Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8 lens review: Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8 lens

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Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8 Lens (for Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 Cameras)

(Part #: V311040SU000)
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8 delivers generally excellent optical performance in a well-constructed lens.

The Bad The manual focus ring feels a little too loose.

The Bottom Line A bright, fast lens with a high-end build, the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8 is a great option for portrait photographers shooting with Micro Four Thirds cameras.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Image quality 8.0

Olympus' M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8 is a lovely, well-constructed and -performing telephoto lens for photographing people. It's so nice, in fact, that I found myself wishing Olympus made lenses for larger-sensored ILCs.

The first two things you notice about the lens are the all-metal construction and that it's heavy; all that glass reminds me of Olympus' better Four Thirds-mount lenses. I tested it with both the Pen E-P3 and OM-D E-M5, and actually found it a little too heavy for the E-P3. Without the larger grip attached to the camera, I found that when I wasn't actively shooting, it weighed my hand down in such a way that I had to exert extra thumb pressure to grip it, which accidentally changed camera settings.

Manual focus has that typical servo-electronic feel, loose and endless, albeit reasonably precise once you're in the vicinity of the correct focus range. Autofocus performs normally on the cameras, neither slower nor faster than the cameras typically deliver (that includes on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 I quickly tried it with). And the AF operates silently during video capture, as you'd expect from Olympus' use of its MSC technology.

The lens' sweet spot seems to be between f2.8 and f11. Below f2.8 it shows a slight propensity for chromatic aberration and it doesn't attain optimum sharpness until there -- though it's still quite acceptable -- and sharpness declines a bit between f8 and f11. I was very disappointed with f22, however, which I found simply too soft to use. This pattern applies to both center and corner sharpness, as it's pretty consistent edge-to-edge.

Mount Micro Four Thirds
Focal range 75mm
(150mm equivalent)
Aperture range f1.8 - f22
Iris 9 blades
Minimum focus distance 33.1 inches
Angle of view 16 degrees
Elements 10 elements in 9 groups
3 extra-low dispersion lenses,
2 high refraction lenses
Filter diameter 58mm
Lens barrel diameter 2.7 inches
Lens length (min/max) 3 inches
Weight 11.9 ounces
MSRP $899.99

Overall, the lens is quite bright, with no discernible vignetting and minimal distortion, produces beautifully soft out-of-focus areas, and the coating seems to do a great job of minimizing flare. The iris renders lovely round highlights.

I'm not a big telephoto shooter -- my range is more 24mm-90mm (35mm equivalent) -- and I tend to get frustrated by lenses that don't focus closer than a foot, though I realize there are technical reasons why lots of lenses don't focus closely. So while I hate that this lens can't focus closer than almost 3 feet, it actually fares better on that front than a lot of comparable-length lenses.

Conclusion
Until this lens arrived, there were no telephoto primes for Micro Four Thirds cameras, and certainly nothing this fast at a comparable focal length in a zoom. But it's gratifying that despite being the only current option, it's still a good one.

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