I have been going down memory lane and have rediscovered some of my favorite lenses from years gone by — specifically micro four-thirds lenses.

I remember being enamored with the small form factors and amazing results I could achieve from such tiny micro four-thirds gear. Everything seemed pint-sized and light as a feather next to DSLRs! But one lens that gave me a lot of wow factor was the Olympus 45mm f/1.8.

Handling and build

The 45mm is an itty bitty thing, thumb sized — and that’s not an exaggeration. Coming in at just 4.09 ounces (116 grams) — that qualifies the 45mm as a featherweight. Which is fantastic if you plan on carrying it around all day.

The 45mm is literally thumb sized. Amazing optics contained in this tiny package!

I like pairing the 45 with either my PEN-F or OM-D E-M1 Mark II cameras. The combinations are well balanced and easy to manage.

The 45mm falls into Olympus’s M.Zuiko line, which is a notch below the M.Zuiko PRO line of lenses. As such, build quality is just average. The lens is put together well, but the parts are honestly kind of cheap plastic. The focus ring, though fly by wire, is smooth with nice dampening. On the inside, the lens is made up of 9 elements in 8 groups. The aperture ranges from f/1.8 to f/22, and speaking of the aperture, there are 7 rounded aperture blades for some surprisingly nice bokeh. The front filter thread is 37mm in diameter.

On the downside, the lens isn’t weather sealed, but that’s hardly surprising for a lens in this price category.

Autofocus speed and accuracy

With the latest phase detect autofocus systems from Olympus, autofocus with the movie and still compatible autofocus system is snappy, quick and very decisive. On early AF systems like those found in the PEN-F and the original OM-D E-M5, the AF will hunt rather quickly, but will ultimately capture accurate focus. But it isn’t always instantaneous.

Fortunately, it still happens fast enough to not miss the majority of shots, moreover, the resulting images. Even wide open shots are tack sharp! It’s an impressive performance. In video, AF latches on to faces and tracks them perfectly. AF transitions are smooth and well controlled.

Optics

Where the 45mm really shines is with naturally lit portraits. Tack sharp optics, soft background blur all from a thumb size package

The 45mm is discreet and great for the street, but where it shines for me is with portrait photography. Images are crisp, with wonderful colors and beautiful, soft out-of-focus bokeh rendering. Chromatic aberrations, vignetting and flare are all well controlled and essentially don’t come into play.

Value

At $399 (and often discounted to $299), the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 is a stupendous value for the money. Results obtained from this lens rival some of the best in the DSLR world in my experience. For this kind of money, optics just don’t get much better than this!

Specs

  • Focal length: 45mm
  • Aperture range: f/1.8 — f/22
  • Aperture blades: 7, Rounded
  • Elements/groups: 9/8
  • Size: 2.2 x 1.81″ / 56 x 46 mm
  • Weight: 4.06 Ounces/116 Grams
  • Field of view: 27°

Pros

  • Value priced
  • Fast/accurate AF
  • Stellar optics
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Cheap, plastic build
  • Not weather sealed
  • Not much else!

Sample images