Understanding and using the Olympus Pen 45mm lens

October 26, 2017 14 Comments

If you have the Olympus Pen camera then no doubt you'll be thinking about investing in the 45mm lens or maybe you've already got it and need some help using it. There is a reason its the bloggers favourite first lens to buy. Not only is it relatively cheap for a lens, it also will give you that dreamy blur that can really elevate your blog photos. But for a lot of people on buying the lens they can be confused, not only how to attach it but how to use it. Why the lens doesn't zoom and why do you have to stand so far back are often the main confusion. Well I'm hoping I can answer at least some of this things about using the Olympus Pen 45mm lens in this post and give you an idea of how I use it for my blog photos.

So first up, to attach your new 45mm lens you need to remove the black protective cap from the back of the lens to reveal the metal lens mount. Be careful not to touch the lens as you will put fingerprints on it. Detach the lens currently on your Olympus Pen by pressing the round button on the front of camera to the right of the lens, whilst twisting the lens towards the left. Put your 45mm lens on by lining up the red dot on the lens to the red dot on the camera and twisting the lens to the right until you hear a slight click. Make sure you put the end cap on the lens you took off to protect it. And thats it, ready to go!

The first thing to understand is the 45mm lens is whats called a PRIME lens. This means its focal length is FIXED and does not zoom like your kit lens does. The number in the name of the lens is the lens focal length eg 45mm whereas your kit lens that comes with the Olympus Pen has a focal length of 14mm and can zoom to 42mm.


The biggest question I get asked about the 45mm lens is why do I have to stand so far back. In basic terms the longer the focal length, the narrower the angle of view and the higher the magnification. The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle of view and the lower the magnification.  So your 14mm kit lens gives you a much wider view with little magnification whereas your 45mm lens has a much narrower angle of view and is much more magnified.

Below is a photo taken with each lens set on the same tripod and as you can see the kit lens (left) has so much more of the subject in the photo than the 45mm lens (right)


using the olympus pen 45mm lens
olympus pen 45mm lens
explanation of difference between kit lens and 45mm lens

This above diagram shows how the 14mm kit lens takes in much more of the subject whereas the 45mm only captures a small section of it. Therefore to fit in the same amount of subject you would have to move considerably further back with the 45mm.

using the olympus pen 45mm lens

The photo on the right is the two individual photos taken on the 14mm and 45mm overlaid so you can really see how zoomed in the 45mm lens is and how different it will look compared to your kit lens when you start using it. But once you get your head around this you'll be rockin and rolling!

F-STOP and Blur

So the main pull of the 45mm is the gorgeous blur you get. This is created by playing around aperture and your f-stop. Aperture is essentially the opening in the lens through which light passes. Its controlled by the F-STOP which when adjusted varies the size of the hole through which the light comes. The bigger (wider) the aperture the narrower the depth of field ie more blur. The kit lens that comes with the Pen only goes down to an Fstop of /3.5 but the 45mm lens will give you a lower F-Stop of f/1.8. That is why the 45mm lens gives such a lovely blur to photos because it has a lower f-stop.

Large aperture  = Small f-number = Shallow (small) depth of field = more blur
Small aperture = Larger f-number = Deeper (larger) depth of field = less blur

For more info on aperture and f-stop and how to adjust read my Olympus Pen settings post.


You can play around with increasing the f-stop to alter how blurry your background is.
Below are 8 shots taken with increasing f-stop numbers and therefore deeper depth of field and less blur. You can see the effect of altering your f-stop from picture 1 - 8.

olympus pen 45mm 1.8 lens example pics
olympus pen 45mm 1.8 lens example pics
olympus pen 45mm 1.8 lens example pics
olympus pen 45mm 1.8 lens example pics
olympus pen 45mm 1.8 lens example pics
olympus pen 45mm 1.8 lens example pics
olympus pen 45mm 1.8 lens example pics
olympus pen 45mm 1.8 lens example pics

The main thing I use my Olympus Pen 45mm lens for is outfit photos. It is after all a portrait lens by nature and this is when it really shines. I love the blur in half body shots and the sharpness for detail shots.  I shoot all of mine with the aperture as wide as possible so f-stop at 1.8, this gives me maximum blurry background. To really see the blur effect make sure your background is far away from the subject and places like streets and rows of trees look incredible disappearing in the distance. You will need plenty of space as your photographer will need to stand well back to fit you in for a full body shot so the 45mm isn't always suitable for flat against wall shots in narrow streets. But if you are doing flat wall shots you have little need for a blurry background so can easily shoot these with the kit lens.

outfit photos taken with the olympus pen camera
outfit photos taken with the olympus pen camera
outfit photos taken with the olympus pen camera

For shooting outfit pictures with the 45mm lens make sure you utilize the AF Grid which is the green square that controls where your focus point is. By pressing left on the circle button on the right of the camera, you will bring up the focus point grid. Here you can use the click up/down/left/right buttons, click wheel or touch screen to move your green square to where you want your focus point to be. If you press INFO once in the grid you can also adjust the size of green square using the click wheel. Put your green square on the face of the subject for full body or half body shots. For detail shots like earrings etc use the green square to ensure the focus is on the right thing. Top tip is to half press the shutter button to focus before you take the photo or pop the camera on to touch screen to take that way you can tap exactly where you want the focus to be and the camera will take the picture.


The 45mm lens is a dream for beauty and product shots. I love to use a variety of backgrounds and props to create interesting backdrops for my photos. The same is true of these snaps as outfit snaps, the further away you place your background to the product you are shooting, the more you'll benefit from the 45mm lens blur. If I use coloured card or flowers I make sure I put them as far back as I can, unless I want the item in focus like the Glossybox box then I put it just behind the product.

beauty photos taken with the olympus pen camera
beauty photos taken with the olympus pen
beauty photos taken with the olympus pen

I tend to shoot my product photos with a slightly higher f-stop of 2.2. This slight change of the aperture just allows me to make sure the whole product and all the text is in focus. I also really utilize the green focus square to make sure the product is in focus. If the camera doesn't focus or take a photo when you press the shutter button it may be that you are just too close to the product. Try just moving the camera towards you and away from the product and press the shutter button half way and you'll find the camera will beep when you are focused.

I don't often shoot flatlays with my 45mm lens. I find the lens too zoomed in for holding it above a flatlay and it tends to focus on one product and not the whole flat lay. I use my kit lens for flatlays to be honest but if you do want to shoot flatlays with the 45mm lens then I would increase your f-stop considerably to similar to your kit lens so around f/3. This will increase your depth of field and will help make sure all of your flatlay is in focus not just one bit. Also make sure your green focus square is as big as possible. See instructions above for adjusting that.


You'll find that the Olympus Pen 45mm lens is not wide angle enough for easily shooting interior shots like hotel rooms or for capturing food in restaurants without having to stand up, but you can use it in these situations if you have space. Thats not to say I dont take mine. I like to shoot details of the room with it, like toiletries in the bathroom or close up details. I love the Olympus 45mm lens for detail shots for my lifestyle and diy posts. I love the incredible blur and light "bokeh" that is in the below baubles picture. You can create this gorgeous blurred "bokeh" or light balls yourself by putting fairy lights in the far background of your photos when using the 45mm lens and make sure your f-stop is 1.8.

 photos taken with the olympus pen camera
photos taken with the olympus pen camera
photos taken with the olympus pen camera

The 45mm is much better in low level light situations than your kit lens and thats because it can have an aperture as wide a 1.8 which means more light is allowed in the camera. So if you swap from your kit lens to your 45mm lens you may need to drop the exposure compensation.

You can film with the 45mm lens but obviously the fixed nature and zoomed in quality of the lens means it won't work for handheld vlogging and filming in smaller spaces where there is not enough distance to move back. The 45mm lens can make really lovely close up cut away shots for fashion and beauty hauls for example, but I don't use it for the sit down filming sections myself. This is because it needs to be too far away and a) I don't have space and b) it means the sound quality is poor as the camera further away. However if you have a separate mic then the 45mm lens can give you a lovely blurry background for your videos with you nice and sharp in the foreground. Again make sure your background is as far away as possible if you want it really blurry and I would advise increasing your f-stop a little just to deepen the depth of field and ensure you stay in focus when you move around.


So I hope that's helped you understand using the Olympus Pen 45mm lens a little bit better and more confident to start using it. Any questions as always comment below and I'll answer them. I'll be doing a post exactly like this one for the 17mm lens next so let me know if you have any questions at all.

Also if you love my blog and enjoy reading it then please do vote for me as Blogger of The Year in the Thirty Plus awards. It would honestly mean the world to me to win. VOTE HERE

Thank you

Debs x


Bang on Style

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  • Lauren October 26, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Loved this post! So so helpful (and understandable!!) for an Olympus PEN newbie like me and your pics look gorge xxx

  • Jo Reynolds October 26, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Love love love this post. I used your original post to help set up my EPL7. You make everything sound so easy and you explain it really well.
    So happy you’re doing a post about the 17mm lens as this I am considering getting one

  • Sarah October 26, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    As always a very informative post that I will take with me. This has given me that added extra bit of information I needed to ensure my confidence grew when taking my photo’s. Thank you… Oh and I already voted xx

  • kerry October 26, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Great and informative post. I use this lens for most of my blog photos, but always switch lenses for “people” shots. Im looking forward to trying this lens as you suggest. Thanks for sharing x

  • Abby Thomas October 30, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks so much for this post.

    I messaged you on instagram about a week ago, and this has MASSIVELY helped!
    Cannot wait to have a play around.

    Will vote now!
    Girlgotcurls x

  • Steph Dring November 27, 2017 at 11:02 am

    I’ve just started using this lens and have figured a lot out on my own by playing around but this post was really helpful for the things I didn’t know!

    Steph x

  • Ann November 28, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Great post!
    I’m trying to decide which lens I should buy as my first prime lens. I’m thinking of either the Olympus 25mm 1.8 or the 45mm. Do you think that the 25mm is as good as the 45mm? I have an impression that the pictures are a bit brighter with the 45mm, but I’m afraid I will feel that the 45mm is too zoomed in. I want a lense I can use to take pictures in e.g. cafes/restaurants, both interior and close ups (coffee, food etc). I could use the kit lens for interior shots but I feel like it won’t be that good in low light situations. Any tips?:) thanks!

    • Bang on Style December 7, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      Hi Ann,

      For shooting interiors etc I would opt for the 17mm. It has some lovely blur but isnt as zoomed in as the 45mm. The 25mm is lovely but a little bit too wide angle for my taste, but it is lush!! Try the Olympus Test & Wow service and test them both out maybe?

  • Juanita March 9, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    Definitely had to check this post again before I purchased a 45mm lens! You’re tips, breakdowns and explanations are literally my go to with pretty much anything camera and photography-related. Everything is just SO helpful! X

  • T April 6, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Hey, can you video with this lens?

    • Bang on Style April 10, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Hi there, I video close ups etc with it for my cut aways but its too zoomed in for vlogging really.

      Debs x

  • Kelly August 2, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Absolutely LOVE your blog. The Olympus posts are so helpful. I’ve just invested in a Pen-8 after using my husband’s bulky DSLR (which I’ve never found to be very user-friendly) and I’m so excited to get started with it! Do you have any tips for photographing moving subjects (I will be mostly taking photos of dogs!)

  • Isaac August 11, 2018 at 2:46 am

    What a lovely band informative blog post. Thank you!

  • Mick m4/3 February 26, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Debs. I guess your blog will attract plenty of female readers and not so many men. I found you due to my (50 year !) interesst in photography. I must say that you have some superb photos, well done. As an Olympus user I look forward to finding time tonight to read your views on the 17mm and 45mm and any other related items.

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