I'm partial to Zuiko from my OM-1 and OM-4 days... but do they still make the best lenses?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by majordude, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. majordude

    majordude Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 28, 2012
    I have a silver OM-D on the way. I've been looking at zooms and primes.

    While Zuiko still makes some great primes, it looks like Panasonic/Leica may have better lenses. :eek:

    What are your thoughts?
  2. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    I've only used a few Zuiko & Panasonic lenses (14-42, 17, 20, 45, 45-200) and found them all pretty good - the limiting factor is usually my ability to compose a shot rather than the glass itself.

    Mostly my perception filtered through a few years reading of mu-43 opinion -

    * That the Panasonic zoom lenses are better than their Olympus equivalent but they tend to be a bit more expensive and often bigger - this plus the extra few mm on the wide angle usually means the choice is down to personal preference. Panasonic are also the only game in town for 'fast' zooms.

    * Both manufacturers kit lenses are actually pretty good. The earlier Panasonic 14-45 was usually considered the best; the Zuiko Mk II 14-42 is faster and quieter than the Mk I and the Panasonic X 14-42 probably the 'worst' (mainly due to inflated cost for the pancake and lack-lustre performance - unless you need the small size stick with the standard kit). Even then its splitting hairs.

    * The primes are all pretty good with some being regarded as exceptional (20, 25, 75), or great value for money (14, 45). Consensus is that the old 17mm isn't very good but I find it fine for my shooting style - if you see one cheap its worth picking up to try although the 14 is considered to be better and can be had for a similar price now.

    * The older first-generation lenses are often a little slower to focus (particularly the 17, 20, Oly Mk I 14-42) compared to the second and subsequent generation lenses.

    * The new metal Zuiko's are meant to be good (12, 17) but pricey - they're also the only AF lenses with a snap focus ring if you're into hyper-focal shooting.

    * Both manufacturers Macros are meant to be pretty stellar - the forum shots in the Native Lens Sample Image threads look great.

    * Both manufacturers have 'novelty' lenses - the Oly body-cap and the Panasonic 3D - the Oly seems to be the more popular on the forum based on volume of posts.

    So, theres plenty of choice and generally you can't go wrong with a native Panasonic or Olympus lens :)
    • Like Like x 3
  3. Mikefellh

    Mikefellh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2012
    Toronto, Canada
    There have been issues reported with some Panasonic lenses and E-M5, like banding with the 20mm.

    Also there are only two lenses from Leica.
  4. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Real Name:
    Napier Lopez
    I really don't think there is a significant competition going on here.

    In my opinion, simply put, both companies make lenses of equal overall quality, with most of these lenses being very good. The primes in particular.

    Basically everyone knows the HG and SHG original 4/3rds lenses are spectacularly, impeccably good, but I'm not including those here.

    For M4/3 specifically, again, the companies are evenly matched overall.

    Panasonic has the spectacular 20mm and 25mm(surprisingly two *very* different feeling focal lengths, now that I've owned both), the also excellent but underrated 45mm f2.8, as well as the two excellent compact weather sealed fast zooms(12-35, 35-100), and a highly regard 7-14mm f4. Basically all the other lenses are good, though not up to the same standards.

    Olympus has the excellent 12mm and 45mm, and the apparently spectacular 75mm and 60mm. The 75mm in particular has been mentioned in many reviews as one of the sharpest lenses ever tested, and the 60mm has been receiving similar praise. The new 17mm f1.8 seems to be quite good, if not up to the IQ standards of these aforementioned ones. The other lenses basically go toe to toe in quality with panasonic's similar offerings(without OIS, though)

    I'm still praying that olympus can produce smaller versions of their F/2 zooms for the original 4/3rds system, or at the very least the excellent and hugely versatile 12-60mm f2.8-f4.


    The 20mm banding apparently happens on the GH3 as well. It seems to be an odd sensor issue unfortunately.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Real Name:
    My favorite lenses are the PL 25mm and the Olympus 45mm. They both make great lenses without a lot of overlap. Panasonic is taking the lead in faster zooms, though.

    I've shot Olympus through most of my photo life, beginning with the OM-1 (still in service); while the make some of the best glass, I would never claim they make "the best lenses". Some of the OM Zuiko glass is justly legendary, but I'm leery of the "who is greater" game. Who is greater, Beethoven or Mozart?

    I do wish Olympus would match some of the HG and SHG lenses from the 4/3 lineup in native m4/3, or at the very least find a way to make the focus work better on m4/3 bodies.
  6. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I'd like to echo napilopez on all counts. I have most of the 'premier' native ยต4/3 lenses from both companies with absolutely no complaints on the IQ. The lenses are on par with my 'L' lenses.

    • Like Like x 1
  7. trailguru

    trailguru Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 9, 2012
    Somerset, England
    In the days of film, F1, OM1 and the LX I was privileged try and test lenses from all the major players over a number of years and, by way of a vast generalisation, most photographers would be hard-pushed to tell what glass was used to make any particular image. And the best optics from each company could out-perform the emulsion's capabilities anyway.

    The playing field may have changed but the main players - eg Olympus, Leica, Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Sigma - are all still making fine lenses so I don't think you should lose sleep over it.

    One of the biggest differences between your old Zuikos and new mu43 optics is the way software is used to correct distortions in PP. This brings huge benefits in terms of miniaturisation, cost and mechanical function but, with the advent of independent PP software, throws another big variable into the mix.

    Another is that, in yesteryear, lenses from any given system had a similar build quality. These days individual lenses within a system are built to a target market; some feel cheap and plasticky, others ooze quality. Luckily mu43 owners can mix and match brands according to their needs and budget.
  8. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    Real Name:
    like others both companies have good and bad choices :)
    right now I would say if I had to generalize
    oly is making nicer primes
    panasonic is making nicer zooms at least the two nice ones they make