There's a new rumor that Olympus will launch a new range of f/1.4 prime lenses – and I think this is both an inspired and long overdue move.
It's fairly typical for most lens mounts to have fast primes offered in three apertures: f/1.2, f/1.4 and f/1.8. Until this point, however, the best Olympus lenses have only been offered in f/1.2 and f/1.8 flavors – and a chasm of disparity exists between both the end users and usage cases for these two product lines.
• Read more: Best Micro Four Thirds lenses (opens in new tab)
As we wrote recently, Olympus may be throwing away its biggest advantage (opens in new tab) by focusing on bigger, bulkier (if optical excellent) lenses as opposed to the sleek, svelte, smaller optics that brought it to the dance – and these smaller optics remain one of the only strengths of the Micro Four Thirds system that cannot be matched by any other (current) format.
You can literally put a 35mm, 50mm and 90mm full frame equivalent prime lens all in the same pocket if you're using the smaller Olympus f/1.8 optics – something that's not possible with full frame or even similarly small APS-C systems.
However, when it comes to the mighty Olympus f/1.2 Pro lenses, it's a completely different story. These hulking hunks of glass are as big as f/1.2 optics on full frame cameras, by virtue of their wide aperture and optical excellence.
That's all well and good, but who wants to mount a giant lens that's literally twice the size of a camera on the front of a tiny Micro Four Thirds body like an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III (opens in new tab), or heaven forbid an Olympus PEN E-P7 (opens in new tab)? Olympus made a name for itself on, and continues to market as its greatest strengths as, "compact and lightweight" – something that the f/1.8 lenses definitely are, but the f/1.2 lenses definitely aren't.
Enter this new rumor, about an f/1.4 line of lenses. The folks at 43 Rumors recently reported (opens in new tab) that, "there will be new lens announced this year: 20mm f/1.4 (it will start new future series of f/1.4 lenses)".
This is something that Robin Wong, former Olympus ambassador and current YouTube personality, suggested a couple of years ago as a move that the manufacturer would do well to make.
Not only would f/1.4 options fill the aperture gap in the lens lineup, but they would also offer a much-needed halfway house between the big, burly optics and the pocket rockets currently available.
While 20mm would be a peculiar focal length for Olympus (whose key primes are 17mm, 25mm and 45mm), the introduction of these 'tweener' primes could well be the shot in the arm that the Micro Four Thirds system dearly needs – and something that Olympus users, starved of small primes for the past four years, have been patiently waiting for.