A great macro lens for the Micro Four Thirds system, with a solid mid-range performance
Let’s not beat about the bush: this is an amazing lens that has every bell and whistle, not to mention the Leica seal of approval. With a focal length that is twice the sensor diagonal, Leica’s 45mm is ideally placed to offer a high-quality macro performance, much like the 90-105mm macro lenses offered for full-frame 35mm cameras. The ‘macro’ label in the lens name suggests this ought to be the case, but such labels don’t always deliver what they promise.
Leica’s lens does: it is a true macro that works brilliantly in AF mode. The AF system is quiet and quite quick, but not blindingly so. Manual intervention is possible via the only collar on the lens and activates an enlarged viewfinder image (where available) to make focusing easier. Using an electronic viewfinder isn’t as quick as using an optical micro-prism, but the experience is not unpleasant.
The 45mm looks and feels like a Leica lens and its MTF chart has a correspondingly traditional profile. The figures are a shade disappointing at the ends, dipping below 0.25 cycles-per-pixel at maximum aperture and beyond f/14, but the resolution is above 0.3 cycles-per-pixel across the most-used apertures from f/4 to f/8.
Optical Image Stabilisation (Mega OIS) is built into the lens and controlled from the camera body. This works well, without any of the jitters that some other systems produce. A focus limiter restricts the minimum object distance to 0.5m for normal photography and allows extended focusing down to 0.15m in macro mode. Incidentally, the focal-plane marking is to be found on the left-hand end of the top plate and is discreet to the point of being easily overlooked.
When considered as an ‘ordinary' prime lens Leica's 45mm MFT lens is distinctly expensive but its true macro capability puts it firmly into the macro lens arena, where its price can be more easily justified. If you will use all its features then the price may be worth paying.