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Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital Micro Four Thirds Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital Micro Four Thirds lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8
Price : £180
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8
Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8

This medium telephoto optic for Micro Four Thirds compatible cameras sports a fast maximum aperture of f/1.8, internal silent focusing and a low price of around £250.

Panasonic's 45mm f/2.8 Macro Leica D Vario Elmar lens may be a suitable equivalent. Although it only has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and costs around £600, it has the extra flexibility of closer macro focusing.

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8
Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens Handling and features

This compact telephoto prime lens weighs only 116g, which makes it a perfect companion for the lightweight Micro Four Thirds system, and this lens balances well on the Olympus E-PM1 used for testing. Much of the lens barrel is constructed from high quality plastics, with a smart metallic finish applied to them. The lens mount is made from metal, which should enhance the durability of the design. The build quality is good for a lens of this price. It manages to feel relatively solid, yet lightweight.

Olympus' MSC focus motor provides near-silent focusing, which is plenty quick enough for general photography when used on the E-PM1. When shooting at wide apertures, extra care needs to be taken to ensure accurate focusing.

Auto focus is performed internally so the 37mm filter thread does not rotate or extend during use. A slim decorative ring with a metallic finish located around the filter thread can be removed, exposing a bayonet fitting. This ring can be exchanged for ones of a different colour, or for the optional LH-40 lens hood, which costs around £20.

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens Performance

At maximum aperture, this lens already produces excellent resolution in the centre portion of the frame. Towards the edges, the resolution remains very good, which is excellent performance for a wide aperture lens. Stopping the lens down to between f/5.6 and f/8 results in outstanding sharpness across the frame with sharpness in the centre being at its highest at f/5.6.

Resolution @ 45mm
Resolution @ 45mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are kept well below levels that may become noticeable, in either large prints or harsh crops from the edges of the frame. At their worst, CA levels reach 0.45 pixel widths at f/22.

As falloff and distortion are corrected by the camera's image processing engine when shooting JPEGs, falloff and distortion will only be easily visible when shooting in RAW format.

Chromatic Aberration @ 45mm
Chromatic Aberration @ 45mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is very well controlled, especially so for a fast aperture lens. At f/1.8 the corners are only 0.76 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved at f/2.8.

Levels of distortion are also very low, as you might expect for a prime lens like this. Imatest managed to detect 0.215% barrel distortion, which will be very difficult to spot by eye, even with straight lines close to the edges of the frame.

Flare is rarely an issue with this lens, except in exceptional circumstances. Shooting directly into bright sources of light will result in a loss of contrast, but no more so than similar lenses. An optional lens hood can be acquired and although this optic isn't overly prone to flare, it would've been nice for the hood to come included.

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 Sample Photos


Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens Verdict

The low price may be a little misleading at first glance, as this lens is a very capable optic. It focuses quickly on the E-PM1 body used for testing and is capable of producing outstanding levels of sharpness.

The light weight and good build quality are also assets. Those looking for a fast aperture prime lens for portraits, photography in low light, or for greater control over depth of field will not be disappointed.

The Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko lens offers excellent performance at a superb price.

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens Pros

Very good value
Excellent sharpness
Compact & lightweight
Good build quality

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens Cons

Lens hood is an optional extra

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 Specifications

ManufacturerOlympus
General
Lens Mounts
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length45mm
Angle of View27
Max Aperturef/1.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size37mm
35mm equivalent90mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus50cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades7
Elements9
Groups8
Box Contents
Box ContentsLC-37B Lens Cap, Micro Four Thirds lens rear cap (LR-2), Decoration Ring (DR-40), Warranty Card, Operating Instructions
Dimensions
Weight116g
Height56mm

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Comments


lemmy 7 2.0k United Kingdom
21 Oct 2011 10:55AM
These M43 lenses seem to be where all the best development is taking place.

If at some point an M43 sensor can be made that has the same noise/ resolution as the current Sony APS-C sensor I think even most enthusiasts would look no further.

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21 Oct 2011 5:05PM
The specification, graphs and price all look great but the sample photos really don't do it any favours at all.
petemasty 5 155 England
21 Oct 2011 5:05PM
Having sold my DSLR kit and my Leica DLux5, this may well be where i looking to buy next. Lightweight, fast focus and razor sharp images must make the M43 range the future of camera development.

If (or when) i go down this route, this is a must buy for me. Shame the wide angle prime is so expensive in comparison
MeanGreeny 9 3.7k England
24 Oct 2011 12:45PM
The only bad taste that that this lens leaves is the 30 for the lens hood - over 10% the cost of the lens!
18 Jun 2014 1:40PM
How would this lens do for street photography i wonder?

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