Missing Lenses

Micro 4/3 has grown a long way since its inception 4 years ago, when we had a single body and a grand total of 2 lenses to choose from.  There are somewhere in the vicinity of 40 native lenses currently available, with numerous others having been announced for release in the next year or two.  That said, there are still some rather glaring holes in the list of available lenses, even if one includes the many announced-but-unreleased models in the mix.

The List

  1. 12-50mm f/2.8-3.5 – the standard zoom isn’t the most exciting lens, but it’s among the most used by enthusiasts. Current options are either severely compromised in terms of optics and lower-light (Olympus 12-50/3.5-6.3) or offer limited range at a high price (Panasonic 12-35/2.8 – $1300). At $$700, a 12-50/2.8-3.5 would be the perfect high quality walk-around lens for the system
  2. 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 – the long zoom range is popular among sports photographers among others.  Considering that classic 4/3 has such a lens, and that the older design is renowned optically, all that’s needed for a m4/3 update would be a new focusing design and motor (the 4/3 version is very slow – far too slow for action – on m4/3 bodies).  Priced around $1000 (like the old 50-200, before recent price hikes), it would be a compelling option for many former full-frame shooters.
  3. 8-16mm f/2.8-3.5 – micro 4/3 has two credibly ultra-wide zooms, but both have issues. The Olympus 9-18/4-5.6 isn’t particularly sharp while the Panasonic 7-14/4 is optically excellent but cannot take filters – a serious lapse for a landscape oriented lens.  An 8-16 would be the m4/3 competition for Canon’s 10-22/3.5-4.5 and 17-40/4.0L.  $900 seems like an appropriate price.
  4. 100mm f/2.8 macro – long macros may not be the most commonly used lenses, but for photographing insects and similar subjects, they are invaluable thanks to the longer working distance provided.  At $700 it would go well against the popular 200/4 macros on full-frame.
  5. 30mm f/2.8 macro – a short inexpensive macro lens is many people’s entrée into the genre.  While the new 60/2.8 from Olympus looks like a good option, $500 is a still a large chunk of change.  $200 for this model would certainly help expand the audience for both macro and m4/3.
  6. 25/1.8 – there’s already a 25/1.4 and a 20/1.7 from Panasonic.  Why a 25/1.8 then? Well, the 25/1.4 is not exactly inexpensive, and the 20/1.7 appeals largely thanks to its diminutive size, not its price ($350) or low light focusing (slow). A larger but inexpensive 25/1.8 would be the perfect entry-level low light lens for new system shooters.  $200 seems about right, price-wise.
  7. 250/4.0 – for wildlife shooters, this focal length, in conjunction with an optional 1.4X TC, would be a very effective option. Current m4/3 telephoto lenses at this length are both slow in terms of maximum aperture and not especially good optically. At $1000, it would stack up nicely with existing 300/4.0 and 400/5.6 lenses on other formats.

Considering the current lengthy list of announced-but-not-released lenses, I’m not too hopeful that this list will be disappearing any time soon. But hopefully if people keep demanding them, Olympus, Panasonic and other micro 4/3 lens makers will eventually get the message that these areas need to be addressed too. And if not, well we’ve been waiting for them for 4 years so far.  I guess we can managed to wait another 4.