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

By Kevin Carter - Monday December 02 2013

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Best wide-angle primes for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 | Best wide-angle zoom lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 | Best trans-standard zoom lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 | Best telephoto zoom lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Wide-angle primes aren’t numerous for the MFT format, and without the Panasonic 14mm f2.5 (28mm equivalent) in our database this category looks a little one sided. And, the Sigma 19mm DN model, which is wide on Sony NEX APS-C models, exacerbates that but as a 38mm it’s a little narrow on MFT cameras like the E-M1.

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f2.07692210
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f1.8500227
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f2.8300156
Olympus 15mm 1:8.0 Body Cap7953

Olympus has a fast 12mm (24mm equivalent) and two 17mm models approximating the field of view of a 35mm.

At $769 the 12mm is the best optically and it’s very well made, much like the 17mm f1.8 with its metal outer and milled focus ring. The 12mm is very sharp centrally, even at the full aperture, but the corners never really match that of center till f8.0 where the effects of diffraction even out the performance across the frame. Distortion is noticeable but it’s not unexpected on a 24mm equivalent. The 12mm is also prone to lateral chromatic aberration but it is less intrusive than either the 17mm models being mainly at the edges and corners of the frame.

The E-M1 is the first model from Olympus to correct it, when outputting JPEGs, but it may still be visible in RAW files depending on the software used.

Both the 17mm models have lower peak sharpness than the 12mm, which is a surprise and while the f1.8 version appears to have similar levels of sharpness to the f2.8, the faster model has far better uniformity and better control of vignetting despite the wider aperture.

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f2.0 vs Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f1.8 vs Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f2.8

Full aperture performance of the three models compared