As a full-time photographer I am frequently brought to travel by plane. Frequent plane travelers know that nowadays most, if not all, airlines have stricter rules for both the size AND the weight of your carry-on. Most airlines have a maximum weight limit of 8 to 10 kilograms (18 to 22 pounds). If you have a midsize carry-on like a canvas backpack or shoulder bag , the bag itself when empty is probably close to 1 kilogram.When you add your laptop and/or tablet it is easy to see how lightweight equipment is called for. Most tourists probably rely on a small and lightweight point and shoot and/or your smartphone for their picture-tasks. But being serious about his photography generally implies more “serious” gear. No photographer should go on an important trip with only ONE photographic device. You probably need at least 2 or 3 lenses and spare batteries ( remember you cannot check-in batteries on a flight any more).
Fortunately, technology has brought us some serious photo camera systems which manage to be small and lightweight while still enabling professional results. These cameras which have no optical mirror and still allow one to change lenses are usually called “hybrid” cameras. There are several manufacturers having developed such systems,chiefly OLYMPUS, PANASONIC, FUJI, SONY. The first two on this list had the good idea of developing a common platform so that Olympus hybrid cameras can use Panasonic lenses and vice-versa. While Fuji and Sony have added some lenses to their catalog in the last two years , they are nowhere close to the Olympus & Panasonic standard which is called the Micro 4/3 system.
As a result, at the time of this article the m4/3 system has no less than FOURTY-SIX autofocus lenses to choose from for their camera bodies. Bear in mind that this total does not even include some manual focus only lenses made by Voigtlander, Rokinon and some smaller lens makers..
The focal range covered is impressive from a 8mm fish-eye to a 300mm telephoto lens. Micro 4/3 cameras have a sensor, the surface of which covers One fourth of a 35mm sensor. So when one wants to know the equivalent focal length of a m4/3rd lens compared to the 35mm sensor that most people are used to, one has to multiply the focal length by 2. For instance the 25mm and 45mm lenses that I am going to talk about here correspond to the angle of view of a 50mm and 90mm respectively in 35mm equivalent.
Oddly enough, the 46 lenses m4/3rd catalog is spread evenly in 23 fixed focal lengths and 23 zooms. This list is composed mostly of Olympus Zuiko and Panasonic Lumix lenses with a few made by Sigma and Tamron. With such a list, one can imagine that these lenses are not only separated by their focal length but also by their features. Some have small to average size because of their zoom range , their design , or their maximum aperture. some have stabilization built-in, some are splash and dust proof . some are cheap some are very expensive. Most of the lenses in that list have good to excellent performances. Yet , it is my opinion that the two lenses in the picture underneath offer not only an amazing quality for their size and weight and offer the best Bang for your buck of the entire m4/3rd system .. and one might argue of any mirorrless system out there.
Both lenses come in silver or Black and are almost identical in price. As of this writing , the best street price is of $349 for the 45mm and $399 for the 25mm but this later one includes the hood so when you add up the hood for the Olympus it is essentially a wash. The diminutive weight is explained by a plastic construction (only the mount is metal) but the build seems very satisfying and I have not had any issue on my 45mm that I bought 3 years ago.
A quick search of the tests online bring out the same conclusion : these 2 lenses are a must have for any m4/3user who wants to take full advantage of the small size and weight of the system without sacrificing on image quality.