First off, let me just say that despite bearing a striking resemblance to the more expensive 12mm f/2.0 and finished to look the same, unlike the 12mm, this is not a metal lens. It is a plastic lens with a metallic finish, although it does have a metal mount. Given that it retails at less than half the price of the 12mm lens, this is hardly surprising. It does not feel as solidly built as the 12mm, but it certainly doesn’t feel cheap either, with the focusing ring having a lovely smooth feel to it in a very similar way to its 12mm sibling.
The most important thing about this lens, and lens in fact, is how it performs, and here the 45mm excels. A nice fast aperture combined with a perfect 90mm 35mm equivalent focal length makes it a perfect portrait lens, and in that respect it delivers. I’d go so far as to say that what lets this lens down is the sensor in the PEN range, which is really starting to show its age against more modern M43 camera and really need a totally new design with the next generation PEN cameras is Olympus is not to be left behind by Panasonic.
I haven’t had a great deal of time to play with the lens recently with Christmas festivities and travelling taking up a lot of my time, so I’ll leave you with a few sample images I took during Christmas. Any softness in these images is because I had to work at ISO 1000-1600 on the EP-2 due to poor indoor lighting. When I get chance, I’ll post a few images at lower ISO to show what this lens can really do.
Shallow depth of field is easy to achieve with this lens, which can be almost too shallow when focusing close up, that is where the eye detect on the Olympus E-P3 will come in handy to make sure you have exactly the right point in sharp focus. Out of focus areas are beautifully smooth and well rendered with a lovely soft drop off and perfect rounded out of focus highlights.
The lens is sharp wide open, probably at its best a couple of stops from wide open, but you certainly won’t be disappointed with it if shooting at f/1.8.
The end of the lens unscrews to reveal a bayonet fitting, onto which you can add the Olympus LB-40 hood, which at £30, it’s exactly a cheap option, but it greatly benefits this lens and I’d recommend getting hold of a hood to improve contrast in bright sunlight as I found myself having to shade the lens from the sun to prevent washed out images. The hood will also help prevent any damage to the large front element, which is quite close to the end of the lens itself and could easily pickup damage if not protected by the hood or a filter. Personally I don’t use filters, so if you’re like me, always taking care to replace the lens cap is essential if you don’t have the hood or a filter to protect it.
Perhaps my only real complaint with the 45mm lens is that the close focusing distance, at 50cm, could be a little closer for my liking. Other than that it’s a stunning lens at a very reasonable price. A must have for any M43 user in my opinion.
Current street price is around £250/$385/350€
Buy it here are Amazon UK
All samples below are taken straight out of the camera (E-P2) in fine JPEG setting. No post processing has been performed at all.