The Olympus 45mm f/1.8 prime lens is one of the best “people” lenses that the micro four thirds system has to offer. That fact has always been in the back of my mind, but as I sat down to write this review and began collecting photos in Lightroom, it became very evident. At a short telephoto focal length (90mm equivalent in 35mm terms), the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 is a low light monster that provides the perfect amount of reach, beautiful background blur and excellent subject/background separation at large apertures.
The 45mm was one of the first lenses I purchased a few years ago when I was making my “trial run” with micro four thirds. As a landscape photographer, a 90mm equivalent focal length wasn’t something that I felt entirely comfortable with — I loved working with wide angles much more. But still, the 45mm tempted me. It was tiny, had an f/1.8 maximum aperture and wasn’t going to break the bank (you can find it all the time for $399 at Amazon, or $350 when Olympus is running a sale). Coming to a new camera system like micro four thirds, I was curious. At the time I only had the Olympus 12mm f/2, and I knew if I really wanted to give the system a fair shot, I would need something to complement it.
Related: Olympus 25mm f/1.8 Review
Size and Build
If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know how much in love I am with the tiny Olympus prime lenses. The 45mm is no exception. It’s a tiny plastic lens that’s very light (just over 4 oz!) with a metal mount that packs a punch. It’s so small in fact, that it can easily get lost in your camera bag (you can glue your back caps together to fix that). Coupled with the in body stabilization of the Olympus OM-D E-M5, its quality can’t be beat.
If you like using a polarizer or ND filter on the front of the lens you might be upset to find that it’s an odd size at 37mm. No worries, step up rings are cheap (and essential if you own a bunch of these little primes and one larger filter). Unlike some of the other Olympus lenses, the 45mm f/1.8 prime does not have a distance scale nor does it have a “snapping ring” for manual focusing. The manual focus ring uses “fly by wire” to focus, and has a nice smooth feel to it. Switching to manual focus is done from the camera body. Personally, I don’t use manual focus too much, preferring the quick and accurate autofocus that the GX7 and the OM-D E-M5 offer.
I love shooting this lens wide open at f/1.8 in low light situations. Auto focus locks fast and the shots are super clear. Also, having such a tiny lens on your camera with such a reach attracts no attention at all. Most people won’t even pay attention to you since it looks like you have a toy. I photographed most of this concert with the 45mm.
The 45mm isn’t always in my bag. If I’m headed out on a hike or an early morning landscape shoot, I’ll leave it at home. But if I’m going doing a family photo shoot, or any kind of event, the 45mm rarely comes off my camera. It’s the perfect blend of small, light and unobtrusive, while being one of the highest quality lenses in the micro four thirds system.
Do you own the 45mm and love it as much as I do? Have any questions about it? Want to see more baby pictures? Let me know the comments!
Did this review help you out? If you’re considering buying the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 or other gear mentioned in this post, you can do so through my Amazon links or directly from Olympus. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and really helps to keep this site running!