Full circle: Olympus 45mm f/1.8 take 2

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I started my digital interchangeable lens journey a few years ago with the wonderful, humble little Olympus E-PL5 with a kit lens.

This was a wonderful starting point that allowed me to capture some wonderful shots of DC day 1.

Washington DC

I was hooked. Many MFT accessories and lenses followed, but one lens I loved was the Olympus 45mm f/1.8.

After some time I moved on from the E-PL5 to the E-P5 and then on to other brands, sensor sizes, and mediums, but I have always had a soft spot for Micro Four Thirds, especially the Olympus cameras I started with. Two photos I had taken with it even won spots in an office photo contest at UNC ISD hanging up there until we moved (Below, 1st of Co-op City, The Bronx and the 2nd in the butterfly house of the Durham Life and Science Museum. Both using my favorite inexpensive zoom ever, the pedestrian 40-150mm, but more on that later.).

Co-Op City, The Bronx

Butterfly house

But I digress. May be asking yourself, “So what does this have to do with the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 if you left MFT?” Glad you asked. In an odd series of recent events, that any photographer (or hobbyist in general) would understand, that started with picking up a bargain priced G7 I ended up trading some film gear on a lightly used Olympus PEN-F/17mm f/1.8 to go alongside some analog Olympus gear picked over the last 4 years.

I then set upon acquiring my favorite Olympus lenses that I had sampled years ago. The 45mm ranked high on this list but had one competitor for my attention, the much ballyhooed 75mm f/1.8 (which I never owned). After a test run at the local camera shop the 45mm won out for 3 reasons:

  1. Cost: At $749 new and around $600 second hand at best it went against one of my main reasons for adding micro four thirds. Lightweight and lower cost. A second-hand 45mm could be had for a third of that price.
  2. Size: While the 75mm is small for a 150mm equivalent lens, the 45mm was much smaller.
  3. Usefulness: A 45mm (90mm equivalent) was more flexible than a 75mm (150mm would be) in daily use while still offering low distortion and great subject isolation.

I did not even consider the newer 45mm and 42.5mm f/1.2 offerings from Olympus and Panasonic since they were way out of my price range. So another 45mm f/1.8 it was (This time silver, since that is what they had used.).

Thoughts so far? While I have been focusing my digital format attention on full frame recently I have been quickly reminded of how capable, small, lightweight, and affordable MFT can be. Take a look at the quick test shots below of Manu Jarvis focusing on him and his camera for example:

Olympus PEN-F

Olympus PEN-F

I could not ask for better. High points:

  • Light weight.
  • Reasonably priced for a 90mm equivalent focal length at $249 new or even less used (picked up mine from a local camera shop).
  • Sharp. Sharp. Sharp.
  • Pleasing bokeh along with subject isolation.
  • Very quick and quiet focusing, especially on a current Olympus body.
  • Also has good reach. Zoom lenses were banned in this arena below, but I was able to get these shots from the top nosebleed seats with the tiny 45mm.

TWC Arena Charlotte Bobcats

Still there? Great. Below are a couple more samples and here is a link to an ongoing gallery. Check back as I will be adding posts on more MFT gear. Happy shooting.



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