Home Camera Micro 4/3 Lenses that add Cinematic Imagery to your GH4 – Part 3

Micro 4/3 Lenses that add Cinematic Imagery to your GH4 – Part 3

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC

B&H Review
Part 3: Olympus paired with the Panasonic sensor

We had such great response to Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, so here goes Part 3. I really wanted to find a set of lenses that I felt would deliver a cinematic look with this very sharp sensor that is known as the GH 4. The lens that really grabbed me was the Voigtlanders.

In Part 1, I went into the whole theory of finding that right set of glass to tell your story and that many times it is pushing that glass to its breaking point to where it will reveal its magic. In Part 2 I showed how the Voigtlander lenses deliver an incredible soft and creamy look which held up all the way down to a f0.95, along with cross comparisons with the Panasonic Leica lenses paired with the GH4 sensor.

Part 3 will show you the look and feel of the Olympus series of micro four third lenses.

Lens Test Rules of Engagement

We will be on the GH4 camera the whole time. We will shoot three different focal lengths on all three lens types as well at three different f-stops. We will color grade at f5.6 and let the color, contrast and sharpness change as the f-stop drops. Remember we are looking for the breaking point.

Cross Comparisons

I will also show you the Voigtlanders and the Panasonic Leica lenses side by side with the Olympus. This test is really the “greatest hits” album with all of them playing together in the sand box.

You have the rules. Now let’s test these babies.

GH4 with Olympus lens set

Part 1 went into using the Panasonic glass that was paired with the camera’s sensor. Now we will go in a different direction with the Olympus set of three. The characteristics of this lens set is sharp, but with a very low contrast feel in the center of the lens, beautiful round shaped bokeh and held its sharpness all the way down to wide open at a f1.8. The detail in the skin is minimized and this creamy quality that I talk about is prevalent.

Here are the focal lengths for the Olympus set – 17mm, 25mm, 45mm.


17mm Focal Length

I am not sure about the Olympus lenses in general. There is a plastic look and feel to them. They feel very one dimensional. The color is very punchy and a little blocked up at a f5.6.


Right off the bat, I see a huge contrast shift with this lens at a f2.5, which is not a bad thing but the lens still feels plastic. Her skin feels painted on. It feels that the lens is not resolving well. It is sharp but does not resolve the color, skin, etc. The bokeh is nice and round.

Where all the other lenses fell apart with sharpness, the Olympus holds focus even at wide open, which is nice but still not a very pleasing image in general.

25mm Focal Length

It’s funny because when we had this up on the monitor, the Olympus lenses looked really nice to my eye. But once we got them in color correction and saw their resolving power I was really disappointed. The image does not snap and she doesn’t separate from the background effectively. The Voigtlanders look very three dimensional and the Panasonics are somewhere in the middle.

This is where all the other lenses felt like they were hitting their sweet spot, but not feeling really any sweet spot with these lenses. They are mushy in contrast, color and resolving information.

Where all the other lenses failed wide open, the Olympus seems to shine by holding better focus, but we are at a 1.8, which is wide open for these lenses.

45mm Focal Length

Again a weird plastic feel. Not loving these lenses on any f-stop.

Lower contrast helps with the pasted skin feel, but the lenses still does not lose its one dimensional characteristics. This is why you test glass. I have found if your glass has a very small front element, then two things will happen. You will have a very one dimensional image and you will not have good resolving power.

On the close up, the Olympus holds a sharpness that both the Voigtlander and the Leica did not. I have to say that this lens at f1.8 finally looked the best for me. It had a cinematic feel that all the other Olympus lenses did not.

Many of you have asked about the Veydra Micro Four Thirds prime lenses and my team is investigating them now for me while I am away on my new project. We are planning on having a full extensive test in the future on those lenses as well, as there are more focal lengths coming out for the line. By first glance in the shop at Revolution Cinema Rentals when we got the first three lenses in, they have a solid build and a smooth iris ring and solid focus. They all have a T2.2 across the board, same physical size and shape, making it simpler for your camera aks (the way it should be!). We’ll slap those babies on a camera and get them all tested out. Stay tuned!


Special Thanks
We want to give a special thanks to Lens Pro To Go for providing the camera equipment for this project. Without their help, we wouldn’t have been able to make this possible.

Shot in 4K UHD, Mastered in 1080p HD
Picture Profile: Cinema-D
Sharpness turned all the way down and contrast lowered -2
Panasonic Lumix GH4
Olympus M.ZUIKO 17mm
Olympus M.ZUIKO 25mm
Olympus M.ZUIKO 45mm

(2) KinoFlo Celeb 200s
(2) KinoFlo Celeb 400s
(2) KinoFlo Divas
DIY Lights: String of bulbs and clamp lights
(4) 4×4 Light Grid Cloth
(2) Matthews 4×4 Floppies
4×8 Beadboard for Fill

Shooting Location: Revolution Cinema Rentals

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Keith April 1, 2015 at 2:05 PM

I would be fascinated if you could compare some of the SLR Magic lenses too. I feel like they are a match to the Voightlanders, even beating them on some focal lengths but it would be excellent to get your input.

Rocky Romano April 1, 2015 at 8:33 PM

I would like to hire the model you used. Can you provide the agency information?

Shane April 2, 2015 at 2:44 PM

Hi Rockey, we are working on getting you her details.

Rocky Romano April 2, 2015 at 9:48 PM

Thanks Shane!

Rocky Romano April 7, 2015 at 7:15 AM

Any word on the contact info?

Shane April 7, 2015 at 8:45 PM

Rocky – Eli Jane is represented by CESD – http://www.cesdtalent.com – (310) 475-2111

Vance K April 15, 2015 at 2:43 PM

Thanks for the great tests and insight Shane, can’t wait for the Veydras tests. I know time is limited but there are two Olympus lenses that are crucial to test I believe, perhaps quickly on the side with initial impressions when you do the Veydras. Both the 12mm f2.0 and 75mm f1.8 are among the most expensive Micro 4/3rd Olympus glass at around $800 each, twice the price of the 45mm for ex. And at least for still photography, the 75mm has gotten rave reviews. I know it is a lot to ask but would so love to know your impression at least on the 75mm in terms of cinematic look for extreme close-ups with shallow depth of field – what if you love it, then we need to know!

Shane July 12, 2015 at 2:55 PM

I love the 12mm. I will see if we can fit that in. Thanks for sharing.

olegg February 13, 2017 at 7:55 PM

“I have found if your glass has a very small front element, then two things will happen. You will have a very one dimensional image and you will not have good resolving power.” – would you elaborate on this statement, I did not really get it, thanks.

Seti February 22, 2017 at 11:32 AM

Great article, but I’d like to see a review using the new DJI X5s camera on the Inspire 2 Drone. This is the only set that is recommended with that system, although I hear new lenses are coming.

Luis August 5, 2017 at 3:59 AM

Have you tried the 25mm 1.2 by Olympus? There are some videos by Albert Fast testing it in a GH5. I’d love to read your opinion, since I rather prefer this lens to the voigtlander for cinematic purposes.

Thank you!


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