You can’t create bokeh with Micro Four Thirds cameras, yell those who’ve never used the system; however, M4/3 portrait photography is easy and you don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money on lenses to create portraits with nice bokeh.
The whole Micro Four Thirds rig is bad because the bokeh myth is about as old as it gets. Yes, Micro Four Thirds cameras have smaller sensors. Yes, creating shallow depth of field is not as easy as with full frame cameras. However, to say that M4/3 portrait photography is impossible or that the bokeh that can be produced isn’t pleasing is ridiculous.
I’ve used Micro Four Thirds cameras for years for professional and personal work. I can tell you that if you can’t produce bokeh with M4/3 cameras, it’s not the fault of the camera or the lens. Sure, having fast lenses helps, but if you don’t know how to place your subject correctly, you’re not going to have a good time with any camera system when it comes to bokeh. M4/3 portrait photography is a breeze.
While there are very fast and very expensive prime lenses for Micro Four Thirds cameras, there are also some very inexpensive and fast options. You don’t have to break the bank to create great portraits with beautiful out-of-focus areas if you’re using Micro Four Thirds gear. All of the lenses listed here are incredibly sharp, they render beautiful natural tones and colors, they’re all fast focusers, they’re reliable, and yes, they can create smooth bokeh. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the action and look at the affordable premiums you should choose for M4/3 portrait photography.
Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8 — An affordable fiftieth anniversary
I’ve used a lot of nifty fifties over my years as a photographer, and none of them have brought as much joy to my life as the (50mm with a twice crop factor) Olympus M. Zuiko 25mm f/1.8. It is compact, lightweight and has incredible optics. It also costs less than $400, which makes it very affordable. This primary lens is superb for many reasons and is hard to beat.
This lens lends itself well to portrait photography. You can easily shoot full-length, half-length and three-quarter body portraits. The lens has fast autofocus motors that work incredibly well with eye autofocus. At f/1.8, you’ll be able to create sharp images that also feature smooth bokeh. This lens is an absolute steal for the price and should be one of the first ones you choose for M4/3 portrait photography.
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN — Great optics, superb build, smooth bokeh
The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is a fantastic affordable lens that makes M4/3 portrait photography a breeze. With Micro Four Thirds’ crop factor of twice, this 30mm lens essentially becomes a 60mm lens. At 60mm you’ll get extra compression over a 50mm prime lens, making this option a desirable portrait lens.
This fantastic little lens from Sigma is sharp, quick to focus, sports great build qualities and weighs just 0.58 lbs. It goes without saying that the bokeh you can create is creamy and smooth. At under $300, this lens is an absolute steal. Read all about it in our full review.
Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH — An M4/3 portrait photography lens for the consumer
If you’re a portrait photographer on a budget and looking for an affordable 85mm equivalent Micro Four Thirds lens, look no further than the Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH. This lens is a stunner. This f/1.7 lens will magically remove backgrounds from your image while making your subject look stunning for less than $400.
The seven rounded aperture blades will help you produce smooth out-of-focus areas, making your portraits pop. Like other Panasonic lenses, this one produces beautiful colors. Skin tones are particularly pleasing. The Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH also features optical image stabilization. As a result, you can shoot in very low-light situations with slow shutter speeds and still get razor-sharp images. If 85mm lenses are your favorite for portrait photography, this might be the lens for you.
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN — One of the best M4/3 portrait lenses. Period.
Portrait photographers who love telephoto lenses rejoice. This 112mm equivalent Micro Four Thirds lens won’t require you to sell a kidney to buy it, but it will make your client’s jaws drop when you use it. This Sigma lens offers beautiful bokeh. Compare an image created with this lens to a full frame equivalent and you’ll be hard pressed to tell them apart. Thanks to the telephoto focal length, the lens also creates incredibly flattering facial features through additional compression.
Like the Sigma 30mm f/1.4, this lens has a small amount of weather sealing at the mount. The optics are exceptionally sharp and render beautiful images. The autofocus is incredibly fast and precise and works perfectly with face and eye detection autofocus. Honestly, it doesn’t get any better than this when it comes to M4/3 portrait photography lenses. You can buy one for around $400!
Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 — An essential lens for portrait photography M4/3
For those who enjoy shooting portraits with longer lenses, the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 (a 150mm equivalent lens) is for you. This lens is magnificent in all areas. It is available in black and silver finishes. The optics of this lens are up there with Olympus Pro lenses. Many in the industry, including our own reviewer, rate this lens as one of the best portrait lenses on any system. It is so good.
As well as being optically stunning, the lens is also well made. However, the lens weighs only 0.67 lbs (305 g). This option from Olympus is the most expensive on this list at $699. However, if you shoot with Panasonic or Olympus/OM SYSTEM Micro Four Thirds cameras and want your portrait images to impress all who look at them, grab the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 and never look back. . This is possibly the best M4/3 portrait photography lens outside of the f/1.2 Olympus primes that cost over $1000. You can read our full review here.