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We often hear advice like ""choose your lenses and then choose the body that matches". We have great information on DSLR systems at How much do lens lineups vary across DSLR platforms?, but what about for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (also known as compact system cameras and so on)?

How does lens availability vary for Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds, Sony NEX, Nikon 1, Canon M, Samsung NX, Fuji X, the Pentax K and Q offerings, and others? Are some of the systems particularly strong in certain areas?

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Was the purpose of this question to include lenses that need a mount adapter? For just one example the Sony E-mount is pretty well covered, since you can mount nearly any Canon, Nikon, Pentax etc lenses on a Sony E-mount camera with a suitable adapter and use them in manual mode. Some of them even have working AF and/or aperture control. –  Esa Paulasto Feb 23 at 12:11
    
@Esa I think it's worth noting if a system features adapted lenses with no loss of image quality or functionality, but I was most interested in native lenses. –  mattdm Feb 23 at 13:11
    
So, at least full functionality with an adapter. Fair enough. –  Esa Paulasto Feb 23 at 18:11

2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

There are much more variation between lens lineups designed for mirrorless cameras than DSLRs. A major factor of each lineup is age.

  • Pentax uses the same K-mount for its K-01 as it does for its DSLRs. This gives it gets a complete lineup of lenses covering a focal-range of 10 to 560mm plus coverage from down to 4.5mm (fisheye) or 8mm (rectilinear) from Sigma. There are lenses for most purposes and budgets, from plastic-mount zooms to high-quality metal-barrel primes.
  • As the original mirrorless mount, Micro Four-Thirds has an extensive set of lenses and the most third-party manufacturers that support it. Olympus and Panasonic produce the bulk of those and cover a 7mm (rectilinear) to 300mm range. Since Panasonic and Olympus have different philosophies for their cameras, Olympus makes no stabilized lenses while Panasonic tends to add stabilization to the majority of its models.
  • The Sony E-mount has good backing from Sony and third-party manufacturers. lenses are fewer than the above mounts but much more numerous than the ones below. There are NEX lenses covering focal-lengths from 10 to 210mm, plus 8mm fisheye lenses. The E-mount lenses are evenly split between consumer variable aperture zooms and bright prime lenses.
  • The Nikon 1 system has a good coverage with lenses from 6.7mm to 110mm (18-307mm equivalent) between a dozen or so lenses, all made by Nikon. Most are slow variable aperture zooms, making the lineup oriented to entry-level users. It is the only of these mounts other than the Pentax K to have a native super-zoom (10-100mm available in mechanical and power zoom versions).
  • The Fuji XF-mount is one of the newest and has mostly high-grade prime lenses. Only one zoom is currently available with one more announced for 2013. XF-mount lenses together have the second shortest range of focal-length, covering 8 to 60mm with nothing in the telephoto category and nothing in the focal-lengths used for traditional portraits. Fuji cameras are designed to work with lenses having a aperture ring. All primes have such rings with F-stops marked and clicks for 1/3 stops, making using 1/2 stops not possible, while other systems control this as a configuration option on mid-to-high end cameras.
  • Canon EF-M mount is is the smallest lineup and has the shortest range of focal-lengths. There are only two lenses so far, a 22mm prime and a standard 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 typical kit lens.
  • The Pentax Q lineup of lenses is small and only made by Pentax. While there is a single bright prime, the rest of the lineup is mostly composed of slow toyish primes. Two zooms, one short and one medium are part of the lineup too.

Mounts with image-circles of DSLR-sizes, have easy support from third-party manufacturers because the lens designs are the easiest to adapt. So, while Fuji has one of the newest mount, it is attracting third-party support at a relatively fast rate, although none has shipped yet.

Only the Pentax K and Micro Four-Thirds have native weather-sealed lenses. Between the two, Pentax has considerably more of those, including the least-expensive weather-sealed lenses of any mount.

Most mounts have been designed with easy compatibility to en existing DSLR mount:

  • Sony Alpha lenses are compatible with E-mount cameras using various adapters. One of those includes built-in phase-detection using a translucent mirror which costs 1/3 of a stop of light transmission.
  • Four-Thirds lenses are compatible with Micro Four-Thirds cameras using the only weather-sealed mount-adapter, allowing a completely weather-sealed system when using legacy lenses.
  • Canon EF-M mount accepts EF-S and EF lenses using an all-electronic adapter.
  • Nikon 1 mount accepts Nikon F lenses using an all-electric adapter. The 2.7X crop factor gains a lot of reach at the expense of wide-angle when using F-mount lenses.

The Fuji XF and the Pentax Q mounts do not have a correspondence to legacy mounts which makes adaptation more difficult. However Fuji makes a Leica M-mount adapter and Pentax makes a K-mount adapter (not sure if it is shipping yet though).

Panasonic makes the only 3D lens which makes Micro Four-Thirds the only 3D capable mirrorless platform.

This is a long post and I'm sure to have made a mistake or omission somewhere, please correct if you know better. If unsure, leave a comment with reference link to fact-check

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+1. A couple of unusual (for DSLR) options: An f/0.95 for Sony E, m4/3 and soon Canon M. And an "inverse teleconverter" for mounting Canon EF lenses on Sony NEX that reduces the focal length with 0.71x and gains one f-stop in the process. Don't know if things like this should be included? Listing every adapter in existence would be unwieldy, but some of these more unusual options might be a reason to prefer one system over another. –  j-g-faustus Jan 22 '13 at 6:17
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Indeed, I just blogged about the inverse teleconverter as you call it. This is big news in my opinion. Not sure if it should be included but it should definitely go in interesting accessories for mirrorless cameras along with the shift adaptor that takes a DSLR lens and turns into a shift-lens because the imaging circle is larger. –  Itai Jan 22 '13 at 14:31
    
About a year ago I considered making an inverse teleconverter for the usage of Nikon FX lenses on DX sensors, just to help with wide angle usage. If the response is so strong, maybe I should further investigate. I've also been planing to make a shift adapter, but for FX to DX usage it will require an optical element to increase image plane distance. –  Phil Jan 25 '13 at 17:54
    
Canon EF-M has another 11-22mm f/4-5.6 lens now, bringing the count to three. –  pilsetnieks Jun 29 '13 at 11:53
    
With the release of the A7/A7r, Sony's E-mount has now been split into two (full-frame, designated FE and APS-C, designated E). While (I think) all E-mount lenses will fit the full-frame cameras, only some of them will actually project a large enough image circle to cover the whole sensor. At the date of posting, there seem to be only 5 FE lenses. –  Chinmay Kanchi Mar 14 at 19:31

Micro Four Thirds has the biggest lineup. It has everything from super wide (7mm) to super long. Panasonic/Leica and Olympus have released some very good (but expensive) primes last year such as the Leica 25mm/1.4 or the Olympus 45mm/1.8. You'll even find the 2.8 zooms, although because of the 2x crop factor the images will look like those from a (good) 5.6 zoom on full frame. (The links lead to Steve Huff's web site because I like his lens reviews.) Just today four more companies have announced their support for MFT.

Sony, Samsung and Fuji each have a much smaller lineup. For me the Sony lenses are either too slow or too expensive (Zeiss). (That's why I bought into the Fuji system.) Third party manufacturers like Zeiss and Samyang have announced a bunch of new lenses for those systems (which all have an APS size sensor), in addition to those from the respective camera manufacturers.

I'm also using a lot of old but beautiful manual focus lenses with an adapter on my Fuji. Those lenses are really affordable right now. A Minolta 50mm/1.4 will cost you between $20 and $80 on ebay. Especially on the long end, this is a good way to get good glass (M42 mount lenses) for little money. Wide angle SLR lenses don't make much sense because they are expensive and heavy.

I think the difference of the APS size bodies is significant as well, much more than with SLRs. You have to check for yourself if you prefer the compact Sony bodies, the colorful Pentax or the more retro-styled Fujis.

There is a rumor that Sony will be announcing a full frame NEX next year, but even Sony cannot beat physics. My guess is that any lens for this system will be twice as heavy as their APS counterpart.

The Pentax is special in that it doesn't use a new mount. This means you can use available Pentax SLR lenses. The cost is that the body is much thicker. The big advantage of a mirrorless camera is that it doesn't have a mirror that has to flip up and therefore can be built thinner. Pentax has just removed the mirror and called it a day.

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