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

Launched with the E-M1 was the first pro-level zoom lens from the firm. While it has taken a long time, it was well worth the wait. At $1,000 the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f2.8 Pro undercuts Panasonic’s similar 12-35mm f2.8 ASPH but it has no need for stabilization (the E-M1 has it built-in).

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO1000209
Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm / F2.8 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S.1129199
Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 II ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S.245147
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6270136
Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S.399136
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ499125
 

It also has similarly high IQ for a wider zoom range but it performs differently. The Panasonic has slightly better center sharpness at the longer focal lengths, but the Olympus has better uniformity across the frame at wider apertures, particularly at the shorter end of the zoom range.

The Olympus is not great wide open at 40mm but it improves significantly when stopped down only one stop to f4. In most other respects the two models perform similarly.

The Panasonic has a slight edge in transmission though the Olympus is slightly more consistent throughout the range.

However, there’s little need to choose one over the other, unless image stabilization is a concern (with the exception of the GX7, Panasonic bodies don’t have it built-in).

Compared with the Panasonic 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II ASPH zoom there’s a big difference in image quality but that model is a good performer for a kit lens. Like most zooms it’s sharper in centers at the shorter end but it’s not bad if you’ve no need of the performance, brightness or build of the other two.

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO vs Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm / F2.8 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. vs Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 II ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S.

If you have an Olympus OM-D EM-1 and a favorite lens, we would very much like to hear from you. Please leave a comment below, stating what lens it is and why you like it.