When choosing a camera system, one must pay attention to the lens line-up. It is not wise to select a camera if most of the focal lengths you need are not in the line up. Without a doubt the micro 4/3 system has the largest lens line-up among any digital mirrorless system. It offers over 40 different AF lenses from Olympus and Panasonic with a few Sigma additions (I am not even counting the manual focus lenses available for the m4/3 mount for this ranking). Recently olympus added some highly professional lenses with the 4/40-150mm and the 4/300mm. Other highly regarded lenses from their build and performance include the Panasonic 1.2/42.5mm or the Olympus Zuiko 1.8/75mm.
However lots of m4/3 users chose the system for its diminutive size and weight. The light traveler is also going to pay a close look at small lenses for the systems. Most of these very light lenses bring about a lighter build and smaller maximum apertures . But what you lose in DOF control and build does not necessarily means you have to compromise too much on performance. Early on Olympus and Panasonic proved that they could offer useful lenses being very small and light while providing very good to excellent performance and at a very reasonable cost. I voluntarily excluded ANY m4/3 lenses which retail at $400 or more. the Olympus 1.8/45mm and the Panasonic 1.7/20mm were among the first to establish this trend in the m4/3 system years ago but we got more little gems over the last few years.
I would like to add that I own ( and have tested) ALL the lenses included in this article.
The Sigma 2.8/60mm DN (here in black and here in silver) is both a useful focal length of 120mm (in 35mm equivalent) and a lens getting great reviews. It is currently priced at $209 and $239 for the black and silver versions respectively and includes both a pouch and the hood which is really amazing at that price-point.Therefore probably deserves to be on this list but since I never tried it, I decided not to include it for the time being.
Now,without further ado, here is MY TOP 5 selection for small and lightweight m4/3lenses which offer great value for the price :
1/ Panasonic 1.7/42.5mm
while some may be surprised to see this lens in the top position instead of theOlympus 1.8/45mm this is for me a no brainer. First for portrait indoors (hotel rooms or tight spaces) the 85mm FOV is more convenient than 90mm. While both lenses offfer very good performance , the Panasonic seems a tad better and also more consistent. It comes with the hood which has to be purchased separately for the olympus. comes in black (here) or silver (here) for $398
2/ Panasonic 4.0-5.6/35-100mm.
Ok, I admit this is my biggest surprise so far. I bought this lens as a back up and on a special offer ( I paid like $200 for the lens new) and I am amazed at the results it can produce considering the weight and size of the lens. comes in black only. Amazon has both a USA version at $397 (here) and a grey market version at $278 (here) This is a substantial difference but be aware that the grey market has no warranty.
3/ Panasonic 3.5-5.6/12-32mm
Again a nice sleeper. this lens is very compact because it needs to be turned on to be used. the normal price is around $300 but I paid only $100 because I bought in a kit with the Panasonic GX80/85. The built is inferior to the other lenses in this selection and there has been several reports of the lens coming apart. Despite some weaknesses, it is a better than average kit zoom and is so small that there is not reason not to carry one , if even just as back up to a Olympus 12-40mm or the Panasonic 12-35mm. Available in black at $262 (here) or in silver at $200 (here)
4/ Olympus 1.8/45mm.
this is almost a veteran lens and if you are an early adopter of the m4/3 system, chances are that you already own one. On my copy the 45mm has slightly more contrast than the Panasonic 1.7/42.5mm at the max aperture. The lens comes at $299 for both finishes (for the USA version) in silver (here) or black (here).
The hood comes just under $28 (here)
5/ Olympus 1.8/25mm
I also have this lens which has very good results. I do not use it very often because I do not like the 50mm FOV that it gives (too long for a normal lens, too short for a portrait lens). I much prefer the 20mm Panasonic as the 40mm FOV is my favorite “normal” focal length. That being said, for those who do like the 50mm FOV equivalent , the olympus 25mm is well built, very good IQ and , miracle, even comes with the hood (bravo Olympus !). Available in black (here) or silver (here) both priced at $299.
In my experience, these are lenses you should seriously consider if size, weight and price are key factors in your choice of equipment. As always if you purchase one or more of these items through the provided link, you help support this blog at NO additional cost to you
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