Best lenses for your Olympus PEN E-P5: Zooms and Primes

By Kevin Carter - Tuesday August 27 2013

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Best performing standard lenses for the PEN E-P5 | Best performing standard zoom lenses for the PEN E-P5 | Best performing wide-angle primes and zooms for the PEN E-P5 | Best performing telephoto primes and zooms for the PEN E-P5
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm F1.8 899 27 12
Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 389 23 9
Sigma 60mm F2.8 DN A Micro 4/3 239 21 10
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm F2.8 Macro 499 19 11
Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS 668 18 9
Telephoto Primes
 

Without doubt the highest performing telephoto lens in our database on the E-P5 is the $899 75mm f/1.8. Not only does it have a fast maximum aperture and fabulous build quality it has excellent sharpness from full aperture. However, it isn’t exactly accessibly priced and as the equivalent to 150mm (on a 35mm DSLR) it’s a somewhat odd focal length. A far more portable and less pricey option is the Olympus 45mm (90mm equivalent) f/1.8. At $389 it performs very well with low vignetting and CA but it can’t quite match the 75mm in sharpness (either at full aperture or even when stopped down). At $239, the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 is good value but it’s one and a third stops slower and with a similar angle of view to a 120mm it’s perhaps a bit long for indoor portraits.

We’ve yet to assess many of the Olympus telephoto zooms on the PEN E-P5 but out of the Panasonic models the semi-pro grade Lumix G Vario 35-100mm (70-200mm) f/2.8 Mega OIS is the best performer optically. This stabilised and weather-proof model is far above other telephoto-zoom models in optical quality, with it approaching the performance of some primes.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S. 1300 19 10
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 236 13 7
Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 45-150mm F4-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. 300 13 6
Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 100-300mm/F4.0-5.6/MEGA O.I.S. 600 12 6
Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm / F4.0-5.6 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. 383 12 6
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II 550 12 6
Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. 255 11 5
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 800 10 5
Telephoto zooms
 

At $1,300 it is a serious investment but sharpness is excellent at all full aperture, except at the 100mm focal length where even at that setting by f4 it has improved considerably across the field.

Olympus_75_vs_45_vs_Panasonic_35-100_Sharpness

Although the 75mm f/1.8 performs well at the maximum aperture, the Panasonic 35-100mm isn’t far behind (at 70mm f/2.8). Optical performance is better at the shorter focal lengths, though stopped down to f/4 sharpness is very good across the field at the 100mm (200mm equivalent) setting.

Best value of those tested is, arguably, the Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6. At $255 it’s on a par optically with more pricey offerings and yet offers a versatile range of focal lengths and as with others from Panasonic it has image-stabilization. Whether this option is useful with the excellent built-in stabilisation of the PEN E-P5 is debatable, but at least you have the choice.

If you have an Olympus PEN E-P5 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.