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Date: 18/04/2016 | By: Mathieu

Portrait lens battle! – Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 vs. Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8

Fuji-90mm-vs-Olympus-75mm-featured

Portrait lens battle! – Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 vs. Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8

If you like portraits, chances are that you like portrait lenses regardless of the brand or system they have been designed for. You might also be interested in seeing how one particular optic performs against another designed for a different sensor. In this article we’re giving you exactly that by comparing two interesting portrait lenses made for the Fujifilm APS-C and Micro Four Thirds systems respectively.

On one hand, we have the Fujinon XF 90mm f/2 that was released nearly one year ago. It is Fuji’s third portrait lens after the 56mm f/1.2 and f/1.2 APD. It has been designed for high performance in different conditions thanks to the weather sealing and Quad Linear AF Motor.

On the other hand, the M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 is almost four years old but still remains one of the best prime lenses you can find for Micro Four Thirds. It is quite small and is the perfect example of how compact this system can be. There’s really no excuse not to bring it with you wherever you go!

Does one of these two lenses really stand out compared to the other? Let’s find out!

Fuji 90mm f/2 vs Olympus 75mm f/1.8 Main Specs

XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR

  • Focal length: 90mm
  • Focal length (equiv. 35mm): 137mm
  • Maximum aperture: 2
  • Minimum aperture: 16
  • Number of aperture blades: 7 rounded aperture diaphragm
  • Angle of view: 17.9°
  • Closest focusing distance: 60cm
  • Lens configuration: 11 elements / 8 groups
  • Special elements: 3 Extra Low dispersion elements
  • Lens surface coating: N.d.
  • Maximum image magnification: 0.2x / 0.3x (35mm camera equivalent)
  • Optical Image Stabilizer: None
  • Dimensions: Ø75mm x 105mm
  • Filter diamater: 62mm
  • Weight: 540g (excluding lens caps and hood)

M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm 1:1.8

  • Focal length: 75mm
  • Focal length (equiv. 35mm): 150mm
  • Maximum aperture: 1.8
  • Minimum aperture: 22
  • Number of aperture blades: 9 circular aperture diaphragm
  • Angle of view: 16°
  • Closest focusing distance: 84cm
  • Lens configuration: 10 elements / 9 groups
  • Special elements: 3 ED and 2 HR elements
  • Lens surface coating: ZERO coating
  • Maximum image magnification: 0.1x / 0.2x (35mm camera equivalent)
  • Optical Image Stabilizer: None
  • Dimensions: Ø64mm x 69mm
  • Filter diamater: 58mm
  • Weight: 305g (excluding lens caps and hood)

Design and ease of use

fuji 90mm vs olympus 75mm
The lenses with their respective hoods

As you can notice from the pictures, there is a significant difference in size especially concerning the length. There is also a relevant difference in weight: the Fuji 90mm is 540g while the M.Zuiko lens weighs around 305g.

The Fujifilm 90mm covers a larger sensor and includes an advanced AF motor inside. The lens is made of metal, features a handy clicking aperture ring (1/3 steps) and a large focus-by-wire ring that is precise to use. It is also weather sealed against dust and water, and is freeze proof down to -10°C.

fuji 90mm vs olympus 75mm
The difference in diameter is less pronounced.

Some trivia about the 90mm

Because the advanced Quad Linear AF motor includes four magnets for a higher torque, you can feel and hear the elements moving inside if you turn the lens upside down when the camera is powered off. Not to worry, this is perfectly normal.

 

The Olympus 75mm is made of metal as well but is not weather sealed. It features a focus-by-wire ring only and is not supplied with a lens hood. The metal hood you see in the images must be purchased separately which is a little bit of a let-down.

 

Neither lenses include optical stabilisation. For Fuji users it means working without any sort of IS compensation. Olympus users can benefit from the 5-axis sensor stabilisation of the latest Olympus bodies while Panasonic users can have a similar experience on select Lumix cameras like the GX8 and GX85/80.



Optical quality: sharpness test

Before proceeding with the portrait examples, here is a quick sharpness test to better assess the differences. I used the Fujifilm X-T1 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 because they have the same resolution of 16MP. The image below shows the composition used for the first set of images. All the crops are rendered with Iridient Developer to avoid that minor softness created by Lightroom for Fuji files.

fuji 90mm vs olympus 75mm
First test subject

At their respective fastest apertures, we can notice that the Fuji 90mm has an advantage. At f/2 it resolves details better than the M.Zuiko lens at f/1.8 or f/2.

  • Slide to the left: 75mm at f/1.8
  • Slide to the right: 90mm at f/2

 

  • Slide to the left: 75mm at f/2
  • Slide to the right: 90mm at f/2

 

At f/2.8, the Olympus lens catches up, so the performance of both is basically identical. The 90mm still has a little more micro contrast but the difference is more subtle.

  • Slide to the left: 75mm at f/2.8
  • Slide to the right: 90mm at f/2.8

 

From f/4 both lenses deliver almost identical results and this remains the same up to f/8. From f/11 both lenses maintain decent sharpness up to f/16 but the 75mm suffers more from diffraction. Note that the Olympus lens can close as much as f/22 but the image becomes too soft.

  • Slide to the left: 75mm at f/4
  • Slide to the right: 90mm at f/4

 

  • Slide to the left: 75mm at f/11
  • Slide to the right: 90mm at f/11

 

Note: you can check out the full set here.


Optical quality: portrait examples

The Fuji 90mm has an angle of view of 17.9° which is very close to a 135mm lens designed for 36×24 format (in this case the exact equivalent focal length is 137mm).

The M.Zuiko 75mm has a slightly narrower angle of 16° and gives you the equivalent field of view of a 150mm lens.

There is also the aspect ratio of the two sensors to take into account. The Fuji sensor has a 3:2 aspect ratio while the E-M1 has a 4:3 aspect ratio. The Fuji field of view is slightly wider horizontally while the Olympus FoV is larger vertically. Below you can see a direct example:

 

To show this difference I took all the shots without varying my distance from the subject.

Let’s have a look at a first series of portraits shot at the fastest apertures. There are three different shots of Heather: one headshot and two medium close-ups with a different background.

Note: to avoid influencing the results, I post-processed the images with Lightroom using the Adobe Standard profile.

Because the Olympus lens is slightly faster, I included both the f/1.8 and f/2 versions. The exposure doesn’t change much between the two apertures but f/1.8 does render a slightly shallower depth of field while f/2 is a little sharper.

fujifilm 90mm vs olympus 75mm
X-T1, 90mm, f/2
fujifilm 90mm vs olympus 75mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/1.8
fujifilm 90mm vs olympus 75mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/2
olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
X-T1, 90mm, f/2
olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/1.8
olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/2
olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
X-T1, 90mm, f/2
olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/1.8
olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/2

We can notice that the bokeh and out of focus rendering are not dissimilar. They are both creamy and pleasant which is an essential characteristic for a portrait lens. If we stop down to f/2.8, we can notice that the X-T1/90mm combo retains a slightly shallower depth of field in comparison to the Micro Four Thirds gear.

olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
X-T1, 90mm, f/2.8
olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/2.8
olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
X-T1, 90mm, f/2.8
olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/2.8
olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
X-T1, 90mm, f/2.8
olympus 75mm vs fuji 90mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/2.8

If I increase my distance from the subject to take a medium-long shot, the difference in the bokeh becomes easier to detect. At the fastest apertures both lenses have pleasant circular out-of-focus elements but the 75mm bokeh seems to have more precise shapes even at the edges of the frame.

olympus 75mm vs fujifilm 90mm
X-T1, 90mm, f/2
olympus 75mm vs fujifilm 90mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/1.8
olympus 75mm vs fujifilm 90mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/2

The difference becomes more relevant at f/2.8. The 90mm bokeh starts to become less circular and assume a slight rhombus shape while the 75mm bokeh remains perfectly rounded.

olympus 75mm vs fujifilm 90mm
X-T1, 90mm, f/2.8
olympus 75mm vs fujifilm 90mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/2.8

 

The Fuji lens has the advantage of being able to focus closer (60cm) while the Olympus 75mm’s minimum distance is 84cm. Despite the difference in the field of view, the Fuji lens is capable of a slightly higher magnification (0.3x vs 0.2x). Translated into a real world example, I was able to get closer to Heather for a close-up with the 90mm than with the M.Zuiko lens.

olympus 75mm vs fujifilm 90mm
X-T1, 90mm, f/2
olympus 75mm vs fujifilm 90mm
E-M1, 75mm, f/2

Autofocus and other considerations

The 90mm f/2 is a versatile lens and because of the fast AF motor it can be used for action and sports as well. The AF is fast with the X-T1 and even faster with the X-Pro2.

The 75mm is also fast. I often use it for sports and events because its small size is simply unmatched and it is so easy to carry around. With an E-M1, E-M5 II or E-M10 II the performance is excellent.

fuji 90mm vs olympus 75mm
X-Pro2, 1/1000, f/4, ISO 200 – 90mm
olympus 75mm vs fujifilm 90mm
E-M5 II 1/2000, f/ 2.8, ISO 200 – 75mm

Both lenses can be too long when you are shooting indoors or at an event where there isn’t a lot of space. However that same length can be useful when you can’t get very close to your subject so it really depends on the situation.

If I were shooting portraits everyday in a studio or a controlled environment, neither lenses would be my first choice. I would rather have the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 or the Nocticron 42.5mm.

However for events in a bigger location, having a longer focal length can be very useful and I would say that these two lenses can even replace telephoto zoom lenses like the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 or the Pana 35-100mm f/2.8 at times. They can also be useful for other genres like landscape photography when you want to isolate a portion of the scene.

fuji 90mm vs olympus 75mm
X-Pro2, 1/3000, f/2.8, ISO 200 – 90mm
fuji 90mm vs olympus 75mm
E-M5 II, 1/60, f/1.8, ISO 3200 – 75mm
fuji 90mm vs olympus 75mm
X-Pro2, 1/750, f/8, ISO 200 – 90mm
fuji 90mm vs olympus 75mm
E-M1, 1/500, f/11, ISO 200 – 75mm

Neither lens suffers too much from flare unless you point them directly at a powerful source of light. The Fujinon 90mm is also very resistant to chromatic aberration while the 75mm can be weaker at the fast apertures. However it is easy to fix that in Lightroom or a similar software.


Conclusion

The aim of this comparison isn’t to declare a clear winner. The two lenses have been designed for different systems and they both have their strengths and weaknesses. To be 100% fair, there is also the field of view, aspect ratio and fastest aperture to take into account (although in this case they aren’t too relevant in my opinion).

Rather, the point of this article is to show how two different camera systems can give you similar results in terms of performance and image quality.

The Fuji 90mm has a few advantages. It is sharper at f/2, can focus at a shorter distance for nice close-ups and has a very fast AF motor that makes it interesting for sports and action.

The Olympus 75mm has an excellent bokeh rendering even at f/2.8 and longer distances. Despite being 4 years old, it is still a very valid choice not only for portraits but events as well. Its compact size is definitely its main strength.

If you are interested in these two lenses, we would also suggest reading the following reviews:

Do you use the Fuji 90mm or the M.Zuiko 75mm for your work? Share your thoughts with us below!



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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Jørgen

    The only real difference here are the size and weight of that Fuji lens. And I am amazed that there is no stabilisation since Fuji bodies have no IBIS…The reason why I chose m43s in 2008 to me is still valid. Also when I look at Sony APS-c mirrorless. It is even worse. Some really good lenses are made for FF so they are very large.

  • Steve Solomon

    Excellent review and comparison of these two lenses, Mathieu! Being a Fuji guy currently, and regrettably having only used the now “ancient” (but superb) Olympus E-1, I’m well aware of the quality of the Olympus system. That said, and having used DSLR systems from Nikon and Pentax, each have their advantages, but frankly, I find the Fujifilm X-System (XT-1, X-Pro2 and Fujinon lenses superb in build and image quality, and my first system for which post processing for sharpness can be considered optional! The Fujinon XF lenses are that good. However, it’s interesting to see just how well the Olympus 75 acquits itself in this comparison!

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Unfortunately I don’t have it anymore.

  • kamran zafar

    if you still have the xf 56 1.2 ,please include a comparison (sharpness) of 56 and 90 in the upcoming xf 90 review.

  • http://ohm-image.net/ ohm image

    Truly phenomenal effort.

  • Boston C

    Thx a bunch for the detailed response, that confirms my inclination.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    I own both. I first got the Pana 35-100mm for my event photography. I got the 75mm one year later and since then I progressively started to use the Oly lens more. I often used the Pana at the longest focal lengths and the difference between 75 and 100 is not huge. The advantage of the f/1.8 aperture always helped me with poor light or to better separate the subject from the background.
    I would say go with the 75mm but in your case it also depends if you have freedom to move during the classical concert. If you are stuck in the same position all the time, then the zoom is better.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    I agree the IBIS can help a lot in many situations.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Nice article. I used the 75mm a few years ago for contemporary dance shows. The fast aperture really helped for this kind of shows that are often minimalistic with very low light on the stage :)

  • Boston C

    Nice detailed comparison. Have been debating which one to get: 75mm or 35-100mmF2.8. I’ll use it to shoot concert (mainly classical). The main question is whether the faster aperture and IQ gain are enough to give up the flexibility of the zoom. Would appreciate your thoughts. TIA.
    In addition I wish someday we’ll see an answer to this in M43: https://c2.staticflickr.com/2/1559/25984480533_b53b98a7c5_b.jpg

  • Zuikocron

    Having tried both I have to say: the Oly 75mm is awesome. Especially it’s size.

    Still, the Fuji is nothing short of incredible. Ultra sharp and beautiful bokeh both in front and behind the focal plan.
    Wide open (and that’s where it really matters) it’s in a league of it’s own.

  • LALAWYER2016

    Excellent review Mathieu and a very appropriate one. These lenses are so close! I’ve owned them both at different times. I found 75 1.8 much more useful than 90mm F2 and shot it more. In fact I sold 90mm F2 recently because its use is limited by the fact that neither the body nor the lens has stabilization. And the lens is rather large. So its use is generally limited to daylight, unless one bothers to carry flash in indoors. Olympus has excellent IBIS so I used 75 in low light often, so it is more versatile

  • J.L. Williams

    I own both these lenses and they’re among the ones I use most. I agree that their actual performance is very close — I suspect much of the difference in their overall “look” comes down to the differences between Fuji and Olympus cameras.

    (Post-processing matters too — I suspect most of the full-aperture sharpness advantage you see in the Fuji is an artifact of using Iridient Developer. I do find the Fuji a tiny bit sharper, especially at close distances, but the difference I see using Lightroom is not as dramatic as in your example photos.)

    We should count ourselves lucky that we have excellent wide-aperture telephoto options for both these mirrorless systems; if you need this type of lens, there’s no need to favor Olympus over Fuji, or vice-versa, because both lenses provide excellent results on their respective cameras.

    I will say, though, that over time the size and weight difference between the two becomes significant. The Fuji lens is proportioned well for the large X-Pro body, but is seriously front-heavy on the smaller bodies such as my X-T 10; my hand and wrist often start to feel strained after holding it during a multi-hour session. The Olympus’ smaller size, lighter weight, and better balance on an Olympus body give it a significant edge if mobility is important. The availability of image stabilization on the Olympus system also is an advantage during long photo sessions, when fatigue can lead to small hand movements that degrade the performance of even the best lens.

    Obviously this isn’t a factor for those who generally use a tripod, or who photograph in short spurts rather than over prolonged periods, but it underlines the fact that sometimes overall system performance overshadows any minor difference in lens performance alone! I go into this in more detail in the comparison I wrote on my Tumblr:

    http://jlwilliams-us.tumblr.com/post/126311077827/lenses-for-stage-photography-fuji-90mm-f2-vs

  • zensu

    Thanks Mathieu! As always, good advice.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    The Nocticron is a superb lens, no need to change anything :)

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    If you use a safe shutter speed it can be negligible. I got good results with the 90mm and X-Pro2 at 1/100s for example.

  • zensu

    Thanks Mathieu for a great comparison of two superlative optics. I too prefer the Nocticron for portraits as I always seemed to need to back up a little for the 75mm to frame my portraits. Looking at your comparison I clearly see the Fuji 90mm is another great lens but I’ll stick with the EM1 with Nocticron for now. I hope you’ll keep posting these comparisons for the benefit of us poorer photographers who can’t afford two separate systems so we can know what the competition is up to quality wise.
    Bobby

  • Pepou81

    About the focal length in handheld, the stabilisation makes a real difference about sharpness, picture quality ? Or it’s negligible?

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Definitely, but I am afraid they won’t update that lens for a long time. It seems they are focusing on very fast primes now.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Yes these two lenses can be too long at times, it really depend on where you are and how much room you have to move around and be at the right distance.
    The 56mm is the perfect lens for portraits 😉

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Actually next time I should include no captions at all and let the readers guess :)

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Thanks Peter. I agree the 75mm is a must have lens. Nice set of pictures, I really like the one with the umbrella.

  • baldur

    Good comparison, seems you can’t go wrong with either. I have used the 75 mm and it really is a superb lens for portrait, sports and landscapes – a must lens for every m43 shooter much like the 45 f1.8. Would be nice though if oly released a II-version with the manual focus snap ring and maybe even weather sealing – it would push the price of the existing versions down 😛

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/98684879@N02/sets Wing Yip

    Another great article and comparison.

    I am currently using a Fuji X system and considered both the 90mm f/2 and 56mm f1.2.. in the end, I chose the 56mm for it’s more compact size and I felt more flexible for the type of photography I would take.

    All the reviews and what I’ve seen of the 90mm have been very positive.. I would eventually like the 90mm, but for now, I find it’s use a bit limited much like the Olympus 75mm f1.8 was for me… generally a bit too long and the fixed focal length didn’t particularly help with making it any more flexible.. for the record, I eventually picked up the olympus 40-150mm f2.8 and it was great choice for me as it is very flexible and really loved the image quality.. my choice portrait lens when out on the job with my Oly.

    Focusing more on Olympus now.. My main 2 lenses I owned for the longest time when the E-M1 first came out were the 12-40mm f2.8 and 75mm f1.8. When I really used the 75mm for the first time,it blew me away. Paralleled image quality in the M43 system.. Sharpness and bokeh have never coexisted so perfectly for me.. eventually, I would say it was at least met, and somewhat surpassed by the 40-150mm f2.8 at the longer end. Still, the 75mm was and still is a great compact portrait lens.. I’ve debated several times to pick up the 75mm again (after I had sold it).

    The 75mm is pricey and it does suck that at the premium it does not included the rather pricey matching metal lens hood, but the lens itself is totally worth it if you’re in the market for just such a lens for portraits and longer distance shooting.

  • Turbofrog

    Honestly, if you weren’t labelling the images, I wouldn’t be able to determine the difference on most of them, especially if they weren’t taken at exactly the same place and time. No winners, no losers, just great lenses.

  • Peter Boender

    Nice comparison Mathieu. I have no experience with the Fuji lens or system at all, but I do with the Olympus. The 75mm is really an extraordinary lens! No need for repeats here, as you already mentioned all of its characteristics. But well recommended. Here are some shots on my Flickr page taken with the Olympus 75mm, that will hopefully do it justice:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/worldshooter/18619956288/in/album-72157650328757560/
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/worldshooter/18807752465/in/album-72157650328757560/
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/worldshooter/18806178205/in/album-72157650328757560/

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