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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John King

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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...
Congrats on the cuties 😀.

I think you may have reinforced my thoughts on the 12-100 ;) .
 
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Congrats on the cuties 😀.

I think you may have reinforced my thoughts on the 12-100 ;) .
I am guessing you think the 12-100 is not right for the job, because you wouldn't recommend it if you had tried to take a picture of a baby in one arm while you operated the 12-100 in the other arm 😉 (plus the apertures of my photos are all f/4 or larger)
 

John King

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I am guessing you think the 12-100 is not right for the job, because you wouldn't recommend it if you had tried to take a picture of a baby in one arm while you operated the 12-100 in the other arm 😉 (plus the apertures of my photos are all f/4 or larger)
Ha!

My other recommendation would be something like my E-PM2 + 14-42 EZ with a JJC auto-opening lens cap. Perfect for one-handed operation ... ;) .

While I occasionally use my f/1.8 25 for the cats (need less DoF than a baby ... ), I usually find myself using f/5.6 or smaller in order to get sufficient DoF ...
 
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I am guessing you think the 12-100 is not right for the job, because you wouldn't recommend it if you had tried to take a picture of a baby in one arm while you operated the 12-100 in the other arm 😉 (plus the apertures of my photos are all f/4 or larger)
Haha - mine is now a teen, so I'd completely forgotten the few years of doing everything one-handed whilst carrying little'un (or bags of kid stuff) in the other!

I didn't get a DILC until offspring was almost 7 (couldn't justify the expense). So for me it was early 2000s P&S vs fairly expensive and heavy 35mm film SLR. It is telling (to me) that I only shot a handful of rolls of film of the child, but took thousands of digital pics. Convenience (and portability) trumped IQ (and phone pics were really poor back then so very rarely used by me). Shutter lag on my original P&S was terrible, but I just learned to live with it.

I vote P20, but that's just cos it's my favourite lens ever. I also have the O45. I'd like the S56 but can't justify it, for the few times I use "portrait" FLs - and said teen is no longer too keen on being photographed...
 
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fransglans

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As a father to three kids I can say one thing about the p20. For me it's fast enough. If they move around I will prefocus and there is no problem. M43 bigger dof solves the problem.

I've had o17, p15, p25, pl25, but

Panasonic 20 is THE best of them all imo, despite its "slow" focus

And yeah that o45 is a no brainer, the sweetest lens
 

PakkyT

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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.
Well as I said, I have 4 kids and for many years shot the earlier new ones with the Oly D-220L (really a glorified webcam in a camera shape really), C-2020Z, and C-770UZ before jumping to 4/3rds. I am sure I got plenty of not so great shots but I know I got tons of good shots. I never noticed much lag if you have half pressed the shutter to pre-focus before you fire off the shot, which I assume is how most people would do it?

Maybe operator error on your part?
:hiding: ;)


I am guessing you think the 12-100 is not right for the job, because you wouldn't recommend it if you had tried to take a picture of a baby in one arm while you operated the 12-100 in the other arm 😉

For that type of situation usually a mobile phone is a more convenient option.

However to your point, there is something to be said about a prime lens when shooting a baby who is just starting to sit on their own, you often are holding the camera to your eye with finger on shutter while reaching out the other hand to steady the kid, then move the hand out of the frame and quickly shoot.
 

Armoured

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Without getting into any philosophical arguments about portraiture and perspective and whatnot - in recent personal photography of friends, family, own kid and other kids, repeatedly, again and again, the most versatile lens with consistent results is a moderately fast normal lens (20-25mm in m4/3). I prefer the OM25mm 1.8 but it's the only one I've used on m4/3.
Wide enough for a lot of uses, pleasing enough perspective, coming in close isn't so close subjects feel odd, depth of field/isolation (in either direction) enough for pleasing portraiture, esp with a bit of cropping.
I'm not saying it's "best" - but swapping lenses with kids is really hard and shooting circumstances change quick. The nifty-fifty equivalent is just the most flexible.
 
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dwkdnvr

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[other good stuff snipped]

I highly recommend Panny 15, Sigma 30, and Sigma 56.
Yeah, IMHO this is the answer. I have these to accompany my 12-100, and it's a great lineup. I strongly advocate for the PL15 rather than the S16 due to size and 'intangibles'. There are a lot of great lenses around for M43, but this set captures the essence of M43 for me - small, not overly expensive, and fantastic quality.
 
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Well as I said, I have 4 kids and for many years shot the earlier new ones with the Oly D-220L (really a glorified webcam in a camera shape really), C-2020Z, and C-770UZ before jumping to 4/3rds. I am sure I got plenty of not so great shots but I know I got tons of good shots. I never noticed much lag if you have half pressed the shutter to pre-focus before you fire off the shot, which I assume is how most people would do it?

Maybe operator error on your part?
:hiding: ;)
Perhaps, but at the rate my son could move, he was OOF by the time the shutter released. If I delayed at all between beginning to depress the shutter and full depression, the shot would be no good. The guaranteed shots where when he was too young to move and when he was so occupied he wasn't running. At any rate, I went from P&S to DSLR pretty quickly when I realized that shutter lag a problem. Taking kid photos was the impetus to get a DSLR.

Anyway, that's my experience. It may not be the same as yours. :)
 

RevBob

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PL25 f1.4
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Snapshooter

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My first prime lens for M43 (E-M1) was the Panasonic 15mm, which I got before our baby’s birth. I opted for Panasonic over Olympus for the slightly wider field of view. I did most baby photography with it and loved it. AF is near-instantaneous on the E-M1. Perhaps the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 would have done just as well—I don’t know. As baby became a toddler, I wanted a longer prime since he was mobile and getting more distance between himself and the camera and got the Olympus 45mm f/1.8. I was debating between the Olympus 45mm and Sigma 56mm. I am glad I got the 45mm because it is just short enough to still use inside, where I think the 56mm would be too tight (at least for the rooms in my house). That said, if you had the Sigma 30mm or an Olympus or Panasonic 25mm) in addition to the 56, you’d no doubt be very well covered with the pair. I really like the wide 1.7/1.8 apertures for indoor use to help keep shutter speed up and ISO low. I imagine 1.4 would be a touch better, but the size/weight trade off probably would not be worthwhile for me.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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yes, a baby is slow but only for about 12 months
This was not the case for any of mine. My first never sat still and my third was walking in 9 months. The joy of having kids is how much they remind you that you really are just barely holding on for the rollercoaster ride known as life. :D

Sincere congratulations. Life won't be the same, but that's by no means a bad thing.
 
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Having read all the other responses to this thread, one other thing struck me: kids (well, people generally...) are all different. I never had a problem with focus speed with my daughter (and she could walk independently from 10 months, and walk holding on to furniture from much younger). BUT she has always been very "focused" (no pun intended). I re-looked at my pictures of her as a toddler and she was always doing stuff - baking, painting, making sand castles on the beach, playing with toys, playing with the cat, etc etc etc. Clearly those are all fairly static situations that should not be too difficult for AF to handle. Whereas other toddlers I've known were like human brownian motion - never still for more than a few seconds. So until you actually have your own child, you won't know for sure whether you can use a P20, or whether focus speed will force you to use an inferior lens... ;)

As a teen, her favourite sporting activity is now (non-competitive) swimming. This does not lead to a lens choice dilemma, because if I took a camera to a public pool I'd just get thrown out by security...
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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Well, I took a left turn and I bought (with 190 £ equivalent vouchers and 10 £ cash at CEX) a Sony RX100 Mark III. The reason for this is:
1) One-hand-ability, as some have mentioned (and thank you so much for reminding me this) we are going to have to use only one hand quite often in the first year with the baby, especially while the other is doing chores or is at work. Olympus cameras are frustratingly two-hands operation because of the ON/OFF switch (so many times I wish Olympus just put it on the right side as Panasonic does). As well that all 3 Olympus 14-42mm f 3.5-5.6 EZ and Panasonic 12-32mm f 3.5-5.6 and Panasonic X 14-42mm f 3.5-5.6 PZ are two-handed operation to operate the zoom (with the only exception being the Panasonic X lens and only IF paired with the Panasonic G5 for it has a zoom rocker next to the shutter button). With the Sony RX100 Mark III can be used almost entirely with the right hand.
(Alternatively, I was looking at Panasonic LX100 Mark I and II but the difference/benefits don't feel like a significant upgrade, with the additions below)
2) Size. Sony RX100 is absolutely tiny and only the Panasonic GM1 can actually beat the size ... it will fit in anything my girlfriend would carry with her and that includes pockets.
3) Weight. At 290 grams it's incredibly light to not "annoy" the misses when asked to take the camera with herself as well as very comfortable on the wrist to operate one-handed.
4) Built-In Flash. Less to carry with and even with the limited usage given its a tiny size it's better then nothing IF such need arises.
5) Full 180^ screen tilt, my girlfriend loves her selfies and it makes it easier to make selfies with a baby too. (Another reason I could consider the Panasonic LX100 as an alternative).

It's going to be the "family camera" to take anywhere and everywhere all the time and it's going to be used more by my girlfriend than me. (I don't believe phone cameras are there yet, though we have "only" iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 11 so it's not the best out there AND I would feel more at ease when the baby reaches for the Sony RX100 when we make pictures then our phones).
This doesn't mean I gave up on dedicated portrait lenses. I still want to add one wide-angle and one short telephoto lens for making pictures with more intent and specific purpose. I'll have more time to think about it before I make any decisions on it.

(I haven't received the Sony RX100 Mark III yet, should arrive tomorrow). The only things I, believe, would miss with the Sony is some (even basic) weather resistance (though I don't expect we would be sitting in the rain with a baby to make pictures :oops: ) and a latter model for better AF tracking (like the amazing Sony Eye Tracking) but CEX had only the Mark III in stock alongside the Mark VI (and I really am interested in only the 24-70mm f 1.8-2.8 lens). But most of this is fixable with ... Olympus 17mm f 1.2 Pro & 45mm f 1.2 Pro (which is not going to go well with the misses):

 
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Well, I took a left turn and I bought (with 190 £ equivalent vouchers and 10 £ cash at CEX) a Sony RX100 Mark III. The reason for this is:
1) One-hand-ability, as some have mentioned (and thank you so much for reminding me this) we are going to have to use only one hand quite often in the first year with the baby, especially while the other is doing chores or is at work. Olympus cameras are frustratingly two-hands operation because of the ON/OFF switch (so many times I wish Olympus just put it on the right side as Panasonic does). As well that all 3 Olympus 14-42mm f 3.5-5.6 EZ and Panasonic 12-32mm f 3.5-5.6 and Panasonic X 14-42mm f 3.5-5.6 PZ are two-handed operation to operate the zoom (with the only exception being the Panasonic X lens and only IF paired with the Panasonic G5 for it has a zoom rocker next to the shutter button). With the Sony RX100 Mark III can be used almost entirely with the right hand.
(Alternatively, I was looking at Panasonic LX100 Mark I and II but the difference/benefits don't feel like a significant upgrade, with the additions below)
2) Size. Sony RX100 is absolutely tiny and only the Panasonic GM1 can actually beat the size ... it will fit in anything my girlfriend would carry with her and that includes pockets.
3) Weight. At 290 grams it's incredibly light to not "annoy" the misses when asked to take the camera with herself as well as very comfortable on the wrist to operate one-handed.
4) Built-In Flash. Less to carry with and even with the limited usage given its a tiny size it's better then nothing IF such need arises.
5) Full 180^ screen tilt, my girlfriend loves her selfies and it makes it easier to make selfies with a baby too. (Another reason I could consider the Panasonic LX100 as an alternative).

It's going to be the "family camera" to take anywhere and everywhere all the time and it's going to be used more by my girlfriend than me. (I don't believe phone cameras are there yet, though we have "only" iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 11 so it's not the best out there AND I would feel more at ease when the baby reaches for the Sony RX100 when we make pictures then our phones).
This doesn't mean I gave up on dedicated portrait lenses. I still want to add one wide-angle and one short telephoto lens for making pictures with more intent and specific purpose. I'll have more time to think about it before I make any decisions on it.

(I haven't received the Sony RX100 Mark III yet, should arrive tomorrow). The only things I, believe, would miss with the Sony is some (even basic) weather resistance (though I don't expect we would be sitting in the rain with a baby to make pictures :oops: ) and a latter model for better AF tracking (like the amazing Sony Eye Tracking) but CEX had only the Mark III in stock alongside the Mark VI (and I really am interested in only the 24-70mm f 1.8-2.8 lens). But most of this is fixable with ... Olympus 17mm f 1.2 Pro & 45mm f 1.2 Pro (which is not going to go well with the misses):


Those are good points about one-handed use and built-in flash. As long as the camera has minimal shutter lag and is easy to operate, you're good. Phones are almost impossible to shoot with one-handed, the built-in flash is barely acceptable, and they aren't yet substitutes for even a good P&S for what you need. Sounds like a good choice. Let us know how it works out.

Congratulations again!

BTW, this means you're no longer @L0n3Gr3yW0lf, you'll have your own pack. :)
 
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Armoured

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Well, I took a left turn and I bought (with 190 £ equivalent vouchers and 10 £ cash at CEX) a Sony RX100 Mark III.
I'm sure that'll be a decent solution for you if your spouse likes it. I tried one of the Sony's and didn't like it for me - for whatever reason, just didn't click.
As I understand, you already have an M43 camera? Not to discourage your GAS, but I think you may find your Panny 20 gets a lot of use and will cover a whole lot of what you want to do.
Anyway, have fun.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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Those are good points about one-handed use and built-in flash. As long as the camera has minimal shutter lag and is easy to operate, you're good. Phones are almost impossible to shoot with one-handed, the built-in flash is barely acceptable, and they aren't yet substitutes for even a good P&S for what you need. Sounds like a good choice. Let us know how it works out.

Congratulations again!

BTW, this means you're no longer @L0n3Gr3yW0lf, you'll have your own pack. :)
Oh a£@&t you are right on that one ... but I don’t know if I can change my identity, it’s pretty much a unique tag (because I use numbers for letters like a 5 year old) for about 20 years so I can’t change it ... though it does sound nice: P5ckGr3yW0lf
 
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