The GH4 is shipping now and the next big purchase if you don’t already have them is lenses. This list could get really long because the GH4 can take so many different lenses due to its Micro Four Thirds Mount (MFT). Add an adaptor and you can practically use any lens on the market. This list list of course works for the GH3 and GH2 as well. Most folks reading this article are probably new to the MFT world since that 4K shooting GH4 sucked you in! I did a post another post like this for the V100 and C300. That list is also good to check out. Remember unless you have an electronic adapter Canon EOS EF lenses you won’t be able to adjust the aperture. If you already have a nice set of EF lenses then maybe the Redrock Micro LiveLens EF to MFT adapter might be worth looking into. The adapter requires an external 9V power source.
What you need to know about MFT field of view.
The Micro Four Thirds sensor is approximately half the size of a full frame sensor used in the Canon 5D MKIII. Why is this important? When you’re using 35mm stills lenses with an adapter on the GH4 the image is cropped in the center. This is important to know for lens selection. The image isn’t magnified only cropped. If you are used to using 85mm for interviews you will have to move back to frame the same shot on the GH4. Remember it’s cropped. Not magnified. This can make lens choices a little more difficult. If you have limited space to work in. The Backgrounds will be less compressed as well. You will see more of it because you pulled the camera back. One benefit of 35mm stills lenses is you’re using the prime part of the lens. The center. Lenses tend to get worse optically in the corners so not seeing them because they are cropped out is a nice benefit.
With native MFT lenses you don’t have the crop because the lenses are designed for MFT and covers the sensor using all the optics not just the center. Since native MFT lenses are designed to fit the sensor. They are smaller and lighter making your camera a nice size and weight. When shopping for native MFT lenses just remember that a 25mm is a normal MFT lens. A 50mm is for full frame. Basically half the size.
I decided to break this list up a bit. First I’ll go native. Native MFT lenses have a few advantages like image stabilization for handheld work. They’re also very compact and light making the camera easier to work with. If you keep your camera light your support gear can also be much lighter. Jibs won’t need as much counter weight. Tripods can be smaller, fluid heads can be lighter too, and your back and arms will thank you.
As for 35mm full frame lenses I have a post I made for the C100 and C300 “Which Lenses Should I Buy For My C100 and C300?” Check them out too because I think these will also work very well with your new GH4 and the right adapter. List post is going to grow just like the one I did for the Cinema EOS cameras. If I find a great lens I will add it. If you find a great lens and want the world to know about it please add it to the comments section below and I will check it out.
I’ve added links to each lens. Please help support my site my using them if you decide to pick any of these up. If you prefer Click on B&H if you prefer. Thanks! Okay here we go!
Native Micro Four Thirds
The following three Lumix lenses are my favorite for the GH4. They cover a nice range and have very good image quality.
This crazy wide lens is so fun to use. I got a lot of use from it on the AF-100 too. At 7mm it compares to a 14mm on a full frame camera. It’s not a fast lens at f4 but if you’re looking for shallow depth of field you won’t get it anyways since this is a very wide angle lens. Cameras are so good now when using higher ISO the speed shouldn’t be an issue.
You can shoot all day with just this one lens. 35mm equivalent is 24-70. This range is very popular and the Lumix version is fantastic. Good build and Image stabilization works very well for handheld work or in stabilizers. One bummer is the electronic focus. It’s never not in a non electronic mode so no repeatable focus is possible. This could be an issue when using a follow focus with hard stops. They brand it as HD but to be honest it’s more of a stills lens than a hybrid. I still love it but you have to know it’s limitations too.
The third favorite is the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 Lumix G Vario Zoom Lens. Okay maybe this is my favorite. Very sharp. Fast and has great IS. It’s super sharp. Nice range for beautiful bokeh if you’re shooting headshots and interviews. Here is where the MFT format really shines. This lens is really light compared to a Canon 70-200 IS comes in at 52.6 oz./1490g. The Lumix is only 10.8 oz. Same equivalent focal length and a whole lot lighter.
I checked out this new beauty at NAB. It’s really nice and has an excellent build. Reviews are also strong. Some say it’s more Leica than Panasonic. I like that. No offense Panasonic! With the addition of image stabilization and a super fast f1.2 it may very well be the best MFT lens available for portrait or interviews. The 42.5mm has a nine blade iris for nice bokeh. I want one!
Here is the tough part. Price $1600.
Lumix pancake lenses are also good choices if you want a light very small compact prime. They are crazy short and pack a bright sharp image. How they get these lenses so small is an engineering marvel.
The 14mm f 2.5 is a fast and small little sucker! This is the one on my new GH4 at the top of the post.
The 20mm is super fast at f1.7. Again very sharp and great for keeping the camera super compact.
Voigtlander Nokton make some really nice all manual lenses for MFT cameras. I owned the 35mm f0.95 when I had an AF-100 had really loved it. I should have never sold that lens. Now Voigtlander makes a few more models and they all are very good. These are a fully manual lenses. The focus rotation is longer and fluid similar to the feel of Zeiss lenses.
The 25mm f0.95 is a special lens. Wide open it has a beautiful look even with the vignetting it’s just magical. As you close it down it gets really sharp. The 10 blade iris creates some beautiful bokeh. This is the VII which permits switching between a steeples, de-clicked aperture. Very nice feature for video use. Voigtlander Nokton now have two more f0.95 lenses to round out the set to three. A 42.5 and 17.5. All have 10 blade diaphragm
Same build as the 25mm with de_clicked iris feature. 10 blade diaphragm.
Again same great build but the 17.5 doesn’t have the de-clicked iris feature.
SLR magic are interesting lenses and I haven’t tried them yet but they do look intresting. Super fast like the Voigtlanders but priced a tad lower. They also have a cine line.
The best value for the cinema guy! Ever since Rokinon/Samyang introduced these cine versions they have been selling like hotcakes. The 85mm and 35mm are my favorite. These inexpensive lenses are being used on all sorts of digital cinema cameras including The Red Epic. Build is okay. Some have issues over time but again the price is so good you have expect a little give and take. I would recommend getting a set like the 24mm T1.5, 35mm T1.5 and 85mm T1.5. If you need a little more on the wide side a 14mm T3.1 is also available.
Since we are now talking about manual lenses I have to include Nikon. They have lots of manual iris lenses that work beautifully with an adapter. You can also use Nikon G Series lenses with a adapter that allows you to change the iris with the adapter. Like this one from Novoflex. The Nikon G have a small pin on the mount and the adapter grabs it. Rotate the blue collar and the iris changes. The rotation is very short so it takes a little getting used to and you wont know what f-stop you are at. Still a nice feature and if you have a collection of Nikon already this Novoflex will sure come in handy. One thing that drives me crazy with Nikon is they focus the other way. I never could get used to it so I tend to stick with Canon mount lenses.
This is a good start and I will be adding more to the list over time. Bookmark it and comeback to see what else has been added. The GH4 is a very feature rich camera that also has a very versatile mount. Experiment with vintage lenses too. You can achieve some interesting and unique images. Hey not every lens has to be razor sharp! Enjoy that new camera!
Thanks for coming by! Please help support my site by using the links on this page or bookmark these from my favorite retailers, B&H, Adorama, Zacuto, Amazon.com & Think Tank Photo. Using the links cost you nothing extra, but it helps offset the cost of running my blog. Thanks again for coming by eriknaso.com!