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A GOOD "normal" prime lens? Advice.

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by RobertS, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. RobertS

    RobertS Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 28, 2011
    Doesn't have to be the best one out there. Cost is a factor. I'm still looking for a first prime lens for my E-PL2. But now I have decided that something in the "normal" (take this term as you will, but I see it as around 50mm-- give or take) focal length would be best for me. Here are a few of my "wants" in such a lens:
    1) native m4/3rds for use on E-PL2
    2) faster aperture. 2.8 or wider. This is the MOST important point; as neither of my zooms are this fast, and I need the lower light benefit.
    3) lower cost. Still not sure that MFT is for me, but looking good.
    4) can be a "used" lens, to help lower cost
    5) decent reputation
    That about covers it. Being new to MFT (about 3 weeks into this), I figured you folks would be the best and quickest way to get serious user feedback on such a question. So thanks in advance.
  2. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 is cheap, available, and high quality. Not fast focusing and not good for video (too noisy in autofocus). The view is about 38mm to 40mm depending on who you believe, and that's not bad.

    If you can manage the bread, the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 is a WONDERFUL lens everyone should have. It has its warts with autofocus that isn't super fast either, and the aperture drive is noisy and on Olympus cameras can actually "chatter" as it ticks between settings with changing light. Still, it's a "go to" lens for me.

    Finally there is a lens that has been and may still be widely available and that is the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 which was selling for as low as $99! It's a bargain and the main problem with it is slow startup during power up because of it's very fast AF -- but there's a calibration procedure or something it does on startup that means you have a slightly longer delay to shooting when you power up. For many, simply not an issue.

    I have the Pan/Leica 25mm and also the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 which is a somewhat odd duck of a lens but I really like it more and more as I use it. But that's getting into wide territory even more than the others I mentioned. I used to own the 20mm f/1.7 Pany and it's a great lens, but I gave it to my daughter since I have the 25 1/4 and 17 1.8 and really don't need it.
  3. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    There are only 3, maybe 4 options:
    Panny 20mm 1.7
    Panny 25mm 1.4
    Sigma 19mm 2.8
    Sigma 30mm 2.8

    You could stretch to the Oly 17 2.8 and Oly 17 1.8.

    That's it, if you want native with AF.

    Set up a poll. The options are pretty well defined.

    No offense, but you've been spinning on this now for several posts. Just buy a used PL25. It's about $400. It will resell for very little loss. If you can't get along with the PL25 in terms of AF speed and quality, then m43 might not be for you! If you like the PL25, then you can decide in terms of: new body (for higher ISO and faster focus), different focal length (wider, longer, zoom), or more compact lens.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
  5. RobertS

    RobertS Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 28, 2011
    Might this be the time to consider the use of a legacy lens(with adapter)?
    Just not sure about the manual focusing with all that. Just how accurate is it with the E-PL2? I'm guessing sort of hit 'n miss.
    Maybe I'd be best off just sticking to native AF lenses for now?
  6. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    The PL25 is the best, basic lens m43 has to offer and it's $400 used.

    If you don't need fast AF, then get the P20. It's $300 used, and it's a great lens. And very pocketable.

    Here's something to consider -- anyone who has been in m43 for longer than say 2 years, probably added the P20 as their next lens past the kit, and it hooked them on m43. It's practically a rite of passage! The reasons to go PL25 is for faster AF, and 2/3 stop faster aperture.

    I'll correct what I said in my earlier post -- get the P20. It's less money, so less scary. It's IQ is top-notch, and it's super compact. Then you can decide later, if you want faster AF, you can upgrade.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    It will be hard for you to find such short focal length legacy lens.
    If you want a 50mm legacy lens then there are plenty good and cheap.
    For manual focusing it is best to use EVF but people have managed to use LCD with good results.
  8. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    I actually have the 20/1.7, 25/1.4 & 30/2.8. My comments:

    20/1.7 - Wide normal. Small, pancake lens with excellent optics. Slow noisy AF. If you're used to P&S cameras, the slow AF may not be an issue. If you've used DSLR's AF, it's not very good. The E-PL2 isn't an AF speed demon to begin with.

    25/1.4 - Normal. Great optics and AF. Big and heavy for a µ4/3 lens, and expensive.

    30/2.8 - Long normal. Optics are not quite as good as the above lenses, but still very good. AF is reasonably fast and silent. There is some chromatic aberration (color fringing) on the edges of the frame, but no worse than the kit lens. They can be had for $100 - $150.

    I use the 30/2.8, along with a 14/2.5, with my E-PL5 as a high quality, light weight, fits in a small waist pack walk around kit.
  9. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I gotta disagree here. PL25/1.4 tends to run only about $100 more than the P20 if you shop a little.

    It is not a pancake lens, and is therefore bigger than the P14/2.5, P17/2.8, P17/1.8 and P20/1.7 and P45/1.8. It's also faster aperture than any of them, and bigger glass will make a lens heavier. It's no bigger than a legacy 50, PL45/2.8 and not a lot bigger than the Siggy 19/2.8 or 30/2.8. It's smaller than the O75/1.8, O60/2.8, and the Voigtlanders (17, 25, both f/0.95)

    btw -- if you've never used the matching simulator, to see lens sizes on bodies, you can waste tons of time here: http://www.four-thirds.org/en/special/matching.html
  10. mh2000

    mh2000 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2010
    Sigma 30

    Bought Sigma 30 new for $150 and really love it! Not the best lens in the world or the smallest, but a solid bargain. I have it paired with the little Oly 17/2.8. I really want a 25mm pancake lens, but there isn't one yet. The P/L is a stellar lens, my friend has one, but it's too big and expensive for me to justify. My girlfriend has the 20, but for the same money I'd rather have my 17 and the 30. The 20 is very sharp.
  11. mh2000

    mh2000 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2010
  12. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    Just get a 25/1.4 already. Used market for it is healthy but even if sold as new it isn't bad for a f/1.4 lens.

    I remember when I was in the market buying a 50 mm equivalent, this lens was selling for $580. It's now $500. If I was still in the market shopping for a 50 mm equivalent it would have been a no brainer.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    I'm going to second buying a used 25/1.4. If you don't like it or m43 you will be able to resell it used and be out nothing more than the shipping. It is a wonderful lens in every way and will be much nicer than any of the Sigma 2.8s or the 20/1.7.

    This of course presumes you have the $400 or so to tie up in that lens while evaluating it and m43. If cash flow is an issue then probably one of the Sigma 2.8 (30 or 19) is your best bet.

    I'll also second the recommendations that if you are going to pony up for the 20/1.7 just pony up a bit more for the 25/1.4. I have both, the 25/1.4 is welded to the camera, the 20/1.7 never used.
  14. Bartle Frere

    Bartle Frere Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 8, 2012
    My first prime was the 20mm 1.7, bought second hand from this very site. I've since added a 45mm 1.8 and an Oly 40-150mm, but the 20mm is still the one most often attached to my camera (originally an EP1, now an EP3).

    I might upgrade to the 25/1.4 eventually, or if I catch a bargain, but I'm not really feeling the need at the moment. I'm certainly not contradicting people who say it's the better lens of the two, particularly as I haven't experienced it hands on myself so can't compare.

    But I totally recommend the 20mm as a cheap, versatile, portable, 'first prime'. True the autofocus is slow, but if like me your background is point and shoot followed by the Oly kit lens, the 20mm will make you very happy.
  15. tanngrisnir3

    tanngrisnir3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 18, 2011
    The 25mm 1.4 is, to my eyes, IT.

    I had the Panny 20mm for about a year, and grew tired of it's lousy low light ability to focus and the fringing, blue-to-purple.

    The 25mm is not only a we bit sharper, but it's color reproduction and micro-contrast just destroy the 20mm.

    I hate to repeat things that cannot be defined, but it's not only technically far better than the 20mm, and worth the money, but it's got this certain 'something'.

    I could never had got this color, depth or effect with the 20mm.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    My Mother's Garden #1 by tanngrisnir3, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 2
  16. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Personally, I feel that EVERY :43: owner should own the Panansonic 20/1.7. It's a fantastically sharp and very compact lens that complements the size of the E-PL2 very nicely. Yes, it's got some (minor IMHO) drawbacks as pointed out by others (slow to focus, etc.), but it's a terrific lens. Yes, the PL25/1.4 is faster and sharper, but it's also bigger, heavier and more expensive.

    I'd start with the P20 and see how you like that. The great thing about any of these lenses is that they really have held their value remarkably well, so if you pick one up at a decent price you can usually recoup most of your investment if you decide it's not the lens for you.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. mh2000

    mh2000 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2010
    Agree that the 25 has that special something over the 20. The 20 is rather harsh IMO. Sharp yes, but not altogether pleasing... I prefer the rendering from my 17/2.8. I will also say that for shallow DoF that I prefer my Oly 45 because of aperture and FL... but that's another issue. The OP says he'd be ok with f2.8 and that can be. I tend to go to a tripod over aperture when I'm in low light situations... but that's just me. The ads on the bottom of my page are listing the Sigma 19+30 for $200... that's a killer deal and if I didn't already have the 17, would probably jump on that... would be very useful pair for m43... that said, I like the little pancakes and have both the 14 and 17.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    There are endless threads comparing the 20 and 25 here and elsewhere, but honestly you can't go wrong getting either one of them to start (I've used both). See how you like it for a while, and then sell it for the other one if you really want. Used prices for both are pretty stable. Just get one and start shooting already! :smile:
  19. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    Good word, "harsh". That subtle difference is what made me give my 20mm to my daughter and favor the 17mm f/1.8 Olympus for the same reason. I like the rendering better even if the 20mm was sharper (which it was).
  20. RobertS

    RobertS Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 28, 2011
    I appreciate the several responses thus far. It's never any secret that you get what you pay for. The lenses that keep being advised are, unfortunately, the more expensive ones. I'm not sure that I want to spend in the $400/$500 amounts for a lens of which I'm not real sure that I'll get $400/$500 of use from it. Canon has a nice 50 1.8 lens selling NEW for under $100. Too bad there isn't anything comparable in the MFT catalogue (yet, anyway).
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