Olympus OM system close-up and macro equipment

Going digital

None of the digital SLRs have a macro system that approaches the one that was available for the Olympus OM, and so there is considerable interest in making the old Olympus equipment work with a modern, digital SLR body.

Adapters that allow normal lenses to focus to infinity are only available for 2 SLR systems – Canon EOS and Four-Thirds, which has bodies from Leitz, Olympus and Panasonic. Canon EOS digital SLRs have become the most popular bodies to use as OM replacements for close-ups, macro and photomicrography, because of their sensor sizes and ability to reduce or eliminate vibration.

None of the early digital SLRs had viewfinders and focusing screens that were well-suited for use with macro equipment or microscopes, but models from 2007 onwards have introduced features that are proving useful, including:

Live ViewProvides real-time preview on the LCD screen that can be magnified to aid focusing.
Articulated LCD screenMore convenient viewing with the camera low down, or pointing down on a microscope or a copy stand.
Remote Live ViewMakes the Live View image available on a computer to check focus, white balance and exposure, and allows the camera to be operated from the computer.
Silent modeSignificantly reduces vibration when used with Live View. The mirror is already up and the mechanical shutter is already open, and an electronic first shutter curtain (EFSC) removes the need for any mechanical action when the exposure starts.
Full frame sensorMakes full use of the 36×24 mm image produced by OM lenses, instead of cropping to APS-C (22.2×14.8 mm) or Four Thirds (17.3×13.0 mm)

The ideal digital SLR for macro photography (and for photography through a microscope) would have all of these features, and be affordable. These are the Canon models that have been available up to mid 2017:

CameraA.K.A.Live ViewArticulated
LCD
Remote
Live View
Silent
mode
Sensor
Canon EOS 5D Mk IIYesNoYesYesFF
Canon EOS 5D Mk IIIYesNoYesYesFF
Canon EOS 5D Mk IVYesNoYesYesFF
Canon EOS 6DYesNoYesYesFF
Canon EOS 6D Mk IIYesYesYesYesFF
Canon EOS 7DYesNoYesYesAPS-C
Canon EOS 7D Mk IIYesNoYesYesAPS-C
Canon EOS 40DYesNoYesYesAPS-C
Canon EOS 50DYesNoYesYesAPS-C
Canon EOS 60D***YesYesYesYes***APS-C
Canon EOS 70DYesYesYesYesAPS-C
Canon EOS 77DYesYesYesYesAPS-C
Canon EOS 80D***YesYesYesYes***APS-C
Canon EOS 100DRebel SL1, Kiss X7YesNoYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 200DRebel SL2, Kiss X9YesYesYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 450DRebel XSi, Kiss X2YesNoYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 500DRebel T1i, Kiss X3YesNoYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 550DRebel T2i, Kiss X4YesNoYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 600DRebel T3i, Kiss X5YesYesYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 650DRebel T4i, Kiss X6iYesYesYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 700DRebel T5i, Kiss X7iYesYesYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 750DRebel T6i, Kiss X8iYesYesYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 760DRebel T6s, 8000DYesYesYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 800DRebel T7i, Kiss X9iYesYesYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 1000DRebel XS, Kiss FYesNoYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 1100DRebel T3, Kiss X50YesNoYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 1200DRebel T5, Kiss X70YesNoYesYes**APS-C
Canon EOS 1300DRebel T6, Kiss X80YesNoYesYes**APS-C

** The 3-digit (e.g. EOS 600D) and 4-digit (e.g. EOS 1200D) Canon EOS camera do not have a selectable silent mode, but this feature is included and is permanently on when Live View is selected. More information from Charles Krebs and Canon USA.

*** The Canon EOS 60D and 80D have been reported to have a vibration problem in silent mode.

Most of the Olympus equipment can be fitted to a Canon EOS or Olympus E-series body using readily-available adapters. One exception is the Auto Bellows, because the long release lever on the camera body mount hits the protruding pentaprism on the EOS and E-series bodies. For the EOS 40D and 600D, this problem can be fixed by using a 14 mm extension tube, while the EOS 5D Mk II needs only a 7 mm tube. Most Olympus E-series bodies also need a 7 mm extension tube when used with the Auto Bellows, although the E-1, E-300 and E-330 do not need a tube.

Compact system cameras

Several manufacturers have produced digital cameras that are not SLRs but do have interchangeable lenses. Most of them have shallow bodies that allow Olympus OM lenses to be mounted and to focus to infinity, but most of them have sensors even smaller than APS-C. Canon make EOS M series mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors, but has made them incompatible with remote use with EOS Utility.

Live ViewArticulated
LCD
Remote
Live View
Silent
mode
Sensor
Canon EOS MYesNoNo?APS-C
Canon EOS M2YesNoNo?APS-C
Canon EOS M3YesYesNo?APS-C
Canon EOS M5YesYesNo?APS-C
Canon EOS M6YesYesNo?APS-C
Canon EOS M10YesYesNo?APS-C
Canon EOS M100YesYesNo?APS-C

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Created 8th October 2008   —   Updated 13th September 2017
Copyright © 2008–2017 Alan Wood

Olympus OM system close-up and macro equipment