Despite being very attractive, I was on the fence about the Olympus 75mm for several weeks after it first started to become available. From all accounts it was simply excellent, but it was also expensive, and I was looking forward to the forthcoming Panasonic 35-100 as an alternative.
Then the weekend of a wedding shoot began to draw ominously near, with my longest native lens being a 25mm, and I got nervous and placed an order. Unfortunately, the lenses were delayed somewhere between Oly and B&H, and still desperate for a longer lens I bought a used Panasonic Leica 45mm macro, which worked very well at the wedding and has probably earned a permenant place in my bag.
Fast forward another week, the 75mm is still on pre-order at B&H with an estimated arrival in late-August. I’m okay with that, I can make it. And once again I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, I don’t really need it. I’ve pretty much settled on prime lenses for my kit, but I’d really be okay with having the 45mm as my longest, at least for a while.
Naturally that’s when I get an email from my buddy Zack, who has himself become friends with the owner of Cameraland in NYC. The owner of Cameraland plays golf with the Olympus reps. He often manages to get a few of the harder-to-find Oly items. This time he has three 75mm lenses, and one of them is yet unclaimed. Am I interested?
If you’re a regular reader, you know how this story ends…
I go through the usual 45 seconds on agonized decision making: $900 is a lot of money, and coupled with the 45mm I just bought it wipes out my camera fund. For the foreseeable future.
So I said yes, gave my credit card another kick in the shorts, and 24 hours later I had a gleaming new Oly 75mm in my hands.
It took a couple of days before I was able to actually put it through its paces, but it traveled with me on Saturday while Mandy and I went berry picking (she picked, I shot) and then to Hillside Farms for a visit with the critters. Which is why aside from Mandy, chickens are among my first subjects with just about every new lens I’ve had this year. But that’s okay, chickens make good subjects. They’re very tolerant of photographers – much more so than some of the people I’ve worked with over the years!
(I posted a shortened version of this on the m4:3 forum, where someone cautioned me about comparing my girlfriend and chickens as portrait subjects. Girlfriends tend to be a bit touch about such statements. It’s a good point, but as you can see I’m throwing caution to the wind here. Plus, Mandy herself admits that she’s not the best model, since she can’t take it seriously.)
So here’s the short list of pros and cons for this lens. Keep in mind that this isn’t a full review, just my thoughts after a couple days of use.
- very sharp, even wide-open. I think the technical term is “wicked sharp.” Check out the rooster down below. That dude is sharp!
- amazing separation, by which I mean the lens’ ability to separate the subject from the background by rendering the BG out of focus.
- great build. This lens feels like it can easily hold up to real, professional use. It’s solid and it feels good on the camera. It ain’t no cheap plastic kit lens.
- fast AF that locks on target.
- it’s expensive; $900 is a lot for a prime m4:3 lens, even if it is Olympus’ “best lens to date,” as their marketing coins it.
- that price tag doesn’t include a lens hood. Oly wants another $75 for the hood, and $40 for the metal lens cap. (You know, if the plastic cap it comes with isn’t good enough for you.) The price of the hood, and the fact that it doesn’t come with the lens, is just a really cheap move on Oly’s part. I certainly won’t be buying one – I’ll go to eBay and get a 3rd party version that will work just as well and only cost me a fraction as much. (Suck on that, Olympus!)
Here are several more shots of my chicken friends. A mother hen and her chicks, for a combined performance & cuteness factor. Go ahead, say, “Awwww.” We all know you’re thinking it.
I’ve processed all these images with a combination of VSCO Film presets in ACR. This treatment boosts the contrast and colors – it’s a look I like, for some subjects. Just throwing it out there as a disclaimer. Straight from camera, the images are a little flatter, a little more clinical. But then, that’s the case with most lenses…
The 75mm is now a permanent member of my kit. And I can’t wait to shoot more portraits with it. Of people…not chickens. It’s designed for portrait work – that much is easy to see. And I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.