Buying Em5ii: 12-40 Pro and 60mm Macro OR 45mm?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by RobDMB, Mar 30, 2015.

  1. RobDMB

    RobDMB Mu-43 Regular

    May 12, 2013
    I think I am going to pull the trigger on a new EM5ii. I will definitely get the 12-40 Pro zoom with it. I plan to also get one prime lens. I am debating between the 45mm and the 60mm macro lens. Any advice between the two? I have never really tried macro but would like to give it a go. Can the 60mm perform without a tripod (i.e. stabilization only)?

  2. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    I think the 60mm makes more sense for three reasons.

    First - It's a 50% longer focal length than your zoom lens. So it extends your reach 50% at f2.8. Could be useful for things other than macro if your find the 12-40 too short. 45mm f2.8 and 40mm f2.8 are so close that you'd never really use the 45mm except for macro.

    Second - your E-M5 II has amazing in body stabilization, with 5-Axis correction. It will actually be better than the OIS in the 45mm for macro because it is correcting for minor front to back movement (which becomes major movement at macro distance). Typically OIS will not do that. Well I guess you can use IBIS instead of OIS with the Panasonic 45mm, too, it just defeats the purpose of an OIS lens.

    Third - The 60mm is cheaper and just as good optically.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    tkbslc makes a lot of good points about going with the 60. The fact that you want to do macro might also push you into that direction. I will say that unless you plan on doing a lot of macro stuff, it might not be worth the price for just trying it out. If that is the case, you can get some extension tubes, or adapt a less expensive macro lens from another system and adapter to test out life in the macro world.

    I will say this from my personal experience and shooting style - I tend to favor having the faster glass for shooting in lower light situations than needing a macro. The 60mm is f/2.8, so gains you no more light gathering than you get with the 12-40.

    My personal preference would be the 12-40 and either the 17/1.8, 25/1.8, 45/1.8. You can save some money by getting them used or in the reconditioned store at
  4. dogs100

    dogs100 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2011
    N Devon UK
    Apart from it's macro qualities the 60mm is a tremendous short telephoto and a very good longish portrait lens (did I just invent that genre?). It is sharp, light and does 3 things ... I love my 45mm and use it a lot but it stays at home these days as the 12-40 and the 60mm are generally a better combo for me.
  5. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    I'm a bit unclear now about which lenses we are discussing . I was assuming the op was deciding between the P 45mm macro and the O 60mm macro.
  6. RobDMB

    RobDMB Mu-43 Regular

    May 12, 2013
    I was referring to the Olympus 60mm 2.8 Macro and the Olympus 45mm/1.8 prime lens.
  7. cptobvious

    cptobvious Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 8, 2013
    I have both the 45 and 60 and feel they are different enough that it depends whether you want the low light/subject separation ability of the 45 or the extreme closeup ability of the 60 more. Given that you're buying the 12-40, it may suffice for close work depending on how close you want to go, since it has very good MFD for a zoom. Between the 45 and 60, I feel the 60 is the overall better lens (somewhat better build, weather seals, tack sharp wide open) but only having f/2.8 as your max aperture is somewhat limiting for Micro 4/3 because of the more limited noise performance of the smaller sensor and the deeper DOF. For that reason I'd probably pair the 12-40 with the 45, or personally either the 17/1.8 or 25/1.8.

    To answer your second question, you can get good results without a tripod using the Olympus IBIS, but mostly in good light. In lower light you may need to use a tripod and/or extra lighting.
  8. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    Well some of my above post still applies, then. 45mm f1.8 is not so different from 40mm f2.8. It is an extra 1.3 stops of aperture, which is handy. It is just that the circumstances where you'll feel like changing lenses just for that are probably going to be rare. You'll probably not even bother to bring it along after a while. At least that is my experience. The 60mm still gives 2 things you won't have with the zoom - 50% more reach and extremely close focusing.

    If you aren't going to do macro, I'd get a fast general focal length prime like the 15mm f1.7, 17mm f1.8, 20mm f1.7 or one of the 25mm's. Then at least you'll feel OK just bringing a single prime lens along when you want to travel lighter or the light is going to be very low. You wouldn't just bring the 45mm along alone because it's too long for general purpose.
  9. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    I have both the 60 and 45, as well as the 12-40. Tough choice. I keep the 45 mainly for the small size (and it's a great lens too) and it was the first of the 3 I owned. As others said, the 60mm is fantastic as well and offers other benefits. Unless you are shooting moving objects in low light or need the extra separation, I think you can live w/o the 45. The longer FL of the 60mm offers additional isolation too. I prefer longer FL in general, so I'm biased. If I had to lose one of the 3, it would be the zoom, due to the size and cost associated w/it.

    I don't do macro much, but your best results will come w/a tripod so you can stop down for more DOF...particularly if you are trying to get 1-1. 12-40 does near macro w/ close focus ability. 45 does not have close focus compared to all other lenses in the lineup.
    If you don't care about macro, there is also the Sigma 60 F2.8 which is ~$200.
  10. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    There are many ways to try macro without buying new lens: extension tubes, close-up converter, reversing old manual lens.
    Sigma 60mm is same IQ as Olympus, a lot more compact and costs half of it.
  11. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    If f2.8 is "meh" at 60mm, then surely it is also "meh" at 12-40.

    75mm is a bit long for indoor use inside a home. If you were shooting events, it might be nice.
  12. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    If you start looking at telephoto lengths, 35-100/2.8 has better flexibility than 75mm.
  13. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    It depends on what you shoot and what your personal preferences are, but for me, the 12-40 has left me planning to sell my 45 f/1.8. As others have said, the differences are too slight to bother with bringing it along and changing lenses. If you really want a good portrait lens that will set itself apart from the 12-40, save up for the Oly 75 or the PL 42.5.

    The 60mm macro is a great macro lens. To help decide whether it is a better option than extension tubes, it is helpful to consider what sort of macro you plan to shoot. If it is butterflies or flowers, you don't need a macro lens. The pro lenses (including your planned 12-40) have extremely close focusing, which is more than adequate for flowers. You could get a telephoto and perhaps some extension tubes, and would then have an adequate kit for flowers, bees, butterflies and dragonflies (who don't often sit still for meticulous closeup work). But, if you want to see into the bizarre world of the very small - close ups of insect heads or tiny flower parts, or really small creatures, extension tubes alone won't cut it. You will need a macro lens, or even both.

    For basic macro, hand-holding the 60mm is certainly doable, even at 1:1. The IBIS will be good enough for you to stop down a lot and still get a shot off, depending on lighting. I should say, though, that if you have the time and space to get a tripod into position (sometimes a big if), it makes things a lot easier. For more advanced macro (focus stacking and/or magnifications greater than 1:1) you will need a tripod, but that's just a necessity of the process and true of any lens. It's not because of stopping down heavily (you shouldn't be if you are focus stacking), but because you will be taking a steady series of shots.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
  14. IvanK

    IvanK Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 18, 2015
    And 40-150 2.8 Have even better flexibility and synergy with 12-40 :p
  15. IvanK

    IvanK Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 18, 2015
    Get the 12-40 + 75 1.8, if the moneys are not issue. 75 is a compact mid range tele with beautyful subject isolation and bokeh. 45 1.8 is too close to 40 and not really worth it, and 60 2.8 is a good lens on it's own, but meh it's just 2.8, so not very good for low light. On the other hand 75 1.8 is great for low light, and will make a perfect addition to your zoom lens.
    12-40 Pro close focus capability is pretty good and might be just enought for your macro needs. It's almost "macro".
    You will have very lightweight setup that will cover almost every shooting situation.
    Few "macro" shots with 12-40 Pro, available light:
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  16. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    I own the 12-40 and the O60. Unless you really want to try REAL macro do not buy a macro lens. I tried macro and I think I wont be doing it much more. There are cheaper options just to try as already said (ext tubes, etc.). In my little experience the complexity of 1:1 macro is about DOF and it is hard to be so steady handheld: IBIS help, the picture is sharp, but the focus is off. You need some good practice and good lighting/external flash.

    The 12-40 can make really good easy close-ups.

    I advice you to buy a fast lens: in low light you need to freeze the subject movements, no matter how good the IBIS is. It can be the 25, 45, 75, etc.
    And I'd worry more about the actual use of this lens more than avoid overlappings with a zoom. If you want a fast, small walkaround lens the 25 could be the best one, 45 for portraits, 75 as a tele for sports, etc. If you are like me and do not like to swap lenses and go around with a bag do not buy lenses without a clear purpose.
  17. rezatravilla

    rezatravilla Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 7, 2013
    Reza Travilla
    12-40mm can do macro. Why thinking buying 60mm or 45mm? i suggest go for 75mm f1.8 instead. That lens is very unique and has it's own character.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  18. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    Bee 3 (900 x 675).jpg The 12-40 doesn't achieve true macro but gets close enough for most casual insect photography.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. RobDMB

    RobDMB Mu-43 Regular

    May 12, 2013
    Thanks for all the advice. I ended up just going with the 12-40mm for now. I'll use it for a bit and then decide which my next lens should be. Sounds like the 75mm should be a strong contender.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I will never be without a macro lens in my kit. I currently have 2 - a 90mm/2.8 and 55mm/2.8, which I acquired for a total of $150. Only the 55mm does 1:1...which is why I got it! It just opens up a whole new world of amazing things right before your eyes that you never even knew existed.

    This little spider was less than 1mm long, for instance.


    And this stuff. I don't even know what this stuff is. But it feels like an alien landscape to me.

    And then sometimes you get lucky. No flash and handheld, so my DoF is limited. But I was super excited to see this tiny jumping spider stalking its prey and then leaping for it (before sprinting off to grab my camera).
    • Like Like x 4