Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro M.Zuiko Digital ED

 
Lens Reviews / Olympus Lenses i Lab tested
45mm $1,199
average price
image of Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro M.Zuiko Digital ED

Lab Test Results

  • Blur
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Vignetting
  • Geometric Distortion

Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro Review

by

Updates:
12/07/2017: Gallery Images posted
05/31/2018: Review added

Need a 34mm-eq. f/1.2 prime (~35mm-eq, but who's counting)? Check. Need a 50mm-eq. f/1.2 prime? Also check. Now, what about an oh-so-nice, premium portrait lens with a 90mm-eq. focal length and a bright f/1.2 aperture? Well, Olympus has you covered there, too. The third and longest focal length lens of their recent Zuiko Pro f/1.2 trinity, the 45mm f/1.2 Pro debuted alongside the 17mm f/1.2 back in 2017, about a year or so after the first f/1.2 prime, the 25mm, came out at Photokina 2016.

The 90mm f/1.2 Pro shares nearly identical physical dimensions to its other f/1.2 Pro siblings, which is rather impressive given the longer focal length combined with the ultra-bright aperture. In our testing, both 17mm and 25mm displayed fantastic results, so it's no surprise that the 45mm f/1.2 Pro also earned top marks. In fact, we awarded the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro a "Lens of Distinction" award for Best Portrait Prime of 2017. Read on below for all the testing results that lead us to that conclusion...

Sharpness

Olympus's recent Zuiko Pro lenses, both zooms and primes, have all shown stunning results when it comes to sharpness, and the 45mm f/1.2 Pro is no exception. Even wide open, the lens displays excellent sharpness across the entire frame. We measured a slight increase in sharpness if you stop down slightly, down to f/2.8, but overall, increase in sharpness is quite subtle compared to wide open. Although with a lens like this, you're unlikely to shoot it stopped down significantly, but nevertheless the 45mm f/1.2 still offers fantastic sharpness at f/11. We do, finally, see some diffraction-related softness appear by f/16, the lens' narrowest aperture.

Chromatic Aberration

The 45mm f/1.2 Pro lens does really well at controlling chromatic aberration. With the 25mm f/1.2, we noticed a bit more CA, particularly at the wider apertures, however both the 45mm f/1.2 and 17mm f/1.2 lens display less CA. On average, with the 45mm lens in particular, it shows the best CA control of all three Olympus f/1.2 primes. Across the aperture range of the 45mm lens, we measured CA on average at under three-hundredths of a percent of frame height. Examining our test shots, CA is visually indeed very minimal, with slight cyan and magenta fringing on high contrast edges mainly out towards the edges of the frame.

Vignetting

Vignetting, overall, is quite minimal on the 45mm f/1.2, although we do observe slight corner shading at the brighter aperture -- much like we do with the other f/1.2 primes. Though not by a significant amount, the 45mm f/1.2 displays the lowest vignetting compared to the other Zuiko f/1.2 Pro prime lenses. At f/1.2, we measure less than 0.5 stops of light falloff in the corners. Vignetting then steadily decreases to a barely-noticeable level around f/4-5.6, and then remains extremely minimal for the rest of the aperture settings.

Distortion

Given the longer 90mm-eq. focal length, it's no surprise that the 45mm f/1.2 shows minimal distortion. And when we say "very minimal," we mean our averaged number hovers almost directly at the 0% mark.

Autofocus

No issues with autofocus performance on the 45mm f/1.2 Pro. Like other Olympus lenses, the 45mm f/1.2 lens uses an electronic focus-by-wire system, making for extremely fast and very silent AF functionality. Short focus changes are nearly instantaneously, and racking focus from its minimum focusing distance to infinity is very fast, too, at less than a second.

For manual focus, the focus ring isn't mechanically coupled to the lens elements due to the electronic focus-by-wire design. As such, the focusing ring will turn indefinitely while it's in the AF position. AF results can be overridden on Olympus bodies by setting the focusing mode to "S-AF + MF" mode and rotating the focus ring at any time. For full manual focus, with the focus ring pulled back, the lens has hard rotation stops at either end and only takes about 45 degrees of rotation to rack through the full focusing range.

Macro

This lens is not designed for macro photography, offering only a 0.1x magnification factor (1:10 ratio; or 0.2x / 1:5 in 35mm-eq terms). Plus, with a minimum focusing distance of 50cm (19.7 in.), the lens isn't the best for general close-up photography either.

Build Quality and Handling

As mentioned earlier, the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro is nearly identical in size, shape and weight to the 17mm and 25mm f/1.2 Pro primes, which means it's impressively small for a 90mm-eq. f/1.2 medium-telephoto prime. At about 3.3 inches (84.9mm) long and around 2.7 inches (70mm) in diameter, the 45mm f/1.2 weigh 14.5 oz (410g) and features the same 62mm filter thread size as its shorter-focal length siblings.

Seeing as its part of the "Zuiko Pro" series of Olympus Micro Four Thirds lenses, the 45mm f/1.2 offers the most robust, most premium build quality out of Olympus' MFT lens family. Like other Zuiko Pro lenses, the 45mm f/1.2 is fully weather-sealed against dust, moisture and freezing temps thanks to its tough, nearly all-metal construction and extensive sealing and gaskets (including one around the lens mount).

If you've seen or held another Zuiko Pro zoom lens or one of the other f/1.2 primes, you'll already be familiar with how the lens feels and handles. The lens feels very solid and extremely well-built with a nice heft to it despite its relatively compact size -- it weighs-in at 14.5 oz (410g). It's not heavy, by any means, and balances very nicely on most Micro Four Thirds cameras, especially larger bodies like the E-M1 Mark II or E-M5 Mark II. Very compact MFT cameras, however, like the Panasonic GX850 or GM5 for example, will feel front-heavy with the 45mm f/1.2 Pro attached.

As mentioned in the AF section above, the 45mm f/1.2, like other Zuiko Pro lenses, features a pull-back, or clutch-style, focusing ring that serves as its AF/MF toggle switch. With an electrical focus-by-wire AF system, the lens' focus ring will rotate freely while in AF mode. However, when pulled back into manual focus mode, the ring offers a smooth rotational feel with enough resistance for accurate focus adjustments without a high risk of accident focus changes. There is a distance and depth-of-field scale, too, which is revealed when the focus ring is in MF mode. Other than the focus ring, the only other button is the user-programmable "L-Fn" button. Otherwise, all lens functions are controlled by the camera.

As for the optical layout, the 45mm f/1.2 features a different design compared to the other f/1.2 primes but nonetheless packs a high number of lens elements. In total, there are 14 elements placed into ten groups, and the lens construction consists of a variety of exotic elements, including one ED (Extra-low Dispersion), one aspherical and four HR (High Refractive index) elements. All these elements work together to help reduce optical aberrations, such as axial CA and color bleeding, as well as factoring into Olympus' tweaked "feathered bokeh" design for more pleasing, softer gradations in out-of-focus areas. The lens also features a 9-bladed circular aperture diaphragm.

Alternatives

If you're in the market for a short telephoto prime lens with a fast, bright aperture for your Micro Four Thirds camera, the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro is one of the best ones out there. But, at $1200, it's certainly a pricey prime, making it a difficult choice for some. There are all alternatives, however...

If you want to stay in the Olympus camp, the primary alternative to the 45mm f/1.2 is the ultra-small 45mm f/1.8 lens. This lens is a fantastic bang-for-your-buck at only $300. The image quality is terrific, even at f/1.8, and the lens is super-small at less than 2-inches long and weighing only 4.1 oz. Of course, you don't get that fast f/1.2 aperture nor do you get rugged, weather-sealed build quality, but seeing as the 45mm f/1.8 is a whopping $900 cheaper, it's hard to ignore this little lens unless you're a professional or now you need those f/1.2 Pro features.

On the Panasonic side of the aisle, they too have a pair of ~45mm primes, one expensive, and the other more affordable. Compared to the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro, the most direct competitor is the Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2 Nocticron. This hefty, pro-level, and similarly-priced prime lens also offers fast f/1.2 aperture yet a slightly shorter 85mm-eq. focal length -- still in classic portrait territory, of course. Like the Olympus, the Nocticron here provides similarly excellent image quality, with tack-sharp images even at f/1.2. Vignetting is a little stronger wide-open that on the Olympus 45mm f/1.2, but overall both lenses are very similar -- you just need to decide whether you want Panasonic or Olympus or 85mm-eq. or 90mm-eq.

Lastly, there is the budget- and size-friendly Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 lens. Like the Olympus 45mm f/1.8, this little Lumix lens is significantly smaller, lighter and way more affordable than either the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 and the Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2 Nocticron. At $350, it's a little pricier than the Olympus 45mm f/1.8, but not by much. Optical performance is excellent, even wide-open, and CA, vignetting and distortion all well-behaved. Again, you lose some light-gathering capabilities and weather-sealing, but the lens is a fantastic value.

Conclusion

Overall, the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro is yet another stunning lens for Micro Four Thirds photographers. Just like the two other f/1.2 Zuiko Pro primes, this longer portrait-centric version combines tack-sharp imaging performance with rugged, durable build quality. Now, is the $1200 price justified? Hard to say, as the less expensive alternatives are quite impressive on their own without the big hit to the checking account. But, if you're a serious photographer or a professional and in need of one of the best portrait prime lenses for Micro Four Thirds, the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro is that lens.

Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro M.Zuiko Digital ED User Reviews

10.0/10 average of 1 reviews Build Quality 10.0/10 Image Quality 10.0/10
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (6 reviews)
    stunning optical performance beautiful bokeh fast and reliable AF
    Price, weight and size

    I bought this lens a couple of months ago after testing a total of five samples.
    My tests are "unscientific", buildings at different f-stops, and thereafter every-day photography with varying light and objects.
    Fully open the performance of this lens is at such a level that you feel there is nothing more you could ask for. Excellent contrast and sharpness throughout the entire image, even the most outer corners. Stopping down to 1.2 and 2.0 show that even more is possible. Razor-sharp and excellent micro-contrast right to the very edges.
    This is probably the best lens in its range I have had in my hands - ever. Would be interesting to see a comparison to Leica Apo-Summicron 90mm.
    The lens gives me the feeling to being right in itself, it feels well balanced in every respect, harmonious - it is difficult to put into words.

    reviewed March 9th, 2018 (purchased for $1,236)