J MacDonald Photography
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A Prime Line Up

Prime....What a great word to describe a lens right?

For those who aren't sure what exactly a prime lens is let me give a brief explanation. A prime lens is one with a fixed focal length. Or another way of putting it is that with a prime lens you cannot zoom in and out. If you want to "zoom in" you need to actually move yourself closer to your subject, and if you want the opposite you'd need to move back away to get a wider view. Often times a prime lens tends to come with a "fast aperture" meaning it can open up wide to let in lots of light. This allows for use in lower light situations, and it also gives you that nice bokeh, or out of focus background in less technical terms.

What we will see in the rest of this article is an explanation of the focal length, aperture, general use, and sample image of each of the Olympus primes. Each sample image will have been shot at f/2 and at approximately the minimum focus distance allowed by the lens.

So now that we have a little background on what  prime lens is what do you say we take a look at the Olympus line of µ4/3 prime lenses? We'll start off at the wide end with the mZuiko 12mm f/2 The 12mm f/2 is a relatively wide angle lens that is great for landscape photography or for use indoors during family gatherings or other events. Because it has an aperture of f/2 it is good at gathering light when shooting inside. I also use this as a go to lens for photographing the night sky. 

The 12mm f/2 features a focus clutch which allows you to quickly put the lens and camera into manual focus mode.

The image above shows the 12mm f/2 in black finish. It is also available in silver.
Below is a sample image shot with the 12mm wide open at f/2  and at close to its minimum focus distance of about 7 inches.

The 12mm f/2 wide open at f/2 SOOC.

Next up we have the mZuiko 17mm f/1.8 This lens was probably my favorite lens for general walking around. It has an effective focal length of 34mm which puts it close to that or what is seen with the human eye. It has since been replaced by the 25mm f/1.8 as my favorite got to lens, but it is still an awesome piece of kit.

The image below shows the 17mm f/1.8 in the silver finish.

The 17mm is also available in black finish.

Taken with the mZuiko 17mm f/1.8 at f/2 to match the aperture of the 12mm.

Next up is my favorite mZuiko prime. The mZuiko 25mm f/1.8. This is ALWAYS in my bag. Whether I plan on shooting landscapes, wildlife, urban exploration or portraits, this lens is almost always used.

Below is the mZuiko 25mm f/1.8 in black finish.

A perfect all around lens. I never leave home without it.

A wonderful walk around lens that works perfectly for an intimate portrait lens, or a versatile street photography lens.

This next lens has repeatedly gotten rave reviews as one of the best portrait lenses you can buy for the µ4/3 system for the money. It is cheap, and it is incredibly sharp! With an effective focal length of 90mm it makes for some wonderful headshots with luscious bokeh. Say hello to the mZuiko 45mm f/1.8

The mZuiko 45mm f/1.8 in black finish.

This lens can be so sharp you may want to tone it down some in post!

A compact portrait lens that every µ4/3 should own.

This next lens is one that most people might not include in a write up like this. It is the mZuiko 60mm f/2.8 macro. Yes...I am throwing the macro lens in this since it IS a prime and it IS one hell of a lens! This lens has given me incredible portraits over and over again. I actually prefer it over the 45mm f/1.8 for portrait work. And it is of course a wicked macro lens capable of 1:1 macros and it is fully weather sealed and even has a focus limiter switch to save you time while trying to close focus for macros.

The 60mm macro comes in black only. On the left side of this image you can just make out the focus limiter switch.

This was obviously not shot at the 60mm macros closest focusing distance. :)

And we are at the last lens on the list, (at least until the 300mm f/4 is released) but it was certainly worth the wait! This is the mZuiko 75mm f/1.8 At a 150mm equivalent focal length it is the longest prime in the µ4/3 lens line up from Olympus. It produces images that I can hardly believe. One must keep in mind that you need to be a fair distance from your subject when using it, but you will be very well rewarded by jaw dropping images.


The front element on this lens will certainly catch anyone's attention. It looks like a big crystal jewel.

Stand back, compose, and be wowed. I am always smiling when this lens is on my camera.

Now I would like to do something I haven't seen anyone do yet.
This series of images is taken with each of the primes I have listed above, but what I have done is keep the camera on a tripod in the same location roughly 7 feet away from my subject. This will allow you to see just what kind of field of view each lens offers as well as it's depth of field characteristics.

These shots are all taken WIDE OPEN at the lens' maximum aperture.  Which is most of them is f/1.8


mZuiko 75mm f/1.8 7 feet from subject.

mZuiko 60mm f/2.8 7 feet from subject.

mZuiko 45mm f/1.8 7 feet from subject.

mZuiko 25mm f/1.8 7 feet from subject.

mZuiko 17mm f/1.8 7 feet from subject.

mZuiko 12mm f/2 7 feet from subject.

And I just had to add this here. This last image was made with the mZuiko 9mm fisheye bodycap lens. The bodycap lenses and fun, cheap, and require no though to use. Just put it on, open the built in lens guard, and just start shooting and having fun!!!

And just for some fun!! The mZuiko 9mm f/8 Body cap lens....It IS a prime! Taken at the same 7 feet from subject.

So that concludes this write up. I hope you got some use out of it and I plan on doing a supplementary video to go with it. Right now I am trying to get a good audio solution to my videos and hopefully I get that worked out in time to be used with this subject.

Take care and feel free to share this on your social channels with those who may benefit from it.


Jamie MacDonald2 Comments