March 14, 2013

Review | Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8 Lens for Micro Four Thirds Cameras

Review

Well here is a blog post that is more of a break for myself, I’m writing this while waiting for some video files to render in Premiere Pro, so I have a little bit of downtime while the computer crunches away. I thought I would do a quick review of the newest lens we acquired for our Olympus OM-D E-M5, the M.Zukio 45mm f/1.8!

Olympus M.Zukio 45mm f/1.8

I still love my OM-D, it is consistently my go-to camera and I always have it with me whenever I leave the house. I prefer the richer files from our Canon 5D Mark III’s but to have a comparable quality camera in such a small form factor is a winning combination when I’m just walking around downtown with Miles. I still really enjoy our other lens, the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, however I just wanted something with a bit longer focal length to really get close and have a bit better bokeh (background blur). Enter the 45mm (90mm in 35mm format equivalent), a perfect portrait lens that is not too long that you have to be really far away but also not too wide that you can get some good working distance between yourself and the subject, which more often than not is Miles.

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 First Day | Blog Photos | Woodruff Park Downtown Atlanta

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 First Day | Blog Photos | Woodruff Park Downtown Atlanta

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 First Day | Blog Photos | Woodruff Park Downtown Atlanta

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 First Day | Blog Photos | Woodruff Park Downtown Atlanta

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 First Day | Blog Photos | Woodruff Park Downtown Atlanta

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 First Day | Blog Photos | Woodruff Park Downtown Atlanta

These photos above were from my first day with the 45mm and to say I was pleasantly surprised might be an understatement. The build quality of the new Olympus M.Zukio primes is like the equivalent of Canon’s consumer line versus the “L” glass pro line. The 45mm is an all metal lens, has a very smooth focusing ring, and a bit of weight to it compared to our other lenses the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 and Olympus 17mm f/2.8 which are both plastic lenses. Manual focus with the 45mm is a joy to use and having the MF-assist option in the OM-D really helps, though of course with Miles it’s a bit tough for him to sit still in one spot for long enough! Autofocus does seem faster using the 45mm compared to the other lenses, though the disclaimer that even with the faster AF I still had a bunch of out of focus photos trying to run after Miles, though I think that’s more a testament of trying to keep up with a 2-year-old running around the park than the camera itself. I’m not sure if even the Mark III with it’s powerful AF system would have consistently been able to keep up with Miles =)

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

A few more photos with the 45mm, this time indoors at the Children’s Museum as opposed to outside at the park. I love the colors that I get out of the OM-D E-M5 outside but of course indoors under the sketchy fluorescent lights things are not quite as vivid without flash. These were taken at ISO 3200 and f/1.8.

I also stashed my OM-D into my camera bag along with my other million lenses at our wedding two weeks ago, though there wasn’t much “down time” when I would have rather been shooting with the 5D Mark III because it had a flash attached and we were mostly indoors.

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Just when you thought it was warming up in Atlanta we got this cold blast of weather mid-week. Of course this coming weekend is back up to the 70’s after being in the 40s and 50s yesterday and today. I was out with the OM-D a bit when we took Miles to the park before the temperature dropped again to give a bit more testing to the 45mm lens and some random “from the hip” street photography photos with the Olympus OM-D E-M5. I want to try to do more street photography but I’m usually pushing a stroller in one hand and fumbling with my camera in the other any time I’m outside =). I really liked the 45mm length, which is 90mm in equivalent DSLR 35mm format such as on the full frame Canon 5D Mark III. In general I love tight close photos so I’m much happier with this focal length. Auto Focus again didn’t disappoint, especially on the random street photos, which while needing to focus pretty fast, you don’t have to focus nearly as fast as with a 2-year-old toddler! Miles is like a lightning bolt sometimes!

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Overall love the lens, when it locks focus this lens is SHARP! Really nice quality to all of the images, I wish Miles sat still long enough to really showcase the image quality. If this were something like an engagement session where your subjects are a bit more stationary it would be an ideal lens. The background blur from the longer focal length is very pleasing and finally makes me feel more like I’m shooting with a full frame DSLR than with a tiny compact system camera. I love the portability of the 20mm and 17mm which are both pancake lenses and are really slim, but the 45mm and other new m.Zukio primes do protrude a bit from the camera body. Not excessively of course, I still throw the OM-D with the 45mm into my camera bag along with spare diapers for Miles every day, but it might have a bit of trouble fitting into a jacket pocket or cargo pants with the extra length.

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Blog Photos | Random Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Test Photos

Poor Miles in that last photo, he was SO UPSET that we had to leave the park. At least that made him stay in one spot long enough to get a really sharp photo =).

Final conclusion is that I love this lens and really want to add more of the new m.Zukio primes to our small OM-D kit! The just released 17mm f/1.8 looks very tempting and the 12mm f/2.0 is consistently rated as one of the best Micro Four Third lenses every built. For the price, I would definitely say pick up this lens if you are a Micro Four Thirds user, the background separation at f/1.8 is amazing and lets in a ton of light to the already great OM-D sensor allowing you to get great shots even in darker conditions. I’m really tempted by the Fuji x100S for it’s improved autofocus, but mostly it’s leaf shutter, though being restricted to just a 35mm lens when you have options such as this beautiful 45mm/90mm prime keeps my happy with my current gear bag for a walk around camera.

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