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New Olympus 45mm review (20mm pancake for $350)


The 45mm lens is the first form the left (Image courtesy PekkaPotka)

There is a new Olympus 45mm review made by Robin Wong (Click here): “To be honest, I did not have high expectations on this particular lens, nor did Olympus claim anything extraordinary about the 45mm. Seeing it so tiny and having such light weight, one would surely doubt its performance and image quality. I was about to be proven so wrong. This tiny lens is mightier than it appears to be. Do not let the cuteness fool you.

You can search for lens preorders by clicking those links at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay.

A hot US deal: The Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake is in Stock for $350 via third party resellers at Amazon (Click here).

P.S: PekkaPotka posted some 45mm image samples on his website

  • stopkidding

    Delicious!! Next on the list.

  • Agrivar

    The Digitalrev link doesnt point to anything..

  • Faidz

    You got the name wrong, it’s Robin Wong, not Robert.

  • Jack

    It’s a great lens, but I don’t like his review style

  • Voldenuit

    The reviewer needed to test the lens at smaller apertures to see how the bokeh and highlight rendering fares.

    Many lenses have creamy bokeh wide open, but the bokeh can get busy and OOF highlights can be polygonized at smaller apertures. Also, focus distance can affect bokeh characteristics.

    For example, my 20/1.7 has its best bokeh at close distances and as small as f/2. Any smaller and the bokeh can start getting busy.

    Because all the shots with the 45/1.8 were taken wide open, it’s hard to judge what the overall bokeh characteristics of the lens may be.

    • On the other hand, some lenses get much better bokeh stopped down. The Nokton 40/1.4 is a prime example of this.

      • Voldenuit

        I actually don’t like the Nokton 40/1.4 stopped down. The bokeh is chunky and busy, though to to be fair, it is not the most obnoxious CV lens in this regard. For really creamy bokeh, they don’t compare to legacy Zeiss or Leica M and R lenses.

        As to people who comment that the 45 should always be shot wide open, I think that there is overuse of fast apertures among many photographers simply because “it’s there”. Case in point in the gallery that Robin Wong posted – there were quite a lot of images that might have benefited compositionally from /slightly/ more DOF. Stopping down to f/2.8 or f/3.5 would have improved some of those shots.

        Part of what makes lenses good is that they should have a wide “sweet spot” to allow the photographer more creative control and options, and it would have been nice to see how the 45/1.8 fares in this regard.

    • Parci

      Yeah, but in terms of bokeh, that is the most interesting question really. At f2.8+, you start to have a lot more things in focus anyway…

      • Agree! A 90mm equivalent prime with f/1.8 max aperture is a specialty lens, and i guess if i got one i would be using it wide open most of the time, otherwise why bother? If you don’t need the max aperture, just grab your kit lens, put it to 45mm and stop down to f/5.6 of f/8…

        So yes, for me at least, wide open performance is the most meaningful parameter for such a lens…

        • But if you have the 45 (and the 12 and 20), why even bother carrying the kit lens?

        • Voldenuit

          If you have a macro lens, you don’t HAVE to shoot every image at 1:1 magnification (and it would be ludicrous to even propose that).

          Similarly, if you get a fast lens, you don’t HAVE to shoot every image wide open.

          I’m not saying image quality wide open is not important (or even not the most important parameter when shopping for fast lenses), but image quality stopped down is also important, and it would have been nice to show.

        • Michael

          it is not a 90mm f1.8 equivalent!

          you need to put the f stop in perspective too.. (2 stops slower because of the 2x sensor crop)

          so it is only a 90mm f3.5

          • Not 100% sure of my facts here but…..

            It’s a 90mm f/3.6 only with reference to depth of field 35mm equivalent ?

            Surely it’s an f/1.8 with reference to the amount of light it gathers at a given ISO and shutter speed?

            • Chez Wimpy

              >Surely it’s an f/1.8 with reference to the amount of light it gathers at a given ISO and shutter speed?

              Yes, but only over a given amount of surface area. Not the total light collected. FF has 4x the photon count for the same aperture lens, so unless you are printing at 1/4 the size, or you have a perfect quantum efficiency m43 sensor with ideal readout noise (as if…) you are not getting any better than a 90mm f3.5 lens on FF. Bottom line, it makes any lens seem “cooler” to call it a 90mm f1.8 equivalent (a lens with a 50mm+ aperture), but that is disingenuous. Brazenly doubling the focal length and willfully ignoring any affect on aperture scaling (put simply, total light collection), doesn’t change the fact that it is still a 45mm f1.8 lens (with a 37mm filter size). By this logic, you can carry a 200mm f1.2 lens equivalent in your *pocket*… for your cellphone camera of course.

          • Anonymous

            I think the equivalent Of the F-stop still remain the sameas F1.8 in term shutter speed but the DoF is become F/3.5 on Full Frame body

    • WT21

      Good reminder. Thanks.

    • Jim

      Yeh but having said that, close down any further and you kinda negate the use for the lens and might as well just slap the kit zoom back on… has ok blur for f5.6 but by this time DOF is huge anyway… I think in all reality 90% of shots taken with this lens will be at f1.8.. which is why it needs to deliver wide open (and does)!

      Same goes for the 20mm If I had it I know that it would stay at f1.7 90% of the time!

      • Voldenuit

        The sweet spot (for me, anyway) for the 20/1.7 is between f/2 and f/3.2. The lens vignettes quite a lot wide open, and the edge sharpness and exposure evenness rises quite dramatically when you stop down even a bit.

        I usually shoot most of my images at f/2. It can be quite challenging (for me) to take good shots at smaller apertures – I have to be mindful of busy bokeh, and because there is less subject isolation, good composition becomes more critical in order to produce a captivating image.

  • MikeHJ

    The reviewer was shooting under very dark condition, where he needed to push his ISO up to 1600. I do not think stopping down the aperture would be a wise thing to do.
    Like Robin mentioned in his blog, the write up is about practical usage of the lens. He reviewed the lens, tested it in real life shooting conditions. From his series of photographs, they seemed like the Oly 45mm did a splendid job. You got to admit those shots are rather impressive.

    • Jim

      agree – I would love m43 to get to the point where ISO3200 is very good as even with f1.4s I find I always am fighting shutter speed with ISO1600 (and I find 1600ISO a bit ruff)… maybe the next gen EP4 will deliver a camera that ticks all the boxes… better ISO + DR and tilt touch screen with the 12mm, 25mm, 45mm, 14-45, 45-150, 70-300 will be a very excelent and small kit! bar a fast zoom it would have everything well covered! A system I dare dream for…

      I mean with these things covered you can forget any FF DSLR except for shooting bullets in flight at night!

    • Voldenuit

      A lot of those shots were also taken at 1/320 or 1/200s, which meant that there was at least 1-2 stops of aperture and ISO headroom to play with (especially with IBIS).

      It seems as if he just slapped the ISO to 1600 and the aperture to F1.8 and then *forgot about controlling other parameters* when composing his shots.

      Now it’s hard to have the time to fiddle with candids, but a lot of the still life shots could easily have been taken at varying apertures to examine the characteristics of the lens.

      • deniz

        it looks like the images are from some kind of street show. 1/320 is barely enough if people are dancing around.

        BUT, i also think this “real life test” is kind of pointless with the grain killing whatever detail there is, and the motion blur, and the boring shots. besides, this is a portrait lens, not a night lens. i would like to see how the lens behaves under good light with a model, maybe some foliage in the background. :/

        • voldenuit

          None of the 1/320 shots are of moving subjects. Most of the dance pics are in the 1/80 to 1/125s range, in which case Robin’s choice of shooting wide open and at ISO1600 are fully justified.

          I’m just asking that he include some smaller aperture shots of the still life pics so as to give us a better idea of how the lens behaves when stopped down.

  • For Robin Wong simply everything Olympus does is brilliant, extraordinary,
    outstanding and phenomenal. So his reviews are of little value…

    • WT21

      Early looks are early looks. Regardless of Robin’s opinions, it’s good to hear the feedback on AF and see some sample output. So, the posting is of some value.

    • Katsunami

      That his review is of little value is a comment I do not agree with. Even if he is an “Olympus-freak”, the pictures created by the lens and camera don’t lie. (Of course, I hope that HE is not trying to make the lens look better and that the pictures are indeed straight conversions from RAW to JPG without any other editing.)

    • taran

      Yes Soren, while that may be true, the photos don’t lie. Even though an olympus fanboy, he is a good example of what the lens can do, simply because he is not a great photographer. What we can see, in pretty tough light… the E-P3 can acquire focus and deliver good results, in the hands of an amateur. These results are almost unheard of for this focal length prior to this generation of cameras/lenses. It’s good to have real world samples.

      • These are my hopes, too that I can achieve something close to what Robin does. Having a small kit to carry around with you like the E-P3 and mZuiko 45mm F1.8 would encourage me to take the camera more with me and try to improve my skills.

  • One question: are the new oly primes ever coming IN BLACK???

    • I used a black prototype several weeks ago. So probably yes.

      • That’s some great news…thanks for sharing…

  • The M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 prime is actually the first Olympus lens that I am interested in enough to buy without hesitation. Yes, the 12mm F2.0 is very sexy, but I just don’t think I would use it enough. But my Leica 45mm F2.8 is my second most used lens after the Lumix 20mm pancake. I Just sometimes wish it were a little faster. Like the M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8.

  • henrik

    There are many reviews of books, movies and now lenses that start like “I expected this and this and this”. This is fine writing, and even delivered free to my door via the world wide würg.

  • stopkidding

    Wow if thi forum is a sample of people around the world then I would conclude that the world is full of bitter mean cynics. Why do people pretend to be “professional” anythings around here?

  • Chris K.

    Would kill if it had a snapshot focus ring like the 12mm…(Which, arguably, needs manual focus less unless you’re using it for closeup work.)

    Still very bright for 45mm.

    • admin


  • Hi I’m Martin I follow your website in a while a really good job thanks.

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