Best lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1: Short telephoto and standard focal lengths

By Kevin Carter - Friday, November 29, 2013

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Best prime lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 | Best zoom lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 | Best portrait type lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 | Best standard prime lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 | Best standard zoom lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1
Best lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1: Short telephoto and standard focal lengths

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is the new flagship model in the range and features a newly-designed pro-grade body and a modified 16-Mpix sensor incorporating on-chip phase-detection pixels for backwards compatibility with the firm’s 4:3 lenses.

While we’ve not analyze the performance of those earlier lenses on the E-M1, we have assessed the image quality of 33 models (more than 70% of the current range) using the native MFT mount.

Read onto find out which of those lenses perform best when paired with the camera. 

Announced back in September, the second model to the OM-D range doesn’t replace the original E-M5 model but sits above it as a camera intended for serious enthusiasts as well as professional use.

Olympus also decided to end the 4:3 E-system cameras, replacing the top of the range E-5 DSLR with the E-M1. Improved AF compatibility with the firm’s highly respected E-series lenses was achieved by adopting a 16-Mpix L-MOS sensor with on-chip phase detection pixels, giving the E-M1 two individual AF systems. However, because of the longer register, E-series lenses aren’t native to the mirrorless E-M1 and an optional mount (MMF-2/3) is required. 

The E-M1 adopts a durable outer-shell with a proliferation of controls for direct access to features and a move away from the more-menu centric operation of the E-M5. It has also an upgraded viewfinder with a high-resolution 2.3-M dot display and expansive view plus a modified shutter with a top 1/8000th sec shutter speed and a maximum flash sync of 1/320th sec.

Like other cameras with hybrid sensors, the E-M1 doesn’t have an anti-aliasing (AA) filter.  Not only does this improve contrast slightly, aiding focus accuracy with the on-chip phase-detection elements, but it also improves sensor resolution with the benefit of increased sharpness and clarity in images.

For this round up we’ve not tested the earlier E-series lenses on the E-M1 but we have analyzed the optical characteristics of 33 different MFT lenses from both Olympus and Panasonic, as well as some from third-party makers. We’ve scrutinized a total of 18 zooms, recently adding the new high-grade ED 12-40mm f2.8 Pro from Olympus and 15 primes, including the modestly priced trio of DN Art series models from Sigma and the recent update to the highly regarded 20mm f1.7 ASPH ‘pancake’ type standard lens from Panasonic. 

Best prime lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Best zoom lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Best portrait type lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Best standard prime lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Best standard zoom lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1

See also Best lenses for the Olympus OM-D EM-1: Wide angle and telephoto zooms and primes