The Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II zoom has been on quite a journey. It began with an ugly design and a $900 price tag. Then in 2013, Olympus redesigned the zoom and lowered the cost. Now, Micro Four Thirds shooters can snag this telephoto for $499. So how does it stack up against a couple of its peers?
I decided to do a "Saturday Afternoon 100mm Test" comparing it to the Olympus 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 ($149) and the classic Four Thirds tele, the Olympus 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Zuiko ED zoom lens. The 40-150mm is very affordable, but lacks a metal lens mount, and the 70-300mm requires the Four-Thirds to Micro-Four-Thirds adapter.
I attached the lenses to an OM-D E-M5 that was tripod mounted and focused on the left corner of the Rode iXY box. ISO 800, Aperture Priority at f/5.6, Auto White Balance, 2-second self timer, RAW format.
Below are the comparisons. I used the Loupe in Aperture at 200 percent. No adjustments of any type on the images. They are the straight RAW files decoded by Aperture's E-M5 profile.
At the 100mm focal length, my most common setting for telephotos, the $499 75-300mm Micro Four Thirds zoom did get the job done. I now have the confidence I need, knowing that I can use it for portrait shoots.
All three zooms displayed light chromatic aberration along the text lines, but none should present drawbacks for everyday shooting. I was surprised that the inexpensive and much-maligned 40-150mm tele performed as well as it did. And the size-impractical 70-300mm Four Thirds zoom will continue to stay at home.
Do you perform your own informal lens tests when you buy new glass? If so, share an experience on our TDS Facebook page. My next "Saturday Afternoon Lens Test" will focus on the 200mm and 300mm focal lengths.