Olympus Expanding Pro m4/3 Lens Set

(news & commentary)

At CP+ in Japan Olympus pre-announced two more m4/3 lenses, which brings to three the coming Pro lenses:

  • 40-150mm f/2.8 (ships late 2014) — already announced and the companion to Olympus' 12-40mm f/2.8 already shipping
  • 7-14mm f/2.8 (ships in 2015) — A fast wide angle lens that will fight with Panasonic's existing 7-14mm f/4 for the wide angle zoom spot in many bags

  • 300mm f/4 (ships in 2015) — The first m4/3 exotic telephoto offering

So, sometime in 2015 an OM-D shooter would have a four-lens, high-quality lens set for their m4/3 camera: 7-14mm (14-28mm equivalent) f/2.8, 12-40mm (24-80mm equivalent) f/2.8, 40-150mm (80-300mm equivalent) f/2.8, and 300mm (600mm equivalent) f/4. For those of you who can't quickly equate focal lengths to field of view, that's 3.43° to 104° in four lenses. 

Of course, today you can already go from 7mm to 100mm (14-200mm equivalent) in three lenses: Panasonic 7-14mm f/4, Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 (or Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8), and Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8. So what we're really gaining is a bit more speed in the wide angle, and more length at the telephoto end. 

It's a shame about the far off ship dates, though. I would have loved to have the two telephoto lenses on upcoming trips to the Galapagos, Africa, and Falklands and gone with a lighter kit. 

This does up the ante for the other makers, though. Sony, for example, seems to have given up after doing a basic prime set and a few more mid-range or kit zooms for the E-mount, instead now focusing on doing the same thing for the FE-mount. Basically we've only got the 70-200mm f/4 FE coming that we know of. Nikon, of course, is resting on their FT-1 adapter, so is unlikely to give us native Nikon 1 telephotos of note, which is a shame. Fujifilm is promising a 50-140mm f/2.8 and a "super telephoto lens." 

I'll repeat my "basic lens list" here just in case any manufacturers are reading:

  • High performance, fast prime set that includes 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm equivalents
  • Pancake prime set that includes at least one wide angle, normal, and telephoto of more modest aperture
  • Wide angle zoom, preferably starting in the 14-18mm equivalent range, and preferably with corner-optimized performance
  • High performance, fast zoom set that includes 24-70mm and 70-200mm f/2.8 equivalents
  • At least one high performance, fast macro lens, preferably with a reasonable working distance, which typically means at least 90mm equivalent
  • At least one relatively fast aperture telephoto of 300mm equivalent or higher

Sprinkle with as many kit and convenience zooms as you'd like. But to attract the Canon/Nikon DSLR shooters, you need at least that basic lens set. Ironically, neither Canon nor Nikon have achieved that with their crop-sensor DSLR lens sets. Talk about not covering a base when the other side is attempting a steal (I use a baseball metaphor so that the Canon/Nikon engineers reading this will clearly understand). 

So, Panasonic and Olympus have thrown down the gauntlet. They have everything on the list or have at least announced it. Thus, we can expect m4/3 to have a complete basic set and then some. Anyone else? 

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