Review: Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO (F8 and Be There!)

The Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO embodies the ideals that WeeGee spoke of in photography.

You may be wondering why I’m channeling a WeeGee quote around the Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO review. The reason why is because of the depth of field. Wide-open at f4, this lens has the equivalent depth of field of a full-frame lens at f8. However, it has the light-gathering abilities of f4. So with that said, a photographer can go around and shoot at an f8 equivalent and get lots of great moments perfectly in focus. Add to that this lens’ weather sealing, small size, and performance and you’ve got a lens that will prove itself very useful. While this is a great lens, it reminds me that Olympus really needs fast aperture zoom lenses too.

Editor’s Note: Our Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO was done while on a press trip in Costa Rica along with our time in NYC. Costa Rica was all expenses paid by Olympus. Phoblographer’s Editors will always be transparent with you and are trained to not give overly positive reviews at all…unlike influencers.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Very small
  • Well built
  • Lightweight
  • You pretty much never need to stop it down

Cons

  • Not sure why it’s this pricey

Gear Used

We tested the Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO with the OMD EM1 Mk III.

Tech Specs

Specifications  
Focal Length12-45mm 
     35mm Equivalent Focal Length24-90mm 
Lens Construction12 elements in 9 groups 
 (2 HR lenses, 1 DSA lens, 1 Super HR lens, 2 Aspherical lenses, 2 ED lenses) 
Dust & Drip ProofDustproof and splashproof construction (IPX1) 
Focusing SystemHigh-speed Imager AF (MSC)  
Angle of View84 degrees (Wide) – 27 degrees (Tele) 
Closest Focusing Distance0.12 m (wide) / 0.23 m (tele) 
Maximum Image Magnification0.25x (Wide / Tele) 
35mm Equivalent Max. Image Magnification0.5x (Wide / Tele) 
Minimum Field Size69.2 x 52.0 mm (Wide / Tele) 
Number of Blades7 (Circular aperture diaphragm) 
Maximum ApertureF4.0 
Minimum ApertureF22 
Lens IS MechanismNone 
IS Performance 
   
   
Filter SizeDiameter 58 mm 
Lens hoodφ77.5 x 99.7 mm 
Dimensionsφ63.4 x 70.0 mm 
Weight254 g 
Box ContentsLens hood LH-61G, Lens cap LC-58F, Lens rear cap LR-2, Wrapping cloth CS-53, Instruction manual, Warranty card 
 Specifications and design are subject to change without notice. 
Related AccessoriesLens hood LH-61G /  Lens cap LC-58F /  Lens case LCS-0811 

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-45mm F4.0 PRO lens (black) comes bundled with the LH-61G lens hood, specifically designed to protect the lens and reduce unwanted light entering the lens in backlit situations. The lens will be available April 7, 2020. The lens will have a suggested retail price of $649.99 USD and $849.99 CAD.

Ergonomics

The Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO is a small and lightweight lens from Olympus. Think of it as a 24-105 type of lens except it’s not quite there. It’s constantly at f4 throughout the zoom range unless you set it otherwise. When you look at it, you’ll spot the zoom and the focus ring.

Without the lens hood, the already small lens becomes smaller. We encourage you to use it like this with a UV or Polarizer filter. If you do, you’ll get some beautiful lens flare.

When you’re zoomed in all the way, the lens doesn’t become all that much larger. Note the focal length designations too. They’re at what would be the equivalent of popular focal lengths like 25mm and 16mm.

If you want a filter, be sure to get a 58mm filter. But most photographers don’t need or want them.

Build Quality

While Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO is super small, you should also note how weather sealed it is. I mean, look at it. We did this photoshoot and the camera/lens continued to still work. Additionally, we tested it out in Costa Rica amongst the sand and all. It kept working flawlessly. Combine this with a very small size and you’ll be a happy photographer. We can’t really complain about the build quality here. But those with larger paws might do so.

Ease of Use

Using the Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO is pretty simple. You’re just slapping it on the camera, focusing, and shooting. All of the controls are built into the camera. The focus ring don’t flip back for faster switching into manaul focus mode. With everything in focus anyway I’m not sure that one would need it.

Autofocus

The Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO has autofocus that is very quick. That is thanks to the lightweight lens elements on the inside. Tack onto that the speed that the EM1 Mk III delivers and you’re pretty solid for having a walkaround lens. Again, due to the depth of field basically being F8, you don’t have a lot to complain about. Missing the shot will be tough unless you’re trying to track a moving subject. We tried that with street photography recently and it didn’t quite work out. I’m sad about that. There were also times that tracking just didn’t keep up; but that’s more of a problem with the camera than this lens. Being a wide angle lens, it should have less issues with focusing.

Image Quality

The image quality from the Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO is solid overall. The best quality comes when using high res shot mode at least when we’re talking about sharpness. But otherwise, I don’t have much to complain about with this lens. Of course, I wish it had a faster aperture. But it also focuses closely if you want bokeh.

Bokeh

To get bokeh from the Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO that’s worth anything you’d want to care about, you’ll need to shoot at the macro ranges. Then you’ll have to shoot at the telephoto end to emphasize it more. Even so, it’s nothing really worth writing home about.

Chromatic Aberration

Amazingly, the Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO keeps the distortion down a whole lot. I’m surprised at this in some ways. In other ways, I know that Olympus is pretty careful about that.

Color Rendition

The colors from this lens are really emphasized by the Vivid color mode on the EM1 Mk III. I’ve found my favorite to be delivered when shooting with the natural color mode. But feel free to use the Art Filters too for even better stuff.

Sharpness

Where I really can’t fault the Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO is with sharpness. I’ve seen and used sharper Olympus lenses for sure. But this isn’t bad for what this lens is.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Small size
  • Fair price
  • Image quality

Dislikes

  • Olympus needs faster zoom lenses

I really like Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO as an enthusiast’s lens. And that’s what it’s being targeted to. This is a fantastic walkaround lens that you’ll enjoy mounting on your camera. It’s as small as a prime and it’s versatile. You never need to stop it down really. But where I find the lens to be lacking is more so in its initial design. I wish that it was a faster aperture zoom. That’s what Olympus really needs.

We’re awarding the Olympus 12-45mm f4 PRO four out of five stars. Check Amazon for the latest prices.