Review Olympus OM 75-150 4.0 (adapted / vintage)

connloyalist

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Christine
Hi All,

I wasn't sure whether I should put this under the "reviews" section or the adapted lenses. Moderators, feel free to move this if you feel that is appropriate.

The other day I picked up an Olympus OM 75-150 4.0 lens on eBay. Cheap. This is an SLR lens, production apparently started around 1974 (according to the Photography in Malaysia website. Also see that website for pictures of the lens). I have one of the later models judging by the inscriptions on it. The reviews I have seen on it are "not uniformly positive", but I decided to give it a try since the features were close to what I was looking for and it didn't cost me an arm and a leg.

Briefly the specs: 75mm to 150mm zoom. Constant aperture of 4.0 up to 22. This is a two ring zoom: the zoom ring and the focusing ring are separate. I prefer two ring zooms over the 1 ring "push pull" type zooms that were popular for a while. Built-in lens hood. And of course manual aperture and manual focusing with hard stops at both ends. No electronics whatsoever. Mine weighs 452 grams without the lens caps. As far as I can tell it is single coated. Since I do think I have a later one, it would appear that the later ones also were not multi coated.

All this is on an Olympus E-M5 Mark II with a Metabones ("straight", not speedbooster) adapter.

Performance wise I am very pleased with it. I would describe the sharpness at infinity as good, even wide open at 4.0. However, at 4.0 it does lack some contrast. That improves considerably when stopped down one notch to 5.6. Stopping down further to 8.0 might improve things a little bit more, but not enough where it makes it worth losing the stop of light (in my opinion).

Since it is single coated shooting into the sun is certainly not ideal, even without the sun in frame, but even then the colors don't wash out completely. With the sun behind you it does very nicely.

One thing that I should remark upon is that when zooming it doesn't hold it's focus. If you are at one extreme of the zoom range and focused in on something and then go to the other extreme of the zoom range you will see things going distinctly out of focus as you zoom. So with this lens you should always zoom first, then focus.

Bottom line: I really like this lens. The ergonomics of it are very comfortable for me and if you take its shortcomings into account I like the pictures it lets me take.

I went to the zoo this afternoon so that is where these example pictures are from. All are straight out of camera.

Below: Into the sun (see shadow of the monkey). Aperture 4.0, 1/320, ISO 200 and probably 150mm. E-M5 Mark II.

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When you aren't looking into the sun the results are better. Aperture 5.6, 1/100, ISO 200 and probably 120mm. E-M5 Mark II.
By the way, I loved this geriatric wallaby.

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Regards, C.
 

connloyalist

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Looking closely at the wallaby I feel I may have missed focus (on the eyes) just slightly. Perhaps this one is better.

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Regards, C.
 

Paul C

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Oct 29, 2017
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Question - should I use a "top range" film-era zoom on my M4/3 camera?-
the auction sites seem to be full of Olympus OM Zuiko 70-150mm lenses and other similar once costly mid-focal length zooms from Nikon, Canon and Minolta at low prices

Of the Olympus OM Zuiko 75-150mm f/4 (which I owned and loved in the film era until I learned better)

  • at 70mm it isn't very far from the focal length of your kit zoom lens
  • at 100-150mm it isn't sharp or contrasty
  • it doesn't offer any truly worthwhile aperture advantage over even the cheap "amateur spec" native M4/3 40/45-150mm zooms
  • It has a 15 element 11 group design - so complicated that the cemented compound lens elements are splitting in many copies now they are 40 years old
    • This can't be repaired
    • attempts at cleaning makes it worse
    • look for the tell-tale circumferential changes in the 70-150mm lens elements with a bright torch - the splitting happens from the edges and move in over time

So why do you want to buy something like this lens?
Look at what professionals so often use for head shot portraits - 200 to 400mm full-frame lenses with a shooting distance of 15 feet/5 metres,
  • usually these are very expensive, large and heavy F2.8 aperture pieces of kit
  • and usually on a monopod or a tripod to steady camera shake and hold the undoubted weight of the lens
But what about the "Classic Portrait Lens"?
  • The 85-105mm "portrait lens" was a really a function of the maximum that rangefinder cameras could handle in the 1950s
  • Pro's still use these for 3/4 or full body portraits or when they are compromised by close spaces - but don't often use these for "headshots" if they can avoid it.
  • Those fast aperture 200-400mm lenses give really great bokeh behind the subject that is hard to achieve even with expensive F0.95 to F1.4 shorter prime lenses
    • importantly - sitters don't like the feeling of a camera up close using short "portrait lenses" of 85-105mm equivalent- especially amateur sitters who don't easily relax for photography​
    • Thats why Pro's love this set up - often using those very expensive F2.8 70-200mm or 70-300mm full-frame zooms​
  • At 10 metres shooting distance, the out of focus background is still great for "environmental" portraits
  • For landscapes - these lenses help isolate middle-distance subjects from distracting backgrounds at F2.8 that has a 2-stop advantage over 45-150mm zooms at the same distance
  • For distant shots - no telephoto lenses are optically good. 300mm equivalent lenses and above compress all the dust and distortion between you and the horizon. You need to do a lot of post-processing to get high contrast pictures like this unless...
    • Truely sharp shots like these of very distant objects in "telephoto close-up" need very clear cold air in the mornings or at altitude - think dawn in the mountains with a big lens at F8 and a heavy tripod or cloudless night in the desert​
    • Look in National Geographic - their photographers travel the world to get those shots!​

So what do you do instead with your micro 4/3?

Can I suggest - look for old-era prime 135mm F2.8 or F2.5 telephoto lenses instead of those "hi-end branded film era zooms"
  • these 135mm's give you 270mm F2.5-2.8 equivalents, at hundreds of Pounds/Dollars/Euros less than the new M4/3 options
  • The 135mm design was optimised in Germany in the 1930s and the resulting simple designs such as 5 lens elements in 4 groups give great optical quality with smaller amounts of glass to cause internal reflections than zooms
  • With so few glass elements - weight is low and filter sizes are usually 49-52mm thread
    • This design doesn't need expensive or heavy rare earth aspheric lens elements (as are needed to correct top-end zoom lenses)
    • Many 100-135mm lenses have the highest resolving power of the whole range of prime lenses from a manufacturer when used at F5.6 to F8
  • The shallow depth of field when the lens is "open" at F2.5-2.8 means that pictures "pop into focus" - meaning that losing AF isn't critical to focusing
  • They fit easily in small camera bags
All this also meant that every lens maker knew what Zeiss Design to copy when the patents expired!
Even "generic" lens makers did this well - look hard and you can find "Budget brands" such as the Osawa 135mm F2.8 and East-German Soviet Era Carl-Zeiss lenses that resolve just as well as Nikon/Olympus/Canon on published bench tests

They sold in millions

  • auction sites are full of them every day
  • at prices less than for a Pizza Dinner
    • Miss one - and another will turn up tomorrow
  • At F2.5 to F2.8 they all have a drop in contrast and soften the edges - ideal for the portrait roles outlined above - even the top end "Pro-Spec" 135mm F2.0 models had this issue
    • By F3.5, most are well sharp and contrasty having a big "jump" in quality with just a loss of 1-stop of light
      • Some M4/3 users even swear by the old Olympus OM 135mm F3.5 or the Pentax SMC 135mm F3.5 lenses in this role.
        • They are tiny and lightweight - putting no strain on M4/3 camera mounts with just 49mm filter threads

So -when your correct instinct told you to look at the old "High-End" branded mid-range zooms" as options for your M4/3 kit - your instincts were mostly right ----- only consider setting your horizons a bit lower to see the benefit!

My suggestions:

  • Don't spend more than £30/$40 on a film-era 135mm lens and adapter - the incremental gain in quality is rarely seen compared with picking up a clean haze-free "generic" model.
  • Don't forget that you need a "telephoto" lens hood - with a 2x crop factor there is a rim of redundant glass around every film-era lens element that just contributes to internal reflections that kill contrast and add flare.
    • I use those "3-position" fold out rubber ones - they are cheap, protect the lens well from knocks and fingers and fold back to fit in the camera bag

Ask every seasoned M4/3 photographer which film-era 135mm lens they like the most and expect as a result.........
  • lots of replies
  • lots of disagreement -!!!!
    • because some lenses offer "glows" and colour shifts that photographers love but defy optical testing
  • and lots of different "unsung hero" lens recommendations to be had at "best-buy" budget prices
if you haven't tried a legacy 135mm lens adapted to M4/3. can I suggest you give it a go?

Enjoy the photography & best wishes to you all - Paul in the UK
 
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Paul C

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Oct 29, 2017
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Ask every seasoned M4/3 photographer which film-era 135mm lens they like the most and expect as a result.........
  • lots of replies
  • lots of disagreement -!!!!
    • because some lenses offer "glows" and colour shifts that photographers love but defy optical testing
  • and lots of different "unsung hero" lens recommendations to be had at "best-buy" budget price.
[/QUOTE]

OK - so given that few will agree and all have their own valuable opinions here's my subjective 135mm recommendations to follow on with -
  1. My Best M4/3 option: Nikon 135mm E F2.8 - Small & lightweight on M4/3, needs a long lens hood to get the best contrast (stumble on a rare Nikon E 100mm F2.8 and do even better!)
  2. Follow-up: The Pentax SMC 135mm F3.5 - tiny lightweight lens, beautiful mechanics, easy to justify finding a space in the camera bag
  3. The Bargain - the Cosina 135mm lens - available in lots of mounts and often sold as "Petri", "Miranda" etc "brands"
  4. The "bargain - exotic" to hunt for - the Hanimex 135mm F2.8 "Macro" lens - this has TWO focus rings and does defocusing for portraits at a fraction of the price of the ultra-rare Nikon DC 135mm F2.0 equivalent. Hanimex is a marketing brand - but who actually made this 135mm wonder is a mystery (and I know MU43 viewers like mysteries!)
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This was my first Olympus lens, so I have a soft spot for it.

Even though it is not a "wonderful" lens, it is fairly lightweight, good ergonomics, and a 49mm filter size.

But I would not buy one today, even though I've been buying a lot of OM glass lately. Olympus was not particularly known for its zooms, and I recommend going for primes, if you are interested in OM legacy glass.

Here's an example from 1979, shot on Kodachrome:
795306.jpg
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(That's me, 23 years old… my girlfriend was behind the lens this time… looks like my OM-2 was suffering from "back focus…" :))
 
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I have one of these lenses -- came on an OM2 that I wanted. I put the lens aside because I assume older zooms are not that useful for m43 -- and the ones that I have tried hav born that out, but this doesn't look bad, maybe I'll give it a shot after all -- thanks for posting.
Looking closely at the wallaby I feel I may have missed focus (on the eyes) just slightly. Perhaps this one is better.

View attachment 773931

Regards, C.
I have one of these lenses, came on an OM2 that I wanted. I put the lens aside because I assumed older zooms are not that useful for m43 -- and the ones that I have tried have born that out -- but this doesn't look bad at all, maybe I'll give it a shot after all -- thanks for posting.
 

Gerard

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I am the proud owner of one of the vintage Olympus lenses, a 300/4.5 which I bought for €100.
i dont do birds or wildlife, but a telelense always fascinated me like a binoculair does. A 300 PRO is therefor no option.
i really like this photo, taken last june during golden hour.
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