Olympus M-Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens review

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 is the fast portrait prime lens for micro four-thirds system cameras. With 2x crop factor it has the equivalent field of view of 90mm lens. If you have a micro 4/3 camera with any kit lens (14-42, 12-50 or 14-150) and are looking to buy first lens beyond the kit, this is probably the one you should get. It works without adapter on any camera with micro four-thirds lens mount, such as Olympus PEN and OMD or Panasonic G series cameras.

Main specifications:

  • Focal length: 45mm (90mm in 35mm eq.)
  • Maximum aperture: F/1.8
  • Number of aperture blades: 7 circular
  • Construction: 9 elements in 8 groups
  • Min focus distance: 0.5m
  • Filter thread: 37 mm
  • Dimensions: 56 x 46 mm
  • Weight: 116 g
  • Average retail price: $400
  • Lens hood: LH-20B; optional (extra $9 at Amazon)

Above: Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 on Olympus OMD E-M5 camera.

Build Quality

M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 has very good build quality. It is mostly made of plastic, but it feels very solid and rigid. Lens mount is made of metal. At 56mm length and weighing 116g, this lens is really small and pocketable and is great companion for any PEN camera. The lens is available only in silver finish; I wish there was a black version as well.

Focus ring is of the focus-by-wire type, but still provides enough resistance not to be turned by error. Some other Olympus lenses are prone to that problem, 14-54 being the worst I encountered; the lightest touch would engage manual focus and sometimes ruin the shot.

AF motor is silent and therefore perfectly usable for video shooting.

At maximum aperture of F/1.8, this lens gathers quite a lot of light. Due to 2x crop factor, it gives depth of field like 90mm lens stepped down to F/3.6 on full frame. If you are shooting head and torso people shots form close distance, this is still enough to render nice blurred background.

The lens is not stabilized and this is not problem for Olympus body users; all of them have IBIS (in body stabilization), but Panasonic users should keep in mind that the lens is not be stabilized on Panasonic bodies.

Above: size comparison with M.Zuiko 12mm f/2 lens (left), and 12-50 f/3.5-6.3 (right).

Focusing

I used this lens on Olympus OMD E-M5 camera which is well known for its fast auto focus. 45mm wasn’t an exception; it focuses blazingly fast and accurate. The only problem I encountered were very large focus points on E-M5. When shooting portraits, focus points are far too big to be set on the eye of a person i am taking picture of, and sometimes got slightly out-of-focus images as a result. The new Olympus PEN E-PL5 has an ability to reduce the size of focus points, and I hope E-M5 will get it also via firmware upgrade.

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2 thoughts on “Olympus M-Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens review

  1. Pingback: Top 10 micro 4/3 lenses | Camerahoarders.com

  2. Pingback: A new review on Olympus M-Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 lens - Micro Four Thirds Camera Blog

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