Olympus 45mm f/1.8 impressions in a comparison of three lenses with approx 42-45mm focal lengths


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Aug 31, 2013
I write this as an "current" "APS-C shooter" as I use adapted lenses (often modern APS-C image circles) on a focal reducer on my E-M1II and E-M5 which leads to a 1.4x crop factor.

The Olympus 45mm f/1.8
I just got this lens very recently and it already reserves as a spot on my top list of "favorite lenses" due to the negligible size and weight of it. I don't want to know what will happen to me if and when I'm struck down by lens lust for something like the Olympus 75mm f/1.8.

Optically I like what this lens does, it is more than decent at f/1.8 and at f/2.2 it is more than sufficiently sharp while maintaining a blown background. The only downside for me is it doesn't have that manual focus clutch mechanism that Olympus put into the 12mm f/2, 17mm f/1.8 and the PRO line of lenses.

It focuses decently close but it is definitely not a macro. It doesn't have that much magnification either but that doesn't stop it from being used in fun applications.

This and the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 are my first non macro Micro Four Thirds primes. The 60mm Macro, while slender, is still a lengthy lens.

The Tamron 60mm f/2 Macro (On a Speedbooster Ultra = 42.6mm f/1.4)

A fun APS-C macro that's speedy at f/2 except in autofocus. I definitely don't recommend it if you really care about autofocus from the far ends of the lens.

The Sigma 50-100 f/1.8 Art (On a Speedbooster Ultra = 35-71mm f/1.2)

One of my two absolute favorite lenses for optical performance when I need it. It is an absolute beast weighing in at 1.6kg and is roughly a little smaller than a common 70-200mm f/2.8.

Optically this and the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 Art are my best performing lenses. At wide open they're absolute monsters.

It focus breathes like crazy and that's no good for videos which is something it can't autofocus in as of now. It doesn't focus as closely as either of those two lenses but it does have higher magnification when at MFD for approximately 45mm (~62mm on the lens). It does have the downside of having complex distortion somewhere between f/2-3 on the lens but it starts to flatten out again towards f/4. At f/1.8 it appears to be flat enough, but it is definitely not as flat as the Tamron or Olympus.

This is really a monstrous zoom lens for when you need the light and you need the optical performance and don't really care about anything else.

Compared to each other in optical properties:
Sigma completely dominates the Tamron and Olympus at f/2.2 in terms of contrast and resolution

Sigma displays some field distortion that causes the edges and corners to soften significantly
Tamron has a soft dreamy look, everything is relatively soft

Sigma 50-100 field distortion is less insane and the edges/corners slowly come back into focus
Olympus is ahead of the Tamron

Sigma still is optically in the lead by far, less vignetting in the corners
Tamron has less vignetting in the corners
Olympus pulls ahead of the Tamron a bit

Tamron and Olympus tie
Sigma seems to have the field flatten out

Tamron and Olympus lose a bit of center resolution, gain mid/edge resolution
Tamron pulls ahead of the Olympus a bit in mid/edge resolution
Sigma is strong as ever still at this point but some softening becomes a little visible in the center

Tamron gains more of a lead over the Olympus in the sense it softens less and performs pretty well in the mid/edge resolution

Chromatic abberations:
None of these lenses have anything that bothers me and/or can't be solved in post instantly.

They all have good bokeh with no crazy artifacting. Contrary to what I've read about the Olympus 45mm f/1.8, it doesn't seem to have ringy bokeh on point light sources when I tried it out. Maybe I don't notice them as much.

The Sigma and Tamron both have distinctive cats eye/lemon shaped bokeh near the borders. Both a pro and con depending on how you look at it, since with non highlights you get swirly bokeh.

Autofocus speed:
The Olympus beats the Sigma by a bit, but the Sigma is no slouch for having a conventional AF mechanism. The weird micromotor used in the Tamron with the full time override is awful and manual focus with it isn't that good either but at least it is a full time override.

The Olympus feels like it is made of a decent engineering plastic, it feels dense for such a small lens.
The Tamron feels plasticy and plasticy. It feels like the least dense of all three lenses
The Sigma is dense, heavy and cold to the touch on the metallic parts. The tripod collar and some parts of the barrel are nice plastics like the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 Art.

Olympus ~ 125ish grams
Olympus x3 ~ Tamron
Tamron x5 ~ Sigma

Add the Speedbooster Ultra in (Roughly over 190 grams)

Filter thread:
An absolutely tiny 37mm for the Olympus
An odd 55mm for the Tamron
A fairly large 82mm for the Sigma
They're all plastic threads

Olympus doesn't include free hoods with most of their non PRO lenses and the 25mm f/1.8.
I can fit the Tamron with the hood on it inside the hood of the Sigma about a centimeter of space inbetween them. I don't think I need to say anything about fitting the Olympus inside the hood of either the Tamron or Sigma.

$200 for the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 on sale? This is why I own one now!
Otherwise the Tamron and Sigma were acquired second hand.

Size/Volume/Ability to scare off wildlife and/or people when pointing the camera at them:
Tale of Three 45mms.jpg
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The Olympus 45mm.jpg
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That can't be a real lens, that's too tiny to be a real lens.*1 At some level this was partially one of my first impressions when I took it out of the box.

I'm clearly having too much fun with these native primes.

*1 A reference to that Toyota Venza commercial with the social media girl

I think I'll give more of a chance to the small and compact primes of Micro Four Thirds now. This might just become an addiction after all and this is after I went out of the way to try to prevent this...

What's worse is while they overlap in focal length, they don't overlap in roles... GAS strikes again!

Mike Wingate

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Feb 21, 2017
Real Name
Mike Wingate
I really like my P42.5, small, light, cheap looking, but great glass. It takes some great photos.

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