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Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro Snap Verdict
The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro is a high quality lens that’s perfect for portrait-shooting Micro Four Thirds users. It captures a high level of detail across the frame throughout the aperture range and distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting are all controlled very well. In addition, the wide maximum aperture allows you to blur backgrounds attractively and focus attention on your subject.
For Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro
- Popular portrait focal length equivalent
- Lots of control over depth of field
- Splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof
Against Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro
- It’s a Pro lens so naturally, it commands a fairly high price
- The LFn button is awkwardly placed for use when supporting the lens from underneath
What is the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro?
The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro is a Micro Four Thirds lens designed for use on Olympus (or Panasonic) mirrorless cameras like the OM-D E-M1 II, OM-D E-M5 II or OM-D E-M10 III. Because of the 2x focal length multiplication factor of the Four Thirds sensor in these cameras the lens has an effective focal length of 90mm, which makes it ideal for shooting portraits.
Olympus announced the M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro at the same time as the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, but the 17mm won’t be available until March 2018. The 45mm is set to go on sale in December, but we were able to get a sample ahead of the release date to test for this review.
According to Olympus the M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro’s back focus and relay lens design enable a reduction in the number of elements needed for its construction and this keeps the size and weight down. Consequently, the lens has 14 elements arranged in 10 groups. Meanwhile, ghosting and flare are reduced by Olympus’s Z Coating Nano technology.
With a maximum aperture of f/1.2, there’s plenty of scope to restrict depth of field and Olympus has designed the lens to give ‘feathered’ bokeh so out of focus areas look smooth and naturally soft.
The lens barrel has an LFn button that can be programmed via the camera’s Custom menu to access a long list of features.
|Focal length||45mm (35mm equivalent approx. 90mm)|
|Lens construction||14 elements in 10 groups with Z Coating Nano technology|
|Angle of view||27 degrees|
|Closest focusing distance||0.5m|
|Maximum image magnification||0.1x (35mm equivalent approx. 0.2x)|
|Closest focusing distance||50cm|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (circular aperture diaphragm)|
|Dimensions:||79 x 84.9mm|
[nextpage title=”Build & Handling” ]
Build quality and handling
Having a large maximum aperture means the lens is going to be larger than slower optics (ie those with smaller apertures), but the 45mm f/1.2 is similar in size and weight to the 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens and feels at home on the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. It’s a less natural pairing on the OM-D E-M10 III because the camera is smaller and isn’t weatherproof like the lens, but it’s still a useable option.
As you’d expect with one of Olympus’s Pro lenses, the 45mm f/1.2 has a high-quality feel with a metal barrel. The broad focusing ring, which snaps back to allow manual focusing also rotates smoothly.
I have large hands for my height and gender but I find the LFn button a little awkwardly placed. I have to reach around for it with my left thumb as I support the lens and look in the viewfinder. It’s easier to locate if you have the back of your hand upwards, but this comes less naturally to me and gives a less stable support.
I think the default AF Stop option is a good choice for the LFn function button as it allows you to lock the focus and then wait for the subject to appear in the right place, or you can recompose the shot without the focus shifting.
[nextpage title=”Performance & Verdict” ]
Checking a range of images shot throughout the lens aperture range reveals that the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro is sharp even wide-open. Furthermore, that sharpness is maintained well across the image frame, so you don’t need to worry about keeping your subject towards the centre of the frame.
One of the claims made for the M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro is that it has ‘feathered’ bokeh, which means that out of focus areas are soft with a nice transition from sharp to soft and no harsh edges to highlights. That is borne out by the images I’ve shot.
While shooting at f/1.2 with a Micro Four Thirds camera doesn’t restrict depth of field as much as with a full-frame camera, the degree of blur achieved at the widest aperture setting is very pleasing. With a head shot, for example, you don’t run the risk of the subject’s eyelashes being sharp and their pupils not, but a background that is a couple of feet or more away will be very blurred.
In the landscape format head shots I took at f/1.2 there’s a zone about 6cm/2.3-inches deep that is sharp. That’s workable depth that still has plenty of creative potential.
It’s interesting to see the difference in sharpness as the aperture is closed down 1/3EV at a time. I shot a few sequences and put them in our Flickr album so you can take a look.
Distortion, Aberration and Vignetting
I was unable to see any distortion in the images I shot with the M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro, even those with straight lines such as in a brick wall.
Looking at 100% on-screen, I found just the merest hint of chromatic aberration along a couple of backlit edges, but it isn’t visible at normal viewing sizes and is easily removed from the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw.
Although you may be able to spot a little vignetting if you shoot a uniform subject wide-open, it’s not a problem in most normal shooting situations. Again, if it offends, it can be removed in processing but many portrait photographers prefer to add a little corner shaping to help centre attention on their subject.
I used the M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, which has an excellent autofocus system, and it didn’t disappoint with the new lens. It got subjects sharp quickly.
Face Priority AF with the nearside eye having priority is useful to ensure you get the focus in the right place with portrait subjects. Alternatively, it’s a good idea to select a small AF point so you can be sure the camera homes in on the most important part of the scene.
I didn’t encounter any situations when the autofocus failed so I needed to focus manually, but I did so as part of the test. There’s plenty of detail visible in the magnified view that can be set to activate as soon as the focus ring is rotated so it’s easy to get the subject sharp.
Follow this link to browse and download full resolution images
The introduction of the M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro and M. Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro lenses extends Olympus’s Pro range of lenses to 9, covering focal lengths from 7mm to 300mm (equivalent to 14-600mm).
The 45mm f/1.2 is a high-quality lens that is a good match for the OM-D E-M1 II and E-M5 II, having weatherproof and dust-proofing and a solid build. It also delivers superb images with sharp details and attractive out of focus areas (bokeh). Distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting are all controlled extremely well.
Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro Rating
Overall Score: [usr 4.5 text=”false” size=20]
Features: [usr 4.0 text=”false”]
Build and Handling: [usr 4.0 text=”false”]
Performance: [usr 4.5 text=”false”]
Image Quality: [usr 4.5 text=”false”]
Should I buy the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro?
With a launch price of £1,199.99/$1,199.99, the M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro isn’t for everyone, but if you’re serious about portrait photography, or want to be, and have a Micro Four Thirds camera, it makes a great choice. As I said earlier, it’s a particularly good match for the OM-D E-M1 II and E-M5 II.
Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F/1.2 Pro Sample Images