Best four thirds lenses?

Started Jul 30, 2014 | Questions thread
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Michael Meissner
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Re: Best four thirds lenses?
In reply to jesuisdanny, Jul 30, 2014

jesuisdanny wrote:

I own an E-M1 recently became interested in checking out good Four Thirds lenses, but hard to find in search with all the "Micro" Four Thirds articles around.

Any good resources?

To some extent, it depends on what you want to pay, and what you mean by best?

In terms of image quality, the 2 lenses that tend to be mentioned by people with unlimited budgets are the 300mm f/2.8 and 150mm f/2.0.

Note however, that the 150mm has the reputation of being a lens that doesn't auto focus well on micro 4/3rds (even worse than most of the other 4/3rds lenses). It is one of 4 lenses that Panasonic says is not supported for auto focus at all (the other 3 are Sigma lenses). Yes, the E-M1 has phase detect auto focus, but I thought that part of the issue is the 150mm wants to draw more power than the micro 4/3rds cameras.

Next in image quality tend to be the SHG zooms except for the 14-35mm f/2.0 (7-14mm f/4, 35-100mm f/2.0, 90-250mm f/2.8). These 3 lenses are highly regarded. In particular, the 35-100mm was the bread and butter lens of the wedding and event crowd photographers, since it was pretty much the right focal length for those situations.

I've shot with the 90-250mm once, and I decided that it was not a lens I wanted draped over my shoulder.

The 35-100mm was just about at the end of what I think is manageable for an E-5 (particularly with the grip). I would need to use it for some time to see if I wanted it on the smaller E-M1.

Now, in terms of the SHG zooms, I did not include the 14-35mm f/2. From reports, it had good image quality when it focused. There were a lot of reports that it often mis-focused, and it was the main lens people had to manually configure the focusing for in the E-30/E-5 cameras (or send it in along with the camera for Olympus to fine tune the focusing). So I would say, you are probably better off with the Olympus or Panasonic native high speed lens.

In the middle layer of lenses (HG), the 50mm was generally considered to have the best image quality, and slowest focus time. Many people (including me) feel the 50-200mm is a very fine lens. There are 2 versions of the lens. I have the first version, and I prefer it over the second, because the hood for the second version is rather large, and makes it hard to pack in a gear bag, while the hood on version 1 mounts reversed on the lens and does not take up much room. On the other hand, version 2 focuses faster on the E-3/E-30/E-5 cameras due to the SWD support.

In the normal lens range, there is a lot of debate on whether the 14-54mm mark 1 or the 12-60mm is the better lens. I have the 14-54mm mark 1 (it is going on 9 1/2 years), so I am biased. The 12-60mm gives you more range, and SWD focus speed. However, it is twice as big and heavy as the 14-54mm. Also, there were a lot of complaints that in the 12-13mm range, the 12-60mm has complex distortions that can't easily be fixed in post processing.  The 11-22mm is well thought of, though it is an odd duck, in that it is in the middle of the ranges of other lenses (most lenses if they overlap, only do so at the extremes).

In the low end range, you probably are better served using the equivalent native micro 4/3rds lenses.

For non-Olympus lenses, the one lens people talked about with hushed tones for the image quality is the Panasonic (Leica) 25mm. A second lens was favored by some was the Panasonic 14-150mm since it gave image stabilization to the E-1.

The 2 Sigma macro lenses (105mm, 150mm) have good reputations if you are manually focusing.  Some of the Sigma lenses suffered from being too near the Olympus lenses, so there wasn't much reason to go with the Sigma.  I have the Sigma 30mm, it is an ok lens, but it just doesn't sing to me.  I've had the 18-125mm and 55-200mm lenses (notice the past tense here), and you would be better served going with the various kit and cheaper lenses than those lenses.  The Sigma 135-400mm gave more range than the 90-250mm (until you put on the EC-20 which leveled the field).  I recall the 135-400mm being rather huge (and it was nick-named Sigmonster).  Then there is the 300-800mm lens.  I think there were only a few of these ever made (one for an Arab Sheik that had it mounted on the back of a SUV).

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