Bang per Buck, Pop per Pound, Excellence per Euro: Lens / Lolly ratio

Lee Perrins

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I bought an E-M10 (first version) way back when they were new because when my child was little I had enough to carry about without finding room for my Pentax. I bought it body only, along with a Panasonic 20mm F1.7 (I think mine is the Mk 2 for all that matters, and I've never noticed any purple banding, but that could be because it's always had a Hoya UV(C) filter on it because that's what I was taught to do as a kid when I shot film)

I was happy with the E-M10 and I used it for work too, but the wi-fi packed up which messed up my workflow at work, so I picked up a secondhand E-M1 for not very much at all, and I much prefer it. One of the benefits of being way behind the curve is that I get to be as amazed by new equipment in 2020 as people who bought it new in 2013 were because it's all new to me - but it cost me less than a quarter of the price.

Anyway, I've never bought another lens because I liked the 20mm, being a 'perfect' normal on m43. If I want more reach I have a Tamron Adaptall 2 - m43 converter and a Tamron 40a 35-135 f3.5/4.5 and a Tamron SP 01F 2x teleconverter which is quite nice, given a total cost of lens and teleconverter of £15 - however, even with the focussing aids I'm not the most adpet at manual focus, so I've not produced too many outstanding images with it.

I've been thinking of buying an AF longer lens for a while, and now I have the E-M1 obviously I can use the older 43rds lenses with an adapter because they will focus properly on the E-M1. Funds are a little tight what with the whole self-employed / COVID situation, so I was wondering what you lot reckon would provide the best IQ/Cost ratio?

It looks like my best bet might be a 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 with a 43 to m43 adapter - I'm assuming that the 3rd party ones are functional? As far as I can tell the SWD version just adds silence and slighter faster AF, but as my AF experience is limited to a Pentax, and Olympus bodies with the apparently quite slow 20mm, I'm probably not going to be that bothered by it being slower than the SWD. Or is it a marked differnence?

Thoughts and expereieces much appreciated. And if anyone knows of a 3rd party 43rds apater that is also weather sealed that'd be fab - all the ones I can find aren't sealed, and the Olympus ones are obscenly expensive for what they are, but as the 50-200 is sealed and the E-M1 is too, it'd be nice to have a sealed 'unit' if possible.
 

3dpan

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It looks like my best bet might be a 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 with a 43 to m43 adapter - I'm assuming that the 3rd party ones are functional? As far as I can tell the SWD version just adds silence and slighter faster AF, but as my AF experience is limited to a Pentax, and Olympus bodies with the apparently quite slow 20mm, I'm probably not going to be that bothered by it being slower than the SWD. Or is it a marked differnence?

I had both ZD 50-200mm lenses at the same time, version 1 and the SWD version. I compared them on astro pics, (the pin-point stars show up lens deficiencies far better than test charts).
Basically the version 1 lens is hopeless for astro, much CA and coma. Whereas the SWD version has corrected most of that. I promptly sold the version 1 lens.
I know nothing about their relative AF on 4/3 or m4/3.
I do have a 3rd party electronic 4/3 - m4/3 adapter, but on my E-M5 II, AF is sluggish with my current ZD 70-300mm, and ZD 8mm fisheye.
 

G3user

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I picked up a used Sigma 60mm for £65 I think. Big improvement over my Panasonic 14-42 (mark I) lens and easier to focus than my old Konica Hexanon 40mm f1.8. I use a Panasonic G3. I also have the P20mm :)
 

PakkyT

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I have been using the ZD 50-200mm non-SWD for over a decade (including back when I shot 4/3rds bodies) and on my E-M1.1 using the MMF-3 adapter for many years now and am still very happy with it.

I don't have any experience with the SWD versions but optically they are both basically the same; @3dpan 's experience above may be more of a copy to copy variation rather than an SWD vs. non-SWD comparison (e.g. while he found the SWD better, it might have been the other way around with two different copies). The SWD is a bit faster as I understand but I have never been disappointed with the speed of the non-SWD version. SWD version is also a bit stouter/fatter. And just so you know, the lens hood and the tripod ring are different for each, so if you buy one that comes without one or the other and want to try and find a replacement, keep that in mind during your search.

I also do not have experience with third party "MMF-3" type adapters. But there have been threads here with people having issues with them on wide angle lenses (like wider than 12mm) and it seems to be if the adapter is not perfectly parallel with the sensor, on wide angles you notice it as soft edges or corners but only on one side. For the 50-200 it probably won't matter at all, but again something to keep in mind if you decide later down the road to pick up an old 4/3rds 9-18, 11-22, 7-14, etc. If you find one of those is giving less than sharp corners or edges and you are using a 3rd party adapter, it may be that rather than a bad lens copy. The nice thing is that a lot of the time I see someone selling a 50-200 they are often E-M1 users or where and are selling the lens with the Oly MMF-3 adapter included if that is their last or only 4/3rds lens they are parting with. So keep an eye out for those sales.

My most recent E-M1 + MMF-3 + 50-200mm hand held shot taken back in April (with some cropping)...
49811151948_8c14c07c66_o.jpg
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Pileated Woodpecker by Patrick, on Flickr
 
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If you really want "bang for the buck," can you give up auto-focus?

The diminutive Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm ƒ/3.5 Macro has been rated as tied for the fourth-best OM Zuiko, and can be had for under $50, if you shop carefully.

You'll need an inexpensive OM —> µ4/3rds adapter, which can be had for under $10.

It is not until you have the adapter that you truly enable the disease of Zuikoholism. :)

Then the next thing you'll want to pick up is the generally-outstanding Viltrox EF-M2 II Mount Adapter, which despite it's unassuming name (couldn't they have put "Booster" or "Ultra" in the name?) is possibly the best "bang for the buck" in speed boosters. This will turn your 50/3.5 into an even-sharper 35/2.5 macro.

From there, the sky's the limit, and the disease will not run it's course until you have all three of the "Great Whites." I'm only 1/3rd of the way to terminal Zuikoholism. :)

As for the E-System 50-200, that might as well be a manual focus lens on your E-M10. Any adapted E-System lens is not going to auto-focus well on anything but an E-M1* or the E-M5.3, which have the "Phase Detection Auto Focus" (PDAF) that the 50-200 requires for top performance.

Regarding the SWD version, it is way better than the older version, having re-designed optics as well as a much faster auto-focus.

Regarding older manual-focus versus newer auto-focus lenses: the older ones have a completely mechanical design, which should last forever, whereas the electronics in the newer ones may render them unusable a rather short time. The 50-200 (either version) is no longer supported by Olympus, and if the electronics goes, you lose both aperture and focus control.
 
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I concur with the Sigma 60 as excellent value for money, The closest rival for that monicker would probably be the P20mm, I suspect - in native glass, anyway. In truth I am not sure what else you can buy for €120 that would enhance your m4/3 mission more than the Sigma 60mm; it's a wonderful lens at that price, and with a €50 Raynox achromat on the front it makes for a reasonable macro optic, too.
 

LilSebastian

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Go and play with this online tool where you can see the various 4/3 and micro 4/3 lenses on your E-M1 body.

As for your specific ask about auto focus telephoto lens I'd suggest a look at the Olympus 40-150R F4-5.6 lens. Here in the US they are most often sold new for $99 and are incredible value for money. If you shoot in the day time or have more static subjects in lower light it should serve you very well. I use it at the zoo and since I'm not a pixel peeper it delivers the goods even when I combine with the in body 2x digital teleconverter to reach 300mm. Auto focus is very fast, body is lightweight (hence "plastic fantastic" nickname) but also not weather sealed just like your P20.


Good luck on your hunt.
 

oldracer

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. .. I was wondering what you lot reckon would provide the best IQ/Cost ratio? ...
How do you use the lens? Prints? What size? Extreme cropping? The point here is that once the IQ (or any other parameter) is sufficient for your requirements, paying for more of it is a waste of money.
 

PakkyT

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As for the E-System 50-200, that might as well be a manual focus lens on your E-M10. Any adapted E-System lens is not going to auto-focus well on anything but an E-M1* or the E-M5.3, which have the "Phase Detection Auto Focus" (PDAF) that the 50-200 requires for top performance.

Yes, read the original poster's entire post...

so I picked up a secondhand E-M1 for not very much at all
I've been thinking of buying an AF longer lens for a while, and now I have the E-M1 obviously I can use the older 43rds lenses with an adapter because they will focus properly on the E-M1.


Regarding the SWD version, it is way better than the older version, having re-designed optics as well as a much faster auto-focus.

I don't think that is true. I believe optically the designs were nearly identical. Both had 16 elements in 15 groups with 3 Extra-low Dispersion (ED) lens, close focusing distance of 1.2m, 0.21x max magnification, and both show identical lens diagrams.


The 50-200 (either version) is no longer supported by Olympus, and if the electronics goes, you lose both aperture and focus control.

The SWD version is full time mechanically linked manual focus, but yes you would lose aperture control.
 
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The SWD version is full time mechanically linked manual focus, but yes you would lose aperture control.
I believe the non-SWD — which is the one the OP was considering — is focus-by-wire.

Another difference between the two that may seem inconsequential is they use different hood bayonets. Doesn't seem like a big thing, unless you want to use the RF-11 ring light, which fits the non-SWD version, but not the newer SWD version.
 

PakkyT

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I believe the non-SWD — which is the one the OP was considering — is focus-by-wire.

Correct, but he did mention wanted to know more about the SWD.


Another difference between the two that may seem inconsequential is they use different hood bayonets. Doesn't seem like a big thing, unless you want to use the RF-11 ring light, which fits the non-SWD version, but not the newer SWD version.

Yes, already mentioned in my original post. Same for the tripod ring.
 

Lee Perrins

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Thanks all for your thoughtf-provoking responses.

I had both ZD 50-200mm lenses at the same time, version 1 and the SWD version. I compared them on astro pics, ... basically the version 1 lens is hopeless for astro, much CA and coma. Whereas the SWD version has corrected most of that.

I have been using the ZD 50-200mm non-SWD for over a decade (including back when I shot 4/3rds bodies) and on my E-M1.1 using the MMF-3 adapter for many years now and am still very happy with it. I don't have any experience with the SWD versions but optically they are both basically the same; @3dpan 's experience above may be more of a copy to copy variation rather than an SWD vs. non-SWD comparison

I thought they were optically identical too, but buying secondhand I guess there is always a risk I'll get a duff copy of either. I bought my E-M1 from a camera shop rather than eBay because it came with a 14 day refund offfer and a 6 month guarantee. I'd do the same for the lens I think. Nice woodpecker @PakkyT - very sharp!

I'd only use the 4/3rds lens on the E-M1 so the focus should be fairly decent because it has PDAF. I still have the E-M10 but that could then get it's 20mm back if I was carrying both bodies.

Re: the Sigma 60mm and various non-AF options - I have a longer lens that's MF already but I find it frustrating to use - maybe I pixel peep too much, but it's frustrating how often something looks sharp when you take it, and then looks rubbish on the computer. I will also have a lens of roughly 60mm soon - I have an m43 adapter winging it 's way from China at the moment to allow me to use my old K mount 50mm - I used this lens all the time on my Pentax because once I'd seen how much better it was than the kit lens there was no going back (although I later discovered, having used it as a MF camera for years, that the AF sensors are out of position so it doesn't actually focus properly, so maybe the kit lens wasn't so bad after all) I also have a Pentax-K reversing ring that fits it, so I'm going to at least see how it works for close-up stuf.

8322123266_bd02c8900c_c.jpg
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PakkyT

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3dpan

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I've been thinking of buying an AF longer lens for a while, and now I have the E-M1 obviously I can use the older 43rds lenses with an adapter because they will focus properly on the E-M1. Funds are a little tight what with the whole self-employed / COVID situation, so I was wondering what you lot reckon would provide the best IQ/Cost ratio?

For a general purpose tele lens, in my opinion, the absolute best value for money is the m.zuiko 75-300mm.
Its IQ is streets ahead of the ZD (4/3) 50-200mm.
And it's lighter and sharper, and has excellent AF.
I bought mine used (as-new) for $285 US. I actually bought two, separate sellers, the second was a bit dearer $290 US.

And what's the point of buying a f/2.8 lens when you're going to stop it down to f/5.6 for the depth-of-field anyway ?
 

John King

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@3dpan , Alec, I have both. I wouldn't say "streets ahead" in IQ, but rather "marginally better", which was quite shocking to me, as the 50-200 MkI was about 3x the price of my mFTs 75-300 MkII (both bought new). Optical speed comes at a huge premium, regardless of the lens!

The AF of the 75-300 is much quicker and more 'positive'.
 

ac12

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The Olympus 40-150R is often available at well below $100. The Olympus US Outlet currently has one for $60. And that is a deal that is pretty hard to beat.
The 40-150R is a small light lens, so MUCH easier to pack and carry than an adapted OM or similar lens.

As for weather sealing. Do you REALLY need it? That would depend on what and where you are shooting.
 

PakkyT

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As for weather sealing. Do you REALLY need it? That would depend on what and where you are shooting.

Not meaning to be rude, but isn't that last statement kind of a "Captain Obvious" statement? :whistling: Couldn't the same thing be said about his asking about longer focal length lenses?
"As for [longer focal lengths]. Do you REALLY need it? That would depend on what and where you are shooting." :biggrin:

He did mention he would like full weather sealing. :flowers_2: And in the spirit of bang for buck, while I agree the 40-150 "R" is a downright bargain for the quality you get out of it in good light, the old 50-200mm models are probably the best bang for buck when you add in a desire for longer focal length on the long end, faster aperture through the whole range, and weather sealing. Of course trading off size and weight.

I agree with both of us and own both. :thumbup: The 50-200 when I know I am going to use it and the "R" when I don't think I will need that length but want to have something on hand just in case as its size and weight are almost immaterial in your bag.
 

oldracer

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Not meaning to be rude, but isn't that last statement kind of a "Captain Obvious" statement? :whistling: Couldn't the same thing be said about his asking about longer focal length lenses?
"As for [longer focal lengths]. Do you REALLY need it? That would depend on what and where you are shooting."
Well, yes, but IMO that kind of question isn't asked here enough.

The usual scenario, for which this thread is a poster child, is:
  • First, the OP asks for opinions on the "best" thing without stating what his need is. There is no "best" in the abstract. There is only "best" when compared to a use case or a requirement. It's like asking "What is the best hammer?" Well, are you driving brad nails or railroad spikes?
  • Second, a whole crowd of people jump in with impassioned answers to the OP's question --- none of whom have slightest idea what problem the OP is trying to solve or whether their recommendation is at all germane to the OP's needs.

In fact, when I bother to participate at all, my frequent question is basically "What problem are you trying to solve?" See my post #8 here. Sometimes I get an answer but often (like this thread) I do not.

Of course it is not uncommon for an OP to have no idea what problem he is trying to solve because his inquiry is driving by GAS, not by any photographic need. There's nothing at all wrong with GAS, assuming one can afford it, but it is not photography and for the GAS-er, the cameras and lenses are not tools. Rather they are a collection like stamps or cars. Collecting is fun. Nothing wrong with that. But for a GAS-er who doesn't know where he is going, any road will get him there.
 
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