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Gaps in focal length

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by BigTam, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    I used to have the 9-18, 12-40, 40-150 and the O25, O45 and 75. While acknowledging the superb quality of the 12-40 and 75, I wanted to reduce the size and weight of my gear. Sold the 12-40 (no replacement) and replaced the 75 with the Sigma 60. I hardly ever use the 40-150, so that goes too.

    Although the 45 is a great lens, I feel the gaps between the 25 and 45, and 45 and 60, are too small and am considering just selling the 45, leaving me with the 25 and the 60. A couple of steps forwards or back would seem to work.

    On the short end, if Olympus announce a 9mm prime, as rumoured, I would consider selling the 9-18, as I use it mostly as a 9mm prime. Again, is the gap here to the 25 too large? I should mention that I have an X100, which, in m43 terms, is a 17mm.

    Anyone else contemplating the steps between primes?
  2. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    When I first started playing in photography in the '60s there were no zooms, only primes. There were probably several rules of thumb about how to choose a set of lenses but the main one seemed to be that lenses should be related in focal length by a factor of 2 or so. On that basis if you used a standard 50mm lens (35mm film camera) you'd go to a 25 as a wide and your telephotos would go 100, 200, 400mm and so on up as far as you needed or could afford. If you needed something in between 2 focal lengths you either cropped or you 'zoomed with your feet".

    I think that works reasonably well at longer than normal focal lengths but I don't think it works as well at shorter focal lengths. The wider you go, the more difference a few mm can make plus I think wides are personal. In my film days I went for a 28mm, then a 24mm as my wides and I never owned or used a 35mm. With M43 I've discovered a liking for the 17mm view and I also have the 12mm but I don't have a 14mm. The 12/17 combination seems to work fine for me these days.

    Is a gap too large? I think it depends on the photographer. It is too large if there's a field of view inside that gap which you find yourself cropping to achieve on a regular basis, perhaps less so if you find yourself always needing to step back or forward to try and capture a certain area. On the other hand if you're happy shooting with the lenses you have and don't find yourself cropping or adjusting your shooting position to achieve a specific field of view then the gap isn't too large. You've chosen the right set of lenses for your shooting style and subjects.

    You don't have to cover the whole range unless you're regularly shooting across the whole range. I do a lot of city walk around/urban landscape sort of stuff and some occasional country landscape stuff so my 12/17/25 set of primes works fine for that. At the long end I tend mostly only to try shooting birds, and not much of that at present. I tend to end up using either the 40-150 or 75-300 but whatever I use I use it mostly at its longest. I rarely use anything between 25 and 150/300 and that's a big gap. Actually I do have lenses that fit into that gap including the Oly 45 and 75 primes but they don't get much use, simply because of my normal choice of subjects and the distances I work at with those subjects.

    Don't worry about trying to ensure you don't have big gaps in your focal length progression. Buy the lenses which work for what you shoot and how you shoot it. There may be gaps in the progression but that's not an issue unless there's a focal length inside that gap that you really find yourself wanting to reach for. If you never have an urge to mount a lens you don't have, or if you're happy cropping to get a particular field of view, you've got what you need.

    I think many people find they work with separate groups of lenses which cover discrete ranges with gaps in between. It's a natural outcome of our subject choices and our personal styles.
    • Like Like x 4
  3. broody

    broody Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 8, 2013
    Aye, I own the O17, PL25 and O45, along with 12-32mm zoom. I usually pack the 17 with 45mm, or the 25 with 12-32mm. It's just too much of a hassle to swap lenses if the perspective difference isn't really considerable. Yet ultimately the focal lengths you need depend entirely upon your own style - where you want a 9mm for wide angle, others will be happy with 17mm, and yet others will want the 7.5mm fisheye.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    I'm comfortable with the 14, Oly 25, and Sigma 60. I find that a reasonable spacing. If I really needed 45 in a pinch I could mount my 45-175mm zoom and use it at the short end - but I never do. If I'm shooting that lens, I'm pretty much shooting it from 75 to 175.

    I don't think you'd be comfortable with nothing between 9mm and 25mm. I think you need something from 12-17 in that space. What I would recommend is the inexpensive Panny 14mm, and a cheap wide converter, as I described in this thread:


    You might find you never need that Oly 9mm lens.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    More lenses just clutters your vision. Less is more! Go for it!
    • Like Like x 1
  6. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    I too sort of like the idea of doubling focal lengths (roughly), once you're within the 35mm to telephoto range. The previous comment about a few mm making a difference at the wide end is true.

    Currently, I use a 17mm (~34), a 30mm (~60) and a 50mm or 55mm adapted (~100-110). Not really doubling, but close enough for me. Any wider though and you are talking about radically different lenses. The 14mm, for example, isn't like the 17mm, and the 12mm is even further off.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Yes. Back when I was shooting film NIkons my most-used lenses were my 24 and my 105, the wide angle for general shooting and the short tele mostly for portraits. I had a 28 that I hardly ever used, and a 55 macro that was used even less. My 200 saw only very occasional duty. I never did own a "normal" lens. Ratios? I never did think in terms of ratios.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Doug said "I don't think you'd be comfortable with nothing between 9mm and 25mm". This is probably true, but that's why I keep the X100. At 17mm m43 equivalent, it's possibly my favourite focal length.
  9. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I use zoom lenses, they come with a guaranteed no gap policy. :biggrin:
    • Like Like x 1
  10. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I've been using my E-M1 recently with a fairly lightweight prime combo of 12, 25, 45, and 75 and that works really well. The x2 rule of thumb seems to work for me. I keep the 9-18 too for when I need something wider. In fact, if the rumour of a new 9 prime is true then I would replace the 12 with that and swap the 25 for a 17. That would probably suit my shooting style better.

    As regards the gap from 9 to 25 - I agree with others. Too big!
    • Like Like x 1
  11. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    I was thinking along the same lines recently, sold off the 45 and picked up the 60 macro. My core kit now is the 9-18, 25/1.4 and Oly 60 and I'm evaluating it for a while to see if I miss the 45. I also have the 17/1.8 but I'm basically just holding on to it for when I need an indoor/low-light lens that is wider than the 25... But I agree that I would not go with just a 9mm prime up to the 25mm.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Perhaps I should tackle this more systematically. I shoot family and friends, church interiors - sometimes with details -, and travel.

    Family and friends: indoor, group: 9mm; outdoor, group: 17mm (X100).
    Family and friends: indoor, single: 25mm; outdoor, single: 60mm.
    Church: 9mm; details: 60mm
    Travel: 9mm landscape, large city vistas; 17mm medium vistas; 25mm rest.

    Am I missing something?
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