Geartalk: Olympus Zuiko Digital 75mm f1.8

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, 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 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 or 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 street price. That’s a steal, considering what you’re getting. 

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