Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro Review

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You’ve no doubt heard the term portrait lens, which basically defines an optic that will flatter the human face and usually falls into the focal lengths of 85mm to 200mm on the long end.

The Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro with the Micro Four Thirds 2x crop factor puts this fast piece of glass at 90mm equivalent focal length and optimum for portrait photography.

If you’re a Micro Four Thirds shooter with bodies such as the Panasonic G9 or Olympus OMD EM1 III and shoot portraits or weddings, this is a lens you’ll want to consider.

shk-fs-table__imageHighly RecommendedStunning portrait lens that captures sharp subjects against beautiful feathered bokeh.Get Price

I went out recently for some urban street portraits with this lens mounted onto the Olympus OMD EM1 X camera body. I mostly shot wide open to blur the clutter of the alleyways we were working in.

The resulting images can be found in the review below, to help highlight the performance of the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro in the real world.

So let’s take a look at how this lens stacks up in comparison to other Micro Four Thirds lenses.

Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro Specs

 
  • Focal length: 45mm (35mm Equivalent Focal Length: 90mm)
  • Minimal focal distance: 1.64′ / 50 cm
  • Optical design: 14 Elements in 10 Groups
  • Diaphragm blades: 9, Rounded
  • Dimensions: 2.76 x 3.34″ / 70 x 84.9 mm
  • Weight: 14.46 oz / 410 g

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Build & Ergonomics

The Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro with hood and cap.

The Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro is part of the Olympus Pro lineup of lenses, meaning it’s fully weather-sealed against dust, moisture, and freezing temperatures.

It comes with a lens hood that locks on as well as a lens pouch.

Olympus is highly regarded for their superior weather sealing and although my street session had no snow coming down, I have no doubt that this lens, just like the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens I recently reviewed, will hold up just fine to the elements.

This focal length has already been covered in the Micro Four Thirds format by Olympus themselves with the ultra-tiny Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Premium and the Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2, but neither of those has weather sealing.

The former also has a slower aperture and a lens hood is sold separately.

Unlike the Panasonic though, this Olympus does not have stabilization built into the lens. This is not necessary for Olympus cameras as all cameras feature IBIS while only some of the Panasonic camera bodies do.

I feel as though the size handling is perfect, and compared to a full frame portrait lens such as the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, it’s minuscule.

However, there are those who prefer the smaller f/1.8 version of this lens as they can practically put the entire lens into a coat pocket.

On the left is the tiny Olympus 45mm f/1.8 next to its big brother the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro.

The lens also features a programmable function button on the side of the barrel, and when mounted to any of the Olympus OMD bodies such as the Olympus OMD EM5 III, this can provide additional functionality.

The lens also features a focus clutch mechanism for easily jumping into manual focus without going into the menu.

The Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro lens function button and manual focusing clutch.

Focus Performance

Olympus OMD EM1 X + Olympus 45mm f/1.2 | 1/2500 f/1.2 ISO200

For all of these portraits, I used the Olympus OMD EM1 X and used the joysticks to move the focus point to the eye. Focusing was instantaneous with this lens and camera combination.

Seeing as the Olympus OMD EM1 III shares the same focusing system, I have no doubt you would have the same results with that camera.

While I didn’t have one of Panasonic’s bodies to use, this lens will mount to their system and is considered a native lens.

Even while shooting in a backlit situation the lens didn’t struggle at all to attain speedy focus.

Olympus OMD EM1 X + Olympus 45mm f/1.2 | 1/1250 f/1.2 ISO200

Image Quality

Olympus OMD EM1 X + Olympus 45mm f/1.2 | 1/3200 f/1.2 ISO200

Olympus are renown for their sharp lenses and the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro is no exception.

At f/1.2 I was able to have my subject pop off of the backgrounds with a shallow depth of field yet still have incredible sharpness. If you see any vignetting in these images, it was done in post for effect.

The “feathered bokeh” touted by Olympus in their lineup of fast aperture pro lenses such as this one and the Olympus 25mm f/1.2 Pro may be a marketing term, but it’s true that there is a lovely fall off from subject to background.

Olympus OMD EM1 X + Olympus 45mm f/1.2 | 1/3200 f/1.2 ISO200

I didn’t see any purple fringing in high contrast scenes, although I’m sure shooting wide open in the bright light of summer may bring this phenomenon to the fore. It’s certainly not anything I’d be concerned about.

The Olympus 45mm f/1.2 is definitely the one to use when looking to get that shallow full frame look for portraits. It gives the depth of field look of f/2.4 when shot wide open.

The fast aperture will let in the light of f/1.2, which allows for lower ISO in dark situations. This means it would be a great lens for wedding receptions during the speeches or tight shots of the first dance.

Value for Money

Olympus OMD EM1 X + Olympus 45mm f/1.2 | 1/200 f/2.8 ISO200

At around US$1200, the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro isn’t the cheapest option for a portrait lens for Micro Four Thirds mount.

The Panasonic Lumix 42.5 f/1.7 is about a third of the price and slightly smaller, though it lacks weather sealing.

If you’re a working pro or advanced enthusiast and shallow depth of field, weather sealing, gobs of light gathering and maximum sharpness are important to you then look no further.

If smaller size is of utmost importance and you will not be out in the elements, then the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 will give you terrific results.

Until Panasonic updates their Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 lens and gives it weather sealing, this Olympus is better value in my view.

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Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro Review | Conclusion

The Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro with lens hood attached and manual focus clutch engaged.

Likes

  • Fantastic build quality and weather sealing
  • Beautiful bokeh qualities
  • Fast f/1.2 aperture for light gathering
  • Sharp at all apertures
  • Solid lens hood with lock

Dislikes

  • A bit pricey
shk-fs-table__imageHighly RecommendedStunning portrait lens that captures sharp subjects against beautiful feathered bokeh.Get Price

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.

Steve Vansak is lead photographer and owner of Region Weddings, shooting wedding and portrait photography in Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

Features10
Build Quality10
Ergonomics & Handling 
10
Autofocus10
Image Quality10
Value8

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