My Olympus Four Thirds lens wish list – what’s yours?

Written by Gary on October 17th, 2009

The main strengths of Olympus Four Thirds system are:

  • great colours in jpegs straight from the camera no need for post-processing – arguably the best out there
  • great edge-to-edge image sharpness and contrast even at f/2.0
  • superb lenses designed especially for the sensor – my favorites include the unique ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD which I would never part with and which has features that are just not available on any other camera system – see my earlier blogs
  • the best telephoto reach courtesy of the 2x crop factor – who else can give you a hand holdable 100-400mm f/2.8-3.5 (the ZD 50-200mm), a 180-500mm f/2.8 lens (the 90-250mm f.2.8), or a 300mm f/2.0 (the ZD 150mm f/2.0) or a 600mm f/2.8 (the ZD 300mm f/2.8)?
  • in-built image stabiliser makes all of your lenses including legacy lenses image stabilised
  • the ability to use almost any legacy lens ever made (except Leica M or Canon – but these work on Micro Four Thirds cameras)

So here is my wish list:

  • 100mm f/2.0 macro (ie. 200mm focal length – great for nature work as well as portraits and the EC-20 will give you a compact 200mm f/4 lens with telephoto reach of 400mm – very nice indeed) – I believe this is coming very soon!
  • upgrade of the superb 50mm f/2.0 macro – needs a focus range limiter and addition of CDAF for live view and on MFT’s.
  • firmware upgrades as promised to add CDAF to the 12-60mm and 50-200mm lenses
  • compact pro fast telephoto
    • 200 mm f/2.5 (that is a compact hand holdable 400mm f/2.5 IS) for those times when the 50-200mm is just too big to carry around or is too intimidating at 200mm with the lens extended.
    • 250mm f/3.5 (that is a compact hand holdable 500mm f/3.5 IS) or a 300mm f/4 (that is a compact hand holdable 600mm f/4 IS) for when you need more reach than the 50-200mm.
      • in the 1970’s and 1980’s, wildlife photographers and even some fashion photographers bought 500mm or 600mm f/8 mirror lenses to get good telephoto reach in a compact size. NOW, with Four Thirds, a 300mm f/4 lens would give the same telephoto reach with better contrast (as there is no mirror obstruction), in much the same size and weight, with fast AF, better bokeh, ability to use filters on the end rather than drop in, and ability to stop down the aperture if needed. Please Mr Olympus, I would love one of these as the 300mm f/2.8 is just too big and expensive for me.
  • compact high quality 10mm f/2.0 or f/2.8 wide angle prime with minimal distortion for landscapes and architecture
  • an affordable, entry level 40mm f/1.4 for portraits (OK, it could be f/1.8 or f/2, but just make it at least comparable in quality and price as a Canon or Nikon 50mm f/1.8 or 1.4 lens)
  • if we didn’t have MFT, a 20mm f/1.7 for FT, but the superb Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 MFT lens mated to an Olympus E-P1 will cover that very nicely indeed.

What else would you really like and why?


Now, before anyone criticises my 35mm equivalences and say that a 200mm f/2.5 lens does not give the same depth of field as a 400mm f/2.5 35mm lens, of course it doesn’t but you get the same telephoto reach (ie. angle of view) at the same aperture and thus ability to use the same shutter speed and ISO, and the wider DOF is actually an advantage at super telephoto focal lengths.

So please don’t bother raising any of those silly arguments – sure they apply to a 50mm f/2 FT lens which gives similar portraiture DOF as a 100mm f/4 35mm lens but at f/2 aperture, but for super telephoto that argument is not important – what is more important is telephoto reach, hand holdability or at least portability whilst hiking, and wide aperture to allow fast shutter speeds and the in-built IS.

It is much easier to wield a 1.8-2.0kg lens chasing a bird than a 6kg lens – and much easier on your hands and back, not to mention your pocket!


6 Comments so far ↓

  1. Charles says:

    Similar to yours, but not sure I need the large telephotos. 10mm 2.8-3.5.(maybe) 12mm 2.0, 17-20mm 1.4, 40-45mm 1.4, 70mm 1.4. Those are a little flexible. 1.4-1.8ish would be nice. These should all be HG or better and weather sealed. Size wise, they don’t need to be pancakes, image quality is more important. A 12 to 17mm pancake for street photography would be nice.

    A focus limiter on the 50mm macro would be a welcome addition. I’m kind of holding off on it for now. There aren’t many other upgrades I need to see. SWD in the SHG would be nice, but I’m not buying them anytime soon anyway.

    I’d also like to see some different length extension tubes, and allow them to be stacked.

    Fast primes are my main wish, and a wider pancake.

  2. admin says:

    Hi Charles, I find I do a lot of shooting at 200mm but the 50-200 at 200mm looks very long and intimidating. A prime should be a lot shorter and one should be able to get it into sporting events which pros ban the public from bringing in anything longer than 200mm.
    If they make a 200mm f/2.5 for the same quality and price of a Canon 200mm f/2.8, I would be very happy.

    Perhaps instead of more extension tubes you would like a version of Canon’s 1-5x macro lens instead, or you could go bellows and legacy lenses?

  3. Yalcin says:

    Hi Gary. I just prepared an Olympus lens buying guide for a fresh web site in Turkish and found this list very valuable. You’re right about the DOF but sometimes much light becomes more important especially if you do shoot concerts like me. Right now I’m using 5D with 24-70/2.8 and 70-200/2.8, generally at ISO1600 as ISO3200 allways causes banding but an f:2 zoom lens would be great with in body IS and E-30. After spending 2 weeks reading lots of oly stuff (including yours) I decided to move 4/3 from FF. It is really hard for others to understand but I’m not a wide angle man and I really fed up with the weight which causes me to let my 5D stay at home. Maybe I can keep my 5D and buy an E-620 kit+50/2 macro.

    After forming the buying guide I realised that these would be nice:
    1) A cheap 25 or 30mm f:2 lens
    2) A cheap 40mm f:1.8 lens
    3) Cheaper than Pana 25/1.4 Oly lens
    4) A lighter and cheaper 150/3.5
    5) And as you stated a lighter and cheaper 300mm f:4

    For me Olympus is a great brand and Four Thirds is a great platform. FF has its own strengths and weeknesses (like costly tele reach).

  4. Len Metcalf says:

    Pro quality fast primes… a nice suite please. 17mm, 20mm 50mm f1.2 or f1.4 – weather sealed, fast focusing, very sharp… the pro end not the other end.
    Enjoying reading your blog Gary, thanks. Am becoming a regular.
    Regards, Len

  5. admin says:

    Thanks Len, and I agree with you on the high quality primes, but also we do need an entry level AF portrait lens for the masses 🙂

    I must get to the Blue Mountains one day, it’s been many years since I have been, must jot it down on my to do list!

  6. Sam Chapman says:

    A variable length extension tube, like Pentax’s Helicoid extension tube would be very useful. I’d also like to see some way of displaying the DOF distances in the viewfinder in a later model, (maybe at the top of the viewfinder, so it’s quite seperate from the other function symbols in the viewfinder.

    A more sophisticated version of the ‘Studio’ software, would be also very welcome, Finally, Olly also needs to look at making a remote screen, with ‘Studio’ app installed in it (with it’s own self-contained power supply) which could be plugged in via the USB connector or better still, was IR or Radio linked, for wildlife photographers where using a ‘hide’ is a problem.