Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO Review

John Riley reviews the new Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.2 PRO Micro Four Thirds prime lens.


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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO Review John Riley reviews the new Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.2 PRO Micro Four Thirds prime lens. 4.5 5

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Olympus 45mm F1,2 Pro Front Oblique View

From its Premium PRO range of prime lenses, we have the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 lens for MFT format cameras. With the 2x crop factor, this gives us a “35mm-format equivalent” of 90mm, the ideal portrait lens and therefore a very attractive proposition, especially with a fast f/1.2 aperture. Using the Panasonic Lumix G6 camera body, let's have a close look to see what this good-looking lens has to offer.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.2 Pro Handling and Features

Olympus 45mm F1,2 Pro Without Hood On Lumix G6

The good looks of the lens are without doubt, with a beautiful glossy black finish and high-quality engraving throughout. It weighs in with at a satisfyingly solid 410g. The 62mm filter thread is surrounded by a bayonet fitting for the included round lens hood. This clips into place smoothly and a release catch is operated to remove it. Behind this, we find the lens designation engraving and then a depth of field scale, defunct in AF mode as the distance scale that goes with it is concealed. Pulling back the wide focusing ring reveals the distance scale and also switches the lens into MF mode. This works well enough, although the scale is such that it is very doubtful that much useful depth of field information can be gleaned from it. The spacing is very narrow and there are few figures on the scale to match up to. A certain amount of care is needed to avoid pulling back the lens into MF mode accidentally and a slightly firmer click stop on the mechanism could be helpful. Having said that, in use, it seems to be only a slight risk rather than a definite problem.

There is no aperture scale, all settings being controlled from the camera body. The solitary L-Fn switch cancels the AF when in AF mode, thus fixing the distance setting. A half press on the shutter release starts up AF again. This could be useful but more functionality may exist for the button when using different camera bodies that support additional features.

Focusing is down to 50cm, or 19.7 inches, a maximum magnification of 0.1x, or 1:10. This is reasonably close for a lens giving an “equivalent” 90mm field of view. It is worth bearing in mind that there is more depth of field because of the format, so backgrounds will not fall out of focus quite so markedly as they would with a 90mm lens on a full frame camera. That is not to detract though from the usefulness of a 45mm f/1.2 lens, and the depth of field on a portrait can still be very appealing.

Olympus 45mm F1,2 Pro With Hood On Lumix G6

The lens is billed a “dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof” and there seem to be no problems with that in cold, wet weather. It also has a “Movie and Still compatible mechanism” which means silent focusing and aperture adjustment helps ensure stable movie shooting as well as being advantageous for stills photography. Focusing is indeed very quiet and virtually instantaneous, with absolutely no trace of hunting. AF locks on every time.

Optical construction in 14 elements in 10 groups, including ED (Extra Low Dispersion) glass. The diaphragm comprises 9 rounded blades. The objective of the lens construction is to achieve a “feathered bokeh” that is especially smooth and suited to portrait photography in particular. The lens has many other strengths though and short-range sports, landscapes, architecture and travel are all well within its purview. Considering the perfect drawing of the lens, it is absolutely ideal for architectural shots.

Olympus 45mm F1,2 Pro Rear Oblique View

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.2 Pro Performance

The standard of sharpness throughout is very, very high. The centre starts off well, with excellent sharpness wide open at f/1.2. This becomes outstanding from f/2 to f/4, excellent from f/5.6 to f/8 and remains very good at f/11 and f/16.

Edge sharpness is excellent from f/1.2 all the way through to f/8, thereafter being very good at f/11 and f/16. Basically, all apertures are fully usable and they rise to a very high level at quite wide settings.

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO MTF Charts

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G6 using Imatest.

 

CA (Chromatic Aberration) is virtually banished at the centre of the frame, returning very low figures. The edges are still held to well under one-pixel width, but some fringing can be seen on subjects such as branches against bright sky. If necessary, further correction can be applied in software.

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) 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 a Panasonic Lumix G6 using Imatest.

 

Barrel distortion measures -0.01%, as near to zero as makes no difference. In other words, perfect drawing that would do credit to a macro lens, never mind a short telephoto of this speed. A very impressive result.

Flare is also virtually banished and the worst that can be induced is maybe a slight drop in overall contrast. This is despite making real efforts to upset the lens with very bright, low winter sun. There is no flare.

Bokeh is of especial interest, the quality and smoothness of the out of focus areas. This depends on many factors, such as lens design, the shape of the aperture blades and of course the subject itself. It all looks pretty good, and even when the background is quite “busy” there is no tendency towards a ragged effect. This is quite an achievement in a lens with such high resolution. The only real limitation is the small format itself.


Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO Sample Photos

 

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO Aperture range

 

Value For Money

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO lens is priced at £1199. There are very few alternatives as bright as this, but the closest might be:

Samyang 50mm f/1.2 AS UMC CS, £341
Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH, £1199
Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95 Nokton, £749

Considering the quality produced, this seems fair enough, although it may be a bit on the expensive side. For more options have a look at the Top 15 Best Olympus Micro Four Thirds or the Top 35 Best Micro Four Thirds Lenses.

 

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.2 Pro Verdict

There is no doubt that the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.2 is a superb lens and one that would be a pleasure to own. The factors that come with that really more concern the cost, which is fairly high, and the applications that a photographer might have in mind. A 90mm-equivalent lens is a very useful optic for portraits, landscapes, short-range sports and architectural details. With perfect drawing, the architectural uses are probably as relevant as the potential for portraits.

It will be an easy decision for those with the cash ready or those who have a commercial use.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.2 Pro Pros

  • Outstanding sharpness
  • Very low CA
  • No distortion
  • Fast, bright f/1.2 aperture
  • fast, silent AF
  • Beautiful bokeh

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.2 Pro Cons

  • High price

Features4/5
Handling5/5
Performance5/5
Value4/5
Overall Verdict

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO Specifications

ManufacturerOlympus
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length45mm
Angle of View27
Max Aperturef/1.2
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size62mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalent90mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnification0.1x
Focusing
Min Focus50cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements14
Groups10
Box Contents
Box ContentsLH-66B Lens Hood, LC-62F Lens Cap, LR-2 Lens Rear Cap, LSC-0811 Lens Case, instruction manual, warranty card
Dimensions
Weight410g
Height84.9mm

View Full Product Details


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Comments


ChrisV Plus
12 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
13 Dec 2017 11:31AM
Like a lot of the [especially more recent] Olympus Pro optics, it's [b]massively[/b] overpriced. Add to that it's pretty hefty for an MfT lens and the CA is unacceptable [yeah you can get rid of it, but you shouldn't have to] on a premium lens and I struggle to see how this gets 4.5 stars. It would need to be half this price to be even approaching decent value.

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"It would need to be half this price to be even approaching decent value."
ChrisV, how much does a 45mm f1.2 lens for any other system cost?
14 Dec 2017 2:06PM
@Jacques

The thing is, you don't need such a wide aperture with other systems, because they have bigger sensors. That being said, you won't get a positive comment from ChrisV, ever!
ChrisV Plus
12 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
14 Dec 2017 4:19PM

Quote:That being said, you won't get a positive comment from ChrisV, ever!


Have a look at the Laowa review.

Or the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4.

In fact randomly search anything that's not a recent MfT 'Pro' offering [I own a good few of the older ones].

But you're right about the aperture on 35mm - you'd only need f2.4 to get the same DoF and similar performance all round - so the comparison is with say an 85mm f1.8, which would give more DoF control so you could even stop it down a bit to increase sharpness. It's not even as if this is a compact lens.
"But you're right about the aperture on 35mm - you'd only need f2.4 to get the same DoF and similar performance all round - so the comparison is with say an 85mm f1.8, which would give more DoF control so you could even stop it down a bit to increase sharpness. It's not even as if this is a compact lens."

Then your complaint is really about the sensor, not the lens. Fact is, a 45/1.2 for ANY system is not going to be cheap, so it's kind of silly to say PanOly are "overpricing" theirs. If shallow DoF at low cost is your top priority, don't buy MFT. The system has other strengths.
ChrisV Plus
12 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
15 Dec 2017 11:32AM
No the complaint is the price of these lenses. Again look at the Laowa review. There are plenty of other lenses for the system that are reasonably fast and not all that expensive. The argument can't be economies of scale because the MfT format is a universal one and I can't imagine third party manufacturers are going to sell more than OEMs.

It isn't just this lens, it's all the recent premium ones from Panasonic and Olympus. You can [possibly] use the argument a 45 f1.2 is an expensive lens to manufacture [I doubt this expensive, but there's not much to prove that point].

So let me ask you - in any format how much would you expect to pay for a 200mm f2.8 prime?

I think it's pretty preposterous to be charging more than you'd pay for one of the [often stellar performing] 35mm format f2.8 70-200mm zooms.

It hasn't always been like this - I think the PanaLeica 25/1.4 [one of my favourite lenses for my system] is relatively sensibly priced. I think it's pretty clear that the OEMs have decided to up their pricing strategy based on what they think they can get away with rather than costs-based and a strategy which might promote further uptake.

Excuse me if I think that's a bad thing.
ChrisV,
WHAT Laowa review? Laowa doesn't make a lens that's even remotely comparable to this one.
I agree about the 200/2.8 - it's WAY more expensive than I'd expected.
I think you're way off base, though, about this lens. Show me something similar from another mfr. that's cheaper.
31 Dec 2017 3:45PM
this lens isn't intended to be your everyday portrait lens. I can't understand the people who rave and rant about expensive m43 lenses, why don't you buy the oly f1.8 version or the panasonic f1.7 42.5mm? this is intended as a treat to the m43 enthusiasts who invensted into the system and don't want to change. If you're not one of those, just go and buy yourself a sony a7r ii.

There is no free lunch, a full metal lens f1.2 with tight tolerances won't be manufactured in smaller amounts and sold for cheap. Not on any system.

As for the qualities of the lens, I'd say it's well above average- amazing build and sharpness at f1.2 is exceptional, and autofocus is lightning fast at f1.2. The CA performance is somewhat disappointing but sony GM and canon L lenses have similar CA Levels so it's not too bad. I'll be happy to buy it.

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