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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!

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