The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is an unprecedented speed monster. It shoots up to 18 images per second with autofocus in RAW and jpeg. It features super-fast and accurate phase detection autofocus. The E-M1 Mark II was the only mirrorless camera that could compete in terms of speed and autofocus with the best (much more expensive) SLR cameras, and that is still the case in its price range.
Add to that superior speed its compact dimensions, low weight, robust construction and excellent dust and moisture seal, and it is clear why this top model from Olympus is an ideal camera for professional photographers who have to walk or climb a lot with their cameras. But the OM-D E-M1 Mark II of course doesn’t only excel in “outdoor” photography. Thanks to the excellent lenses that Olympus and Panasonic make for the Micro Four Thirds system, this camera can be widely used, from landscape to portrait and from macro to documentary photography. Our advice is to buy the best glass for the E-M1 Mark II to get the most out of the 20-megapixel sensor and to opt for lenses that are just as robust and solid as the camera. Fortunately, there is plenty of choice. These are our favorites for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:
Best lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:
How do we choose?
Of the 56 lenses that we tested on a micro-43 camera, we only mention the best here.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the top model in the Olympus series and a camera that you can safely call professional. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II excels primarily in speed, with shooting sequences at 18 frames per second in full resolution in RAW and jpeg with autofocus. Without continuous autofocus, the camera even achieves 60 frames per second for a short time. The performance of the autofocus system has been adjusted to these speeds, and, at the time of introduction, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II was without a doubt the mirrorless camera with the best and fastest autofocus. Ideal for sports or wildlife.
The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is also Olympus first camera on which video is really taken seriously. Olympus’ fantastic five-axis image stabilization is fantastic for making well-stabilized video images out of hand, but the quality of the recordings was not yet optimal with previous cameras. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II has better codecs and higher bit rates for good image quality in video. Because of all these features, we opt for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II mainly for the professional lenses in the Micro Four Thirds system. Just like the camera, these can withstand wind and weather and can take a beating. And with these lenses, you get the most out of the fast autofocus and the 20-megapixel sensor without a softening anti-alias filter.
How are the best lenses selected for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II??
In “How do I choose a lens? Subjective step-by-step plan for purchasing a lens,” we summarize the criteria we use when hunting for the perfect lens for – in this case – an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.
For the recommendation, we only look at lenses we have tested thoroughly ourselves. The lenses were tested on the best cameras available at the time of testing. When making the choice for the lenses, we looked at the lenses that achieved the highest scores in our tests, because they can achieve the best quality with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II has built-in five-axis image stabilization so that both Olympus and Panasonic lenses can be properly stabilized. Some Olympus lenses also have their own image stabilization that works together with that of the camera for an extra good result. When using Panasonic lenses with stabilization, it is preferable to use only one of the two systems, because the stabilization of the camera does not co-operate with that of the lens. For that reason, all else being equal, we prefer the Olympus version over the Panasonic version.
For more information, see the comprehensive reviews we’ve done with each lens and compare them as needed with one of the more than 300 other lenses we have reviewed.
Wide angle: Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH
This wide angle is bright and good. The build quality is of a professional level. The lens body is made of metal, and it is sealed against dust and moisture. The lens also has an aperture ring. Lens errors such as vignetting and chromatic aberration are minimal. The sharpness is good at f/1.4 and two stops down, at f/2.8, this lens delivers the highest values that we have measured for a Micro Four Thirds wide angle.
Standard: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25 mm f/1.2 PRO is a top-class lens: bright, sharp and free of optical errors. The bokeh is beautiful, and it is solidly built and resistant to every conceivable use. We only mention the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH as an alternative for photographers who don’t care for the hefty price and the somewhat high weight. Excellent image quality and slightly less bright and clearly less robust, but also lighter and cheaper.
Portrait: Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5 mm f/1.2 Asph Power O.I.S.
The Panasonic Leica 42.5 mm f/1.2 is professionally built with a metal housing. It is dust- and splash-resistant, and the lens, just like the 24 mm, has an aperture ring. Lens errors such as vignetting and distortion are minimal, and the lens is also insensitive to flare. The sharpness of this lens is the best that we have measured on Micro Four Thirds, and the results are excellent at full aperture. However, the image stabilization does not work in conjunction with that of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, but that is not a problem with the good stabilization of the camera.
Macro: Olympus 60mm f/2.8 M.Zuiko Digital ED
Olympus makes two macro lenses: a 30 mm and a 60 mm macro. They are the same in terms of image quality, but the 60 mm offers slightly more functions and distance from the subject. The 30 mm is very light and small, but the 60 mm is also slim and light and only a bit longer. Converted to 35 mm, the 60 mm is a 120 mm macro, and for full-frame cameras, macro lenses above 100 mm are very big and heavy. That is what makes the 60mm so unusual: compact and light, but you stay a fair distance from your subject even at 1:1.
Bokeh: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8
The Olympus 75 mm f/1.8 is already a relatively older lens, but it is still one of the sharpest lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system. The long focal length in combination with the relatively high brightness ensures a nice isolation of your subject. The lens is very solidly built with a metal housing, and it has virtually no lens errors. And of course on the E-M1 Mark II, this lens also benefits from the built-in image stabilization of the camera.
(Ultra) Wide-angle zoom: Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO
The Olympus 7-14 mm is an ultra-wide angle zoom with a beautiful range that corresponds to a 14-28 mm on full frame. In addition, it is also bright, f/2.8, and the lens is exceptionally robust and weather resistant. A worthy lens for the E-M1 Mark II. It is also very sharp and virtually free of lens errors. The only thing that can’t be done with this lens is using filters. If that’s a must for you, then there is the new Panasonic 8-18 mm f/2.8-4.0.
Standard zoom: Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro M.Zuiko Digital ED
The Olympus 12-40 mm was one of the first Micro Four Thirds PRO lenses from Olympus, and it is still a winner. This lens offers slightly more range than the Panasonic 12-35 mm f/2.8, but, certainly for portraits, those few millimeters come in handy. Just like the other PRO lenses from Olympus, the lens is very robust and weatherproof. Thanks to the “focus clutch,” it is very easy to switch from autofocus to manual focusing, with hard stops on the focus for close and infinity. A truly professional standard zoom.
Telephoto zoom: Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO
The Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 not only offers a longer range than the Panasonic 35-100 mm f/2.8, but also a better shortest setting distance. This allows you to use the Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 as a semi-macro. Olympus even offers a 1.4x converter with which you can expand the range without much loss of quality. Furthermore, the Olympus 40-150 mm is almost watertight, and the autofocus is fast.
Super telephoto zoom: Panasonic Leica DG Vario Elmar 100-400mm f/4.0-6.3 Asph Power OIS
This is the Micro Four Thirds zoom lens with the longest range. It corresponds to a 200-800 mm on full frame. Ideal for photography of birds and other wildlife. The Panasonic Leica 100-400 mm is a no-brainer in this category. It has fast autofocus and is completely weatherproof. And all with a weight of only 1 kg. The image stabilization works well, and at the long focal lengths perhaps better than the stabilization of the camera.
Telephoto lens, fixed focal point: Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 IS PRO + 1.4 converter
The Olympus 300 mm is the longest fixed focal length lens in this system and, with a teleconverter, even the longest focal length lens of all Micro Four Thirds lenses. In addition, it also has the highest brightness and excellent image quality at this focal point. That image quality also remains excellent in combination with the 1.4x teleconverter. For the field of view that you get, which corresponds to an 840 mm on full frame, the lens is nice and compact and bright. The lens is built to continue working under all circumstances.
Holiday zoom: Olympus 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro M.Zuiko Digital ED
The Olympus 12-100 mm has a nice range. Converted to 35 mm, it runs from 24 mm wide to 200 mm telephoto. There are few other lenses with such a beautiful range, and there is no other lens with such a range that performs as well over the entire range as this Olympus 12-100 mm. The brightness is reasonable and remains constant over the entire range. The lens itself also has image stabilization, and, in combination with the stabilization of the camera, it functions incredibly well, for both photography and video. The lens is just as resistant to the elements as the camera.
Fisheye: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 8mm f/1.8mm Fisheye PRO
The Olympus 8mm f/1.8 is a weatherproof, professionally built fisheye with a brightness that we have not seen before with these types of lenses. The image quality is excellent, and, with the very short setting distance, you can even play with the depth of field at full aperture. The high brightness also ensures that with this lens you can photograph and film well even in low light.