Ask any professional portrait photographer what their favourite lens is and more often than not they’ll tell you it’s an ultra-fast 85mm prime – or the closest thing to it within their chosen lens system. The reason why 85mm primes are so popular with portrait photographers is that they enable you to fill the frame with your subject’s head and torso without any perceptible distortion. This ‘flattening’ effect generally results in a much more flattering portrait.
Designed for use with the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) standard jointly developed by Olympus and Panasonic, the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 is positioned as an affordable portrait lens, although it can of course double up as a mid-telephoto prime for everyday use too. Because of the 2x crop factor inherent to MFT sensors, the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 provides the 35mm focal length equivalent of 90mm, which puts it firmly into prime portrait territory. Olympus does actually make a faster 45mm prime in the shape of the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.2 ED PRO lens, however this professional-grade optic will set you back around £1,200. If you want to take great portraits and don’t have that kind of money to spend then the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 represents a great investment.
Available in either silver or black, the polycarbonate exterior of the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 is has been treated to a stylish metal-like finish. In terms of performance the internal autofocus system is smooth and speedy and pleasingly quiet during operation. Should you want to mount filters or adaptors then a 37mm thread is provided for such purposes. Overall image quality is excellent, with the seven aperture blades producing a pleasing bokeh effect in out-of-focus areas when the lens is used wide open. In terms of sharpness the lens performs best between f/4-5.6, but remains impressively sharp at other aperture settings too.