Lens/Sensor reviews - m43

I'm happy 43rumors posted my em10 article on their site. I believe many like me have seen the benefits and maturity of such a format. My EM10 has reached +40K images now and I have used a handful of lenses throughout my m43 journey enough to speak on them. I would like to give out some warnings before this article starts. 

Powerful Small format lenses for small cameras

My OMD Kit with my Nikon Dynamic Range Monster behind

I purchased the system mainly for the fact that most lenses on m43 offered convincing edge to edge image quality (colors, contrast, etc). I really enjoy how they balance with a small em10. They are also priced quite well for the level of image quality they produce. There are no better affordable optics like these in the market yet.

The lenses won't replace fullframe but some are more practical.

Like many, I loved 50mm on the fullframe. But sadly, the 25mm lenses can't really compete for satisfying subject isolation and they all offer some weird unrealistic distortion. The 45 (90) offers satisfying subject isolation for those in need of bokeh though.

M43 was once a demanding sensor

It is expected that a sensor like the one in the Olympus em10 absorbs less information than a bigger one. Although it behaves in a similar fashion to a Canon sensor: suffers from backlit scenes and inferior shadow recovery to nikons. As such it needs good transparent contrasty glass to make the best of it, especially if you do a lot of retouching on it. The Lumix side of things offers more extensible files as well as superior highlight roll-offs and colorcast-less shadow recovery. The Lumix G85 is the camera that finally achieve great SOOC (straight out of camera) output with naturally saturated and contrasty images. 


M.Zuiko 9-18 f4-5.6 (7.5/10): ultrasharp super wide, super compact. Colors are decent and manageable but not very contrasty which at times makes it quite hard to push in post-processing. I don't see any alternative to it and I found it better than the 7-14 of Lumix. Buy if u really need.

Leica DG Summilux 12 1.4 (10/10): "super wide" angle prime lens that's a little big but very useful and fast to capture an undistorted landscape or scene in sharp and vibrant colors. Very expensive but very much worth it.

Lumix G 14 2.5 (5/10): prime lens, pancake form. Not sharp but practical to have for people who give the iPhone field of view to their camera. Great for blogging.

M.Zuiko 14-42 ii R (4/10): used it on the pm1. A zoom with no soul that only serves up sharp images without any depth and also quite terrible colors and contrast. Just avoid.

Leica DG Summilux 15 1.7 (10/10): lens that on my em10 85% of the time. Offers best in class image quality (colors, contrast, bokeh, etc) and great lowlight versatility. If your m43 camera is being used regularly, this lens is a must have as a daily lens.

Lumix G 20 1.7 (9.5/10): lots people love it. I sadly didn't use it enough to really talk about it. From what I've tried, u could see myself being frustrated at how slow the AF is. But the image quality should be great too.

M.Zuiko 25 1.8 (4/10): disappointment for me since I expected great things out of this lens (for it to replace my 50mm 1.8G...). There's really nothing wrong with it... It's plenty sharp and fast to focus, aside from delivering inferior colors compared to its other 1.8 brothers.

Leica DG Summilux 25 1.4 (10/10): it's the lens that sold me the system when I first used it on a pm1 back in the days, then on the em5. A lot of reviews sites will favour the 1.8 over the 1.4 because of technical superiority and compactness but I love creating romantic images at 50mm and the Leica gives me such images. 

Leica DG Nocticron 42.5 1.2 (10/10):  It absolutely perfect in every sense aside from being stupid expensive. If you can afford it, go for it. The images it produces are simply breathtaking.

M.Zuiko 45 1.8 (9.9/10): the lens that makes the system. A great short telephoto portrait that combines top marks in image quality. Shows that the m43 system can achieve some crazy nice bokeh with great sharpness, colors and subject isolation at bargain prices. Loses 0.1 point on being of plastic cosmetics.

M.Zuiko 40-150 4-5.6 MSC (4/10): useful practical consumer zoom lens. It will give you very sharp images but nothing else really. The colors are terribly flat and depth lacking. The resulting image RAW file is unbendable and full of color cast. Avoid if necessary for something better like the new Lumix 35-100 kit zoom

M.Zuiko 75 1.8 (7/10): Quite hard to use if you aren’t used to telephoto primes, but perhaps the lens that also make the system worth using. Size is super small for the length. Images that come out of it are special and extraordinary when well used. They have that 3d pop that the 45 has less. Buy with caution, the lens might stay a lot in the bag for those unique moments.

On m43 lenses

I believe m43 requires better high performance consumer lenses. It’s current f2.8 line is decent to great/big. The high performance lenses do fit quite well on bigger bodies than the em10 but I believe a decent 5x zoom or a decent wide prime would help bring the system forward

On m43 sensor

There’s no denying that the sensor isn’t a fullframe Nikon, it doesn’t even come close to how many tones it lacks. I do enjoy pushing my ISO to 5000 and acquire a workable image though and with axis-based stabilisation. I can slow down to over-expose darkness as I see fit. I wish they made shadow detail easier to work with. Every keeper images I have are either front lit or side lit, rare are backlit where Nikon delivers me great backlit images every time.


M43 is at a state right now that has superb prime optics, superb pro optics and superb cameras. It just begs to produce a better file at least comparable to Nikon DX, which in someways does (sharper and better dedicated lenses, more vivid native raws as result) but in someways doesn't (lack of shadow recovery, limited dynamic range, etc...).

Yannick Khong8 Comments