Any help with primes would be appreciated.

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Johbremat, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. Johbremat

    Johbremat Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 5, 2013
    Newcomer to anything beyond compacts, picked up an OM-D E-M1 with the 12-40mm PRO. While I wait on the telephoto (end of 2014 *sigh*) considering what else I can pull into the kit...

    Been reading a little about primes and they look nifty. Ultimately, digging that common perception is you're copping a faster and sharper lens as you don't need to cater for multiple focal lengths.

    Figure purposes include landscape, street and something close to macro if possible (uncertain if I'll step outside of Olympus' PRO range: unsure if I'll fetch the 60mm macro).

    • Who's familiar with both the Sigma DN Arts and the Voigtlander Noktons? Is there a use in picking up a trio in either?
    • Does anyone carry around a standard zoom and prime when they head out and about?
    • How flexible is any single given prime lens?
  2. sammykhalifa

    sammykhalifa Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 22, 2012
    Pittsburgh PA
    That 12-40 is supposed to be an incredible lens. However, since I got my Panasonic 20mm and Olympus 45, I have not used my kit lens (which admittedly is not as good as yours). Those two lenses seem to work for about 90% of the things I'd want to do.
  3. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Since you're looking to complement the 12-40 PRO, I would start with the Olympus 75mm f/1.8:

    Simply a brilliant telephoto lens. Unimpeachable.

    After that, I'd get the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 to give you two stops more light than your zoom and cover a variety of scenarios:

    If you want a telephoto macro, the Olympus 60mm is truly excellent:

    If you want to try your hand at manual focus and very high speed, the Voigtlander Noktons are all very well regarded lenses. I personally think the 17.5mm is the best complement to your zoom:

    The two lenses Neil mentioned are also both top notch primes!
    • Like Like x 7
  4. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    What Amin said.... Start with the 75mm and be prepared to lift your jaw off the floor.

  5. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    If you want a great walk-around, street lens the 25mm f1.4 is absolutely outstanding. For slightly longer shots the Olympus 45mm f1.8 is a classic.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    I second... or third... what Amin said.

    My previous setup was an E-M5, 12-35 and 35-100 as my everyday kit. Since I got the 75/1.8 after my E-M1 + 12-40, my current setup is E-M1 + 12-40 + 75 as my everyday kit. The 25/1.4 replaces the 75/1.8 when I take my camera out at night.

    The 12-40 has great close focusing ability, so it can serve as your quasi-macro lens, unless you are into real macro stuff...
    • Like Like x 1
  7. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Amin gave great advice, but I would like to add that I find shooting with primes to be helpful to my photography. I find that shooting with a fixed field of view has helped with both composition, and how I look at the world.

    The Voigtlander Noktons are great lenses. They are all manual focus, so if you are in a situation where you don't want to miss the shot, take your zoom, but the results you will get from them are pretty spectacular.

    As far as flexibility, that depends on your shooting style. I have shot fixed lens cameras with a 35mm lens (17.5mm on m43) and found that to be good for 95% of my shots. Many prefer a 50mm field of view as their walk around lens (25mm in m43), and if you mainly shoot portraits you might prefer a short tele.

    Try the Pana 20 or 25, the Oly 17 (the fast one, not the pancake), or the Voigtlander 17.5 or 25. Even if you decide you aren't a prime shooter, you will be happy with one of those for low light, or indoor shots (a caveat: I find 50mm equivalent can be a bit tight indoors, but others seem to either prefer it or work around it). For street, any of those focal lengths would be great, for landscape, the wider ones would be preferable.

    I have heard the Sigmas are pretty good, but they aren't too fast. I don't know if that would be an improvement over your zoom.

    Hope that helps
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    I think you need to evaluate what you will be using them for. Frankly, for most uses including what you mentioned , that kit should be plenty. Do you also want to do nice portraits with shallow depth of field, or photos of concert events in dark venues? then you need some fast primes. the faster the better. Another reason is for compactness. Many of the m43 primes are really tiny and much smaller than the 12-40 lens.
    • Like Like x 2
  9. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 5, 2013
    I agree with Steven. Even though everyone has recommended very nice lenses, it seems to me that you would be just buying them to spend money. By all accounts the 12-40 is a great lens. I recommend using it for a while and seeing where you find it limits you. You may find you wish you had something longer, which basically points to the 75 as probably your best option. Or maybe you find that you wish you had something much longer, so perhaps you'd like the O75-300 or P100-300. Or maybe you want something wider, which you put you into the the P7-14 or O9-18 or one of the fisheye lenses. Or maybe you'd like something faster for low light, so you might like the P25. But without a specific reason to buy a lens, you may find it just sitting around without getting much use. I have limited photography funds so I always have a clear reason in mind whenever I buy any lens. Perhaps the money is not a concern for you, so in that case just buy all the nice lenses mentioned. (I'd get the 75 first if I had the money for it, given that you already have the 12-40, but that is just me.)
  10. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Primes - generally faster, yes. Sharper, depends. Your O12-40 is basically on par with the O12, P14, O17, and the Sigmas. A look at the DxO tests pretty much confirms it.

    I carry a normal zoom, a telephoto zoom, and two primes - PL25 and O45. The zooms are convenient, but the PL25 and O45 really shine for low light and portrait work. I use the PL25 a lot, in fact any 35-50 mm equivalent prime works quite well as a main lens for social events, street shooting, etc, but if you go travelling who knows what you'll come across - I'd actually rather use a standard zoom then.

    Do you really need true macro? The O12-40 already has a very high magnification ratio. Also, do you really need a honking 40-150 f/2.8, just because it's an Olympus Pro?

    Not sure why you'd limit yourself to the Olympus Pro lenses actually - there are plenty of excellent lenses that are equal or better IQ-wise that are either not in that line or are from Panasonic.

    As you are just coming from compacts, I would actually suggest you try the O12-40 for a while, then go about adding to your kit after you have a feel for where you're lacking.
  11. Johbremat

    Johbremat Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 5, 2013
    Diggidy. Cheers y'all.

    Everyone's given me something to think about, and most have actually touched on some of my own thoughts which reassures I've stepped into the right community.

    Without having spent time looking closer at your suggestions, at the moment I'm considering the likes of:

    Torn between:

    And waiting on the Oly's telephoto and super-telephoto.

    For all that mentioned, yes, need to assess what and how as far as subject matter is concerned. And to allay any fears of having been suckered by the marketing, I'm looking at the Oly's not because of the label, but the professed speed; extension of existing range; feel of the 12-40mm in hand and operation (didn't like the feel of the 14-42mm and 14-50mm, for example) and on the telephoto, at least, the f/2.8 across the range.

    I've no doubt Panasonic are building some great lenses that would suit my needs at the longer range (100-300mm looks a bit of alright) but figure I'd be spending more on them as they have OIS which'll be useless to me.

    Keep it coming! No expectations, but would love to see the same subject matter shot with primes using different aperture settings.
  12. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Have you had a look through the native lens image galleries?
  13. minibokeh

    minibokeh Guest

    I wouldn't spend money on Voigtlaender - by some standards they aren't really all that great, and the 3 primes together are ~$3000.
    If you crave that kind of experience, my recommendation would be to try a Metabones Speedbooster with Nikon F mount lenses, e.g. Zeiss or other primes (lots of choices, including older types).

    Heck, you could even buy the 55mm 1.4 Otus for $4000 plus the adapter, and arguably would have a monster lens with similar usability compared to Voigtlander but OUTSTANDING IQ.
    I am seriously considering going down that route (... since the Otus can serve double duty on my D800e).

    My current experience is with the Zeiss 100mm 2.0 Macro Planar -- which becomes a 1.x on the Speedbooster. FABULOUS!
  14. Joelmusicman

    Joelmusicman Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 1, 2013
    Also don't forget about the Only 4/3 line. I've got a 50-200 waiting for my E-M1 to arrive tomorrow. There's also the 35-100 f2 which is a beast of a lens (in every sense of the word: size, price, superb IQ).
  15. Johbremat

    Johbremat Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 5, 2013
    Appreciate the thought, but unless it gets dire and I fold for the lack of anything appropriate, steering clear. Have they not already quit manufacture and it's only secondhand that's available, or NOS at inflated prices?

    Ultimately, looking at native MFT. Saves the use of an adapter and allows me to take advantage of the smaller gear.

    That said, won't let it be at the impediment of capturing pictures.
  16. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Just heads up, I have seen some tests where the Samyang/Rokinon/Bower (same lens, different labels) 7.5 mm fisheye is as good or better than the 8mm Lumix. It's manual focus only, but it is super sharp and renders well (and at less than $300, it's inexpensive enough to buy even for occasional use). If you do a search you'll find some LR profiles created by a generous forum member that can de-fish the lens. I'll try and link the test in an edit.

    Here is the link to the comparison:

    If you are just stepping up from compacts I would also recommend Lightroom or Aperture and the Nik suite of tools for processing, and "The Photographers Eye" by Michael Freeman. Enjoy your new hobby :drinks:
  17. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    If you are moving up from compacts, I wouldn't recommend the Noktons unless you really dig the MF experience. They are expensive, heavy, and, well, MF only, which could be frustrating at times.

    Like some others have suggested, play with your 12-40 first, and if you find it lacking in anyway, find the lens that fills your needs. Don't just buy lenses for the sake of acquiring gears...
  18. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    You're considering lenses that are worlds apart in terms of field of view, style, and price. A 12-40/2.8 will cover a lot of bases very well indeed. If you want to get a taste for manual focus, see if it clicks for you, grab a cheap 50/1.4 (Canon FD, Pentax Super Tak, whatever) and an equally cheap adapter off eBay and try that before you buy a Noct 42.5/0.95. It's certainly not going to be the same, but the MF, manual aperture experience will be broadly similar.

    As for Fisheye - and I say this as an owner of a Canon AF fisheye - I'd get the Samyang manual focus over the 8mm Panasonic fisheye for the price, because FE lenses are stupid easy to focus manually. The 7-14 is a great lens - albeit one with weird flare issues on current Gen Olympus sensors (and possibly also on the current gen Panasonic sensors, should be better though), but pricey. I loved it on my E-M5, and would heartily recommend it if an ultrawide rectilinear lens is what you're after. But ultrawides are a bit speciality/require a bit of practice to master, I find.
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