Playing with the Olympus 45mm f1.2 Pro

Layilah, Drink and Click Portrait - Austin, Texas

Layilah, Drink and Click Portrait – Austin, Texas

I made the mistake of playing with the recently announced Olympus 45mm f1.2 Pro lens last week, during Drink and Click. The lens is not in stores, just yet, but Charles from Olympus had an advanced copy. It’s like “the first hit is free” type situation. Once you use it, you’re hooked.

The 45mm f1.2 is a beautiful lens. One of the new Pro lenses made of metal, weather-resistant and with a manual focus clutch. It’s equivalent to a 90mm f2.4 in full frame terms. Size wise, it’s slightly smaller than the popular Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Pro.

I had a single large umbrella, camera left, which certainly helped to create a soft and pleasing portrait. Even so, it was dim. I shot these at f1.2, ISO 1000 at 1/60 of a second.

I shot Layilah with my PEN-F, which worked surprisingly well even with a fairly large lens, by micro 4/3 standards. It would ideally pair with the larger E-M1 Mark II, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use it on my PEN-F or E-M5 Mark II. The black and whites are straight out of camera JPEGs using the PEN-F’s “Mono Profile 2” setting. The colors are via RAWs, post processed and slightly tweaked using Capture One.

I’ve talked recently about the state of the available cameras recently, including Panasonic Micro 4/3, but Olympus is not standing still either. They’ve been building out their marvelous Pro line of lenses recently, which changes the dynamics of micro 4/3. The Pro lenses are not inexpensive, with most running over $1000. But they do allow for making images previously not expected with this smaller sensor format.

I played with the Olympus 40-150 f2.8 Pro recently and I’m not sure which I want more. Making the decisions ever harder are the other Pro lenses the 17mm f1.2 and 25mm f1.2 as well as the 7-14mm f2.8 Pro.

So far, I’ve been mostly using Olympus’ smaller, travel friendly and less expensive line. But it’s hard to resist the power of the Pro lenses.

Layilah, Drink and Click Portrait - Austin, Texas
Layilah, Drink and Click Portrait - Austin, Texas
Layilah, Drink and Click Portrait - Austin, Texas

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11 thoughts on “Playing with the Olympus 45mm f1.2 Pro

  1. Hot dam’! That could be a game-changer. I’ll bet that thing can see in the dark. Love the Pro lenses. That manual clutch is a handy detail, although every now and then I manage to slip it back accidentally and takes me a while to work out why I’m missing my shots.

    I’ve got a copy of the 40-150 f/2.8 and I’m not happy with it. Compared to the extraordinary 12-40, it’s a little soft. And big for even the EM1 body.

    1. The manual clutch has trip me up a couple of times, until I figured out it was moved. But overall it’s a nice feature.

      Intersting observations on the 40-150. Some people rave about it putting it ahead of some of the other Pro lenses. I haven’t used it enough to form my own opinion.

      1. Well, I was real excited to get it, but found I wasn’t getting the results I expected.

        Believe it or not, a cheapie little EF-M Canon lens (55-200mm, f/4.5-6.3) is every bit as sharp. Maybe not as fast, or with the chance of bokeh, but I’m not a sports photographer, and most of my distant subjects are well-lit.

        It’s pretty much the only reason I have any Canon gear at all. An M6, which is a lovely little camera, but fills much the same slot as my EM1, without being quite as refined.

        It is small enough for me to carry onto a plane in a belt pouch or jacket pocket with a pancake lens, and then swap the zoom on when I want to photograph something outside the window. I can’t do that with the 40-150. Hell, even the 12-40 makes it too much camera to swing around in an economy seat.

        So my 40-150 isn’t really worth my while to take travelling. If I’m shooting at home, especially on a tripod, sure, but it’s not my usual game.

      2. The consumer, inexpensive lenses are often quite good, within their parameters — especially given the price performance. Most of the lenses I use on my Olympus are the smaller and lighter lenses. For travel, I often use the 9-18mm f4-5.6 and the 14-150mm f4-5.6. They may not be as fast and optically good as the Pro lenses, but they are a lot smaller and lighter and a heck of a lot less expensive.

        I can see why the 40-150 will be too big. If I do end up buying it, it probably won’t be used for my travels.

  2. Andy,
    Great portrait!

    Lens equivalency is related to field of view and depth of field and does not relate to the actual light gathering capability of the lens. An exposure at F1.4 and any shutter speed will be the same for any format.


    1. Thanks Frank.

      Yes, agreed. In terms of depth of field equivalence with full frame, it’s a f2.4. However, you are correct. In terms of light gathering, its a f1.2.

      Which is actually a really good combination. You get a nice shallow depth of field, without being too narrow, but you get the superior light gathering ability.

  3. With the orig. EM-1, 5 primes & 2 zooms, I have a decent kit, but the Pro series beckons – Andy, I saw you using the 9-18 Oly and added it to my kit – its one of my favorate lenses now

    The 12-100 seems to be a good way to dip my toe into the Pro line, so that is on my list, but I could see how those brighter primes might help in low light especially.

    I am interested to see what Olympus comes up with for their 100th aniversary. If they continue to move their recent low-light & focusing gains into the rest of their line, I would jump at another camera body. A Pen F II with EM-1 II focusing & lowlight – Wow!

    Keep up the good work Andy – Chris

    1. Hi Chris, great to hear from you. I’ve heard the 12-100 is outstanding, however, being expensive, rather large and only f4, makes me less interested, somehow. But, it could be THE high quality lens for a lot of people.

      Olympus is definitely maturing and filling out their line. The years of searching for a workable niche is perhaps settled. Mirrorless is finally gaining traction and they are on the right side of technology for a change.

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