9 Lenses That Will Turn the Olympus E-M1 III into a Portrait Powerhouse

If you plan on using the Olympus E-M1 III for portrait photography, these are the lenses that should be in your collection.

Many photographers would have you believe the Micro Four Thirds platform isn’t suitable for professional portrait work, but this is fake news. The M4/3 system is excellent for portraits, and the E-M1 III has the best implementation of face and eye AF the platform has ever seen. There are also a plethora of pro-grade lenses that will make the Olympus E-M1 III shine. After the break, we will take a quick look at some fast lenses that will help you create portraits both you and your clients will absolutely love.

Captured with the Olympus 17mm f1.2 Pro

If you’re a professional photographer who usually shoots portraits, chances are the camera you’d grab on the Micro Four Thirds platform would be the new Olympus E-M1 III. We really enjoyed our time with this camera during our review period, and it proved to be a very capable camera packed with some great features.

Olympus E-M1 III

All the lenses we have listed in this roundup can be used with any Micro Four Thirds camera from both Panasonic and Olympus, so just keep that in mind. The Olympus E-M1 III, with its enhanced autofocus system and massively improved eye AF, will get the most out of the lenses we have selected. All the lenses are incredibly sharp, and they render true to life colors. True to life colors are, of course, incredibly important when it comes to portrait work. These lenses are also capable of producing some stunning bokeh too. If you have been thinking about jumping into portrait photography with the Micro Four Thirds platform, these are the lenses worth a closer look.

Olympus 17mm F1.2 PRO

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pro

  • Fast and silent AF
  • Great build quality
  • Good low light performance
  • Excellent bokeh
  • Weather sealing

Con

  • Large for a Micro Four Thirds lens
  • Heavy for a Micro Four Thirds lens
  • Expensive

Buy now: $1,149

Olympus 25mm F1.8

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Super sharp wide open and stopped down a tad
  • Small and light
  • Fast focusing performance in various lighting situations
  • Smooth bokeh

Cons

  • We wish it were a tad faster to f1.4

Buy now: $299

Olympus 25mm F1.2 PRO

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Almost never need to stop the lens down
  • Incredibly fast focusing abilities
  • Weather sealing
  • Manual focus operation is very smooth
  • Pretty compact, though something a tad smaller would be nice

Cons

  • Kind of pricey, but we understand why

Buy now: $1,149

Olympus E-M1 III
Captured with the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro

Pro Tip: There’s more to portrait photography than what most people think. Not only do you need to know your camera well, but you also need to know how to communicate with your client well, and you need to know how to pose. If you are just starting out in portrait photography, or you would like a refresher, you should check out this posing guide from Lindsay Adler. Learn how to pose and then combine your skills with the tech inside your camera, and you’ll be well on your way. 

Panasonic 42.5mm F1.2

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Super sharp wide open. In fact, it’s the sharpest we’ve ever tested for the system
  • Beautiful build quality
  • Nice aperture ring
  • Fast to focus

Cons

  • Aperture ring control only works with Panasonic cameras
  • Expensive

Buy now: $1,297.99

Olympus 45mm F1.8 MSC

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Small, lightweight, and balances well on any camera
  • Great autofocus performance
  • Nice and sharp and no real need to stop down
  • Renders colors beautifully
  • Absolutely wonderful bokeh
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • No depth of field scales
  • A little lacking in overall build quality

Buy now: $399

Olympus 45mm F1.2 PRO

Olympus E-M1 III

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Fast f1.2 aperture
  • Excellent manual focus control
  • Quick and accurate AF
  • Weather resistance
  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • Price, you can get a lot more lens for the same money (or less) in other systems
  • Weight – the lens is a substantial chunk of glass on most Micro Four Thirds cameras

Buy now: $1,149

Olympus E-M1 III
Captured with the Olympus 45mm f1.2 Pro

Pro Tip: Taking great images with a camera like the Olympus E-M1 III is one thing, but editing them so they look their absolute best is another ballgame entirely. There’s a lot to take into consideration when it comes to editing portraits. You need to worry about color grading, skin smoothing, and so much more. This sounds daunting, but it doesn’t need to be that way. If you use the StyleMyPics Portrait Workflow Extension Photoshop plug-in, you can have quick access to all the tools you need to edit your image to perfection in one easy-to-use control panel, which will help you blow through your edits in no time at all.

Olympus 75mm F1.8 Lens

Olympus E-M1 III

Here are the pros and cons form our full review:

Pros

  • Wonderful all-metal body
  • Rapid speeds when it comes to autofocusing
  • Wonderful image quality
  • Bokeh that will please anyone
  • Ridiculously sharp
  • True to life colors

Cons

  • An occasional bout of hunting in very low light situations

Buy now: $849

Panasonic 12-60mm F2.8-4 Power OIS

Olympus E-M1 III

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Weather sealing
  • Fast focusing
  • Image stabilization
  • Sharp image quality

Cons

  • We wish it were a constant aperture. That would be some real innovation

Buy now: $897.95

Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 PRO

Olympus E-M1 III

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • You get an 80-300mm f2.8 lens in the size of a standard 24-70mm f2.8 from other manufacturers
  • Very sharp wide open
  • The retractable lens hood is very convenient

Cons

  • Focusing ring can be accidentally switched back for manual focusing

Buy now: $1,449