Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Awesomeness of Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 Lens

I was thinking about using a lens that I have rarely used for my shutter therapy session this weekend, and looking at the selection of available M.Zuiko lenses, I realized I have not paid much attention to the beautiful 75mm F1.8 lens recently. The most popular lens for my street shooting has always been the 45mm F1.8 lens, and more recently I have been shooting very frequently with a 35mm equivalent lens on the Fuji X100. I knew it was going to be a challenge using a longer focal length of that 75mm F1.8 lens, and then I thought why not?

For this particular shutter therapy session I was joined by visitors from Germany, Jochen and Cinzia, as well as another German who has been residing in KL for a while now, Stephan. Visitors keep coming from Germany, if this goes on I can compile a blog entry just featuring ALL my German visitors whom I have met in KL. 

I forced myself to just use the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens for the whole outing. It is a challenge since we were shooting Chow Kit, a market setting which did not allow much working space between the camera and subjects. 

All images were taken with Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 on the OM-D E-M10 Mark II. ECG-3 external camera grip was attached to the E-M10 Mark II for added comfort and better handling.

That is one sexy looking lens, Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 mounted on the new OM-D E-M10 Mark II

Jochen and Cinzia from Germany! 

It was a joy to use the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 again on the street! I agree it is not the ideal lens, and it was not particularly easy to work with especially in locations with tight space, but when it worked, the results I obtained from the 75mm F1.8 was nothing short of breathtaking. This is a lens that not everyone would need, or want to have in their arsenal, but if you can find a need for it, or a way to use it in your shooting, you will be superbly pleased with what the lens can do for you. 

My current thoughts on the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens while shooting on the street:

1) I need to look for ahead. 
The trick in using longer focal length when shooting, is to look further ahead, spotting your subjects from a distance, and plan accordingly as you approach your subject. Even when you are already at a shooting distance (normally a few meters away, could be even 5 meters or more away depending on how much you want to fit into the frame), you are still considerably far from your subject. Therefore, it is extremely crucial to be able to plan ahead, and train yourself (myself, as a reminder too) not just focus too much on what is surrounding you as you normally would do with the wider lenses such as 35mm or 50mm. 

2) I forgot how sharp the 75mm F1.8 is
The sharpness of this lens is incredible. The amount of fine details resolved is crazy. The 75mm F1.8 from Olympus has always been regarded as the sharpest lens for Micro Four Thirds system, with one reviewer (can't remember who) made a hyperbolic claim of this lens being the sharpest lens on the planet. That was of course, a claim made before the release of the much revered Panasonic Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 lens, which many reviewers have praised and noted to have comparable sharpness to this Olympus 75mm F1.8. 

3) The 5-Axis Image Stabilization helped more than we would know
I was shooting a portrait in a dimly lit environment, I instinctively set my ISO to 1600, with the lens being set to wide open F1.8. I made an assumption that I would achieve approximately fast enough shutter speed (1/100sec or faster) to shoot the portrait hand-held. I took the shot of the headshot portrait, and I reviewed the image, it turned out sharp. Little did I know when I saw the EXIF data, the shutter speed was actually 1/10 seconds. Thankfully there was the 5-Axis Image Stabilization on camera, to counter the camera shake. There is NO WAY I could have hand-held a 150mm equivalent lens at 1/10 seconds! Sometimes I do think that we take the 5-Axis IS for granted!

4) "WOW" factor in images
I do not quite know how to explain this, but images that were shot with the 75mm F1.8 has this instant impact that I do not see from other lenses. The results just immediately "POPPED", and they look fantastic. Maybe it was the longer focal length that created a much cleaner composition with lesser background fitted into the frame. Or maybe it was the superior subject isolation, rendering of super shallow depth of field, throwing the unwanted background into complete blur. There was this three dimensional depth to the images, and I know I am sounding vague and do not actually make much sense, but if you do see what I see, please let me know! The depth created in the image is just beautiful, and I like it! 

5) Stealthy lens
I know street photographers (the traditional and conservative kind) will roll their eyes when I mention this: you can do candid shots easier with a longer focal lenth lens, such as this 75mm F1.8 lens. I have a few instances today that I needed to shoot my subjects without them knowing I was aiming the camera at them. Hence I used the tilt screen on the E-M10 Mark II, I had my eyes on the tilt screen at my waist level, standing considerably far away from my subject, too far for them to suspect I was shooting them. I did get away with some candid images that I am quite happy with. 

6) Who should buy this lens?
If you shoot a lot of portraits, and you really want to produce the best portrait shots ever, this lens should be in consideration. Either used on studio or outdoor, this M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 will perform well. Also, anything photography that needs longer focal length, indoor sports, stage events, action shots, that equivalent 150mm reach is something incredible considering how small and light the lens actually is. I would not recommend this lens for street photography though, but if you do need to shoot something from a distance, and trying to be as stealthy as possible, this is not a bad choice. 

On a pedestrian bridge

Hammer Vs Shield
The 75mm F1.8 lens may not be good enough for macro shooting, or have high magnification, but a simple close up shot like this can be achieved. This is the maximum magnification that the 75mm F1.8 lens can do, and honestly, not too bad at all considering how tiny the lego pieces are. 

Another demonstration on close up shooting. The disadvantage of using a very long lens to shoot close up images like this? The depth of field is too shallow, even after you have stopped down the aperture. I was using F8 for this shot and still did not get enough depth of field to see the whole fruit in focus. 

Morning Paper

Portrait of a Stranger 
this was taken at 1/25sec, after realising my earlier mistake of using too slow of a shutter speed at 1/10sec (though still getting away with sharp image). 

100% crop from previous image

Portrait of a Stranger 2

Feet Pointing Upward


I Will Carry You

Afternoon Yawn
Advantage of using a long lens, you can shoot a subject from far away, yet having the subject reasonably close in your frame. This can be done even without the subject realizing their shot was being taken!

I have shot this before with a different lens, 40-150mm F4-5.6 R, a budget telephoto zoom lens, during my review for the E-M10 Mark II recently. I wanted to shoot this again for one reason: to see for myself, again how sharp this 75mm F1.8 lens is. You can see it for yourself in the 100% crop as shown below. 

100% crop from previous image

Five Foot Way

On the Steps

Only One

Five Foot Way 2

Faces in Between

Even the cat did not care I was shooting her since I was rather far away. 

A little Green

This shot was NOT taken with 75mm F1,8 lens, because it was too near. I had this for lunch with Stephan, Fried Chicken Served on a bed of Waffles. Strange combination but it was a delicious lunch at LOKL Cafe. It was taken with the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens

Now this was taken with the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens, some funky dish called South China Sea at the Merchant Lane, Petaling Street. Grilled Salmon with mixed fruits/vegetables and poached eggs! This

What kind of weekend is complete without a good cup of Flat White? Yeap, shot this with the 75mm F1.8 too. It was a ridiculous focal length to use for a casual shoot (I am not talking about shooting food professionally, that is a different story), considering the super tight space of a typical cafe restaurant here in KL. 

Coincidentally, we all have that amazing M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8! Some shots of Stephan and Jochen in action. 

I am very sure many of you own this fantastic M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens, and have used it to shoot plenty of beautiful photographs! Please let me know what you think and how this lens have affected your photography. I am eager to hear from you!

Please support this site by liking my Facebook Page here (click)


  1. Awesome blog as always Robin. I've just purchased the 75mm f1.8 and only done a few test shots but it's a lens I've wanted for ages. No doubt I'm going to love using it from my initial tests. I've currently got the E-M1 and Panasonic G7 to use this lens with :)

    1. Hey Howei,
      Glad that you have the 75mm F1.8 lens! I think it fits both E-M1 and GX7 well, as both cameras have Image Stabilization, you will need the IS for 150mm focal length equivalent! I am sure you will make many beautiful images with this lens. Keep Shooting!

  2. The 75mm is maybe the main reason that I stay in the MFT system. Nothing like it for me. Only wish it was weather-sealed :)

    1. True! It should come with weather sealing!

  3. Replies
    1. Yes. Multiple times and I have blogged about them too. Please use the search box at the sidebar

  4. I can 100% support that the 75 f1.8 is a gem. Its the closest to fullframe dof you will get for mft with native af lenses. I used it on a trip to venice lately on my gx7 and it was superb

    1. Thanks Jen for agreeing and yes it can give that full frame shallow depth of field look

  5. hello.. A question.. if you want to do some portrait photography, how far ca you be from the subject? (min and max)

    1. As long as you can still communicate with your subject verbally it should be fine.

  6. Hello Robin,

    I completely understand what you think a tried to say about the look of the pictures made with the 75mm, they look somehow beautiful, they pull me into the scene, yes, they pop more out.
    But I think this is not the "blah comparable DOF to small format (35mm)", it is the quality of the optics. I think this is somethink often said about Leica lenses!
    If I had more the possibility to be in the nature, I would buy it, here in Sao Paulo it seems to be to often to long.

    All the best!

    1. Hi Matthias,
      Indeed, I do think the optics are quite special as well! Simply amazing lens it is

  7. This lens replaced my 135mm/2.0 and 180mm/2.8 Nikon lenses. A difference of 1260 grams in weight. The Nikons have built in lens hoods that I really miss at the Olympus. You have to buy it separately, and its a rather clumsy solution as well compared to the more than twenty year old designs of Nikon. With the latest Nikon cameras you should get slightly more detail, but you can’t have Olympus colors!

    Great mother and child picture!

    1. I haven't shot much with my 75mm because of the hood or lack there of. I didn't get a hood with the lenses and bought a third party rubber hood that I don't like. Has anyone had any luck with other hood for this lenses? I might just have to buy the Olympus hood. Thanks AJO

    2. I use step ring 58-62 + stepdown ring 62-58 + rubber hood

    3. Hi Walters,
      Thanks for the kind words, the mother and child image is my favourite as well. It is indeed sad about the lens hood, I guess they have learned from their mistake and all the newer lenses now (25mm, 40-150mm, etc) all come with lens hood.

      Hey ajokey,
      What is wrong with shooting without the lens hood? I rarely used it on any of my lenses. It is not that crucial especially shooting with a longer lens.

      Hey Paul,.
      I'd rather just shoot without the lens hood

  8. whatever they are "paying" you at Olympus is probably not enough :-)
    Kidding, I have the feeling that you might get some perks from Oly but not money... since your images are the best testament and advertising for them. I get bored to tears with charts and reviews and tech talk: show me what the equipment can do. And you can, yes Sir, you sure can show, and some!
    Robin, I already bought a M.Zuiko 75 f1.8 but gave it away to my girlfriend... dang, considering getting one for myself now too, looking at your images.
    Of course the disappointment will come when my pix won't be even close to yours :-)
    Keep up the incredible work; respect.

    1. Hignarlydog,
      Thanks for the kind words. I think in the process of reviewing photography equipment, there should be plenty of photographs to show, and the photographs should be taken in the real world (where we all shoot and use the gear), not in a lab controlled environment.
      Your girlfriend is one lucky girl to have a free 75mm F1.8!

  9. I've had this lens for years and before I bought the Nocticron, it was my "one and all" (German). I love this lens and its wonderful rendering of colours and clearness of details, which make fotos nearly 3-dimensional.
    As to the hood, I chose a diy-solution, taking a plastic bottle with exactly the diameter of the focus-ring of the lens ( so I can even focus manually), cutting its length just to cover the whole lens plus 4 cm (the hood) and coating it with some black foil. Now the lens is protectected very well against rain, has a hood and - what is good for street-fotos, it is hardly attracting attention ;-).


    1. Wolfgang do you have a photo of your home mede hood?

    2. Hi Ajo,
      I made one for you :-) you can download it here:
      I was lucky because my wife has contact-lenses and needs fluid to store them at night. The bootles of this fluid are just perfect for the 75mm.
      But with all of the plastic bootles around nowadays it should not be too difficult to find a bottle that fits.


    3. Thanks! It makes sense to me now. You covered the whole lenses and if friction fits over the focus ring. Nice Job! :-) Now I'm going to go around measuring bottles ;-) Thanks Again!

  10. You're welcome Ajo :-) I don't know where you live, but if you are European, I might send you a bottle if you don't succeed to find one. My wife needs one every two months ;-))

  11. I agree with your first view:75mm 1.8 x 2X = 150mm is just to long for normal everyday shooting and to short when you need to reach out like a sporting event. So after several months and tired of backing up I sold my 75mm 1.8 and bought the outstanding 12mm - 40mm f2.8 pro zoom and love it on my EM1. IF I HAD THE CASH I'D ADD THE 7mm- 14mm f2.8 pro zoom. Or the fisheye. Love your blog. Thanks
    My cookbook shots from got reused on a new vegetarian cookbook by a friend who edited it. My other fav lens is 25mm f1.4 Panasonic Leica. But the Oly 1.8 wasn't out when I bought it. Now I'd buy that instead.

    How to learn Olympus Viewer 3? ???

  12. Off topic Robin but Olympus have come good on the EM1 25p video mode, at least in november! Good to see they are listening.


  13. I agree that this is a fantastic lens but I found that I didn't use it all that much when I owned it. It's too long for most indoor portraits and was really only useful for me to use outdoors. I sold it to fund the purchase of the 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro since it is more versatile for my use cases. I still miss the 75mm f/1.8, however, and might repurchase it someday.

  14. Great pics, Robin. And I absolutely love my copy of this lens. It can be too long, but, actually get used to using it for street photography in certain situations. What I really like is that it's so small and light enough that one can shoot one-handed with coffee in the other hand and still get great shots. Can't do that with many of its competitors :-)

  15. Long-lasting reader of your blog Mr Wong, and it was actually you who first inspired me to buy the 75mm F1.8 lens a few years ago after your brilliant article back then!;)

    I usually travel with the 75mm, Panaleica 25mm F.14 and Olympus 9-18mm ( soon to be upgraded to the 7-14mm) , which gives me a very good and lightweight package that fits in a very small camera bag and that covers most situations=) The 75mm is absolutely fantastic for portraits, and a lens I now cant really live without. I also have the Panaleica 45mm Macro and Voigtlánder 35mm F1.4 that i sometimes bring, but the 75mm have in many cases nullified my need for those 2 lenses ( I still love the Voigtlánder's bokeh rendering though, and it gives you something extra to focus manually I think), except for macro shots which the 45mm is being used.

    Anyway, thanks for another great article, and I will make sure to continue reading your blog every now and then!

    Cory, Norway/Japan

  16. Awesome review, Im testing the 75mm this weekend and probably going to buy it. produces great images