Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Olympus 45mm f1.8 initial thoughts

I weakened, and I bought one...

This weekend just gone, I went to Christchurch with my son to do two things; attend Promise Keepers and buy the HLD-8 grip for my OM-D EM-5 Mk2.

I did one of those things, and not the other :-)

Promise Keepers was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The HLD-8, however, did not turn up in time. And then I had second thoughts about spending $400NZ on a battery grip when I could get just the grip itself for $175NZ and then maybe get another couple of lenses as well!

To that end, another camera store in Christchurch just happened to have an incredible deal on a new Olympus 45mm f1.8 for $385NZ (that's $180NZ off normal retail) - so yeah, I got one.

Joshua. Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk2 with 45mm f1.8

It's small, it's light (although it does have a little heft to it) and it's largely made of plastic, albeit with a metal mount and lots of nice glass.

On the trip back home, I couldn't resist getting Josh to do a little model shoot - just to test the lens you understand. I'll be doing a much more comprehensive shoot soon, but initial impressions are obviously very good. It's known as a sharp, fast lens with decent bokeh - not to mention amazing portability. It really is a tiny lens, ideally suited to the size of the OM-D EM-5 (or EM-10 for that matter).

Olympus Zuiko 45mm @ f2.2, 1/100th ISO 320

I shot at f2.2 - opened up a little bit to increase sharpness - and kept an eye on the exposure compensation to make sure I didn't blow the highlights. These are the first portraits I've taken with the EM-5 Mk2, so it was the first time I had experienced face detection auto focus. I must admit, it felt weird watching the auto focus point move around over Joshua's face, without me controlling the point manually. But I forced myself to let the camera do its own thing, so I could gauge its accuracy afterwards. If it works as intended, then I can see it being an amazing help on a wedding shoot.

Face detection close-up. Check the bokeh as well.
Looks nice and sharp to me. Of course I intend to give it a decent work-out, but initial impressions are positive. And I'm pleased with the bokeh in the images, even opened up to f2.2. The forest behind Joshua isn't an easy background to blur nicely, but the lens did a decent job of it.

Joshua at Arthur's Pass. Olympus 45mm @ f2.2, 1/100th sec ISO 320
Many people argue that the whole reason to get a micro four thirds system is for their small, fast, sharp prime lenses. I'm not necessarily of that opinion. I like the idea of sharp, fast primes, but I would actually rather shoot with fast zooms. I really have my eye on the 12-40mm f2.8 zoom which, while heavier, will probably suit my shooting style a bit more. Having said that, the lens is about $1500NZ, which is way above my price range. So in the interim, maybe a small prime like the 45mm f1.8 will fill the gap? Yes, I have the 45mm range covered with my current 12-50mm f3.5/6.3 - but at 45mm that lens will open to f5.6 at best. That's 4 times slower than the 45mm f1.8 prime! Not to mention the difference in bokeh. I will test this soon to show the difference with the two lenses at the 45mm focal range, and I suspect that it will be like night and day!?

So yes, at the moment the 45mm f1.8 has a 'prime' (excuse the pun) place in my kit. Hopefully I will eventually get the 12-40mm f2.8 and then I might have to re-evaluate things. But for the price I paid for it, I can probably sell the 45mm in a couple of years time and not loose any money on it. That's the other upside of buying good fast glass.

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