Best of 2016: Panasonic and Olympus Micro Four Thirds Lenses


Regardless of whether you are shooting with Olympus mirrorless digital cameras or Panasonic, one of the fantastic benefits of being a Micro Four Thirds shooter is that you can use top-of-the-line optics from either optical manufacturer (and any third-party Micro Four Thirds lens maker). Panasonic and Olympus work to equip their dedicated shooters with lenses that are second to none in terms of image quality and performance.


The Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens appears to be the new Micro Four Thirds standard bearer for wide-angle photography. With a wide f/1.4 maximum aperture, it features two aspherical elements along with one extra-low dispersion element and a pair of ultra extra-low dispersion elements in case extra-low wasn’t low enough!

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH. Lens

A rounded 9-blade diaphragm is designed with an eye on bokeh, and the lens is also splash- and dust resistant. On a Micro Four Thirds camera, this Summilux lens has a 35mm equivalent field of view of 24mm.

Normal, Wide Open

With a 35mm equivalent field of view of the standard 50mm lens, the new

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO lens appears to be designed for low-light shooters and those craving super-shallow depth of field when taking photographs with its very-wide f/1.2 maximum aperture. Another rounded 9-bladed diaphragm smooths the out-of-focus areas, and the lens contains one aspherical element, as well as three extra-low dispersion elements.

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

Feel free to correct me if you know otherwise, but my guess is that with 19 elements in 14 groups, this Olympus lens has more glass elements than any mainstream prime lens on the market. If you know of primes with more than 19 elements (old or new), definitely share that in the Comments section, below. My cursory research shows that this lens might be a record-holder!

Macro Plus

With better than 1:1 magnification, the new Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro lens allows Micro Four Thirds photographers to achieve rarified 1.25x magnification when photographing objects as close as 0.6" (working distance) away with a minimum focus distance of 3.7". Definitely pushing the bounds of funky optical design, the 30mm Olympus features one aspherical element, one Dual Super Aspherical (DSA) element, and one Extra-Low Dispersion Aspherical (EDA) element to control spherical aberrations, chromatic aberrations, and color fringing. The lens features a rounded 7-blade diaphragm and, even though the front filter thread is 46mm, the front element is comparatively tiny. Funky indeed!

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

Mid-Range Versatility

With a 35mm equivalent field of view of 24-120mm, the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. lens will likely be the standard go-to mid-range super-versatile lens for many Micro Four Thirds shooters because it spans from wide angle to telephoto. The lens has POWER Optical Image Stabilization and is Dual IS compatible when placed on a compatible Panasonic camera. Dust- and splash proof, this lens features a trio of aspherical elements, as well as an extra-low dispersion element and an aperture diaphragm with seven rounded blades.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. Lens

All-in-One for MFT

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO lens gives Micro Four Thirds shooters their first 35mm equivalent 24-200mm lens with the power to go from wide-angle shooting to very respectable telephoto lengths without changing lenses. Travel photographers often enjoy the convenience of lenses like this one that separates itself from the crowd with a constant f/4 maximum aperture. Its capabilities are seen in its use of aspherical and low dispersion elements, as well as ZERO and Z Coating Nano coatings, while being weather-sealed for use in non-ideal conditions.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO Lens

B&H's Allan Weitz just completed this review of the lens and how it performs when mounted on the shiny new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

Prime Farther Reach

Another new addition to Olympus’s PRO line is the impressive Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO lens that offers landscape, nature, and sports shooters a massive 600mm 35mm equivalent field of view. The integrated optical stabilization provides four stops of stability, light is treated to three Super ED elements and Z Coating Nano, and the lens is weather-sealed against water, dust, and freezing temperatures. When used with select cameras, the optical stabilization systems will sync and provide up to an amazing 6-stops of stabilization—perfect for long telephoto work.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Lens

The Long Zoom

Some would argue that you cannot have too much telephoto. For those in the Micro Four Thirds camp, there is the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4-6.3 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. lens that boasts a 35mm equivalent field of view of 200-800mm. Panasonic’s collaboration with Leica has given us a lens that you would have never expected to bear the Leica name, and that is pretty cool. Extra-low dispersion elements and a POWER O.I.S. system work together to provide excellent optical performance. The lens is surprisingly lightweight and relatively compact, especially when you compare it to other lenses that provide an 800mm field of view!

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4-6.3 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. Lens

What are your favorite Micro Four Thirds lenses? Are you excited about any of these 2016 releases? Share with us in the Comments section, below!


Since the Panasonic 100-400 is only f/6.3 on the long end, are there any autofocus problems?

Hi Michael,

Good question to ask, but I have never heard of any issues with autofocus at the telephoto end of the zoom range, even with the limited aperture. In fact, I keep finding reviews of the lens that sing the praises of the AF system.

Thanks for stopping by!

If you read the reviews, they say it can be tough to focus while zooming because the lens isnt parafocal and doesnt have great contrast at the longer lengths. 

Any chance that Panasonic or someone else is going to offer an autofocus/autoaperature macro lens for Micro 4/3 ... with a decent working distance for wildlife photography, something like a 100 or 200mm macro.
​I heard rumors that Samyang/Rokinon might be coming out with something.



Hi Chuck,

I am sure there is always a chance they will, but you might want to scour the Interweb for a Panasonic or Olympus lens "roadmap," or (gasp!) check out the "rumors" sites.

Because you are shooting mirrorless, if you can live without AF and AE, you can adapt some sweet macro lenses to your Micro Four Thirds tide you over until the OEMs come out with your dream lens.

Thanks for stopping by!

Just started using the Oly 17mm f1.8 on my EM5 Mk II. It's a great walking around, street shooter. Small and unobtrusive, sharp, fast and great in low light. I can see this becoming my go-to everyday lens. And a semi-wide like this forces you to get close and become engaged with your subject.

Glad you are enjoying it, Michael!

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Great lens, Nick! But, it was released in 2013, so not featured in this article. Thanks for reading!

These are Micro FourThirds, so won't work on any of the older 'standard' FourThirds bodies such as the E3.

I recently bought black magic camera that uses MFT lenses.  Is there a low cost kit that you would recommend for interviews and b roll


Hi Mike -

We do not have a pre-configured kit that would include all or most of the components you might require.  Please send us an e-mail detailing what you would like and your approximate budget range We will get you outfitted.  [email protected]

Thanks for the summary. I love the relative low weight and quality of the Panasonic and Oly lenses. My favorites are the Oly 12-40 2.8 Pro, the Lumix 35-100 2.8, and the Lumix-Leica 50 mm 1.4.  With the Oly EM-1 OM-D they are all I need most of the time. They also work very well with my Lumix GM-1 and GM-5 which I use when I don't want to be noticed. The Lumix 12-32 mm 3.5-5.6 pancake lens is excellent except in low light. My next lens will be the Oly 7-14 2.8. Perhaps Santa (my wife) will be kind this year. I am not excited about the heavy/big lenses for M 4/3 because they kind of defeat the purpose of the format. For those assignments I use the Nikon D810 with the big, heavy guns. 




Can you use the Leica lenses on the Olympus?

Thanks for sharing, Mesal! In regards to another comment, have you had any issues cross-branding your glass and cameras? Thanks!

Todd, the only issue I have found is that the Oly 12-40 does not work well in dark photos with the Panasonic GM cameras, since the lens has no stabilization and the Cameras don't have it either.



Hey Mesal,

Thanks for the info. When you say it doesn't "work well" is it a function of the slower shutter speed's needed for the low-light exposure, or something about how the camera and lens are not communicating well?


Todd, basically it is that at loawe speeds, it is very easy to get  a shaky photo because of the lack of stabilization, both in the camera and the lens. The lens communicates well with the camera, so at higher speeds there is no issue.



Ahhh, got it. Thanks!

Yep, there really isn't a camera that can defy the physics of low-light photography!

Love the new 300 f4 - with an Olympus Air 01 attached,  (really intrigues people) it allows a well balanced unit on a small tripod for low angle shots,  without crawling aroind on the ground!  The abillity to use the extender on it as well gives a 35mm equivalent of 840.

Glad you are enjoying the 300, Rob! Thanks for sharing and thanks for stopping by!

The Panasonic Leica 100-400 mm is intriguing, especially because it's likely to be versatile shooting at the beach, but I have lingering doubts about how well it'll play with Olympus equipment.  At present, my best kit is a 50-200 mm ED SWD 1:2.8-3.5  Olympus 4/3 format, with teleconverter and adapter to micro 4/3.  It autofocuses fast on the OM-D E-M1, not on the older E-M5.  

Thanks, David.

I have never "swapped" Micro Four Thirds systems. I am curious if other readers have used Panasonic lenses on Olympus and vice versa and what their experiences were. If you are reading this, feel free to add to the discussion!


I've used Panasonic lenses on Olympus bodies and vice versa for a long time. No problem. Works great both ways. 

Do these work with the Sony a6500 and nex7 and other e mount lens cameras?

Hi Louise,

[CORRECTION]  Unfortunately, you cannot adapt the Micro Four Thirds lenses to a Sony E-mount camera.

Thanks for reading!

Olympus 7-14 f/2.8 is the cat's meow. Made photography interesting again. Real standard setting lens.

Meow. Prrrrrr. 

Thanks for reading, JHarring!

Where is the Voightlander trio? Not exactly new to the game but still unbeat for .95 wide open.

Hey DS,

Those Voigtlanders are sweet lenses, but this article was drafted to talk about only Olympic and Panasonic lenses released in 2016.

Thanks for reading! For those interested in the Voigtlanders for Micro Four Thirds, click on this link!

Using my GH4 for video more than stills, I am really looking at the Sigma 18-35 T2 Cine lens. When will B&H get that and it's longer sibling? Pricey, but perhaps worth it.

Unfortunately, we do not have the Sigma Cine lenses in our system at this time.  I don’t know when we might have them available for purchase. 

Where is the powered-zoom Micro 4/3 lens????

The only one to date is the 45-175 PZ...unless I have missed something.

The Olympus 12-50 kit lens. Not very fast though.