Best lenses for your Olympus OMD E-M5 / Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3

By Kevin Carter - Thursday August 01 2013

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | General Overview | Technology Overview | Best performing prime lenses for the OM-D E-M5 and GH3 | Best performing zoom lenses for the OM-D E-M5 and GH3

Best performing zoom lenses for the OM-D E-M5 and GH3:

For all round flexibility nothing quite beats a zoom lens. It’s here that you’ll find a wide range models from both camera makers. Of those the best performing model we’ve analyzed is the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f2.8 ASPH Power OIS, a weatherproof, image stabilized model and the equivalent to a 24-70mm. In fact, of the top three zoom lenses, not one is made by Olympus, which is perhaps at odds with their reputation as one of the leading lens makers in Japan (but may just reflect that they've yet to offer models at this level, and at this price).

In second and third place, then, is the similarly specified, weatherproof and stabilised 35-100mm (70-200mm). At $1,300 it's not for everybody but it's flexibility and fast maximum aperture is promising. At the other end of the focal range is the highly regarded 7-14mm (14-28mm equivalent), another compact model with an attractive capability and very good image quality.

If budget is a concern, the Olympus 9-18mm f4-5.6 may be an option. As the equivalent to an 18-36mm it's not as extreme as the 7-14mm and at $700, it's still a sizeable sum, however, the model is small and light in weight and is decent performer optically. Value options include the starter 14-42mm lenses, all are reasonably priced and, ultimately, very good performers, even if they're less glamorous than their pricier counterparts.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm / F2.8 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. 1129 19 17
Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S. 1300 18 17
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH 1100 15 13
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 9-18mm f4.0-5.6 700 14 13
Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 II ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. 245 14 13
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 270 13 12
Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 45-150mm F4-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. 300 13 12
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 236 13 11
Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. 399 13 11
Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 100-300mm/F4.0-5.6/MEGA O.I.S. 600 12 11
Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm / F4.0-5.6 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. 383 12 11
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ 499 12 11
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II 550 12 11
Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. 255 10 10
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 800 10 9
Panasonic LUMIX G Vario HD 14-140mm F4.0-5.8 ASPH 850 10 9

With its similar sensor, the GH3 replicates the rankings seen with the OM-D E-M5. It's worth keeping in mind though that while the models share the same mount some of the Lumix lenses adopt built-in image stabilisation, whereas this feature is not present on the Olympus models, relying instead on the stabilised sensor platform of the Olympus cameras.

Best performing standard zoom lenses for the OM-D E-M5 and GH3:

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm / F2.8 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. 1129 19 17
Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 II ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. 245 14 13
Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. 399 13 11
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 270 13 12
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ 499 12 11
 

Standard zooms are justly popular and MFT camera owners can benefit from quite an extensive range of models from starter type lenses costing from $245. In fact the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II ASPH Mega OIS is well made and has respectable image quality. However, it will come as no surprise to learn that the best-performing zoom in MFT format currently is the maker’s $1129 Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f2.8 ASPH Power OIS model. Although quite a big stabilised lens, it complements the larger body of the GH3 and has good, consistent image quality throughout the zoom range. Peak performance is achieved at 25mm at f/4. Anyone looking for the utmost in portability should consider Panasonic’s ‘pancake’ zoom, the Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II ASPH Mega OIS. Although video-oriented with a power-zoom feature and a manual focus lever, it weighs just 95g and measures just under 27mm when stored. At $399, it’s ranked third in our standard zoom category.

Best performing telephoto zoom for the OM-D E-M5 and GH3:

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 236 13 11
Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 45-150mm F4-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. 300 13 12
Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 100-300mm/F4.0-5.6/MEGA O.I.S. 600 12 11
Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm / F4.0-5.6 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. 383 12 11

The telephoto zoom with the best image quality is currently the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm (70-200mm equivalent) f2.8. This high-grade constant aperture zoom is the natural complement to the firm’s 12-35mm f2.8 and shares a number of similar features including ED glass, weatherproofing and optical image stabilisation. At $1,300 it is, however, the most expensive lens in the Micro Four Thirds line up. At just $236, the best value telephoto zoom in the range has to be the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 with a DxOMark Lens Score of 13 points and 7P-Mpix Sharpness score. If brand loyalty is important, the rival offering from Panasonic, the $300 Lumix G Vario 45-150mm f4-5.6 ASPH Mega OIS performs similarly, yet has slightly more consistent performance (albeit with slightly lower levels of sharpness), lower CA and boasts stabilisation.

If you have an Olympus OM-D E-M5 or a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 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.