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The best Olympus lenses (OM System) in 2022: outstanding Olympus glass

Best Olympus Lenses (OM System)
(Image credit: James Artaius)

Okay, so why the "best Olympus lenses" (OM System, as the range will gradually be renamed) and not the "best Micro Four Thirds lenses (opens in new tab)"? It's true that OM System and Panasonic MFT optics are physically interchangeable, but there are a couple of reasons why OM fans might want to stick to the manufacturer's M.Zuiko lenses: full compatibility, additional performance and brand loyalty!

Of course, we all need to train ourselves out of the habit of calling them the best Olympus lenses, since the brand is now officially called OM System (opens in new tab). The latest lenses, for example, are the OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II (opens in new tab) and the OM System M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/4 Pro (opens in new tab)

Looking for the best Olympus cameras (OM System)? (opens in new tab)

However, the quality, integrity and heritage of the M.Zuiko line remains – so just because the badge might be different, you can rest assured that these lenses are as great as they always were.

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It's true that you can fit Panasonic MFT cameras on OM System lenses without any obvious issues. However, in our experience, Panasonic's lens O.I.S. doesn't always play nicely with OM System's in-body stabilization, and you get better results from switching off the lens O.I.S. 

And while Panasonic lenses autofocus as you would expect on OM cameras, they are tuned for Panasonic's own DFD contrast detect AF system – and we think that OM System lenses are just that bit snappier on OM System cameras.

And don't knock brand loyalty! The launch of the remarkable OM System OM-1 (opens in new tab) shows that the manufacturer is still developing cutting-edge technology. Better still, it has one of the best lens ranges of any camera company, as we're about to find out…

Choosing the best Olympus lenses (OM System)

There are a few too many M.Zuiko lenses to cram into a single guide, and they cater for a multitude of purposes and user types, so we've split our guide into four sections:

• Wide-angle zooms: ideal for architecture, street photography and landscapes
• Standard zooms:
one lens to handle 80% of your everyday shooting
• Telephoto zooms:
essential for sports and wildlife fans
• Prime lenses:
top choice for low light, bokeh and portability

In each section we've picked out what we think are the stand-out candidates and we explain why. That's not to say there aren't some equally great candidates that didn't make it on to the list (this time, at least!), and we'll give them all an honorable mention as we go along.

So without further ado (as they say on YouTube), here's our list of the best Olympus / OM System lenses to get right now.

Best Olympus ultra-wide-angle zooms

If you're a fan of ultra-wideangle photography then you're in luck, because OM System makes three rather good ultra-wide zooms and we've included them all. These lenses are great for travel, architecture, interiors and dramatic landscape shots.

(Image credit: Olympus )
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1. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9‑18mm f/4‑5.6

This tiny retracting ultra-wide zoom is old but gold

Specifications

Type: Ultra-wide zoom
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 9-18mm
Effective focal length: 18-36mm
Maximum aperture: F4-5.6
Image stabiliser: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.25m
Filter size: 52mm
Dimensions: 56.5 x 49.5mm
Weight: 155g

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly small for an ultra-wide zoom
+
Absolutely perfect for travel

Reasons to avoid

-
18-36mm equivalent not THAT wide
-
Modest maximum aperture

This is one of the manufacturer's oldest Micro Four Thirds lenses, but still one of the most desirable. It arrived alongside the company's first PEN cameras and the standard kit lens back then, another retracting design, this one a 14-42mm. The Olympus 9-18mm doesn't go as wide as other, more recent Olympus ultra-wides, the f/4-5.6 maximum aperture is a tad restrictive and the retracting mechanism is not a deal breaker but it is a bit of a faff. Even allowing for all that, though, this lens's size, light weight and ultra-wide angle of view make it a unique proposition for travel photography and interiors, and dated as it might look, there's still nothing like it today.

(Image credit: OM Digital Solutions)
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2. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm f/4.0 Pro

From ultra-wide to standard, perhaps best focal range ever invented!

Specifications

Type: Ultra wide-standard zoom
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 8-25mm
Effective focal length: 16-50mm
Maximum aperture: F4
Image stabiliser: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.23m
Filter size: 72mm
Dimensions: 77 x 88.5mm
Weight: 411g

Reasons to buy

+
Replaces two lenses with one!
+
Superb pro travel lens

Reasons to avoid

-
F4 maximum aperture
-
Extends in use

This lens is so new that we're still carrying out our lab tests, but right from the moment you pick it up you can feel the Olympus Pro lens quality in its design and operation – and we don't expect its optical quality to disappoint, either. This is another unique lens, this time because of the focal lengths it straddles: you could see it as an ultra-wide zoom that goes right up to a standard zoom range, or as a standard zoom that also goes ultra-wide. Either way, this one lens could replace two lenses for many travel, street and architectural photographers. It's not particularly small, to be fair, but the focal range it covers is quite unprecedented.

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3. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro

Terrific pro ultra-wide zoom with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture

Specifications

Type: Zoom
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 7-14mm
Effective focal length: 14-28mm
Maximum aperture: f/2.8
Image stabiliser: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.2m
Filter size: N/A
Dimensions: 79x106mm
Weight: 534g

Reasons to buy

+
Epic maximum viewing angle
+
Fast, constant f/2.8 aperture

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively hefty for an MFT lens
-
No filter attachment thread

While the crop factor of MFT format cameras boosts the telephoto abilities of lenses, it makes the design of ultra-wide optics more of a challenge. The M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro is a remarkable wide zoom lens with a minimum focal length of just 7mm, delivering an astonishing 114-degree viewing angle, similar to using a 14mm lens on full-frame cameras. Like other lenses in the Pro line-up, it’s immaculately turned out, with fabulous build quality. Contrast and sharpness are outstanding, while color fringing and distortions are negligible. As with many ultra-wide lenses, however, the hood is built-in so there’s no filter attachment thread.

Best Olympus / OM System standard zooms

There are so many good M.Zuiko standard zoom lenses that we had to leave some out! That's not because we don't rate them, but because we wanted to offer a balance spread of favorite choices. So even though they're not listed below, we still want to mention the original retracting M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R kit lens (plasticky feel, but rather good), Olympus M.Zuiko 12-45mm f/4 Pro (opens in new tab) (a slightly smaller alternative to the 12-40mm F2.8), the incredible Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro (with a big zoom range and its own stabilizer) and the M.Zuiko 14-150mm f/4‑5.6 II superzoom (yes, a superzoom, but optically better than 9 out of 10 examples of its type).

(Image credit: James Artaius)
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Olympus's standard pancake zoom is a masterpiece of miniaturization

Specifications

Type: Standard zoom
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 14-42mm
Effective focal length: 28-84mm
Maximum aperture: F3.5-5.6
Image stabiliser: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.2m
Filter size: 37mm
Dimensions: 60.6 x 22.5mm
Weight: 93g

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly compact for a kit lens
+
Optically rather decent

Reasons to avoid

-
Electrical not mechanical zoom
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Tiny 37mm filter ring could be tricky!

For people who don't know this lens, it would be easy to dismiss it as a cheap and cheerful – but inferior – alternative to a 'proper' standard zoom lens. But not so fast! Optically, this little lens is a lot better than you might expect, and while its 3x 28-84mm zoom range and F3.5-5.6 maximum aperture are about as ordinary as kit lenses get, its sheer size – or lack of it – makes it incredibly useful. Fitted to an E-P7 or a PEN, it means you can slide your camera into a jacket pocket or a handbag and take it anywhere without a second thought. We've all had to accept cameras and lenses getting bigger and bigger and bigger over the past few years, but this lens, on a compact PEN body, takes carry-round cameras right back to the size they ought to be!

(Image credit: James Artaius)
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This standard zoom for professionals is sharp, fast and versatile

Specifications

Type: Standard zoom
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 12-40mm
Effective focal length: 24-80mm
Maximum aperture: F2.8
Image stabiliser: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.2m
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 69.9 x 84mm
Weight: 382g

Reasons to buy

+
Constant F2.8 maximum aperture
+
Excellent image quality
+
0.2m close focusing

Reasons to avoid

-
Handles best on bigger bodies
-
The new 8-25mm goes far wider

Whenever you buy any kind of serious OM-D body, this lens will be one of the bundle options. It's kept the same design for years, but that's not because it's some kind of low-cost throwback that's just used for lens bundles – it's because the company got everything right with this lens from day one. Its 24-80mm effective zoom range is just a tad longer than the 'standard' 24-70mm on other cameras, and its optical performance is consistent right across the zoom range. It can also focus very close for a standard zoom lens too, so it's very versatile. If you had to choose one standard zoom lens for your Olympus, this is the one to get.

See full Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Olympus)
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6. Olympus M.Zuiko 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3

The last lens you'll ever need? Not quite, but its zoom range is huge

Specifications

Type: Zoom
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 12-200mm
Effective focal length: 24-400mm
Maximum aperture: f/3.5-6.3
Image stabiliser: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.22m
Filter size: 72mm
Dimensions: 64x69mm
Weight: 305g

Reasons to buy

+
Very light and compact, considering
+
Weatherproofed

Reasons to avoid

-
Some sharpness issues
-
No extra stabilisation

Sick of changing lenses? Want an all-in-one solution? OM System reckons it has cracked it with this impressive 16x optic, covering everything in between a wide 12mm (24mm equivalent) perspective to a telephoto 200mm (400mm equivalent). And, by and large, they've done it! The lens is great to use, delivering impressive results from a body that's not only lightweight and easy to carry, but is also weather-sealed and hardy. It's not perfect of course, with a narrow-ish maximum aperture and a few sharpness issues (all but unavoidable with a lens of this type), but it's a hugely impressive achievement of optical engineering and one that any Micro Four Thirds user will get a great deal of value out of.

Read more: Olympus M.Zuiko 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3 review (opens in new tab)

Olympus / OM System Telephoto zooms

Olympus makes five telephoto zooms and we only have space for three – but we still want to give a mention to the other two. The M.Zuiko 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II looks amazing, with its 150-600mm effective focal length, but the truth is it's not the sharpest knife (or lens) in the box. And while the M.Zuiko 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25X IS Pro is a spectacular 300-800mm f/4.5 ultra-telephoto, it is a massive lump of a thing, with a price to match. For sports and wildlife pros it's a must-have dream lens, but probably not for anyone else.

(Image credit: James Artaius)
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This 80-300mm equivalent telephoto is small enough to take anywhere

Specifications

Type: Telephoto zoom
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 40-150mm
Effective focal length: 80-300mm
Maximum aperture: F4-5.6
Image stabiliser: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.9m
Filter size: 58mm
Dimensions: 63.5 x 83mm
Weight: 190g

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly small for its telephoto reach
+
Incredibly cheap, too

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic rear mount
-
Optically OK but not great

OM System makes two 40-150mm telephoto zooms: the f/2.8 Pro version below, and this one. They could not be more different; the Pro version is big, heavy and spectacularly good, while this one is tiny, light and… well, let's not pretend, more adequate than spectacular. But you can forgive a lot in a telephoto zoom that's this small and this cheap. It's equivalent to an 80-300m lens in full frame terms, but a fraction of the size and price – it's a reminder of the advantages of the Micro Four Thirds format over APS-C and full frame systems. Yes, the sensor is smaller, but so are the lenses – often spectacularly so.

(Image credit: Olympus)
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8. Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro

A constant aperture pro lens that goes 50% further than most

Specifications

Type: Telephoto zoom
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 40-150mm
Effective focal length: 80-300mm
Maximum aperture: F2.8
Image stabiliser: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.7m
Filter size: 72mm
Dimensions: 79.4 x 160mm
Weight: 880g (with tripod adapter)

Reasons to buy

+
Effectively an 80-300mm F2.8
+
Optional 1.4x and 2x. teleconverters
+
Excellent optical quality

Reasons to avoid

-
It's no lightweight!

Every professional photographer keeps a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens in their kitbag to combine telephoto capability with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture and controllable background blur for everything from wildlife to wedding portraits. The M.Zuiko f/2.8 Pro is the OM System equivalent... except that it goes further. Its effective zoom range is actually 80-300mm, so it offers 50% more reach than a regular 70-200mm. (You might also want to check out what it would cost to get a 300mm f/2.8 lens for other formats.) Better still, the 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro works with Olympus / OM Systems' 1.4x and 2x teleconverters to offer the equivalent of a 112-420mm f/4 or a 160-600mm f/5.6. It's like not one lens, but three (potentially)!

(Image credit: Olympus)
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A telephoto with huge 200-800mm equivalent reach, and affordable

Specifications

Type: Zoom
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 100-400mm
Effective focal length: 200-800mm
Maximum aperture: f/5.0-6.3
Image stabiliser: Yes
Minimum focus distance: 1.3m
Filter size: 72mm
Dimensions: 86x206mm
Weight: 1,120g

Reasons to buy

+
Huge 200-800mm zoom range
+
Weather sealed

Reasons to avoid

-
Could be sharper

The M.Zuiko 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 IS perfectly illustrates some of the key advantages of the Micro Four Thirds format. Namely a compact and light weight lens that offers an incredible amount of reach for its size. With a focal length equivalent to 800mm at the long end, the M.Zuiko 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 IS is also compatible with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 2x Teleconverter MC-20 (opens in new tab) and 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14 – which means that you can extend the maximum focal length to an enormous 1600mm if you want or need to. The downside is it's not at its sharpest when shooting at its maximum focal length, while you can't expect an f/6.3 lens to achieve the same results as faster and more expensive optics. If you're prepared to make a few sacrifices though, this is a decent lens if you're looking for a portable lens that'll hit 800mm.

Read more: Olympus M.Zuiko 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 IS review (opens in new tab)

Olympus / OM System Prime lenses

OM System makes so many excellent prime lens that picking just three to represent the whole spread was VERY difficult. With that in mind, we have to mention some lenses that aren't on the list but deserve maximum respect. They include the M.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro (how is an f/1.8 fisheye even possible?), the compact and classy 35mm equivalent M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, the big but tasty M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.2 Pro, the dinky little M.Zuiko 30mm f/3.5 Macro, the equally dinky and ridiculously cheap M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens, the amazing 150mm equivalent M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 and the remarkable M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 IS Pro telephoto prime. Phew.

(Image credit: James Artaius)
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10. Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8

The MFT standard prime equivalent of a ‘nifty fifty’, and so small

Specifications

Type: Prime
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 25mm
Effective focal length: 50mm
Maximum aperture: f/1.8
Image stabiliser: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.25m
Filter size: 46mm
Dimensions: 58x42mm
Weight: 137g

Reasons to buy

+
Classic standard viewing angle
+
Compact and lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey for a ‘standard’ f/1.8 lens
-
Feels less robust than some MFT lenses

Measuring a mere 58x42mm and tipping the scales at just 137g, this diminutive lens feels right at home on even the most compact MFT format body. Like the Olympus 17mm that we favor for street photography, this one is available in either a silver or black finish, and the hood is sold separately. Naturally, the 2x crop factor of MFT cameras gives this lens an effective 50mm focal length, delivering a classic ‘standard’ viewing angle with a fairly fast f/1.8 aperture rating. Image quality is impressive in all respects. Considering the prices of Canon and Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lenses for full-frame cameras, the M.Zuiko doesn’t look terrific value. However, its performance fully justifies the price tag.

(Image credit: Olympus)
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11. Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.2 Pro

A stunning example of Olympus's stunning F1.2 primes!

Specifications

Type: Portrait prime
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 45mm
Effective focal length: 90mm
Maximum aperture: F1.2
Image stabiliser: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.5m
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 70 x 84.9mm
Weight: 410g

Reasons to buy

+
Superb optical quality
+
Lovely bokeh

Reasons to avoid

-
Pretty big by MFT prime lens standards
-
Big price hike for the aperture gain

As well as making very compact and portable f/1.8 and f/2 primes, OM System makes a series of whopping f/1.2 Pro primes too, and this is one of the most useful. Its 45mm focal length equate to 90mm in full frame terms, so this makes a superb portrait lens for OM cameras. Now we need to come clean about the MFT format and point out that the smaller format means you don't get the shallow depth of field of a full frame lens with this aperture, or an APS-C camera – its closer in its effect to f/2.3 on APS-C and f/3.5 on full frame. Even so, at f/1.2 the depth of field is extremely shallow and it's easy to blur backgrounds in portraits – and this lens has been designed to produce super-smooth bokeh too. OM's f/1.2 primes are pretty hefty brutes, but they are optically superb.

(Image credit: James Artaius)
You get full life-size reproduction, times two, with this macro prime

Specifications

Type: Prime
Sensor size: MFT
Focal length: 60mm
Effective focal length: 120mm
Maximum aperture: f/1.8
Image stabiliser: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.19m
Filter size: 46mm
Dimensions: 56x82mm
Weight: 185g

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent auto and manual focusing precision
+
Focus distance/magnification indicator

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively short focal length for a macro lens
-
Lens hood sold separately

A focal length of around 100mm is often preferred for extreme close-up ‘macro’ photography. Due to this lens’s shorter focal length, the minimum focus distance drops from about 30cm to 20cm. However, those distances are measured from the focal plane, which corresponds to the position of the image sensor at the rear of the camera. With the more compact build of MFT cameras and lenses, the actual working distance between the front of the lens and the subject remains entirely usable, at about 10cm. Another bonus is that the 2x crop factor of the MFT format effectively boosts the maximum magnification factor from 1:1 to 2:1, or double life-size. The excellent quality of the weather-sealed construction is a credit to OM’s line-up of Premium lenses, and the smart focus distance/magnification indicator is a bonus. Image quality is great overall, and the electronically coupled ‘fly-by-wire’ focus ring operates with smooth precision. It’s great for macro focusing, where you’ll often want to focus manually. All things considered, this is unquestionably the best macro lens (opens in new tab) on the market for the MFT system. See our full M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens review (opens in new tab).

How we test lenses

We test lenses using a mix of both real world sample images and lab tests. Our lab tests are carried out scientifically in controlled conditions using the Imatest testing suite, which consists of custom charts and analysis software that measures resolution in line widths/picture height, a measurement widely used in lens and camera testing. We find the combination of lab and real-word testing works best, as each reveals different qualities and characteristics. 

Read more:

Best camera lenses to buy (opens in new tab)
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Best Micro Four Thirds lenses (opens in new tab)
Best Olympus cameras (opens in new tab)
Best wide-angle lenses (opens in new tab)
Best standard zoom lenses (opens in new tab)
Best telephoto lenses (opens in new tab)
Best cameras for travel (opens in new tab)
Best professional cameras (opens in new tab)

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