Lens review

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8

7 September 2011
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8 is not a pancake lens but, despite its good fastness and the fact that it is an equivalent of 90 mm focal length on full frame, you definitely wouldn’t call it big. Quite the opposite, in fact – it makes an impression of physically light and dainty so it fits perfectly well the idea behind small, handy mirrorless devices. One glance at the following chart and it is obvious that it is the smallest and the lightest lens of all instruments, compared here and they all were designed to work on the 4/3 sensor, mind you. What’s interesting, the 1.8/45 model seems to be physically lighter and a bit less solid than the 2.0/12 model, launched with it on the market at the same time. However, it becomes quite understandable if you take into account the fact that the 1.8/45 model is twice cheaper than the 2.0/12 one.

In the photo below the tested lens is positioned next to the Panasonic 1.7/20 pancake and a fast Micro 4/3 standard so the Leica 1.4/25.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8 - Build quality

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The latest Micro 4/3 launches made this system finally meet my personal expectations. In my view it makes the most sense exactly when it features those smallish, optically good primes, covering different focal lengths. Currently a set of a body plus three lenses e.g. the Olympus 2/12 (interchangeably with the Panasonic 2.5/14), the Panasonic 1.7/20 and the Olympus 1.8/45 in fact lives up to all my expectations with one small reservation concerning the lack of a really shallow depth of field.

The lens starts with a metal bayonet mount with contacts which surrounds an immobile rear element, 21 mm in diameter. For a Micro 4/3 system it is quite big, noticeably bigger than in typical system “pancakes”; it makes you hope the image quality on the edge of the field of view will be good.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8 - Build quality

Passing to the proper lens housing we find a wider ring which, on the left and on the right, is ribbed to make the grip and attaching to a body easier. On this immobile ring you can find information about focusing distance range and also the lens’s serial number and its parameters. In the case of the 2/12 model these elements were made of metal and they featured an inscription: “Made in Japan”. In the case of the 1.8/45 model the rings are made of plastics and an inscription inside the mount informs us that the lens was made in China.

The next part is a manual focus ring, 15 mm wide. It works smoothly and is well-damped. Here you can see another difference, compared to the 2/12 lens. There is neither a distance scale nor a depth of field scale and it’s a pity - It would be nice if a fast prime lens featured these.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8 - Build quality

The next narrow ring has a blue stripe on it and is already made of metal. A hood mount (unfortunately a hood is not a part of the accessory kit) comes out of it. The mount is covered by a narrow silvery ring which camouflages it, making the lens look better.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8 - Build quality

The lens ends with a non-rotating filter thread, 37 mm in diameter. It surrounds an inscription with the name and parameters of the lens and a front element, with a diameter of 27 mm.

Inside the tested lens we can find 9 elements positioned in 8 groups. Two of them were made of glass with an Extra High Refractive index (E-HR lens). The aperture boasts seven diaphragm blades and can be closed down to the value of f/22.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8 - Build quality

Unfortunately the buyer gets only two caps and a decoration ring, covering the hood mount in the box. The hood itself and a pouch or case you have to buy separately.