Lenses for the rest of us

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Mellow, Aug 22, 2012.

  1. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    I was thinking about this subject the other day when drooling over reviews of the new 12-35mm and 75mm lenses. As much as I'd love to add them to my kit, I just know it will never happen: I just can't afford them. And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this opinion.

    For example, my brother just picked up a used G1 body at a great price, and is now also part of the m43 community. But, like me, he's just not going to plunk down $1,000 for a lens no matter how good it is. He's eager to try different lenses on his camera, but he doesn't have the budget to buy the very best of them.

    So I thought it might be useful to start a discussion of the great 'value' lenses in m43: lenses that can be bought (relatively) cheaply, yet provide excellent IQ and performance. I recognize that the description "relatively" is a problem--to some people, especially those accustomed to large DLSR systems, the Panasonic 7-14mm UWA zoom is a great value at $800. But that's not what I mean. As an arbitrary limit, I'd like to confine the discussion to lenses that cost no more than the price of an entry-level m43 body--about $300-$400.

    Here's my list, in order of 'value'. Prices represent the lowest prices one can typically obtain the lens for in either new or excellent used condition, as seen on eBay (US dollars).

    • Panasonic 14mm f/2.5: $160. One of my favorite m43 lenses despite its low cost because it's sharp, relatively fast, snappy, and just plain tiny. It's the lens that makes an E-PM1 or GF/GX style camera truly pocketable.
    • Panasonic or Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens: $90. Even though it's often maligned, the standard kit lens by either manufacturer is actually pretty good.
    • Olympus m.zuiko 40-150mm f/4-5.6 ($140) OR Panasonic 45-200mm f/4-5.6 ($180). Both of these telephoto zooms are great values, providing more than decent IQ at a reasonable price. The advantage of the Panasonic is its extra reach and IS; the advantage of the Olympus is its size/weight and lower price.
    • Any legacy 50mm approximately f/2 lens + adapter: $50. I've tried many of these, and my favorite is the Yashica ML 50mm f/2. You can pay a little more for faster glass, but IMO it's not worth it: f/2 gives you enough DOF for a whole head and many of the faster lenses need to be stopped down to this aperture anyway to become reasonably sharp. A 50mm lens makes a favorite portrait lens in m43.
    • Panasonic 20mm f/1.7: $330. Pretty expensive (for this list), but a fabulous lens that offers a combination of three things not found together in any other system lens: (a) fast speed; (b) excellent IQ; and (c) small size. It's cheaper and significantly smaller than the PanaLeica 25mm f/1.4, which is an even better lens but unfortunately out of the price range of many users (about $500 used).
    • Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6: $170. This was the standard kit lens for the early Panasonic mirrorless cameras, and it's widely considered the best of the bunch. It costs more than the later versions, is larger and isn't quite as snappy, but it's somewhat sharper and has excellent IS via an external on/off switch (very useful for Olympus users).
    • Olympus 45mm f/1.8: $350. Big jump in price compared to the legacy options above, but this is a spectacular lens: sharp, great bokeh, and very speedy AF operation. If you shoot this FL a lot this lens may very well be worth every penny.

    I'd love to hear other suggestions, or whether you agree or disagree with my choices.
    • Like Like x 5
  2. nylife

    nylife Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2012
    You can probably add the new sigma to the list 19mm f2.8 has good reviews and its about $199, last i checked on amazon
  3. rhoydotp

    rhoydotp Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 5, 2012
    Toronto, Ont
    there are also a lot of cheap "adapted" lenses around that can be on this list. too many to mention by name :) 
  4. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    Great list. Amin also has a post along these lines. 12 biggest bargains, I think, and includes bodies as well.

    The E-M5 has brought more users in to m4/3s, and many of those users are either used to higher end DSLR/lens prices, or have sold off DSLR kits and are moving to m4/3s. With that influx of cash we are definitely seeing more focus on the higher end stuff. Definitely good to remember just how capable the "affordable" end of the product line is. It is truly a strength of the format.

    I know the rule is generally to spend on glass and not bodies, but I am pretty happy with the E-M5 and what would mostly be considered lower cost lenses. I use the E-M5 for every shot, so I can justify the cost. I can't justify spending a $1000 on a lens I might use 5% of the time. At least not yet. :) 

    edit: definitely agree about the Sigma 19mm. Also the Oly 14-150 for $330 refurbed fits the parameters.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. cmpatti

    cmpatti Mu-43 Veteran

    May 8, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    An excellent list. My only quibble is placing the Pany 14mm at the top. Although it seems to be conventional wisdom that the 14mm is the "best value in MFT," I don't see how, from a value perspective, it can compare with the basic kit lenses. For example, the Oly 14-42 II can be had for about half the price of the prime. My Oly 14-42 II is at least as good optically (actually, better) at 14mm than my Pany 14mm. The prime is slightly faster and smaller, but the zoom offers all those other focal lengths. While I agree that the little prime deserves to be somewhere on the list, the kit zoom does more for less and is therefore a better value.
  6. TDP

    TDP Guest

    Why not just buy a good point and shoot with a wide ranging zoom lens?
  7. deprivedofsleep

    deprivedofsleep Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 26, 2012
    Northants, UK
    Great thread and thanks for the tip on the Yashica 50. I shall be scouting one out as they seem very good value.
  8. rhoydotp

    rhoydotp Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 5, 2012
    Toronto, Ont
    any suggestions?
  9. TDP

    TDP Guest

    Any that fits your budget and fits your hands. Pick a price and try out all the offerings, buy the one you like.
  10. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Great addition, I forgot about that one. The 30mm as well, though I think this FL is less useful.
  11. rhoydotp

    rhoydotp Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 5, 2012
    Toronto, Ont
    thanks you are really helpful and on-topic with your posts :bravo-009:
  12. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Sorry, but I'm not sure I understand this comment. I created this list for someone who'd bought into the m43 system with an m43 body, or body + kit lens, and was looking for relatively inexpensive lenses to add.

    Or is it your point that doing m43 "on the cheap" is a bad idea--better to just buy a good P&S instead?
  13. TDP

    TDP Guest

    The question is about getting good IQ for little money, and the OP said in his final line "I'd love to hear other suggestions, or whether you agree or disagree with my choices."

    The OP also stated "lenses that cost no more than the price of an entry-level m43 body--about $300-$400", so if you are looking at 600-800 dollars total, there are a LOT of very nice all in one cameras out there for that price range. So while I am not listing any lenses (anyone can go on B&H and sort m43 lenses by price), I'm merely offering an alternative viewpoint.

    And there is no reason to attack me, thank you very much.
  14. TDP

    TDP Guest

    That was the point I was trying to make, that there are very high quality P&S cameras out that can produce great images for less money than m43 (or DSLR) plus lenses, if money is the factor.

    Some people even take great shots with iPhones, but I never seem to be able to pull that magic off :) 
  15. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    I disagree with this. I think a larger sensor cam like m43 is better even with kit lens than a enthusiast compact like Panasonic LX.
    They can also be had for much less. You can get earlier m43 models with kit for 200. You can add a nice native prime to it for the amount it will cost you to get a nicer compact. So I think your math is off and your initial comment was unhelpful and a bit rude. :cool: 
  16. TDP

    TDP Guest

    I wasn't trying to be rude to anyone, disregard my posts. OP, I apologize.
  17. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    I think you got most of the best value lenses around (I own most of them hah).

    Though on the expensive side (but not really 'premium'), I'd say the 9-18mm is a good value lens compared to the 7-14mm and an UWA isn't something you can easily substitute. Or you could also argue if you wanted UWA the samyang/rokinon fisheye (defished) is a very viable alternative for ~300$.
  18. blue

    blue Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2010
    "Budget" m43 kit: second hand G1 or similar (£100), 14mm (£150*), legacy 50mm + adapter (£50), 45-200mm (£200), macro converter (£50).

    Total £550 for quite a decent range of gear.

    (* I actually got the 14mm for about £50 after buying it as part of a kit and selling the camera body. Possible to get the other stuff cheaper with second hand/cashback deals too)
  19. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    You and I think alike! Yeah, the biggest gap in the affordable lens lineup is UWA. The native lenses are pretty expensive, and because of the crop factor it's practically impossible to find legacy substitutes. I too ended up buying the Oly 9-18mm, because I love shooting WA and there's not much else out there.

    I consider the fish-eye something else entirely, though I confess I haven't ever shot with one.

    I think there are also some WA adapters that can be used might give you 12mm, but I don't know anything about them . . . anyone?
  20. aragorn1980

    aragorn1980 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 10, 2012
    Athens Greece
    Hello all it's great to be in the forum. May i add the Samyang 500mm f 6.3 as a possible solution for an affordable telephoto lens? With a T mount adapter the overall cost is approximately around 250$.
    • Like Like x 1
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.