Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Reasons Why I Love Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 Lens

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. 

2) BOKEH
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. 

5) FAST
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!

Red Shirts
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. 

The Follower

The Backalley

Raw Meat

With arms wide open

Head in my Hands

Aluminium Can

Warm Light

Flat White

I am sure by now, many of you have that M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens with you! Please do share your experience. 

36 comments :

  1. I love your "Warm Light" picture. Oh, and of course I also love my 45mm/1.8, maybe even more than the PanaLeica 25mm/1.4. Both have their purposes, but the angle of view of the 45mm often suits me better. And it's at least as sharp if not even better than the shorter one.

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    1. Thanks! I like that shot a lot too. I also use 25mm F1.8 a lot. I usually will use 45mm if I feel more "hardworking". 25mm is a lot easier to compose since it is wider but I often get too complacent and do not think as hard as when I use 45mm.

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  2. The 45mm 1.8 is my Olympus lens that consistently produces shots that people draw their breath in and say, "Oh, wow!"

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  3. I love your 45 work especially and i love my 45/1.8. I've just got my 25/1.8 and still in honeymoon phase - it hasnt come off my omd em5 yet. Is it ok to love two lenses? Intstagram @beanlanda

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    1. Sure, both are amazing lenses! I love them both too.

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  4. The 45mm 1.8 is a great lens, but I comfort zone to the 25mm 1.8.
    Love the 'Warm Light' image Robin; that's my thing, wonderful.

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    1. Thanks Alan! That 25mm F1.8 is also a great lens!

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  6. Totally agreed this is also my favorite lens^_^

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  7. What's your ideal lens for landscape with subject? Will the kit lens be good enough? Thanks.

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    1. I don't do much landscape. I'd imagine 7-14mm F2.8 PRO would be a good lens, if I can afford it. I have a 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 kit lens which I use frequently.

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  8. "works beautifully if you plan ahead and work with it!"--sounds like good advice for the 17.5mm f/1.8 lens, also. ;-)

    I rarely use fixed focal length lenses but the Panasonic/Leica 15mm f/1.7 appeals to me and works well for stills and video. I'm still happier with zoom lenses, though.

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    1. I'd imagine 17mm is easier to frame since it is wider and for most close range subjects you do not have to step back many steps to compose. But yes that 15mm F1.7 is one great lens. I have not tried one extensively though.

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  9. Proud to own the 45 Zuico and 0md em 10 combo, lovely blog and beautiful pics as usual. The way magician creates magic with his wand Robin creates magic with the Olympus system. The wand should be renamed wong in the latest Oxford dictionary to denote the same meaning. Cheers

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. The 45mm works like a charm on the E-M10!

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  10. I have this lens and it is beatiful. It makes a nice pair with the 17 mm (I have the 2.8 and am thinking to upgrade to the 1.8): very light and capable. Together with the e-pm1 they weight less than half a kilogram!

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    1. Owwhh using those small lenses on E-PM1, what a great idea!

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    2. You know, I mostly do landscape photography and have to bring camera and lenses on my backpack while climbing or walking. This is why I so much like having a light equipment! And thanks for sharing your pictures, Robin, they are lovely.

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    3. You know, I mostly do landscape photography and have to bring camera and lenses on my backpack while climbing or walking. This is why I so much like having a light equipment! And thanks for sharing your pictures, Robin, they are lovely.

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  11. I owned one but don't street shoot so I traded it and got the 12-40mm f2.8 pro which I love.
    Better for me as a food photographer. veggiepowerburgers.com

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    1. I'd think 45mm is great for food shots!

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  12. I like "warm light"!
    I've sold my 45mm, because I have'nt used it enough. But I'm thinking, that was a fault and re-buyed it.

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  13. Official PEN-F Kit With M.ZUIKO 17mm F1.8, should I change the Lense to 45mm?

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    1. I think 17mm F1.8 is a great all around lens. 45mm will give you a much tighter perspective, but it is complementary to use alongside 17mm.

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    2. Agreed. For travel or going somewhere with my (very young) kids, I want to travel light and that is one of the reasons I switched to m4/3 in the first place. I use to bring my camera (Panasonic GX7) with the Oly 17mm 1.8 and the 45mm 1.8 (any of those lenses fit in jacket pocket). This gives great results and flexibility.

      However, I do not like the 17 1.8 as much as the 45mm 1.8 shooting wide open, and I stop down the 17 mm to 2.8 at least (I am not saying that the results of the 17mm at 1.8 are horrible at all, it is simply that the results of the 45mm at 1.8 are awesome).

      In fact, I have a friend who had a Nikon D7000 with the kit lens and after seeing my pictures with the 45 1.8 and the size/weight advantages, she just switched to m4/3!

      By the way, thank you for your wonderful blog and inspiring pictures.

      Carlos from Madrid (Spain)

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  14. The 45mm was the 1st lens I bought for my P5. Amazingly cheap for what it offers, especially for me who shooting in many night events, indoors too, where I need many brightness. Exceptional performance in all conditions, sometimes the field is a little tight and for this I was thinking about taking the 25mm. I also have 17mm, valid but too wide for me. The real monster is the 75mm (bought in Borneo...), allows me to shoot at concerts by the right distance with a sharpness and color rendering to scream!

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  15. Hi, love your blog - very informative for me as a relatively new m43 user. I have the omd em5 with the 45mm. I am having some trouble nailing the focus area from time to time, what would you say is the best position for the autofocus point? In the grid so to speak. The touch screen focus nails it most of the time but i don't want to be stuck with only that use of the camera. Thanks Johan, Bauding Design.

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  16. Hi Robin, Zuiko 45 is my fav len too, i love its lightwweight, my friend who using Fuji 56/1.2 is very surprise with 45/1.8. Anw, I kove your photo style, that was my pleasant if you could share your lightroom preset or psd action, many thanks.
    Tronghung1987@gmail.com

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  17. Totally agree. Love this lens. In fact, it was a primary reason I bought m43 in the first place. I also have Nikon D7000 and D600, and when I shoot with the 35mm f/1.8 (DX) and 50mm f/1.4 on them, I cannot beat the IQ I get from the EM5 II + 45mm, especially when I shoot in low light at slow shutter speeds, which is ironic, because that is supposed to be a situation where larger sensors win. But the fast aperture plus the IBIS of the EM5 II is a winning combination. I can keep the ISO at 200 and shoot as slow as 1/10 of a second and get super sharp images. With the Nikon primes, I get no stabilization, I have to crank the ISO up to get an acceptably fast shutter speed, and even then I can't nail the focus or hold the camera still enough to beat the Olympus.

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