Helping friend decide on a budget prime

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Desert_B, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. Desert_B

    Desert_B Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 8, 2013
    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    I am continuing to help my friend prepare for her baby's birth, camera wise, even as I am brand new to m4/3 myself. She got a G5 with 14-42 and 45-150; a pretty good price, so she is happy with that.

    With a tight budget, if she were to invest in an additional lens right now, the Sigma 19 and Sigma 30 seem like the only options.

    The 19 seems like a versatile, everyday focal length. However, I'm wondering if she might find the angle of view too wide (also, since the kit lens already covers focal lengths starting at 14, I'm not sure if the Sigma 19/2.8 is fast enough to give a whole lot of advantage over the kit).

    Having 2.8 at 30mm seems like a nice option, where she could get some shallower DOF and a fairly flattering focal length for portraits. That being said, 2.8 isn't super fast and she might be better off saving up for a faster prime.

  2. monk3y

    monk3y Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 14, 2013
    in The Cloud...
    If you want shallower DOF and good for portrait lens I think the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 is the best bang for the buck at the moment IMHO.
  3. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012

    She should save up and go for the 45mm; a used one wouldn't cost that much more than a new Sigma. I have all three lenses, and, though they are all great value for money (and great performance overall), I'd say the 45mm is a must have for any :43: user.
  4. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 16, 2011
    Hayward, WI
    William B. Lewis
    My choice was to get the Olympus 17/2.8 first. I like the size of the lens, find the images I've seen from it far better than some would claim and f/2.8 is significantly faster than f/3.5 (at the wide end) of the kit lens. With judicious use of the ISO & IS features of digitial I find that I rarely miss something faster and significantly more expensive.

    The Olympus 45/1.8 is what I have begun saving for next.

    I decided to pass on the Sigma lenses because of their size an the fact that they were designed for other mounts in the first place. If I'm going to only use the center portion of the lens' glass, I'll stick to the MF adapted lenses I have. Also, I (personally) have had issues with Sigma construction quality and QC in the past so I'm not inclined to spend money on their products anymore. Your Milage May, of course, Vary.

    Hope this is of some help.
  5. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    To me, the 30mm f2.8 is a fine performer, but I'd have little use for the focal length. The 19mm would be a good short normal prime, but I don't see where I'd consciously use it vs. the kit zoom lens, which is less than

    I would suggest that for a prime to be useful, it should either be a short fast tele, or a wide angle or a fast normal - the Sigma 19mm and 30mm really are none of the above.

    Short tele, both the Olympus 45mm f1.8 and the Sigma 60mm f2.8 would seem to be worthy choices. The Oly can be gotten used for under $300, the Sigma can be gotten new for under $250

    As far as wide is concerned, the only budget choice really is the 14mm f2.5, but it can be gotten new split out of kits for $175 or so, maybe a bit less with careful shopping.
  6. Desert_B

    Desert_B Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 8, 2013
    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Terrific comments and tips. Keep 'em coming!

    Sent from my Nexus S 4G using Mu-43 mobile app
  7. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    There are some used 45s for sale on this forum for prices around $300.
  8. mnhoj

    mnhoj There and back again

    Dec 3, 2011
    Los Angeles
    John M
    I would save for the 20mm 1.7 and a cheap manual flash for indoor bounce with the zooms.

    Or the 45mm. :smile:
  9. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    For the longest time I've used the Panasonic 20mm for taking shots of my kids - never failed me. Never mind the slower AF - as you said the subject is still a baby.

    When I finally got the funds for the O45, I got it too. Those two lenses are keepers - they're what's keeping me rooted in the :43: system.
  10. sammykhalifa

    sammykhalifa Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 22, 2012
    Pittsburgh PA
    I've had the 20 for about a year and it's never done me wrong. 45 is on the way and I'm sure I'll love that as well. :)

    Looking at different places from different people, it seems almost unanimous that those are two lenses you want for your system (though many like the more expensive 25 over the 20). I don't think you should go for something just because someone else thinks you should, but when opinions are so across-the-board, there's probably something to it.
  11. Desert_B

    Desert_B Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 8, 2013
    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    I have this fear that my friend will be at the hospital with her new baby and not all that happy with the kit lens. Time is not our friend here since she will deliver in 4 weeks or sooner. I really want her to have something faster so she can avoid flash.... also something not too telephoto due to the close quarters. I'm probably worrying too much especially since she is new to photography.

    Sent from my Nexus S 4G using Mu-43 mobile app
  12. janneman

    janneman Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 6, 2012
    Jan (John) Kusters
    I think the 19 mm is the way to go; slightly faster, and a good field of view for general use.

    As for Bokeh; many who are not that deep into photography tend to complain about unsharp pictures when confronted with a shallow DOF. Bokeh demands serious attention to where the limited field of sharpness is positioned, and bouncing toddlers do not offer much time for that. 2.8 and 19 mm are already on the border for quick shooting...
  13. BadKarMah

    BadKarMah Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 20, 2012
    I just picked up a used Oly 45 1.8 this week, $275 shipped and with a bag and a UV filter. Keep looking for deals like that. I found it on

  14. AceAceBaby

    AceAceBaby Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 21, 2013
    +1 for the 19mm. It also focuses very close (20cm - about 8" ), I've found it very versatile. I got mine for less than $100 (older model) from the forum. I see one on eBay for $120 BIN + regular USPS shipping cost.

    I may live in a different world to others, but to me, when it comes to prime lenses, $300+ and "budget" don't work in the same sentence.
  15. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    The Sigmas are cheap and focus quickly and dependably (in my 30mm experience) in dimmer indoor light.
    The 45 is good too but long for indoors.
    The 17mmF2.8 is my best lens because it takes great pictures, but it is no way a lens for dim indoors ...
    So since the goalposts have moved into a hospital ward I'll vote for the Sigma 19mm or 30mm.
    Buy the 45mm later.
    Buy a pancake (any of them) later still.
  16. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Of the two I'd go with the S19 for a baby, simply because of the closer proximity to the subject the wider lens offers. That said, I'm really not sure the lens is going to provide a leap in IQ and low-light ability from the kit zoom that's commensurate with its cost. Personally, I'd save up for the optically faster Panasonic 20mm even if that meant sticking with the (quite capable) kit lens for the first few months of the kid's life.
  17. Uncle Frank

    Uncle Frank Photo Enthusiast

    Jul 26, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    I take a lot of pictures of my grandbabies, and my most used lenses are the Olympus 20/1.7 and the Panasonic 45/1.8. Since neither of these lenses is image stabilized, I think your friend would have better results from the shorter focal length 20 on her g5. The 20 is remarkably sharp and contrasty, even when wide open. Using it at f/1.7 and iso1600 (which is about as far as I push my g5) would allow her to take pictures in very low light conditions. The 20 is also a good focal length for indoor images. Here's a sample.


    The 45 is a bit more difficult to use, but a delightful lens that's on my camera about 75% of the time. Here's why.


    She really couldn't go wrong with either the 20 or 45, but I think the 20 might be the better starting point. Hope this helps.
  18. jziegler

    jziegler Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 15, 2012
    Salem County, New Jersey
    I'd say got for the Sigma 30mm. I have both the 19 and the 30, as well as the Panasonic 14mm (from an Asian split kit via eBay), so that's most of the budget primes. The 30mm gets a lot of use for portraits of my baby (1 year old now). I use all 3 of these a fair bit, but the 30 is the one I seem to go to the most. That said, in the hospital, all I had was my E-pl1 and P14, and that was just fine there. Would I have liked a wider aperture or better high ISO? Sure, but not at the expense of taking my DSLR (since sold), and that was the m43 gear I had at the time. I was not not to take photos of my son, but to be there for my wife and son.
  19. psknapp

    psknapp Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 7, 2013
    If the key is the budget, the Sigmas are great. I have the 19mm and the 30mm and much prefer them to the kit lens. They are significant improvements, in my experience over the kit lens (note: I have an Olympus, not a Panasonic.) I like the Sigmas enough that I am considering the 60mm in the future as another budget purchase.
    Though I am also considering the 20mm and the 45mm. You really can't go wrong with them as they are amazing lenses.
  20. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    For portraits on a budget she might also consider the Sigma 60mm.
    I do not own it but it seems like a nice lens on a small budget.
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