Olympus M-Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 Lens

      Photo Review 8.5

      Full review

      Released just over 18 months ago, the M-Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 lens was developed for Olympus’s PEN cameras but is equally at home on the new OM-D E-M5 body, which we used for our tests. The lightest in its class, it features the proprietary MSC focus drive technology for fast and near-silent autofocusing.


      The M-Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7, shown without the supplied front and rear caps.(Source: Olympus.)

      Owners of Micro Four Thirds System cameras currently have three lenses to choose from in the long-telephoto category, two from Olympus and one from Panasonic. Which one you choose will depend on the camera body you plan to use it on, the speed of the lens and your budget. The table below provides key specifications to help you decide.


      M-Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm

      Zuiko Digital ED

      Panasonic G Vario
       100-300mm OIS

      Diagonal angle of view

      16-4.1 degrees

      18-4.1 degrees

      12-4.1 degrees

      Maximum aperture




      Minimum aperture


      Lens Construction

      18 elements in 13 groups with 1 Super ED, 2 ED elements and 3 HR lenses

      14 elements in 10 groups with 3 ED elements

      17 elements in 12 groups with 1 ED element

      Diaphragm blades




      Internal focusing




      Minimum focus

      90 cm

      96 cm

      1.5 metres

      Maximum magnification




      AF system

      Rear focusing screw drive with high-speed, imager AF (MSC)



      Relies on in-camera system

      Built-in OIS

      Filter thread

      58 mm

      67 mm

      Dimensions (diam. x length)

      70 x 116 mm

      80 x 127 mm

      74 x 126 mm


      430 grams

      620 grams

      520 grams

      RRP (AU$)




      Despite its small size and light weight, the optical design of this lens is quite complex, with 18 elements in 13 groups.  It also includes more than the usual number of exotic elements, with one Super ED lens, two ED (extra-low dispersion) lenses to minimise chromatic aberrations and three HR (High Refractive index) lenses to improve light transmission.


      The diagram above shows the optical construction of the M-Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 lens. (Source: Olympus.)

      The MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) drive mechanism makes use of a new linear drive motor with a rear focusing screw drive to support a motorised zoom mechanism for smooth, constant rate zooming plus high-speed autofocusing. However, since it’s not coupled to the lens mechanism, there’s not much tactile feedback when focusing manually.

      Switching on the MF Assist mode on the E-M5 automatically magnifies the centre of the frame when the focus ring is turned in MF mode, enlarging the area around the selected focus point by 10x. This makes it easier to see whether the subject is in focus.

      Seven iris blades close to a circular aperture to optimise bokeh. Filter size is 58 mm.

      Build and Ergonomics
      Because it was designed for PEN cameras, this lens doesn’t have the same dust- and moisture-resistant features as the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ lens we reviewed with the E-M5 camera body. But it’s an excellent match for this camera and well built for its type, with what appears to be an aluminium-alloy barrel and a sturdy stainless steel mounting plate.

      Buyers can choose between silver (which appears to be uncoated) and black versions, the latter being clad with smooth, matte black paint. The overall finish suggests decent quality but Olympus has made some compromises to keep the overall weight of this lens low.

      Features we take for granted like built-in stabilisation, a distance scale and a focus limiter are absent. If buying for an Olympus camera, stabilisation isn’t required as all bodies come with systems built in; Panasonic owners should probably think twice as no Lumix M4/3 cameras are stabilised.

      Zooming is not internal, since the lens extends almost 50 mm as you zoom from 75mm to 300mm. It also rotates slightly, which could affect the use of angle-critical attachments like polarisers and graduated filters. Tight assembly makes zoom creep negligible.

      The focusing ring is approximately 14 mm wide and located roughly 20 mm back from the front of the lens. It turns through 360 degrees and is clad with a narrowly-ribbed, rubber grip coating that spans across its width.

      The zoom ring is 45 mm wide and positioned 10 mm behind the focusing ring. It has a rubber clad grip band that is around 30 mm wide, with narrow ridges arranged in vertical columns about 6 mm apart.

      The zoom ring turns through approximately 45 degrees as its range is spanned. During this process, the maximum aperture of the lens changes, too, as shown in the table below.

      Focal Length






      Max. aperture






      Between the zoom ring and the camera body is an aluminium grip ring with ridges at either side of the lens to make it easier to mount and unmount the lens. This lens is supplied with front and rear caps plus a printed ‘instruction manual’. A lens hood (LH-61E) is available for around $25.

      Subjective assessments showed this lens to be a good performer, particularly at apertures between f/5.6 and about f/9. Centre resolution was high across the focal length range. Diffraction kicked in at f/11, dramatically reducing image sharpness. These observations were confirmed by our Imatest tests, despite their limitations.

      We were unable to test the full focal length range of this lens because we don’t have space in our testing set-up to go beyond about 120mm in 35mm format. That restricted our tests to the 75mm, 100mm and 132mm focal lengths.

      Imatest showed the lens came close to expectations for the E-M5’s sensor at all three focal lengths, with best performance between f/5.6 and f/8 at the 75mm focal length. Edge softening was low for a lens of this type. The graph below shows the results of our tests.


       Lateral chromatic aberration was negligible at 75mm and low at 100mm and 132mm, as shown in the graph of our Imatest results, below. No coloured fringing was observed in any test shots.


       Vignetting was well controlled and only just visible at the widest aperture settings. Stopping down only one f-stop made it disappear. Distortion was also very low for the lens’s focal length range, with only slight barrel distortion visible at 75mm and barely detectable pincushioning at 300mm.

      Without a lens hood, the review lens was flare prone in backlit situations, particularly at wider angles of view. Longer focal length settings handled backlit subjects much better.

      The minimum focus of 90 cm at the 75mm focal length (and more than one metre with longer settings) restricts the use of this lens for close-up work, although it’s usable for larger subjects. Bokeh was acceptable for the rather small maximum apertures available.

      Autofocusing was reasonably fast for stills, in part because of the fast AF system in the E-M5 body. However, tracking moving subjects in sub-optimal lighting presented challenges for the system and caused us to miss a few shots. Nevertheless, the majority of our images were nice and sharp.

      In the movie mode, autofocusing was a little slower in all types of lighting and there were noticeable delays as the focus shifted between near and distant points while shooting moving subjects. Video clips recorded with this lens on the E-M5 body were relatively free of operational noises from the camera.

      In summary

      Buy this lens if:
      – You are prepared to pay a premium price for a lightweight telephoto zoom lens with high magnification for an M4/3 camera.
      – You want smooth and quiet autofocusing and zooming for shooting movies.
      – You want competent imaging performance across all focal lengths.

      Don’t buy this lens if:
      – Your camera lacks built-in stabilisation.
      – You need wide maximum apertures across the zoom range.
      – You need macro capabilities.


      Picture angle: 4.1 to 16 degrees
      Minimum aperture: f/22
      Lens construction: 18 elements in 13 groups; includes one Super ED, two ED, and three HR elements
      Lens mounts: Micro Four Thirds system
      Diaphragm Blades: 7 (circular aperture diaphragm)
      Focus drive: Rear focusing screw drive with high-speed, imager AF (MSC)
      Stabilisation: no (relies on in-camera sensor-shift IS)
      Minimum focus:90 cm
      Maximum magnification: 1:5.5
      Filter size:58 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 70 x 116 mm
       Weight: 430 grams

      RRP: AUD$999; US$899.95
      Distributor: Olympus Imaging Australia; 1300 659 678, www.olympus.com.au


       (based on JPEG files from the Olympus OM-D E-M5)






       Vignetting at 75mm.


       Vignetting at 300mm.


      Rectilinear distortion at 75mm.


      Rectilinear distortion at 300mm.


      75mm focal length, 1/400 second at f/8; ISO 200.


      300mm focal length, 1/400 second at f/8; ISO 200.


      Close-up shot at 75mm; 1/800 second at f/4.8; ISO 200.


      Close-up shot at 300mm;1/640 second at f/6.7; ISO 200.


      A shot that would reveal coloured fringing; 200mm focal length, 1/320 second at f/7.1; ISO 200.


      A crop from the above image enlarged to 100% showing no noticeable coloured fringing.


      Flare; 75mm focal length, 1/200 second at f/5.6; ISO 200.


      Backlit subject; 300mm focal length, 1/320 second at f/7.1; ISO 200.


      150mm focal length, 1/50 second at f/5.5; ISO 1600.


      171mm focal length, 1/160 second at f/5.9; ISO 1600.


      132mm focal length, 1/250 second at f/5.5; ISO 1600.


      Bokeh at f/5.9 with 171mm focal length; 1/250 second, ISO 640.

      Additional image samples can be found with the review of the Olympus OM-D E-M5.


      RRP AUD$999; US$899.95

      • Build: 8.5
      •  Handling: 8.5
      • Image quality: 8.5
      • Versatility: 8.5