First Impressions
of the Olympus 75mm f1.8
m.Zuiko Lens.



Images & text Copyright by David Young
www.FURnFEATHER.ca

The 75/1.8 m.Zuiko: (Tested on the E-M1 with firmware v 1.1.)



The m.Zuiko lenses, for Micro-Four-Thirds (mFT) cameras seem to be divided into two or three categories.  Those in the basic consumer (standard) line are low-cost, mainly plastic-bodied lenses. They won't stand up to the rigors of professional use, but in the hands of the average user, they provide good optics and
give excellent value for the money. One, the 12~50/3.5-6.3 EZ is weather-sealed.

Above the consumer lenses stand the Premium and Pro lines.  The premium are prime lenses feature absolutely top-quality optics that will hold their own with any lenses, no matter where they are made, and a professional, all-metal build that will survive professional use. Again, so far, just one has been made with full weather sealing - the 60mm 2.8 Macro.  Starting with the latest 12~40/2.8 zoom (classed as "splash proof"), the PRO designation has been applied. The PRO designation is to be used with the coming 40~150/2.8 zoom, which will also be weather-sealed.  

The PRO designation seems, at this point, to be reserved for constant aperture zooms. However, the coming 
and the 300/f4 super-Tele prime lens (due out in early 2015) will gain the Pro designation, as well.  if you want the absolute best lenses in the line-up, the Premium or PRO grade prime lenses are the way to go.

When I was young, lo those many years ago, I shot with a Nikon F, which was the professional's camera of the day.  But, I could only afford two lenses. I had my wide angle lens (the 85mm f1.8 Nikkor-H short tele) and my normal lens (the 200mm f4, Nikkor-Q).  Those three peices remained my "kit", for the next 18 years.  And I loved them!

So, unlike many,  I've always seen "long".  Thus, the m.Zuiko 75/1.8 Premium lens (with its 150mm equivalent field of view) fit right into my photography like a hand in a glove.


What struck me first, was the fit and finish of this Japanese made lens.  The all metal lens is finished as well as anything I've ever owned by Leica - who are generally accepted as the gold standard for photographic  manufacturing quality.   

The focusing ring is silky-smooth.  Because it is a focus-by-wire system, it does not have the resistance of a real, manual helicoid focusing threads, but the system is very responsive, with no overshoot - a problem with some focus-by-wire systems.

Still, the manual-focus abilities are almost irrelevant, as the fast 1.8 aperture, combined with the lighting fast, and deadly accurate AF system in the E-M1 are so good, I doubt you'll ever need to use the manual focusing!

I was disappointed to find that the lens does not come with a matching lens hood, and that Olympus want $79.95 + tax + shipping for their LH-61F.  So, being a thrifty soul, I  purchased  JJC's J61-F lens hood, on eBay, for $29.95 including shipping, and with no tax!  It is beautifully made and while I cannot prove it, if I were a betting man, I'd bet that JJC (or whoever actually made the JJC) is the OEM who also makes the genuine Olympus hood.  I can see no real difference, other than the label - and the price!

There is little to say, beyond this, except to say that the optical performance (that's why you buy a lens, isn't it?) is simply stellar!  I've not been as happy with a lens, since I purchased my Leica 90/2 Summicron!  In fact, though I've not done any scientific testing, I suspect the 75/1.8 Zuiko is sharper than my Leica Summicron!


This hand-held, casual portrait was taken with the E-M1, at a distance of roughly 5 meters (16 feet).

Exposure was 1/750th, @ f2.8 - ISO 320.


---


Even at high ISO's, the clarity of this lens comes through.   Even though this lens is not weather sealed, I took the shot below, during a heavy snow-storm (at -7C or about 19 Farenheit).  I gave the lens a gentle wipe with a Kleenex tissue, once back in the car.  All is well.

The shot was made, with the Oly E-M1, hand-held, using 1/250th, f5.6, at ISO 1600.
 


One Caveat:
All is not perfect in the land of Zuiko.  Just moving the camera around, when turned on, would cause the lens to emit a "clicking" sound, as the aperture changed.  This did not affect stills photography in any important way, but was most annoying. (In fact, it's loud enough that my wife has asked "What's that noise?" when sitting across the room from me!) A piece of top-quality gear, of any brand, simply should not do this! More importantly, this sound was picked up by the built-in microphones and was reproduced in videos shot with the lens (and other Premium series lenses, as well as the 14-42 Zuiko EZ zoom lens, I'm told) when recording.  Not good!

[UPDATE]  To the delight of picky people like  myself ... and videographers everywhere...  the Premium Series lenses, and the 14-42 EZ Zoom
are now quiet, as all good lenses should be. Olympus solved the problem in the original E-M1 with firmware update 4.0 using something they called "Smooth Aperture Support".

[Mk II UPDATE] Surprisingly, the noise is back, with the EM-1 MK II.  I'd have thought, having once figured the solution, they'd have incorporated it into the MK II firmware from the start, but not so. While merely an annoyance for the stills photographer (me) it could be a deal breaker, for a videographer.  I can only hope that this is corrected in the next firmware update.  (As of the 2.1 update - 8 Mar. 
2018 - this is still not fixed.)
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Last updated: 18 May, 2018