As you probably know by now if you follow me on this blog, I’m passionate about photography equipment and I spend a lot of time on the lookout for new camera bodies and new releases in lenses. With all brands, the choices are becoming more and more important and you can clearly get lost in the jungle of lenses.
Today, I’m bringing you a guide to what I consider to be the best Micro 4/3 lenses of the moment, also known as MFT (Micro Four Thirds). We’re talking about lenses for mirrorless cameras here. Of course, the goal is not to offer you a complete guide of all the Micro 4/3 lenses available (there are too many but I will get there). Moreover, I have already made a complete guide of lenses for mirrorless cameras that I recommend according to your photography practice.
This article will be particularly suitable for people wishing to upgrade to better equipment and/or equipment more adapted to their needs in photography. Indeed, we all start off with a kit lens, but it quickly reaches its limits depending on our uses. The goal is therefore to suggest which micro 4/3 lenses to upgrade according to your needs and very often your budget.
Note that the world of Micro four thirds is mainly dominated by two brands: Panasonic and Olympus. You should know that other third-party brands also offer optics in this format such as Sigma, Rokinon/Samyang or Tamron. Here we go. Note that Olympus is selling its photography section and that in less than a year, we’ll see almost nothing come out of their factories (we’ll see what the buyer will do with it).
Do you want to go further and discover all the native and third-party lenses available for the Micro 4/3 mount? Feel free to have a look at our guide!
This article is the result of extensive research and compilations to provide the most qualitative information. If you appreciate our work and wish to support our blog, please do not hesitate to come and order your lens through our Amazon links. This way we earn a small commission on the sale and the price for you remains the same 😊
As usual, I won’t repeat everything you need to know about choosing a lens in general, but I will remind you the basics in the scrollbar below. In order to know which Micro 4/3 lenses to move towards, it is still necessary to know and understand the essential elements to choose your lens and what they imply.
You just have to click on the small magnifying glass below to see all of these elements.
Unlike guides on the best Canon and Nikon wide-angle lenses, I’m going to have to categorize this a bit. There are a lot of lenses available from Olympus and Panasonic, each more or less suited to your photography practice (portrait, wildlife, landscape, etc.). So, I decided to categorize my top picks as follows:
- The best Micro 4/3 portrait lenses
- Best macro lenses for Micro 4/3
- Best wide angle and ultra-wide angle Micro 4/3 lenses
- Best Micro 4/3 telephoto lenses
- Best Micro 4/3 travel lens
- Best Micro 4/3 lens to replace your kit lens
- Best Micro 4/3 lenses for night and low light photography
I won’t necessarily talk to you all the time about the best Micro 4/3 lenses because they are often the most expensive, the heaviest and the brightest, but not necessarily the ones that everyone can afford. It will be a matter of choosing what suits you best between your budget and your needs.
For those interested in portrait photography, we soon realize that the kit lenses sold with the camera bodies are not really very suitable, both in terms of their focal length, but especially their aperture. Indeed, in portrait photography, we very often have a tendency to want to blur the background to highlight the person. Kit zooms often have fairly small apertures (f/5.6 or f/6.3) which do not allow this. We will therefore often prefer fixed focal length lenses with a large aperture (f/1.2 or f/1.4). Of course, it is possible to shoot portraits with some 12-40mm or 35-100 type zooms (classic equivalent 24-70mm and 70-200mm in full frame), but in the best case, these zooms will have focal lengths at f/2.8, which will limit your possibilities in portrait. Anyway.
Also be careful because in the field of portrait, the focal lengths on full frame are often referred to as “50mm or 85mm”, which with the equivalence on a small sensor like the MFT gives 25mm or 42.5mm.
For this category, I consider as focal length:
- Around 25mm: often appreciated for wide shots, full body in an environment or when we will lack of retreat, indoors for example,
- Around 42.5mm: this is the classic focal length for the medium tight portrait (head + shoulders) but also for the whole body. You will be able to easily make the person stand out by blurring the background,
- At about 60/70mm: ideal for tight portraits (head) and when you have space (outdoor portrait for example).
Let’s go, here is a list of the 10 best lenses for portrait photography, in order from the shortest focal length to the longest.
My 10 best lenses for portrait on an MFT sensor
- Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.2 PRO
- Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4
- Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8
- Panasonic Lumix 25mm f/1.7 ASPH
- Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.2 PRO
- Panasonic Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2
- Panasonic Lumix 42.5mm f/1.7 OIS
- Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8
- Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN C
- Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8
If you wish to compare the lenses, you can refer to the summary table below.
Simply put, this is the best portrait lens in this focal length range. It has Pro construction, tropicalization, extraordinary sharpness at full aperture and super fast auto focus. The quality of the produced backgrounds (bokeh) is reputed to be the best.
The very large aperture at f/1.2 will allow you to use it in all conditions, even indoors, and will save you from having to go up too much in high ISO. The lens is not that light (410g) mounted on a Micro 4/3 camera. Obviously, excellence comes with a price, which is quite high. For people looking for the best 25mm for wide/indoor portraits, and have a large budget, this is simply the lens to consider.
This 25mm, manufactured by Leica for Panasonic, also has a very good reputation. The sharpness is very good as soon as you close at f/2, but the autofocus however is known to be slower, knowing that the lens is not as recent as the 25mm PRO from Olympus. Note that the lens is not tropicalized, but has the advantage of being much more compact and lighter than the Olympus f/1.2 version.
The construction is a bit more plastic and the lens also doesn’t have any stabilization. However, it has the advantage of being half price compared to the 25mm f/1.2 from Olympus. Today there is a version II of the lens.
Olympus also offers a “cheap” version of its 25mm lens. With an aperture of “only” f/1.8, this Olympus version (without stabilization) offers a much lighter (137g), compact lens, for a price 3 times cheaper than the f/1.2 PRO version. The sharpness becomes very good as soon as you close at f/2 and excellent at f/2.8.
The manufacturing quality is quite decent and the optics work great for indoor photography. It is a solid choice in my opinion and a good alternative for people looking for a 25mm (equivalent 50mm in FF) at a lower cost. I would certainly prefer the Panasonic version at f/1.7, which is half the price.
Panasonic offers the cheapest 25mm and it is in my opinion the perfect lens to start out in portrait photography without breaking the bank. The manufacturing quality is correct (mainly plastic) and the sharpness is good at full aperture already.
With a lightweight of 125g and a price around 150€ new, you can’t really go wrong with this lens. Note that the optics are obviously, at this price, neither stabilized nor tropicalized.
However, I wanted to give four possible alternatives to the lenses mentioned above. Sigma offers an excellent 30mm f/1.4 DC DN which has a very good reputation and offers a superb bokeh with its large f/1.4 aperture. The price is decent for an optic with this aperture, well below the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4. Note that the Sigma DC DN are initially designed for APS-C.
Finally, if you don’t mind manual focusing, Samyang/Rokinon offers a 24mm f/1.4, even if many people find it a bit disappointing at full aperture. You can also consider the 35mm f/1.2 and f/1.4 from the same brand. The f/1.2 version is clearly worth it and has a very good reputation for a very bright lens.
This is in my opinion the best choice if you are looking for a focal length equivalent to the classic 85mm on full frame sensor. This 45mm f/1.2 has a very large aperture that will perfectly blur your backgrounds. Indoor use (if you have the space) will be easier with the large aperture and will avoid you to increase your ISO.
Quality is definitely present with the PRO range from Olympus with tropicalization and stabilized lens. The sharpness is considered excellent at full aperture, although the lens is quite impressive and heavy when mounted on a micro 4/3 sensor (410g). The price is obviously high for an optic of this quality.
This 42.5mm from Leica for Panasonic is also a very nice reference in this focal length range. The quality is obviously there and the sharpness of the lens is known to be excellent from the full aperture. The lens is stabilized, but it’s a shame that the aperture ring only works on Panasonic cameras. Note that the price remains higher than the 45mm from Olympus.
This is the “cheap” version of the 42.5mm from Panasonic. This lens is nevertheless very good. The quality, slightly below the bright lens opening at f/1.2, remains very correct. The optic is also stabilized and remains at a very correct weight. A good alternative at a price 3 times lower than the f/1.2 version of the brand.
This lens remains particularly appreciated for all people starting out in portrait photography and who do not wish to break the bank. The lens however has a slightly more plastic construction than the 42.5mm from Panasonic and is not stabilized. Nevertheless, the sharpness and bokeh are reputed to be very good for an optic that is very softly priced.
Here is a very nice lens that Sigma recently released for Micro 4/3 mount. With a focal length equivalent to 110mm in full frame, this lens offers an incredible sharpness which already delights a lot of people! Note that the lens is tropicalized. In my opinion, this is a very good alternative to f/1.2 aperture lenses for a much lower price. There too, originally designed for APS-C.
Last lens of the list for portrait photography, this very good 75mm has an excellent reputation. Much more suited for outdoor portraits, you will easily be able to isolate the subject from the background and produce a bokeh of remarkable quality. Indoors, you will need a lot of space unless you shoot tight portraits. The quality of the metal fabrication is very good although it is not tropicalized!
I am coming to the end of this list of m4/3 lenses for portrait photography. Of course, there are other possible alternatives that you can consider such as the Samyang/Rokinon 50mm f/1.2 manual focus lens which could be a nice lens for indoor/low light portraits if you have some distance.
You will find below a sortable summary table of the 10 optics and alternatives mentioned below.
|Brand||Model||Focal length||Max. aperture||Focus||Stabilization||Filter||Dimension (D / L)||Weight||Min. focus distance||Best Price|
|Olympus||25mm f/1.2 PRO||25mm||f/1.2||Auto||No||62mm||70 x 87mm||410g||30cm||Amazon|
|Panasonic||25mm f/1.4||25mm||f/1.4||Auto.||No||46mm||63 x 43,5 mm||200g||30cm||Amazon
|Olympus||25mm f/1.8||25mm||f/1.8||Auto||No||46mm||58 x 42 mm||200g||25cm||Amazon
|Panasonic||25mm f/1.7 ASPH||25mm||f/1.7||Auto||No||46mm||61 x 52 mm||125g||25cm||Amazon
|Olympus||45mm f/1.2 PRO||45mm||f/1.2||Auto||No||62mm||70 x 85 mm||410g||50cm||Amazon
|Panasonic||42.5mm f/1.2||42.5mm||f/1.2||Auto||Yes||67mm||77 x 74 mm||425g||50cm||Amazon
|Panasonic||42.5mm f/1.7 OIS||42.5mm||f/1.7||Auto||Yes||37mm||55 x 50 mm||130g||31cm||Amazon
|Olympus||45mm f/1.8||45mm||f/1.8||Auto||No||37mm||56 x 46 mm||116g||50cm||Amazon
|Sigma||56mm f/1.4 DC DN C||56mm||f/1.4||Auto||No||55mm||67 x 60 mm||280g||50cm||Amazon
|Olympus||75mm f/1.8||75mm||f/1.8||Auto||No||58mm||69 x 64 mm||304g||84cm||Amazon
In this field, there are 4 references to perform macrophotography, two in each brand. The choice is difficult, but I give you my two main recommendations (as well as the two others as alternatives). I only talk to you about true macro lenses that can produce a reproduction ratio of 1:1 (Eg: if the insect measures 1cm in real life, it will measure 1cm on the sensor).
Everyone agrees that this is the best macro lens for a Micro 4/3 sensor. Sure, the lens is not stabilized, but the Olympus bodies are. This 60mm tropicalized lens produces exceptionally sharp images and associated with an “OM-D” camera, it will be protected from splashes, rain, etc… It has a minimum focusing distance of 19cm, which allows it to gain a few cm compared to its main competitor. For the price, this remains for me the best choice.
Here is the other reference that everyone recommends, the famous Leica 45mm. This 45mm remains the widest and “heaviest” of the Micro 4/3 (220g) macro lenses. With a focusing distance of 15cm and an aperture at f/2.8, this is the lens where the bokeh is reputed to be the best. Only downside, the lens remains a bit more expensive than the 60mm from Olympus.
Macro lens alternatives
With the exception of the two lenses mentioned above, and if you have a smaller budget, you can use either the Olympus 30mm f/3.5 or the Panasonic 30mm f/2.8. Both have the same minimum focusing distance (9.5/10cm) for lightweight (130 and 180g) lenses. The Panasonic has the advantage of being brighter (f/2.8 vs f/3.5) which can be useful as soon as the light goes down (even if we rarely use the maximum apertures on macro lenses anyway).
Finally, Samyang/Rokinon offers a 100mm macro lens for MFT with manual focus. It has a very good reputation, producing a very soft bokeh and sharp images. Mounted on an MFT body, the field of view produced will be the equivalent of a 200mm on a full-frame camera, which could very well be suitable for tight portraits, outdoors for example.
This is my specialty and my favorite field of photography. For MFT sensors, we can consider a wide-angle lens between 10 and 17mm (equivalent of a 20-35mm on a full-frame sensor). Below 10mm on a Micro 4/3 sensor, it will be an ultra-wide-angle lens. So, don’t be fooled if you are not used to thinking about focal length equivalences between different sensor sizes.
To simplify things, I decided to split my ranking of the best WA and UWA lenses for Micro 4/3 in two: zooms and fixed focal lengths. Everyone will judge the utility of choosing one or the other according to their needs and budget. Note that for people often shooting in low light (night/astrophotography), you will find larger maximum apertures on fixed focal lengths (12mm f/1.4 type). I’ll let you meditate on that. You also have a full article on the blog explaining how to choose a wide-angle lens.
Finally, in this paragraph I won’t talk about all the standard zooms with focal lengths that start with wide-angle lenses, such as 12-40mm, 12-50mm, 12-60mm, 14-42mm, etc. These optics will be discussed in the travel section in addition to the associated telephoto lenses such as 45-150mm, 45-200mm, etc.
Here are the 4 lenses that I consider the best in this focal length range, ideal for landscape or architecture for example.
- Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO
- Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4 ASPH
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm f/4-5.6
Here is a summary table of the 4 wide-angle zoom lenses below.
This is in my opinion the best ultra-wide-angle lens for Micro 4/3 sensor. The focal length for me is ideal for photographing landscape or architecture. This is the reason why I bought a 16-35mm on my 6D (equivalent 8-18mm in MFT). The optical and construction quality is excellent (tropicalized) and the sharpness is very good.
Of course, the aperture is slippery at f/4 (at 18mm), but this won’t be a problem for landscape photographers who often shoot with a smaller aperture. Big plus also, the lens allows to screw 67mm filters, which is not the case for 7-14mm (for both brands). For me, the only reason not to consider it would be for pictures in low light or astro conditions where having a larger maximum aperture will be useful. For me, this is the perfect lens, but of course at a relatively high price.
This ultra-wide-angle lens has a well-established reputation. The Olympus PRO range of lenses implies a very high quality of construction (tropicalized lens). This 7-14mm has a fixed aperture at f/2.8 which will delight all those who need to work in lower light conditions.
The quality of the optics and its sharpness are known to be excellent. Considered as a bright lens, it is nevertheless heavier than its competitors (534g). Another important point to note is that you cannot place standard screw-in filters and you will have to look for an expensive filter holder system to simply use for example a polarizing filter or an ND. The lens is still quite expensive but remains a solid reference for the brand.
This 7-14mm from Panasonic is also a great alternative to consider if you don’t necessarily need an ultra-wide-angle lens that opens at f/2.8. A great compromise in my opinion between the 8-18mm f/2.8-4 from Panasonic and the 7-14mm f/2.8 from Olympus.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use filters easily either because of its curved front lens and its integrated lens hood, which is a shame. However, the quality of the lens is reputed to be excellent and for a landscape photographer, it is also a very nice alternative to consider! The aperture at only f/4 keeps the selling price down to a fairly low price.
This Olympus wide angle lens remains for me the ideal lens for anyone wishing to start with a very short focal length without ruining themselves. The focal range is interesting but the lens has a sliding aperture that will of course limit you in certain situations.
The lens is considered as “entry-level” at Olympus and does not have a quality of construction as good as the 3 optics mentioned above (plastic and non-tropical construction). The sharpness is also quite below the three lenses mentioned above. On the other hand, the lens has a very light weight (155g) and allows the use of standard 52mm screw-in filters. To be considered for beginners and to get your hands on wide-angle lenses if you have a limited budget (the cheapest of the four).
Wide-angle zoom alternatives for MFT
In the family of wide-angle zooms, I will only mention one (very nice) alternative, the Panasonic LEICA 10-25mm f/1.7 DG VARIO-SUMMILUX. The brand struck hard by recently releasing this ultra bright wide-angle lens in an unusual focal range (20-50mm equivalent). This lens can be used in all situations, and will be particularly appreciated for low light shooting, especially at night and astrophotography. It is the brightest MFT zoom on the market today and the quality of its sharpness is reputed to be excellent, as good or even better than fixed focal lengths. Its large f/1.7 aperture makes it a zoom heavier than average (700g), but allows for a very soft bokeh as soon as you get close to the subject. You can however place standard screw filters (77mm) which is really a big plus in my opinion. The price however remains high.
|Brand||Model||Focal length||Max. aperture||Focus||Stabilization||Filter||Dimension (D / L)||Weight||Min. focus distance||Best Price|
|Panasonic||8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH||8-18mm||f/2.8-4||Auto||No||67mm||88 x 73 mm||315g||23cm||Amazon
|Olympus||7-14mm f/2.8 PRO||7-14mm||f/2.8||Auto.||No||No||79 x 106 mm||530g||7,5cm||Amazon
|Panasonic||7-14mm f/4 ASPH||7-14mm||f/4||Auto||No||No||70 x 83 mm||300g||25cm||Amazon
|Olympus||9-18mm f/4-5.6||9-18mm||f/4-5.6||Auto||No||52mm||49 x 57 mm||155g||25cm||Amazon
|Panasonic||10-25mm f/1.7 DG VARIO-SUMMILUX||10-25mm||f/1.7||Auto||No||62mm||88 x 128 mm||540g||28cm||Amazon
For those looking for a particular focal length, but especially for a brighter wide-angle lens, you can look at fixed focal lengths (with automatic and manual focus). I have summarized their main characteristics in the table below.
Here are the lenses that I particularly recommend:
This is in my opinion the best fixed wide-angle lens for a Micro 4/3 sensor. With an all-metal, tropicalized construction, and with autofocus, this lens offers a remarkable image quality that everyone loves. The very large f/1.4 aperture will allow you to use this lens for astrophotography or indoor photography (concerts, weddings). The weight remains correct (335g) but the price is high, even if we remain in excellence here.
This 12mm from Olympus is a very good alternative to the 12mm from Leica mentioned above for people who are looking for a focal length equivalent to 24mm (in Full Frame) and who have a smaller budget. It is a compact, lightweight (132g), autofocus lens offering good image quality despite its age. Of course, the quality is not as good as on the Leica f/1.4, but the lens is offered at half the price of the latter!
Here we enter the world of ultra-wide-angle lenses with manual focus. Laowa offers a very well-known 9mm f/2.8 with very good optical quality. Be careful though, you don’t have autofocus and EXIF. However, if you need a wide angle of view and bright lens, this is a very interesting lens for a very decent price.
Finally, the last fixed lens with manual focus, this Laowa 7.5mm is simply the lens offering the widest angle of view on MFT sensor with a large f/2 aperture. Compact, light and known to be good quality, this is a lens you will love indoors, for a price similar to the 9mm from the same brand.
The fixed wide-angle focal length alternatives for MFT sensor
I deliberately didn’t talk about Fisheye type lenses which don’t really correspond to wide-angle lenses. However, for those who are looking for a wide-angle lens, you can also have a look at Samyang/Rokinon who offer two manual focus lenses rather well known and at a low price: the 10mm f/2.8 and the 12mm f/2. Voigtländer also offers a very special lens, the Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95.
Finally, at the limit of the wide angle, I did not mention it, but there are several possibilities, to name only a few: the Panasonic 15mm Leica f/1.7 (the best in my opinion), the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN (a very good value for money), the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 (the cheapest), the Olympus 17mm f/1.2 (very good quality but high price) or finally the Voigtländer 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton. In my opinion, it is already too wide to make landscape (35mm equivalent in full format), but I had to mention them here!
Here is a summary table of the fixed wide-angle lenses mentioned above.
|Brand||Model||Focal length||Max. aperture||Focus||Stabilization||Filter||Dimension (D / L)||Weight||Min. focus distance||Best Price|
|Panasonic||12mm f/1.4 ASPH||12mm||f/1.4||Auto||No||62mm||70 x 70 mm||335g||20cm||Amazon
|Olympus||12mm f/2||12mm||f/2||Auto.||No||46mm||56 x 43 mm||130g||20cm||Amazon
|Laowa||9mm f/2.8 Zero-D||9mm||f/2.8||Manual||No||49mm||56 x 60 mm||215g||12cm||Amazon
|Laowa||7.5mm f/2||7.5mm||f/2||Manual||No||46mm||35 x 40 mm||170g||12cm||Amazon
If you’re new to photography, you’ve probably received a 12-40mm kit lens, but you’ll find that depending on your photography practice, you’re going to want longer focal lengths. Depending on your use, budget and desire, you will be able to choose from a variety of telephoto lenses. Impossible for me to name and describe all the MFT telephoto lenses, but I give you my few preferences.
Here are the telephoto lenses that I recommend in priority:
- Olympus 40-150mm f/4-5.6 and Panasonic 45-150mm f/4-5.6
- Panasonic Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8 II
- Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 M. ZUIKO DIGITAL ED PRO
- Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm f/4-5.6 ASPH
- Panasonic 50-200mm f/2.8-4 Leica DG Vario Elmarit
- Panasonic Leica 100-400mm f/4-6.3 DG VARIO ELMAR
- Panasonic LEICA 200mm f/2.8 and Olympus 300mm f/4
You will find the characteristics of all these telephoto lenses in the summary table below.
I voluntarily decided to regroup the two models of the two brands. If you are looking for your first telephoto lens to start with, and you have a small budget, these are the two models you should turn to. Equivalent to 80-300mm full frame lenses, this focal length will be largely adapted for travel, daily, portrait or wildlife photography.
These are the two entry-level models of the two brands and at this price, the construction remains very plastic, without stabilization and without tropicalization of course. But to start out with, it’s very good. Check the Olympus on Amazon / Check the Panasonic on Amazon.
With a classic 70-200mm equivalent full frame focal length, this telephoto lens is a very nice lens that will delight people looking for a brighter lens than the 40-150mm mentioned above. This lens offers very good image quality and is stabilized for a remarkably light weight. It is in my opinion the first serious reference in this focal length range from Panasonic.
Here is a very nice lens that Olympus offers. It can be considered as the high-end evolution of the 40-150mm f/4-5.6. This telephoto lens is stabilized and tropicalized (PRO range) and has a large maximum aperture fixed at f/2.8. This lens is the first serious reference at Olympus to approach wildlife photography. Of course, the price remains quite high, but for someone wanting a quality telephoto lens, this is in my opinion the best reference at Olympus.
With a focal length equivalent to a 200-600mm on a full frame sensor, this telephoto lens is clearly oriented for wildlife photography rather than for sports photography where a brighter lens (type f/2.8) is preferred. The lens is stabilized and tropicalized and offers superb image quality. At the price where it is displayed, and if you don’t need a bright telephoto lens, it is clearly one of the best lenses to consider.
This is the focal length by excellence for wildlife photography (equivalent 100-400mm in 24x36mm). This lens has an excellent reputation and a stunning image quality. It is also an excellent choice (if not the best) for sports photography (with the 35-100mm f/2.8 II). The aperture at f/2.8 will allow you to freeze movements more easily. It is also a good choice for wildlife photography, even if this focal length is sometimes a bit too short for this field.
Here is an “other beast” clearly oriented for wildlife photography. This stabilized and tropicalized lens has a superb construction. The aperture is not very large in itself but the lens will work perfectly as soon as the light is present. If you are shooting sports, I would advise going for the 200mm f/2.8 or the 40-150mm f/2.8 from Olympus instead.
I deliberately decided to group these two superb bright fixed focal lengths from the two brands. Both lenses are stabilized and tropicalized and offer superb image quality. Their weight is almost equivalent. The choice will all depend on your use mainly and whether you need a longer focal length or not. The prices are obviously high for very high-end lenses, but the quality is there!
Here is a summary of the characteristics of the optics mentioned above.
|Brand||Model||Focal length||Max. aperture||Focus||Stabilization||Filter||Weight||Best Price|
|Panasonic||35-100mm f/2.8 II||35-100mm||f/2.8||Auto||Yes||58mm||357g||Amazon
|Olympus||40-150 mm f/2.8||40-150mm||f/2.8||Auto||No||72mm||880g||Amazon
|Panasonic||100-300mm f/4-5.6 ASPH||100-300mm||f/4-5.6||Auto||Yes||67mm||520g||Amazon
|Panasonic||50-200mm f/2.8-4 Leica DG Vario Elmarit||50-200mm||f/2.8-4||Auto||Yes||67mm||660g||Amazon
|Panasonic||100-400mm f/4-6.3 DG VARIO ELMAR||100-400mm||f/4-6.3||Auto||Yes||72mm||985g||Amazon
|Panasonic||200mm f/2.8 LEICA DG Elmarit||200mm||f/2.8||Auto||Yes||77mm||1245g||Amazon|
|Olympus||300mm f/4 PRO||300mm||f/4||Auto||No||77mm||1270g||Amazon
Obviously, there will be no truth in this paragraph. Because, traveling photography remains very personal and everyone will decide to bring what they want really. The concern is that while traveling, we shoot landscapes as well as portraits, life scenes or even wildlife sometimes. In short, it’s a hassle. If I had to summarize, you have several possibilities:
- If you don’t want to get bogged down, you can consider taking just one versatile lens, such as 12-140mm or 12-200mm. In the vast majority of cases, these versatile zooms will not be very bright (f/4.5 – 5.6 – 6.3) which can really limit you depending on the situation. Conversely, they are light and inexpensive,
- Another possibility that I personally prefer, choosing a transtandard zoom (type 12-50mm) and a telephoto lens (type 40-150mm). Here, you will be able to go up in range and choose if you wish bright lenses opening at f/2.8. Of course, the budget goes up and the weight too, but you have much better quality optics. You can also consider staying on a trans-standard zoom + low aperture telephoto lens if you like to change lenses (might as well buy an expert compact otherwise, right?).
This is a perfect combo that I really recommend. With two wide-aperture lenses (f/2.8), you’re ready for almost any situation you’ll encounter while traveling. You can shoot landscape at 12mm, portraits at 25mm or 40mm or even wildlife at 150mm. The large aperture of these lenses will allow you to blur the backgrounds more easily and make your subject stand out. In low light or night situations, these two lenses will be good allies!
This is almost the same combo as above, the main difference is that these lenses are not very bright and will be limited depending on the situation. The construction, optical quality and sharpness are well below the combo mentioned above. Conversely, the optics are light and really cheap. To travel light and on a budget, this is a good choice.
If you only want to bring one lens with you on your vacation, here are my three recommendations from Olympus:
- The 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO: this is the best of the three options with a fixed f/4 aperture and a focal length equivalent to a 24-200mm in full frame. This choice will be clearly limiting for wildlife for example, but will work well for landscapes, portraits, life scenes, etc… This is the best optical quality lens, it is tropicalized, stabilized and all metal. For me, it remains a very nice alternative, not too heavy (560g), with a price still high,
- The 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3: this is a second possibility, half the price of the fixed aperture (f/4) model above and a bit lighter. However, you clearly lose brightness, especially at the end of the zoom with a small aperture at f/6.3. You will however gain in focal length with a 400mm equivalent in FF. For those who want to shoot wildlife on vacation, this is a good choice!
- Finally, the last possibility is the 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II. This is clearly a good balance between the two lenses mentioned above. The aperture is brighter on this telephoto lens but you lose slightly in focal length. This lens is tropicalized, quite light (440g), but a bit of a shame for the plastic construction. Finally, it remains the cheapest of the three lenses if you are limited in budget.
This is the equivalent at Olympus of the 12-40mm + 40-140mm package. The difference is that this telephoto lens is limited to only 100mm, which remains a bit short in my opinion for traveling. But if you are looking for a telephoto lens with a large aperture, the choice is limited at Panasonic. Nevertheless, this combo has the advantage of being lighter and more compact than the Olympus one, especially thanks to the 35-100mm.
This is a very interesting possibility (not available at Olympus), but this combo allows you to have two beautiful quality lenses with large apertures at the shortest focal length. For about the same price as the first possibility mentioned above, you will gain in focal length (200mm instead of 100mm), but you lose a bit in brightness.
For those on a more limited budget, this is the combo I recommend. With this, you’re ready to take any type of photo in easy conditions, we’ll say. As soon as the light goes down, it may become complicated due to the small apertures offered in these lenses. For small budgets and those looking for lightweight optics.
At Panasonic, the choice of a single versatile lens for traveling is much more limited than at Olympus. The only lens I could recommend for those who do not feel like changing lenses would be the 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 II. Unfortunately, you won’t get much better in this focal range. If you don’t need a long focal length, I would recommend choosing the 12-100mm f/4 from Olympus which is much better (certainly at twice the price).
Finally, for the alternatives, Tamron also offers a 14-150mm f/3.5-5.8 Di III but considering the feedback I got and the small aperture, I would not recommend it compared to the 14-150mm from Olympus or 14-140mm from Panasonic.
If you just began shooting some time ago with a Micro 4/3 camera, chances are you’ve bought a camera with a kit lens like the 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 or the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6. However, you will soon realize that depending on the photos you want to take, these lenses will not be sufficient and will lack brightness. Several situations come to mind: indoor, night, concert, undergrowth, etc… Having a brighter lens will prevent you from having to increase the ISOs too much. Here are the 3 lenses that I particularly recommend.
As a replacement for your basic kit lens, this is clearly the lens I would recommend. This PRO range from Olympus offers a tropicalized lens with outstanding optical quality. The manufacturing quality is reputed to be very good and this versatile lens will suit you in most situations. The aperture at f/2.8 will save you from having to increase ISO, which is not recommended on m4/3 sensors.
If you have a Micro 4/3 body without stabilization, this is the second lens to be used instead of your kit zoom lens that I would recommend. The optical stabilization system (OIS) will work perfectly with the IBIS (In Body stabilization). Equivalent to a classic 24-70mm on full frame, this is the classic focal length that will work very well in everyday life or when traveling, all with an aperture at f/2.8.
This Leica lens, sold by Panasonic, offers superb image and construction quality. It’s a stabilized, bright lens that will allow you to go a little further than the two lenses mentioned above. Even if the lens has a sliding aperture, the image quality remains remarkable, all in a versatile lens.
Of course, I won’t be able to list all the lenses adapted to these situations, but I suggest what I consider to be the most appropriate and the brightest (below f/2). After that, the choice will have to be made mainly according to what you want to shoot (and at which focal length).
If you are looking for bright wide-angle lenses for night photography, astrophotography or for very wide indoor shots, you can look at the Panasonic LEICA 10-25mm f/1.7 (the widest with the largest aperture) or the Panasonic LEICA 12mm f/1.4, which has an excellent reputation. Both lenses however have a high price (> 1000€).
For street or everyday photography in low light conditions, I would recommend switching to a focal length equivalent to 30-35mm in full frame. I am thinking in particular of three lenses: the Panasonic LEICA 15mm f/1.7 (light and with remarkable image quality), the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 (more or less the same range as the LEICA but with a focal length a little less wide) or finally the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 (a bright, ultra-compact and light (87g) pancake lens with a large aperture).
Finally, for indoor portraits and other subjects where a longer focal length is needed (while keeping a large aperture), I particularly recommend the ones mentioned in the portrait section, in order of the shortest to the longest focal length:
- The Olympus 25mm f/1.2,
- The Panasonic 25mm f/1.7,
- The Olympus 25mm f/1.8,
- The Panasonic 42,5mm f/1.2,
- The Panasonic LECIA 42,5mm f/1.7,
- The Olympus 45mm f/1.8,
- The Olympus 45mm f/1.2,
- The Olympus 75mm f/1.8.
I am coming to the end of this article on the best Micro four thirds lenses of the moment, ranked according to your photographic needs. I hope you liked the article and that it will allow you to see more clearly in the jungle of lenses for mirrorless cameras. If you want to go further or if you haven’t chosen your camera body yet, I invite you to read the article on the best mirrorless cameras of the moment!
Enjoy reading and see you soon,