This article provides a summary of a number of points made in earlier articles and provides an overall M.Zuiko 75-300 assessment. Since some folks seem to focus on what this lens isn’t, I might as well state that right up front. This lens isn’t weatherproof and it isn’t designated as a pro lens. What this lens is in spades… is small, lightweight, cost efficient, and a whole lotta fun to use!
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
I won’t bother going into all of the specs of the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II as these are readily available online. The build quality of this lens is quite good, especially given its price point.
The zoom action is smooth and I found the auto-focusing of this lens to be pretty fast and accurate. It isn’t a fancy lens by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a good, consistent performer.
Many photographers enjoy bird and nature photography but don’t want to break their bank account (or their backs) using a large, heavy and expensive long telephoto lens. The M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II will appeal to their sensibilities.
Having realistic expectations of this lens, I really didn’t find anything to complain about with the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II zoom. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with how it performed.
Many non-pro full frame variable aperture long telephoto zoom lens will show some softness when shot wide open at the long end. This is very common.
Many lenses of this type need to be stopped down from f/6.3 to f/8 to be acceptably sharp. This is certainly what I found to be the case a number of years ago when I was shooting with a Nikon D800 and a full frame third party 150-600 f/5-6.3 telephoto zoom lens.
The M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II also shows some slight softness when shot wide open when fully extended. So… it is like many other lenses of this type. There is a key difference though.
After taking over a thousand images over the past number of days with this lens, I never once felt the need to stop the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II down to f/8 to have it be acceptably sharp. I found the RAW files totally usable when the lens was shot wide open at f/6.7 at the long end. I just did my usual bird image processing in post… nothing special was needed.
In my experience you can realistically shoot this lens wide open from f/4.8 to f/6.7 throughout its zoom range and expect good results when you process your RAW files. Remember that this is a variable aperture zoom lens so f/4.8 is at the widest angle of the lens.
So why do some owners of this lens say it lacks sharpness at the long end? I can’t say for sure. My guess is either they have unrealistic expectations, or perhaps they could benefit from some additional experience using a lens of this type, or working with their RAW files in post. It could even be the auto-focus performance of their camera body.
We need to remember that it is not easy to use a long telephoto lens with an equivalent field-of-view of 600 mm. It takes some practice and skill.
If a photographer wants the pro performance found in lenses like the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 ($2,000 in Canada) or the M.Zuiko PRO 300 mm f/4 IS ($3,700 in Canada)… they simply won’t find it in a lens that costs $750.
What you will get with the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 iI s an easy-to-handle telephoto zoom lens that is capable of producing image quality more than sufficient to meet the needs of many photographers.
If you do own the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II and you find that it isn’t as sharp as you would like when you use it, there’s a few things you can try…
- Make sure you use a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action of your subject bird. Small birds require fast shutter speeds.
- Use a shutter speed that is sufficiently fast enough to be aligned with your handheld capability.
- Use single point auto-focus and do your best to place it on the eye/head of the bird.
- Use silent shutter with your Olympus camera.
- Develop a light, steady touch to fully depress your shutter release. A fast or hard, downward jabbing motion can cause image blur when photographing perched birds. This is especially true when using a lightweight lens like the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II telephoto zoom.
- Practice good handheld camera technique.
- Work on your post processing skills, and try different approaches with how you adjust your RAW image files in post. Remember that there are a number of software adjustments in addition to ‘sharpening’ that can impact how we perceive visual acuity with photographs.
- If you are using a camera with contrast detect auto-focusing, see if you can borrow or rent an E-M5 Mark III, E-M1 Mark III, or an E-M1X. This will allow you to try out the latest Olympus Contrast and Phase Detection AF. The softness you are experiencing may be more related to the auto-focus performance of your current camera rather than with this lens.
Anyone looking for a small, lightweight long telephoto zoom lens for a M4/3 body, should check out the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II. As stated at the start of this article, it is a small, lightweight, cost effective and fun to use telephoto zoom lens!
This is a lens that we own.
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.
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