Springtime in the Algarve is really quite special. At its greenest and lushest, the wildflowers come into bloom giving a sense of slowly waking up from the winter (as my Mum so perfectly put it!). This is the second time we’ve come in April and really it was a delight to take it all in. Not least because I had a gorgeous new Olympus 25mm f/1.2 lens lens to play with…
One of the reasons I first got into photography was because of ‘bokeh’ – the Japanese word describing the quality of blur that you get you in photographs with a shallow depth of field. To achieve at visually pleasing levels you need ideally a prime lens (though some zooms with wide apertures can achieve this too, but usually the extremely pricey ones!) and a wide or ‘low’ aperture; this is your f stop number. To start getting lovely bokeh you need to look at lenses with f/2 or lower ideally.
I used to spend hours researching lenses with low apertures and gazing at the beautiful, verging on experimental art type of pictures they took. When I was learning and going through my photographing flowers phase, the best I could afford was the Canon 50mm f/1.8 and then when that smashed (oops!), I upgraded to the Canon 50mm 1.4. Of course, I lusted after the much more expensive 50mm 1.2.
When I switched to the Olympus micro four thirds system, I was initially put out by the lowest aperture on their lenses only being at f/1.8. I then came to fall in love with both the 17mm and 45mm and the results they achieved at f/1.8. I did however buy a Panasonic 25mm f1.4 to quell my need for as low an aperture as I could afford.
A NEW WIDE APERTURE
Now Olympus has begun to expand its lens stable, releasing late last year the brand new pro 25mm f/1.2 (which will fit on all Pen and OMD models) which is what I took with me to Portugal. First off, this lens is much bigger than the ones I usually use on my Pen F and significantly more expensive. This is not an easy lens to carry around if you’re used to the much smaller 17mm and 45mm and for someone who’s a bit clumsy like me one that will you definitely have heart attack moments with. You can see it above on my Pen F and here on Instagram to get an idea of size!
That said, I have been utterly blown away by the results. The low aperture results in some of the most ‘bokehlicious’ dreamy bokeh as well as the lens being super fast and ridiculously sharp. In other reviews I’ve also read about its beautiful ‘fading bokeh’ which I think I managed to capture in some of my black and white pictures below.
I know flowers are all about the colour but in black and white I think I was better able to illustrate the beautiful background bokeh shapes, which is what my eye is always drawn to… Also remember that shallow depth of field is affected by the focal length so you’ll achieve bokeh more easily with the focal length of a portrait lens like a 45mm or 50mm, I’m hoping that we might see something of this kind too!
My aim was to capture some dreamy filmic landscape shots, some sharp detailing and most importantly some outstanding background bokeh. I hope you enjoy the pictures and would love to know what you think of the results!
At just over a grand this is a bit of specialist lens and no easy purchase, it’s kinda in the league of the Canon 50mm 1.2 I used to dream about and know quite a few bloggers use. When it comes to expensive kit, the only real solution is to save to or to sell/trade in old kit. But in the meantime, I know many of you have the Olympus 45mm f1.8 and this is definitely a lens you can achieve some lovely bokeh effects with – the key is to get close to your subject allowing distance behind and playing and angling around the light sources.
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