Zuiko (Olympus) 75mm f1.8 – My Initial Experience (#352) 07-14-13

Having owned the Olympus OM-D E M5 for several weeks, my go-to portrait lens has been the 45mm f1.8. With the small sensor, this becomes a 90mm full frame equivalent. I like it.

But I have a project coming up that requires a longer lens and manual focusing. This scares me. So, I purchased the Zuiko 75mm f1.8. The reviews have been excellent. If you are interested, see them HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

The lens is substantially larger than the 45, but much smaller than an equivocal focal length lens for a DSLR. Here's how they look on the camera, 45mm first (images captured with Canon S100).

So when my copy arrived, I knew that it would be plenty sharp, but I wasn't sure that my old, tired, eyes could do the job for manual focus. I am using my reading glasses for this. First I auto-focused on an easy subject and checked a shot on the LCD. Plenty sharp. Then I pressed the shutter button half way down and looked, again, through the viewfinder. Things looked a bit fuzzy, so with the shutter button down, I adjusted the diopter setting next to the viewfinder until things looked sharp. Finally, I switched to manual focus, recomposed, and shot again. Sharp! Then it was time for some more challenging subjects.

I sat on a bench along a the downtown main street. It is two lanes wide, with two parking lanes and a median containing plantings. I estimate the width to be 80-100 feet total. A man was sitting on a bench on the other side, facing away from me. I took several shots, manually focusing on the back of his head.

The images varied greatly in sharpness, but I was very pleased with this one. It is straight out of Adobe Camera RAW, with no straightening, cropping, or alterations of any kind.

Notice that he is scratching the back of his neck.

Notice that he is wearing a wristwatch.

And notice that:

It was 2:30PM! I could not believe that I could read the time on his watch! This lens has surpassed my expectations for sharpness and resolution. My ability to manual focus, not so much. But I'll keep working on it.

Now, can I use this as a stranger portrait lens? Sure. The effective focal length of 150mm is a bit long, I'll have to stand back more than I am used to. But I used to use a Nikon D90 with an 85mm lens, with an effective focal length of 127mm – not so much different. Will I use it in place of the 45mm? Time will tell.

This is for sure: I feel liberated with this new gear. It is so much lighter and more compact; I feel like I have stepped off of a DSLR treadmill. Now, back to shooting!