A different kind of lens trinity?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by 6BQ5, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. 6BQ5

    6BQ5 Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2015
    I've been gently looking into what constitutes a trinity of lenses in the u4/3 ecosystem and I'm not finding what I am looking for. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough. Most of the suggestions I see are to cover use cases like wide-normal-tele. A sample trinity of primes could be something like 12/14 for the wide, 20/25 for the normal, and 30/45 for the tele. It's very logical and complete. Something similar can be put together for zooms.

    The K-mount ecosystem has a widely accepted trinity consisting of the FA Limited lenses. Their focal lengths are 31mm, 43mm, and 77mm. All of these lengths are unconventional: wide but not too wide, normal but kind of wide-normal, and tele but not as tele as could be. Rather than defining this trinity by use case Pentaxians sometimes describe it by character. One of the most colorful and memorable I have read on the forums is the princess, the bitch, and the queen for the 31mm, 43mm, and 77mm. I couldn't agree more!

    The princess is produces sweet images with the greatest ease of the three. Depth of field is plentiful. Color is vivid and saturated. The princess plays games with you and makes you chase your images. Go here, go there! Too late! Keep chasing! You'll end up with a SD card full of joy at the end. The images are truly frozen frames of real life. You almost expect whatever you are looking at to suddenly become animated. It's typical Pentax rendering that looks like it was drawn by hand to stand out.

    The bitch is temperamental. Easy to flare and plenty of CA when provoked. Fails all the paper-target based lens online tests. The lens argues with you telling you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. You resist at first and your images look awful. Finally, you submit and you are wonderfully rewarded with edgy rendering that makes you think twice about what you see. She's a bitch because she knows she can be. Pixel peep if you need to you. It'll just prove her right.

    The queen reigns supreme. Wickedly sharp when used nearly wide open, the lens can extract all sorts of detail, color, and tone you would never see with your own eyes. The queen represents the highest standard of dignity, honor, and integrity. She doesn't make a fuss and she gets it right the first time. After all, there's no time to waste in state matters. Just as Queen Elizabeth is quintessentially British, the 77mm is the penultimate Pentax lens.

    With all this in mind, what would the equivalent be in the u4/3 system? The only prime I have shot with is the Panasonic 20mm. My experience is very limited but it feels like a princess lens.

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  2. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Real Name:
    Andrew Lossing
    Wait, the 77mm is the second-to-last Pentax lens?

    Nice analogies with a set of lenses I'm totally unfamiliar with. I gather you're looking for something... Similar? Like focal lengths, or character? Kinda confused.

    I think you will find many people here might liken the 20mm to the "B" lens rather than the princess... At least when low-light focusing is concerned! I'd rather call my Olympus 25mm a princess lens, it's effortless and fun and produces fantastic images all the time.
  3. shermanshen

    shermanshen Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 28, 2014
    Maybe the 15 f1.7, the 20 f2, and the 75 f1.8? The 15 seems to be a darling to just about everyone who uses it. 30mm is a bit of an awkward focal length for many. The 20 as stated above can be a bit finicky, and 40mm is also an unconventional focal length. Finally, the 75 is widely regarded as one of the very best lenses available. Again, 150mm is a bit unconventional; however, the results it produces is just stupendous. Does that fit the bill?
    • Like Like x 1
  4. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    Real Name:
    call me Arg
    "Pentaxians" --- lawdy, 'nuff said!

    I don't mind a lens with character -- but those 3 are psychological disorders, surely.
    • Funny Funny x 3
    • Like Like x 1
  5. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I think you'd like the Sigma Trio: 19, 30, and 60mm
  6. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Of all 7 Pentax users... Since you are sooo enamored with Pentax, maybe you should just stick to their gear since they feed your need for anthropomorphizing gear.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  7. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Seems a bit overly adversarial...no one is turning this into a competition.
    • Agree Agree x 5
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  8. 6BQ5

    6BQ5 Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2015
    Thanks for the replies, everyone! I always like to hear and read different opinions because everyone has unique gear, experiences, and opinions. The u4/3 ecosystem is still very new to me so everything glitters and is shiny. I wish I had unlimited time and funds so I can buy everything, try it for a month, and return/sell-off what doesn't suit me. Unfortunately, reality is very different. :(

    @agentlossing@agentlossing : The princess lens to me is the FA 31mm and the Panasonic 20mm feels similar. My images are vivid, contrasty, and easy. It feels like a well designed lens. It doesn't flare or misbehave even when I provoke it by pointing it into the sun. However, I have only shot in daylight and indoors vs. dark settings. Doesn't low light performance almost depend more on the AF assist light at some point? I've achieved focus in near pitch black settings with the AF light and then flooded the area with a flash.

    What I am looking for in the lenses is a different rendering and color scheme for the particular focal length. I don't think a set of primes should simply be zoomed/cropped versions of each other.

    @shermanshen@shermanshen : Thanks for bringing up 30mm! That's 60mm in FF speak. The 40mm and 43mm K-mount lenses are about the same FF equivalent when used on APS. I've gotten used to it so maybe it's something for me to consider! 75mm is probably starting to get too telephoto. 150mm equivalent? Yikes! :)

    @T N Args@T N Args : Yes, we Pentaxians are a goofy bunch. There's never enough lenses, Pentax is doomed, and we're just now getting a FF that someone is bound to complain about! It just makes life that much more interesting. ;)

    @tkbslc@tkbslc : The Sigmas - yes! I have stumbled across them in my web searches. Sigma chose some odd focal lengths for sure! Makes me wonder why ... hmm! Pentax chose their numbers for good luck and just to be different for the sake of being different. 77 is a good luck number. 43 is the diagonal length of a FF sensor. 31 is ... 31.

    @b_rubenstein@b_rubenstein : Yes, I absolutely will stick with my Pentax gear. It will go in the bag I sling over my right shoulder. My u4/3 gear will go in the bag I sling over my left shoulder. :thumbup:
  9. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Real Name:
    I'm confused as to what the OP is asking for as well.

  10. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    They were chosen because they equal 28/45/90mm equivalent on Sony APS-C and that's what they were really designed around. That is a classic progression of wide angle, normal and short telephoto. They are 38/60/120mm equivalent on m4/3 due to the different crop factor. If you call 38 close enough to 35mm, then you get a moderate wide, a long normal and a medium telephoto. Still within the realms of a classic progression.

    Your Pentax lens trio seems like a very odd focal length progression for a typical kit. Given that Pentax has 1.5x crop sensors, they work out 47/65/115mm. That means you have a normal prime, a long normal prime, and a short telephoto. No wide angle and two lenses (31/43) that are practically the same in terms of photo opportunities.
  11. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Real Name:
    I have a love hate relationship with the pana 20mm. Coma in the corners, plenty of purple fringing on Olympus bodies, and slow to focus. But man it can take some good images.

    I've been playing with the PL 15mm, and so far it has a very similar character, but wider and faster to focus.
  12. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    I'll limit this to Oly and Panny options. The Panny 20/1.7 and 25/1.4 stand out as rendering a bit differently than most other m4/3s lenses (micro-contrast?). I think the P15/1.7 is in the ballpark with them, though I haven't shot it. The Oly 45 and 60 are known for more clinical sharpness. The Oly 75/1.8 is the creamy bokeh lens of choice. O25/1.8, 17/1.8 and 12/2 are just damn good lenses to me, with no particular character to speak of.

    So, pick one from the 15, 20, 25/1.4 along with one from 12, 17, 25/1.8 or one from the 45, 60 and the 75/1.8.

    But the real beauty of m4/3s is that you have way more excellent options than a simple trinity. Throw in Sigma, and Voigtlander, and vintage MF options on top of the system lenses and it gets a bit crazy.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. zensu

    zensu An Old Fool

    Aug 8, 2012
    Alabama, USA
    Real Name:
    My anthropomorphizing goes in a different direction!
    The Prince would be my P/L 15mm f1.7, no matter where I focus the image is stunning, and the bokeh (who ever heard of bokeh on a wide lens!)
    The B*stard would be my P/L 25mm f1.4, I was always having to move either forward (tighter) or backward (wider). I had to sell him.
    The King would be my P/L 42.5mm f1.2. No matter what I focus on the composition is close to perfect and bokeh is outta sight!
    Hope you don't mind my twist on the fairy names (pun intended). ;)
    • Like Like x 1
  14. cptobvious

    cptobvious Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 8, 2013
    I think m4/3 focal lengths already feel different due to the 4:3 aspect ratio. The tele focal lengths feel more natural for framing to me, especially for portraits, but I think 3:2 does a better job capturing drama for landscapes. I'm still trying to get used to the 25mm FL - somehow it feels less versatile than 50mm in 3:2 format.

    My favorite lenses for m4/3 are the 17/1.8 and 45/1.8, and I'm still debating on whether to keep the 25/1.8. For landscape shooting I use my Coolpix A.
  15. Jermonic

    Jermonic Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 14, 2012
    I'm looking into selling my O17/1.8 and my O45/1.8, and then buy the O25/1.8 instead.

    That would leave my "trinity" at :

  16. nuclearboy

    nuclearboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 28, 2011
    Ellicott City, MD
    Real Name:
    The 20 is like a mule. instead of a princess A hard worker and able to carry a heavy load but stubborn when it comes to focusing and you need the small focus box, like a carrot, to lead it along.
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  17. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    All the u43 primes are beautiful. Each one a prince or princess in its own right.

    The one ring to rule them all must be the 75 though (the Noc is of course disqualified for being too big and too clever by half).
  18. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    Real Name:
    call me Arg
    Going by his username, I guess he's looking for that 'tube audio' sound in a camera lens. :boohoo:
    • Like Like x 1
  19. 6BQ5

    6BQ5 Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2015
    @tyrphoto@tyrphoto : Every lens has special and unique rendering characteristics. Some offer more contrast than others. Some will be warmer. Some will be cooler. Or at least they should be. That's the greatest joy of prime lenses. It's a chance for a lens designer to develop a special optical recipe that stands out among other lenses. A series of prime lenses with increasing focal lengths should not simply be projecting zoomed in / cropped versions of the shortest focal length in the set. If they are then you might as well trade them in for a high quality zoom and save on the clutter. This is one of the joys of the K-mount and M42 world. I can gather up 10 different 50mm lenses and chances are pretty good that each will be noticeably different - and that's just one focal length. Photographers pick the one that suits their style. I am imaging that something similar may exist in the u4/3 ecosystem and I am getting good hints of it.

    @tkbslc@tkbslc : The 1.5x crop factor on the current APS Pentax bodies does turn the FA Limiteds into an odd set of lenses. This is why Pentaxians have been screaming for a FF body and why many bought a Sony A7 body when it came out. Otherwise, I think Pentaxians have learned to adjust for the crop factor. There are plenty enough differences between the 31mm and 43mm lenses to enable different shooting scenarios but I'd be derailing my own thread if I get too deep into it. It's probably better suited for a discussion over pizza and drinks. :)

    @zensu@zensu : I love your twist! Thank you! :2thumbs:

    @cptobvious@cptobvious : Totally right - working in 4:3 aspect ratio is very different than 3:2. My Q7's sensor is 4:3 but the LCD screen is 3:2 so I shoot in 3:2. It brings my effective resolution down to 10 MP. :( The viewfinder in the M10 is natively 4:3 it seems ... and it offers what appears to be a much wider field of view than what I am used to. The Panasonic 20mm lens I am using now feels a lot wider than any 40mm I used on film. I'm still not sure what to make of it.

    @T N Args@T N Args : Yikes! :hmmm: I understand that what I am asking about is difficult to describe. Maybe u4/3 is too new and is focused on different metrics for performance during the design phase. Pentax published a paper in the late 90s describing how the FA Limited lenses were designed. They were specifically designed with certain elements of distortion to be left uncorrected. This required the designer to put aside any requirements for performing well on test charts. Instead, the lens was designed to mimic what the human eyes and how the brain interprets that image. It make sense in many ways since human vision is not linear. Our interpretation of general sharpness is different according to the amount of light, how that light is projected, the colors it is being projected on, and how much contrast we detect. Designing a lens that mimics this requires a completely different approach than designing a lens that will be validated with numbers, charts, and microscopes. Many people have a hard time moving from one lens to another because they perform so differently. It's quite common to hear of people who get a FA 43mm only to be frustrated with it so they sell it off to someone who turns it around and captures stunning images with it.

    Again, I understand I am coming to u4/3 from a different world that has a completely different heritage and background. This is why I am asking what I ask. I'm trying to be sincere in my approach here. :th_salute:
  20. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    Real Name:
    call me Arg
    No, you are not coming from a different world and there is no different heritage and background. Sorry to deflate.

    If Pentax really wrote a paper in the 90s that said their FA lenses were designed 'to mimic the human eye and how the brain deciphers the image', then they were possibly pulling their own leg as well as the reader's .

    It requires a fantasy approach, I'm afraid. All the variables in the above quote are not variables of the captured image; they are variables of the viewed image and vary with the viewing conditions. What printing contrast, what paper surfacing, what viewing light intensity and colouration? It is literally impossible to design for how the eye perceives an image at the lens design stage, because the variables in the quote above are all at the print production and viewing stage, so any attempt at the lens stage will almost never work except under one specific print and view setup. What does the paper say on this point? It cannot skip this and have any authenticity. And screen-based viewing came later anyway and changes the game again.

    The complexity of how the eye sees and the mind perceives is way beyond the purview of lens design. It is the wrong tool for the job that you are describing. No, I suspect the FA lenses, if they are truly non-linear, would today be made by Lensbaby and marketed with names like Velvet 56. Which indeed is available in m43 mount. "I don't know what it is about this lens that makes me so emotional, but when I opened this photo up on my desktop it made me cry...have never experienced that before, it's like this lens sees like I do...It's like coming home..." - Kathleen Clemons, nature photographer & educator"