See also my Lens Buyers' Guide for Micro Four Thirds.
Currently available lenses
|Panasonic Lumix G 7-14mm f/4 (HF007014)|
|An extreme wide angle zoom. This lens is among the most expensive in the Micro Four Thirds lineup, and is popular for its very good sharpness. It has a hood built in, and you cannot mount a filter on the front, due to it's curved front lens.|
|Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye|
|A third party manual focus full frame fisheye lens. Full frame, in this context, refers to the fact that the lens illuminates the full sensor image, as opposed to circular fisheye lenses, which only illuminate a disc inside the sensor area. The lens covers a 180° field of view from corner to corner.|
Comparison of the field of view with the Lumix G 7-14mm f/4 wide angle zoom lens
Defishing fisheye images and videos
Example video: Fireworks
|Lumix G 8mm f/3.5 fisheye|
|With a 35mm camera equivalent field of view of 16mm, this is a traditional fisheye lens, covering a 180° diagonal field of view, illuminating the whole sensor area.|
Using the fisheye lens as a macro lens
Projection comparison with the Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens
|Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6|
|This is a reasonably priced, compact ultra wide zoom lens. One of the reasons why it is compact, is the collapsible construction, much like the Olympus 14-42. When extended for use, it is much longer.|
Currently, this is the most affordable ultra wide angle zoom for the Micro Four Thirds lineup. It provides a good value for money, and is generally liked for the good optical qualities. You can expect to see some Chromatic Abberation artefacts in the corners, which is quite normal for such a lens, and you can remove them by using a number of image processing programs, e.g., Photoshop.
|Panasonic Lumix G 12-35mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S.|
|A high end standard zoom lens, with a constant max aperture of f/2.8. It was announced in 2012, and features weather protection. It corresponds to the traditional professional standard zoom, 24-70mm in 35mm equivalent terms.|
Sharpness comparison with the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 and Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN lenses
|Olympus 12mm f/2|
|A high end wide prime lens.|
This is one of the few Olympus lenses with a focus scale. The focus ring can be pushed back and forth, to toggle between automatic and manual focus.
The lens is generally well regarded, and considered to be sharp and well designed.
|SLR Magic HyperPrime 12mm f/1.6|
|An exceptionally fast wide prime lens. It features manual focusing and has a manual aperture ring.|
|Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ|
|A premium standard lens. It features power zoom, and is weather proofed, meaning that it can withstand some moisture.|
Both the zooming and focusing is internal, meaning that the length of the lens stays constant at all times. This is a useful feature, and makes the lens feel very solid.
The lens is often disliked in online discussions, due to the very unimpressive maximum aperture, especially in the long end, f/6.3. However, I think the lens looks very interesting. At this time of writing, it is the only lens which combines a near ultra wide angle (24mm equivalent) and a portrait focal length (around 85mm equivalent).
That, combined with the power zoom function and macro, makes it a very versatile lens indeed. For macro use, you would probably stop it down to at least f/6.3 anyway, so the aperture is not really a limitation.
In terms of sharpness, it tends to get average scores. Not stellar, but good enough for most uses you could think of.
|Panasonic Lumix G 12.5mm f/12 3D lens (H-FT012)|
The lens has two separate lenses for a 3D effect. While the focal length of the two lenses is 12.5mm, they project two smaller images on the sensor, so the effective focal length is 65mm in 35mm equivalent. This means that in reality, this is a long normal lens.
The lens has a fixed aperture of f/12, and a fixed focus from 0.6m to infinity.
You could cover the electrical contacts of the lens, enabling you to use more of the sensor area, for larger resolution 3D images. This also enables video recording.
I would not recommend buying this lens. The 3D base length is only around 1cm, which is very little. Hence, you get a very limited 3D effect. If you are truly interested in 3D, you should rather get one of the compact 3D cameras, like the Fujifilm Real 3D W3 or the Panasonic Lumix 3D DMC-3D1-K
|Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 Pancake lens (H-H014)|
|The second pancake lens from Panasonic, being even smaller than the original Lumix 20mm f/1.7. It is a traditional wide prime lens, covering 28mm in 35mm equivalents. The main benefits of this lens are the very fast and inaudible focus, the very compact size, and the good image quality.|
Sharpness comparison with the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 lens
Comparison with the Lumix 20mm pancake
|Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6|
|A basic kit zoom lens for the Olympus camera system. Most people don't buy this lens alone, but rather together with a camera as a kit. |
The lens is collapsible, taking up less space when not in use. The illustration shows the lens in collapsed state. It is approximately twice as long when ready for use.
This lens has been released in several versions. The last version has the postfix "II R", and is the one you want.
|Panasonic Lumix G X PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Power O.I.S. (HPS14042)|
A kit lens from the premium "X" range. It features power zoom, which can only be operated with the zoom lever. There is no zoom ring, and neither is there any focus ring. The lens must be extended (motorized, automatic) before using. When collapsed, it is remarkably compact. This lens is good for those who value the compactness, and the image quality is not as good as the non-collapsing zoom lens, in my experience.
It is a very impressive technological feat to cram all these features into such a compact lens.
|Panasonic Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Mega O.I.S. (HFS014042)|
|The basic kit lens offered with Panasonic G2 and G10. The difference to the 14-45mm kit lens, is that this one has a different optical formula, no metal mount, and no on/off switch for image stabilization.|
A comparison with the Lumix X PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6
A comparison with the Lumix G 14-45mm
A simple bokeh and sharpness comparison with the 14mm pancake, and the 14-140mm superzoom
Sharpness comparison with the Lumix X PZ 14-42mm f/4-5.6
|Panasonic Lumix G 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II Mega O.I.S.|
|This lens was launched early in 2013, for use as a kit lens with the new Panasonic GF6 and G6 cameras. It is smaller than the lens it replaces, the Panasonic Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Mega O.I.S. (HFS014042). It also regains the metal lens mount, which the predecessor lost, probably to save weight and cost. |
So far, the reports indicate that this is a sharp and capable lens in a small package. On the negative side, it appears to have a smaller aperture in the mid-focal-range. Read more about the lens here.
|Panasonic Lumix G 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 Mega O.I.S. (HFS014045)|
|The basic kit lens offered with Panasonic G1 and GF1. It has since been discontinued.|
This lens is generally considered very sharp, sharper than the predecessors Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 and the Lumix X PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6.
|Panasonic Lumix G HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8 Mega O.I.S. (HVS014140)|
Autofocus speed comparison
In 2013, a new version of this lens became available. The new version is smaller, has a 58mm filter thread, rather than 67mm with the original, and a better aperture range. It is also cheaper. While I haven't tried it, it certainly sounds better judging from the specification. I have not been too happy with the first version of the lens. If you can choose, I would recommend getting the new version of the lens, see below.
|Panasonic Lumix G HD 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 Power O.I.S.|
I found the first version of the lens disappointing, so I would advice getting the newest. In the mean time, Panasonic has gained a lot of lens design experience, and I trust the second version is much better.
With the second version being cheaper, I think Tamron will find it more difficult to market their third party alternative, the Tamron 14-150mm F/3.5-5.8 Di III VC.
|Olympus 14-150mm f/4-5.6|
|A superzoom, with slightly better specifications than the corresponding lens from Panasonic. On the other hand, it does not have built in image stabilization. Olympus camera bodies have image stabilization based on sensor shift, and so you don't need this lens property with an Olympus camera body. One could also guess that the Panasonic lens is better suited for video recording.|
|Tamron 14-150mm F/3.5-5.8 Di III VC|
|This superzoom lens was announced in 2013, and will be Tamron's first Micro Four Thirds lens. Since it features Optical Image Stabilization, I guess it is mostly useful with Panasonic cameras, and hence, will be competing with the Lumix G HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8 lens. Hence, I'm guessing Tamron don't need to price it much below the Olympus 14-150mm lens.|
|Olympus 15mm f/8|
|This is more of a novelty than a useful lens, in my opinion. It is a very compact 15mm lens, with a fixed aperture of f/8. This means that it can only be used outdoors, or indoors with a flash at a short range.|
There is no autofocus, however, with a small aperture of f/8, the depth of focus is quite large anyway. There is a possibility to change between "far" and "near" focus, which is enough at this aperture.
No information is transferred between the lens and the camera. If you are using an Olympus camera, you need to manually set the focal length to 15mm for the In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) to function. You must also enable the "shoot without lens" option for the camera to operate when using this lens.
|Olympus 17mm f/2.8|
|Pancake wide prime lens. For a prime, it has been criticized for having a not very impressive max aperture, and also somewhat disappointing sharpness.|
|Olympus 17mm f/1.8|
|A premium prime lens in the classic wide angle format. Corresponding to 34mm (equivalent) field of view, this is Olympus's take on the classic wide angle lens. While not as wide as the zoom lenses, this is a focal length favoured by quite some people. The lens comes in the premium metal finish, just like the Olympus 12mm f/2 and Olympus 75mm f/1.8.|
|Cosina Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95|
|Ultra bright lens with a very impressive maximum aperture of f/0.95. This is a mechanical construction with no electronics at all. Both the focus and the aperture is controlled through rings on the lens, in the traditional way.|
|Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN|
|A third party lens from Sigma, giving nearly the same field of view as the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7. Compared with the Lumix 20mm lens, it is not as sharp, but focuses quicker, and is less expensive.|
Sharpness comparison with the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake.
The focus speed is very good, compared with the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7.
In 2013, a new version of the lens was launched. The difference is largely cosmetic, with the new version having a metal exterior.
|Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 (HH020)|
|Pancake prime lens. This lens has become very popular, with small its footprint, large aperture, and good sharpness. It does not come with a hood, but you can buy a third party 46mm screw in hood.|
Comparison with the Lumix 14mm pancake
An example video capture with the Panasonic Lumix GH1
Bokeh comparison with the Lumix G HD 14-140mm
Using the Lumix 20mm as a portrait lens
|Panasonic Leica DG 25mm f/1.4|
|Fast normal prime lens. It is much more compact than the similarly specified lens for the Four Thirds format.|
When using the lens on a camera, some people complain that it makes "clicking" sounds. This is due to the large aperture: In bright light, the camera stops down the aperture for the optimal live view performance. When focusing, though, it will revert to the maximum aperture for the highest accuracy. The aperture change causes the clicking sounds, and this is harmless.
|Cosina Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f/0.95|
|Ultra fast normal lens. This lens has manual focus and manual aperture selection only. There is no electronic contact between the lens and the camera, meaning that the camera cannot record the aperture used as EXIF information.|
|SLR Magic 25mm f/0.95|
|Launched in 2013, this lens is rumoured to be a good alternative to the Cosina Voigtländer Nokton lens with similar specifications. It is a very fast normal lens. This lens has manual focus and manual aperture selection only. There is no electronic contact between the lens and the camera, meaning that the camera cannot record the aperture used as EXIF information.|
|Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN|
|A short tele lens in a compact and light package. Good image quality and fast autofocus. Note that this lens rattles when not in use on a camera.|
Sharpness comparison with the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 lens
In 2013, a new version of the lens was launched. The difference is largely cosmetic, with the new version having a metal exterior. The new version also gains a hood.
|Jackar Snapshooter 34mm f1.8|
A compact prime lens with a nostalgic retro design, and a relatively fast maximum aperture.
The lens was designed for both the Sony NEX E-mount and Micro Four Thirds. On Sony NEX, it has an equivalent focal length of around 50mm, corresponding to the classic normal lens. On Micro Four Thirds, it has an equivalent focal length of 68mm, i.e., a short tele lens. It can be used, e.g., as a portrait lens.
The aperture ring is clickless, which is useful for video recording.
|Lumix G X 35-100mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S.|
|Announced in 2012, this is Panasonic's answer to the professional fast telezoom. Just like the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8, it is weather protected.|
This lens is considered to be one of the best in the Micro Four Thirds lineup. Then again, it is also one of the most expensive lenses. It has internal focusing and zooming, and hence, always retains the same shape.
|Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6|
|Compact tele zoom available October 2010.|
This lens exists in several versions, and the last one has the postfix "II R". That is the one you want.
|Cosina Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95|
|A large aperture portrait lens, announced in 2013. It is a completely mechanical lens, with manual focus and manual aperture control.|
|Olympus 45mm f/1.8|
|A long awaited portrait lens for the Micro Four Thirds format.|
This lens is good optically, although not the sharpest wide open. It focuses very quickly, and inaudibly.
|Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro Mega O.I.S. (HES045)|
|Leica co-branded combination of macro and portrait lens. The Leica name stands for a high price point, but also good quality.|
A study of the bokeh at various apertures
A study of the diffraction effects when using smaller apertures
Example use of the touch screen AF with Panasonic GH2
|Panasonic Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6 Mega O.I.S. (HFS45150)|
|Announced in 2012, I guess this lens will replace the Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6 as the value tele zoom lens. It is much more compact, slightly shorter than the Panasonic Lumix X 45-175mm f/4-5.6.|
Choose this lens if you prefer a compact lens over a large focal range.
|Panasonic Lumix G X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Power O.I.S. (HPS45175)|
|A compact tele zoom for the Micro Four Thirds system. This belongs to the premium "X" range, and features power zoom. The power zoom can be operated with the zoom ring (zoom by wire), or with the zoom lever. There is no mechanical coupling between the zoom ring and the actual zooming.|
Sharpness comparison with the older Lumix G 45-200mm
|Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6 Mega O.I.S. (HFS045200)|
|A fairly compact tele zoom for the Micro Four Thirds system. This lens provides good value for money, especially for Panasonic camera users who will want O.I.S. in the lens.|
Bokeh comparison with Lumix G HD 14-140mm and Panasonic Leica Lumix DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro, all at 45mm
An example video capture
The lens was released as one of the first in the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds lineup. I has since been complemented with the Power Zoom Lumix X 45-175mm f/4-5.6, and the more compact Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6.
Choose this lens for a value tele zoom with a long reach.
|SLR Magic Noktor 50mm f/0.95 HyperPrime|
|An expensive, but fast manual focusing tele lens. It can be used for, e.g., portrait photography.|
|Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 1:1 macro|
|A macro lens with similar enlargement capability as the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 1:1 macro.|
The Olympus lens has a longer focal length, hence, you get a longer working distance, the distance from the front of your lens to the subject.
|Sigma 60mm f/2.8 EX DN|
|Announced in 2013.|
|Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8|
|A high end medium tele prime lens, also usable as a portrait lens.|
This lens is widely considered the best Micro Four Thirds lens in terms of optical properties. On the other hand, one can say that it is a bit unfair to compare lenses like this, since it is relatively easier to design a medium long lens than a wide angle lens.
|Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II|
|A compact, premium long tele zoom. On the positive side, it is very small, and has some exotic lens elements. On the negative side, the aperture range is not very impressive.|
In 2013, a new version of the lens was launched. The difference is largely the design of the lens barrel, which now better matches the Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera. The optical design is the same, and the new lens comes at a significantly lower price.
|Panasonic Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6 Mega O.I.S. (H-FS100300)|
|This is a long tele zoom. Typical uses for this lens would be sports and wildlife. Compared with professional safari lenses, though, it has a somewhat small maximum aperture.|
When using the ETC feature of the GH2 camera, this lens gives an enormous reach
|Tokina 300mm f/6.3 Mirror Reflex|
This lens was launched in 2012, and is a mirror reflex tele lens (catadioptric). The advantage of this design is that it keeps the lens relatively short, for a tele lens of this focal length. The lens does not have autofocus, and there is no optical image stabilization. Focusing manually with a lens like this can be somewhat difficult, and requires exercise. Also, with such a long lens, using a tripod is pretty much a necessity. Sure, you could use a fast shutter speed and get images without motion blur. But framing the image correctly is not easy without a tripod at 300mm.
Due to the mirror reflex design, out of focus highlights become donuts when using this lens, rather than the discs you might be used to.
|Yasuhara NANOHA x5 f/11|
This is a very unusual lens. It has a magnification rate adjustable from x4 to x5. What this means, is that it can take pictures of subjects with a size from 1/4 to 1/5 of the sensor diagonal. This corresponds to around 4mm x 3mm, which is extremely small.
Many macro lenses can also be used as portrait lenses, given a fairly long focal length. Not this lens. The minimum magnification is 4x, which is a lot. Hence, you can only take pictures of very small items.
The working distance is rather small, around 11mm from the front lens. What this means, is that you can hardly use this lens to take pictures of live insects: You would scare them off before getting close enough. There are LEDs in the front of the lens, to aid lightning the objects you want to photograph.
The max aperture is f/11, and you can also use f/22 and f/32. This might sound very unimpressive. However, keep in mind that at these extreme magnifications, you must stop down a lot anyway, to be able to get almost anything in focus. So f/11 makes good sense.
If you need an extreme close up lens, this is a very good choice. There are few lenses on the market like it. One lens that comes to my mind is the Canon MP-E 65mm, which is a 1x-5x macro lens.
Gaps in the lens lineup
The Micro Four Thirds lens lineup has gotten very good now. One could still want some more lenses. For example, a compact, inexpensive ultra wide prime lens would be good. Say, something like 10mm f/4.5 or thereabouts. If such a lens could be priced at around US$300, then it would be a game changer for the mirrorless camera market.
There are too few standard zooms that start wider than 14mm. So far, there is only the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3, and the Lumix X 12.35mm f/2.8.
Also, a fast, long tele prime lens would be useful. For example, something like 300mm f/4 with image stabilization.
A circular fisheye lens could have been fun. Such a lens would probably have a focal length of around 4mm.
This is a graphical presentation of the Micro Four Thirds prime (non-zoom) lenses.
I have drawn up three zoom lenses in the diagram as well, the Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6, Lumix X 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6, and the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3:
As you can see, the zoom lenses often have a smaller maximum aperture than the prime lenses. This is one of the reason why some people like prime lenses.
Also, you can note that the Lumix G 14-42mm and the more compact Lumix X 14-42mm share the same end-points in terms of aperture range, but the more compact lens has a smaller available aperture inside the range. I have written about this phenomenon here.
Read more about the prime lens overview here.
Expected future lenses
|Lumix 43mm f/1.2|
|A very bright portrait lens. This lens has been announced by Panasonic, expected to be available in 2014. It will feature OIS, and will probably be very expensive.|
|Lumix 150mm f/2.8|
|A long and fast tele lens. This lens type is suitable for, e.g., safari, bird and sports photography.|
The lens has been announced by Panasonic, expected to be available in 2014. It will feature OIS, and will probably be very expensive.
|Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8|
|In 2013, a rumour appeared that Olympus would release an f/2.8 zoom with the attractive focal length range 12-40mm. If released, it will probably be rather expensive, and not too compact.|
|Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8|
|According to an unconfirmed rumour, Olympus is going to release this long, bright tele zoom. It will probably be quite large and expensive.|
However, this rumour has later been debunked: Probably the lens will not be released.