The Micro 4/3 is the largest and old­est mir­ror­less sys­tem on the mar­ket. In addi­tion, this is the only sys­tem devel­oped by two first-tier man­u­fac­tur­ers at once — Olym­pus and Pana­son­ic.

Thanks to their joint efforts, the line of Micro 4/3 optics turned out to be very impres­sive, here you can find every­thing from wide-angle primes and zooms, to nor­mal primes and tele­pho­to zooms. You can eas­i­ly get con­fused in such a vari­ety, so today we will try to fig­ure every­thing out.

Olym­pus lens­es

While Olym­pus and Pana­son­ic are work­ing togeth­er on the Micro 4/3 stan­dard, the two com­pa­nies have gone down dif­fer­ent paths. Olym­pus is intro­duc­ing image sta­bi­liza­tion into the body of their cam­eras. The advan­tage of this solu­tion is that any Olym­pus cam­era will be able to take pic­tures with­out “shak­ing”, even with a half-cen­tu­ry-old lens. For exam­ple, using an adapter, you can suc­cess­ful­ly work with rather out­dat­ed M42 lens­es with­out sta­bi­liza­tion prob­lems.

On the oth­er hand, Olym­pus lens­es are not equipped with opti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion (it is sim­ply not nec­es­sary), while Pana­son­ic cam­eras real­ly need it. This means that although you can use the same Pana­son­ic Lumix DMC-GM1 with any Olym­pus Micro 4/3 lens­es, shak­ing will remain a prob­lem for you.

At the same time, due to the lack of opti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion in Olym­pus lens­es, they tend to be much lighter and small­er than sim­i­lar solu­tions from Pana­son­ic. This is due to the fact that they do not need to leave room for mov­ing sta­bi­liza­tion mech­a­nisms. This gives the com­pa­ny more ver­sa­til­i­ty when design­ing optics, which has made it famous for its all-met­al primes like the Olym­pus M.Zuiko Dig­i­tal ED 17mm f/1.8 and Olym­pus M.Zuiko Dig­i­tal ED 75mm f/1.8. These primers look great with the retro design of the Olym­pus PEN and OM‑D line of cam­eras, but are still rel­a­tive­ly light for their per­for­mance.

Pana­son­ic lens­es

To some extent, Pana­son­ic lens­es are more ver­sa­tile. Many of them have built-in opti­cal image sta­bi­liza­tion, which means they will work equal­ly well on both Olym­pus and Pana­son­ic cam­eras. More­over, opti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion in the lens copes with the “shake” at long focal lengths a lit­tle more effec­tive­ly than sta­bi­liza­tion in the cam­era.

Of course, because of this, the weight and dimen­sions of Pana­son­ic lens­es suf­fer. In addi­tion, due to the desire to make lens­es lighter, the com­pa­ny most often uses plas­tic as the main body mate­r­i­al. Even though the com­pa­ny’s lens­es some­times out­per­form com­peti­tors in terms of image qual­i­ty, some­times they look too cheap.

But there are more advan­tages to Pana­son­ic lens­es. The com­pa­ny has a rich his­to­ry in videog­ra­phy, so it’s no sur­prise that many of its lens­es are great for shoot­ing video. Pana­son­ic lens rings have a smooth ride, and opti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion allows you to reli­ably pro­tect the roller from “shake” dur­ing shoot­ing on the go. How­ev­er, Olym­pus has been try­ing to take over in this seg­ment late­ly, con­stant­ly improv­ing its in-body sta­bi­liza­tion, such as the Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M5 II, and cre­at­ing new lens­es with qui­eter and faster aut­o­fo­cus.

Pana­son­ic also has a ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ship with Leica, one of the most respect­ed opti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers in the world. Sev­er­al Pana­son­ic Micro 4/3 lens­es, includ­ing the Pana­son­ic Leica DG Sum­milux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH and Leica DG Noc­ti­cron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH OIS, are the fruit of this col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Third Par­ty Lens­es

Although the cre­ation of the Micro 4/3 stan­dard is a joint effort between Olym­pus and Pana­son­ic, many third-par­ty man­u­fac­tur­ers want to be rep­re­sent­ed in this seg­ment. These include every­thing from the high-end Schnei­der Kreuz­nach and Voigtlän­der, to the incred­i­ble SLR Mag­ic and Mitakon, to the low cost solu­tions from Tam­ron and Sig­ma.

Some man­u­fac­tur­ers, such as Tam­ron and Sig­ma, pro­vide sim­i­lar fea­tures and char­ac­ter­is­tics as the founders of the stan­dard. How­ev­er, most third-par­ty lens­es do not have an aut­o­fo­cus motor, opti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion, and mechan­i­cal / elec­tri­cal con­nec­tions to the body at all. Despite this, most often these lens­es are much cheap­er and pro­vide focal lengths and aper­ture val­ues ​​that Pana­son­ic and Olym­pus sim­ply do not have.

Basic terms

So, if you have decid­ed on the man­u­fac­tur­er of your future lens, now you have to deal with a lot of strange-sound­ing acronyms in the name of mod­els. To know exact­ly which lens suits you best, you have to fig­ure out what they mean.

Olym­pus Terms

PRO: Indi­cates that the Olym­pus lens is designed for the needs of pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phy. Many peo­ple are famil­iar with the fast zoom of the Olym­pus M. Zuiko Dig­i­tal Pro 12–40mm f/2.8.

ED: Says that the lens uses extra low dis­per­sion ele­ments that help to get rid of chro­mat­ic aber­ra­tion in the pic­ture. Exam­ple: Olym­pus M. Zuiko Dig­i­tal ED 9–18mm f/4.0–5.6.

MSC: The lens is opti­mized for video record­ing. Ben­e­fits include silent aut­o­fo­cus, pow­er zoom for vari­able zoom speeds, and Wi-Fi zoom capa­bil­i­ty. This term is often men­tioned on the body of the cam­era, although it is not used in the title.

EZ: Indi­cates that the lens uses a sep­a­rate zoom motor that allows you to change the focal length at three dif­fer­ent speeds. This func­tion indi­cates that the lens belongs to the MSC spec­i­fi­ca­tion. Typ­i­cal­ly found in com­pact and inex­pen­sive lens­es such as the Olym­pus M. Zuiko Dig­i­tal ED 12–50mm f/3.5–6.3 EZ.

Pana­son­ic terms

X: Pana­son­ic lens­es marked with an “X” are pro­fes­sion­al grade lens­es.

Leica: The lens is co-designed with a Ger­man cam­era and lens man­u­fac­tur­er. A good exam­ple is the Pana­son­ic Leica DG Sum­milux 15mm f/1.7 Asph.

ASPH: The term is used in lens­es like the Pana­son­ic Lumix G Vario 35–100mm f/4.0–5.6 ASPH Mega OIS, which are equipped with aspher­i­cal ele­ments to help elim­i­nate spher­i­cal aber­ra­tions and astig­ma­tism in pho­tog­ra­phy.

OIS / Pow­er OIS: Pro­vides opti­cal image sta­bi­liza­tion.

PZ: The lens is equipped with a zoom motor, mean­ing it is designed for shoot­ing video.

HD: Pana­son­ic HD lens­es are opti­mized for movie shoot­ing, offer­ing silent aut­o­fo­cus, track­ing aut­o­fo­cus, and movie-tuned opti­cal image sta­bi­liza­tion.

3D: Stereo­scop­ic optics that cre­ates a 3D effect with two built-in lens­es. The cap­tured pho­tos and videos can only be viewed on VIERA 3D TVs.


The Micro 4/3 stan­dard has become wide­spread and now has almost 80 lens­es in its range. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, among them, as in any mir­ror­less cam­eras, there are no fast tele­pho­to fix­es, this priv­i­lege remains with SLR cam­eras. Oth­er­wise, this is a com­plete sys­tem in which you can find lens­es for every taste.

Timur Bub­lik

Espe­cial­ly for Photosklad.ru