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REVIEW: Olympus Zuiko Digital 75mm f1.8

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by adic88, Jul 22, 2012.

  1. adic88

    adic88 Mu-43 Regular

    May 25, 2012
    Originally published on my blog, reprinting here to share with the M43 community. Click on the images for larger versions on Flickr.

    Easily one of the most anticipated lenses of the year for the Micro Four Thirds system, the Olympus Zuiko Digital 75mm f1.8 has already had a lot said about it, including a great review by Ming Thein (Review: The Olympus ZD 75/1.8 for Micro Four Thirds), a professional photographer who puts this lens on par with some of the current greats -- the Nikon 24s, Leica 35s and 50s. I'm no pro, but i'll share with you what i thought about the lens after a couple of hours with it, courtesy of Olympus Malaysia.

    Olympus in Malaysia has been going great guns lately. Heavily promoting the OM-D EM-5 and now putting together a walkabout with their customers for the new 75mm lens. Kudos to them for putting in the effort! Not only did the organize for each of the 6 groups in attendance that lovely Saturday to have a guide and a copy of the lens attached to an OM-D EM-5, but a model was also on hand to make the shooting experience all the more interesting. Amanda Qian Ru was our model, and though inexperienced, she provided lovely angles for the group.

    Check out Robin Wong's blog (Robin Wong: M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 Walkabout) for more details about the Olympus event itself, lots of great pictures to give you an idea of how well attended it was.

    Back to the lens. It's quite a monster as far as micro four third lenses go. On a naked OM-D EM-5 body, it throws the balance of the heft out a bit, definitely requiring a steadying hand to keep it on an even keel. No one handed shooting with this lens attached. However, if the EM-5 has the optional grip attached, then the lens balances quite well. Solidly built, all aluminium by the feel of it, it's a real hunk of glass.

    Shooting with it took a few moments to figure out, because the 150mm equivalent was certainly quite unusual. To get full body shots of the model, i was standing about 30 feet away. And shooting at the same distance as with a 45mm f1.8 lens delivered larger than intended closeups. So a few steps back was required. Not really a big deal, the adjustment, however, it's still something that needs to be practiced on to get used to.

    The lens itself produces magnificent images, as other reviews have noted. One thing that i notice about this lens is that it's one of the few lenses where the technical reviews and usability reviews are in complete agreement. While being unequipped to know whether the technical reviews are accurate or not, i can say that the usability reviews are spot on -- it's easy to use (after a short period of adjustment), focuses incredibly fast and accurately with a nice snappiness to it, is sharp wide open, doesn't get noticeably sharper stopped down, has great micro-contrast (notice how the images below pop out at you), produces bokehlicious creaminess and leaves you with very little to do in post-processing.

    It's so good, it's almost boring. With my Panasonic 14mm f2.5, i know vignetting and soft edges are an issue, but i consciously work around these limitations. With the Olympus 45mm f1.8, i try to shoot at f2.0 - f2.8 because i know that half a stop of so does wonders for it. But with the 75mm? Just plug it on, slam it wide open, and shoot to your heart's content. Chances are you're going to nail it. Again. And again and again.

    I heard the lens is available for RM3000 (about US$799) street price. That's a steal, considering what you're getting.

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    P7210109 by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

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    P7210113 by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

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    P7210115 by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

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    P7210121 by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

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    P7210129 by aizuddindanian, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 12
  2. Steph

    Steph Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 18, 2011
    Thanks for sharing. Great model...
    • Like Like x 1
  3. brutto

    brutto Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 17, 2011
    Oh my giddy aunt! I want one.
  4. chrism_scotland

    chrism_scotland Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2011
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Me too :(  and I'm not even convinced I really need one!
  5. brutto

    brutto Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 17, 2011
    I'm convinced, we do need one, one each in fact. Where is that Do-it-yourself Kidney Surgery for Idiots book gone? Just when I need it most.
  6. marcusmichaels

    marcusmichaels Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 10, 2012
    Marcus Michaels
    aaaaaannnndddd, I want it again. After convincing myself "It's too much", "I really shouldn't", "I can't really afford it" etc. etc...

    My bank balance is going to hate me...
  7. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    I knew I wanted this lens so I've held off on getting any new MFT bodies.....:smile:
  8. tanngrisnir3

    tanngrisnir3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 18, 2011
    What get's me is how people automatically tend to classify a lens like this as a 'portrait lens'. It's just a quality lens, like a quality hammer; a tool to do a job.

    Give me one of these in the high Sierra or Rockies, or, god help me, Death Valley, and I will make it sing.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Olympus themselves call the lens a portrait lens....:wink:

    -> M. ED 75mm f1.8
  10. brutto

    brutto Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 17, 2011
    True, but when it sings the portrait song for me, it'll sing the sweetest.
  11. briloop

    briloop Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2012
    Mount Juliet, TN
    Most studios I've been in would not have the space to get a full body shot with this lens. I would estimate the average distance from model to camera is about 15 feet when I shoot in a studio.

    I took my 45mm to a studio shoot yesterday. Because of the space in the studio, I couldn't back up far enough to get full body shots of the model. I had to switch to my kit lens 12-50mm.

    Another issue to think about is the shooting environment. I looked at some of Robin Wong's photos. They look like they were taken in crowded areas. It might be hard to frame a photo of one person from 30 feet away in a crowded area without getting unwanted elements (other people) in the photo.
  12. littleMT

    littleMT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 8, 2012
    Lucille Sanchez
    I can envision some superb car shots with this lens........
    • Like Like x 2
  13. chrism_scotland

    chrism_scotland Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2011
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Based on my experience with the 100-300 taking aviation shots, I actually think the 75mm could do a job there too........ but I might need a Silver EM5 so it would look right.......
  14. BarefootPilgrim

    BarefootPilgrim Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    Westchester, IL
    Wheras you'd have a lot of broken headlights if you used a portrait hammer instead.
  15. adic88

    adic88 Mu-43 Regular

    May 25, 2012
    Yup, we were shooting in the Pavilion area of KL, very very busy foot traffic and quarters were tight. Almost impossible to get the clear 30 feet i needed if i wanted a full body shot.

    But i suppose, that's where multiple lens setups will do the trick. A quick swap to the 45mm if you need full body, or even a Panny 25 f1.4. For what it does, the 75mm is outstanding.

    I'm also thinking that it would work nicely for certain landscape shots too, but then again if i need the reach for landscapes, i'd probably need a 100-300mm, a 75mm would just be too short.
  16. adic88

    adic88 Mu-43 Regular

    May 25, 2012
    It'd probably do a good job for certain type of landscape shots; say you wanted some isolation on a particular subject, or the subject is quite far off in the distance. However, generally, if you wanted reach for your landscapes, 75mm is perhaps too short, a 100-300 would be better.
  17. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    I guess any lens between 40 and 75 is considered a portrait lens. They are certainly useful for portraits, but I tend to think of them as short to medium telephoto lenses, and use the Olympus 45 a lot for things other than portraiture.

    But the 75 is a great lens, and "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
  18. Kiwi Paul

    Kiwi Paul Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 15, 2011
    Aberdeen Scotland
    The IQ is exceptional, that lens will become a classic.
    There really are some excellent lenses available in m4/3 now, personally I prefer the convenience of high quality zooms (7-14, 12-35 and 35-100 (once it's released)) and have the PL25 as my only prime, but with the quality and speed of the 12, 25, 45 and the 75 a really good prime selection is now available for those who want to go that route.

  19. bwidjaja

    bwidjaja Mu-43 Regular

    May 30, 2012
    i agree the IQ is excellent, very sharp, and nice bokeh.
    However, 2 things I wonder:
    1. is it too clinically clean for portrait?
    2. from these photos i cannot see a 3D rendering

    Any thoughts?
    • Like Like x 1
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