Hands on: Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens review

Big, bold portrait lens

What is a hands on review?
Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens
The new 75mm f/1.8 lens from Olympus is designed for portrait work

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The new fast optic from Olympus features an all-metal design and an equivalent focal length of 150mm - but how does it perform?

Designed particularly with shooting portraits in mind, Olympus also says that the lens is ideal for shooting high-speed indoor sports.

Like the 45mm f/1.8 lens, which was announced last year, it features an all-metal construction and a manual focusing ring around the centre of the lens barrel. Other than that, the design is very minimalistic, there are no switches for manual focus, that must be controlled from within the camera body.

A reasonably expensive proposition for the time being, Olympus claims that the lens is capable of producing quick and silent autofocusing with beautiful out of focus areas.

Olympus 75MM LENS

The new 75mm lens, attached to an Olympus OM-D

During our time with the lens hitched to an Olympus OM-D, we found these claims to be pretty accurate, but it's something we'd like to further investigate when a sample is made available for extensive testing.

Both Olympus and Panasonic seem to quibble over which exactly has the fastest autofocus in the world, but with mere microseconds in it, needless to say that focusing is very quick. During our test, it locked onto the subject quickly and easily almost every time, only beginning to struggle slightly in low light.

As the optic has a maximum aperture of f/1.8, the lens is very good for dark conditions, allowing for fast shutter speeds without having to increase sensitivity settings too high.

That wide aperture also means that creative effects can be achieved when shooting wide open. Very shallow depth of field can be achieved, with out of focus areas being rendered smoothly. The drop off in focus is also pleasing and we can see this lens being very popular with those wanting to shoot portraits professionally.

For ordinary users, it's likely that the focal length is a touch too long, as you need to be standing some distance away from the subject and close focusing isn't possible. It will be interesting to see how sales of the lens compare with the 45mm f/1.8 lens, which is perhaps more ideally suited to family and occasional portrait photographers.

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar. 

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.