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Olympus 4/3 DSLR Digital SLR Lenses Test Review
© 2005 KenRockwell.com

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There are only several lenses and a teleconverter available for the Olympus 4/3 system. They are actively adding more and more. I hear that several new ones are coming for 2005 including two f/2.0 zooms. We'll see.

Today's lenses are (35mm film equivalents in parenthesis):

7 - 14 mm f/4 (14 - 28 mm, $1,800, can't use screw-in filters)

11 - 22 mm f/2.8-3.5 (22 - 44 mm, $800, 11" close focus, 72mm filter)

14 - 54 mm f/2.8-3.5 (28 - 108 mm, $500, 9" close focus, 67mm filter)

14 - 45 mm f/3.5 - 5.6 (28 - 80 mm, $250, 15" close focus, 58mm filter)

40 - 150 mm f/3.5 - 4.5 (80 - 300 mm, $280, 5' close focus, 58mm filter)

50 - 200 mm f/2.8-3.5 (100 - 400 mm, $1,000, 4' close focus, 67mm filter)

50mm f/2.0 Macro (100 mm, $500, 24x36mm minimum field, 52mm filter, 7 blades)

150 mm f/2.0 (300 mm, $2,500, 4.6' close focus, 82mm filter, 3.4 pounds)

300 mm f/2.8 Telephoto (600 mm, $6,500, 6.6' close focus, drop in filter, 9 blades, 7.2 pounds)

EC - 14 1.4x Teleconverter Lens ($440)

These are expensive. I'm not jumping to Olympus because the same lenses from Canon or Nikon cost much less. For instance, the normal zoom costs $500 and the 300mm costs $7,000. For half that price you can get a genuine Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 AFS-II lens that will work on every Nikon film or digital SLR.

I hear Sigma now makes some, and that Olympus provides an OM lens adapter for
free on request and a Nikkor adapter can be had here.


I have not really played with much of any of these.

Olympus has history of innovation and making excellent optics, including of course being a world player in microscopes. I have no doubt that these are all as good as they can be. My concern is the very few lenses lenses offered in comparison to Canon and Nikon who make dozens and dozens of lenses. Also for Canon and Nikon there is a stable of 15 years of perfectly good used lenses in comparison to the single-digit selection of lenses you now have no choice but to buy brand new from Olympus today for the 4/3 system.


This is easy: if you buy into the Olympus system, you have no choice: these are your lenses. I'd personally go for the 7 - 14 mm and the 50 - 200 mm and skip the middle lens. I get into this on my general lens page for Nikon here. One big problem though: the 7 - 14 mm lens doesn't take screw in filters, so I really can't use it. The 11 - 22 mm isn't really an ultrawide lens, so you see how simple little features render the Olympus system of no use to me. Whoops!

One warning is that each lens takes a different sized filter. Pros use a lot of filters even in digital. Therefore this is a huge black mark against Olympus for the serious user. Pro systems like Canon and Nikon design each of their lenses in a given price range to take the same size filter so you only need to buy one size. Today that size is 77mm for both Canon and Nikon pro lenses. I learned back in the 1970s how difficult it is to use an amateur system which has different sized filters for each lens. Trying to work fast doing aerial photography drove me bananas. I summarily dropped my beloved Minolta system in favor of Nikon, who from 1959 through the 1980s kept one sized filter, 52 mm, for almost all of their lenses less than 300 mm. If you don't use filters (you should) then don't worry. If you use any filters then either skip Olympus or be sure to use step-up rings on every smaller lens to bring them to the same size and never even think about them again as taking smaller filters.

Another warning: When you get Canon or Nikon you can always sell the lenses easily when you're done with them, so they don't cost much to own. By comparison the Olympus system is so new and has so few, if any, users (I've never met one) you're on your own trying to sell any of this when you've finished with it. Thus these lenses are even more expensive since I see a very limited resale market. Of course I could be wrong and maybe if Olympus discontinues the cameras maybe you'll be able to get a premium price for some of the weirder optics in a few years, just don't count on it.

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