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Olympus 75mm f/1.8 Lens Review
by Laura Hicks -  3/28/2013

Olympus keeps hitting them out of the park! Whether you're talking about their super fast cameras like the OM-D E-M5 or their optically superior lineup of  lenses like the 17mm f/1.8, Olympus can't seem to stray too far from our office conversations. And the 75mm f/1.8 is just one more example of what we have come to love about Olympus -- a company that provides a high quality product for a fair price. 

Alright, you might have to dig a bit deeper into your wallet for the 75mm f/1.8, but we are pretty sure you will be glad you did. On a Micro Four Thirds camera, the 75mm focal length is subjected to the 2.0x crop factor making it the equivalent of a 150mm lens in 35mm standards. Using this lens to capture distant landscapes is just the beginning. This lens is also a great option for portraits, sports and wedding photography. 

Overview of Lens
The Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 lens weighs 10.7oz. and it measures 2.7"x2.5" making it on the larger side of MFT lenses -- especially when compared to the 17mm f/1.8 we recently reviewed. As a prime lens it has a set focal length of 75mm (150mm in 35mm standards). The 75mm f/1.8 lens has 10 elements in 9 groups and has a nine blade circular diaphragm that help to render a pleasing "bokeh" effect in the defocused areas of the image. Just like the 17mm f/1.8 lens, the 75mm f/1.8 lens is also equipped with MSC auto focus drive technology that promises fast and quiet autofocusing. The lens feature three ED elements and Olympus' ZERO multicoating technology which produces images with minimal ghosting and flare. Currently, this lens retails for $899.99.

 

Build and Design
As soon as you pick up the 75mm f/1.8 Olympus MFT lens you can tell it is well-made with a solid all-metal lens barrel design.  As stated earlier, this lens incorporates 10 elements in 9 groups. If you are used to having a pancake lens on your MFT camera then this lens will feel a lot heavier, but it is not near as heavy as many of the traditional DSLR lenses. The lens is made of three Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements and ZERO lens coating that corrects for chromatic aberrations. 

Image Quality
This telephoto lens has been designed for long range shooting and portrait photography. With a 75mm focal length (150mm in 35mm equivalent) this lens will see less use than traditional shooting lengths such as the Olympus 17mm or even the 45mm lens. In fact, although I enjoyed using the lens, I found myself looking for situations where I could use it.

Throughout my testing, the lens produced images that were generally sharp. The 75mm f/1.8 lens produced good color quality. It did a great job when trying to capture movment as seen in the "flying duck" image below meaning this lens could be used for sports photography, too. Even in low light situations the lens performed well. 

The lens did a very good job of having very little (to no) chromatic aberration even when I placed it in situations that would render other lenses less-than-perfect. The lens also had very little distortion. The bokeh from the lens was generally pleasing, yet not quite as smooth as traditional DSLR lenses that I use when shooting weddings and portraits. 

Ease of Use
The 75mm f/1.8 was easy to use, except in situations where space and/or distance was an issue. Obviously the lens is designed for long range photography, sports and portraits. The minimum focal distance between the subject and the lens is almost three feet making this lens hard to use in tight situations. The 17mm f/1.8 would be a much better choice in this environment. Or, if you are looking to take macro images, the 60mm f/2.8 would serve you much better.

But out in wide open spaces this lens is the king. It performs quickly and simply. It does not hesitate, and thanks in part to pairing it with the Olympus OM-D EM-5, the lens was smooth and AF was fast. 

Additional Images


Conclusion
As with the other Olympus lenses we have review lately, the 75mm f/1.8 does not disappoint. It does a great job of creating crisp, clear images with little to no distortions. Although I could not see keeping this lens attached to my camera at all times it is a great lens when needed -- especially while shooting distances and portraits.

The biggest downfall of this lens is the price. At $900, it will make you think twice before reaching deep into your wallet. But for photographers who desire more than a basic kit lens, the 75mm f/1.8 will be a great addition your camera bag. For professionals who are migrating to the MFT system the cost of the lens is very justified and potentially seen as a good deal in comparison to the costs of some Canon and Nikon lenses. 

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