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The Best Micro Four-Thirds Lenses On The Market in 2020

Olympus and Panasonic’s joint collaboration saw the birth of the micro four-thirds movement. Sure, these cameras aren’t as powerful as some of the full-frame DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras out there but they do offer something special that quite a few photographers love. If you’ve got a Micro Four-Thirds camera, or you’re considering buying one, you need one or two (or three!) of the best Micro Four-Thirds lenses.

The Top 10 Best Micro Four-Thirds Lenses

  1. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 Lens
  2. Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH POWER
  3. Panasonic Leica GD Summilux 25mm f/1.4 II ASPH lens
  4. Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro lens
  5. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens
  6. Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH
  7. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens
  8. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f/5 – 6.3 IS lens
  9. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO Lens
  10. Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f1.8

1. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 Lens

Fast Medium Tele

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 Lens

Best for portraits and other stuff.

Fast wide aperture. Great image quality.

The construction of this lens includes a total of 10 elements arranged in 9 groups. these include a total of three extra-low dispersion elements. These elements are responsible for controlling chromatic aberrations or color fringing.

The lens also features two high refractive index elements. This helps suppresses another type of aberration (spherical aberration). The result is improved sharpness and image detail.

Wide aperture lenses like this lens are prone to suffer from issues of flares and ghosting something that results in a lack of saturation and lack of detail in the final image. This lens comes with the Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical (ZERO) coating. This coating ensures that the lens is able to suppress ghosting and flares.

Micro four-thirds cameras have a crop factor of two. The average size is about one-fourth of that of a full-frame sensor. That means any focal length you mount on a micro four-thirds camera will give you an effective focal length of double the focal length it would be on a 35mm format equivalent.

With this in mind, this lens gives you an effective focal length of 150mm. That makes this a medium telephoto lens designed for anything from portraits to vacation shots, wildlife, and nature.

Fast wide aperture for a 150mm equivalent (35mm format) lens.
Great suppression of chromatic and other aberrations.
Comes with Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical (ZERO) coating.
9 blade aperture diaphragm.
This all metal design will be difficult to wield in cold conditions.
The focus by wire method will take some time getting used to.

2. Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH POWER

Great pick for portraits

Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH POWER

Great for portraits.

Fast wide aperture. Gives you an equivalent of 85mm focal length on 35mm format.

This is an extremely highly rated lens designed for the micro four-thirds system.

The Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm is basically a portrait lens for the micro four-thirds system.

Remember, the crop factor of the micro four-thirds system is 2 which means this lens gives an effective focal length of 85mm. This is perfect for shooting portraits.

Let’s briefly take a look at the construction of the lens. The lens consists of a total of 14 elements arranged in 11 groups. That includes two aspherical elements, one UHR element, and one extra-low dispersion element. The first and second elements take care of spherical aberrations. The final element takes care of chromatic aberrations.

What we like the most is the wide-open aperture of the lens. at f/1.2 the lens allows you to capture a lot of light. Even when shooting in a nighttime situation. Depending on the camera that you are using, and if it is superb in low light situations, you have in your hands a lens that will work magic in all lighting conditions.

In broad daylight, you can experiment with the wide-open aperture if you pair the lens with an ND filter. That will allow you to access the full wide-open aperture and the creative applications of it, even in broad daylight.

What can you do with an f/1.2 lens, other than make great images in low light? Well, you can completely obliterate the background and thereby highlight your subject in the photos. The lens comes with 9 rounded aperture blades. And that signifies that the lens can produce beautiful soft rounded bokeh.

Wonderful fast aperture of f/1.2.
Perfect focal length for portrait works.
Built in power O.I.S Image stabilization system.
Internal focusing mechanism.
Has only 7 rounded blades forming the aperture diaphragm.
The lens is definitely on the pricey side.

3. Panasonic Leica GD Summilux 25mm f/1.4 II ASPH Lens

Great standard prime

Panasonic Leica GD Summilux 25mm f/1.4 II ASPH lens

Excelent option for street photographers

Fast wide aperture. Excellent image quality.

This is essentially a 50mm standard prime. Thanks to the focal length and the crop factor that makes it the equivalent of a 50mm standard prime mounted on a 35mm system. That focal length is perfect for shooting almost everything that you can see around you from the human eye perspective.

That means you can shoot great street photos with the Summilux 25mm. You can also shoot landscapes and environmental portraits and everything else that your creative ingenuity will help you achieve. But there are limitations to the lens. You cannot possibly think of shooting birds or sports photography with this lens. The focal length is simply nowhere near to what is the bare minimum in order to shoot these genres.

There are a total of 9 elements arranged in 7 groups. These elements include one UHR (Ultra High Refractive) element and a pair of aspherical elements. These elements ensure that the lens can handle different kinds of aberrations improving color reproduction and an overall increase of sharpness.

Additionally, the Nanocrystal coating that the lens comes with provides protection from flares and ghosting. Especially when you are working in a difficult lighting situation.

There are 7 rounded aperture blades on this lens. This suggests that the quality of bokeh would be decent but not something to go overboard about.

Finally, the lens comes with stepping motor auto-focusing technology. As we know, this technology is much more reliable in terms of accurate locking of focus. Plus, this technology is much smoother compared to older legacy systems.

One of the major improvements of this lens is improved weather resistance. Please note this lens is weather resistant and not completely weather sealed. So, while it will be able to withstand a slight drizzle, it is not recommended to use the lens in a heavy downpour or expose it to any other kind of bad weather.

Fast wide aperture.
Excellent low light performance.
Auto focusing is powered by a stepping motor technology.
Weather resistance built-in.
Image stabilization is not built-in.
Only 7 rounded blades rather than 9 which means bokeh quality is going to be a little on the acceptable side rather than the wow side.

4. Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens

Decent Macro lens

Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro lens

Great buy for macro photography

Introduces you to the exciting world of macro photography.

Every photographer once in a while finds an interest in shooting some macro photography. And when it comes to getting great macro photography you’ll find yourself needing a proper macro lens to get the shots you dream of.

The Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 is designed for the micro four-thirds mount and is compatible with both Panasonic and Olympus cameras using the mount. The maximum aperture of the lens is f/3.5. While this isn’t perfect, it is manageable to work with.

Let’s look at the construction of the lens. There are a total of 7 elements arranged in 6 groups. the aperture diaphragm is made up of 7 rounded blades. Not exactly the first choice when it comes to shooting bokeh. But the quality is not bad by any stretch of the imagination.

The built-in MSC auto-focusing system is actually very smooth and very reliable. The lens is also compatible with Olympus’ focus bracketing technology. This technology ensures that the camera can extend the depth of field of an image when shooting macro images.

Anyways the 7 optical elements include one Dual Super Aspherical (DSA) element, one aspherical element, and one Extra-low Dispersion Aspherical EDA element. Together, these elements take care of chromatic aberrations. This has the effect of boosting overall image sharpness and clarity.

Macro lens with an effective focal length of 60mm.
Compatible with Olympus’ focus bracketing technology.
Reproduction ratio of 1.25:1.
Minimum focusing distance of 3.7-inch.
The maximum aperture is stuck at f/3.5.
No built-in image stabilization.

5. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens

Excellent all-round lens

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens

Great everyday photography lens

Fast constant aperture. Great optics.

A 12-40mm lens ordinarily would be an ultra-wide angle to wide angle/standard focal length. However, when you consider that the micro four-thirds mount has a crop factor of 2x, that focal length range translates into a 24-80mm focal length.

This is a very versatile focal length range that will allow a photographer to shoot a diverse variety of photography opportunities. Starting from street photos to landscapes, to architecture and groups and even weddings. Because of the crop factor, the effective focal length at the tele-end is 80mm. That length is almost perfect for portraitures.

The creative applications are far reaching.

Let’s take a quick look at the construction of the lens. there is a total of 14 elements arranged in 9 groups. There is one aspherical extra-low dispersion element, along with two aspherical elements. It also includes one HD element and two HR (high-refractive index) elements.

These elements take care of different kinds of aberrations, distortions, and color fringing. Something that pulls down the overall image quality, color, and contrast.

The lens also includes the Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical coating element. This element takes care of the flares and ghosting that normally affects lenses when you are shooting with the sun in the frame.

Autofocusing is smooth and noticeably quiet. Perfect for stills and adequate for movie recording. There is a manual control override. But that requires a bit of practice because the mechanism is a little different from usual manual focusing rings. You have to pull the focusing ring into position by using the clutching mechanism. Once you do that you can then adjust focus.

The design is weather-proof. And that is a big bonus. Because this lens wants to be taken outdoors. The fast f/2.8 aperture captures stunning images in almost all kinds of lighting situations.

Fast f/2.8 aperture
Fantastic focal length range.
Excellent weather sealing.
Seven rounded aperture diaphragm blades.
Feels extremely lightweight for a well-made lens.
Manual focusing override using the clutch to focus mechanism takes time to get used to.

6. Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH

Great standard prime

Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH

Excellent for everyday photography

35mm format equivalent of 40mm. Fast.Very slim pancake design.

The 20mm translates to an effective 40mm (on 35mm format). This prime lens is designed predominantly to capture images from the human eye perspective.

We love pancake lenses for the simple reason that they are inconspicuous. And that makes them hidden in plain sight. This is particularly useful when shooting street photos and candid photography of any type.

Okay, let’s take a quick look at the construction of the lens. There are a total of 7 elements arranged in 5 groups. This small and yet functional lens is a simple design after all. There are, however, two aspherical elements. These elements take care of spherical aberrations.

On top of that the lens has been multi-coated to ensure that lens flares and ghosting are eliminated.

For such a small-sized lens the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH doesn’t stop amazing us. The lens has a full-time manual focusing override as well.

The only thing that we don’t like is the seven aperture diaphragm blades simply because bokeh quality will not be the best in the world. That being said, it’s not terrible and you’ll still get a decent bokeh.

Small pancake design. Extremely portable.
Fast f/1.7 aperture.
Full-time manual focusing override.
Gives the equivalent of a 40mm perspective.
Slightly pricey.

7. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO Lens

Great all-round pick

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens

Perfect walk-around lens

Great buy for everyday photography. Great image quality.

One of the things that we like about the M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 lens is the constant aperture of f/2.8 across the whole focal length. Many variable focal length lenses have varying apertures, so this is a welcome addition. What it means is you are able to zoom in and out without having to worry about changing the exposure because of a change in the maximum aperture. You can know at the back of your mind that the aperture remains the same. And therefore, your exposure, too, remains the same.

Let’s take a quick look at the construction of the lens. There are a total of 16 elements arranged in 10 groups. There is one Extra-low dispersion element.

9 rounded aperture diaphragm blades make up the aperture of the lens.

Constant f/2.8 aperture across the focal length range.
Olympus’ ZERO coating has been provided.
9 rounded aperture blades.
Dual VCM auto-focusing mechanism.
No built-in image stabilization.
Manual clutch mechanism takes some time to get used to.

8. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f/5 – 6.3 IS Lens

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f/5 – 6.3 IS lens

Super telephoto lens for shooting birding and other genres.

Speaking of new lenses that have recently been launched by the micro four-thirds consortium, there is one that should interest you if you are into wildlife and birding. It is the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f/5- 6.3 IS lens.

When you consider that this is designed for the micro four-thirds system, the effective focal length becomes 200-800mm (on 35mm format). And that makes this lens a super-telephoto option.

The only argument that can go against this lens is that drops in a maximum aperture at the longer end. At f/6.3 you wouldn’t necessarily consider this lens to be fast. But it is not expected to be the best of the best. It is an excellent budget super-telephoto lens and in that regard, it certainly qualifies as one of the best micro four-thirds lenses available.

Let’s talk about the construction of the lens. There is a total of 21 elements in this lens arranged in 15 groups. This is a complicated design. These include two Super HR (High refractive index) elements and two HR elements. These two elements suppress the overall effects of spherical aberrations. The result is increased sharpness and better contrast.

On top of that, there are three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements that suppress distortion and color fringing and also improve the contrast in your images.

Olympus has also coated this lens with ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coating. The advantage of this coating is that when working in difficult lighting situations, especially when the sun is lower at the horizon, this element suppresses the effects and produces better color and contrast.

This lens also comes with optical image stabilization and is rated at up to three stops.

This lens also features something called MSC or Movie & Still Compatible Autofocus system. This auto-focusing mechanism ensures better control of the focusing mechanism. Both when shooting videos and when shooting stills.

Finally, weather sealing is an important parameter for selecting an outdoor lens. Why? because when you have a weather-sealed lens you can basically venture out and shoot in any kind of situation. You do not need to do a weather check before every photography outing.

Super telephoto reach for budget price.
Built-in image stabilization.
Weather sealed design.
Focus range delimiter.
Movie & still compatible MSC lens.
The maximum aperture at the tele-end is only f/6.3.

9. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO Lens

Excellent Prime Lens

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO Lens

Standard prime for Micro Four Third camera

Fast aperture. Excellent handling.

This is a much cheaper alternative to the Panasonic Leica GD Summilux 25mm f/1.4 II ASPH lens. And to boot, you get an extra one-third stop of aperture. That gives you that much amount of extra light when working in dark conditions. Plus, as this lens has 9 rounded aperture blades that mean the quality of bokeh would be incredibly good.

Clearly, the fast f/1.2 aperture is the most important feature of this lens. It is extremely fast. You can make excellent well-exposed images in almost any lighting condition. But on the flip side, there is this issue of very shallow depth of focus. All fast aperture lenses suffer from this problem.

The problem becomes severe if and when you are hand-holding a lens and manually focusing it. The problem is not so serious when you are using auto-focusing.

This is essentially a 50mm lens (thanks to the 2x crop factor). And that means the lens gives a perspective that is roughly equivalent to that of the human eye. In other words, this lens is ideally suitable for the purpose of shooting everyday photos such as group photos, street photography, travel, and vacation photos. You can also shoot a few environmental portraits.

Construction-wise the lens consists of 19 elements arranged in 14 groups. There are one Super Extra-low dispersion element and two extra-low dispersion elements. Additionally, there is one high refractive index element.

Plus, three high refractive index elements. Additionally, one spherical element. Overall, you get reduced color fringing, improved contrast, and of course, better color reproduction.

A Z Nano coating has also been provided for suppressing flares and ghosting. This is particularly handy when shooting in difficult lighting conditions.

And finally, the weather sealing makes the lens extremely useful when shooting in inclement weather conditions. Overall, one of the best micro four-thirds lenses.

Fast f/1.2 aperture
35mm format equivalent focal length of 50mm.
9 rounded aperture blades.
Weather sealed design.
Comes with Nano coating.
No built-in image stabilization.

10. Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f1.8

Great 35mm standard prime

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f1.8

Excellent f/1.7 Standard Prime

Excellent focal length and handling.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 is a nearly all-metal design that works as your 35mm standard prime lens for the micro four-thirds mount. Just to clarify the 2x crop factor of the micro four-thirds mount makes the 17mm an equivalent of a 34mm lens (on 35mm format). Slightly wider than a traditional 35mm lens designed for a 35mm full-frame camera.

Let us talk about the construction of the lens. 9 elements arranged in 6 groups makes up the construction of the lens. 7 rounded blades make up the aperture diaphragm. Promises good quality bokeh but not at par as something like the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 Lens, that comes with 9 aperture blades.

The elements consist of one Dual Super Aspherical unit and two aspherical elements. Additionally, there is one high refractive index element. Overall spherical and other aberrations are well suppressed. Contrast is improved and color saturation is also improved.

Finally, about auto-focusing aspect. The lens features Olympus’ Movie & Still Compatible (MSC) auto-focusing system. This system is exceptionally smooth and allows for reliable auto-focusing shooting either stills or videos.

Fast maximum aperture of f/1.8.
Very lightweight in hand.
The manual clutch mechanism for auto to manual focus switching takes time to get used to.
Image stabilization is not built in.

Author

  • Rajib is an avid travel photographer and an overall shutterbug. He loves to test and review new photography gear. He has been writing about cameras and lenses for over 10 years now. You can consider him as your "master guide" here at PhotoWorkout.


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