Recommended Lenses for the 40MP Multi Shot on the Olympus EM5 Mk II

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II first impressions product photos (8 of 10)ISO 1001-30 sec at f - 4.5

With the release of the Olympus EM5 Mk II, many folks were thrilled for the 40MP image feature that pretty much does a special stitching effect. But when we asked Olympus what lenses would work best at delivering the highest image quality, they stated “The Pro and Premium lenses.” Indeed, Olympus has specific designations for these lenses, but those are for just their own glass.

The other big player in the Micro Four Thirds world, Panasonic, also offers some beautiful lenses–as does Voigtlander and other brands.

Here are some lenses that we’ve found that will do the feature justice. There indeed may be more and some of them we haven’t tested, but we have faith in our choices.

Olympus

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II first impressions product photos (5 of 10)ISO 1001-125 sec at f - 2.8

When we chatted with Olympus about what lenses they would recommend to yield the most resolution from the 40MP shot feature, they suggested that we look at the Pro and Premium lens lineup. This only makes the most sense.

12-40mm f2.8

12-40mm f2.8

During our trip to Bermuda with Olympus, we used this lens the most with the camera and yielded some extremely sharp images with it. As one of the company’s top of the line lenses, it’s bound to do a great job resolving all the detail that a 40MP image needs.

In our review, we state:

“When the OMD EM1 launched, we questioned whether or not Olympus would need to go full frame eventually. To be extremely honest, We haven’t been as impressed with a Micro Four Thirds lens since our review of the 75mm f1.8 and the 12mm f2. But those were primes, and our site is especially even tougher on zoom lenses. However, we’ve seen some wonderful ones as of late with the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8, Tamron’s 70-200mm f2.8 VC, and now the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8.

What makes the lens so special is not only its excellent image quality which we can’t harp on enough, but the size, build quality, and speed in focusing. The Micro Four Thirds system has lenses that you really never want to stop down and that perform at their peak essentially wide open. Not only is that wonderful for many folks, but it is also part of the technicalities. Never before have folks wanted to do this more than with something along the lines of Leica M glass.

With all this said, we can only give the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 our highest recommendation–and it is every bit deserving of our Editor’s Choice award for best mirrorless camera zoom lens.”

40-150mm f2.8

40-150mm f2.8

In our review we state:

“We spent five days with this aggressively designed piece of glass. Among any of the Olympus zoom lens offerings that we’ve tested, the 40-150mm f2.8 PRO is the one that I loved the absolute most and almost didn’t want to send back. It’s lightweight, fairly small for what it is, fast to focus, offers crisp image quality, is weather sealed, and won’t fail you when working. For the wedding, sports, portrait, or journalism photographer that needs to work with zooms, you should know that Olympus now has the best zoom lens lineup of any manufacturer in the mirrorless camera world. When coupled with the company’s very good 12-40mm f2.8 lens, you won’t encounter a single moment that you can’t capture.

Using this lens is fun, and glass like this reminds us that even though these cameras have small sensors, there is still quite a bit that they can do in the right situations.

What Olympus needs to do now is work on weather sealed prime lenses. They have loads of wonderful, beautiful primes. But working pros would appreciate extra durability.”

75mm f1.8

75mm f1.8

In our review we state:

“I’ll admit, I had read several reviews of this lens before I had the chance to shoot with it, and I was skeptical about whether or not it could possibly live up to the overwhelmingly positive things people have said about it. In the end, it exceeded my expectations by a long shot, and I believe it redefines the standards at which micro four thirds lenses should be built.

The build is the first sign of quality, but the excellence continues throughout the optics and the result is nothing short of amazing. Images are sharp, pleasing to the eye, and color pops beautifully. Weight could certainly be a concern if you’re traveling with this lens, or shooting with a smaller body like an E-P3 or an E-PM1, but the tradeoff is well worth it–a tremendously good portrait lens at what I believe to be a fair price. $899 is not exactly what I would call cheap, especially in the world of micro four thirds, but it’s an absolute bargain for a lens of this quality. If a high quality portrait lens is what you’re looking for, then I have no doubt that this is the one for you.”

60mm f2.8 Macro

60mm f2.8 Macro

In our review we state:

“There’s no doubt about it, the Olympus 60mm macro is a stellar lens; I personally think it’s one of the best primes for the MFT format at the moment. It has fantastic image quality, it’s relatively affordable, it’s lightweight and splash/dust proof. It can even pull double duty as a wonderful portrait lens (120mm equiv. is great for headshots). Like most lenses, the 60mm does have a few issues. AF isn’t quite as fast as it’s 12mm and 45mm siblings, but it is still quick enough for everyday use. Also, the all plastic construction makes me wonder how this lens will fare over years of use. Even with these minor issues, I would recommend this lens without hesitation to any macro shooter or someone looking for a lens that can pull double duty as a macro lens and a portrait lens.”

45mm f1.8

45mm f1.8

In our review we state:

So what can be said about this lens?

– Excellent image quality and sharpness when wide open providing your objective isn’t to sit there all day and night shooting charts but to instead photograph people and things.

– Image quality is good enough that I’d even say that it can be used for professional purposes and applications.

– Don’t expect to get that super extreme shallow depth of field where only the eyes are in focus though. You’ll need much faster glass than this to do that.

– Fast focusing on newer camera bodies. It’s bearable on older bodies. If you can accept the Fuji X100’s focusing, then you can accept this.

– True to life color rendering.

– Little to no color fringing when shooting wide open.

– Small size

– Semi-flimsy build quality. I really wish it were better and had the full metal build of the 12mm f2. I’d surely pay the premium for it.

– Small filter size, videographers should be aware of this.

– Gorgeous bokeh

Overall, I can’t help but recommend the Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens. It should be the portrait lens in the bag of every single Micro Four Thirds camera user and I will not take that statement back. Though Panasonic has a lens that doubles as a Macro lens (45mm f2.8 with Leica branding), it gets utterly destroyed by this lens. When we reviewed that lens, I was very pleased with the colors and sharpness. However, Olympus has taken a page from their years of lens crafting and made it really shine.

Despite the fact that the company may be falling on some seriously hard times, a lens like this only goes to show that the actions of few don’t necessarily speak for an entire company. It was the engineers and designers who made this lens possible. And now it’s here.

Will I be purchasing it? No, and for a very odd reason. I have a Zeiss 58mm f2 Jena Biotar that I adapted to Micro Four Thirds. I’m in love with that lens’s 17 aperture blades, metal build, and colors. I can live without autofocus, but most users can’t. But for shooting portraits where I always ensure that my subject is calm and comfortable, this lens rocks.

In the end, it’s all up to you. But it gets my vote. Consider looking at our step up guide if you want more information.”

25mm f1.8

25mm f1.8

In our review we state:

“Were you expecting anything less? Take a working formula, adapt it to another focal length, make it affordable, and give it kick ass autofocusing skills. Sounds like a winner to us. In fact, the 25mm f1.8 is one of the most affordable and bang for your buck lenses out there for the Micro Four Thirds system. In general, we’re quite impressed with the sharpness, bokeh, fast focusing speed (coupled with accuracy), small size, and the overall feel that it is the single lens that you may want to keep mated to your camera forever.

And we’re really not joking about that one. At $399, you really can’t go wrong.”

17mm f1.8

17mm f1.8

In our review we state:

“So, should you buy it? Here are my thoughts:

  • If you are new to the format, you do not already have a “normal” prime and you are used to or want a 35mm point of view, it would be a great lens to add to your kit. Go for it.

  • If you already have a normal prime that is close to this range i.e. the Panasonic 20mm or 25mm, I would say think long and hard about spending the extra cash on this lens. Would I trade my Panasonic-Leica 25mm f1.4 for this lens? No way in hell. Would I trade my Panasonic 20mm f1.7 for this lens? No, BUT it may be a worthwhile swap for some (notice I didn’t call it an upgrade). Based on a few quick tests, I personally think the Panasonic 20mm is more pleasing in terms of optics BUT the Olympus 17mm f1.8 crushes the Panasonic 20mm when it comes to autofocus speed. So, if you have the 20mm and you find the autofocus to be too slow for you, I would say take a look at the Olympus 17mm f1.8.”

12mm f2

olympus-12mmf20-800

In our review we state:

“So is a lens like this really worth it? Absolutely! Consider the following:

– It’s 12mm and F/2. There isn’t much distortion or vignetting either.

– It has manual focus via the ring.

– The build quality is superb.

– It focuses quickly.

– It is damned sharp.

– The color rendering is lovely and lifelike.

– It’s a small lens.

Sure, it may be a tad bit expensive, but when you really think about it and use it, it’s worth every penny and will probably find a permanent home on your camera.”

14-150mm f4-5.6 II

14-150mm f4-5.6 II

We’re still in the process of reviewing this lens, but considering the weather sealed design and just how amazingly sharp the lens is so far, we’re bound to think that it will also resolve some of the sharpest images and Micro Four Thirds shooter will take.

Panasonic

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2 review product images (3 of 7)ISO 2001-400 sec at f - 1.7

We have to admit: when it comes to prime lenses we’re a bigger fan of what Panasonic brings to the table for their faster apertures. But overall, they’re also no slouch on lenses.

42.5mm f1.2

42,5mm f1.2

In our review we state:

“Was there ever any doubt?

Panasonic’s 42.5mm f1.2 is a lens that you can have almost no complaints about on the right system. It’s sharp, focuses quickly, has great color for portraits, features a robust build quality, feels great in the hand, and can help you deliver better images when combined with the right skills in lighting and composition.

Indeed, Panasonic has created the perfect portrait optic for the system–and it’s about time that they did.”

15mm f1.7

15mm f1.7

In our review we state:

“Our gripes are honestly quite minor about the Panasonic 15mm f1.7, though they’re still there. But those gripes will probably just be ours. Panasonic put out a fantastic product that every Micro Four Thirds owner should get their hands on lest they miss out. This lens focuses super quickly, feels great, is sharp, small, and a perfect lens for any Micro Four Thirds camera due to its compact size. It also keeps the overall package much more low profile–plus it blends in with the retro looks of some of the cameras.

We’re sad to say goodbye to this lens, but we encourage you to get it if we had to choose one single focal length for the system.”

12-35mm f2.8

12-35mm f2.8

In our review we state:

“While this lens delivers some premium sharpness, there are a couple of things that couldn’t get us excited about it. First off, even though it isn’t very large overall, we think that something like this could have been made even more compact. And while its 35-100mm f2.8 OIS cousin isn’t much larger, that lens’s quality is far more spectacular than this one.

The 12-35mm f2.8 OIS also doesn’t have such an excellent feel in the hand–and I spent a lot of time with it. The focal length range is quite good, and while that made it a personal favorite, we’re not exactly sure that we’d want to run with a lens like this when you also slap on the high price tag. In fact, I recommend just sticking with smaller primes instead that have faster apertures and can give you better image quality.

But if you’re really looking for a great zoom lens for the Micro Four Thirds camera system, this is it without question.”

35-100mm f2.8

35-100mm f2.8

In our review we state:

“Of any of the lenses that I used with the Panasonic GH3, this one is perhaps my favorite and the only one that I would actually purchase. I often don’t shoot with long focal lengths unless I need to–and it would be nice to have a variety of them to keep the lens bag not too heavy. This lens exhibits mesmerizing sharpness, wonderful bokeh, excellent colors, great stabilization, and a build quality that will be able to keep up with your rough and tumble life despite the plastic exterior.

It’s totally worth it for anyone that needs to shoot long. If you’re a sports photographer though, you’ll surely need something longer. A lens like this won’t cut it.

Either way, this lens gets our highest recommendations but we really wish that the exterior were made in metal except for plastic for personal aesthetics.”

7-14mm f4

7-14mm f4

In our review we state:

“The Panasonic 7-14mm f4 lens may just become your next go-to lens for everything if you’re the type of shooter that it appeals to. It is wonderful for landscapes, cityscapes, and wide scenes at the shorter end of the lens. But when you zoom it, it becomes one of two classical street photography focal lengths. And you really can’t go wrong.

We’re smitten with this lens. It’s sharp, contrasty, has wonderful color rendition, focuses quickly, feels well built and is highly portable. The only thing that it is missing is weather-sealing, but that doesn’t really break our hearts too much.

If you need a wide angle zoom for your Micro Four Thirds camera, this is the one to spring for. And there is no turning back.”

20mm f1.7 II

20mm f1.7 II

In our review we state:

“Panasonic’s 20mm f1.7 II is a lens that is a well needed upgrade in some ways, but in other ways it is a step back. The lens could have added more saturation and also could have been sharper. But what you get in return is faster focusing and better build quality. For what it’s worth, we’re positive that there were loads of shooters that beat their lens up after years of continued use. Still though, there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with the lens.”

Third Party

Panasonic and Olympus aren’t the only ones making very solid lenses. Voigtlander and SLR Magic also have amazing offerings that you should be aware of–with the highest respect going for the Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95.

Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95

Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95

In our review we state:

“In fact, it has even moved me to sell my Canon 7D and Nikon D5100 because the image quality that this gives me on a Micro Four Thirds sensor surpasses what the others can do for me in a small enough form factor.

And in the end, the Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 wins nothing but the highest praise and a place in my heart.”

SLR Magic 50mm f0.95

SLR Magic 50mm f0.95

Voigtlander 42.5mm f0.95

Voigtlander 42.5mm f0.95

Voigtlander 25mm f0.95

Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 II