Best Micro Four Thirds Lenses for Travel [2021 Review]

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Micro Four Thirds lenses are not only known for longer focal lengths and unique technological innovations, they’re also loved by travel photographers for their small and compact design.

Travelling requires packing light, and the best Micro Four Thirds lenses for travel must meet all the criteria needed for travel photography, including being lightweight and compact.

Our Top Travel Micro Four Thirds Lenses Reviews

Micro Four Thirds lenses have exploded in popularity as of late. There are numerous wide range of lens options available on the market that you can choose from, especially if you plan to use them for travel photography. 

Our picks for the best Micro Four Thirds lenses for travel can be used on either Panasonic or Olympus cameras. Since both the Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses are flexible and light, it is easy to switch lenses on the road.

Best Overall Micro Four Thirds Lens for Travel: Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8

The Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 is a zoom lens that offers almost all of the features and functionality that you will need when doing travel photography on a Micro Four Thirds camera. 

Panasonic LUMIX Professional 12-35mm Camera Lens G X VARIO II, F2.8 ASPH, Dual I.S. 2.0 with Power O.I.S., Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds, H-HSA12035 (2017 Model, Black)

The lens has amazing sharpness, and it has an impressive performance, great depth of field, and solid build quality, including weather sealing. 

This lens is the signature Micro Four Thirds lens from Panasonic. It measures 4.02 x 4.02 x 4.84 inches and weighs 1 pound, making it heavier than the Olympus 14-150mm f/4, Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm f/4-5.6, Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 II and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8. 

The zoom ring is rubberized, the focus ring has a similar texture, and its bare metal is cool and comfortable to the touch. It also has Panasonic’s Nano Surface Coating feature that can help reduce unwanted ghosting and flaring. 

The lens has an built-in image stabilization feature, a feature that the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 II does not have. It makes it ideal for handheld photography and videography which is important for travel photography.

However, since the aperture of the lens is too narrow, it can’t be used in low light conditions. Also, some distortion and chromatic aberrations are visible when adjusted to 35mm focal length. 

Pros: 

  • The lens has amazing image sharpness 
  • It is weather-sealed 
  • It has an image stabilization feature for handheld photography and videography 

Cons: 

  • The aperture of f/.28 is not ideal for low light conditions 
  • Some distortion and chromatic aberration are visible at 35mm focal length 
  • Some edge and corner softness are visible 

Best Travel Micro Four Thirds Lens for the Money:  Olympus 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II

The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f4.0-5.6 II is the best Micro Four Thirds lens to get if you are looking to take portrait pictures. 

Olympus 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II Lens for Micro Four Thirds Cameras (Black) w/ Amazon Basics Microfiber Cloths

The optics and the zoom range are one of the best on the market, and the build quality is superb. 

The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II measures 3.27 x 2.52 x 2.52 inches and weighs 10.1 ounces, making it heavier than the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 II and the Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm f/4-5.6. 

The lens changes its length when it is zoomed, and its zoom ring is located in front of the lens barrel, and it has a textured finish that is comfortable to the touch. The manual focus ring is located in front of the lens, so it is easy to reach with your thumb. 

A hood is included for protection, and the front filter ring can accommodate 58mm filters to add to the distance and reach subjects that are far away. It is also weather-sealed. 

Unfortunately, it is not the best lens for shooting in low light conditions due to its narrow aperture, distortion, and soft edges will appear on the images, unlike the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 II that has a wide aperture.

 Also, it does not have an image stabilization built-in, and using it in handheld photography will result in distorted images. Using a tripod or a stabilizer when filming is the best way to go. 

Pros: 

  • Compact and lightweight, easy to store and carry around with you 
  • It is weather-sealed, so it is great to use outdoors 
  • The zoom and manual focus ring are easy to operate 

Cons: 

  • It has no image stabilization, so a simple shake of the camera may cause distortion 
  • The aperture of f/4 is too narrow, so it is not ideal for taking pictures in dark areas 

Best Cheap Micro Four Thirds Lens for Travel: Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 II

Due to its compact size and affordability, the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 II is one of the most popular and beloved Micro Four Thirds lenses out there. 

PANASONIC LUMIX G II Lens, 20MM, F1.7 ASPH, MIRRORLESS Micro Four Thirds, H-H020AK (USA Black)

The pancake-style lens measures 1.02 x 2.48 x 2.48 inches and weighs 3.07 ounces, making it lighter than the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8. 

The lens has an impressive aperture of f/1.7 that lets you take pictures in the dark, unlike the Olympus 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II and the Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm f/4-5.6 that has a narrow aperture. 

The f/1.7 aperture is impressively fast, so if size and speed are your priorities, then this lens is a great option. 

To achieve its amazing speed, Panasonic added a 7 element, 5 group design into the lens barrel, which includes two aspheric elements to help reduce the appearance of distortion and chromatic aberration in the images. 

The Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 II has a super solid build with a metal exterior. When it comes to manually focusing it, you will only be working with a small sliver of a focusing ring. There is a 7-bladed aperture system that gives an attractive and smooth effect to out-of-focus highlights. The minimum focus distance is almost 8 inches. 

The biggest complaint about the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 is the autofocus. It is slower than most lenses on the list and it also produces noise when it is in autofocus mode.

Also, the lens is not weather-sealed, so it is best to cover it when using it outdoors. The lens does not have image stabilization, and using it handheld may affect the images. 

Pros: 

  • It has a solid build with a metal barrel 
  • With a wide aperture, the lens can be used in low light environments
  • It produces sharp images 

Cons: 

  • The lens does not have an image stabilization feature 
  • It is not weather-sealed 
  • Autofocus is slow

Best Wide Angle Micro Four Thirds Lenses for Travel: Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm f/4-5.6

The Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm f/4-5.6 is the third Micro Four Thirds lens that Olympus has manufactured, and it covers the wide-angle end of the spectrum. 

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Lens, for Micro Four Thirds Cameras

Measuring 1.97 x 2.24 x 2.24 inches and weighing 5.5 ounces, it’s lighter than the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8, Olympus 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II, and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8. 

The lens is equipped with aspheric elements that prevent flaring and ghosting. It also has Extraordinary Dispersion or ED and High Refractive or HR glass elements that can help minimize the appearance of chromatic aberration, a rainbow-like effect on images. 

The lens has an internal focus feature, so the lens does not change its shape when zooming in on the subject. It is also designed to provide silent operation for movie recording, a feature that the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 II does not have. 

The inner focusing mechanism of the lens uses a compact and single-element unit that can create a fast and quiet autofocusing feature and smooth operation during video filming. The focusing mechanism is made to enable a fast and precise operation. It lets you capture high-quality stills or HD videos. 

However, the lens is not equipped with image stabilization, distortion will be visible if it is used handheld. Also, with its focal length and aperture, bokeh can’t be created and the images are not that sharp, especially around the corners. 

Pros: 

  • Autofocus is quick and silent 
  • It has aspheric elements that prevent ghosting and flaring to appear on images
  • It is ideal for landscape and portrait photography thanks to its wide-angle features

Cons:

  • Due to its narrow aperture of f/4 and its limited focal range of 9-18mm, it does not produce bokeh 
  • It is not equipped with image stabilization, so it is best to use a tripod to prevent distortions on images
  • The corners of the images are not that sharp 

Best Portrait Micro Four Thirds Lens for Travel: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f2.8 PRO adds a professional-level zoom to the Micro Four Thirds lens lineup. It has sharp optics, produces clear and crisp images, and it is weather-sealed, so you can comfortably use it outdoors. 

OLYMPUS M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro Lens, for Micro Four Thirds Cameras

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f2.8 PRO measures 3.31 x 2.76 x 2.76 inches and weighs 13.5 ounces, making it lighter than the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8.

The lens has a standard range for zoom lenses and its f/2.8 aperture makes it great for travel photography. Its build is solid and sturdy, and it has a textured zoom ring and narrow manual focus ring, so it is easy to reach and comfortable to operate.

The clutch system can be toggled between manual and autofocus mode, just pull back on the ring and the lens changes to manual operation, or you can push the ring forward to go back to autofocus. 

Unfortunately, the lens does not have an image stabilization system, unlike the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8. This means if you are going to use it handheld, distortion will be visible if the camera shakes. 

Also, it does not have aspherical elements, so flaring, ghosting, and chromatic aberration will appear without proper lighting and angle. 

Pros: 

  • Light and compact, a convenient travel companion 
  • Switching from manual mode to autofocus mode is easy and smooth 
  • It is weather-sealed 

Cons: 

  • The lens is not equipped with image stabilization, so to prevent distortion, it is better to use a stabilizer or a tripod. 
  • It does not have aspherical elements, which means ghosting, flaring, and chromatic aberration are visible on images 

Features to Consider in Micro Four Thirds Lenses for Travel

Created and developed by Panasonic and Olympus, Micro Four Thirds lenses were pioneers in the hybrid lens market. Micro Four Thirds lenses are known for their amazing optics, weather-sealed barrels, and solid build. They’re also known for being light and compact, making them a favorite for travel photographers. 

However, being lightweight is not the only factor that needs to be considered when purchasing the best Micro Four Thirds lenses for travel.

Lumix camera with micro four thirds lenses

Focal Length

From landscape, portrait, wide-angle and more, each scene needs a different focal range. For example, if you want to capture images of nature or wildlife, you can get the Olympus 14-150mm f/4 due to its impressive maximum range of 150mm, which can zoom in on the subject from far away without compromising the background.

Aperture

The width of your aperture contributes to the outcome of the bokeh on images. For Micro Four Thirds lenses, it is best to get ones that have wide aperture because they can let you take pictures even in the dark, and that will come in handy while traveling.

The Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 II has a wide aperture of f/1.7 that lets enough light in to let you capture images in low light conditions, and you won’t have to worry about distortion or dark spots. 

Weather-Sealed

Weather-sealed lenses can survive splashes, dust, dirt, and other elements, and it contributes to the longevity of your lens. 

On the list of Micro Four Thirds lenses, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8, Olympus 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II, and the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 are all weather-sealed. 

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization is an important feature for Micro Four Thirds lenses because there is a massive chance that you’ll be holding onto your camera while you walk around and go on trips. 

The image stabilization feature helps compensate for any slight movement that you do while holding the lens. It can assist you in shooting at slower shutter speeds to prevent blurry pictures. 

The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 is the lens on the list with a built-in image stabilization system, so you won’t have to use a tripod just to get a clear image. 

Silent Autofocus

Most lenses produce a grinding noise when autofocus is being used, and although that is not a big deal when using it for indoor photography, it makes a lot of difference if it is being used in outdoor photography. 

If you like to take discrete pictures, especially live subjects, then a Micro Four Thirds lens with silent autofocus is the one for you. This feature is very important when you are traveling because chances are, you will be encountering wildlife, and the last thing that you want is to startle your subject before taking a breathtaking picture of them. 

The M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8, Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm f/4-5.6, Olympus 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II, and the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 all have silent autofocus. 

Internal Zoom

Internal zoom is a feature that is often overlooked, however, it is one that is very useful in Micro Four Thirds lenses that will be used for travel. 

Hand holding a micro four thirds lens

If your lens has an external zoom feature, the length of your lens changes, and that may catch you off-guard as it also changes the balance of your camera, plus it takes time before you can focus on your subject. 

Meanwhile, internal zoom remains constant no matter the zoom range. It is faster, it doesn’t change the balance of your camera, and it locks the focus on your subject almost instantly. This feature is ideal for those who always go on a nature trip when they travel, and you won’t have to wait for a few seconds to capture an image of your subject. 

The Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8, Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm f/4-5.6, and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 have internal zoom features. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it Called Micro Four Thirds Lens?

The lens is called Micro Four Thirds because it stands for 4:3 which is the aspect ratio of the sensor of the lens. The manufacturers of this lens, Panasonic and Olympus, chose the number because it reflects the printing size of 8×10 better than other ratios. 

As for the Micro part of the name, it is based on mirrorless cameras. When the Micro Four Thirds was first introduced, it was made for DSLR cameras with small sensors. 

Eventually, changes were made, and both Panasonic and Olympus created a version for mirrorless cameras, removing the space for the mirror box for a more compact camera body. 

Can Micro Four Thirds Lenses Fit All Types of Cameras?

Micro Four Thirds lenses can fit cameras that have mounts that are Micro Four Thirds. Micro Four Thirds lenses can be used on Micro Four Thirds cameras, and they are compatible with manufacturers like Panasonic, Olympus, Zuiko, Leica, Samyang, and Sigma.

Conclusion

Travel photography requires high-quality lenses, one that can withstand the demand of having to be outdoors all the time. Luckily, the best Micro Four Thirds lenses for travel that we’ve picked out have all of the features that you will need to capture every amazing detail of your trip. 

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8
Olympus 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II
Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 IIOlympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm f/4-5.6Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8
Aperture rangef/2.8f/4 f/1.7f/.4f/2.8
Image stabilizationYesNoNoNoNo
Weather-sealedYesYesNoNoYes