Over the past week I have received at least four emails asking what Micro 43 lenses I would recommend for Landscape Photography. I can also see quite a few people reading a related post I created back in 2012. Given my advice has changed since I wrote the original post, I thought it was time to revisit the subject. If you would like to know more about the image above, check out the video at the end of this blog post.
Before I share my own recommendations, I believe there are a few points that need to be taken into consideration. These are:
- Camera Ergonomics
- Shooting Style
You should consider these points carefully in order to come to your own conclusions. These points will also help you to understand my answers.
Micro 43 is an extremely flexible format with a large range of available lenses. Unfortunately, not every micro 43 lens will suit every camera in the micro 43 range. The lenses may fit the camera and operate correctly, but are the two well matched. For example, the Olympus 12-40mm may feel great when used on the Olympus EM1. But place the same lens on the tiny Panasonic GM1 and it would feel completely out of place. If the lens makes your camera difficult to work with, it doesn’t matter how good a landscape lens it is.
Flexibility & Shooting Style
It’s a little difficult to cleanly separate these two areas so let’s cover them together.
Consider if you would prefer to work with prime lenses or zoom lenses. My own preference is for zoom lenses as sometimes you can’t get into position with a prime lens. I would much rather have the flexibility of using zoom lenses.
Consider the focal ranges you want to cover with your lenses. My kit covers 9mm to 150mm (or 18mm to 300mm in full frame equivalent). Would this suit your needs for Landscape? Do you need greater coverage of focal lengths or is such a large range unnecessary?
How will you carry your equipment? I use a small shoulder bag in which I carry the camera and main lens as well as two additional lenses.
The price of some lenses may be restrictive, especially if you are purchasing them new. Some lenses are quite difficult to obtain second hand so you might not have any option but to purchase them new.
Lens quality is of paramount importance to me. I want to render images that are superbly sharp and which contain lots of detail. This might not suit our style of photography or you might place other features ahead of image quality. A further example of this is lens distortion (Barrel and Pincushion). Although I say lens quality is paramount, I don’t really mind some level of distortion. If this becomes too obvious, it can usually be corrected by software during post processing.
Are there any features that you need in a lens? For example, you may require the lens to be water resistant. One feature that I find important is the ability to mount filters to the front of the lens. Personally, in common with many landscape photographers, like to mount graduated ND filters on my lenses to help control exposure. Some ultra-wide angle lenses such as the Panasonic 7-14mm won’t accept such filters. The 7-14mm lens is a super performer but the frustration it caused me when trying to use filters resulted in me selling the lens.
Do you need image stabilisation in your lenses? I shoot with an Olympus EM5 which has in camera stabilisation so having a stabilised lens is not important to me. If your shooting with a Panasonic Micro 43 camera, this might not be the case. Equally, if you work exclusively on a tripod, you won’t need this feature.
How about having a constant fast aperture or close focus range? You need to think about these.
Based on everything I have said, my current recommendation for the best Micro 43 lenses for landscape photography are:
- Olympus 9-18mm
- Olympus 12-40mm
- Panasonic 45-150mm
These lenses are in my core kit and the ones that I take with me when travelling. All of these perform excellently, producing very sharp images and resolving fine detail. Of the three, only the 12-40mm is large. The other two are tiny for their focal range. I am prepared to accept the additional size and weight given the lens is weather sealed and has amazing optics. It also has a very close focus distance even at the 40mm end which makes it a pseudo macro lens if I don’t have room for one. In fact, the 12-40mm is such a great lens for my style of photography, it remains on the camera probably 90% of the time.
In the past I have worked with a Panasonic 14-45mm kit lens from a GF1. These are excellent lenses and available at a good price second hand. This is a good option if you don’t want the size, weight or cost of the 12-40mm lens. It’s sharp and versatile but lacks a little on the wide end of the focal range (for my preference).
If your confused by the multitude of lenses available in the Micro 43 range, consider the areas mentioned carefully before committing to a purchase. Whilst my lens choice is perfect for my needs, they may not be suitable for you.
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Robin Whalley You Tube Channel
9 thoughts on “Best Micro 43 Lenses for Landscape Photography”
Hi Robin, in light of camera manufacturers releasing increasingly large and expensive cameras and lenses, do you think you’ll still be calling your site “The Lightweight Photographer” in a few years? Or will that refer more to a mindset than actual equipment. I currently utilize m4/3 gear myself, but it seems like all the new releases are just as large, and in some cases more expensive than a DSLR option.
Love the photo for this entry.
When I starte the blog it was because I was so impresed by Micro 43 cameras. I had also been considering ways to lighten my camera pack, even considering just using one lens. Soon after I realised being lightweight could apply to all sorts of things photography such as the way we edit our images. I know what yo mean though about the equipment. It all seems to be converging and getting larger as well as more expensive. I don’t think I will change the name but it will be a more general photography blog I suspect.
Hi Robin, I loved your picture in this post of the Fairy Glen, and the accompanying video on processing it. It was very timely as I was going to Bethesda on Friday and so I went to see the Glen for myself on what turned out to be a really nice day. Attached is one of my photos from my time slipping and sliding around on the rocks. I¹ve not spent much time optimising it yet but it¹s not bad for a start. Thanks for the information/inspiration! Kind Regards, -Michael Hilton
From: The Lightweight Photographer Reply-To: The Lightweight Photographer Date: Wednesday, 2 November 2016 21:52 To: Michael Hilton Subject: [New post] Best Micro 43 Lenses for Landscape Photography
WordPress.com thelightweightphotographer posted: ” Over the past week I have received at least four emails asking what Micro 43 lenses I would recommend for Landscape Photography. I can also see quite a few people reading a related post I created back in 2012. Given my advice has changed since I wrote”
Great to hear that you found this helpful. I’m also pleased to hear you didn’t break something. That glen is treacherous.
I was wondering if you are planning to replace the Olympus 12-40 and the Panasonic 45-150 with the newly released and highly praised Olympus 12-100? Also, what is the reason you chose the 9-18 over the 7-14?
Thank you for this article; it is a great help for me, as I am choosing a zoom in the range of 40-150mm in my venture away from FF towards m43. I have read reviews of the Panasonic 45-150mm and Olympus 40-150mm – their optical performance seems quite similar, and the Panasonic has better build quality. Do you have and experience of the Olympus lens? Given the current price difference between them (€150 for the Olympus vs €250 for the Panasonic), I am leaning towards the Olympus.
I had both at one point and sold the Olympus. The build quality wasn’t good enough. Whilst the image quality was quite good on the Olympus I thought the Panasonic was better. At the time, both lenses were around the same price (£150). I think I would still go with the Panasonic at the additional cost. It has IS in the lens where the Olympus doesn’t. This isn’t a problem if you have an Olympus camera as the IS is in the body, but if you ever switch to a Panasonic body, you will need it in the lens. Hope this helps.
Keen to know what you would recommend now that we are heading for 2019.
I would probably still buy the same lenses. A good lens a few years back is still a good lens today. Also, I don’t have any experience with newer Micro 43 lenses since I switched to shooting with Fuji. (I kept my Micro 43 lenses and cameras though).