Why It’s Imperative That Olympus Makes Better Telephoto Lenses

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The idea of an Olympus 200mm f1.8 PRO lens shouldn’t seem all that odd. I think it would be brilliant. A lens like this would effectively be a 400mm f3.6 with the light-gathering abilities of an f1.8. Then slap it on a 2x teleconverter and it will effectively become an 800mm f7.1 lens. Just think about how amazing that would be for wildlife and birding photography. Better yet, it would be lightweight and affordable compared to many other lens options. How could someone complain about a lens like this? This is where I feel Olympus needs to improve: they need more telephoto lenses.

You’re probably wondering why I’m calling them Olympus. Well, OMDS doesn’t ring as well; let’s be honest. And we don’t know how long they’ll be making Olympus-branded products.

As you’re reading this, you probably fall into one of two camps. You might think Micro Four Thirds is over. As a reviewer, I indeed sometimes wonder about their future. But then I shoot with one again and fall for certain things. The ergonomics of the Panasonic GH5 II are really nice as is the CineLike V2 profile. And with Olympus, we’ve got so many cool and fun profiles. With that said, I think Micro Four Thirds needs to find a way to appeal to more photographers. At the same time, they need to stop going after the same photographers. 

Olympus has a lot of great zoom lenses, but they are inherently limited. They have slower apertures: Micro Four Thirds needs fast apertures. I believe not a single lens PRO grade telephoto lens should be slower than f2. Years ago, Olympus made f2 zoom lenses for the Four Thirds lens lineup. These days, Panasonic makes f1.7 zoom lenses. Sigma has made an f2 and an f1.8 zoom lens. Even Canon has made an f2 zoom lens. So why isn’t Olympus doing this? 

Again, they’re appealing to a current user base. And in my opinion this isn’t a winning solution. Pentax and Nikon do this, but at least Nikon has tried to make strides toward getting other customers. 

Years ago, companies like Canon made a 200mm f1.8 lens. It was huge, but it was also meant for a bigger mount. The special thing about Micro Four Thirds is that they can make the lenses that much smaller. I mean, look at their 17mm f1.2: it’s a marvel and a work of modern art! Fujifilm also has a 200mm f2 lens. So here is what I think Olympus or OMDS really needs:

  • 100mm f1: this would basically be a 200mm f2. If Fujifilm can make a 50mm f1 with autofocus, I think Olympus can totally do this. They’ve been making lenses longer than Fujifilm has in the mirrorless camera space.
  • 200mm f1.2: this would be a 400mm f2.4 when you consider the render. If you’re really wondering where I’m getting numbers from, consider the 2x crop factor. The full-frame depth of field equivalents are also multiplied twice.
  • 300mm f1.4: this would be a 600mm f2.8 lens considering the render. And yes, I know this would be a big lens. But it would also make a whole lot of sense. 

If they made these lenses, the Olympus would keep up with the likes of Sony and others for. But some may argue that they need to go even further. More importantly, Olympus and Micro Four Thirds are in the best position to use AI. They have the smallest sensors and the least megapixels. AI and processors require less of those to make the most of the technology.

We’d love to hear your feedback and what you’d want to see.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.