What lenses should I buy for my new Micro 4/3 camera?

What lenses should I buy for my Micro 4/3 Camera?

EM1

With the E-M1 out and the new E-M5II scheduled to hit the shops in about 2-3 weeks I have been getting asked repeatedly “what lenses should I buy with it”. Well, buying a lens is almost like buying underwear. It’s all personal preference, lol. But even so, there are some superb lenses for this system and in case you did not know it, yes, you can use Panasonic lenses made for Micro 4/3 on a Olympus Micro 4/3 body and vice versa.

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In the mirrorless world some of my favorite lenses come from Micro 4/3. Below is a list (and some alternatives) of what I would buy if I were diving fresh into Micro 4/3.

The Camera

The Olympus E-M1 and new E-M5II  are a big deal in the Micro 4/3 world as they are quiet amazing bodies full of modern day tech. You can order the camera at Amazon or B&H Photo or PopFlash.com.

Wide Angle

My fave: The fast aperture of f/2 allows the Olympus 12mm f/2 to shoot in lower light while getting sharp and colorful images. The 12mm is a premium lens for the Micro 4/3 system giving you a 24mm equivalent.

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There are a few GREAt wide-angle choices but depending on how wide and how fast you want to go will decide what to get.

**The best bang for the buck will be in blue bold text!**

**My favorite will be in RED text!**

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Olympus 12mm f/2A beautiful little lens and a favorite of mine even though I find it a little on the pricey side today with so much competition. GORGEOUS in the all black edition (which is no longer sold) this lens offers AF speed that is FAST, focus accuracy and a fast f/2 aperture along with close focusing and nice manual focusing features. It is small, light and looks the part. The key word is SMALL. 🙂 A 24mm equivalent t in focal length.

Panasonic 15 1.7 – A gorgeous and TINY lens made in collaboration with Leica this panasonic will give you a tad more contrast and color saturation that the Olympus 12mm, as well as give you a 30mm equivalent instead of a 24, so not as wide. It is a fantastic lens and while I prefer the 12, this comes in 2nd.

Panasonic 14 f/2.5 – Smaller and flatter than the 12mm and just about as good image quality wise. It is not as fast to AF (but still super fast) and it is not as slick as the 12mm but it is MUCH cheaper at $340 or so. Almost $400 less than the Olympus. You lose a half of a stop going from f/2 to f/2.5 as well as 2mm but you save cash while getting a fantastic lens. A 28mm equivalent. 

Olympus 9-18 Zoom – This is a wide-angle little jewel. I have not yet reviewed it (but will be VERY soon on the E-M1) but have tried it and if you want versatility with an effective focal range of 18-36 this is your guy. Sharp, great color and while slow in the aperture department many of us will not need a fast aperture for this focal length. This lens sells for $699.

Olympus 17 1.8 This is not really ‘wide” but is on the wider side of neutral. This will give you a 35mm equivalent and I LOVE this lens. It is one of my faves for everyday all around use and has given me astounding quality results. My review is HERE.

Standard Lenses

My Fave: The Voigtlander 25 f/0.95 is a large, heavy and powerful lens on Micro 4/3. If you love your shallow DOF but want sharpness and great color, this is it. Just be prepared for manual focus only! Should do very well on the E-M1 with the huge EVF. 

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New Olympus 12-40 – The new super pro zoom by Olympus could end up being my new fave. No, I am not usually a zoom guy but this one is special. Superb quality, superfast AF and a semi fast f/2.8 aperture. Expensive but should be worth it to those who like zooms with a constant f/2.8 aperture. Weather proof as well and will kick the 12-50 to the curb. $999. Review is mixed in with my E-M10 review HERE.

Panasonic 20 1.7 IIA powerhouse pancake with a small design. Not the fastest to AF but it has become a legend for its size, price and output. You can not go wrong with this lens, period. Review is HERE.

Panasonic 25 1.4 – Another legendary favorite for Micro 4/3. This one is deliciously good but around $500 or so and it is larger and noisier to AF than the 20. Gives you a little more magic over the 20 so up to you if the expense and size is worth it. This is also a fave of mine but the “bang for the buck” goes to the 20 1.7II. My review is HERE.

Olympus 25 1.8 – This guy is small, fast and provides a 50mm Equivalent with a semi fast aperture. See my full review HERE to see just how good this lens is.

Voigtlander 17 or 25 0.95These are beasts. Heavy, Large and of HIGH quality build. All manual and much like shooting an old (or new) Leica lens in feel. Sharp at 0.95 and with a fantastic character and Bokeh. I love the 17.5 and 25 but if pressed with only owing one 25 (50mm equiv) I would go for the 25 f/0.95 or the 25 1.4 from Panasonic. These are around $1000 so they are the most expensive. When you hold one you will wonder why they are not $1500 🙂

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Want Some reach?

The Voigtlander 42.5 at f/0.95 is beautiful. 🙂 

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Panasonic Nocticron 42.5 f/1.2THIS my friends is my all around favorite lens for the system in general. Modeled after a Leica Noctilux AND Summicron, this lens offers the performance of both of those Leica legends. Super sharp even at 1.2, creamy bokeh and a beautiful color rendering. If I could only have ONE lens for my E-M1, this would be it. See my review HERE. More shots with it in my E-M5 II review HERE.

Olympus 45 1.8This is almost a MUST own. A 90mm equivalent and coming it at around $349 this lens is so worth it that if you own a nice Micro 4/3 camera and do not own this lens you should really reconsider that thought. Fantastic in every way. For me, limited use as I am not a 90mm guy but for those who are, this one rocks. Priced right. My review of this lens is HERE.

Voigtlander 42.5Another Voigtlander masterpiece! The 42.5 gives us an 85mm f/0.95 equivalent. Amazing sharp lens and you can see my review HERE. Not cheap but fills out the Voigtlander trinity of lenses for Micro 4/3 which gives us a 35, 50 and now 85mm, all f/0.95! Top quality here guys. You can buy this from CameraQuest HERE.

 

More? How about a Telephoto!

The 75 1.8 will give you a 150mm equivalent so if you are shy, and want to keep some distance, this lens will let you do it.

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Olympus 75 1.8 – Ahhhhhh, one of the best pieces of glass in the Micro 4/3 lineup, period. This lens is a masterpiece but long at 150mm (equivalent). Still, this is one of those special lenses and it feels, looks and performs like a million bucks. In black it is super sexy as well. Not very large or heavy but just right with fast AF as well. Bravo Olympus. My review is HERE.

Panasonic 35-100 – This is in the high quality premo line for Panasonic and it does not come cheap but from what I hear, it is a great high quality tele option. $1500!

Panasonic 100-300 – The budget telephoto with some serious power and high quality. Many swear by this guy, and if you want REACH…as in 600mm equivalent, this is the best $600 you can spend on your Micro 4/3 for a native lens. 

Olympus PRO 40-150 f/2.8 – WOW, this lens is a MASTERPIECE in build, function and performance. If you want a 80-300 equivalent in a pro made weather sealed lens, this is about as good as it gets. Puts most 70-200 Pro lenses to shame. Images in my E-M5 II review.

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Specialty Lenses – Macro and Fisheye

The E-M5 and Panasonic 8mm Fisheye – GREAT special effect lens. But make sure to GET CLOSE!

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Panasonic 8mm Fisheye – I have shot with the cheap manual focus Rokinon fisheye and the quality Panasonic 8mm fisheye and I LOVED the 8mm from Panasonic the most. It feels nice, build is superb as is performance. This is a great special effect lens for occasional up close use. I love it. You can see my review HERE. Amazon sells this beauty via PRIME.

The Olympus 60 Macro is AMAZING. Highly recommended for Macro lovers. 

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The Olympus 60mm Macro Probably the best Macro lens I have personally used or tested. Superb lens. $499 at Amazon. My full review is HERE.

 

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102 thoughts on “What lenses should I buy for my new Micro 4/3 camera?

  1. Hey Steve. I’m after a wide angle lens for the em5ii. Is the 9-18mm fairly sharp? I have the 12-40 pro so don’t wanna go backwards in IQ yet don’t want to spend 7-14mm pro kind of money.. Are there any third party wide angle lenses for m4/3 that aren’t fisheye?

    Cheers

  2. Steve…Very good write-up on the MFT prime lens options. Do you have any suggestions on MFT quality zooms as a walk around lens? I’m heading on a trip to Italy with my DMC-GX85 and need a quality zoom for both outdoors and indoors. Thanks!

  3. Hey Steve,

    As a amateur film maker I purchased all “blue lenses” along with my GH2 a few years ago. This article was by far the most useful piece of content I read back then and I’ve used my lenses extensively!

    I’m now ready to move on to the “red lenses” but before investing I thought I’d message you since it’s been 2 1/1 years since this gem of an article. Did you ever do an update (do you plan to)? or you think this list still holds today?

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom, it’s very much appreciated

  4. Steve — Is there a reason the 42.5mm/f1.2 Nocticron isn’t included in this list as the best in its category? And is the jury still out for you on the 12-40mm/f2.8 since you say it “could” be your favorite new lens?

  5. Hi Steve really look forward to your review on EM1 and the 9-18mm combo. Owned EM1 and 12-40mm f2.8 which is really fantastic zoom lens. 9-18mm would reduce size, weight and much wider. Just unsure about image quality.

    1. I use the pany-leica 14-150 with the mmf-3 adapter as my walkaround lens, my 12-40 f2.8 for my low light lens and my panny 100-300 for anything distant, i like zooms

  6. Adrian, i pulled the trigger and bought a good used Leica 14-150 and have just spent a full weekend using it and comparing it, these are my thoughts… a bit of background before i give you my results, i wanted an all in 1 lens/camera just for holidays n snapping the grandkids etc, i shoot canon and have a 1d4, 5d3 and 70d, i also have a variety of L lenses so im used to very high quality gear and photos, after doing a couple of cruises over the last year, taking my 5d3 with 24-70 2.8 ii and 70-300L i quickly realized this combo was way too heavy to lug around towns and cities all day, next trip i took my 70d with 15-85 and 70-300L and again found it too cumbersome so my hunt began for something smaller and lighter but with equal speed and IQ, a very big ask, i bought a canon g15, nice but didnt compare, then i bought an oly stylus 1, again it just didnt do it for me, then a friend was selling his e-m5 with a sigma 19mm and oly 40-150 cheap so i bought it, i just couldnt love it so i bought the oly 12-40 pro and fell in love with this lens, then the search for the longer lens started, long story short, i bought the oly 14-150, pany 14-140 ii and the pany 100-300 and still couldnt love the camera so then i bought the e-m1 and fell head over heals with this little gem with the 12-40 but still didnt like the IQ from any of the longer lenses so i bought the Leica 14-150 and the oly mmf-3 adapter, ive now put this lens through its paces, first test was the focus speed, i put the bodies on “P” and set everything to auto and just snapped away, i then used manual settings and this is what i found, on the e-m5 the fastest focussing lens was the oly 40-150, followed by the oly 14-150, the pany 14-140 ii and the pany 100-300 and the leica 14-150 were roughly about the same, the fastest lens snapped into focus in a fraction of a second whilst the slowest about 2-3 seconds, i then did the same on the e-m1, the positions were roughly the same except for the leica, it was much faster on the e-m1, id say about twice as fast, it really impressed me, next came the IQ, this time i added my 70d fitted with my canon 18-200, my 5d3 fitted with my 28-300L and i borrowed a mates nikon d7000 fitted with the nikon 18-200, this is what i found, the IQ of the 5d3 with 28-300L as you would expect was very good although soft at the long end, the nikon combo was pretty good too, the 70d 18-200 combo was weaker as was the e-m5 with oly 14-150, the pany 14-140 was slightly better but id still put them both equal with the 70d combo, now for the leica, this lens is amazing, ive read that it is arguably the best super zoom made and i must say, i agree, this lens on the e-m1 at all focal lengths and apertures either equaled or out performed my 28-300L on the 5d3, it is sharp edge to edge but with the usual things you find wrong with super zooms, distortion etc which are either fixed in the camera or in lightroom, the leica is not as fast as the other super zooms but on the e-m1 its not slow either, let me give you an idea, blink fast once, now do it 4 times, that is the difference between the fastest and slowest lenses i tested, the leica would be around the 3 blink mark at its worst and i can certainly live with that, especially with the IQ it gives, also this lens is much smaller than i thought, it fits nicely on the e-m1 and even though i have fred flintstone fingers i still have plenty of room between the lens and the grip, weight is nice also, hope this has helped you a bit with your decision, let me also ad this, this was not an in depth review, it is simply the opinion of an old bloke that loves photography and tested these lenses with real world shots of my animals, my grandkids running up n down the yard, cars going past on a busy road, trees, birds, houses and anything else i could find around my house, in other words, passionate photography.

  7. Hi, i was wondering if anyone out there has tried the Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6 Asph. OIS on the E-M1, if so how does it compare in IQ and focus speed to the Olympus 14-150 or the Panasonic 14-140, I have the 12-40 plus a few primes for low light work but want an all in one lens to leave on my E-M1 when on holidays in daylight, any advice would be much appreciated

    1. I have the very same question, I was unhappy with the 10x IQ for the Pana m4/3 14-140 f4-5.8 (mark 1) and sold that, I am very torn between the Pana Leica 4/3 14-150, which has great reviews.

      But when I tested a unit that a friend of mine is selling, I felt that the autofocus was really slow compared to the both the Pana m4/3 14-140 mark 1 and mark 2’s (f3.5-5.6). The Mark 2 is also much lighter than the mark 1, but of course my initial complaint was the IQ of the Pana mark 1 14-140, so I am tempted to take a punt on the Pana Leica at about US$650, it is a rather attractive price (from what I can see on the net anyway)

      I’ve also read Steve’s remarks in this very thread on preferring to purchase m4/3 lenses.. and I know exactly where he’s coming from so.. still in a dilemma!

  8. Hi,
    I just started shooting with the em1 (came from canon and pentax DSLRs) and have the oly 12-40 2.8 lens. I am deciding about the panny 45-200 4.0 or oly 40-150 4.0 for telephoto work and travel. Has anyone compared both in terms of sharpness and weight? Any idea when the new telephotos are coming out?
    thanks, Lia

  9. I’ve got a question. I know usually the Oly 17 and the Pany 20 are the ones that are compared but I’m on the fence about the Oly 12. On my full frame Canon I always gravitated to my 24 because I loved the bokeh and the wide angle. But I’m not going to get that in the m4/3 format. I have the 17 and I do love it as you do including the wonderful size! But if you only could have one (as my budget allows right now) which would it be? I know they are fundamentally different but just thought I’d ask anyways. I haven’t shot the 12 yet.

    1. I have the Olympus 12mm, 17mm (1.8) and 12-40. I am in complete agreement with DDaugherty. The 17mm is good but not exceptional (it lacks sharpness) and useful if you want a lightweight lens for street shooting. I knew this when I bought it but wanted a small lightweight normal lens given the size of the Panny 25 and the Oly 12-40. Having used it for a couple of months, I am tempted to sell it as the compromises are too high and I’d rather keep the Panny 25 as a walkabout prime or Oly 12mm for landsacpes.

      The 17mm is great if you are a point and shoot style of photographer who mostly uses the auto functions on your camera. If, however, you like to take portraits using aperture priority and manual focus (on magnification mode) it becomes immediately obvious that you don’t get critical sharpness using the 17mm 1.8. Last weekend I was using the Panny 25 1.4 and the Oly 17 1.8 side by side at my young daughter’s birthday party and it was like comparing chalk and cheese.

      The Panasonic is way sharper and produces far more pleasing pictures that “jump out” far more than the Oly 17 which is perfectly good just nothing special. You can still get great shots with the 17mm just lest of them.

      The Oly 12mm is similarly a much higher quality lens in terms of EQ than the Oly 17mm. If I had to choose only two primes to use, it would be the Oly 12mm and the Panasonic Leica 25 1.4. I also have the Oly 45 and 75mm both are also a class above the 17mm but I find the Panny 25 1.4 more flexible than either given the focal length which makes it more practical for indoor shooting where you you have limited space and are shooting in available light. The Oly 45 is very good but the colours don’t jump out at you the way they do on the Panny. The 75mm is an exceptional lens but not a particularly practical focal length. If I was shooting portraits of models (that are typically at the same distance away for most of teh shoot) in a studio setting, I would pick the Oly 75mm for portraits. I also previously owned the Panny 20 1.7mm but sold it and replaced it with the Oly 17mm which I find a better lens overall – it’s not as sharp but the autofocus is much faster. Given I also have the Panny 25, the Panny 20 1.7mm whilst a good lens, it became redundant. If anyone is thinking whether to get the Panny 25 or Panny 20 1.7, I’d say the 20 1.7 is better for street shooting – it’s very sharp but a little harsh in its rendering which is fine for street shots but not ideal for portraits where the Panny 25 is way better. Don’t get me wrong, you can take perfectly good portraits with the 20 1.7mm but it’s harshness makes it better for say a street portrait on the streets of Mumbai than for taking more flattering beauty portraits.

  10. Just wondering what you think of the 17 1.8 Olympus lens. I use it as my main lens and find it to be very sharp with great rendition. Unfortunately I find the lens hood too big and when putting a glass filter on to reduce size as I carry the camera with me all the time, the lens creates reflection.

    1. The 17 1.8 is the most amazing lens. I walked around Paris and Grenoble, France with this lens, and needed nothing else. It is fast and not so in-your-face. I use it without a lens hood. It provides almost no bulk to the E-M1. It is a passport to “street photography.” Best choice.

      1. I’ve owned it and shot it quite a bit but I have never found it beyond just a good lens. It’s better than the 2.8 but there’s something about it that has never quite impressed me the way the Panny 25 does. I wish there was a killer 35mm equivalent… maybe the 17mm Voigt? … for now I just use the Oly 12-40 PRO at 17mm but I would prefer an impressive prime for the size. BTW: The 20mm panny might be a good alternative but it doesn’t focus as fast as the Olympus and although good, the Oly.17 seems a little better. I guess I was hoping it would be up there with the Olympus 45mm and 75mm lenses but it’s not.

  11. OK….somewhat of a newbie question.
    Should I use UV filters on my nice new Olympus lenses? Protection versus image degradation?
    I just purchased the 17/1.8, 45/1.8, 40-150 and 12-40 PRO. If so, any recommendations on brand.
    Aloha!

    1. I’d use UV filters mainly for protection. If you’re on a budget get Hoya Pro. If price is less important go fo B&W. Having tried both, my favourite filter brand currently is the less well known Marumi brand which is of similar quality to B&W but half the price. Hoya is perfectly fine but some of their filters are a pain in the neck to keep clean. For your 45mm 1.8, if you plan to use it outdoors with the aperture wide open in bright light, you should defintely consider getting a neutral density filter (I use Marumi ND8 which are quite cheap on Amazon.co.uk at the moment). For B&W, I usually buy from Ebay sellers in Hong Kong given they are so much cheaper than what they cost here in the UK. By doing so you’re taking the risk that they may not be genuine which is why I currently prefer using a less well known brand like Marumi which is less likely to be targeted by counterfeiters.

  12. Nice list, but my list includes the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 too. The 17mm is a well build lens that renders scenes beautifully. It’s also sharp. I think it’s a must have.

  13. Thanks for the input D, I ended up ordering the EM1 with the 12-40 over the 9-18 since the cost difference was negligible for what you get. I also went with the Panasonic 45-200mm f/4-5.6 G Vario MEGA O.I.S. Lens because of the price and good reviews. My reasoning behind this choice was I use the long lens quite a bit less than my wide and standard lens so to start this will suffice.

    My plan is to pick up a couple of Prime lenses to compliment the two above and since I’ve not done any research on these I settled for the pro lens and a less expensive lens to fill in the range difference. I have my old equipment to sell which should give me a head start towards my first prime lens.

    Now I just have to have the patience to wait for it all to ship!

    1. You will like the 12-40mm. It’s only fault is it’s size when compared to the tiny m4/3 primes. Olympus showed that you can make a very good but tiny zoom with that 9-18 but they chose to sacrifice size for uncompromising quality on the 12-40mm which I’m glad they did …. I’m also grateful for that E-M1 hand grip when I have the 12-40 mounted…

      Sometimes it’s easy to become handicapped with indecision when comparing conflicting reviews, cost vs. quality, etc. but you should have no regrets with that lens. You mentioned that light is not an issue so that 45-200mm should be very good as well. I prefer the telephoto primes only because I often shoot at night.

      It’s been mentioned many times before but don’t forget about that little Olympus 45mm prime. You have that range basically covered twice with those two lenses but having the wide aperture is great with portraits, etc. I don’t use mine often but I’m occasionally I’m glad I have it. For about $350 it also gives you a much lighter weight camera for those casual walk around days.

      Daniel

  14. I’m about to drop some $$ on the EM1 and a couple of lenses but I’m limited to about $2500 for my budget. I primarily shoot landscape and nature so the wide lenses are on my camera the most. I was looking at the Oly 9-18mm and the Pano 100-300mm but after reading through here I now have my doubts.

    The $200 rebate on the new 12-40mm 2.8 pro makes that lens only $100 more than the 9-18mm and since I’ve always shot DSLRs I don’t have a frame of reference as to what would be a better option for my wide lens.

    For my long lenses I’m also torn between the Pano 100-300mm vs their 45-200mm. The latter being a little over $200 less. I usually use my longer lens for shooting wildlife so I can see where the extra focal length would come in handy.

    Most of my shots are in daylight so I’m not sure if I need the faster lens in the wide range but it’s tough to pass up that $200 rebate.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. I shoot a variety of cameras and my favorite wide lens is a Zeiss 21mm on a Canon FF… saying that, I have tried to equal that performance on a small camera for quite some time. A Fuji 14mm on an X body can get there but I’ve used to feel that I was giving up a little with something like the 12mm Olympus vs. carrying a big Zeiss (or the Fuji) around.

      But, in hindsight, I’ve been quite happy with the Oly 12mm giving it’s size although it still doesn’t touch the Zeiss 21mm on FF.

      Recently I have started shooting the Olympus 12-40. It is big and about as heavy as the 75mm. In limited shooting, it seems to best the 12mm prime. I don’t have a feel for how it compares to the big Zeiss but I would choose it over all m4/3 lenses that cover 12mm unless you are shooting one of the tiny m4/3s bodies and just want size.

      I also have shot the 9-18mm and it is quite good as well if you want 9mm and a small lens, otherwise, I would just get the 12-40mm.

      If ultra-wide is main need, a Pan 7-14mm + Oly 12-40mm would be a hard combo to beat but would go over budget by $350 or so. Or the 12-40 + one of those nice and inexpensive but manual Korean made 8mm primes.

      Otherwise, I would go Olympus 12-40mm and maybe try to squeeze the Olympus 75mm in there for the 150mm. The 75mm is simply the best m4/3 lens. Maybe the long zooms are important if you want the 200mm + but I would almost take the 75mm and crop over some of the longer zooms. And of course, with the E-M1, the great Olympus 150mm f/2 is always a future option option albeit an expensive one.

  15. Steve. I will; be receiving my EM-1 next week. So stoked. Placed an order for the Oly 12-40 but will not arrive for a couple of weeks. Question. I can’t afford to buy your whole list so what order of importance would you place them in. I shoot lots of landscapes and action stuff. But in the main all subjects are fodder for my camera. Thinking the Pan 20 1.7II plus one other for now. Many mahalos for a wonderful site. Simply the best.

    1. I sold my 20mm 1.7 to buy the 17mm 1.8 – the autofocus is far far faster – specially in low light, which is when I use it most – and as Steve has pointed out the 17mm is simply gorgeous with the EM1, after that my choice would be the 60mm to allow you to do macro and have a portrait lens 🙂 enjoy!

      1. Mahalo Richard.
        I did not see Steve reference the 17mm 1.8 in his list but looking at his original OM1 review it seems like it was his favorite lens. So I’m thinking 17mm 1.8 and Panasonic 25mm 1.4. Then either the 45mm 1.8 or 60mm when sell some older gear. I might spring for the cheap 40-150 until the new Pro tele zoom comes out next year.

        1. All good choices! I love the 25 1.4, just don’t end up using it a lot – too close for social stuff which is the majority of my low light. Love the 45 and it’s incredibly cheap. Bought the 60 for underwater macro but hoping the 12-40 will basically do that role. If you want a awesome zoom pick up a 50-200 (43 lens) on eBay it’s fab quality ( not as good as 150 f2 but better than all m43 long zooms IMO ) good luck and enjoy!!

          1. Thanks again Richard. Just ordered the 45 and 17. Now where’s that brown truck of joy 😉
            BTW…you mentioned underwater. What are you using? I do lots of on and under water photography and would like to upgrade from my un-trusty TG-2. (impressive IQ, lousy build quality).

          2. you are welcome 🙂
            I use an EM5 with nauticom housing. I used the lumix 12-35mm for most dives in the end, except for sharks which were usually easier with the 7-14 when close up, and the fisheye for underwater caves etc. Nauticam is hugely superior to olympus own housing (useability, durability, port system etc). Nauticam is going to produce a housing for the EM1 but they have not said when they will release it. I will be keeping my current gear, as I am v happy to have two small camera bodies that share batteries etc!

  16. One of the best lenses for the OLY — and I own both the E-M5 and the new E-M1 — is the Panasonic Leica 25 mm. This is one lens that you can leave on your camera. It is great on low light; it is truer to what the eye actually sees. I have shot basketball with this lens. I also value the Olympus 75 mm 1.8. I have used this for portraits, but also for sports.
    Postscript: You speak from time to time about camera bags. For the Oly, I use the ThinkTank Sling Turnstyle 10. I can accommodate two OM-D camera bodies with lenses and an extra lens, as well as a mini iPad. It is portable, lightweight, easy to carry. I highly recommend this.

  17. I’m understand the issue is with comments of wanting more weather-sealed lenses. But I think Olympus is on the right track. After shooting for 50+ years in all kinds of weather, the main thing I look for in weather sealed lenses is a couple of zooms to cover the range and a couple of bodies to mount them to. That way I have what I need without having to change lenses since the whole point of shooting in inclement weather (blowing dust storms, blizzards, and downpours) is to work without having to change lenses. I’d never head out into the outback with a weathersealed prime because I’d be stuck with that as the weather would prevent me from changing lenses on that body. Now that the E-M1 is announced along with a couple decent weathersealed zooms, maybe we’ll see an UWA sealed lens at some point (to correspond to the EF 17-40 or 16-35) for landscape, etc. Nature/wildlife shooters can use the older 4/3 sealed lenses for super zoom and telephoto shooting, I’d expect, until newer versions are introduced. It took Canon and Nikon years to create their huge assortment of professional sealed lenses. Olympus still has to prove they can be profitable in this category for the long haul.

    1. Doesn’t the vast OM System prove Olympus can do pro weatherproof lenses? They dropped the ball in the move to pro digital. Probably a part of this was due to the terrible financial mismanagement. The potential profitability for lenses is helped by economies of scale and the micro 4/3 standard meaning a lot of potential buyers.

      Olympus could potentially bring manual OM lenses back for pros for little cost if they kept the tooling.

    1. If he limited the choices to only weather sealed lenses you would be missing out on some of the best optics. There are only currently 2 weather sealed Olympus lenses (third one coming) and maybe two Panasonic lenses… of those, only one is a prime (the Oly 60 macro). The rest are slower zooms.

  18. Thanks. At this stage, I will likely wait for a M 4/3 ultra wide prime rather than buying a 4/3 lens. The Oly 12 or one of the cheaper ultra wide zoom may have to do in the meantime.

  19. 12mm isn’t quite wide enough in my opinion for wide angle landscapes but the Oly 12mm is tempting due to size and weight. What I’d really like is a high quality 10mm (20mm equivalent on 35mm) prime. Anyone know if there are any plans to make a prime lens that is wider than 12mm?

    1. Oly have made it clear there next focus is ultra-wide zoom, the 40-150 and the longer lens. No primes oly horizon at lower end, but who knows about the likes if sigma!? Used the 12-40 yesterday – it’s utterly gorgeous! Focuses to within an inch!! Utterly beautiful 🙂

  20. This is the first camera that has me seriously thinking of moving from Nikon to another system. I can get a 17mm f/1.8; 12-40mm f/2.8; 40-150mm f/2.8 and be fine; perhaps add fast tele prime for portrait work if the long zoom doesn’t provide enough subject isolation. I’d hate to have to replace my whole Nikon CLS system though. I can shoot flash using fp sync at 1/8000th now. I don’t think Olympus has a system like that, do they?

  21. Well if this include the future Olympus Pro lens, it will definitely be
    UW Zoom F2.8, 12-40mm F2.8, 40-150mm F2.8 and 400mm F4?

    Currently the telezoom M43 lens is a bit slow, the 50-200mm F2.8-F3.5 seems like a good candidate to tie over until 40-150mm F2.8 being released.

  22. I would go for:

    7,5 mm SamYang for the FE…nifty dirt cheap and a great lens.
    9-18 Oly (own that lens since 2010) and it is in one word magical, great for all round landscape, city and what not…..keep it under 15 though since the next lens…don’t use the 7-14 on a OM-D since it get purple casts……if anyone can explain them, let them call Oly…
    12-40 Oly..(at 999 unbeatable and ready for the rain)….that’s where my dollars role next (not to an EM-1)
    45 Oly for portrait
    60 Sigma for portrait and general tele (and for shooting huge spheres)
    45-200 Pana for a tele and then wait for the 150 to arrive,,,,if it needs to be sharp as hall I have a 1978 Nikon 80-200 for the tele end.
    A Nikon 300 IF-ED…..manuall…..great performer at a low price tag second hand.

  23. for the ones who would be interested : I looked at the Meta Data in lightroom and these are the results of the jury:

    – Pana/Leica 25mm f1.4 : 40% of usage
    – Oly 12 mm f2 : 30% of usage
    – Oly 45 mm f1.8 : 20% of usage
    – Samyang 7.5 mm fisheye : 5% of usage
    – Oly 40/150 zoom : just for the occasional tele shots : 2,5%
    – Oly Kitlens 12/50 zoom: very rare usage, only when i go to the white sandy beaches with my kids, and rely on Olympus Marketing saying that both this lens and the body are weather sealed… 🙂

  24. Hi Steve, out of interest why did you leave out the Panasonic 12-35? I purchased it fairly recently, and so far am impressed with it. You gave it a very good review, which helped me decide to buy, so I was suprised that it didn’t make your list.

    I’d be really interested on your views on how the Olympus 12-40 compares to the 12-35? I’m thinking of upgrading to the EM-1 from the EM-5, is it worth swapping the 12-35 for the 12-40 too?

    By the way, thanks for your hard work on the blog, I’ve read it every day for the last couple of years.

    1. Doh…I should have read the title of your article better…the 12-35 isn’t on the list because you’d buy the 12-40 instead!

      I’d still be interested on your views on how much of an improvement it is 🙂

  25. The best bang for the buck lenses that you (Steve) mentioned seem to be:

    14mm f2.5
    20m f1.7
    40mm f1.8
    40-150
    100-300 zoom.

    It seems like a screaming deal, compared to other systems…

    Any slow zooms, which would be worthwhile? Like the Panny 14-42..?

    1. if opting for a slow zoom, i’d try to find the panny 14-45, which is better than the 14-42 in every way. liked it on my gf1…kinda sad that i sold it, but i’m sure the 12-40 will make things better…

        1. interested as to what had you made that choice? What do you feel the 7d will give you that the EM1 wouldnt? granted that lens is not stellar, but there are so many that are!

  26. I agree with most of your recommendations, though I am very confused when you say the PL 25/1.4 is ‘noisier’ to focus than the 20/1.7. Sure you don’t have those backwards? the 25/1.4 has a near silent focus motor and you hear soft clicks when it stops, but that’s it. The 20/1.7 has a standard buzzy micro motor that is significantly louder.

  27. Did I miss it or was there no mention of 4/3 (not m43) glass. Like the 14-35 f2, or Oly 12-60? Do you find them too big to pair with m4/3 bodies, or are you worried about giving up too much AF speed?

    1. I would not buy 4/3 glass if starting fresh. Why? Because it is 2-3X larger and the high quality M 4/3 glass is just as good. If I owned the lenses already it would be a different story.

  28. was anyone able to find the info as to what lenses the em1 is able to correct for CA and distortion in-camera? oly ones for sure but what about pana?

  29. Thanks, Steve. I see no surprises, as I have been following your Micro Four-Thirds reviews, but it is nice to have this article to link them all together under one bookmark. I may well acquire one, or a pair of, the EM-1 camera(s) when my wife’s 2014 birthday is near. (Thus far, we are SLR shooters, except for a Nikon A.)

  30. I might be a odd bird, but my favorite is my old 17mm 2.8. I also own the Lumix 25mm, Oly 45mm, and standard zoom but the 17mm stays on my OM-D most of the time and has never let me down. Great quality pictures and a criminally underrated lens.

  31. I shot the EM-1 with the 12-40, 45 and 75 at an expo today. It has a really nice feel in hand, but what really impressed me was the layout of the buttons. No fumbling around whatsoever. Amazing for such a small camera.

  32. Steve, I miss the 17/1.8 ?
    Really love this lens on my Pen and can recommend it despite negative reviews from other sites. I have the 14/2.5 the 45/1.8 and next week the 25/1.4 but so far the 17 is my favorite even if not the sharpest lens on the market.
    Cheers from Sydney
    Guido

    1. Hello! The 17 would have been there if it was not for the 20 1.7 II. The 20 is sharper, crisper, and has better color IMO than the 17. The 17 is sweet, and I love the build and the fact that it matches the other lenses in design but I had the 17 and 20 and the 20 was sharper, more contrasty with deeper colors as well as smaller.

      1. Dear Steve, I have the 12-40 on my E-M1 , but for street use I am thinking of getting a smaller lens – given 6 months have passed since your post above – would you still choose the 20 1,7 II or was this for use with the Pen? Or back to Oly 17, or are there other pancakes/smaller lenses that I should consider today?

  33. If anyone is planning on doing IR then, don’t laugh, but you should seriously consider getting hold of the very cheap and plastic 14-42 zoom, I have the series II, but I assume the series I is the same. It has the least hot spots out of any lens I have used on M43 to date. Sure it’s slow but I tripod it and get midday exposure times around 3 seconds, autofocus works fine.

  34. I wonder if your oinion will be any different for telephoto, once you have tested some of the 4/3 glass 🙂 (Probably not, because you like small cameras/small lenses, but nevertheless, for exceptional image quality, for those who don’t mind, maybe you would recommend them). I am soooo looking forward to that (to the test)!

  35. imo the 12mm f2 is not that great a buy anymore, as the new 12-40mm offers the same image quality, better build with weather sealing, and the same awesome manual focus ring.

    It may be a bigger in size than the 12mm f2 and a stop slower but you’d be getting a lot more utility out of the zoom for not that much more cash.

    1. i agree. i think the 12mm f2 isn’t going to be that much better than the 12-40. i would put that money toward the 75 1.8 instead, which can act as a mini tele lens.

      i ordered the 12-40 and also have the 25 1.4, 17 2.8, and the 40-150. i might sell the 25 1.4 and pick up the 75 1.8…but not sure about that. i know the 75 1.8 is definitely in my future, but on the fence whether i should keep/sell the 25 1.4.

    2. $200 more for a zoom with more versatility, I agree. The 12 f/2 is still desirable to me though for its size, f/2 and performance. If the 12 dropped to $599 it would be an easier choice.

      1. Steve, great thoughts. Am thinking of selling my 12mm f2 to get the 12-40. Are there any times I will miss the f2 for anything landscape related eg low light/stars/northern lights or does Dof requirements always mean stopping down anyway? (I have 17mm 1.8f for other low light stuff). Much appreciate any advice!

      2. Price drop on the 12 would be great, but they’d need to have it in black for me to buy it. I came out as a limited edition, but it’s no longer available. Waiting patiently for my 45 in black. Lots of silvers around.

  36. Good reference list for m43 lens in this great site. By the way, any reason for not mentioning of the oly 17mm f1.8 or I might have missed it. The oly 12mm and 60mm is great combo for me with EP3. Time to upgrade the body?

  37. Yes but why is there not any weather proof small lenses?
    As far as I can see the 60mm Macro is the only weather proof prime,and none of the pancakes are weather proof either or do I miss something? Olympus is one their second weather resistant body by now.
    This is a gap in the marked right now, small weather proof cameras with large sensor.
    In the old days Contax T3 and Olympus MJU II were both weather proof.
    Am I missing something? I mean small with at least M43 size sensor. Strange that among the whole bunch of new premium compacts with large sensor there is none. And the logic of Olympus or Panasonic not making small weather proof lenses surprises me, especially that Pana didn’t update the new 20mm or Olympus the new 17mm to be weather proof.

  38. ..Don’t forget the Panasonic 7-14mm (14-28mm equivalent) constant f4. A terrific wide-angle. The new Oly 12-40mm constant f2.8 is also great. But I think I’ll stick with Panny 7-14mm, Oly 14-150mm, with Oly 45 f1.8, Oly 75 f1.8, and that old, heavy Voigt 25mm f0.95. (I never liked the Panny-Leica 25mm f1.4. I don’t know why ..just, er, “characterless” ..for me.)

    I never had any trouble with the Panny 100-300, unlike Richard (above). Results are great.

    1. What have you shot with the 100-300mm? And did you compare the results to the 75mm 1.8f cropped to the same size? Am v curious as to which you think is better.

      1. Well, for you, Richard, I just did: I went outside, and shot a noticeboard about 300 feet (100 yards / metres) away, full of fine print (black on white) and b&w pictures and maps (all about the local district) set amongst trees, with grass beyond it.

        The 100mm gave slightly sharper, clearer results at 100mm than the 75mm, when both were enlarged to give the same size of, for instance, a b&w picture of some trees on the noticeboard. But pixellation set in quite quickly as I cropped and enlarged each photo. Then I did the same at 300mm, and – of course! – the 300mm view needed less cropping and enlarging, and gave, thus, less pixellation, and was the clearest of them all, with slightly more contrast. Text on the notice panel was almost readable with the 100-300mm at 300mm, had plenty of fine, but unreadable, detail with the 75mm, and was also unreadable with the zoom at 100mm.

        But I wouldn’t use the 75mm to shoot that notice panel normally: I’d use the zoom at 300mm: it’s too far away to expect a decent shot with the 75mm. I wouldn’t use the zoom at 100mm, either, for that, as the noticeboard’s too far away. I’d use the obvious, or sensible, lens which is made for shooting something at that distance. I wouldn’t expect an enlargement, or crop, from the 75mm to be anywhere near as clear or sharp as a crop or enlargement (of the same thing) from the 300mm ..horses for courses.

        (Steve’s got a shot I took ages ago with the zoom at 300mm, here, in this GX1 review at http://tinyurl.com/74kc6hm ..and there are some shots of the same noticeboard(s), too.)

        I don’t think that one lens is “better” than the other: they’re intended for different uses, and both are good at what they’re built to do, but each has a different purpose. The 100-300mm zoom is built to make distant things look closer, and has built-in stabilisation to make up for its not having a huge aperture. (On Olympus cameras, the camera’s own stabilisation can be used instead of the lens’ own built-in IS.)

        The 75mm is built to be a short-ish telephoto with a huge aperture, to (a) separate whatever you’re shooting from its surroundings, and/or (b) to shoot in low light ..or any combination of the two. It’s the equivalent of a 150mm f3.5 or so on a full-frame camera, but is much smaller and lighter, of course. (That’s the attraction of micro4/3.)

        Each does its own job very well indeed, in my opinion. The 75mm, when used normally, and not being used instead of, or to ‘compete with’, the 100-300mm, gives extremely sharp, crisp, contrasty, well separated (by shallow depth of field) dazzlingly eye-catching pictures ..which are usually very sharp because it also allows a fast shutter speed when wide open.

        The 100-300mm does its own job very well indeed, and brings things crisply, and contrastily, closer, giving sharp, detailed pictures, but usually needs assistance to do that from its own built-in stabilisation or the camera’s own stabilisation ..it’s very light (in weight) for the equivalent of a 600mm full-frame telephoto, and, at 600mm equivalent, weighs just a fraction of what my Canon 28-300mm full-frame behemoth weighs, so it’s a delight to use.

        But comparing the 100-300mm against the 75mm is like comparing apples and toothpaste: they’re different things, intended for different purposes. I’d never use the 75mm for such long shots as I’d use the 100-300mm for – and vice versa. Just as I’d never use a 50mm, and then magnify and magnify the results in place of a 300mm. Resolution gets thwarted by pixellation.

        So they’re both great, and both deliver – for me, anyway – satisfying results ..when used for what they’re intended for.

        So I don’t think either is “better”, any more than comparing a screwdriver with a chisel would give me a result which says which one is “better”.

        They’re different tools.

        1. (Sorry; I should have mentioned in my reply, Richard (possibly above this message), that the plane in the sky in my GX1 review was shot with the 100-300mm at 300mm. I don’t know if this message will appear after – or before! – my longer response to you ..which should appear just above this post.)

          1. david thanks for this, much appreciate your taking the time to check this out. Maybe I do have a bum 100-300mm. Ive just looked back over all my Mexico photos, and the only ones of the 100-300 that I kept were in very bright light, anything else, and cropping from the 35-100mm worked better. From the cricket, none of the 10-300mm work keepers, not because of softness, but because of heinously awful bokeh ( I think maybe because the background was a long way removed from the subject) those shots were all unusuable, and resorted to the 35-100mm and cropping. I have now bought off ebay the 150mmf2 and the 50-200mm and the tc2 converter, and I have to say the 150mm f2 knocks the spots off the 50-200mm both with and without the tc2 (or tc1.4). I did some birding with the 150mmf2 and it produced gorgeous results only hampered by the autofocus, which when I tested on the EM1 briefly, was just awesome!
            Anyway thanks for testing your 100-300mm. I will give mine one more shot before sticking it on ebay!

          2. I’m off to Mexico (again) tomorrow! – no; day after – but I was going to take only the Panny 7-14mm and Oly 14-150mm, and possibly the Oly 45 f1.8. I wasn’t anticipating taking that 100-300mm with me. (But I WILL take the very versatile Casio ZR-1000, with its teeny built-in 24-300mm (equivalent) lens.)

            You mention “..heinously awful bokeh ( I think maybe because the background was a long way removed from the subject)..” and – I’ve just tried it – you do indeed get a kind of ‘double-image’ bokeh (out-of-focus background image) if you’re focusing on something very close, but also have a distant detailed out-of-focus background.

            I don’t normally use the 100-300mm for things which are at the nearest end of its focusing range (like head-to-waist of a cricketer) so I don’t normally see that ‘busy’ bokeh: all of my pics with the 100-300mm are of things which are generally quite far away in their entirety, so the background just blurs away into nothing.

            The further away your main subject is, then that ‘busy’ blur doesn’t happen so much, and the lens gives quite a smooth ‘bokeh’. So – knowing the characteristics of the lens – I’d move a bit further back from what will be your main subject, to get a smoother background, and perhaps just crop slightly afterwards, as if you’d shot closer.

            I’ll mention – just for anyone who doesn’t know – that with this Panny lens on an Olympus, it’s best to turn OFF the lens’ own mechanical stabilisation, and to use the camera’s built-in stabilisation: having BOTH switched on at the same time can produce conflicts between them, and the results may not be so sharp!

            “..I will give mine one more shot before sticking it on ebay!..” ..we-ell, why not try a few test shots, and see at what nearby focus distance it produces an unpleasant background. Vary that near-focusing distance until you find a distance at which the background blur is OK. Then see if you can work at that distance (e.g; a little further away than you’d previously used it). If it’s usable like that, keep it. If it’s not – sell it.

            I’ve not used the Oly Four Thirds 150mm f2, so I can’t comment on it, but I do know the Four Thirds 50-200mm, and it DOES focus instantaneously on the E-M1 (with a 4/3-to-m4/3 adaptor). It’s a large and heavy-ish beast – but Craig Litten was pretty ecstatic about it here on Steve’s site, at http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/tag/zuiko-50-200/

            (I thought maybe I’d use my Panny/Leica Four Thirds 28-50mm f2.8 on an E-M1 – and it focuses instantly – but that’s a big and heavy lens compared with the new one that’s coming specifically for m4/3 ..so why bother?)

            Sorry not to be more helpful: one person’s way of using a lens (very close with distant background) may not be the same as another’s (always distant), but I do see what you’re talking about ..it’s just that I don’t use my 100-300mm that way!

            Cheers,

            David.

          3. thanks for this David!
            The bokeh problem happened when shooting a cricket match, so the cricketeers, were exactly have way between where I was and the spectators in the background – i guess that would be the same in a lot of sporting contexts, but I completely get your point, now that I know this weakness I wont use it for that again. The other problem is just a general softness at 300mm. Using the 150mmf2 with a tc2 converter gives just massively better results, but with the downside of having to carry a heavy chunk of glass – on balance i think I will end up using the 150mm for all sport and any fast moving wildlife, until Olympus produces whatever the new supertelephoto will be – the lens roadmap makes it look maybe like 150-350 zoom which would be awesome!
            I will keep trying and experimenting! i use a wheelchair so I am not usually using a tripod, which I guess means the difference in 1 stop of light at 300mm is significant..
            Where are you off to in Mexico?!

          4. “..Where are you off to in Mexico?!..”

            Dunno. My Beloved arranges it all! Gotta pack now, all the best, David.

          5. thanks for the advice David, and thanks Steve for all your great work here! David, if you find yourself near Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan, then hope you get some cenotes cave diving! My other fav place is Akumel for snorkling with turtles 🙂 Enjoy!

  39. love your selection except the 100-300 which in my opinion is a dog that no-one should buy. Maybe I have a dud, but when shooting the ashes cricket recently, and before that jaguars in mexico in a wildlife reserve; on every straight up comparison the 35-100mm cropped was hugely better than the 100-300. The 100-300 produces truly evil bokeh (specially if the background is too far behind the subject) and is just horribly soft. My advice is save your money and get the 35-100mm.
    Steve have you used the 100-300mm? maybe I just have a dud, but I dont think so

    I have picked up a 150mm f2 on ebay, and it is a big beautiful chunk of glass, and with the TC2.0 extender is a joy to use, only problem was the autofocus, and continuous tracking. I have just tested this with an EM1 at an oly touch and show, and it was glorious!

    The other lens I love is the 17mm f1.8 for all social stuff in low light 🙂

  40. Excellent article and lens summary Steve! I’m an “old” M4/3 to Nikon convert, and while quite pleased with the IQ and sharpness I’m getting with the Nikon System, I’ve always had a soft spot for the wonderful Olympus and Panasonic lenses, not to mention the build quality and in-body stabilization of the Oly System. That said, I am still a bit skeptical of the 4/3 System, solely because of sensor size, as I do rather large poster prints. However, I am most interested in formal reviews of this new Oly EM1!

    1. OM-D E-M1 is a little more sophisticated version of E-M5. Fuction-wise, they are the same. Read the review for the latter meanwhile. There are no dramatic improvement in terms of picture quality.

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