Panasonic vs Olympus lenses: Difference and features

When it comes to marking lenses for the Micro 4/3 system, an integrated approach is needed to consider this issue. Indeed, in this field, there are two key players involved in the production of products for cameras of the aforementioned format the Japanese companies Panasonic and Olympus. They are the co-founders of the Micro Four Thirds standard and pioneered the birth of mirrorless cameras. And since the lenses from both brands are interchangeable, it is necessary to talk about the decoding of the symbols in their names together.

Before proceeding with the review, we suggest taking a brief digression into the history of the formation of the Micro 4/3 format, which first appeared before the public in 2008.

Its development was based on the 4/3 standard, which was used in Olympus SLR cameras. The physical dimensions of the matrix were borrowed from him – 18×13.5 mm. The key difference from the “parent” format was the halving of the working length, which was achieved due to the absence of a mirror lifting mechanism in the design of the cameras of the newly-made Micro 4/3 standard. In practice, this made it possible to reduce the dimensions of cameras and lenses compatible with them.

Panasonic Vs Olympus Lenses

panasonic vs olympus lenses
panasonic vs olympus lenses

Panasonic lenses

Lumix G– the Lumix prefix appears in the name of all cameras and in the expanded name of lenses manufactured by the Japanese brand. It is derived from the alliance between Panasonic and Leica, concluded between the two companies in 2001. And the Lumix G combination marks lenses compatible with Micro 4/3 format cameras.

X (eXtra)- this symbol is found in the name and on the body of pro-class lenses with improved optical characteristics and the highest build quality.

Next in the name of the lens is its type:

Vario is the designation of a detachment of optics with a variable focal length (in other words, this is how zoom lenses are called ).

Macro– makes it clear that the lens is sharpened for macro photography.

Fisheye– This marking is found onboard ultra-wide-angle lenses with a field of view close to 180°.

PZ (Power Zoom) – motorized zoom drive for smooth changes in focal length.

30mm f/2.8 / 45-175mm f/4.0-5.6 – perhaps the main symbols in the lens labeling, which tell about its focal length and maximum aperture; in the case when the numbers are written with a hyphen, the minimum and then the maximum value for each of the parameters is indicated first.

Following the numerical designations, the type of stabilization system used is usually written (if any):

Mega OIS (Mega Optical Image Stabilization) is an optical image stabilization system built into the lens, used to compensate for handshake when shooting at critical shutter speeds (close to 1/current lens focal length).

Power OIS (Power Optical Image Stabilizations) is an improved optical image stabilizer that helps you win even more exposure steps when shooting handheld (especially in low light conditions). Also, the stabilizer has a positive effect on the smoothness of the video sequence when using the camera as a camcorder.

Both of the aforementioned stubs are able to work in tandem with the in-camera matrix stabilization system used in the latest generations of Panasonic mirrorless cameras.

ASPH (Aspherical) – this abbreviation encodes the use of aspherical lenses in the optical design to minimize the effect of chromatic aberrations and a general reduction in the size and weight of the lens as a whole.

HD– The tandem of red letters HD is applied to the body of lenses focused on video shooting.

The set of the following letter combinations does not always appear in the name of the lens, but may be applied to its body.

XSM (eXtra Silent Motor) – the lens is equipped with a quiet ultrasonic-type autofocus drive that provides fast and tenacious focusing.

UHR (Ultra High Refractive) – lenses in the optical scheme with a high refractive index of light.

UED (Ultra Extra-low Dispersion) – this designation encodes the presence in the optical scheme of special elements with ultra-low dispersion, designed to combat chromatic aberrations.

Standing apart in the marking of Panasonic lenses is a small detachment of top-level lenses, the production of which was directly involved in the German company Leica:

DG – lens compatibility with Micro 4/3 format mirrorless cameras.

Vario-Elmar this is how zoom lenses are called.

Summilux – this designation is applied to the body of high-aperture optics.

Nocticron is ultra-fast lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.2 or less. This is the portrait lens.

As you can see from the examples, Panasonic’s “native” designations are used in the continuation of the name.

Olympus lenses

The Olympus optics fleet is divided into three separate sub-categories: standard lenses, premium lenses and top-of-the-line lenses for professional use.

mZD (M.Zuiko Digital) – the name Zuiko has been a household name for all Olympus lenses since 1936 – the moment the firstborn appeared in the optics line. Since then, it has acquired additional symbols on both sides: the letter “M” indicates compatibility with Micro 4/3 format cameras, and the Digital prefix indicates the digital roots of the lens.

ED (Extra-low Dispersion) – elements with extra-low dispersion are included in the optical design of a lens with similar symbols in the marking. They minimize chromatic aberrations and provide a high level of picture sharpness.

8mm 1:1.8 / 40-150mm 1:2.8 – denotes the focal length (or range of focal lengths for a zoom lens) and maximum aperture.

Pro is a line of dust- and moisture-resistant optics for the pros. Its representatives are distinguished by improved optical-mechanical characteristics, high build quality and stand out from their peers with a constant aperture throughout the entire zoom range.

olympus lenses
olympus lenses

EZ (Electric Zoom) is a motorized drive for changing the focal length, which allows smooth zooming.

SWD (Supersonic Wave Drive) is an ultrasonic focusing motor that provides fast and quiet focusing.

IS (Image Stabilizer) is a relatively “fresh” abbreviation that indicates the use of an optical image stabilization system in the lens design. 

MSC (Movies and Stills Compatible) an adaptation of the lens for photography and video, which uses a worm motor to move the lens group when zooming, as well as a supersonic autofocus drive. Together, both of these mechanisms provide a smooth change in focal length and quiet focusing.

R (Redesigned) – a re-released version of the previous generation lens in a new guise, i.e. without changing the optical scheme.

II, III – if the lens is re-released with a new optical design, then its generation is indicated in the name of the updated lens in Roman numerals.

Pancake – this is how compact pancake lenses are called.

Fisheye, Macro-lens versions sharpened for shooting with a maximum viewing angle and macro photography, respectively.

Good luck with your shooting!