As with all my reviews, this is a user review based on my personal experience of using the lens, it is not a labs test, other peoples experiences will no doubt differ,
So the folks over at Olympus were kind enough to lend to me The "Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II" so I could use it for an upcoming horse race meeting I was covering.
The lens itself measures only 5 inches long, and 7 inches fully zoomed, and has a range of 75mm to 300mm. with a maximum aperture range for the lens of f/4.8-6.7, depending on the focal length used. The lens focusses internally, so filters can be used if required, although I didn't use any. The lens retails at under £400 at time of writing, so its an affordable lens with a lot of zoom range. The lens has a silent focussing motor and is suitable for video as well as stills.
The lens handles well, with smooth zooming and focus. It felt good in the hand and was easy to use when mounted on the camera. Although no hood is supplied with the lens, I didn't have any problems with lens flare.
The first thing to note here, is that usually at a racecourse I would be shooting with a 300mm f/2.8 Nikon, The size difference between the Olympus E-M1 / 75mm-300mm, and the Nikon D4 / 300mm was huge, the weight of the 2 combinations again were a world apart.
Taking the size and weight advantage of this combination into account, its such a flexible easy to use solution. Especially when working in crowds. As with street photography, using the Olympus makes you almost invisible, because people just don't seem to be concerned with a small camera pointing at them. The 2 times crop factor on the micro four thirds system means the Olympus had the equivalent of a 600mm lens on a full frame camera when zoomed fully.
The lens rendered a pleasing image with good colours and contrast, CA was negligible unless pixel peeping, and I generally found the focus to be accurate.
The focussing ability of the lens was good enough to catch a horse on a gallop, although this did suffer at longer focal lengths.
At 75mm to 220mm I found the lens to be sharp, but above the 220mm I found that the images began to soften. Realistically, this was to be expected from a lens in this price range. Although the images softened, I still found them to be useable when photographing slow moving or stationary subjects.
After using the lens for a few weeks, in varying conditions, my thoughts are that its not a lens to replace my current workhorse of a Nikon D4/300mm lens for fast moving sports events, but I knew that would be the case before I tested the lens, what it has provided me with is an added option to use the Olympus in conjunction to the Nikon even more than I have been. The ability to walk freely with a small form camera while still having a great reach is such an advantage, especially in crowds of people.
There are times when in a racecourse I need The Nikon setup, there are times when I need a smaller camera that can deliver, and my Olympus does just that.
The lens requires good light to get the best from it. Due to the long focal length of the lens, a fairly fast shutter speed is required, although when mounted to the E-M1 or E-M5, you would benefit from the image stabilisation built into both those bodies.
its a compact well built lens, that delivers really good results at the shorter end of the zoom, and useable results at the longer end of the zoom.
I consider this lens good value for money, and a really good addition to my lens line up. The gap between DSLR and micro four third is shrinking in all but the most demanding tasks. This lens would be great for walking with on holiday as well.