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Advice on second lens: longer prime or zoom?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by yesindeed, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. yesindeed

    yesindeed New to Mu-43

    Feb 22, 2013
    Hi all,

    I recently purchased an OM-D body and a Panasonic 20mm 1.7.

    Great general purpose, walk-around setup, but I'd like to extend that very soon.

    This recent purchase did put a big dent in my wallet, so I'm trying to be a little budget conscious. I'm looking for an addition that will give me a (relatively) well-rounded BEGINNER's setup without breaking the bank.

    To add to that, I don't feel like I need (at least for now) anything shorter than 20mm. I'm specifically looking for longer lenses in this case.


    Would it be better to

    A) take baby steps with another prime lens, such as the Oly 45mm 1.8 then expand the collection slowly?


    B) go for an affordable, versatile zoom, like the Oly 40-150mm (or comparable Panasonic)?


    C) any other suggestions?

    I do like the fact that option A gives me a chance to slowly expand my collection with good, fast lenses... but B seems like a much more affordable way to cover all bases (or at least most - in terms of focal range) almost instantly, and it's difficult to just ignore.

    Sorry if this has been discussed ad-nauseum before. :redface:
  2. pictor

    pictor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 17, 2010
    It depends on your likes. I would take the 1.8/45mm, which would complement your 1.7/20mm perfectly, but that's just me. On the other hand, it makes sense to buy a tele-zoom, too. What dou you like to shoot? Knowing that would make giving helpful advice much easier.
  3. davidzvi

    davidzvi Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    The 45 1.8 is surely a better lens. But it comes down to if you are a prime os zoom shooter.

    The 5 options I would consider:
    Bang for the buck less expensive zooms
    Oly 14-42 II
    Oly 40-150
    Pan 45-200

    Great fast prime Oly 45mm 1.8, matches well with the 20mm

    Good all around zoom but a little more money Oly 14-150
  4. Redibo

    Redibo Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 29, 2011
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    As always, it depends on what you are shooting. I have a E-PL1 with the 20/1.7, 45/1.8, 45-200 and a few other adapted lenses as well as the kit lens. And basically the only two lenses I really use nowadays are the 20 and the 45. The latter is the most recent of the ones I bought, and I really couldn't live without it after yesterdays photo shoot, it's totally amazing for portraits. And has a quite decent reach as well, thanks to the crop factor. But then i mostly shoot in environments where I don't really need the extra zoom range. The zoom covers more ranges, but is on the other hand not as pleasant when it comes to bokeh, as well as the much worse low-light performance.

    My tip would therefore be the 45, but as mentioned, it depends on your personal preferences and what you are shooting.
  5. yesindeed

    yesindeed New to Mu-43

    Feb 22, 2013
    Thanks for the replies.

    To be honest I'm a little all over the place, so I don't have a predetermined style yet (I'm learning).

    Currently, it's been a combination of landscapes / cityscapes, but I also like to get up close for macro-like and portrait stuff. So, yes, subject and background separation has been an important thing for me.

    However, I'd like to get more into wildlife and night sky photography as well. I presume those benefit from longer lenses.
  6. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    landscape can benefit from a telephoto, and for wildlife the longer the better, but the more 'traditional' landscape/cityscape stuff is best served by wide to ultrawide, and portraiture by medium telephoto (so the 45 fits the bill). Night sky is usually also done with wide lenses, not telephoto.

    short version: given your stated interests, consider either the 45/1.8 or the 60/2.8 (portraits and a good Macro in one), and next on your list you may want an actual wide-angle (the 14/2.5 is tough to beat for price, it's sharp, it's moderately wide, focuses fast and it's really tiny).
  7. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    For wildlife you will need a longer zoom then the 40-150. You can get the P45-200 it also has a good price.
    If you want to get into macro I would recommend getting a macro legacy lens.
    You can get a nice one for much less then 100$ and you can also use it for short telephoto. Most people shoot macro with manual focus so a legacy lens can work for this.
    i have and Olympus 50mm F1.8 that when used for macro I attach it to Teleplus 2X MC7 Macro macro extender. It gives me good results as macro and fast short tele.

    Macro use

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ehudlavon/8359130114/" title="Macro by Ehud Lavon, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "1024" height="706" alt="Macro"></a>

    Short tele

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ehudlavon/8373023069/" title="St. Peter's - Michelangelo's Pietà by Ehud Lavon, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "1024" height="767" alt="St. Peter's - Michelangelo's Pietà"></a>
  8. pictor

    pictor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 17, 2010
    Maybe I am a little bit old school in that regard, but I think, that one learns better with primes.

    You will most probably end up with buying both lenses, but at the moment it seems that the tele zoom is more versatile for your needs. Although I would prefer the 1.8/45mm for portraits, you can also do portraits with a tele zoom (a longer focal length helps with better subject/background separation), but a 45mm prime does not offer more reach than 45mm. On the other hand, it also depends on what you mean with wildlife. It might be possible, that 150mm at the long end is too short anyway, in which case the 1.8/45mm may be the better solution.
  9. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    No one can decide this for you... its a personal preference.

    If you value image quality the most... I'd go with the 45mm f/1.8

    If you value flexibility the most... I'd go with the longer zoom.
  10. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Your two choices are different enough, that it really doesn't matter which one you pick. Just pick one, enjoy shooting with it, and you'd eventually get the other one :) 
  11. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Get the 75mm f/1.8. :) 

    It'll be kind of frustrating when you're using a fast, ultra-sharp prime at wider focal lengths then when you want to go just a little bit longer into the mid-telephoto you need to slap on a much slower, somewhat softer zoom. Add the 75mm/1.8 instead, and you'll be able to match your same capabilities whether you're at going long or wide, and you'll still be within the same area of reach. You may have to walk in a little closer with the 75mm, but even if you have to crop a bit in post the detail you'll capture will be plenty to handle it.
  12. yesindeed

    yesindeed New to Mu-43

    Feb 22, 2013
    I don't doubt the 75mm is an amazing lens, but at twice the price of the 45, and four times that of the 40-150, it's way too far out of my current budget.

    Thanks for the advice all. I'll have to mull all of this over.
  13. mrjr

    mrjr Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 25, 2012
    It might be worth waiting to see what the upcoming Sigma 60mm brings. Sigma's mFT primes thus far have been excellent values at wallet-friendly prices.

    But I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to recommend the 45mm f1.8. It was my first prime, and I still use it to death. It never disappoints. It would make a winning (and very tiny) kit with your existing 20 mm.

    If wildlife is a big priority, I'd suggest skipping the 40-150mm. Unless you can get really close (I usually can't) I'm pretty sure you'll be disappointed with the reach. Save for one of the x-300mm zooms, instead. The Panasonic 100-300 usually sells for just a smidge over $400 used.
  14. kadamnation

    kadamnation Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 13, 2013
    Boston, MA
    I'd just like to throw in a quick plug for the Panasonic 45-200—It's softer, sure, but it covers a fantastic range of focal lengths for city shooting. I was tempted by the 100-300, but having a lens that I can pull back to 45 and use for a portrait in a pinch has been great for me. I'm not a pro, and I'm sure I'd better appreciate the technical aspects of image quality if I was, but for my money the 45-200's one of the most fun and versatile lenses I own.
  15. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    If working to a budget I would go with the 40-150mm and then pick up an Olympus 50mm f1.8 from the film OM cameras and OM to m4/3 adaptor for portrait use - the prices are really low in the UK
  16. jar

    jar Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    The refurb Oly 14-150s for $329.95 from Cameta are hard to beat for versatility. I have the samyang 7.5 fisheye, PL25, 14-150 and 100-300. The 14-150 and PL25 get by far the most use. 14-150 for all around in good light, the PL25 for low light or when I have the time/opportunity to really set up a shot.
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