Olympus m.Zuiko 75-300 f/4.8-6.7 hands-on review



We give the new Micro Four Thirds super telephoto Zoom the once-over



See our illustrated tour of the Olympus m.Zuiko 75-300 f/4.8-6.7 further down this page and our gallery of image samples, including RAW files, on page 2 of this article.


Olympus' latest telephoto zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds fans, and Olympus Pen users in particular, is the Olympus m.Zuiko 75-300 f/4.8-6.7. It's equivalent to a 150-600 mm zoom if you're talking 35mm or 'full frame' but in a package that is more akin to that old favourite, the 135mm short telephoto. This lens has courted some controversy since it was announced at Photokina last year. With a maximum aperture range through the zoom of f/4.8-6.7, this lens is about half a stop less bright than the comparable Olympus lens from the Four Thirds stable; the Zuiko Digital 70-300 f/4-5.6. It's also less bright to the same degree compared to Panasonic's Lumix G-Vario 100-300mm f/4-5.6 Micro Four Thirds lens, its most obvious rival. Making matters more controversial is the price tag for the Olympus m.Zuiko 75-300 f/4.8-6.7. In the UK it's discounted to around 650 or so, but that's a full 200 more than the Panasonic 100-300. And the Panasonic 100-300 has in-lens image stabilisation, which makes it look much stronger, on paper at least, in the eyes of Panasonic G-Micro users who don't have in-camera image stabilisation like Olympus Pen users.

On the plus side for the Olympus m.Zuiko 75-300 f/4.8-6.7, it's smaller and lighter than the Panasonic. We haven't yet tried the 100-300 but we have ordered one and as soon as it arrives we will test it back to back with the Olympus m.Zuiko 75-300 f/4.8-6.7.

Image quality

You can judge initial image quality for yourself via our image sample gallery on page 2. Olympus seems to have invested a lot of optical ingredients into the design. There are no less than 18 lens elements in 13 groups, and although there are no aspherical elements, there is one ED and one Super ED element, plus several HR (high refractive index) and one E-HR (extra high refractive index) elements.

There don't appear to be any glaring weaknesses in lens performance and I certainly liked the bokeh achievable despite the relatively small maximum aperture range. Sharpness seems good even wide open. If there is a weakness, it's close focusing. At the 300mm setting you need to be at least 1.5 metres from the subject and although you can get as close as 0.9m at the 75mm setting, the best coverage is at 300mm where the frame covers 100mm of subject width, whereas at 75mm you won't get less than 170mm of subject width to fill the frame.

An import aspect of the Olympus m.Zuiko 75-300 f/4.8-6.7 is its 'MSC' badge, which stands for Movie & Still compatible. This means the focus motor is quiet enough to be used without it causing an audible racket when recording movies. It's also fast to find focus, although whether it can match Panasonic's impressive AF performance reputation remains to be seen when we get the Panasonic 100-300 in to compare.

For the price, I'd have liked to have seen a focus distance scale window, especially as fly-by-wire focus lenses like this don't give you any clue as to whether or not you have reached either end of the focus range. And it's also a shame that a lens hood is not included. But overall first impressions are favourable. See our image samples on page 2.

Illustrated tour

Below is a gallery of views of the Olympus m.Zuiko 75-300 f/4.8-6.7. To see a larger view, just click on the thumbnail image you are interested in to open a new page with the full-size view.

To return to the thumbnail gallery, click the home arrow at the bottom of the page, or navigate forwards or backwards through the gallery using the backwards/forwards arrow buttons.

See our image samples on page 2.

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