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Full review of the Olympus M. Zuiko digital ED 45mm F/1.8.

 

 

Late2012/o4518sd.jpg
Click to check price

 
 
 
The Olympus E-M5 was used for this review. 
 
For a better understanding of terms and methods used in this review, go here.
 
The usual center, mid-section and corner crops are located at the very bottom of the page.
 
 
Introduction.
 

The Olympus 45mm F/1.8 lens (Made in China) is an extremely compact lens, about as small as you're going to see from a non-pancake lens design that's removable!  The specs say the lens has two E-HR elements used in its construction.  Olympus calls the plastic body 'A sophisticated metallic-style finish with high-grade texture' that 'exudes quality and performance'.

 

For use on micro 4/3 mirrorless cameras only.

 

Fit and finish are very good.  The lens is clad in plastic, with plastic filter threads, a wide focusing ring around the middle, and a metal mount.

 

In the box: the lens, front and rear caps, decoration ring and owner's manual. 
 
Focusing.  This movie and still capable (MSC) lens auto-focuses almost silently.  Focusing seems quite accurate at all focal lengths, and reasonable quick in good light with the E-M5; other cameras may be different.  The front filter ring doesn't turn when focusing, so your polarizers and grads will work great. 
 
Located at the front of the lens is what Olympus calls a 'decoration ring' which must be removed when installing the optional hood.
 
Product shots below courtesy of Olympus.
 

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Requisite product shots.

Late2012/o4518hood.jpg
Included decoration ring and optional expensive hood
Late2012/o4518xray.jpg
Late2012/o4518mtf.jpg
Olympus MTF graph

 
 
 
General information and specifications.
 

Lens

Box contents

Front and rear caps, and a decoration ring.  No hood included, check price here.

Cost

$399 retail as of 10/2012.

Build quality

Good.

Additional information

Very small and lightweight.

Specifications

 

Optical configuration

9 elements in 8 groups

Angle of view

27° 

Aperture

7 blades, curved

Formats

Micro 4/3 only.  With a crop factor of 2x the coverage equals 90mm in 135 film format.

Depth of field and focus scales?

Nothing.

Min. focus distance, image plane to subject @ max reproduction ratio

About 19.7"  (500mm)

Min. focus distance, end of lens barrel to subject @ max. reproduction ratio

About 16"  (406mm)

Hard stop at infinity focus?

No

Length changes when focusing?

No

Focus ring turns in AF?

No

Filter size

37mm

Filter ring rotates?

No

Distance encoder?

Yes
 

Max magnification

0.11x, or 0.22x (1:4.5) in 135 film format.

Min. F/stop

F/22

Factory teleconverter compatible?

N/A

Length changes when zooming?

N/A

Dimensions WxL  (my measurements)

2.2" x 1.81"   56mm x 46mm. 

Maximum  extended length (my measurements)

1.81"  (46mm)                                     

Weight bare (my scale)

4.1oz  (116g) 

 
 
Optical qualities summary.
 
Lens flare/ghosting.  Good control overall.  I see some minor multi-colored ghosts when super bright light sources are close to, or inside the frame. 

Color fringing (CA).  Very good control along the sides of the image, but I see moderate amounts of axial type, which shows up as magenta and blue tinges in high contrast (blown out) areas at F/1.8-4.      
 
Bokeh.  Neutral with smooth disc at medium to longer focusing distances, and very smooth at close focusing.
 
Color.  Neutral. 
 
Close up filter.  N/A.   
 
Coma.  None.
 
Regular filters N/A
 
Filter size is 37mm.  This small filter size is common, but a pain to try and find graduated ND filters.
 
Distortion.  Small amount of pincushion, and there is no correction applied in-camera.
 

Late2012/o4518dis.jpg
Slight pincushion

 
Minor pincushion distortion is visible, and this isn't corrected in-camera. 
 
 
Light fall-off.
 

           F/1.8

             F/2.8

Late2012/oly4518vig18.jpg
Late2012/oly4518vig28.jpg

 

Light fall-off is not an issue with this lens.  In-camera correction does almost nothing, what you see above is uncorrected from RAW. 

 

Color fringing.

 

           F/1.8

             F/4

Late2012/o4518cf18.jpg
Late2012/o4518cf40.jpg

 

Color fringing is moderate to strong at very wide apertures, but diminishes to minor levels at F/4.  This type of color fringing can occur anywhere within the image, and fortunately can be easily corrected under 'lens corrections' and 'color' tab in lightroom 4 and later versions.  The crops above were taken from the center of the image.

 

 

 
 
 
Let's check out the close focus capabilities of this lens.

Check out the 100% cropped portion of the full image.  The sample shot was taken with the Olympus E-5M 16mp camera, so don't compare it to others that were taken with 12 or 24mp cameras.  The subject is a standard US stamp, 0.87"x 1.0" or 22mm x 25mm.  Also, note the shot was taken as close to the subject as focusing allowed; in this case about 16" (406mm), measured from the front of the lens barrel to the subject.  
 
This lens has a small to medium reproduction ratio of 0.22x, (1:4.5), (in 135 format); and it produced a sharp close focus shot with good contrast at F/5.6, stopping down to F/8 softens due to diffraction.  As a side note; the "1996" on the bottom left of the stamp measures a mere 1mm wide.
 

Late2012/oly4518mac705.jpg
As close as you can get. F/5.6, click for larger image

 

 

Now for the conclusion.

 

The very tiny Olympus 45mm F/1.8 turned in a stellar performance.  Both landscapers and night stalkers (low-light hand-held shooters) will love this lens, it works great wide open in low light, and is critically sharp at F/4 over most of the image.  The lens is so small and light it's almost like a toy, but that makes it even more desirable in my opinion, especially if you're carrying it in a waist pack.

 

There aren't really any negatives to report other than the color fringing around blown out highlights in low light scenes, but if you have lightroom 4 or later, this isn't a problem. 

 

If 45mm (90mm in 135 film format) is a focal length that's attractive to you, look very carefully at the Olympus 45mm F/1.8 lens.


 

 

Sample crops from the centers, mid-sections and corners.

 

Late2012/o4518over.jpg
Target area

 
45mm
 

 

          Center

          Mid-section

             Corner

F/1.8

Late2012/o4518ctr18.jpg
Late2012/o4518mid18.jpg
Late2012/o4518corn18.jpg

F/2.5

Late2012/o4518ctr25.jpg
Late2012/o4518mid25.jpg
Late2012/o4518corn25.jpg

F/4

Late2012/o4518ctr40.jpg
Late2012/o4518mid40.jpg
Late2012/o4518corn40.jpg

F/5.6

Late2012/o4518ctr56.jpg
Late2012/o4518mid56.jpg
Late2012/o4518corn56.jpg

F/8

Late2012/o4518ctr80.jpg
Late2012/o4518mid80.jpg
Late2012/o4518corn80.jpg

 

In the centers, the image is very sharp wide open, but becomes critically sharp just one stop down.  The mid-sections sharpen up very nicely by F/4, with the corners following behind at F/5.6.  Performance is maximized at F/4-5.6, stopping down past F/5.6 results in softening of the image due to diffraction.

 

That's it for the review, if you'd like to help out the site, please visit B&H Photo if you're thinking of purchasing the Olympus 45mm F/1.8 lens.

 

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