Best all-around telephoto (or zoom) for less than $300

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by mbbinvt, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. mbbinvt

    mbbinvt Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 28, 2012
    I'm looking for a way to extend my kit beyond the 45mm Oly I own. I want something I can use for sports, portraits and with good bokeh for close-ups of flowers, etc. I'm thinking of something between 75mm and 100mm. Longer is OK if it is the far end of a zoom's range.
    At the moment, I'm trying out a Jupiter 85mm, which is great for some things like close-ups and portraits, but not so hot in many situations if you leave it near wide open and is not what I would call tack sharp in any circumstance. And of course it is tough to focus for fast-moving sports.
    I've read great reviews of this lens (for portraits and close-ups), but I wonder whether the reviewers got theirs cheap, before the prices spiked recently thanks to all of us m4/3 users adapting them. I haven't seen a decent sounding one on ebay for less than $170 shipped, and those are coming from Ukraine, so I paid $230 delivered for clean one from a guy in NYC, because it is easily returnable.
    That's a long way of asking the title question: What's the best new or used telephoto (or zoom) for less than $300? Ideally it would be light, fast and sharp, with good bokeh. Does such a creature exist?
    I know this is a matter of opinion, but I'm really interested in your opinion. Thanks in advance for chiming in!
  2. SRHEdD

    SRHEdD Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 24, 2011
    Viera, Florida USA
    Real Name:
    Spend and extra $50 and get the Oly 14-150 from Cameta. They have refurbs for $349 with free shipping. If you use ebay, you'll even get a few dollars in ebay bucks to spend on a filter or hood later.
  3. mnhoj

    mnhoj There and back again

    Dec 3, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Real Name:
    John M
    First thing that comes to my mind is the 40-150. Covers all of your requirements except fast if you are referring to aperture speed.

    The Nikon series 100E F2.8 and 75-150 F3.5 may also work. Light, inexpensive, and sharp. Also maybe the Samyang 85mm 1.4 but it's not small.
  4. heli-mech

    heli-mech Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 9, 2012
    Vancouver Island, Canada
    Real Name:
    I just bought a used Rokinon (samyang) 85mm 1.4 to try. Seems to get good reviews as being fairly sharp wide open. I also have a Nikon 105mm 1.8 AIS but its just a little long indoors. Interested to see how the Rokinon compares, once it gets here.
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Samyang/Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 sounds like your best bet.
  6. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Real Name:
    +1 on the 40-150. I got one separated from a kit for EUR225 including 19% tax. Provided you have enough distance between your subject and the background, I think the bokeh is pretty good. Not so fast, though (although on the OM-D that's not sooo bad).
  7. mbbinvt

    mbbinvt Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 28, 2012
    The Rokinon/Samyang looks like a nice lens, but I worry about its weight -- 1.4 lb (635 g). That's nearly twice the weight of the Jupiter plus adapter (12 oz/343 g). Maybe I should get the 40-150 reburbed for $150 and hold onto the Jupiter too for fun. :smile:

    Or do you think a Jupiter 85mm at $200+ is just crazy? Were people only excited about it when it was a sub-$100 lens?

    I'm surprised no one has chimed in with the Voigtlander 75mm f2.5, which weighs in at 8 oz/230g. How's that compare to other options out there? Or is it the shorter Voigtlanders that have made the brand's reputation?
  8. fdifulco

    fdifulco Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 28, 2011
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    Real Name:
    there is nothing wrong with the Panny 45-200, it was just on sale for $200 a few weeks back and a number of us got one. you can do some searches and see what the prices are like now, it is usually less than $300. I am very pleased with it on the EM5.
  9. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Are you looking for performance or weight? You listed 3 particular uses for this lens, "I want something I can use for sports, portraits and with good bokeh for close-ups of flowers, etc.". For sports the 40-150mm is only useful for outdoors in bright sunlight... which will be full of harsh shadows. For indoors or overcast days, that lens will be inappropriate. The 85mm/1.4 on the other hand is a PERFECT lens for most indoor sporting events. For portraits, the 40-150mm is kinda meh... compared to the 85/1.4. I mean, the 40-150mm will take beautiful portraits but you can get so much more distinction and control out of the 85mm/1.4. For "good bekeh for close-ups of flowers"... well, any close-ups will give you a lot of bokeh as distance to subject is what affects DOF more than anything else. You will of course have a lot more control of that using the 85mm/1.4, as well as the ability to create that soft, dreamy look to your flowers.