micro 4/3 lenses vs full frame Contax ones

What you see above is an equivalent kit, in terms of lenses. From 28mm to 200mm.

The difference is size between m4/3 cameras and full frame ones is not that much*, but the difference in lenses is striking and it is something that many, myself included, have an hard time grasping just looking at product pictures of m4/3 gear by itself.

*That is, unless you go for something like the incredibly tiny, yet still capable to use any of the m4/3 interchangeable lenses, Panasonic GM5

What you see above is a comparison for a pretty comprehensive travel setup (remember: m4/3 has a crop factor of 2x):

– Contax 28-85mm vs. Olympus 14-42mm

– Contax 100-300mm vs. Panasonic 35-100mm

Some of you might argue that the Contax is a 100-300mm, while the Panasonic is equivalent “only” to a 70-200mm. But the Contax is actually SMALLER than most 70-200 out there.

And if you’re thinking that these are adapted lenses, but you can get away with smaller sized ones going “native”, here are the data for your consideration.


Wide-normal zoom lenses

Contax 28-85mm = 85 x 99.5mm, 735g (btw, from the images I’ve seen I have a very strong feeling that the Contax could probably mop the floor with the Sony Zeiss 24-70…)

Sony Zeiss 24-70mm = 73 x 95.5mm, 426g

Olympus 14-42mm = 56.5 x 50mm, 113g

The funny thing is, the 14-42 not only is a (really really good) kit lens, but it is also NOT the smallest one in its focal range. You could easily – and cheaply – go instead for the Panasonic 12-32 and halve – yes: halve – the size, gaining as well a 24mm equivalent wide end, and with sharper results to boot.

Panasonic 12-32 = 55.5 x 24mm, 70g (yes, seventy grams, it’s not a typo!)


Tele zoom lenses

Contax 100-300mm = 71 x 143mm, 925g

Sony 70-200mm = 80 x 175mm, 840g (without tripod foot)

Panasonic 35-100mm = 55.5 x 50mm, 135g

With the weight difference among just the tele zooms you could carry almost 2 Fuji X100T 🙂

The same reasoning applies to fast glass; a Panasonic 20/1.7 (40mm equivalent) is barely thicker than a body cap, yet it is a sharp lens with a pleasant rendering.

Will the Olympus / Panasonic zooms here discussed be as sharp as the Contax ones shot on a full frame Sony A7r? No. But the results will be much closer than you might think:

Just for fun: Sony A7r & Contax Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7 vs. Olympus OM-D E-M10 & Panasonic G 25mm f/1.7

For “travel use” you will still be eminently able to shoot pictures you can print up to 1 meter wide*. I think that’s more than enough for most people…

*Don’t believe me? Check for yourself: How good are 16Mp? Olympus OM-D E-M10 & kit zoom vs. Fuji GS645 & Fujichrome Velvia

What? Are you saying you need a super wide angle? Done: the Olympus 9-18 it might not be the best lens of the group, but is pretty good especially considering the price, and at 56.5 x 49.5mm and only 155g you can basically throw it in a pocket “just in case”.

This is another great weight saving of the kit, by the way: you need just pockets, not even a bag, so you just saved another 500g or more.

And using one of the new Olympus bodies with the high-resolution mode (that takes multiple shots for a 50/60Mp resulting file) and a tabletop tripod, a clamp, a bean bag or just a table or a wall you will always have the option to go even further quality-wise.

Not bad for a setup barely reaching a mere 600 grams (Olympus E-M10 + 12-32 + 35-100)!

But we can go even smaller and lighter, as incredible as this might sound.

The same kit with the Panasonic GM5 as the camera, instead of the Olympus E-M10, will shave a lot of size and about 200 more grams, for a grand total of circa 400g for a kit capable of results that just a few years back were the exclusive realm of professional medium format film cameras.

Again, not bad, not bad at all!



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