In this Olympus 45mm F1.8 review, we’re looking at one of the best value portrait lenses in photography. With its compact build, razor-sharp optics, and glorious background blur, the Olympus 45mm is ready to take on lenses costing twice as much.
Measured on its terms, there’s no downside to the Olympus 45mm F1.8. Nevertheless, this lens is not for everyone, and there are some fine alternatives you might like instead. So, is the Olympus 45mm F1.8 worth it? Let’s find out. Jump to Conclusion.
Buy an Olympus 45mm F1.8
Olympus 45mm F1.8 Review – Contents
- What is the Olympus 45mm F1.8
- Olympus 45mm F1.8 Specifications
- Olympus 45mm F1.8 Performance
- Olympus 45mm F1.8 Shooting Experience
- Olympus 45mm F1.8 Compared
What is the Olympus 45mm F1.8
The Olympus 45mm F1.8’s 45mm focal length is similar to a 90mm lens on a Full Frame camera. In other words, the Olympus 45mm will serve your camera’s Micro Four Thirds sensor a narrowish 27-degree angle of view.
For this reason, the Olympus 45mm F1.8 makes for an excellent portrait lens, as you can take close-ups without invading your subject’s personal space or distorting their features.
With a large F1.8 aperture, the Olympus 45mm F1.8 can soak up more than eight times as much light as a typical F5.6 kit lens shooting at the same 45mm focal length. Furthermore, when set to F1.8, the Olympus 45mm can blur away your subject’s background – ideal for portraiture.
As a more affordable lens, the Olympus 45mm F1.8 lacks weather sealing, in-built image stabilization, and customizable functions. However, the Olympus 45mm does feature a single focus ring and ZERO-coated optical elements to reduce ghosting and flare.
As with Olympus’s other F1.8 prime, the 45mm F1.8 does not include a lens hood. While the 45mm doesn’t struggle with wayward light – its near-flush front element could use the hood’s protection.
At 116 grams, the Olympus 45mm F1.8 is ridiculously compact and easily fits in most pockets. Yet, despite its modest dimensions, the Olympus 45mm feels solid and well-built.
And unlike similarly priced Full Frame lenses, the Olympus 45mm features a metal lens mount. Unfortunately, the Olympus 45mm F1.8 is not weather sealed.
Olympus 45mm F1.8 Specifications
|Specifications||Olympus 45mm F1.8|
|Angle of view||27 Degrees|
|Lens construction||9 Elements in 8 Groups|
|Optical Image Stabilization||None|
|Minimum focus distance||50cm|
|Maximum reproduction ratio||.11x|
|Dimensions (approx)||56 x 46mm|
Olympus 45mm F1.8 Performance
The Olympus 45mm F1.8 is an extremely sharp lens with excellent contrast. As with many lenses, the Olympus 45MM is sharpest in the center and fades toward the corners – not necessarily an issue for portraits.
Nevertheless, the 45mm will sharpen as you dial down to smaller apertures. Bokeh-wise, the Olympus 45mm produces an attractive background blur that is largely distraction-free.
Like many of Olympus’s MSC-driven lenses, the Olympus 45mm F1.8’s autofocus is quiet, reliable, and near-instantaneous.
The Olympus 45mm’s maximum magnification is just .11x. This means the 45mm, at best, will project subjects onto your sensor at 11% of their original size. Therefore, the Olympus 45mm F1.8 is a terrible choice for taking large photos of smaller subjects.
Olympus 45mm F1.8 Shooting Experience
First, thanks to the narrow angle of view and poor maximum magnification – the Olympus 45mm F1.8 has a limited use case. Thankfully, that use-case is photographing people.
The Olympus 45mm F1.8 is one of my all-time favorite portrait lenses for two reasons. First, like all good portrait lenses, the Olympus 45mm focuses fast and produces tac-sharp images of my subject flanked with smooth background blur.
Second, it’s so small no one notices me using it. In contrast, whenever I took photos with my Full Frame DLSR, my subject would stop to pose, thus ruining a candid moment. But, the combined effect of a small Micro Four Thirds camera and an Olympus 45mm F1.8 is vastly less invasive and, thus, more likely to capture genuine moments.
Of course, discretion is not always required; in such cases, heavy large-aperture lenses may produce superior results. But, unlike those lenses, the tiny Olympus 45mm F1.8 is a lens you can live with every day.
Olympus 45mm F1.8 Compared
Olympus 45mm F1.8 vs Olympus 45mm F1.2 Pro
The Olympus 45mm F1.2 Pro does everything the Olympus 45mm F1.8 does but better. Specifically, its large F1.2 aperture soaks up almost twice as much light as F1.8 while offering superior background blur.
Furthermore, the Olympus 45mm F1.2 Pro is weather resistant and features a focus clutch, a customizable function button, and superior optical coatings. And the image quality is spectacular.
Undoubtedly, the Olympus 45mm F1.2 Pro is a unique lens and one of the best portrait lenses for Micro Four Thirds. But it’s almost four times heavier, much larger, and significantly more expensive than the Olympus 45mm F1.8. Therefore, buying this lens requires you to be pretty serious about portraiture.
|Specifications||Olympus 45mm F1.8||Olympus 45mm F1.2 Pro|
|Angle of view||27 Degrees||27 Degrees|
|Lens construction||9 Elements in 8 Groups||14 Elements in 10 Groups|
|Optical Image Stabilization||None||None|
|Minimum focus distance||50cm||50cm|
|Maximum reproduction ratio||.11x||.1x|
|Dimensions (approx)||56 x 46mm||70 x 84.9|
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The Olympus 45mm F1.8 is an excellent portrait lens capable of producing sharp images and glorious background blur. And unlike best-in-class portrait lenses, the Olympus 45mm F1.8 costs just a few hundred dollars and is small enough to nest in an averagely-sized pocket.
Even if you are especially serious about portraiture, the Olympus 45mm F1.8 offers so much for so little that anything else represents diminished returns. But if you want the best, diminishing returns be damned, the Olympus 45mm F1.2 Pro will produce superior results in a broader range of conditions – thanks to its brighter aperture and IPX-rated construction.
Nevertheless, the Olympus 45mm F1.8 is affordable, tiny, and supremely capable. If you’re looking for a portrait lens that doesn’t make you look like a portrait photographer – the Olympus 45mm F1.8 is it.
Buy an Olympus 45mm F1.8