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Top 11 Best Travel Zoom Lenses For Micro Four Thirds Cameras 2017

Top 11 Best Travel Zoom Lenses For Micro Four Thirds Cameras 2017 - We round-up the best Micro Four Thirds zoom lenses that are currently available and perfect for travel.

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As we all start to think of beaches, blue skies and warmer climates, we thought we'd suggest some zoom lenses you might want to pack in your travel bag along with your Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera. 

The beauty of MFT cameras is that they're, generally, compact and lightweight which makes them a perfect travel companion. Add a zoom to this that gives you a variety of focal lengths in one lens body and you've got yourself a pretty good travel combo that won't weigh you down.

As we mentioned in our 'Top 11 Best Superzoom Lenses For Travel', zoom lenses are versatile, space-saving pieces of kit that also mean you don't have to continually change lenses like you would have to if you were working solely with primes.

Superzooms are an ideal zoom type for travel but shorter zooms are also handy, such as the wider options mentioned in our list below. In the list, you'll find a variety of zoom lenses designed for Micro Four Thirds cameras that will be at home in your holiday photography kit bag. These include superzooms, standard zooms and zooms which give you a slightly wider view on the world.

If you're looking for a lens that's not specifically a zoom for your MFT camera, you might find our 'Top 35 Lenses For Micro Four Thirds Cameras' article useful otherwise, read on to find your ideal MFT zoom lens. 

 

1. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO 

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

 

An oldie but a goodie, this Olympus MFT lens offers great build quality as well as performance and it's 40-150mm focal length, equivalent to an 80-300mm lens used on a 35mm format camera, will help you capture architectural shots in villages as well as images of the lighthouse out at sea. 

The fact that it offers a unique zoom range, whilst maintaining a fast f/2.8 throughout is even better and the image quality it produces is really impressive for the price. You'll also be happy to hear that it's relatively lightweight and compact so it won't take up too much room in your hand luggage, plus the robust design means you don't have to worry about any knocks your luggage might receive while tucked away in the plane's overhead storage compartment. 

Some may find it a little big when paired with the smallest of the MFT camera bodies available but overall, this lens is an excellent addition to the Micro four Thirds line lineup.

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2. Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f/4.0-5.6 Asph Mega O.I.S. 

Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 Asph OIS Lens

 

The Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 Asph OIS lens covers angles of view equivalent to the popular, and incredibly useful, 70-200mm range on a 35mm camera. It also boasts a constant fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, optical stabilisation and a nano surface lens coating to help suppress the effects of flare. All of which are handy features in sunny environments where you don't want to be carrying a tripod around. 

This lens feels very well built, despite being incredibly lightweight and compact for a telephoto zoom, which is reassuring should you find yourself in a popular tourist location where knocks are going to occur and the 360g body also means you won't get tired arms when carrying it around your holiday destination all day. 

Another plus point of this lens is that, with care, the optical image stabiliser allows sharp hand held images to be taken at shutter speeds as low as 1/15sec at 100mm, which is roughly four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would allow otherwise. This is good news for those who are fans of museums and churches where light can be limited and tripods are certainly not allowed. 

Sharpness levels are good, distortion is low, focusing is fast and the lens is also weather sealed should rain fall while you are away.

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3. Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO 

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens

 

This standard zoom lens provides an angle of view equivalent to a 24-80mm lens used on a 35mm format camera. Its reach isn't as long as the telezoom just mentioned but the wider angles it offers are perfect for capturing shots of interesting architecture and they're also useful for shooting in grand spaces such as cathedrals where you could struggle to get everything in the frame. 

The lens is dust and splash proof, giving peace of mind when at the beach or caught out in a shower, and build quality is also excellent. Weight isn't an issue and the size of the lens means it'll easily fit in your hand luggage so you don't have to risk getting it thrown around in the hold. 

Sharpness through much of the range is outstanding but we did have some issues with distortion. Although, the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame throughout the zoom range, which should make applying corrections in image editing software afterwards, relatively straightforward.

A petal-shaped hood is supplied with this lens, which does a reasonable job of shading the lens from extraneous light but even without the hood in place, this lens is very resistant to flare and contrast levels hold up well when shooting into the light. This is good news for those who enjoy trips to warmer climates where the sun hangs around a lot more than it does in the UK.

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4. Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 

 Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm

 

The Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 is very much a pro-spec zoom. Performance-wise, this lens delivers sharp, contrasty images with low CA and distortion. Its excellent image stabilisation and f/2.8 aperture will mean you can work hand-held while exploring old village streets and also capture photos when light levels drop.

You can tick off weather sealing and a compact body size as plus features of this lens and the equivalent view of 24-70mm on a 35mm camera gives you both wide and telephoto angles to work with so you can capture sweeping views of old buildings lining a street then zoom in to focus on an intricate door. 

No issues with flare were encountered during testing and the Nano Surface Coatings applied to this lens help to keep contrast high, even when shooting into the light which is something those who are heading to sunnier shores will be happy to hear. 

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5. Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II 

Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 II ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. Digital Interchangeable Zoom Lens

 

Another wide zoom, the Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II covers a range equivalent to a 28-84mm lens on a 35mm camera in a compact design that won't way you down when exploring your destination. 

Optical stabilisation will help you keep your hand-held shots steady and sharpness throughout the zoom range are good but could be a little better towards the edges of the frame at 14mm. The lens is quite resistant to flare and produces images with good contrast, even when shooting into the light. For really bright situations, which you will more than likely encounter on your travels, a lens hood is provided but it is quite big, making the lens noticeably more bulky as a result. 

The small size of this lens should make it perfect for use with even the most compact Micro Four Thirds bodies and it definitely won't take up too much room in your backpack. 

Buy On Amazon

 

6. Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO 

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO

 

This ultra-wide angle zoom lens provides an angle of view equivalent to a 14-28mm lens used on a 35mm format camera and sports a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range. It's pretty wide and doesn't offer the telephoto reach some might be looking for in a travel lens but if you're a fan of landscape and architecture photography, this could be the perfect travel lens for you. 

Other plus points for this lens include its dust and splash-proof body as well as it's compact size, robust construction and light weight. 

The minimum focus distance is 20cm throughout the zoom range, which is ideal for close-ups or when shooting in places that are a bit of a squeeze and sharpness levels are outstanding. 

The lens may be a little prone to flare, which can be a problem in sunny countries, but given the extreme angle of view on offer and the compact size of the lens, this flaw may be something many will be able to forgive or even forget.

Buy On Amazon

 

 

7. Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH. 

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH

 

Appended to the legendary Leica name, this 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens offers the build quality and performance you expect from this premium brand. As it's a standard zoom, it offers a very useful focal range and even though it has a slightly higher price than other lenses listed here, it is a remarkably fine lens that should be a strong contender if you're looking for a versatile, all-purpose Micro Four Thirds zoom for your travels.

Sharpness is excellent, distortion is well controlled, the OIS system is impressive and AF is silent. Your travel portraits will have lovely looking bokeh and to top it all off, the lens is splash, dust and freeze-proof so unpredictable weather won't be a problem. On the 'cons' list is the fact that there is a slight problem with CA and some flare is produced in extreme circumstances, which could be an issue on a sunny afternoon, but overall, it's a great lens that reflects its premium quality. 

Buy On Amazon

 

8. Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. 

Panasonic Lumix 12-32mm

 

The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. is an ultra compact and space saving lens so if you're only taking hand luggage on your trip, it could be one to consider. It actually collapses down to a 24mm long and even though it's miniature, Panasonic hasn't made any compromises in its performance. This optic is sharp, lightweight, compact, nice to use and not overly priced which makes it a good contender for your holiday kit bag. It also offers a field of view equivalent to a 24-64mm lens used on a 35mm camera.

CA is a little high at 12mm and there isn't a manual focus ring but even so, it's difficult to not be impressed by this little lens.

Buy On Amazon 

 

9. Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. 

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH.

This relatively new ultra wide to wide standard 8-18mm lens has a useful 35mm equivalent of 16-36mm and definitely lives up to its Leica tag. The lens offers outstanding sharpness and images have real punch to them so your bright blue skies will be exactly that. As you'd expect from something with the Leica name attached to it, the 8-18mm lens is built incredibly well and it's also dust/splash proof so a light rain shower won't cause you too much trouble. 

The lens can be susceptible to flare which could get annoying when holidaying in sunnier climates but for such a wide-angle lens, this can be forgiven. The price may be a little high for some, too but others will say it's a Leica and as a result, the price tag is justified. 

Buy On Park Cameras

 

 

10. Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6

 

The 14-45mm lens from Panasonic covers an angle of view equivalent to a 28-90mm lens on a 35mm camera and overall, it puts in an excellent all-round performance. The lens produces sharp, contrasty images and it won't break the bank either which means you'll have more holiday spending money. 

Build quality is good, although it's not weather sealed and the lens is very resistant to flare, but it's not as compact as some zoom lenses which might be a deciding factor if you're planning on travelling light. However, overall, the Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens offers excellent performance at a very good price.

Buy On Amazon

 

11. Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. HD

 

Very few zoom lenses are able to deliver as consistently as this lens does throughout the zoom range. The Panasonic Lumix G 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 offers good sharpness, low distortion, low falloff and effective stabilisation in a good quality body. CA levels can, on occasion, be a little high but overall, it performs well and won't break the bank either. The lens features built-in Optical Image Stabilisation (O.I.S), and is impressively small. If you want a little more zoom, then you could also look at the slightly larger Olympus M. Zuiko 14-150mm f/4-5.6 lens, although this does not feature built-in optical image stabilisation, instead relying on camera based image stabilisation.

Buy On Amazon

 

 

More Kit For Your Vacation 

For those looking for a camera specifically for your travels, have a look at our top 10 cameras perfect for holidays or we have a round-up of top waterproof cameras should you be spending a large amount of time in the ocean. 

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Comments


ChrisV Plus
10 1.7k 26 United Kingdom
26 May 2017 11:04AM
What a bizarre title for this round up. All of the lenses listed here are the general purpose zooms for MFT - where does the 'travel' bit come in, specifically?

When seeing a lineup of travel zooms I'd expect to see optics covering a very wide focal range from [relatively] wide angle, up to telephoto. So that's lenses like the Panasonic 14-140, the Olympus covering the same range [with OIS] or one of the third party wide-telephotos.

Yet none of them are here. At all.

It's all the more inexplicable that the Panasonic standard kit lenses are present while the 14-14- matches it in range, aperture [it's actually faster than the kit at that optic's maximum range], sharpness and distortion control, while only being marginally larger and heavier.

I can't for the life of me see the rationale behind this. All the lenses are light - it's MFT. But that doesn't make those above specifically designed for travel.

Did I mention I'm baffled by this?

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joshwa Plus
6 822 United Kingdom
26 May 2017 11:43AM
Hi Chris,

This list originally contained 4.5 star (Highly Recommended) lenses. We've added a couple of super zoom options now.

Thanks
Josh

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