1.25.2013

Soft Core Lens Porn. The Thing Olympus Gets So Well.




Okay. I've been shooting with Sony stuff for almost a year now and I'm pretty happy with it but.....every time I have coffee with my friend, Frank, he (unintentionally?) brings along some little Olympus jewel, the allure of which is absolutely undeniable. Yesterday it was the absolutely, drop dead gorgeous, Olympus 75mm 1.8 lens, If you shot in the 1970's or the early 1980's one of the lenses that everyone had and used frequently was the 135mm focal length on a regular 35mm camera. That focal length, coupled with a fast aperture, does some really nice stuff. It compresses compositions so you can "stack" stuff in the frame in a very pleasing way. If you are focusing on subjects in the 6 to 10 foot range and using apertures faster than f4 you get a deliciously sharp subject and a background that is wonderfully soft and devoid of distracting detail.

This lens is about 10% longer, relatively, than the 135s on 35mm but it's certainly in the ballpark.

I've owned the Pen 70mm f2 for years and used it on my Pens and now on my Sony Nex cameras. It's a very useful focal length and an antidote for all the endless wide angle crap that seems to be today's over riding style.

From all reports the new lens resides in a whole different world than the older optic. Sharp wide open and sharp right down. Silent and speedy focus on a Pen OMD. And since it's sharp at f1.8 you get the same basic look that we used to get with our big, heavy 135mm 2.8's but without all the dimensional sturm und drang.

If you are a Micro Four Thirds user you might want to read what DXO says about this lens. Spoiler alert: It beats the Leica 25mm in their tests!

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Publications/DxOMark-Reviews/Olympus-M.ZUIKO-DIGITAL-ED-75mm-f-1.8-Is-this-the-best-Micro-Four-Thirds-lens-available

If only Sony made lenses like this available. The Nex system would be an incredible value proposition. As it stands now the bodies are really great but the lens selection? Not so much. This lens, along with the 12mm, the 25 Leica, and the 45mm 1.8, goes a long way to cement Olympus's ascendant position in the new world order of cameras. Every other camera maker should take note.




31 comments:

Dave Jenkins said...

C'mon, Kirk. Just do it. You know you want to...

Kirk Tuck said...

Dave, it's a pretty amazing combination. I'm waiting to see what's next. Will they do a Pen version with a new finder?

Pete Appleby said...

Hi, Kirk! M43 users have been lucky to have "the holy trinity" of the 12, 25, and 45 lenses. Now that I've added the 75, I think the name needs to be changed to "the fab four". Keep up the excellent blog!

Peter Teoh said...

I second that motion. I've replaced my Nikon FX system with Micro 4/3 based around the E-M5 and couldn't be happier. The quality is fantastic and the weight/space savings wonderful. I no longer need to visit the chiropractor after my vacations.

Anonymous said...

"but to put it into some context it’s not in the same league as other portrait lens and camera combinations. Take for example the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G mounted on a Nikon D3X"

time to put the pron back under the bed...

Michael said...

Kirk,

The caption is wrong on the photo. Its a 75mm not a 70mm.

Santiago said...

The 75 looks beautiful, there is no doubt about that, so there is some lens porn there for sure.

About the nex line, an 85mm is suppose to be released this year. Rumors sites say it will be an 85mm f1.8 black lens.

http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/new-lens-hands-on-at-ephotozine/ (says in a couple of months)
http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/50mm-f1-4-zeiss-still-marked-as-under-development/ (second half of the year)
http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/sr3-85mm-f1-8-is-an-all-black-lens/

Now, how good, and how big it will be is a mystery till it appears. For comparison, samsung has a very good 85mm f1.4, and looks quite big on the NX cameras

http://www.photozone.de/samsungnx/731_samsung85f14

This rumors site generally gets it correctly.

Richard Alan Fox said...

True M43 is not the same as FX, that is why in the film days we shot 35, 66, 67, 45 and some of us 810.

Bob Travaglione said...

Is there an adapter to use the Sony NEX 50mm 1.8 & the NEX Mount Sigma 30mm on the Micro FourThirds System? That way I can keep both systems and mix and match with my current needs.

Will said...

That new 17mm f/1.8 is awfully lovely as well, if you want to keep it all in the Olympus family. Now all they need is a 25mm Oly.

As for NEX, I'm curious to see if any NEX lenses come of the new Sony/Olympus partnership.

Kirk Tuck said...

The NEX 50 and 35mm 1.8 lenses are a great start. Now we need a 65mm 1.8 and a 16mm f2 (that's stunning and sharp instead of lame and insignificant...).

Kirk Tuck said...

Fixed.

Frank Grygier said...

A closer match might be the Nikon 135mm f/2.0D AF DC-Nikkor Lens and the D3X. At $8100.00 it should be in another league. Full Frame is not for the faint of heart.

Wataru Maruyama said...

The next lens on my wishlist is the Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 for my a99. With your love of the 135mm focal length, I'm surprised you haven't picked it up yet or at least written a post trying to justify the cost.

Kirk Tuck said...

Wataru, It is with great displeasure that I discovered the need to conform to a budget pursuant to my son's desire for a college education. Should my obligation be relieved by some unforeseen good fortune (scholarship, etc.) you will no doubt see a hemorrhaging of cash that will be stunning in its scope and intensity, starting with the 24mm, 135mm and 85mm Zeiss lenses for the "A" system. Until then I will enjoy my little consumer triumphs and be comforted by my avaricious dreams.

Or, I will disengenuously begin espousing the Zen dogma of disentachment and repudiation of desire...

Alas, all I can do in the moment is prevail upon the kindness of strangers and clients I have yet to meet.

Wataru Maruyama said...

I'm probably at least a year or two out from scraping together enough to pick it up. It's more realistic to hope that the rumors of an e-mount 85mm f/1.8 in the first half of this year pan out and that it's as good as their recent 35mm 1.8 is.

edshots said...

i've replaced my Canon 7D and L lenses with a sturdy GH2 and the lovely OM-D. 45 1.8 and 20 1.7 are absolute beauties with the Sigma 30mm 2.8 getting occasional use. wanting to replace my 14-45 with a pancake 14-42 x as it would lead to a super lightweight small space kit. 35-100 2.8 and this Leica like 75 1.8 are on the wishlist for the end of the year.

Sony were this close to getting my business i just couldn't handle their menus and lack of proper hotshoe... the NEX 6 looks to have solved a lot of that though.

Sony and Olympus will be the new Canon and Nikon by 2015!

Scott Kirkpatrick said...

There's a nice selection of work from both the Olympus M45/1.8 and the M75/1.8 at
http://www.getdpi.com/forum/4-3rds-cameras/35002-no-fun-oly-45mm-thread.html
and
http://www.getdpi.com/forum/4-3rds-cameras/39392-fun-olympus-m-zuiko-digital-ed-75mm-f1-8-a.html
even the inevitable baby and kitty pics look great, but there is much more.

Graham said...

I'm surprised no one has commented on the depth of field factor of the smaller (2X) Olympus sensor. Yes, for exposure computation, the subject lens is an f/1.8 lens, but for depth of field (von Rohr's method http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moritz_von_Rohr), the Olympus lens equates to an f/3.5 on FX, or f/~2.2 on APS (1.5x).

I don't mean to take anything away from the m4/3's system, but when one want's limited depth of field, small sensors can't compare to FX. Physics offers no free lunches (although if I may continue the metaphor, the new Metabones speed booster adapters appear to offer good food at a discount).

Murray said...

I keep wishing Fuji had chosen to go with the NEX mount instead of using their own, almost identical but not quite, mount. Imagine how many lenses they would have sold to NEX owners.

Hendrik Mintarno said...

the problem with full frame system is you get super thin depth of field when shooting indoor, where you can only get one eyes sharp and all other is blurry. sometimes you have to stop down a little bit just to get more depth of field (135mm stop down to f/4 or 5.6 for closeup headshot) and lost a lot of speed.

with the crop sensor, you don't. you can use open wide and retain sharpness for both eye n nose!

Frank Grygier said...

All this talk of physics. I just happen to like the look of the m43 sensor with fast glass. My main complaint about earlier 43 sensors was dynamic range. The OMD sensor has given me that and more. Let everyone choose their own brush.

Kirk Tuck said...

Agree with Frank. All that matters is the final photograph. Everything else is just theoretical.

Neil Gaudet said...

Thanks alot Kirk, I was trying to ignore this lens. Sigh. Lens porn kills my bank account over and over and over again.

Ron Zack said...

Speaking of micro 4/3: being a faithful reader of your blog, I think the camera that might be an excellent fit for the way you do things, would be the new Panasonic GH3. It is a far, far better video camera than any of your Sony's, and can be used with any of the excellent micro 4/3 lenses which Panasonic and Olympus are producing with reckless abandon. It can more than earn it's keep with video, including the ability to record in more Mac friendly video formats than just AVCHD, but you can also have a lot of fun with it on a personal level.

Even though everyone is throwing their camera of the year accolades at the E-M5, it's my personal opinion that the Panasonic GH3 and the A99 were the two best products of 2012, in terms of being truly revolutionary in the way that truly matters: giving the creative professional more control, greater productivity, and outstanding output in a very usable package. While there are those who smirk and sneer at the 4/3 sensor for still photography, it can kick any full-frame camera's rear end when it comes to video, especially those micro 4/3 cameras made by Panasonic. Combine that with the Leica-like like lenses that Panasonic and Olympus are making for that system, and you have one very, very serious tool for fun or profit. I'm surprised that Will Crockett is the only pro photographer currently lauding the GH3's capabilities over everything else mirrorless (and DSLR), but I think there will be more as that camera gets into the hands of a greater number of users.

Yes, I know that it doesn't have the coolness factor of the rangefinder-esque styled XE-1 or NEX-6, but the GH3 is no bigger than a Nikon D3200. It's still small enough, and light enough to make for a very good travel or walk-about camera, and is still the fraction of the weight of most prosumer and pro level DSLR's.

Personally, I'm seriously considering moving to GH3 for my semi-professional work, and a combination of Olympus Pens and older GH models for fun and pleasure. But for a full-time professional like yourself, it seems the A99 and the GH3 would be the ultimate combination.

If I were to buy the A99 (which is way, way, way out of my budget range), I would be doing the same thing as you: buying old Minolta and 3rd party lenses to use on it. Not that the Sony lenses are bad, you just get far more bang-for-the-buck staying away from Sony and Zeiss and going with some less expensive options. Don't forget to try out the old Minolta 70-210 f/4 "beercan" --a most useful and fairly lightweight telephoto zoom that still delivers the goods in the digital age. You can pick up one of those for a song.

But for micro 4/3, it's all Olympus and Panasonic lenses--all the time--for my needs. I'm currently lusting after the two new Olympus primes, the 17mm f/1.8 and 60mm f/2.8 macro, each a complete bargain for the price they're asking. Just wish Oly would be good enough to toss in the lens hood like Panasonic does for all their lens offerings. It's outstanding lenses like those that have made me just about forget that there even are mirrorless cameras from Sony and Fuji. And with Olympus and Panasonic now making use of Sony sensors, you aren't really hurting in the IQ department either.

Anyway, just my meandering thoughts, for what's it worth.

Noons said...

Finally pulled the trigger on the OMD, been threatening for a while. About a week ago.
So far, it is everything I expected and even more! With the Leica M and Nikon F adapters I already used with the EPL1, it's been an absolute joy. Had to change the button functions to what I like but MF magnification and AEL are now just a touch away in A-mode and an absolute pleasure to use. Gonna have a lot of fun with this thing!

Daryl Davis said...

Amen!

Daryl Davis said...

If I have any regret about my E-M5 at all, it's that I didn't get the silver body to go with the silver lenses. That, and I couldn't afford to scoop up a prime at the same time (especially with the $150/lens rebate Oly had at the time).

I've the 12-50 kit lens now, which is a quite decent piece of glass in its own right. I picked up the 15mm f/8 body cap lens yesterday, because it looks like way too much fun and a no-brainer at $49.

Brad Calkins said...

The price, size and weight of the Nikon are in a different league, too :) What a weird comparison they used!

Anonymous said...

Amen, that was a chance wasted. And Fuji's aperture ring would have made it a one-way door.

mawz said...

No, in fact it isn't possible as the NEX mount has a shorter register than m4/3rds

It is actually possible to go the other way though and there's at least one (rare) adapter, unfortunately it's really only useful for the voigtlander lenses and those rebarrelled CCTV lenses from the likes of SLR magic as fully-coupled m4/3 lenses need power for focusing.