Zoom lenses are ideal when you want to use a variety of focal lengths without the hassle of changing lenses. Here we look at some of the best available for the Micro Four Thirds mount, used by Panasonic and Olympus.
Don’t forget that you can use lenses from either brand on your Micro Four Thirds camera. So, if you’ve got an Olympus, you can use a Panasonic lens, and vice versa.
The crop factor associated with Four Thirds sensor is 2x. That makes it nice and easy when calculating the “equivalent” focal length, as you just double whatever it says. So, for example, a 12-35mm lens becomes a 24-70mm lens.
For this piece, we have separated the zoom lens options into standard and telephoto zoom lenses. Standard zooms are great options as “everyday” or “walkaround” choices, giving you a good degree of flexibility for a range of different situations, such as landscape, travel and even portraiture. Telephoto zoom lenses on the other hand are more suited to specific types of photography, such as wildlife, sports or action – basically anything which requires you to get closer to the action.
Best standard zooms for Micro Four Thirds
Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 II LUMIX G Vario ASPH Power OIS Lens
Equivalent focal length: 24-70mm | Street Price: £879
This standard zoom lens is equivalent to the classic focal length of 24-70mm which is favoured by many full-frame shooters. It’s also got a nice wide constant f/2.8 aperture. It’s suited well to larger cameras such as the Panasonic GH5, and makes for an excellent walk around lens. At its widest, it’s ideal for landscapes and travel, while the tele end is great for portraiture and street work. You can use it in low light conditions, stopping down to the widest aperture of f/2.8. It’s also great for throwing the background out of focus for shallow depth of field effects. Support is available for the Power OIS (optical image stabilisation) as well as in-camera 5-axis Dual IS 2 when used with certain cameras such as the GH5 and G80.
Panasonic 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT POWER OIS Lens
Equivalent focal length: 24-120mm | Street Price: £879
Panasonic has a great working relationship with Leica, which it has teamed up with to create this standard zoom lens. Offering more reach than the 12-35mm lens, as a trade off, you have to settle for f/4.0 at the telephoto end of the lens. Again, due to its reasonably large size, it’s best used with larger cameras, or those that take the DSLR form, such as the GH5. This lens is also splash proof and dustproof, making it ideal for all kinds of outdoor work.
Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 M.ZUIKO PRO Lens
Equivalent focal length: 24-80mm | Street Price: £799
A classic walk around length for Olympus users, this lens gives a touch extra reach than the Panasonic 12-35mm equivalent, while offering the same f/2.8 constant aperture. A great choice for cameras such as the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, it’s a versatile option for lots of different subjects ranging from landscapes to portraits. It is also weatherproof which makes it ideal for outdoor work.
Best telephoto zoom lenses for Micro Four Thirds
Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 II LUMIX G X VARIO POWER OIS Lens
Equivalent focal length: 70-200mm | Street Price: £969
A classic focal length enjoyed by traditional full-frame photographers, the equivalent focal length of this lens is 70-200mm. The maximum wide aperture of f/2.8 is constant, making it ideal for lots of subjects, including portraiture, as well as being great in low light. This lens is one of the pricier options for Micro Four Thirds, so if you want to save some cash, take a look at the 35-100mm f/4-5.6 option.
Equivalent focal length: 80-300mm | Street Price: £1,125
This versatile optic from Olympus is ideal for quite a few different subjects, including portraiture and wildlife. It features an f/2.8 constant maximum aperture, which makes it useful in low light. For those who spend a lot of time outdoors, the splash, dust and freeze proof construction of the lens will surely be appreciated. Focusing is also near silent, and if the 300mm (equivalent) isn’t enough, you can purchase an extra 1.4x teleconverter to extend it to an equivalent of 420mm. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the high asking price of this lens, there’s also a 40-150mm f/4-5.6 offering available.
Panasonic 45-200mm f/4-5.6 II LUMIX G VARIO POWER OIS Lens
Equivalent Focal Length: 90-400mm | Street Price: £359
If your main concern is extra reach, but you don’t have a large budge to match, this 45-200mm lens from Panasonic could be the ideal choice. The maximum aperture isn’t particularly wide at f/4-5.6, but you can get very close to the subject. It’s also splash proof and dustproof, making it ideal for subjects such as wildlife and outdoor photography.
Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II M.ZUIKO ED Micro Four Thirds Lens
Equivalent Focal Length: 150-600mm | Street Price: £314
This extraordinarily good value lens gets you super close to the action, offering one of the longest focal lengths available for Micro Four Thirds. It boasts super fast autofocusing which make it well-suited to subjects such as sports, wildlife and action. You could also use it for some other subjects, such as events and weddings where you need to get close to the subject.
Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 Power OIS
Equivalent Focal Length: 200-800mm | Street Price: £1,299
This beast of a lens gives you incredible reach, being an equivalent of 800mm at its furthest. It’s great for a variety of subjects, including wildlife, sport and action and is dust-proof and splash-proof. The lens zooms silently, making it ideal for video recording, while autofocus is also very quiet.