Review: The Olympus ZD 75/1.8 for Micro Four Thirds

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One of the more eagerly awaited lenses for compact system users, the Olympus Zuiko Digital 75/1.8 ED MSC (hereafter just referred to as the 75) is one of the final confirmations that Micro Four Thirds has finally come of age. We now have all of the popular lenses we need – including a fast 24-70/2.8 equivalent, fast primes at 24, 35, 50 (multiple choices) and 90mm equivalents; the very fast portrait tele like a 150/1.8 (for example, the subject of this review) or 200/2 is now here to round out the lineup. Curious, there’s no fast 50 from Olympus, and no fast AF 35 from any of the manufacturers; that Schneider-Kruzenach 14/2 looks extremely interesting indeed.

But we’re not here to talk about that.

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Compared to the 12/2.

I picked up a final production sample 75 from Olympus Malaysia a couple of weeks ago, having handled a much earlier prototype; honestly, the only thing that seems to have changed is the lens’ finish color (a light champagne color over bare metal) now matches that of the 12/2 perfectly. Unfortunately, during my free days, the weather has not been as conducive for shooting as I would have liked; I look forward to updating the review again once I’ve had a chance to use the lens for a longer period of time.

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The 75 is a superbly well built lens; it’s solid, but not unexpectedly heavy, say in the same way as a brass Leica lens. However, the only plastic to be found anywhere on the lens is the cap – I’m guessing the rest of it is aluminum, including the optional hood. It sits at the top of Olympus’ lens pyramid for M4/3, together with the 12/2 – and presumably other lenses too, at some point. Curiously, for a lens of this build quality and price (RRP around RM3,200 give or take; availability at retail end-July or early August) there is no weather sealing – unlike the much cheaper (and honestly, cheap feeling too) 12-50 EZ. So, don’t get this one wet – even if your OM-D can take it. The focusing ring is well damped and smooth to rotate, with about the right amount of resistance. Sadly though, it’s once again a fly-by-wire design, like every other M4/3 lens except the 12/2. A nice touch is that all markings on the lens are engraved deeply and painted in relief – including ‘Made in Japan’ on the bottom.

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With hood.

I was also given the (optional) hood; it nearly doubles the perceived size of the lens, and is thoroughly enormous. It secures with a thumb screw (why no bayonet, Olympus?) and provides good shading of the front element. I’m told that it will ship with another cap that clips on to the end of the hood; this is absolutely required as there’s no way you can get your fingers in to remove the originally supplied cap once the hood is in place. It also reverses for storage. Again, given the price of the lens…not including a hood seems a little, well, cheap.

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A Bollywood still. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8
All images in this review may be clicked on for larger versions (and click through the Flickr landing page again).

That’s about all of the improvement points i’ve got, though. There’s a lot to like about the 75, and I’ll start with focusing speed. The 75 is a fast, silent, and most importantly, accurately focusing lens. Unless there are huge changes in subject distance, the lens snaps into focus with the same speed as the 45/1.8. I’m told this is due to the design philosophy employed; there’s only one element that moves to achieve focus, and it runs along a track/ rail. The first part of this means that a) the focusing assembly is light and therefore requires little energy to move quickly or change direction; b) the focusing action can be entirely internal. The latter portion contributes to speed – most lenses contain focusing elements that are attached to a rotating helicoid assembly; a linear motor rotates this entire assembly in either direction to move it back and forth by means of a static cam and follower. However, using a linear motor or magnets (I haven’t been able to find out which), movement of the focusing element along a track/ rail can be accomplished much, much more quickly – and without the grinding sound of rotating parts. Bottom line: don’t question it too much, it just works.

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Two old men. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

On the subject of focusing, the 75 gets much closer than most 150/200mm equivalent lenses: the near focus limit is just 0.8m, which is even a little shorter than most standard 85mms. This makes for some impressively tight frames; just remember that your depth of field is also very shallow (though of course not as shallow as a true 150/1.8), and slight movement in either the camera or the subject will result in front or back focus.

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Delivery man. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

You’ll notice that up til this point, I haven’t said much about the optics of the lens. We are now fortunate enough to live in a time when there are very few truly bad lenses, plenty of excellent ones, and a few really exceptional ones -but the difference between excellent and really exceptional is so small, that it takes near perfect conditions to see it. I think the 75 is one of those that manages to cross the excellent threshold into exceptional – at least in my mind. It delivers absolutely stunning resolution and sharpness across the frame, even from maximum aperture at f1.8; stopping it down increases your depth of field, but doesn’t really make much difference to sharpness. In fact, it’s one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever used for Micro 4/3. There is a tiny improvement in microcontrast visible between f1.8 and around f2.8; things are pretty static from there on down, until you hit the diffraction limit somewhere between f8 and f11 (on the OM-D).

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Mirrored thought. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

Resolution isn’t everything, of course – if the lens had an ugly bokeh signature, a horrible transition zone, odd color transmission, or worse, massive lateral/ longitudinal CA – then we might well write it off completely for any one of those flaws alone. Except…the 75 doesn’t suffer from any of those maladies; it’s one of those very rare things: a transparent lens. It delivers a neutral, accurate rendition of the subject with very little of its own ‘personality’ (read: charmingly artistic optical flaws) impinging on your vision. The only flaw I could find was a trace of spherochromatism (color fringes on bokeh) on very strongly backlit subjects; regular lateral chromatic aberration is completely absent, and there are no odd corner gremlins to be wary of, either. Place your subject wherever you wish, with confidence.

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Searching for value. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

I think resisting the temptation to go to f1.4 or faster has paid off here – slower lenses of course being easier to make optically perfect than fast ones. Compared to the already excellent 45/1.8, there’s no contest – the 75 outperforms it in every way; it’s just that bit crisper, that bit clearer, that bit more vivd, and that bit more transparent. (Sadly, it’s also more than just a bit more expensive).

Overall, there are very few lenses I would place in the company of the 75 – the Nikon 85/2.8 PCE, perhaps; the Nikon 200/2 VR, definitely; the Leica 35/1.4 ASPH FLE; and I would go so far as to say it has that same level of clarity I’ve seen only so far in the Leica 50/2 APO ASPH. (Who knows if the 75’s ultimate resolution is as high as the 50/2 AA; it doesn’t matter, because it wasn’t designed to cover more than 17x13mm anyway.)

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Yet another stop. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

The question is, though, what would you use this lens for? I think it’s actually a bit long to serve as the second lens in a two-lens kit; I’d still pick the 12 and 45mms for versatility, perhaps adding the 75mm if I feel I’m going to be shooting in a larger space. I suppose it would be good for portraiture if you have enough space to make it work – remember, we’re talking 150mm FOV equivalent here; alternatively there’s indoor sport (once we have a CSC that has decent continuous AF capabilities) or perhaps landscape work (though I’d go with the 100-300 and a tripod for more flexibility, since speed isn’t required).

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Suspicious lunch. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

It’s good for generating very cinematic images; this is a lens that will only deliver one type of look, and you must both like and know how to use it – it’s not a flaw of the lens, but more a consequence of the angle of view. No doubt street photographers will find it extremely handy to get closer to or isolate their subjects, because its relatively small and unintimidating physical size is out of proportion to its magnification. Put the 75 on an OM-D body without hood or grip, and you’ve got a package that’s still smaller than the entry-level DSLR and kit lens most people are toting around these days. After a week with it, I feel that the lens is one which you will just find a use for – solely because the way it renders images is rather addictive. It was a sad day when I had to hand mine back (even sadder, because one normally doesn’t give things away on their birthday.)

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Rainy traffic jam. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

I can’t help but think that to round out the lineup, Olympus needs a lens like this in 17/1.4, 25/1.4 and 300/4 flavors. MT

You can order the 75/1.8 here from B&H or Amazon.

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved

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Lego city. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

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A hand in an inappropriate place. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

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Diner and watcher. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

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Between destinations. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

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The older you are, the less you care about the rules. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

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Veiled (but empty) garden of pleasures. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

Comments

  1. Hello Ming. So in the end: 60mm/2.8 or 75mm/1.8? Thanks!

  2. Unreal photos in this post, Ming — wish I could get the same results for the 799 bucks the lens costs, but I know better :-)

  3. Sounds like a great lens, although I am disappointed that it lacks weather sealing: what is the point of leaving that out in this day and age?
    As a documentary shooter and jobbing PJ the new EM-1 is looking like a really good 2 body option as I am getting heartily sick of lugging FX Nikon gear around the world. The forthcoming 40-150 f2.8 combined with the 12-40 is likely to be a winning setup for me, at least until the rumoured fast UWA zoom comes out – that for me is the most glaring omission in the present lineup. M43 sensors are not good enough yet in low light to be using f4 lenses so that UWA zoom had better be at least f2.8!

    I know of at least 2 Magnum photographers now using M43 for paid assignments so that’s enough endorsement for me!

  4. Hi Ming Thein, AP Gawrys here. I started late in digital photography and a couple of my friends told me get involved into digital 15 years ago. I was a freelance SPORTS Photographer for 15 years 1969-84. These days anyone can make photos, you do not have to focus the manual lens. Back then there were photographers that wanted to photograph SPORTS but could not do it because their pictures were OUT OF FOCUS! Their were . . . NO AUTO-FOCUS LENSES years ago.

    Your photo images that you are showing are good composition with the 75mm f1.8 lens. However, as a photographer you left out a very important factor, your used f/stop-aperture was not shown. All your images say: WITH 75mm f1.8 lens. If one promotes company products you must show the exposure of the example image shown. This will tell the viewer how good the lens is if the photo was made at f1.8.

    My LEICA R8, and all lenses was TOP-FLIGHT in the film camera world (very costly). LEICA will tell you, this lens performs better if stopped down just one STOP! Do other manufactures say that ?

    The bottom line is. Your photos shown were made with Olympus 75mm f1.8, were they exposed at f1.8 ? You did not say that !

    Type AP Gawrys into Google you’ll see some of my photography, old but good. FILM & DIGITAL. Respectfully, Anthony P Gawrys

    • The gear doesn’t matter, the photo does. If you really think the technical details are more important, EXIF data is intact. And for your information, I shot wildlife for five years with manual focus lenses. It’s certainly not the lens that’s doing the composing.

  5. rwestcott says:

    Great review as always, Ming. Two questions: how did you get the lens to focus on the droplets rather than the driver in the “Rainy day” photo? and, would you pair this lens with a midrange zoom (from Olympus or from someone else)?

    • Manual focus, and sure, why not? Probably the 14-42 X pancake.

      • rwestcott says:

        Thanks Ming. Probably off topic, but I was thinking of getting the new Ricoh GR as a pocket camera for those times I need to complement my M9. But now thinking that the EP5 + pancake lens gives me roughly the same portability plus the option of adding things like a 150mm EFOV when needed. You seem to rate the EP5 IQ very highly. Would this combo match the GR and not be a let down compared to, say, an M9 + 28 Elmarit?

        • I can’t think of any 28mm equivalents that equal the Ricoh’s lens, unfortunately. And the APS-C sensor is definitely a notch above the M4/3 one…short answer, no. Then again, if it’s not going to be your primary, perhaps a bit of compromise is fine?

  6. Loved the review on the lens Ming. Out of curiosity seeing as you used tele’s back in the day for shooting birds. Any chance you will review the 150mm f/2.0 from Olympus? Or is that just not really worth a review?

    • Thanks. Unlikely re. 150/2 – difficult to get hold of, and 300 equiv isn’t long enough for birding anyway. It’s like the Nikon 200/2 – optically a tour de force, but a very niche tool that suits few.

  7. Hi

    I’m a bit late to the party with this one but I just got myself this lens a couple of days ago. I’ve since sold off the two kit lenses which came with the camera, because while they’re competent enough, the difference in performance is still embarrassingly large. What stuns me is the performance wide open, as you said in the review. Never seen anything like it (I’m sure some Leica lenses can do it, but I don’t happen to be the heir to a Fortune 500 company so I don’t shoot Leica). I can’t see myself using zooms with the OMD-EM5 unless they produce one which matches or comes close to the primes (a la Nikon 24-70). I may well get the 45 1.8 next based on your glowing review.

    Anyway. Great site and when it comes to new gear, I give your opinions a lot of weight. Good luck with the new “business model”.

  8. Could you possibly help me understand this a little better? “slight movement in either the camera or the subject will result in front or back focus.”

    • If you lock focus and either you move towards/ away from the subject, or the subject moves a bit towards/away from you, then the set focus distance will be wrong. With very shallow DOF lenses, this is very noticeable.

  9. Thank you for a fantastic review and beautiful photos. I’m a well entrenched 4/3 user making my debut into the M4/3, and this combo has definitely given me reason for taking the jump. The clarity and sharpness of the 75 f1.8 wide open speaks for itself, and when one buy such a lens, that is how you should be able to use it – wide open and without any excuses.
    Keep up the good work. I have you bookmarked.
    Geoy.

  10. so,Ming the 75/1.8 is equivalent with a 150 mm f 3.5 FF in DOF and with 75 mm FF in bokeh at what aperture?

  11. Jorge Balarin says:

    Ming, I know I’m not the first to say that your photos are wonderful, but try to do street photos in Vienna – where I live – and you will see what happen. Everyone with a camera on his hands is a suspect of I don’t know what. Perhaps people here think that photographers are going to steal their souls : )

    • Thank you. Actually, I did shoot in Vienna at the end of last year – no problem. Maybe it’s because I just look like a crazy Asian tourist that everybody ignores me…

  12. Nice review Ming. I’m going to collect my 75mm later today. I have absolutely no regrets in selling my Canon gear (70-200, 50L, 5Dmkii etc). The EM-5 is an incredible camera. Quirky, but excellent.

    There are some wonderful Olympus lens out there. 14-42 is an excellently cheapie, and I must give kudos to Olympus for the similarly cheap 40-150, which is a slow but very sharp lens in good light. (I dropped mine yesterday; it still works perfectly). The 45mm is my mainstay, but I think it will be taking a backseat to the 75mm in the next few weeks.

    Max
    Australia

  13. Thank you for the review and the wonderful photos Ming. The Olympus 75mm f/1.8 is an extremely high quality lens and it’s on my wish list. Actually it’s on it’s way to me so I can take it for a spin. Now I hope for a fast and equally excellent and well build 20-25mm from Olympus.

  14. Great reviews. Love your expertise and photos. Still waiting on my 75mm 1.8 to arrive. Can’t wait to get my hands on it. Thank you for your review.

  15. Hi Ming,

    Really great shots you’ve taken….love the composition. I read with interest your comment on the cinematic feel of the shots and references to street photography…as a creative director, i am often looking for inspiration from a different context rather than taking the “perfect” shot.

    Would you recommend this lens for a street walking session with a view to capturing some interesting street/urban vignettes in both still and video format?

    I have the 12mm and 45mm by the way, but am undecided whether I should take up the Pana 25 1.4 or this amazing Olympus lens.

    Thanks

    • Thanks Ben. Yes, this would give you an intimate cinematic feel without intruding on the personal space of the subject. I’d use the 45 if it was for a planned shoot. 25 is a bit too ‘documentary’ in feeling.

      • Thanks for the quick reply Ming.

        I’ve used the 45mm just a few weeks ago shooting an impromptu Indonesian Dance (horse trance) that was going on in my neighborhood. Immensely impressed with the low light video capability of it, even with the digital tele-converter on it was giving great detailing in the available light. I’m hoping that the 75mm would potentially add another dimension to capturing urban life, as long as I worked out the ranges I needed to be looking ahead to capture my subject matter.

        • It would, but you have to be aware that it’s pretty long and difficult to use in tight quarters without unwanted distractions getting in your frame – I’m thinking of people walking through your shot. Optically even better than the 45, though.

  16. Hi Ming, going through your review and the fantabulous images, I can’t resist but to seriously consider this lens for my EM-5. It’s not a focal length I use often, but your review and the images are very seductive. Your comment in the review about putting this lens in the same league as the Nikon 200mm f/2 really struck a chord with me. Can you expound a bit more on your thought? I always lusted for the images coming from 200 f2 and seriously considered it, but with the weight and the price, it just didn’t seem like a lens I would use often to justify the purchase. If indeed the Oly’s 75 is up to the IQ standard comparable to that of the 200 f/2, it seems like a deep bargain, both in terms of cost and weight; even after having to pay extra for a lens hood, and would be something I would definitely pick up and force myself to find ways to use it.

    • It has the crisp separation that the 200/2 does, but not the depth of field (it’s not a 200mm lens, obviously). There are no obvious optical flaws that I can see – at least in the two or three samples I’ve used. The microcontrast is superb, and the resolving power is already at maximum in the center wide open, and the corners are not far behind. Basically – this is a lens whose performance envelope is so wide, that you just use it at whatever setting you need to without having to worry about whether the optical performance will be at its best at that point or not.

      • Hi Ming, thank you so much for finding my post in an old review and taking the time to respond thoughtfully – it’s the exact kind of feedback I was looking for. I will be getting this lens after I sell off some of my other gear to afford it, and I’ll be sure to use your Amazon referral link. I really appreciate your dedication and your work to keep your site updated, informative, interesting and taking the to answer small the things. Your site is fast becoming my favorite photo blog as I check and read you stuff at least once a day.

        • No problem. I try to reply every comment I get, but sometimes one or two slip through the cracks – sorry to anybody if I’ve missed one comment somewhere. (I have the WordPress notification system to thank – one of the reasons why I moderate posts is to ensure I read all of them.) Thanks!

  17. It’s incredibel how Olympus improved. My father had Olympus for a long time now and I never really liked it. But now with this tiny camera, they convinced me different. If I had enough money for a second camera, I’d defenitly buy the Olympus OM-D!

  18. Nice images, although I feel the sharpening in post is a bit high leaving halos around your subjects. But it’s clear this lens is a heck of a performer. Thanks.

    • Thanks Markus. I think I still need to do some fiddling with the web sharpening as Flickr keeps doing something odd with its downsizing algorithms…they look fine at 100% downsized (1500px or so) but not at the intermediate 800px size. Hmm…

  19. My comment is on the 75mm f/1.8 review. First of all, thank you for an excellent review and an intelligent and helpful website. I am contemplating switching from Nikon dx to micro 4/3, specifically the omd plus the 75mm. I have a D200 and D40 plus lenses including a 135/2 dc. As you know, the 135 does not autofocus on the d40 and does not in fact autofocus very well on the D200! But it does have a wonderful rendering and a beautiful background blur. It is also a bit long for everyday use, though for my photography a 105mm or thereabouts on dx is ok and an 85mm (I don’t own one) would probably be fine too, and perhaps more general purpose.( I also have a Pana G1. I like everything about it except the iQ and loss of narrow DoF.) The 75mm looks like an exceptional lens and for me the fl may be ok. But a much cheaper option for me is to hang on to what I’ve got, or perhaps sell the 135/2 and buy the Nikon 85/1.8G, which would autofocus on both my existing cameras. How would you rate the latter compared with the Olympus 75mm?

    • Thanks Alan. That’s a tough call – the 85/1.8G is excellent, but lacking a little bit of that microcontrast pop and clarity which the 75 has in abundance. However, the bigger issue is that the 75 will still have the DOF profile of a 75, not a 150 or even a 135; ditto the 85. And the 85 will feel short and insufficiently isolated compared to the 135. Another option might be to buy the D7000 instead, which would give you back AF on your 135?

  20. Ming, would you choose this lens over the 35-100 2.8 (if this would have similar quality as the 12-35 2.8)?

    • Sorry, impossible to answer as I haven’t used either the 35-100 or 12-35…

    • I was also asking myself the question about the 35-100mm – but surely the 35-100 2.8 will be twice the price and a little less good and fast (but off course more versatile). Hard to tell.
      Too bad Olympus didn’t make their 14-35 +35-100 f/2.0 for MFT at a more affordable price : we wouldn’t be having to choose, but to *just* buy them.

      I like that 75mm f/1.8, by cropping I’ll easily have some kind of (FF) 300mm f/1.8 tele lense in hand, and because it’s so sharp the crop won’t be too bad I think.

      About DOF, that’s a hard one : I have no example of differences, comparison images between FF and MFT DOF at same focal.
      Any links to share?

      But I have a little studied the subject and here are my first elements :

      Olympus 45mm1.8 / best center f/2.0 / best edge f/4.0 / best overall f/4.0 / highest rez 55pl / good right at the start of f/1.8 (53lp)
      Canon 85mm1.8 / best center f/2.8 / best edge f/5.6 / best overall f/5.6 / highest rez 70pl / good right at the start of f/2.8 (?50lp)

      In terms of fastness (light) MFT gains globally a step : more luck in getting a perfect shot.

      BUT if I recall correctly MFT and FT are two steps late in terms of DOF against FF, so a good 45mm at 2.0 = 4.0 eq FF DOF?
      If it is the case, that means that -in my example of Olympus 45mm against Canon 85mm- we loose ONE step of narrow DOF against FF which is pretty good thanks to nice optics almost super good right at the start (but off course no MFT will be able to beat the upcoming FF canon 85mm f/1.2 on a FF)

      CORRECT me if I’m WRONG! :)

      • The Olympus 14-35/2 and 35-100/2 are 4/3 lenses, not M4/3 lenses – they’re excellent but also quite enormous.

        As for your DOF calculations – follow the diagonal, so the 45/1.8 will have the FOV of a 90 with the approximate DOF of a 90/4.

      • Yeah I know that the 14-35 f/2.0 and the 35-100 f/2.0 are FT, that is why I would have liked Olympus to make a MFT version.
        But sure, they are big and heavy.
        Since Panasonic achieved to put a 14-42mm in a motorized pancake, I suppose sweat stuff is nowadays possible to make lenses smaller and still bright.

        About the conversion, I well know about FT/MFT 45mm = FF 90mm.
        My wondering was about the render of DOF from FT/MFT to FF.

        Example : lets take the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and set it at f/2.0 ( equivalent to f/4.0 in FF) and compare to a FF Canon 85mm 1.8 set to f/4.0. Will we get the same DOF on the two pictures? What will be the differences?

        For info I have an OMD EM5 (black) with the 12-50mm kit lense and the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7.
        I’m planning on buying the 12mm f/2.0 + 45mm f/1.8 + 75mm f/1.8 this year (we have good prices in France).

        • It’s hard to explain: you’ll get the same amount in focus, but the foreground/ background won’t be blurred to the same degree because the focal length is shorter on M43.

  21. With this lens, M43 is almost approaching full frame DOF. 150 F3.5….a bit like old Nikkor 135 F3.5.
    Imagine a 135 1.8….

    • DOF yes, DOF profile, no. The transition for a long focal length is much more abrupt and a real 150 3.5 will have more perceived background blur.

  22. yoshi360 says:

    Your review is great, but the attached images are even better – I really love those! The lens seems to be terrific, although usually I prefer a lens with a unique character (the so-called “optical flaws”). I’ve got a Samyang 85mm lens which has a pleasing image, too – but it just lacks that certain character, the images look very “digital”. I don’t know, I like it when a lens adds in its own style into an image. Still, the 75 is VERY interesting and just looks great on the black OMD! (I’ve got a black OMD, too :-)). However, 150mm equiv. is rather long and for portraits I prefer something in the range of 70–120mm equiv. At the same time it is also a bit short as a real telephoto lens. So I don’t think I’d use it often enough to justify the purchase.

    • Thanks – should I call you Yoshi or Willi? :)

      I don’t honestly think I did justice to the lens though, didn’t have enough time or the right opportunities to use it – 150mm is not really a general purpose focal length…enjoy the OM-D!

      • Willi Kampmann says:

        I guess I have trouble getting used to this WordPress login system. I guess I registered some time in the past which I don’t remember. I think I have changed my display name now? The only thing worse is Disqus which is used in many blogs and doesn’t even work at all on my iPad! I wish there was one login system that could be used on all platforms. OpenID is too complicated (typical for open solutions) and Facebook is proprietary as well. Oh well …

        Some of your pictures like A Bollywood still and A hand in an inappropriate place (I don’t get that name BTW, I looked really long and hard at those people’s hands) feel to me as if they would have worked even better with a shorter focal length because they have a bit of a spy look to them. Still, they’re pretty good and others like Lego city and Between destinations are simply fantastic! If they were any better, they would probably cost me dearly – for the lens and a vacation to Malaysia! All those colors!!

        What do you think would be the right applications for this focal length? I feel it’s rather long for portraiture, but too short for telephoto stuff like wild life. I know there are people doing portraiture with 200mm equiv., but it still feels very specialized to me. I wonder why Olympus chose this focal length rather than more popular ones.

        • Yes, you’re now Willi Kampmann but with the same logo. I think the simplest way to do it is just have name and email boxes and use a cookie for the sites you visit regularly, but hey, I’m not a programmer…

          The hand in the inappropriate place – look at the two facing figures on the right side of the image. The spy feel is probably because of the compressed perspective and foreground subject placement. I’m not sure I agree with the Bollywood Still feeling that way; we’ve got figures clearly staring at the camera (and they were definitely conscious of being observed).

          If you use a 135, then you probably know what to do with this. For me, it’s a difficult question to answer as I only ever used my 70-200 for concert and portrait work; and quite rarely, even then. (Most of the time I landed up using my 105VR). I suppose the obvious answers would be fashion, portraits, indoor sports, events, theatre?

      • Willi Kampmann says:

        Exactly, the compressed perspective creates a distance between the scene and the viewer. And that’s how I feel about Bollywood Still, too (though to a lesser degree). It’s still a great shot, but I think that with a shorter focal length there would be a stronger connection to the group in the image. Trying to imagine it on-scene I’d probably expect them to shout at me because I’d be so far away from them.

  23. Gregorio Donikian says:

    my only problem with micro 4/3 today is price !! when the gf1 arrive it was a a smaller and cheaper system, today its cheaper to me to get a nikon D3200, sell all my Micro 4/3 lenses and keep only 1 system. All my money is in nikon glass. This became a system that does the same thing of a Dslr but a little bits worst.

    i love my Nikon d700/d800 and my Fuji x100 is a different league camera but i love it to. ! here i don’t know it look like th perfect system for nothing !

    Greg

    • I think the choices are both good and bad – we now have better tools for specific jobs, but I no longer feel like there’s a one-size-fits all. For assignment/ commercial work the choice is simple – just a question of D700 or D800E and which lenses; however for trips/ travel, it’s harder. Do I go with the D800? The D700? The M9P? The OM-D? I’m still not sure which is the answer, because they’re all good and bad – the D800 is demanding on lenses and shooting technique; the D700 is flexible but the lowest resolution, and heavy; the M9 is limited in both focal lengths and low light capability, but very responsive and good for street work; the OM-D is a good compromise, but lacking in continuous-AF capabilities. Tough choices!

  24. Now if Olympus were able or willing to create great lenses in “the middle”, they might be able to make some money by selling lots. Instead of leaving it to Panasonic to rake in the money.The 45/1,8 is a good start (never regretted buying it!), but why they prefer an odd 45mm lens to some in the area of 14 to 25 is beyond me. I got rid of FT because of the lack of primes (and the 25/2.8 was not much to write home about), entered mFT with that excuse of a lens 17/2.8 and found my solution in going Panasonic (with the 20/1.7 and 14/2.5). Good engineering channeled the wrong way doesnt pay off.

    • All I can say I’d that I’m waiting for a good midrange too…

    • Willi Kampmann says:

      85mm on full-frame is pretty standard, isn’t it? 45mm on MFT is very close to this so I think that lens is perfectly understandable. But between 12mm and 45mm there is basically nothing from Olympus – only the 17mm ƒ/2.8 which is pretty bad. It makes you wonder why they don’t at least have a good 25mm. Maybe they’re afraid of directly competing with a Leica design? It seems they are trying to broaden the MFT range first before duplicating focal lengths which Panasonic already covers.

      • Yes; I’m a 28/85 person so the 45 feels very natural to me, though without the isolation I’m used to from the 85/1.8 and 85/1.4s.

        I don’t know why they should be afraid to compete, their 12, 45 and 75mm offerings are excellent – and I’m seeing a definite improvement trend with the newer designs. Perhaps it’s not so much afraid to compete as their consortium partners would not be happy if they offered say a 20 or 25 1.8 at a cheaper price than the 20/1.7 and 25/1.4, but optically on par with the latter…

  25. I like the first pic. may I know how you step up the light for the first one

  26. I’ve been following your website and other photography blogs over the last few months and I can honestly say that your website reigns supreme!! I really admire your dedication to your craft and appreciate the effort you put into this website. Your photography is amazing and has a style that is honest without being pretentious. I just can’t figure out how you have the time to do all that you do while maintaining such a high standard of quality!

    Maybe it’s magic…..

    Thank you for sharing your work with us. I wish you prosperity and all the good luck. Keep the magic going!

    • Thanks Moe. No secret or magic, I just sleep very little. But at some point I have to figure out the balance between maintaining the site and having an income, we’re definitely not there yet…

      • Some sites seem to strive on quantity vs quality. Like reviews of 10.000 words, that could have easily been said in 1.000, or with poor images to illustrate this camera or that lens quality. Yours is a (welcome) exception. I can only begin to imagine the hard work put into each and every review, article and image you publish. My best feelings for you and your blog, I hope you can find a way to keep it growing!

        As for this lens. Sounds like a true gem. My question seems to be an irrational one. Does it have “soul”? I just cannot say from the images i’ve seen. They are so technically perfect, but I wonder where the character is – whatever that might be for each of us. You could say that character comes from each person’s style, but i’m a believer that it also comes from the tool, just like a fender telecaster and a gibson les paul are both guitars, but each has its own signature, that lends itself better to certain sounds and rythms.

        Thanks for the great review!

        • Thanks for your compliments. A famous author – attributed variously to George Bernard Shaw, Voltaire and Blaise Pascal – once said ‘I’m sorry this letter is so long, for I have not had the time to make it shorter’. If I’m not succinct – then I won’t have time to do anything else!

          Hard to say if the 75 has ‘soul’ or not – I think it’s one of those lenses whose signature is its transparency and perfection, and I don’t say that lightly. It’s contribution to the image is that it doesn’t color the photographer’s vision of the image with its own.

      • Oh, and +1. Oly would do well to come up with a comparable quality 35mm equivalent fast prime. Not so sure about a 50mm equivalent one, since we already have the great panaleica one.

  27. everytime I read your equipment reviews I feel like going shopping, although I don’t think I’d be able to make the same equipment produce the same wow factor :P

    Were you just hanging around the bus stop while taking pictures? You’ve managed to capture so many individual stories from each image, as these are scenes that I’d most likely just glance by with no second though of photographing them.

    Great review by the way. :)

  28. Looks to me like a great lens, but I have to say that you’re definitely one of the best, if not THE best reviewer out there. Not only do you write well but you have the knowledge and skills to take fantastic pictures, displaying very clearly the attributes and potential of the equipment. Well done Ming.

    • Thanks Kristian. I don’t think I did this lens justice, it just doesn’t suit the subjects I normally shoot – and the one day I did have time to shoot with it, it rained…

Trackbacks

  1. […] Olympus ZD 75/1.8 Same comments as for the 12-40: no other contenders for this purpose and field of view. […]

  2. […] some lenses in there somewhere, too – a Leica 50/1.4 ASPH, the Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 Distagon, Olympus 75/1.8 and 12-40/2.8s. But I’m pleased to say that I’ve gotten solid use out of pretty much […]

  3. […] unique because so few other lenses can do this – the only few that instantly come to mind are the Olympus 75/1.8, Contax 2/45 Planar, Nikon PCE 85/2.8 Micro and Nikon 200/2 VR, but even the latter is somewhat […]

  4. […] as being at the top end of the lens lineup. Unlike the previous high grade primes (12/2, 17/1.8, 75/1.8, click on the links for my reviews), the 12-40 is ‘triple proof’ – fully environmentally […]

  5. […] as being at the top end of the lens lineup. Unlike the previous high grade primes (12/2, 17/1.8, 75/1.8, click on the links for my reviews), the 12-40 is ‘triple proof’ – fully […]

  6. […] But I did add several mirrorless lenses this year alone – the Panasonic 14-42 X pancake, the Olympus 75/1.8 and the Leica 50/1.4 Summilux-M […]

  7. […] also on sale – I own all of these and rate them very highly – the Olympus 60/2.8 Macro, 75/1.8 and 12/2 (click on the lens names for my reviews). You can find them up to $100 off here. Finally, […]

  8. […] Olympus ZD 60/2.8 macro** 7/10 – review B&H Amazon Olympus ZD 75/1.8** 9/10 – review B&H Amazon Panasonic Leica 25/1.4 8/10 – B&H Amazon Leica 21/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH* […]

  9. [...] lately with its Micro Four Thirds lenses – first the 12/2, followed by the 45/1.8, then the 75/1.8 and 60/2.8 – the latter two of which are amongst the best lenses I’ve used for any [...]

  10. [...] you come across a lens that is truly outstanding – the last two that come to mind were the Olympus ZD 75/1.8 and Leica 50/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH. I’ve used a number of competent, but imperfect, lenses [...]

  11. [...] came across this review of the 75mm f1.8 the other day Review: The Olympus ZD 75/1.8 for Micro Four Thirds He loves the lens but makes some good points about its usefulness because of its focal length it [...]

  12. [...] Thirds system, the Olympus Zuiko Digital 75mm f1.8 has already had a lot said about it, including a great review by Ming Thein, a professional photographer who puts this lens on par with some of the current greats — the [...]

  13. [...] Review: The Olympus ZD 75/1.8 for Micro Four Thirds Mysterious & Massive World Hidden Underground: Paradise & Fairytale Caves 20 Incredible [...]

  14. [...] Ming Thein is back with a new lens review, a walk on the prime side with the new Olympus 75mm f1.8 (m43rds). [...]

  15. [...] 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 [...]

  16. [...] Thein reviews the Olympus 75/1.8 As usual, good samples and insightful comments in his review. "No doubt street photographers will find it extremely handy to get closer to or isolate their [...]

  17. [...] Review: The Olympus ZD 75/1.8 for Micro Four Thirds – Ming Thein … I picked up a final production sample 75 from Olympus Malaysia a couple of weeks ago, having handled a much earlier prototype; honestly, the only thing that seems to have changed is the lens' finish color (a light . The latter portion contributes to speed – most lenses contain focusing elements that are attached to a rotating helicoid assembly; a linear motor rotates this entire assembly in either direction to move it back and forth by means of a static cam and follower. [...]

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