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Olympus 12 and 45mm lens review. And how to upgrade your m43 system (ThePhoBlographer)


I have two new lens reviews and a new article from ThePhoBlographer to share today:

The Online Photographer (Click here) tested the amazing Olympus 12mm f/2.0 and is surprisingly unsatisfied with it: “This is not a bad lens. But it is no better than merely good, and its performance doesn’t come anywhere close to justifying an $800 price tag.” This is probably the very first negative review of the lens. So it’s worth to read it! They also reviewed the 45mm Olympus lens last week and that’s a lens they absolutely like: “All in all, I think this lens is worth every bit of the $400 price tag. Even if it weren’t a fast lens, it would deserve accolades. It is that good.” And also SLRgear (Click here) highly recommends that lens “With excellent test results, this is a no-brainer of a conclusion – it’s a great and inexpensive addition to your Olympus PEN kit, especially if you’re a portrait shooter“.

Here are the links to both lenses to check price and in Stock status:
Olympus 12mm f/2.0 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay.
Olympus 45mm f/1.8 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay.

ThePhoBlographer (Click here) explains you how to upgrade you Micro Four Thirds Camera System. It’s a short guide for beginners!

P.S.: For european readers, the Nokton 25mm f/0.95 is in Stock for 719 Euro only on eBay France (Click here).

  • Neicila

    I’ve got this 45mm lens (and the pana 20mm pancake) on my G3 since 2 months and it is amazing.

    • Would you tell me please whether the focus is as fast as it should be on G3 as well?

  • Hope I will get my 45mm next week, its for almost 2 months in backorder at Redcoon (for 249 Euro)

    • Jan de Wit

      I got the oly 45mm + 12mm and Pana 20mm pancake on the EP-3 and love all of them.

      The 45mm also took me about 1 month to receive from
      But it is well worth the wait. And the price is just great for 249,- euro.

    • Pete

      I hate those shops! They kill the prices but can’ t deliver. Sometimes there will be no real shops anymore to

      see it,
      feel it,
      touch it,
      buy it!

      • Jan de Wit

        I did see it, then felt it and then bought it.

        And the ‘better’ shops, also have no stock. And sometimes the customer service is even worse there!

  • Fan

    It’s easy to misread the 12mm review in one aspect: you can get high-res manual focus by not snapping the ring back and using the camera’s MF setting instead. So it’s a feature, not bad implementation.

  • Joey

    45mm ebay from china

    • Bob B.

      +10…less expensive too, got mine for $399 free shipping.

      • Marcelo

        No import taxes?

      • isaacali

        I got the 45mm for $350 on ebay. The only other lenses i have are the 20mm and 100-300mm. Thinking of picking up a 14mm because the 12mm is out of my price range.

  • I wonder if some of the issues with the lens came from testing with an Ep1 and not the latest crop of Olympus cameras.

    The manual focus issues are really strange though.

  • Tomas

    Price performance ratio of 12/F2, stated in other reviews, the same is true sharpness of corners

  • Bob B.

    POP! What was that sound…that was the sound of Ctein, from the Online Photographer, pulling his head out of his #$% !
    I disagree with pretty much every little gripe he had with the Oly 12mm. I disagree with his general mood when reviewing the lens…kind of like an effeminate man having a hissy fit,
    (hmmmmmmm?). Very unprofessional.
    I own both lenses from Oly…the 45mm and the 12mm. I think that the 12mm is an VERY GOOD lens especially for MFT cameras! Actually BETTER than the 45mm f/1.8, starting right at the build quality and going right on thru all atributes…including focusing speed. I love the way the lens is set up..and I can autofocus on my GF1 and then manually tune the focus in very quickly with the zoom feature if I feel the need.
    Is the lens too expensive..well, yes..I feel that it is (especially the $100 hood I had to order from Hong Kong…but -contrary to many reports- I was pleasantly surprised to see that it does reverse for storage). I think Olympus should include a storage bag and the hood and the price should be around $600-$700. I winched a little about that and then was not surprised to see soon after my purchase that Olympus has major corporate problems…so I see that we have to suffer for that…but the lens….its a REAL WINNER…don’t let Ctein deter you. Perhaps the price will drop a little in the next 6 months and make it an even more attractive purchase.
    Also…I had a friend over last weekend who is a retoucher for a major ad agency in Manhattan, and he pulled up a file that I shot with that lens..and his comment was, WOW, my MFT files don’t look anything like this image! (he meant that in a good way). So, I think my instincts are fine. Have a look.

    • Agree with you Bob my 12mm f.2 is an extraordinary lenses.Some of the portraits and landscapes on my web are made this past summer with this lenses, and I´m really satisfied.I own also the 11-22 4/3 oly and I think the 12mm is even better.The only problem with this lenses in the same of the PL 45 f.2.8 macro, are expensive… is very easy for some people say ,”I expect more from the price”. Ok I´m sorry for them.

      • Bob B.

        Nice work!
        After reading Mahler below…apparently there may be some quality control issues with Oly., but that is not that uncommon with many manufacturers these days. I do not think that Ctein handled the tone of his diatribe very well, even though he may have purchased a bad copy. I recently bought one of the Panasonic 45-175mm X lenses and came to find that the lens had/has IS problems. The cool thing is …that we have a lot of options when things like this happen today. The Web is an amazing tool. The IS problem was quantified by “us” quickly and then there was communication with Pany and very quickly Pany came back with a firmware fix that appears to have addressed the problem, at least on my lens. For me to come out and say that the lens is crap and trash Panasonic wasn’t an option. I could just return the lens if I was THAT disappointed. There are so many great lenses and cameras out there in all formats…it is really an exciting time to be a photographer! We have sooooo many options to create exciting images.

        • Fish

          I don’t mean to suggest that Mahler’s lens, if he has a 12mm, doesn’t have the problems he’s described… but I would take it with a grain of salt. If there were problems with his copy, it would be easy (and helpful) to link a photo that demonstrates what he is claiming. His past posts have made it clear that he is unable to just enjoy his Panasonic products like the rest of us, without attacking Olympus as the competitor.

          For example, his claim that his 45mm lens accumulated “a lot of scratches” after only a few days while not being used much, totally goes against what I have seen in real life. I was one of the first people in my province to get a 45mm and it has been on my camera daily for the past two months – including being in my camera bag with other lenses – and it still does not have any scratches. What was he doing with his lens?

          And to prove that I actually own the 45mm, here is a photo I took today with it (wide open f1.8, straight OOC jpeg with no editing):

          • Bob B.

            Yo Fish…Nice Shot! REally nice!
            I am tired of everyone complaining about the finish on these lenses. (I have 8 Pany and Oly autofocus lenses … all primes except the 45-175mm zoom in silver..its cool.). I like the “shiny” Oly lenses….mainly because they are different! I get board with sameness. (My GF1 is white, with a red shutter release…had to order it from white ones came to the US).
            I will say the 12mm is ALL METAL (made in Japan)…excellent (overpriced), hood for 12mm ALL METAL made in China. This lens has a great finish and is very stylin. The 45mm f/1.8 (I think) is mostly chromed plastic, (I have not seen anything in specs or reviews stating otherwise). that is just what it feels like to me. The focusing ring is definitely plastic. This lens and its separate (overpiced) lens shade are both made in China. It doesn’t come close to the quality of the fit and finish of the 12mm but its half the price and is great where it counts, the image quality. (reference your photo), I will say I am very careful with my equipment and the shiny lens shade has a couple of scratches on it on my lens. They should have made it mat black plastic which would have looked really cool on the shiny lens….but hey…they are great lenses and you and I have shown with our photos!..nuff said!


            Nice portrait Fish¡¡¡¡

            • Miroslav


              • Fish

                Thanks fellas. Bob B. and quiquelbola, your photos are fantastic and have got me wanting the 12mm again. Dang you : )

          • mahler

            If Olympus would produce the right products with the right quality, would not complain about.

            1.) The Olympus bodies have IMO awkward uasbility because of the multicontroller thing. If Olympus does not change that, I will keep my stand on their bodies. Should not be a problem.

            2.) In my buying history of lenses over the last twenty years, the Olympus 2.0/12mm so far is the worst I bought. If my copy is faulty remains to be seen. So, up to now Olympus did not do much to provide me with confidence that their products are as nice as everybody thinks.

            If I can, I try to post images of the relevant issues shortly and post links here.

            You can be assured, that I did not anything strange with my 1.8/45mm lens. It was in a camera bag and a few times in my jacket bag (without keys!). The material quality is simply not good. And I am not the only one, who found that out.

      • I agree. I actually stopped reading that site quite some time ago because Cstein is such a jackass. I have yet to see him write anything that represents the true qualities of products. It always seems that it is more about him.

        I own the 12mm and the 45mm and they are both incredible lenses. I do not see what they find wrong about the 12mm except for the fact that it fits on a micro four thirds camera.

        I shot a whole state fair in Maryland with the 12mm and the results were nothing short of outstanding.

        • Esa Tuunanen

          So are most people here well trained unquestioning consumers always ready to lick butts of marketing.
          Olympus 12mm is simply good but not highest quality lens.

          Photozone already confirmed that little disappointingly for premium priced prime it has excellent sharpness only in center and outside that it drops only to good level and actually below similar priced but optically lot more demanding 12-60mm 4/3 zoom.
          That’s software cover up of uncorrected huge barrel distortion in action.
          Unlike what you sheeple have been indoctrinated to believe there’s no lossless software correction of geometry distortion. (it’s like drawing picture on rubber sheet which is then stretched)

    • So basically your comment is “Ctein is gay”. Waow.

      43rumours, great blog, lousy visitors…

      • admin

        I deleted the stupid comments.

        • No it’s still there:

          “kind of like an effeminate man having a hissy fit,

  • mahler

    Well, I can only second the observation. At least my copy of the 2.0/12mm is very bad and inconsistent. A lot of my images have a unsharper left side, mostly in landscape orientation. There is probably something wrong with my lens copy, but so far I am not impressed with Olympus’ quality control. It only assures my previous impressions: shiny from outside, low quality inside. It was very disappointing to come back from a three week Portugal trip with such results. Since I could get hold of the lens only short before the trip I could not test it thoroughly enough before. In any case there would not have been enough time for returning and get a replacement before the trip.

    So far it was my only faulty lens, I purchased (11 m4/3 lenses, 6 Canon EF lenses).

    Even the build (more correct the material) quality of the 1.8/45mm is bad. Without much using it, in a few days the lens had a lot of scratches on the decoration ring and the focus ring. Even my heavy used Panasonic lenses did not have as many scratches than this one. The problem is that Olympus want to look this lenses as shiny and retro as possible, obviously at the expense of material quality.

    Overall, I am unimpressed and think that Panasonic lenses are generally a lot better. Olympus m4/3 quality is very below the FT quality it was famous for.

    As soon I can, I will try to get my 2.0/12mm fixed. Hopefully it is recogniozed as a production fault by Olympus. To pay 799,-€ for such a piece of lens, is ridiculous. If I could post images here, I would try to prove my bad experience.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      > A lot of my images have a unsharper left side,
      Faulty centering of one or more lens elements.

    • +1 on the finish. I recently got the 45mm. Hate the blingy silver finish, and just a couple of days after getting it I could already see scratches on the lens barrel – that lens is definitely not going to age gracefully as my Canon or Panasonic or Sigma lenses. What a bummer. Why oh why has olympus decided that everyone wants silver lenses is beyond me…

  • WT21

    I don’t think the finish on either lens will last long. On the 45, you might say “hey, it’s inexpensive for a fantastic portrait lens” for the 12 you say “what? $800 for this!”

    I had both, btw, and was not impressed with the finish on either.

  • pamoria

    That’s so typical Olympus. Creating a lot of hype and sugarcoating substandard technology. Booh!

    Olympus burns so many people these days.

    • digifan

      Well move on then they are not for YOU.
      The 12mm is very, very good quality.
      I’ve seen amazing shots done by them.
      Both those Oly lenses are on my shortlist. I still have 43rds equippement so I’m in no hurry, the 11-22 is amazing on the E-1 and E-5. 11-22mm is like two primes in one.

  • Lenses have their characteristics, while some people don’t like them. This lens is this price because it is solidly built. No plastics in is at all, all metal alloy.

    He might not like it for the price, but damn it’s built well.

    EDIT: Built like a brick shit house, some might say. :P

    • I’d rather have a plastic fantastic that turns out great pics at a reasonable price than a “silver shiny blingy” lens that costs an arm and a leg (not exactly, but sort of) and turns “only good” images. But that’s me, i couldn’t care less for the silver “all metal” fit and finish. Most of my lenses are plastic, and even if i’ve used them in demanding conditions, I’ve never ever thought “whoa, if only this lens was metal instead of plastic”…YMMV…

      I think the problem is that many people feel this lens should be in the $600 rather than the $800 range (lets not even mention the + $100 hood), and for what we’ve seen out of serious reviews, it looks like that would have been a more palatable price.

      The 45mm scratches just by looking at it, and it didn’t even come with a pouch!!! As a side note, I recently bought a Genius Bluetooth mouse ($50) and it came with a nice pouch, there’s where my 45mm lives now when not in use…I wonder, if Genius could give a pouch for a MOUSE, Oly can’t do the same for a LENS that costs 10x???

  • M

    12mm – more expensive than 12-60mm, worse image quality.


    • Oly’s 43 lenses had a great IQ and build quality at reasonable prices…why they changed that in m43??? WHY?

      • Martin

        Hmm.. to sponsor Yakuza, maybe?

  • Andy

    The price tag of 12mm/F2.0 partly is due to the manufacture cost in Japan. You pay for build quality and the origin of manufacture. This is a lens made in Japan with Japanese craftsmanship. I own this lens in addition to the 45mm/F1.8 lens Even when you compare how they do the packaging inside the box, you can see there is a difference in perceived quality. Both lens deliver great photo quality.

    • mahler

      No, not true. As explained in my previous post, Olympus has substandard quality control. With its focus ring, the lens is over-engineered and thus to expensive. The focus ring feature does not give as much benefits as originally claimed and may contribute to the quality problems.

  • It also probably depends on the user – lets face it, not that many M43 users are coming from a background of high quality glass, so opinions on ‘awesome lenses’ may be elevated.

    Just looks like a good, although overpriced lens with some sample variation.

    Unfortunately sample variation is an issue for most manufacturers and wide angles seem quite susceptible…

  • Katsunami

    The Phoblographer is an idiot. He often reviews products without actually being able to use all of the features… Indeed he often doesn’t know many of the features the reviewed product has, seeing that he often changes his reviews afterwards.

  • I love my 45! Not as tasty as my Canon nFD 50/1.2, but a great tool for SHARP portrait work:

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