The Olympus 75mm f/1.8 was introduced in May 2012, simultaneously with the Olympus OM-D E-M5. Our Olympus 75mm review certainly isn't the first review of this lens. Nevertheless, the Olympus 75 mm has exceptionally good mechanical and optical properties, and therefore this belongs in our list of reviews. For available light photographers taking pictures in low light, this fast, short telephoto lens is very attractive. Also, the large f/1.8 aperture is very useful to create portraits with a beautiful background blur. The combination of a large aperture of f/1.8 and a relatively long focal length of 75mm (150mm full frame equivalent) forms an ideal combination for isolating your subject from foreground and background.
Olympus 75mm 1.8 review with Olympus OM-D E-M5 (M-43)
Caution: The image quality of this GIF animation is much lower than the original image
The field of view of the Olympus 75mm 1.8 corresponds to the field of view of a 150 mm lens on a camera with a full frame sensor. The depth of field of this lens at f/1.8 corresponds to the depth of field of a 150 mm lens on full-frame at f / 4. At a distance of 2 meters, the total depth of filed is only 4 centimeters. The GIF animation above demonstrates how a subject is isolated from distracting elements in the foreground and the background. This Olympus 75mm is one of the best micro-43 lenses if you want to play with depth of field and bokeh.
This lens is very nicely finished and has a classy with metal finish. Yet it is not additionally protected against dust and splash water, which is common with professional lenses. The Olympus 75mm lens is nice and compact, for a telephoto lens. The weight of 300 grams is relatively high for a micro-lens 43, but the combination of an Olympus OM-D E-M5 with this lens is definitely not heavy. Certainly not in comparison with similar (in terms of field of view) combinations on a camera with an APS-C or full frame sensor. Many fast lenses for SLR camera's have an impressive 77 or 82 mm filter size. The Olympus 75mm f/1.8 has a small filter size of 58mm. It will not attract attention during street photography.
Autofocus is fast and accurate, even in low light. Because the Olympus camera uses the sensor signal for focusing, there is no front focus or back focus. Thanks to the MSC (Movie-Still-Compatible) technique proceeds focusing almost silently, making this lens also suitable for video.
The Olympus 75mm 1.8 is compatible with all Micro-43 from Olympus and Panasonic. This lens has no built-in image stabilization, as all Olympus cameras have built-in image stabilization. In combination with a Panasonic have no access to stabilization. We have been several tests of the in-body image stabilization (IBIS) Olympus done and were each surprised by the high degree of effectiveness of the Olympus stabilization. Already at a shutter speed of 1/200 s, the images got sharper as we turned the image stabilization on. A hand held shot image with a shutter speed of 1/200 second, was as sharp as an image shot with a shutter speed of 1/25 second using the image stabilizer. We found dip in the sharpness of images taken with image stabilization with a relatively fast shutter speeds (in this case around 1/100 second). We encounter this phenomenon more often when testing image stabilization.
Vignetting Olympus 75mm 1.8
Even at full aperture, vignetting is not something to worry about with this Olympus 75mm 1.8 lens. In real life images, you will almost never encounter vignetting. Only in a solid blue sky you can just recognize the vignetting. But after stopping down 1 stop, the vignetting is completely gone. The vignetting at f/4 is among the lowest values we have ever measured.
Distortion is virtually absent in images shot with the Olympus 75mm f/1.8. Frankly, we didn't expect anything else.
Olympus 75mm @ 800 ISO, f/1.8, 1/640 sec
At the same aperture micro-43 lenses give much more depth than a lens with the same field of view on a camera with a full frame sensor. But if you want to play with bokeh, you want not just that the inclusion of front to back focus. The gif animation at the top of this page you can see that this is an ideal lens, thanks to the high brightness and long focal length, for each owner of a micro-43 camera an ideal lens to play with depth. That we saw back at our bokeh test setup. The combination of a relatively long focal length and a f/1.8 aperture make this lens one of the best lenses out there for portrait photography. Not only for micro-43, but also in comparison with lenses on a camera with an APS-C or full frame sensor.
The multilayer lens coating ZERO (ZUIKO Extra-low Reflection Optical) provides a 50% reduction of flare and ghosting, compared to ordinary lens coatings. Still you will encounter some flare and very little ghosting under extreme backlight situations. Here you see a 100% image area of a night scene where some flare at the top of the lamp can be seen and a green ghost under the lamp.
In terms of sharpness, the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 actually delivers a phenomenal image quality. It is one of the best micro-43 lenses at the moment. It is remarkable that already at f/1.8 the sharpness in the extreme corners is just as good as in the center. It delivers images from f/1.8 to f/11 which are sharp from corner to corner. Absolute top class.
If you click on the image to the right, you'll see a crop taken from the outer edge of the image which was - thanks to the large aperture of this lens - shot without the use of a tripod at f/1.8.
Olympus praises this lens with the slogan: "High speed, low reflection, next to no aberration". Lateral chromatic aberration, red and blue edges at strong contrast transitions in the corners of the image, which is the most common form of chromatic aberration, is totally absent indeed. Many fast lenses exhibit some degree of longitudinal chromatic aberration: green and purple edges at sharp contrasts behind, respectively, in front of the point which is in focus. This is sometimes called color bokeh. Below you see an example of color bokeh we encountered in our test images. Still this is a good performance from Olympus: for many fast lenses we observed much more prominent color bokeh.
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you save the files in the camera as jpg, including all in-camera lens corrections (distortion, chromatic aberration). This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera as a RAW file. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you make use of Photoshop, Lightroom or SilkyPix for converting RAW files, then the RAW scores for chromatic aberration and distortion are the same as the jpg scores.
Very high image quality in every aspect: sharpness, vignetting and chromatic aberration
With f/1.8 the fastest Micro-43 telephoto lens at the moment
Rugged, stylish, lightweight metal body
Beautiful, round bokeh
MSC compatible: fast and quiet AF
Metal Lens Hood (LH-61F) is not included
We can be brief about the Olympus 75mm f/1.8: it is one of the best lenses for sale at the moment. Not only for a micro-43 camera. If you see images made with this lens and an Olympus OM-D E-M5 and compare them with images taken with professional SLR cameras and associated expensive lenses, the image quality of this lens will amaze you. Of the approximately 125 lens reviews that we have done so far, only 14 lenses (including a large number of lenses that have been tested with the 36 megapixel Nikon D800E) have a higher score. The relatively long focal length in combination with the fast f/1.8 aperture make this a very attractive portrait lens with the most beautiful bokeh / OOF (out of focus) that you will get with a micro-43 camera. The only consideration that we have in this Olympus 75mm 1.8 review, is the high price. The equally fast Olympus 45mm f/1.8 also offers a high image quality, at a lower price. In terms of price / performance ratio, the stylish Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens is nevertheless really very attractive. But you have to pay a lot of money for it.
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Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.