Lens recommendation for family holiday portraits/photos

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by jettilton, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. jettilton

    jettilton Mu-43 Regular

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    Hello,

    New to the forum! Had the opportunity of handling the EPL3 at a photo expo here in Dallas-Fort Worth this weekend, and now I've decided to sell my Nikon dslr to finally go to m 4/3! In process of ordering the EPL3 today, need recommendations on a good lens for family portraits.

    Really want the Panasonic 20mm f1.7, but also could be interested in the Panasonic 25mm as well. Any suggestions would be highly appreciated, as I want to place an order this evening or tomorrow.

    Thanks,
    Jet
     
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  2. Starred

    Starred Mu-43 Regular

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    Only one: Oly 45 1.8
     
  3. SNTP

    SNTP Mu-43 Regular

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    The Panasonic 20mm F1.7 is a great lens for just about everything. I use that lens for a good 80% of my work.
    The Olympus 45mm F1.8 is the best portrait lens imo. A little soft wide open, but super creamy bokeh (the blurry bits in the background). It's really silent and quick to focus as well. It's my favorite lens for portraits, and I think most here on this forum will agree that it is a "must have" for portraits. It's definitely priced right for me, as I couldn't get the Olympus 12mm F2 (quite out of my price range).

    Currently for my experience having just the 20mm and the 45mm are enough for any situation (mostly because the 20mm is soooo versatile). If money was no object i'd also pick up the olympus 12mm f2. But for your purposes of portraiture i think the 20 and the 45 should suffice your needs.
     
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  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

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    The m.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 is the best for a portrait lens.
     
  5. WT21

    WT21 m43 Boom-a-rang Subscribing Member

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    What do you mean by "family portraits" -- do you mean formal, seated portraits for something like Christmas cards? Then I'd support the 45/1.8. If you mean shooting Christmas day during opening presents or at dinner, I'd vote for the 25/1.4.

    You wouldn't go wrong with the 20/1.7, but the 25/1.4 is better, though it's bigger and costs more, so there's a trade-off.

    I intend to shoot all of Christmas on the 25 this year.
     
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  6. jettilton

    jettilton Mu-43 Regular

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    Thanks for the quick replies...

    I plan on getting the 45mm, but it might be too narrow for 3 kids sitting next to each other, outdoor, since the 45mm becomes an equivalent of 90mm on m4/3? That's why I was wondering about the Panny 20mm or 25mm...

    I know that the 45mm is good for head/shoulders portraiture of one person, though.

    Jet
     
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  7. WT21

    WT21 m43 Boom-a-rang Subscribing Member

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    You are spot on. I would recommend the 20 or 25. Another option is the 14 + 45. 14 is a good width for 3 people and group shots.
     
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  8. robertro

    robertro Mu-43 Veteran

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    The 45 / 1.8, as others have mentioned, is the ideal portrait lens. Great for head-and-shoulder shots in a small room, torso and head shots in a medium sized room, or full-length shots in a larger room.

    If you're trying to shoot large groups, full body shots of groups, or you are shooting in confined spaces, the 45 may provide too narrow an angle of view, and you may prefer the 25 or 20mm lenses.

    Between those, the 25 apparently has faster AF, but the 20 is much smaller, so take your pick of AF speed vs. carrying size (and price)! I prefer the smaller size (and slightly wider viewing angle) of the 20. The E-PL3 with tilt screen and 20mm pancake lens is a killer stealth portrait combo!
     
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  9. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

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    When you said "family portraits" I was thinking group shots...although I don't have the 45/1.8 I use legacy lenses in the 40-50mm range and they would not be my first choice for groups. The 20/1.7 is what I bring to social events. You can even put the camera in fully-automatic mode and hand it off to people as a point-and-shoot.
     
  10. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

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    You say outdoors... outdoors you have room to move, and you should be able to use any long lens you want. The wider angle requirement is for indoors where back-up space is limited. Otherwise, a longer focal length will give you a more flattering compressed perspective on a person, with no exaggerated features.

    How small are your kids? A few small kids will fill the frame in landscape orientation the same way an adult will fill the frame in portrait orientation, but that all depends on how young you're talking about.
     
  11. jettilton

    jettilton Mu-43 Regular

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    The 45mm might work....I'm just on the fence about selling my Nikon dslr, which i know is capable of good portraiture....and going to a new system. Just want a more portable system, but one that is fully capable of doing family/kid portraits, such as several coming up this weekend. Just cannot afford to have 2 different systems.
     
  12. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

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    You have nothing to worry about. The PEN system is more than capable for portraitures, and with native lenses there aren't many DSLR systems better. Can I ask what your Nikon system is?

    Here's an article which may hit home to you, from Scott Bourne who calls the E-P3 and m.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 his favorite portrait camera. He's no longer using his Canon 1DIV, Nikon D3s, or Leica M9 for portraits anymore. In fact, he's selling his Leica kit in favor of his E-P3/45mm lens combo, including his Leica M9 and his 35 and 90mm lenses (all quotes from the article).

    My New Favorite Portrait Camera « Photofocus

    I am a professional photographer myself and shoot primarily product, portrait, and fashion. I've pretty well ditched my clunky DSLR kit as well, although I still use the same lenses (plus some! I have the same larger digital commercial lenses, plus a lot of new legacy primes for compact, efficient travel). The PEN does all the same things, but in a much smaller package with less overhead... and even expands my range of lenses (rangefinder, cine, and old Pen F lenses can be used, and all legacy lenses operate better because of the bright electronic viewfinder).

    You can check out the type of work I do with the PEN here: http://cyclopsphoto.ca/
    (Not all the photos on the site are from a PEN, but those that aren't are from an Olympus E-System DSLR. I don't have any work from other systems that is as good or worth showing. Recent photos are pretty much all PEN.)
     
  13. jettilton

    jettilton Mu-43 Regular

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    Ned, currently have the D5100 with only the 35mm f1.8, so I'm not heavily invested in Nikon..yet..that's why I'm leaning towards the EPL3.

    Had the chance to play with it and the 20mm and the 45mm...it was fast and discrete.
    For your portrait work are you using the VF-2 or 3?
     
  14. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

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    I use the VF-2. However, for most portrait work (particularly in the studio) I use the LCD on the back of the camera. This gives me much more freedom to control the camera from any angle and interact with my subjects better. People used to laugh at me with all the awkward positions I put myself into to get the right angle on my DSLR, lol (though the vari-angle VF-2 is still a lot better for that than the old DSLR eye-level finders). For most portrait work I'm dealing with controlled lighting and don't need the VF-2.

    Where I normally use the VF-2 is when shooting in ambient light, in particular with manual focus lenses. For those situations I adore the VF-2, but I also like the fact that it's a modular system and I can take it off when I pack the camera so it's not so bulky for travel.
     
  15. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

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    At outings with my own family, I almost exclusively use my Olympus E-PM1 with either the Panny 14mm f/2.5 (for group shots) or the Oly 45mm f/1.8 (for portraits). I have the Panny 20mm f/1.7 as well, but I almost never need anything beyond those first two. And I have the VF-2 for use outdoors or when I want/need to manual focus.
     
  16. jettilton

    jettilton Mu-43 Regular

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    Ned,
    Do you have the 45mm? You are right, If I'm shooting outdoors, I can back up to get all three subjects in the photo! Thought the Pana. 25mm would work until I saw the price...
    I don't do many portrait sessions other than now, that's why I was considering the 20mm, since much of my photography involves outdoor photography, buildings, old downtowns, etc. Maybe I can find a suitable adapted lens instead of the 20mm?

    Maybe it would be better to find an EPL2 2-lens kit, and use the money I save on the 45mm and the 20mm? What do you think?

    Jet
     
  17. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

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    I don't use the m.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 myself, but I use many older 50mm f/1.4 lenses instead (like the Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 and Konica Hexanon 50mm f/1.4). They are pretty much the same thing except without Autofocus, as the older f/1.4 lenses need to be stopped down to f/2 anyways to compare in quality with the newer 45mm/1.8 (though I still like the option of f/1.4 when I need it). These lenses all work great for portraits. The 25mm range is fine for full body shots, but is too short to be comfortable for headshots and bust shots. The 50mm range works good for group headshots, but for group body shots you should go a lot wider.

    For the 20mm range though, you won't find an inexpensive adapted lens unless it's in a rangefinder mount, or another short-register mirrorless mount. Going wider than 50mm in an SLR mount requires retrofocus design, making wide angle legacy lenses more expensive and not very fast. Since the nifty-fifty design can be used as a short telephoto on a m4/3 body, the advantage goes to legacy primes in that range. For wide angle lenses, you're better off to stick with native lenses like the m.Zuiko 12mm/2 and 17mm/2.8, Lumix 14mm/2.5 and 20mm/1.7, Leica 25mm/1.4, or even the Zuiko 25mm/2.8 (for Four-Thirds) for that range of primes. You probably won't get much wider or faster than a 24mm or 28mm f/2.8 anyways in an adapted lens anyways, unless you go with cine lenses which aren't made for the high resolution of our sensors.


    I think this is a very good idea. :)
     
  18. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran Charter Member

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    The 45mm f/1.8 is a great portrait lens and excellent value for money. For wide shots, you cannot beat the 12mm f/2 and that is the lens I use the most but probably not as suited to your needs.

    As an equivalent to the 35mm on the Nikon, probably the 20mm Panny is the one but on my E-P3 seems a slow and noisy focussing lens compared to other more recent lenses.

    If you don't yet have the body, buy the twin lens kit with the 14-42 and 40-150 zooms. You won't get better value.

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk
     
  19. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

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    Christmas comes once a year, so I would pick the most versatile lens for your general shooting needs. I vote for the 25.
     
  20. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

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    What about the kit lens? It's not that spendy gives you from WA (14) to medium tele (42) and can give you a good way to explore what you like focal length wise.

    If you are looking for a native portrait lens than the Oly 45/1.8 is your only real option. There are a TON of legacy lens options however. Pick any fast 50. I like the OM50/1.4 (lovely bokeh and color), Super Takumar 50/1.4 (lovey bokeh and sharp) and Konica 40/1.8 (soft wide open but sharpens up nicely stopped down)