I had a very specific objective to achieve last weekend, to answer a popularly asked question sent by readers via emails as well as in the comment section of this blog: how does the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Pancake Lens compare to the M,Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ? I went to Petaling Street and wanted to shoot these two kit lenses side by side and do a full blog entry on advantages and disadvantages of having either one lens. All went according to plan, until I arrived at Petaling Street and discovered that I have accidentally left the 12-50mm lens back at home. I think it is a sign that I had too many things going on in my head and I do need to slow down a little.
I had the new Olympus PEN-F with me, and I thought why not just shoot on the streets as usual, and digging into the camera bag I have brought along my favourite M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8, which I have then made a quick decision to shoot with for the rest of the morning. No matter what lenses I use on the street, I always fall back to this beautiful medium-telephoto focal length, and 45mm just fits my compositional vision almost perfectly. I fully understand why some people would find this lens to be a bit too far for comfortable framing, but when that tight composition works beautifully if you plan ahead and work with it!
Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 on the PEN-F
Small and light, yet a powerful and versatile combination to work with on the street
In this blog entry, I shall share my reasons why I love this M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens so much!
1) COMFORTABLE SHOOTING DISTANCE
I acknowledge that in order to create impactful photographs, we need to step in as close as we can to the subject. After all, if your photograph is not good enough, you are not close enough, said a very popular photographer once. However, when I am shooting on the streets, especially when I approach strangers. it is not too easy to just intrude their personal space and point the lens too near to them. I strongly believe that people are more natural looking in the way they look at your camera if you do not stand too close to them, point your lens directly in front of their faces and make them feel threatened/uncomfortable. Take a few steps back, respect the comfort zone, keep an arm's length distance and this usually works for me. It is comfortable for the subject, as well as the photographer.
One of the main reasons to own a higher grade camera such as the Micro Four Thirds system, DSLR or any other mirrorless interchangeable lens camera system, is to be able to produce shallow depth of field in the photograph, isolating the main subject from the background. Being able to blur off the background is something I treasure, and the Olympus 45mm F1.8 does this very well, being a medium telephoto range as well as having a wide open aperture of F1.8. The rendering of the bokeh? Simply creamy and beautiful. Just what I needed to make some portrait shots "pop". I also noted that some readers have attributed my style of close up portraits as being "robinesque": well, to get that look, the lens used was M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8.
3) CAPABILITIES OF A PRIME LENS
While I always treasure the flexibility of zoom lenses, the fact remains true that prime lenses will always trump zoom lenses when it comes to absolute technical control of the lens, as well as overall image quality output. The Olympus 45mm F1.8 was the first F1.8 lens released by Olympus, and surely the first few available in the Micro Four Thirds line-up, and has always remained high in demand with good reasons: it is one hell of a capable prime lens. The lens is super sharp, and you can get very sharp image even by shooting wide open at F1.8, unlike certain other (not going to mention brands here I still want to stay alive thank you) equivalent lenses from other manufacturers. It is just difficult not to fall in love with what this lens is producing again and again.
4) SMALL & LIGHT
Being such a small lens, people usually do not know it was quite a long lens. You see, when I am shooting portraits on the streets, people usually assume I am shooting at least half of their body, and they do not realize that I was shooting their headshots! Of course most of the strangers I came across are not photography-literate. Being so small and so light, I can carry the lens on any small Micro Four Thirds body (used it on Panasonic GM1 before, what a nice combination) and shoot for the entire day without feeling any burden or strain.
Same as all Olympus lenses now, the focusing with this lens is super fast. I know all camera manufacturers are claiming to be the fastest and best when it comes to AF, but seriously, this Olympus M.Zuiko lenses just works: they are blazing fast and they are dead-on accurate.
Father & Son
This is an example of a shot when the 45mm F1.8 lens was the perfect lens, instead of using wider angle focal lengths. If I step in a few meters nearer, they would have noticed me and this will not turn out to be as natural.
Portrait of a Stranger
Super tight portraits with beautiful bokeh. Oh and the lens is incredibly sharp!
Despite the Micro Four Thirds system having smaller image sensor and being seen as inferior when it comes to shallow depth of field rendering, to me personally this 45mm F1.8 lens renders sufficient background blur to adequately isolate my subjects. More is not necessarily a good thing as I needed both of them to be in focus.
With arms wide open
Head in my Hands
I am sure by now, many of you have that M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens with you! Please do share your experience.