Asking for advice on a portrait lens (lenses possibly) for family.

Sigma 16mm 1.4 (& 30/56mm 1.4) vs Leica 15mm 1.7 (& 42.5mm 1.7) vs Olympus 17mm 1.8 (& 45mm 1.8)

  • Go stupid: Olympus 14-35mm f 2 (Used at 600 £)

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L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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Well, life always finds a way to make itself complicated and interesting. A few days ago I found out I'm going to be a dad by the end of the year and I am in the middle of downsizing my camera kit (I have moved to Oly 12-100mm Pro and on pre-order the Oly 100-400mm) from the Oly 12-40mm Pro and Panny Leica 50-200mm (and the Oly 60mm Macro). So now I am with (currently 2) 3 lenses and the fastest is the Panny 20mm f 1.7 Mark II.

What I am looking for is a wide-angle fast prime lens for indoor portraits and family snaps (yes, a baby is slow but only for about 12 months :p ) and a short(-ish) telephoto fast prime for family portraits and snaps outdoors.

Currently, the Panny 20mm f 1.7 Mark II would be fine but only while the baby would be learning to crawls and stand, and 20mm might not be wide enough for some situations. Ideally, I would like Sigma 16mm f 1.4 DN (I'm not going to mention the Oly Pro :p ) for the extra wideness and would increase the shutter speed (even by a little) with that f 1.4 and get me some extra bokelishesness for environmental portraits. At the price of 330 £ used I am having a bit of brain grind to convince myself to get it because of the non-OEM (AF-C, Face Detection, and Eye Tracking reliability is unknown to me) and the CA correction on Oly cameras.
The 2nd option is the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f 1.7 ASPH, which I can get for about 80 £ (plus vouchers and a trade-in of the Panny 20mm f 1.7 II at CEX) BUT AF reliability pulls me back a bit from my own experience with Panny Leica 50-200mm (though I would expect it to be a lesser, significants of a, problem given the wide-angle nature of the lens.
The 3rd lens I would consider is the Olympus 17mm f 1.8 as it's below the price of Sigma 16mm f 1.4 and cheaper than even Panasonic Leica 15mm f 1.7 ... but CEX doesn't have it in stock so I can't use the voucher codes so I would pay more even if I trade in the Panny 20mm f 1.7

On the telephoto side, it would depend on the wide-angle, to be honest ... because I want to maintain the output consistency and the options would be 1st Sigma 56mm f 1.4 (but it's not easy to find it in stock used), 2nd Olympus 45mm f 1.8 (very cheap and decent IQ and in stock at CEX for 135 £) or Panasonic 42.5mm f 1.7 (230 £ used).

(I have looked at the Showcase for Panasonic Leica 15mm f 1.7 and someone posted a lot of candid and portrait shots of their kids and it really pulled me into that FL and the rendition seems to be quite good ... anecdotally the manual focus clutch on Olympus 17mm f 1.8 would make it awesome and easy to use on-street shooting ... double-anecdotally the Sigma 16mm f 1.4 has weather resistance to add security around babies and English rain with an extra topping of background blur).
PS. I SWEAR THIS IS NOT GAS:

Thank you walk for the wonderful messages, they are very sweet and helpful. I do have an Oly FL-LM3 I can use though not very frequently, especially for candid shots, but can do in the winter. Which was my main worry because in the living room the 2 main smart lights give me a maximum of ISO 6.400 at 1/60th with (now gone) Oly 12-40mm Pro f 2.8 in the winter months, with the English clouds eating light likes is a tea biscuit.
I will try to experiment with my Oly 12-100mm f 4 Pro at 15mm and 17mm and see how the results look... Dog and girlfriend willing to stand still that is. It's not the most pressing problem at the moment...at least not for another few months.
The Oly combo is very tempting because they fit quite well and comfortably on Little Oly (E-M5 II) as it will stay permanently at home within an arms reach... And probably with the Oly FL-LM3 mounted just in case.
 
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PakkyT

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I picked the Oly 17/45 f1.8 combo mostly because that is what I am personally familiar with. However they do represent the two "classic" 35mm focal lengths of 90mm for portraits and 35mm for "event shooting" (meaning can do head and shoulder shots of 1-3 people or full length shots of people while not having to step that far away from them. And they are both very small and light lenses.

Regardless of what you get, a basic bounce/swivel flash will often do more for your indoor baby and toddler shots and even your 12-100 PRO will do a fine job.

And by the way, everyone makes a huge deal about kids being like this all the time...

200.gif
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and if you don't have f0.00001 lenses you won't be able to photography them. Well it is mostly nonsense and not having the fastest aperture lenses is not going to ruin all your shots. I have four kids and started shooting them from a 35mm point & shoot film camera, through a series of P&S Oly digital cameras, then eventually Oly dSLRs and m43 models. I have many many great photos of them doing all kinds of things and I wasn't always using the super duper fastest ultra $$$ lens.
 

ac12

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The moderate wide works indoors cuz things tend to be more cramped, so the 17 or the wider 15.
And the 17 is usable as a GP lens. There is a reason why some of the old 35mm p&s had 35mm lenses.

But, the 17 is NOT generally a portrait lens.
I would use it as a portrait lens, only for a family (several people) inside the house, where you can't back up. IOW your back is literally against the wall.
The problems is, you need to watch out for wide angle perspective distortion, and how it could make people look bad.
Set your 12-100 to 17 (or 15) then take pictures of your family, as if you were inside, IOW close. Then inspect the images. Look at their face, then their feet.

As @PakkyT said, learn to use bounce flash, rather than struggling to use available light.
Available light is fine, as long as there is enough light.

Then get the O 45/1.8 to match.
 
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First, congratulations, Ovidiu, on your impending Dad-hood. It's a rewarding adventure.

A fast lens is nice but that's also why they make flashes. Even the FL-LM3 bounced goes a long way to good, indoor kid photos. Having said that, don't discount the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5. Given that it can be had for $100 if you're patient it's REALLY hard to beat from a price/performance perspective. On preview, a repeat of what @PakkyT said.
 

Panolyman

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Sell everything and buy a little Pen camera with 14-42 EZ pancake lens; you know it makes sense!
And unless you've got an extremely understanding (and rich) partner, you'll be needing loadsamoney for the newborn.
Congrats and..........enjoy. :whistling:
 

RevBob

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My favorite lens for family photos is the PL25 1.4. Of all the lenses that I own it tends to be my go to choice in most settings. I also use the Olympus 45 1.7 for longer shots.
 

Hendrik

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First of all, congratulations. Parenthood is a grand adventure! Kids come with the owner's manual pre-loaded but they insist on you guessing its contents - they'll hardly ever let you read it. Good luck. ;)

When I go visiting the grandkids my normal kit is a Pen-F (just 'cause) sporting either the O17 or the O45. On these occasions the 45 is my most used lens, inside or out. I dislike the distortion introduced by the shorter focal length, but I'll use it when sitting across the booth.
 

ralf-11

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a wide-angle lens for portraits is a poor choice due to the distortion - the closer you are the worse the noses will look

a mild tele is what you want if at all possible - is there no room large enough to give distance?

if not, a 'normal' is the next choice
 

John King

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Ovidiu, Congratulations to your good lady. After all, she does all the hard work!

In answer to your question, you already have it. The 12-100.

Use it at base ISO, if the light is good.

If poor light, ramp ISO to 400/800/1600 and f/4. SS will be around 1/50 to 1/100, which is fine. f/4 will give you the right DoF.

If the light is really poor, that FL-LM3 is great, with or without upping the ISO.

You will not lose shots while changing lenses.

If you really feel you must, get an f/1.8 25 ...
 
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I picked the Sigma 16 for this exact purpose. For the first year they are going to be in arms reach of you and my wife would not agree to flash around the baby. This lead me to the sigma and you can see some of my images in the owner thread for it.

https://www.mu-43.com/threads/sigma-16mm-f-1-4-dc-dn.95668/

Once both (and we're stopping there) got older I switched to longer and more standard lengths. But for those first few years the Sigma is great. I never had any issue with the AF on my EM1.2 and the price and toughness allowed me to put it in reach of them and with even not second thought grabbing them and letting the camera swing.

A baby face is already round and puffy so don't be thrown off by the focal length.
 

Generationfourth

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Congrats on the kid!

I bought so many primes trying to solve my 20mm problems but ultimately decided that the 20mm is still my favorite lens ever. I also have the 25 1.7 (previously had the PL 1.4) and 42.5 1.7. I have owned the 15mm and loved the idea of it, but in real use didn't care for the iPhone like FOV- it's just too wide for general photography, especially portraits- and not wide enough for other things like landscape. I love the 20mm for environmental portraits, and will occasionally use the 42.5 1.7 if I have the room to use it.

I have been using the 20mm more lately with either the G9 or Em1iii face/eye tracking it works 'quick enough' and as always I'm ecstatic with it's rendering. I don't have kids though, but I do have a dog and girlfriend haha.
 

ac12

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OK, about focal length for portrait lenses. Yes plural lensES.

It depends . . . .
- On how far you are from the subject. The farther you are, the longer the lens can be. The closer you are, the wider the lens has to be.
- On how many people are in the portrait: single person, couple, 5-person family, multi-generational.
- On how tight the shot is: full length, 3/4, waist up, head and shoulder, tight face.
- On how big the subject is: in your case small child is very different than full grown adult.

So a 45 might be an ideal full length portrait lens in the house for the child. But as he/she grows, that 45 won't be able to do the full length shot, you will have to go to a wider lens, tighter shot or go outside for more distance.

As John said, the 12-100 would work. But I think it is kinda big and heavy for a GP lens to be shoot the child.
Something like the O 14-42 or 14-42EZ, or P-Lumix 12-35 or 12-60 would work well, granted they are not fast lenses.
The 14-42EZ is really compact, and lives on my EM10. But the Elec Zoom is something that I just never got used to.​
For a faster and pro grade lens the O 12-40/2.8 or 12-45/4, or P 12-35/2.8.

Speaking of the 14-42EZ and the EM10, I HIGHLY recommend that you think about "grab shots." Will you use your cell phone, or do you want a small camera, like the EM10 or even a P&S? I say this because, when I was in high school, it was ONLY my SLR, I did not use an Instamatic. And the SLR was a chore to take out. As a result, there were MANY opportunities for grab shots that were was not taken :( 😢
 
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I picked the Oly 17/45 f1.8 combo mostly because that is what I am personally familiar with. However they do represent the two "classic" 35mm focal lengths of 90mm for portraits and 35mm for "event shooting" (meaning can do head and shoulder shots of 1-3 people or full length shots of people while not having to step that far away from them. And they are both very small and light lenses.

Regardless of what you get, a basic bounce/swivel flash will often do more for your indoor baby and toddler shots and even your 12-100 PRO will do a fine job.

And by the way, everyone makes a huge deal about kids being like this all the time...

View attachment 883180

and if you don't have f0.00001 lenses you won't be able to photography them. Well it is mostly nonsense and not having the fastest aperture lenses is not going to ruin all your shots. I have four kids and started shooting them from a 35mm point & shoot film camera, through a series of P&S Oly digital cameras, then eventually Oly dSLRs and m43 models. I have many many great photos of them doing all kinds of things and I wasn't always using the super duper fastest ultra $$$ lens.

Kids aren't fast? I had to switch from a Canon digital P&S to a DSLR because the former was just too slow to get started and focus. By the time the shutter released (seconds after I pressed the button), the kid was out of sight. The speed of the lens wasn't the issue, it was the speed of the camera. Of course, that was over a decade ago and the cameras have gotten faster since. Still, I bet the OMD would be faster than a P&S.
 

ac12

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Kids aren't fast? I had to switch from a Canon digital P&S to a DSLR because the former was just too slow to get started and focus. By the time the shutter released (seconds after I pressed the button), the kid was out of sight. The speed of the lens wasn't the issue, it was the speed of the camera. Of course, that was over a decade ago and the cameras have gotten faster since. Still, I bet the OMD would be faster than a P&S.

That P&S shutter lag used to so infuriate me when shooting the kids at family parties.
But the alternative was my dSLR with the flash, external battery pack, and flash bracket. Not easy to transport and clumsy to use.
 
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That P&S shutter lag used to so infuriate me when shooting the kids at family parties.
But the alternative was my dSLR with the flash, external battery pack, and flash bracket. Not easy to transport and clumsy to use.

Yup, but no matter what you did with the P&S, the shutter lag was always there. Nothing you could do to speed it up. It just took too long to acquire focus and release the shutter. I had to wait until the kid was sleeping to get a photo. My first DSLR was a Canon Rebel XT and it had a built-in flash. No worries and a heck of a lot faster than the P&S. :)

But, getting back to the OP's original question. I think the P20 f1.7 focuses too slowly, although I hear it's faster on a Panasonic body. Since you have an Olympus body, go with the 17 f1.8 and the 45 f1.8. Or maybe the 25 f1.8.
 
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We had out first child about 33 days ago, some I have some fresh advice ;-). I started the adventure with my favorite Laowa 7.5mm, Panny 15mm f/1.7, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, and Sigma 56mm f/1.4. I didn't worry to much about getting the perfect lens, because I knew that what ever it was I had a very good approximation. I started as a blank slate, though I slightly expected to favor the 30mm. That expectation was resoundingly wrong, I quickly realized that nearly all the best pictures were with the 15mm. I developed a theory why.

Traditional portrait lenses emulate our perspective when viewing someone from the most flattering distance. 135mm ("FF") was traditionally the ideal perspective for a terrifyingly beautiful girl or the person at the head of the board room table. 85mm for a girl pretty enough to flirt with, or the person sitting across the boardroom table from you. 50mm for a close friend (or my wife whose face has a shape which looks less flattering at longer focal lengths). Babies? All humans have a strong instinct to get right up to even a strange baby and coo at it from mere inches away. Even strange babies. Politicians traditionally endear themselves to people by kissing babies, not waving at them from a distance. People who admire babies from a distance have not left behind many descendants. Babies fundamentally look most attractive in the 25-50mm ("FF") focal range. I realized that my longer focal lengths made him look cold and distant, the 15mm made him look close and cute. Plus, much of the PL15 sample image thread is babies and children.

Photo evidence for my claim with 15mm:

Hey Handsome
P1010546.jpg
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Hi Cutie
P4020193.JPG
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Sometimes I'm Cute on Purpose
P1010526.jpg
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Work from Home
P4130578.JPG
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And longer focal lengths look more distant, which isn't always bad, but the last only works because it is a juxtaposition:
Peeping Out
P1010460.JPG
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"Warp Speed ... Engage!"
P3290085.JPG
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Sleeping Cuties
P4100384.JPG
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I highly recommend Panny 15, Sigma 30, and Sigma 56. Personally if I could only choose two it would be 15 and 56, because they are amazing lenses and very compact. You could get 3 Sigmas, but have you seen the 16mm? It is HUGE! Also I dislike the enire Oly f/1.8 lineup. Normally I would follow that up by saying "but I may be biased" or something, but I actually have strong pro-Olympus bias.

Edit... I realized I rotated some of these with Microsoft Photo Viewer, which stripped the EXIF out... annoying...
 
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We had out first child about 33 days ago, some I have some fresh advice ;-). I started the adventure with my favorite Laowa 7.5mm, Panny 15mm f/1.7, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, and Sigma 56mm f/1.4. I didn't worry to much about getting the perfect lens, because I knew that what ever it was I had a very good approximation. I started as a blank slate, though I slightly expected to favor the 30mm. That expectation was resoundingly wrong, I quickly realized that nearly all the best pictures were with the 15mm. I developed a theory why.

Traditional portrait lenses emulate our perspective when viewing someone from the most flattering distance. 135mm ("FF") was traditionally the ideal perspective for a terrifyingly beautiful girl or the person at the head of the board room table. 85mm for a girl pretty enough to flirt with, or the person sitting across the boardroom table from you. 50mm for a close friend (or my wife whose face has a shape which looks less flattering at longer focal lengths). Babies? All humans have a strong instinct to get right up to even a strange baby and coo at it from mere inches away. Even strange babies. Politicians traditionally endear themselves to people by kissing babies, not waving at them from a distance. People who admire babies from a distance have not left behind many descendants. Babies fundamentally look most attractive in the 25-50mm ("FF") focal range. I realized that my longer focal lengths made him look cold and distant, the 15mm made him look close and cute. Plus, much of the PL15 sample image thread is babies and children.

Photo evidence for my claim with 15mm:

Hey Handsome
View attachment 883221
Hi Cutie
View attachment 883222
Sometimes I'm Cute on Purpose
View attachment 883223
Work from Home
View attachment 883225

And longer focal lengths look more distant, which isn't always bad, but the last only works because it is a juxtaposition:
Peeping Out
View attachment 883226
"Warp Speed ... Engage!"
View attachment 883227
Sleeping Cuties
View attachment 883228

I highly recommend Panny 15, Sigma 30, and Sigma 56. Personally if I could only choose two it would be 15 and 56, because they are amazing lenses and very compact. You could get 3 Sigmas, but have you seen the 16mm? It is HUGE! Also I dislike the enire Oly f/1.8 lineup. Normally I would follow that up by saying "but I may be biased" or something, but I actually have strong pro-Olympus bias.

Edit... I realized I rotated some of these with Microsoft Photo Viewer, which stripped the EXIF out... annoying...

What a handsome son! Congratulations!
 
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Well, life always finds a way to make itself complicated and interesting. A few days ago I found out I'm going to be a dad by the end of the year and I am in the middle of downsizing my camera kit (I have moved to Oly 12-100mm Pro and on pre-order the Oly 100-400mm) from the Oly 12-40mm Pro and Panny Leica 50-200mm (and the Oly 60mm Macro). So now I am with (currently 2) 3 lenses and the fastest is the Panny 20mm f 1.7 Mark II.

What I am looking for is a wide-angle fast prime lens for indoor portraits and family snaps (yes, a baby is slow but only for about 12 months :p ) and a short(-ish) telephoto fast prime for family portraits and snaps outdoors.

Currently, the Panny 20mm f 1.7 Mark II would be fine but only while the baby would be learning to crawls and stand, and 20mm might not be wide enough for some situations. Ideally, I would like Sigma 16mm f 1.4 DN (I'm not going to mention the Oly Pro :p ) for the extra wideness and would increase the shutter speed (even by a little) with that f 1.4 and get me some extra bokelishesness for environmental portraits. At the price of 330 £ used I am having a bit of brain grind to convince myself to get it because of the non-OEM (AF-C, Face Detection, and Eye Tracking reliability is unknown to me) and the CA correction on Oly cameras.
The 2nd option is the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f 1.7 ASPH, which I can get for about 80 £ (plus vouchers and a trade-in of the Panny 20mm f 1.7 II at CEX) BUT AF reliability pulls me back a bit from my own experience with Panny Leica 50-200mm (though I would expect it to be a lesser, significants of a, problem given the wide-angle nature of the lens.
The 3rd lens I would consider is the Olympus 17mm f 1.8 as it's below the price of Sigma 16mm f 1.4 and cheaper than even Panasonic Leica 15mm f 1.7 ... but CEX doesn't have it in stock so I can't use the voucher codes so I would pay more even if I trade in the Panny 20mm f 1.7

On the telephoto side, it would depend on the wide-angle, to be honest ... because I want to maintain the output consistency and the options would be 1st Sigma 56mm f 1.4 (but it's not easy to find it in stock used), 2nd Olympus 45mm f 1.8 (very cheap and decent IQ and in stock at CEX for 135 £) or Panasonic 42.5mm f 1.7 (230 £ used).

(I have looked at the Showcase for Panasonic Leica 15mm f 1.7 and someone posted a lot of candid and portrait shots of their kids and it really pulled me into that FL and the rendition seems to be quite good ... anecdotally the manual focus clutch on Olympus 17mm f 1.8 would make it awesome and easy to use on-street shooting ... double-anecdotally the Sigma 16mm f 1.4 has weather resistance to add security around babies and English rain with an extra topping of background blur).
PS. I SWEAR THIS IS NOT GAS:

Thank you walk for the wonderful messages, they are very sweet and helpful. I do have an Oly FL-LM3 I can use though not very frequently, especially for candid shots, but can do in the winter. Which was my main worry because in the living room the 2 main smart lights give me a maximum of ISO 6.400 at 1/60th with (now gone) Oly 12-40mm Pro f 2.8 in the winter months, with the English clouds eating light likes is a tea biscuit.
I will try to experiment with my Oly 12-100mm f 4 Pro at 15mm and 17mm and see how the results look... Dog and girlfriend willing to stand still that is. It's not the most pressing problem at the moment...at least not for another few months.
The Oly combo is very tempting because they fit quite well and comfortably on Little Oly (E-M5 II) as it will stay permanently at home within an arms reach... And probably with the Oly FL-LM3 mounted just in case.

BTW, congratulations! What an exciting prospect. Best reason I know to get new photo gear - to get baby pix. :)
 
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