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Best Micro Four Thirds Lenses for 2021

Interchangeable lens cameras offer a lot more creative flexibility and control than smartphones and point-and-shoots. Buying a camera with swappable lenses lets you change your angle of view, and take advantage of speciality optics for macro and fish-eye shots.

You do need to make sure you’re getting the right type of lens for your camera. We’re covering lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system in this guide. It’s the oldest modern mirrorless system, and one that’s supported by multiple camera and lens makers.

The First in Mirrorless

Micro Four Thirds cameras first went on sale in 2008. At the time the mirrorless concept was novel. Instead of using an optical viewfinder and mirror, like the Four Thirds SLR system that preceded it, M43 takes the view from the image sensor and sends it right to an electronic display. 

Olympus and Panasonic got things started, but a number of others have employed the mount over the years. It’s been used by cameras in the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema line, on drone cameras from DJI and Yuneec, and even on a smartphone.

Panasonic Lumix G100 With 12-32mm Lens

Panasonic Lumix G100 With 12-32mm Lens

Mirrorless technology has grown a lot in the time since. Today’s models leapfrog SLRs in autofocus speed and video capabilities. Many models, including those at the entry level, feature in-body image stabilization, a feature that’s typically reserved for upper-tier cameras.

Today there are two manufacturers driving the system. Olympus spun off its consumer camera division into a new company last year, so you’re likely to see its wares marketed under both the older Olympus and new OM Digital banners.

Panasonic continues support under its Lumix imprint, even though it’s added a full-frame camera system to its catalog. It uses the Lumix G designation for its Micro Four Thirds cameras, which include mainstream models and specialty options like the tiny BGH1 video camera.

Choosing a Lens

Finding a lens for a Micro Four Thirds camera isn’t hard—there have been hundreds of different types made over the years. But there are some things to take into account.

First comes focal length. The millimeter number associated with every lens is relative to its angle of view, and lenses with a smaller number capture a larger view.

Micro Four Thirds cameras use a different image sensor format than full-frame and APS-C cameras, so you’ll need to do some translation to match up focal lengths between the systems. Micro Four Thirds uses a 4:3 aspect ratio, a bit less wide-screen than the 3:2 aspect sensors used by competing systems, and smaller in surface area, too.

Olympus E-M5 Mark III With 12-200mm Lens

Olympus E-M5 Mark III With 12-200mm Lens

Because of this, you’ll see lenses with smaller focal lengths than you’d expect. A 12mm focal length on a full-frame system is ultra-wide, but on an M43 camera it captures a wide standard view, about the same as the main lens on your smartphone or a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera. The rule of thumb is to double Micro Four Thirds focal lengths to directly compare them.

You don’t have to think too much about it when buying a native lens for the system. We’ve broken this guide up by type, so you can jump down and pick out the best macro, telephoto, wide, or other type of lens for your camera.

If you’re planning on using manual lenses for old SLRs, it’s very easy to do if you’re willing to deal with manual focus and aperture control. With a simple mechanical adapter, you can put a manual lens onto a Micro Four Thirds camera. We’re going to stick to lenses made for M43 in this guide, but we have a separate guide for photographers interested in using vintage glass with a new digital camera.

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