Adapted lenses or native lenses?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by rosslaird, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. rosslaird

    rosslaird New to Mu-43

    Dec 13, 2013
    I apologize in advance if this message is a little too basic. I'm a beginner, and I'm trying to learn. (And this is my first posting to this forum.)

    My new Lumix GX1 came with a lens (H-FS014042) which seems to work very nicely for general use. But I also want to shoot some macro shots, and I also will eventually want a longer zoom. Through research online (including here), I discovered that legacy lenses will work on my camera, so I bought a used canon macro lens (FD mount), with an adapter, for about a hundred bucks. To my non-professional eye, the images produced by this lens are quite good. Now, in thinking about a zoom lens, I can see used Canon FD-mount zoom lenses for well under a hundred dollars online (about 35-75 dollars), whereas native zoom lenses (say, the H-FS100300) are as much as five hundred bucks. I expect that my zoomed images will mostly be of my kids' school concerts and the odd bit of wildlife on hiking trips. I won't be taking sunrise shots of the mist streaming off of Yosemite on early winter mornings -- at least, not very often.

    I understand that the legacy lenses have the disadvantage that most of the controls are manual, and that the coatings of the lenses are different than modern digital lenses, and that the refraction might be a bit different. But I also understand that a 200mm legacy lenses gives me a 400mm lens on my camera, and that sounds like a huge upgrade to me.

    So, my question is this: other than the absence of the digital tools for use with legacy lenses, is there any consistent downside I should be aware of?
    And, if there are not any consistent downsides, is there any compelling reason to buy the native lenses?

    Thanks in advance for your feedback.
  2. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013
    With macro lenses the advantage you get from the native lens is they are much smaller and give you autofocus when not doing 1:1 magnification. I've used several legacy lenses before getting the Olympus 60mm, and when you're just doing macro shots there's not much difference.

    For telephoto though, there is a big advantage to using native lenses. They are much smaller, and the Panasonic ones include image stabilization that lets you get a lot more hand held shots. Also, the image quality is going to be better than what you get with a legacy lens in the below $100 price range.

    I wouldn't look at the 100-300mm lens unless you are really into long telephoto though. It is pricey, and longer than most people's needs. For the GX1, your best buy would be the Panasonic 45-150. New they go for around $200 but you can find them for less used. You won't need to worry about a tripod, and it is well balanced on the GX1 body.

    Another lens you might want to consider is a legacy lens around 50mm. Most of them are in the f/1.8 range. This makes a great and cheap portrait lens, perhaps not quite as good as the Olympus 45mm and manual focus only, but unless you do a lot of portrait shots they are the best budget option. You can usually find them on ebay for around $30-$40, or twice that for the faster f/1.4 versions. Stay away from Nikon, those tend to be over priced because Nikon DSLR owners still use them. If you are lucky, you can find one in a local thrift store for under $10.

    Back to native lenses, look at a pancake lens like the Panasonic 14mm or 20mm. You won't find legacy lenses with focal lengths that short at a reasonable price, and no legacy lens will be that small. When you pair one of those with the GX1 you can fit the whole camera in a coat pocket. My favorite combo for walking around town is the GX1 + 20mm, I just keep it in my pocket or messenger bag. The 14mm is about half the price of the 20mm, but the 20mm is worth the price if you can afford it.

    A kit of the native 14-42, native 45-150, native pancake (14mm or 20mm), and then a legacy macro and legacy 50mm is a nice one that should meet most of your needs unless you want to specialize in something like landscape or wildlife photography.
  3. verbatimium

    verbatimium Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 17, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario
    Real Name:
    Legacy telephotos are usually huge and heavy compared to what you get with the Pana 100-300mm. They are also very hard to focus because the small body/large lens is really awkward, and telephotos have very shallow depth of field. That being said, personally I would love a lens such as a Pana 100-300mm right now for the size/auto focus, but I am finding that my legacy 200mm and 300mm are satisfying my needs until Pana or Oly releases something better. I posted some of the images that I took with my 200mm Hexanon ( Very sharp for my needs, especially for a 50$ lens.
  4. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Native lenses = nice size and quality. I don't think there are any bad native lenses from Panasonic or Olympus. 30 year old lenses can offer disappointments. Fungus, decentered, just not good quality. Ofcause a bit of research and some care during the procurement process can reduce most of such risks.

    And learning about legacy lenses is fun :biggrin:
  5. rosslaird

    rosslaird New to Mu-43

    Dec 13, 2013
    Thanks for the excellent feedback. I have actually been looking at the pancake lenses, and the 20mm is on my Christmas list. It's also very good to hear about the various other options to complete my set (and to know about the potential issues surrounding legacy zoom lenses). The possibilities of blending economical legacy lenses with native gear seems to be one of the greatest advantages of the micro four thirds format.

    Thanks again for the feedback.
  6. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Avoid old 80-200 or 70-210 zooms, especially third party off brands. Old optics and inferior coatings often means you get soft images that lack contrast. Even brand names don't perform much better. I have a Olympus Zuiko 75-150, which was expensive when I bought it in the 1970's, and the marketplace says it gets no more than $20 on ebay. Indeed, my Olympus 40-150 zoom, which cost me $109, is far better. Still, if you get an old zoom for $5, you might have fun with it. Most lenses are fun to use. Some of them just aren't any good. My Tou Five star 80-200 ($2) was fun until I saw the images at home. Then it became a contest with PP to try to get back color, contrast, and details.Well, what did I expect. It's a $2 lens.

    On the other hand, you should get decent good performance from prime lenses 50mm and up. I like using any 50mm, or 135mm lens. They are inexpensive too, around $25 or less. If you pay more for an old lens, research what the retail marketplace (check thinks they're worth,.

  7. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    Real Name:
    Autofocus is pretty important to me, but my budget has forced me to grow my lens collection slowly, so I've relied on legacy lenses at least as placeholders for longer focal lengths. A 50mm and a 135mm give lovely images and they are plentiful in the used market. See the forum here with sample images, or flickr. When you get to 200mm or longer on Micro Four Thirds, you probably need a tripod.

    A legacy prime is generally faster, sharper, and lighter than a legacy zoom. It's easy to crop digital, so I avoid legacy zoom lenses.

    A legacy lens can be a good choice for macro because you often want to focus manually anyway.

    For normal to wide views on MFT, you would need a more exotically wide legacy lens, 28mm or shorter. The Sigma MFT lenses are better, almost as cheap as legacy at 30mm, and much cheaper at 19mm. Panasonic and Olympus have very good to excellent native lenses at higher price points.
  8. mr_botak

    mr_botak Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 4, 2011
    Reading, UK
    Real Name:
    Hello. Welcome to the forum. I would stick to the native lenses for the zoom. Almost all of the legacy zooms I have used have been heavy, tricky to balance and focus, and produced fairly average images. For primes an interesting option might be a legacy 24 or 28mm f2.8, which will give a near 'standard' length when adapted. 45-55mm is another good area to look at.

    Be careful though, you might get hooked on legacy glass, which can lead to severe GAS.

  9. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    Another to consider is the Panasonic 45-175mm X lens. It's a little longer (physically and zoom-wise), but is internal zooming (does not extend):


    There have been lots of deals on them, so they can be had for a reasonably low price.
  10. inuini2005

    inuini2005 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 17, 2011
    From my experience, if you have the time to "enjoy" photography, it is indeed better to adapt legacy glasses. It's no longer the film era but the manual focus issue slows you down a bit. Yet if you always take daily life photos of friends, perhaps the native pancakes would be the better choice. I had quite a lot of experience where friends felt bothered to wait for the focusing time. Also during festive seasons, people tend not to know how to use manual focus and they won't care that much whether they got the focus bang on or not, resulting in lots of the time blurred photos.

    Yet if you decide to get legacy glasses, try to go for primes instead of zooms. Invest in some quality lenses, my faves are OM Zuikos, those with large aperture, F2 or above. They all are compact in size and of high quality. The only zoom from OM would be the 35-80 F2.8, others perhaps you could ignore and spend on native lenses.

    One thing though, if you go legacy primes, flexibility may sometimes be an issue. It all depends on what you usually shoot, your shooting target and how much time you or the target could afford in one shot.

    From my experience, native-wise the Pana 100-300 is a good lens in well lit situations, dark ones like concerts are not that good. Get the 20 pancake will be nice enough. Long term if you are into m43s, get the 7-14mm and the 75mm F1.8.

    OM legacy glasses, the F2s include 21mm, 35mm, 50mm (macro), 85mm, 90mm (macro) and 100mm. Except the 35 an 85, the others are all sky priced. Would be a nice start to go for the 35 as on a m43 it's a 70 already.

    Hook up the 50mm F2 as it is a very very sharp lens.

    I am new to photography as well and the above are just my feelings :)
    Cheers, happy photography!
  11. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    This is NOT CORRECT!!!

    At 200mm legacy lens is still a 200mm lens with adapted to a m4/3 camera.

    There is a lot of misinformation like this that stems from ignorance, laziness, and/or sloth on the part of the poster.

    What is true is that m4/3 is a smaller format than the 35mm Full Frame format for which most, but not all, "legacy" lenses were originally designed. Since the m4/3 format is smaller, by diagonal measure, than 35mmFf by a factor of 2, a 200mm lens used on a m4/3 format camera (legacy or native matters not) will give the same field of view (aka "FOV") as a 400mm lens used on a 35mm FF format camera. An adapted legacy 200mm lens used on a m4/3 camera will give exactly the same FOV as a native 200mm lens on the same m4/3 camera.
  12. dadadude

    dadadude Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 12, 2013
    San Carlos, CA
    Real Name:
    You can get legacy zooms for almost nothing so why not buy one? I bought one for 99 cents on ebay not long ago. Try a Vivitar series 1 zoom and see how you like it. I have some zooms that were basically free (included in bundles of lenses etc.). Some perform pretty darn well despite the consensus. I do like the Panasonic 45-150 though. Nice and small with very good IQ.
  13. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Didn't want to make my first reply too complicated, but yes, some of the first Vivitar Series 1 70-210 were good. This page has done its best to tell which ones to get, as some are mediocre. I originally bought mine in OM mount in the 1980's, one of the better versions. It may be my heaviest lens, very hard to hand hold and focus, and since it is a push/pull zoom, it loses focus very easily. Despite being OK optically, very unmanageable w/o tripod (no tripod mount either) and I rate it a $20 zoom at best.

    Anyway, it is hard to go wrong when a lens costs next to nothing.
  14. rosslaird

    rosslaird New to Mu-43

    Dec 13, 2013
    Thanks for all the excellent comments and feedback. It seems that this is going to be an interesting process indeed, and I'm looking forward to experimenting and discovering what's possible.
  15. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Ross, depending on how deep you want to go into this area, pay a visit to the fine forums over at Much experience and wisdom have been distilled in some of the posts on that forum.
  16. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    Forget legacy zooms, buy a 50mm f1.4 prime. The Panny 45-150mm zoom is a good lens for a great price. Trust me I never touch my legacy zooms, they are a waste of time.