th, f/3.5, ISO 100.
P4188866 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD @200mm, 1/320th, f/5.6, ISO 100.
P4188867 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED (Mk.I) @50mm, 1/500th, f/2.8, ISO 100.
P4188868 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED (Mk.I) @50mm, 1/125th, f/5.6, ISO 100.
P4188869 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED (Mk.I) @96mm, 1/500th, f/2.9, ISO 100.
P4188870 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED (Mk.I) @96mm, 1/125th, f/5.6, ISO 100.
P4188871 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED (Mk.I) @200mm, 1/320th, f/3.5, ISO 100.
P4188872 - Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED (Mk.I) @200mm, 1/125th, f/5.6, ISO 100.
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