After our review of the MZuiko 12mm f/2.0, here is the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8, also announced in June 2011. With identical finishes, these are two upscale and very high-quality micro 4/3 lenses.

As an ideal lens for portraiture, this bright 45mm (the equivalent of an 85mm lens for a 24x36mm camera) greatly enhances the micro 4/3 lens line.

Let’s first take a look at the standalone results for this lens:

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 mounted on an Olympus PEN EPL2

With a DxOMark score of 17, Olympus has once again achieved a great result for such a small sensor format.

The strong points of the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8 :

  • A bright lens.
  • Well-controlled distortion.
  • Very little vignetting, essentially gone at f/2.0.
  • Very good control of chromatic aberrations.
  • A good quality-to-price ratio.
  • A light-weight lens.

All signals are green, except that—

  • The resolution is satisfactory, but astonishingly enough, it is slightly weaker in the center than that of the 12mm.
  • The uniformity is not as good has one might expect from a lens that is the equivalent of an 85mm.

Comparisons

Here’s an interesting, if rather daring set of comparisons: How well will this 45mm perform against 85mm lenses on the latest-available full-frame cameras? (Remember that this 45mm is comparably bright.) To get an idea, we offer two such comparisons below.

Germane to our analysis is the fact that the 85mm lenses we use here for comparison are among the those with the highest DxOMark scores (along with a few 100mm lenses). Whether Nikon or Canon, globally these lenses are very sharp, with practically no distortion and very well-controlled chromatic aberrations.

Is this also the case for the Olympus lens?

(Note: Results for all PEN cameras — EP1, EP2, EP3, EPL3, EPL1, and EPM1 — will be published in the very near future.) 

First comparison: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45 mm f/1.8 vs Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 vs Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4G (the 45 mm is mounted on a EPL2, and the two 85 mm lenses are mounted on a 5D Mark II and a Nikon D3x, respectively):

No surprises here: The results for the 85mm lenses coupled with full-frame cameras are markedly better than those for the 45mm. This said, we point out that the optical performance scores for the Olympus are very similar apart from resolution.

This lens has everything required of a good 85mm:

  • Practically zero distortion
  • No chromatic aberrations
  • Very well-controlled vignetting

Second comparison: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45 mm f/1.8 vs Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 vs Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4G, with the Olympus mounted on a Olympus PEN EPL2, and the 85mm lenses mounted on APS-C cameras (the Canon EOS 7D and the Nikon D7000, respectively).

Here the comparison is much more controversial — the scores are almost identical for these three combinations. Brilliant!

In conclusion…

We have here another very fine and impressive lens, and one that is fully capable of holding its own against APS-C cameras and also against certain full-frame models (for a convincing example, see the results for the Sony 85mm 2.8 on a Sony A900).

The results are convincing: in terms of image quality, these micro 4/3 modules are a clear success. Olympus certainly appears to have risen to the challenge of combining compactness with quality!