The general belief in the world of photography is that the Micro Four Thirds platform is not good for portrait photography because it’s hard to create bokeh. This simply isn’t true!
It’s time to put the no bokeh on Micro Four Thirds myth to bed. Sure, the cameras have a smaller sensor, Yes, creating a shallow depth of field isn’t as easy as it is with full-frame cameras. However, to say that it’s impossible is just crazy.
I and many of the staff here at Photofocus have used Micro Four Thirds cameras for years and with the right lenses, we’ve had no issues creating the creamy, dreamy bokeh that portrait photographers love. In this roundup, we’re going to show you five affordable primes that are insanely sharp and that render gorgeous bokeh that will make your subject leap out of the image.
Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8 (The perfect affordable 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 is superb and is hard to beat.
This lens lends itself so well to portrait photography, You can shoot full body length portrait, half body and three-quarter body length shots with ease. The lens features speedy autofocus motors that work incredibly well with Olympus’ eye autofocus. At f/1.8, you’ll be able to create sharp images that also exhibit smooth bokeh. For the price, this lens is an absolute steal for portrait photographers on a budget.
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN (A standard prime with extraordinary bokeh potential)
The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is a fantastic standard length prime. However, there’s nothing standard about its blazing-fast max aperture of f/1.4. With the Micro Four-Thirds’ crop factor of two times, this 30mm lens essentially becomes a 60mm lens. However, at 60mm’s you’ll get some extra compression over a 50mm prime lens, which makes it a very affordable portrait lens. In our full review we 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, Managing Editor
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. At under $300, this lens is an absolute steal.
Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH (A portrait photography lens for the masses)
If you’re a portrait photographer on a budget who’s 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 can make backgrounds in your image magically disappear for under $400.
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 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. If 85mm primes are your jam for portrait photography, this could be the lens for you.
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN (A stunning prime for Micro Four Thirds Portraiture)
Portrait photographers who like slightly longer focal lengths rejoice. This 112mm equivalent Micro Four Thrids lens won’t require you to sell a kidney to buy it. This Sigma lens also creates 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 Sigma 30mm f/1.4, this lens has a small amount of weather sealing at the mount. The optics are exceptionally sharp and render gorgeous images. 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. You can pick one up for around $400!
Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 (Effortless Micro Four Thirds bokeh and remarkable sharpness)
For those of you who use Micro Four Thirds and like shooting portraits with longer lenses, the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 is for you. This lens is stunning in every area. It comes in both black and silver finishes. The optics in this lens are up there with Olympus Pro lenses. Many in the industry call this lens one of the best portrait lenses on any system. Here’s what we said in our review:
“Hands down, bar none, it has some of the sharpest optics of any lens I’ve ever used across any system. The level of detail from the 75mm is simply glorious! Razor sharp wide-open at f/1.8 with some of the prettiest bokeh — highly subjective I know — I’ve ever seen on any lens.”Darren Miles
This 150mm equivalent prime is well made. It weighs just 0.67lbs (305g), and it is much more affordable than you might think. This option from Olympus is the most expensive on this list. However, if you shoot with Panasonic or Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras and you want your portrait images to stun, grab the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 and never look back.