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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II Lens Review

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews a super-telephoto zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds system cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 II
Price : £450
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Olympus M Zuiko 75 300mm VII Lens (4)

This super-telephoto zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds system cameras offers a 4x zoom range equivalent to a 150-600mm lens on a 35mm camera. For a lens offering such telephoto reach, it is quite reasonably priced at around £450, although you only get a modest maximum aperture of f/4.8-6.7. This lens is labelled as Movie and Stills compatible and sports a silent focusing motor as a result.

Olympus M Zuiko 75 300mm VII Lens (5)

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II Handling and features

This lens is extremely light weight, weighing only 430g, especially when you consider the telephoto reach it offers. The lens barrel is constructed from decent quality plastics and the lens mount is made of metal. The lens balances well with the Panasonic G3 used for testing, although it may be a little large for use on some of the more compact Micro Four Thirds system cameras available.

Focusing is performed internally and the 58mm filter thread does not rotate during use, making this lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters.  In good light focusing speeds are reasonably quick and the manual focus ring offers a decent amount of resistance, which makes applying fine adjustments fairly straightforward. However, in poor lighting the lens can struggle to achieve focus, especially when using the telephoto end of the range. The lens has a silent focusing motor and is labelled as one of Olympus' MSC lenses, suitable for movies and stills.

The minimum focus distance of 90cm is only available with the lens set to 75mm and the minimum focus distance increases as the lens is zoomed in, which may cause issues when composing close up shots. Care needs to be taken when using this lens in all but the brightest lighting conditions as the modest maximum aperture makes it difficult to achieve a shutter speed suitable for hand holding the camera. As Olympus cameras have stabilisation built into the camera body, this will help to increase the usability of this lens.
Olympus M Zuiko 75 300mm VII Lens (7)

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II Performance

Sharpness delivered by this lens at 75mm and maximum aperture is outstanding across the frame. Stopping down the aperture actually results in a gradual reduction in clarity as the diffraction limit of the sensor is reached. Performance across the frame is very similar at 150mm, albeit with slightly reduced clarity when compared to 75mm.

Finally, at 300mm, as you might expect from a 4x zoom lens, overall sharpness across the frame is reduced compared to results at shorter focal lengths. At f/6.7 sharpness is good in the centre of the frame, but can only be considered fairly good towards the edges of the frame. Peak sharpness across the frame for this focal length is achieved at f/8. Here sharpness in the centre of the frame is very good, but the clarity recorded towards the edges of the frame is still only fairly good.

Resolution at @75mm
Resolution at @ 75mm
  Resolution at @150mm
Resolution at @ 150mm
Resolution at @300mm
Resolution at @ 300mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations towards the edges of the frame are very well controlled between 75mm and 150mm. There is a noticeable increase in colour fringing towards the edges of the frame at 300mm. The increase in CA levels is such that it may become an issue, especially when photographing images with high contrast towards the edges of the frame.

Chromatic aberration @ 75mm
Chromatic aberration @ 75mm
  Chromatic aberration @ 150mm
Chromatic aberration @ 150mm
Chromatic aberration @ 300mm
Chromatic aberration @ 300mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame reasonably well controlled. Corners are roughly one stop darker than the image centre at maximum aperture throughout the zoom range and visually uniform illumination is achieved by f/8 at 75mm and f/11 at 300mm.

Distortion is well controlled and very consistent through the entire zoom range. Imatest detected between 0.266% and 0.216% pincushion distortion. This low level shouldn't be too visible in normal photography. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make applying corrections in image editing software afterwards straightforward if absolutely straight lines are paramount.

No lens hood is supplied as standard with this lens, but as this lens is equipped with Olympus' ZERO optical coatings, it is also very resistant to flare and contrast remains good, even when shooting into the light.

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 II Sample Photos


Value for money

Retailing at around £450, this lens represents reasonably good value for money, especially as the lens it replaces used to retail for around £630 at one point. Panasonic offer a 100-300mm lens that sports a faster maximum aperture throughout the zoom range, as well as in-lens optical stabilisation for around £420. However, this Panasonic lens is more bulky as a result.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II Verdict

This lens certainly won't suit everyone due to its modest maximum aperture and lack of optical stabilisation. However, if you own an Olympus Micro Four Thirds compatible camera with stabilisation built into the body, and take most of your super-telephoto images in good light, or with a support, then this lens should fit the bill nicely.

Overall, this lens is compact, well built, lightweight and capable of delivering excellent results at shorter focal lengths. It is a bit of a shame that the results are lacklustre by comparison at 300mm.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II Pros

Compact size
Lightweight
Fast, silent autofocus
Resistant to flare
Excellent resolution between 75mm and 150mm

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II Cons

Lacklustre sharpness and high CA levels at 300mm
No lens hood supplied as standard

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 II Specifications

ManufacturerOlympus
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length75mm - 300mm
Angle of View4.1 - 16
Max Aperturef/4.8 - f/6.7
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size58mm
35mm equivalent150mm - 600mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus90cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades7
Elements18
Groups13
Box Contents
Box ContentsMicro Four Thirds lens cap (LC-58E), Micro Four Thirds lens rear cap (LR-2), Warranty Card, Operating Instructions
Dimensions
Weight425g
Height116mm

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Comments


brian1208 e2
11 10.1k 12 United Kingdom
4 Apr 2013 3:16PM

Quote: It is a bit of a shame that the results are lacklustre by comparison at 300mm

I often wonder how one can make meaningful comparisons with this lens (and the panny 100-300) since what you are really looking at is the result of a hand-held 600mm equivalent FOV lens

Lacklustre compared to what,

- the result at 150mm?
- the result at 300mm compared to the 100-300 panny?
- against some nominal standard of performance for a lens with equivalent FOV?

Don't get me wrong Gary, I like your reviews but I wonder what yardstick for measurement there is with these lenses as there are so few to compare with, particularly in this price range

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7 Apr 2013 6:34PM
Hi
I'm not doubting you photographic skills but Grin i noticed the
Quote: It is a bit of a shame that the results are lacklustre by comparison at 300mm.

and
Quote: the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3

I just wondered was the 300mm photos took tripod mounted just that i noticed the 1/500 sec shutter speed with a 600mm equivalent focal length where you would be better upping your shutter speed as you've got a no OS lens with a small non OS body really ?

Don't go taking any offence i just was wondering thats all Smile
10 Apr 2013 5:12PM
These tests were performs on a DMC-G3, which has 16 megapixels. How do they compare with the tests done on the Mark I version of the lens which were performed on a GF3, which has 12 megapixels.
theorderingone 10 2.4k United Kingdom
15 Apr 2013 2:38PM

Quote: Lacklustre compared to what,

- the result at 150mm?
- the result at 300mm compared to the 100-300 panny?
- against some nominal standard of performance for a lens with equivalent FOV?

Lacklustre in terms of outright resolution, especially when compared to other lenses on the same format.


Quote: I just wondered was the 300mm photos took tripod mounted just that i noticed the 1/500 sec shutter speed with a 600mm equivalent focal length where you would be better upping your shutter speed as you've got a no OS lens with a small non OS body really ?

The testing procedure is done tripod mounted, using self timer. Sample images are taken handheld, or in this case, with a monopod as that's how most folks will use the lens.


Quote: These tests were performs on a DMC-G3, which has 16 megapixels. How do they compare with the tests done on the Mark I version of the lens which were performed on a GF3, which has 12 megapixels.

The graphs are adjusted for the camera each time, so you should be able to compare the graphs like for like.

I hope this clarifies things for you all Smile
StrayCat
10 14.5k 2 Canada
6 Jun 2013 8:28PM
I'm a bit late reading this review, but I'm looking for comparisons of this lens with the Panasonic 100-300mm. I've been using the 100-300mm for a little over a year, and I really like it's qualities.

Wouldn't it have made more sense to do this review using an Olympus camera with IS? As a result of the testing being done on a G3, I'm disappointed that it becomes almost meaningless. If you were testing the Panasonic 100-300mm, I would expect it to be done using a Panasonic camera.

Is it possible to have another review of the Olympus 75-300mm done on an OM-D E-M5?

Denny
brian1208 e2
11 10.1k 12 United Kingdom
16 Dec 2013 4:14PM
I finally updated to the 75-300mk2 and am using it on my EM-1 where the sharpness wide open or with one stop down at 300mm is nothing short of surprisingly good, even hand -held,

Its a combination I can recommend for BIF and sports work, even if you do have to boost the sensitivity to ISO 1600 to get the shutter speed up in these dank, grey winter days

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