The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 ($399.99 direct) is a fast lens that delivers a classic 90mm-equivalent field of view when used on a Micro Four Thirds camera—a classic focal length for portraiture. From an optical performance standpoint it’s a pure gem, although its plastic lens barrel is a step below the all-metal construction of the more expensive Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f1.8 lens, and it doesn’t have the weather sealing of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro. Still, the lens impressed us enough to earn an Editors’ Choice award.
The lens measures just 2.2 by 1.8 inches (HD) and weighs a mere 4.1 ounces. It balances well with both smaller cameras like the PEN series and bodies with a more SLR-like design like the Panasoic Lumix DMC-G5. There’s no hood included, although Olympus does sell one for the lens—it costs about $35 and is recommended to help increase image contrast and reduce lens flare. Its focus motor is very quiet, without sacrificing focus speed, a boon to both video and still shooters.
I used Imatest to check the sharpness and distortion characteristics of the lens when paired with the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5. At f/1.8 it’s a little soft in the corners, which leads to a center-weighted resolution score of 1,751 lines per picture height, which is just a smidge shy of the 1,800 lines we use to define a sharp photo. The center at f/1.8 is an impressive 2,387 lines, so you should feel confident in using the lens for shots where your subject is framed towards the center without stopping down. Closing the iris to f/2 brings the center-weighted score to 1,999 lines, and that score increases steadily as you stop down further—peaking at 2,787 lines at f/5.6. Distortion is not an issue—the lens shows only 0.6 percent, which isn’t relevant in real-world shooting.
If you’re looking for a portrait lens for your Micro Four Thirds camera, you’ll be hard pressed to do much better than the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8. It’s small, light, fast, and sharp. It feels solid, although the build quality is not up to the standards of more expensive Olympus lenses, and it is a shame that you have to pay extra for a lens hood—an add-on that should be standard issue. The 90mm-equivalent field of view is great for head-and-shoulder shots, although some shooters may prefer the tighter field of view and shallower depth of field that the longer focal length of the $900 M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f1.8 lens is capable of creating. But if this focal length is your cup of tea, don’t hesitate on purchasing the lens—its optical performance, price, and size are enough to earn our Editors’ Choice award.
More Digital Camera Reviews:
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc