We recently took a look at several fast lenses on the micro four-thirds platform that can create truly gorgeous bokeh. However, all of those lenses cost a pretty penny. Now we’re going to look at six micro four-thirds lenses that render beautiful bokeh that are well under $500 each.
While the lenses we listed here will create gorgeous bokeh, they will also set you back a fair amount of money. Still, as mentioned above, you don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on micro four-thirds lenses that can do the same. I’ve used all of the lenses listed below and they’ve always put a smile on my face.
While you might be giving up a little when it comes to overall build quality, optically, these budget-friendly lenses can create creamy, dreamy bokeh with micro four-thirds cameras.
Now, we all know that there’s more to bokeh than just fast lenses and sensor size. Subject placement in relation to the lens and the background both play a huge role in creating those wonderful out-of-focus areas we all love so much. A benefit of the micro four-thirds platform is that you can get close focusing distances as well, which also helps.
Still, having lenses with wide apertures certainly makes things easier. So, if you want to create images with lots of subject separation without breaking the bank, take a closer look at the wallet-friendly micr four-thirds lenses below.
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN (A micro four-thirds marvel)
Sigma has made many high-profile lenses over the years. However, it’s the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN that won the hearts of many photographers. This unassuming lens is an absolute monster when it comes to performance. Yes, you read that right. This lens, which is available for micro four-thirds cameras, has a fast aperture of f/1.4. Amazingly, it costs less than $400! There’s even a little weather sealing.
With the two times crop factor on micro four-thirds cameras, this lens will give you an equivalent focal length of 32mm. This makes it perfect for street photography, documentary work, portraiture and more. The optics in this lens are stunning. You’ll get sharp images from f/1.4 and on, the colors it renders are beautiful and there’s little to worry about when it comes to flares, fringing and ghosting. It’s one of my favorite lenses to use on the micro four-thirds platform.
Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 ASPH (A delicious micro four-thirds pancake lens)
A 40mm equivalent lens with an aperture of f/1.7 for less than $300? It can’t be true! Well, it is. Panasonic knocked it out of the park with the 20mm f/1.7 ASPH. This pancake lens is small and light, and it packs optics that will help you create gorgeous images.
Somehow, Panasonic crammed seven aperture blades into this tiny lens which help create nice smooth bokeh. Autofocus performance is rapid! Pair this lens up with any micro four-thirds camera and you’ll have a small, powerful, bokeh producing setup that will serve you well. This lens is ideal for street photographers, portrait artists, event photography, journalists, photowalkers and those who work in low light.
Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8 (The perfect nifty fifty)
I’ve used a lot of nifty fifties in my years as a photographer and none of them have brought as much joy to my life as the (50mm with a two times crop factor) Olympus M. Zuiko 25mm f/1.8. It’s compact, lightweight, and has incredible optics. It’s also under $400!! This standard prime lens rocks and is hard to beat.
Whether you’re a portrait photographer, photojournalist, documentarian, or lifestyle photographer, the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 will not disappoint. This lens is also designated as MSC (movie and still compatible), which means the speedy yet quiet autofocus motors have been tuned for video work as well. At f/1.8, you’ll be able to create sharp images that also exhibit smooth bokeh with your micro four-thirds camera.
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN (Bonkers bokeh on the cheap)
The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 isn’t talked about as much as its brothers (the 16mm and 56mm f/1.4) but it should be. With micro four-thirds’ crop factor of 2 times, this 30mm lens essentially becomes a 60mm, which is a little odd. However, at 60mm you’ll get some extra compression which makes it a very affordable (it’s under $300) portrait lens. In our full review, Bryan Esler, our Managing Editor said:
“The Sigma provided more than satisfactory sharpness, perfect for everyday shooting. The depth of field was superb, providing a very blurred background wide open with the f/1.4 aperture.”Bryan Esler
This fantastic little lens is sharp, it’s fast to focus, it sports great build qualities, and it weighs just 0.58lbs. It should go without saying that the bokeh you can create is creamy and smooth. If you want a versatile standard lens that can do everything from street photography to portraiture, this lens at under $300 is an absolute steal.
Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH (A portrait lens for the masses)
If you’re a portrait photographer on a budget who’s looking for an affordable 85mm equivalent lens, look no further than the Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH. This lens is a stunner. We showcased the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 in our other roundup and lauded it for its ability to make backgrounds disappear. This f/1.7 lens can do this as well at a fraction of the cost (under $350 compared to $1,100).
The seven rounded aperture blades will help you produce smooth out-of-focus areas which will make your portraits pop. Like other Panasonic lenses, this one produces really nice colors. Skin tones are particularly pleasing. The Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH also has optical image stabilization. You can shoot in very low-light situations with slow shutter speeds and still get razor-sharp images.
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN (It makes micro four-thids cameras shine)
Portrait photographers who like slightly longer focal lengths rejoice. This 112mm equivalent lens won’t require you to sell a kidney to buy it (it’s under $450) and it will create gorgeous bokeh. Thanks to the telephoto focal length it will also create incredibly flattering facial features thanks to the levels of compression it creates.
Like the Sigma16mm and 30mm f/1.4, this lens has a small amount of weather sealing at the mount. The optics are exceptionally sharp, autofocus is incredibly fast and accurate and it works perfectly with face and eye detect autofocus. Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than this when it comes to lenses for portraiture on the micro four-thirds platform.