Micro Four-thirds – What Lens Should I Buy?

Whenever I work a Panasonic camera event or meet somebody that has a Micro Four-thirds camera one of the first questions they ask is “what lens should I buy next?” Frequently they have already purchased a Panasonic Lumix or Olympus Pen body along with a kit lens and can’t wait to start buying a few accessories.

I usually suggest that people shoot with the kit lens for a while, especially if they don’t know what they like to shoot and see what focal length they end up using the most. If they shoot at the wide end of the lens then a fixed focal length wide angle prime lens might be perfect for them. It they constantly want to zoom closer, then a zoom telephoto is best. With over 30 different Micro Four-thirds lenses to choose from it’s hard to know where to start.

Frequently they have a lens in mind like the famous Lumix 20mm f/1.7. The 20mm seems to be the biggest selling Micro Four-thirds lens to date, but it’s not for everybody. It was the first lens I bought for my Lumix G1 and I loved its sharpness and speed, but I ended up selling it after a few months and buying the equally affordable Lumix 14mm f2/5. Keep in mind that you have to multiply the focal length by 2 to get the full frame equivalent on Micro Four-thirds bodies. I had fallen for the excitement around the 20mm lens and forget that I’m really a wide angle lens shooter. The 40mm equivalent was just too long a lens for me. The 14mm (28mm in full frame) has been my favorite lens ever since then.

On the other end of the focal length, a telephoto seems to be the next lens people want to buy. 45-200mm, 100-300mm, 50-200mm, 35-100mm, etc. there are so many choices. If you like to shoot wildlife, birds or sports then you’ll want a longer zoom lens like the 100-300mm f/4-5.6 (200-600mm equivalent in full frame).  A longer zoom can be limiting if you want to shoot something closer. I usually recommend that a photographer start with a lens in the 45-200mm focal length range. This focal length range works great for portraits since it throws the background out of focus and compresses objects so they don’t look distorted. It’s also a great lens for sports and landscape shooting. It’s also not such a long telephoto that you can’t shoot closer action if you need to.

Before you buy a lens think about what you like to shoot, not what lens you want to buy.

Mark Toal works for Panasonic as a training representative in Portland, Oregon. His views on this blog are his own and do not represent Panasonic. You can see more of Mark’s photos on his photo blog at www.mtoal.wordpress.com or at www.mtoallumiximages.wordpress.com. Mark can be contacted at marktoalphotography@gmail.com

Author: Joe Farace

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