Lens Adapters for the Olympus C-5060WZ and C-7070WZ

My other pages related to the Olympus C-5050Z, C-5060WZ, and X-7070WZ

In 2003 Olympus replaced the successful C-5050Z with the "new and improved" C-5060WZ. While some improvements in the new model were real, some were questionable. Among the latter was the change in the way in which auxiliary lens attachments (i.e., optical systems changing the focal length) are fitted in front of the built-in lens.

The long line of previous "C" models, from the C-2020Z to C-5050Z used a metal tube, screwed into a threaded (41 mm) collar surrounding the lens base in the camera body, and having a threaded front to accept attachments or filters (possibly with use of an extra step-up ring). This way any lens attachments working with the '2020 would work also with all later models up to and including the '5050.

Not so with the C-5060WZ (or, more recently, C-7070WZ). Not only is the rear thread changed to the non-standard 48.5 mm (size increase may be explained with somewhat bigger lens), but the front mount switched from thread to bayonet — in by book, a most questionable decision.

Actually, it is difficult to see any reasons behind the bayonet mount, except a drive to lock the third-party makers out of the Olympus add-on lens market. The new Olympus bayonet is excessively large (reminding me of tech toys for toddlers), imprecise, and very inconvenient to use, which I was able to experience first-hand during the last year.

The C-series owners are (were?) an enthusiastic and brand-loyal crowd, often upgrading models within the same line of cameras. Some of us have amassed, over years, a number of add-on lenses for various uses. These also became incompatible with the new standard, not without a front-threaded lens adapter tube.

As always, third-party makers came to the rescue. It took almost half a year from the original '5060 release, but finally the market offers adapters having, in addition to the rear, 48.5 mm thread, also a threaded front, accepting any threaded add-on lenses, not just the three bayonet models offered by Olympus (which, by the way, are optically very good; see my WCON-07C and TCON-17C report, as well at the article on the TCON-30C.

Surprisingly, third-party lens makers, who should be most interested in providing such adapters, were very slow reacting to the new market need. The first front-threaded '5060 lens adapter was made (distributed?) by Bower, the small-accessory people, and it became available only in late Spring of 2003. Only after some more time did Raynox and Kenko (possibly others?) came up with their own versions.

Are all lens adapters equal?

No, they are not. Here is why.

Obviously, all have to have a 48.5 mm rear thread, otherwise they wouldn't fit the camera at all. The differences may occur in two other dimensions:

  • The front thread. This, preferably, should fit the thread size of your add-on lens. While a step-up ring may be used if this is not the case, such a solution adds a few millimeters to the lens extension (see below), which often is not desirable.
  • Lens extension, i.e., the length of the adapter tube, excluding the rear thread (which is sunk into the camera body collar). As a rule of thumb, the lens extension should be as small as possible without the camera's front lens element colliding with the rear element of the add-on lens.

While for tele attachments the second requirement is not critical, for wide-angle ones it may be: too large a lens extension may cause vignetting or even some image cut-off in image corners. A few extra millimeters may be enough.

As always, there are no iron-clad rules. For the Raynox fish-eye attachment, when used on the '5060 or '7070, the manufacturer recommends about 5 mm extra extension (possibly more?) above the mechanically necessary minimum. Interesting.

In search of the best lens tube

Having shelled out $300 for both TCON-17C and WCON-07C, bayonet-mounted attachments designed specifically for the '5060, I was not really desperate to get a thread-mount lens adapter for this camera. Still, it would be nice to have one: for example, on a field trip with the '5050 and '5060, when it would be handy to share add-on lenses between both. Besides, I really dislike the new bayonet system; it just does not feel right.

This is why I bought the Bower lens adapter tube as soon as it became available (The Filter Connection, $12).

The Bower lens adapter has a 52 mm front thread, so for use with my older TCON-17 and WCON-07 (note no "C" in model designations) I also had to use a 52>55 mm step-up ring.

While the arrangement worked just fine with the tele attachment (WCON-17), it did not with the wide-angle one (WCON-07): there was too much of lens extension, and this caused some image cut-off in the corners.

The Bower tube provides an extension of 34 mm; with the step-up ring this increases to 37 mm. A quick check on an improvised optical bench has shown that to avoid image cut-off, the extension needs to be 32 mm or even less (values down to 29 mm or so are mechanically feasible without damaging the lens). Close but no cigar.

After some delay, Raynox came up with the RT5248 adapter. The manufacturer's data chart specifies the its "height" as 30 mm — without being clear on whether this includes the rear thread (from the pictures I would guess it does not; a good news: 30 mm extension). Besides, it was not easy to find (it is now available at BugEye Digital ($16), but a tech support person did not know the extension length and wasn't willing to check it out. Too bad.

A German visitor to this site wrote me he bought a Kenko add-on lens with a '5060 lens adapter. The lens itself was very disappointing (he sent me some samples: I've never seen something worse than that!), but the adapter (52 mm front) was just fine. Unfortunately, the Official Kenko product list does not list such an adapter; it might have been bundled by the distributor.

Shanghai to the rescue

Last Summer I received an email from a Mr. Rong Jin of Shanghai, China, who said he makes and sells (mostly on eBay) "high quality step-up rings at a good price", including '5060/7070 lens adapters. When I asked, he clarified that his '5060 adapters have a 52 mm front thread and 29 mm extension. Pushing my luck, I asked if he could make a 55 mm version. "Why not?", he answered, and a month later he reported having one. Last month I ordered it ($9 plus $4 shipping worldwide!), and two weeks later it was in my mailbox.

Good news, and only good news. The ring is just right, the 29 mm extension is as short as I need it to be (no step-up ring!), and my WCON-07 shows no trace of corner cut-off whatsoever. The TCON-17, as expected, also works just fine. Optically, as far as I could see, the spacing seems to be OK, too.

The machining and finish is first class: matte-black anodized metal, longer (more secure) rear thread better than in the Bower model, still short enough to make the tube fit flush to the camera. The tube is branded as "Phayee for Olympus", and the seller throws in a decent-quality 55 mm, spring-loaded lens cap.

To make things better, the lens adapter can be left on the camera all the time, as it causes only a very minor obstruction at the bottom-right of the viewfinder at the widest zoom setting (this is, no doubt, helped by the disappointing viewfinder coverage, but let's blame Olympus for that).

The original 52 mm tube is also available ($6.50 + $4 shipping) for those who use smaller-thread attachments.

Mr. Rong Jin accepts PayPal payments and he has an eBay store, offering many various photography accessories. While the Olympus tubes are not listed there (last checked: March, 2006), he says you should contact him through his eBay link for any accessories which don't have their listings yet.

Note: A few of the Readers reported problems reaching R.J. via email, but any such problems, as far as I know, were always resolved just fine, if not right away. In any case, do not ask me for help in contacting him; I just wrote here all I know.

Summary

Just for a quick comparison, here is a table with your lens adapter options available for the C-5060WZ or C-7070WZ.

Adapter
Front end
Extension
Compatible lenses
Available from Price
Olympus CLA-7 Proprietary bayonet ~32 mm Oly WCON-07C, TCON-17C, TCON-30C B&H and others $35
Bower 52 mm thread 34 mm Any with 52 mm rear thread; possible vignetting for wide-angle Filter Connection $12
Raynox RT5248 52 mm thread 29 mm (?) Any with 52 mm rear thread BugEye Digital $16
Phayee 48.5-52 52 mm thread 29 mm Any with 52 mm rear thread RJ Camera Accessories $6.50
Phayee 48.5-55 55 mm thread 29 mm Any with 55 mm rear thread,
including Oly WCON-07 and TCON-17
RJ Camera Accessories $9

Remarks:

  • For threaded-front adapters, lens attachments of larger threads can also be used with a step-up ring, at the expense of extra extension, which may cause problems at wide angle.
  • The extension is measured as the total adapter length minus that of the rear thread.
  • All vendors I'm listing have comparable shipping charges ($4-5).

My other pages related to the Olympus C-5050Z, C-5060WZ, and X-7070WZ

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Posted 2004/11/07; last updated 2006/03/12 Copyright © 2004-2006 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak