The micro four thirds format has reached a strong level of maturity over the past few years. It’s a firm favorite of photographers everywhere. Olympus and Panasonic in particular continue to produce some of the best products out there in this category. Despite its popularity, 4/3 setups can be tricky to buy for.
There’s loads of choice out there from a few key names that crop up again and again. If you’re a newcomer to this pocket of photography, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. If you’re scratching your head wondering which 4/3 lenses to buy, you’re in the right place.
On this page, we’ll run through the best micro four third lenses available today. We’ll discuss options from most of the big manufacturers and cover a broad range of shooting scenarios. Whether you’re a professional videographer or a casual newbie, we’ve got options for everyone here.
Read on to become a four thirds pro!
In case you’re unsure, it’s worth briefly touching on what ‘4/3’ actually refers to when talking about camera lenses. The type of sensor your camera uses will determine the lens that’s right for you. The last thing you want to do is pick up a product that won’t actually work with your gear!
The four thirds standard was originally invented by Olympus/ Panasonic in 2008 as a more portable, lightweight format. Unlike older camera formats, the standard was designed from day one to be fully digital. The name comes from the fact that micro 4/3 cameras use sensors that are roughly 32% smaller than the older APS-C standard.
Confusing jargon aside, all you really need to know is the following:
- Micro four thirds lenses work with smaller (by 32%) camera sensors
- Micro four thirds lenses work best with micro four thirds cameras
- They’re smaller and lighter, with a touch less room and ‘oomph’ than a full-frame setup (but they’re still excellent in the right contexts)
If you hear someone trash talking micro 4/3 products and claiming that full-frame options are always better – they’re wrong. It’s just not that simple. It all comes down to the kind of photographer you are and the work you like to do.
Check out the pros and cons listed below to see if these lenses are right for you.
We think micro four thirds products are great for the following reasons:
- Great portability – they’re much smaller and lighter than DSLRs
- Typically more affordable overall
- Less operational heat and therefore less image noise
- They tend to have snappier autofocus than older DSLRs
It’s worth noting that this format isn’t for everyone. You might like to keep the following in mind:
- You’ll be working with a cropped area that’s 75% smaller than a full-frame sensor
- Your image quality and resolution will be less than more expensive full-frame options
- Some users with larger hands can find the smaller size unergonomic
Right, let’s jump into it! Below are our two favorite micro 4/3 lenses available from Panasonic in 2021.
When we first took a look at this 12-35mm micro four thirds lens, two things stood out to us immediately. These were the lightning-fast autofocus and spectacular optical image stabilization. Expect your photos to be sharp and steady every time. A 240fps linear motor powers the focus tracking features of this lens.
Even with fast-moving subjects, you should find it much easier to keep things sharply in focus. The zoom range on this option from Panasonic gives users a reasonable amount of wiggle room to crop in and out of their chosen subjects. For a sub-$800 lens, this thing delivers great levels of optical performance.
We’re huge fans of the color accuracy, sharpness, and ease of use that comes with this one. Overall, it gets a big thumbs up from us.
- Great optical performance
- Fast, reliable autofocus with tracking
- Decent zoom range
- Not the cheapest option on this list
If you’re looking for significantly more flexibility when it comes to your zoom range, this second option from Panasonic is unlikely to disappoint. With a variable focal length of 35-100mm, you’ll have plenty of wiggle room to get your shot looking perfect. If you do a lot of shooting outdoors, you shouldn’t have much to worry about if you’re using this lens.
It comes with weather, dust, and freeze protection that’s significantly more impressive than a good chunk of the competition. This is a big factor to consider and is overlooked all too often by newbies. The best way to extend the life of your expensive equipment is to buy options with decent weatherproofing in the first place. If your existing lens has already succumbed to things like fungus damage, check out our repair guide here.
As with the other Panasonic option listed above, this lens comes with great OIS, autofocus, and focus tracking right out of the box. It’s hard to go wrong with a zoom lens like this.
- Great weatherproofing
- Durable build
- Takes excellent photos with a great zoom range
- Not ideal for video work
This wouldn’t be a guide to the best micro 4/3 lenses if we didn’t mention some options for Olympus cameras! For our money, the two recommendations below are the best of the best in 2021. Read on to learn more.
We’ll level with you – this one isn’t cheap. For the right photographer, however, it packs more than enough punch to justify its price tag. Expect exceptional optical performance across the entire zoom range with vivid colors, sharp focus, and crisp details that far surpass some of the competition. This lens really impressed us when we first looked at it.
Despite its size, this lens is pretty darn lightweight at just under 2lbs. Compare this to an equivalent DSLR zoom lens and there really is no competition in terms of portability. You won’t think twice about the extra weight this thing adds to your kit bag.
The dual VCM autofocus system on this lens has two separate lens groups controlled by individual drive motors. What this means in layman’s terms is that autofocus performance is extremely snappy and whisper-quiet. For quick setups on the fly, this option is tough to beat.
- Excellent autofocus system
- Surprisingly lightweight for the size
- Vivid details across the whole zoom range
- It’s pretty expensive
For those who need a killer macro lens, this is an excellent choice in our opinion. It ticks a lot of boxes, including price. You can easily pick this thing up for under $500. Considering the optical performance and detail you get with it, this is an absolute steal!
We’re big fans of the 60mm focusing distance when it comes to macro products. It lets you get close enough to achieve the close-up shots you need while giving you enough space to avoid unwanted shadows and similar concerns. It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely the one we’d choose. Check out our macro guide if you’re new to the subject.
When working outdoors, you’ll benefit from reasonable levels of splash and dust protection with this Olympus shooter. Overall, this thing is a great performer with decent durability and a super enticing price tag.
- Versatile macro distance
- An affordable option
- Still performs very well
- Not ideal for moving subjects (autofocus is just okay)
If you’re a videographer, you’ll understand full well that a lens that takes great photos isn’t necessarily a good fit for video work. There’s a different set of specs to keep an eye on. This section contains some of our favorite micro four thirds lenses for taking videos in 2021. Check them out.
The fisheye FOV isn’t for everyone, but it can produce some absolutely stunning results if you know what you’re doing. This Olympus option knocks it out of the park on several fronts. When it comes to flare and ghosting, this is a very well accomplished design. Small changes in lighting environment or movement can quickly ruin your videos.
It’s far less likely you’ll encounter this kind of issue when using a lens like this. It’s not absolutely foolproof by any means, but it’s much more reliable than some other options. Another important consideration when it comes to video work is how quietly a lens operates.
The autofocus system on this lens is completely silent, making it a great candidate as a new videography tool. Sharpness is another area where this product really shines. With edge-to-edge sharpness across the entire frame, you won’t have to worry about blurry subjects toward the edges of your scene.
If you’re into the fisheye style, definitely give this option a look.
- Silent autofocus system
- Great anti-aberration and flare design
- Edge-to-edge sharpness
- The fisheye FOV isn’t for everyone
Another brilliant option for video work, this time from Panasonic. When using this product with your micro four thirds camera, you’ll be working with a 14-28mm equivalent focal length. This should be more than enough wiggle room for a broad range of video requirements, including those with less-than-perfect lighting conditions.
One thing that definitely stands out about this lens vs some of the competition is its image stabilization. Provided your camera comes with reasonable built-in OIS, this thing should keep your videos rock-solid, even if you’re relatively clumsy while you work.
Another thing that makes this lens great for video work is its super smooth aperture transitions when adapting to your changing scenes. Some lenses can jump between auto-settings too abruptly, resulting in sections of your video that become over or under exposed. This is much less common with a lens like this.
Tracking performance, too, is great with this lens. Your moving video subjects will stay sharply in focus almost every time.
- Great Lumix camera image stabilization
- Smooth aperture changes for video
- Strong tracking performance
- HDR performance could be better
Let’s say you’re a landscape or nature photographer at heart – which micro 4/3 lens will be right for you? In this section, we’ll find out. The recommendations below are some of our absolute favorites in 2021. We recommend checking them out if you need a wider FOV.
Rokinon maintains a great reputation for producing some of the best lenses around. The brand’s micro 4/3 offerings in particular deserve a fair bit of praise. This fixed 35mm lens gets a lot of things right. If the wide-angle FOV is right for your photography work, this option should serve you well for many years to come.
With an angle of view of 33.4 degrees, you’ll have plenty of room to fit everything into frame. For landscape work, nature photography, and big group selfies, this thing is great. Low-light performance is particularly noteworthy with this lens. Your evening videos and photos will still come out great, even if it’s dark.
This is one of our favorite 4/3 wide-angle lenses. Check it out today.
- Strong low-light performance
- Plenty of space to fit everything into frame
- Good durability
- Weatherproofing isn’t great
This option from Meike comes with a 108-degree viewing angle. This should give you tons of room to work with. 12 lens groups with 17 different elements work in tandem to produce some pretty spectacular results. For a sub-$500 lens, we were quite impressed.
If you’ve encountered ‘focus breathing’ before, you’ll know how frustrating it can be to retweak your setup on the fly. Fortunately, the design of this lens does a great job of eliminating this issue. You’re far less likely to have your focal length or angle of view thrown off as you work. This gets a big thumbs up from us!
For a spacious viewing angle, attractive price, and surprisingly good performance, give this Meike product a go.
- Quite affordable at under $500
- Very little focus breathing
- Still performs well
- Sharpness is ok but could be better
We’ve already touched on a few zooming options higher up this page, but we’ve saved the best zoom products for this section. In our opinion, the recommendations below represent a great blend of affordability, performance, and reliability. Read on to find your next micro four thirds zoom lens.
This is a pretty stunning all-rounder lens for those who can afford it. If you do a lot of video, sports, or portrait work, this one is definitely worth a look. The almost silent focusing motor is great for videography, and the macro-style focus range is perfect for taking photos of people.
With a range of 45-175mm, this thing comes with a ton of versatility. It should be able to handle basically anything you can throw at it. Whether you’re outside, indoors, close-up, or far away – this thing can do it all. What’s more, the impressive onboard OIS will keep your work nice and steady, even without a tripod.
We’re huge fans of this one.
- Fantastic all-rounder
- Very good for portraits and sports
- Strong OIS
- Not the cheapest option on this page
Next up is another great telephoto option, this time from Rokinon. It’s available for a broad variety of cameras and formats, including micro 4/3. Rokinon works hard to associate itself with pro-level performance at a fraction of the cost. While this lens won’t be perfect for everyone, it does a great job of most tasks in our opinion.
Expect impressive reach, great optical performance, and a level of durability that far surpasses a good chunk of the competition. Take a look today and see if it’s right for you.
- Excellent performance for the price
- Nice and durable
- Pretty versatile
- Not quite as sharp as we’d like
For stunning portrait photos, it’s hard to go wrong with the option below.
The fixed 45mm focal length of this shooter from Olympus provides a comfortable middle ground for portrait photography. You’ll be able to get the close-up results you need while still having the option to take a step back if you need to. We’re really impressed by how well this thing handles portraiture.
We also love the customizable function key on the side of the body. It’s user-programmable and can be tweaked to your heart’s content. For exceptional optical performance, killer portraits, and versatile features, this one’s a great option if you can afford it.
- User-programmable button
- Takes excellent portraits
- Very good optical performance
- Well over $1000
For a lens to be a good fit for travel, it must be at least some of the following:
- Lightweight and compact
- Good in low light
The two options listed below definitely perform well on these fronts. Check them out.
In our opinion, this Olympus lens is a fantastic travel companion. It’s super portable, offers a versatile variable focal length, and is much more affordable than you might expect. When looking at some of the results of this product, you’d be forgiven for expecting it to cost much more.
When travelling, you’re likely to encounter a whole host of different shooting scenarios. This thing can tackle basically anything you throw at it. From architecture photos, to close-up portraits – it’s very impressive considering the price. In fact, it’s one of the best budget micro four thirds lenses around.
- Super versatile
- Nice and affordable
- Lightweight and portable
- The LN button doesn’t work on Panasonic cameras
This is another very versatile lens that comes with a palatable price tag. While it’s not ideal for sports photography or fast-moving subjects, it can handle most other scenarios with impressive levels of versatility. When travelling, the best lens will be one that can adapt to new environments in a heartbeat.
This Laowa shooter is more than capable of holding its own in more situations than you might expect. The wide viewing angle gives users tons of room to fit sweeping city skylines and group travel selfies into frame. While it might not impress the top level pros, we absolutely love this option as an everyday travel lens.
- Excellent versatility
- Very manageable price tag
- Nice wide FOV
- Not ideal for sports photography
We hope you’ve found the recommendations on this page helpful. Remember that the best micro four thirds product looks a little different for everyone. Take the time to consider what you’re actually hoping to achieve with your new gear. The clearer you are about your goals as a photographer, the easier it will be to find options that work for you.
Whichever lens you choose, we hope it serves you well for many years to come!