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Need help on addressing wide end!!!!

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by absolutic, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. absolutic

    absolutic Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 21, 2011
    Yet another one of 'which lenses do I get' thread.

    I got some thoughtful responses on another forums as well, but I want to see what the users on this forum, dedicated to m43 think.

    I got my Oly Om-D couple of weeks ago from another member of this forum and enjoying it thoroughly as it clearly provides a small but capable camera. I am clearly more excited with it, than with my previous NEX 5n and 7 cameras.

    I use OM-D when I don't want to use my large full frame DSLR setup. Each of them has its own place, and it is not a complete replacement of my DSLR setup; rather, something I use at different times.

    Now one of the main reasons for my m43 OM-D is its small size. I refuse to put add-on grip and attachments on it, because it starts to defeat my purpose of it being a small and discreet and light camera. If that was my only camera, maybe. But since it is one of my several cameras, I don't want to add a grip etc, because at one point I might as well carry my DSLR.

    I even find 12-50 kit lens uncomfortable, too long on the body. I find my 45 1.8 perfect on OM-D and it is there 90% of the time. That is because I don't have anything comparable at the wide end, 12-50 is nice as a macro lens, but picture quality in terms of sharpness and separation is not in the same league with 45/1.8.

    I was all ready to get the Panny 12-35 F/2.8.

    Positives: it is weather sealed, it is black like my Om-D, it complements my 45 1.8 perfectly, and it is very convenient so I don't have to always change lenses. It also looks on some pictures (I have not handled it myself) shorter than 12-50 lens which is a plus in my book. I put it in my cart on B&H site but something stopped me from clicking: order.

    Negatives of 12-35 F/2.8 for me. Might it overweight my OM-D and be uncomfortable and not as portable? Its $1099 price. The fact that it is F/2.8 which is equivalent of F/5.6 depth of field on Full Frame. I did see a thread about a possible $200 off if you buy Panasonic GX1.

    Alternatives: there are 4: 12/2.0, 14/2.5, 20/1.7, 25/1.4. I was thinking 14/2.5 and 25/1.4 combo first. Positives: almost $400 cheaper than Panny 12-35. 14/2.5 is very small which is ideal. However 25 1.4 does not look that small in the pictures I've seen it. I personally have never handled it.

    12/2.0 I am not sure if it is too wide for my needs, which would be mostly group shots in low light, people might look too distorted. 20/1.7 I used to own, and I am not sure if it autofocuses as fast as later m43 lenses, from what I remember of using it couple years before, it was also noisy when it af'd.

    So which route do I go? 12-35? 14 and 25? 12 and 25? 12 and 20? What other choices I have not considered? How else to address wide end?
  2. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ

    I hesitate to give advice on size since it's such a personal thing. My personal opinion is the 12-35 is a very reasonable size; I don't think it's much bigger than the 14-45mm kit zoom I had. On the other hand if you think the 12-50 is uncomfortably large & heavy, the 12-35 might seem unwieldy as well.

    To answer some of your questions:

    Olympus 12.0mm is a great wide angle prime. It's very similar in size to the 45mm, though heavier. Very good optical performer, the snap focus ring allows for zone focusing and easy manual focus if that's a plus for you. It is a wide angle, and will distort people in some cases especially if you're not framed perpendicular and you have people in the corners. I'm a Panasonic user though so it might be less distorted on Olympus bodies, I'm not sure.

    Panasonic 14mm - another excellent prime lens. Not in the same league as the 12mm but it's ridiculously small, light, and surprisingly good quality for a kit lens. It's sharp, contrasty and you can get some great images with it. All plastic build quality doesn't compare to the 12mm but then neither does the price. Does have some distortion in my experience.

    Panasonic 20mm - great optical character, sharp, fast aperture, sightly wider view can be better for indoor shots vs. the 25mm and of course it's a pancake. Main downside is slow & noisy AF.

    Panasonic 25mm - I love this lens. It's a great focal length for me, and the optical quality just has something in it that I prefer over the 20mm though they're both great lenses. Much faster AF than the 20mm but it's a bigger lens, and larger than the 45mm you're used to as well. Some people complain of "rattlesnake" aperture noise on the OM-D EM-5 also.

    I'm not sure what to advise you in terms of selection. Do you want one lens that stays on the camera most of the time and does a little of everything? Then the 12-35 is a winner in that respect. Do you want to spend the least money and have the smallest possible kit? Then the 14mm and 20mm would be twin pancake lenses and about as small as you could get. Want the best optical quality? Then I'd say the 12mm, 25mm, 45mm makes a great trio. On the plus side, none of these are "bad" lenses and I'd recommend each of them for different reasons, so optically at least I don't see a downside.

    Ultimately I'd say the best decisive factor would be what you actually want out of it. Do you want a versatile zoom, or a trio of small primes? Do you need the fastest possible aperture, or is f/2.8 fast enough for you? Is size the absolute most important factor?
    • Like Like x 2
  3. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Addendum - you know, thinking about this some more after I closed the thread... if size & weight of utmost importance and you're trying to spend less money, then it's hard not to recommend the 14mm and 20mm pancakes. The 20mm is small, and the 14mm is absolutely miniscule.

    The 12mm I'd recommend over the 14mm if you need the extra 2mm wide end (do you use 12mm on your kit lens?) or the extra stop more light gathering. Otherwise the 14mm is just too cheap, small, and light not to at least try out and see if it works for you.
  4. absolutic

    absolutic Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 21, 2011
    Thank you for your thoughtful email.....

    I love the feel of OM-D with 45 1.8, it feels like I am reaching far and getting sharp photos with a small package. In fact, I can even fit it in some pockets.

    I want everything of course, I want fastest possible aperture and a small size and a versatility. I am greedy I guess:)  On one hand I love the fact that I put these pancake lenses in my pocket and forget about it, until I need to pull one out. The reality is majority of my shooting with OM-D will be in low light.

    The photos I see from 12-35 are beautiful and it is such a versatile lens. I take a lot of pictures in low light of my 4-month old, who has a lot of energy. I also take a lot of pictures of my wife and her girlfriends when we go out to clubs and low light restaurants. To quickly be able to go from wide to normal would be super beneficial. And I like that it is a weather-proof lens as well.

    On the other hand 12-35 is a 2.8 when in the back of my mind I know I can get 1.4 in 25mm Panny Leica. I also read in some reviews that 12-35 gets a little softer at 35, and this is a lens that I know I will be shooting at F/2.8 only and not stopping down.
  5. absolutic

    absolutic Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 21, 2011
    28mm full frame equivalent angle is fine for what I am shooting, the extra 2mm wide is not critical. If I want ultra wide and stick with m43 format, I can add 7-14 in the future.

    now you'd recommend 14 and 20, over 14 and 25? I'd think 14, 25, and 45, is a better spread than 14, 20, 45, or is it?
  6. Sanpaku

    Sanpaku Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 24, 2012
    On the 12-35mm, a number of reviewers have noted its well balanced on the OM-D EM-5, but a lot of that probably comes down to grip - my experience is that the gripless OM-D works best EVF to eye with a two handed grip, the fingers of the left hand loose about the lens barrel.

    The 12-35mm has quite a bit of chromatic aberration (> 1.6 pixels on the wide end at every aperture) on the OM-D. This isn't an issue if you shoot RAW and process in Lightroom 4, but may be if you like the convenience of out of camera jpgs.

    The 25mm in hand is not that large, but it does make the OM-D unpocketable (like any non-pancake). Not an issue if you use a strap.

    The 20mm is very sharp, and a great, flexible, focal length, but the slow autofocus may be an issue for you.

    The 12mm is the best optically of all the m43 wide options, and its the one I want (eventually), but I plan on using it primarily for landscapes/architecture.

    Some Imatest MTF 50 (average across frame) sharpness test results from LensRentals (original post here) for some of your options (all at f/2.8 except the 12-35):

    Pany 20mm 875
    Pany 14mm 850
    Oly 12mm 845
    Pany 25mm 820
    Pany 12-35@12mm f/4 745
    Sigma 19mm 745
    Oly 17mm 590

    A difference of less than 50 in this measure is difficult to see with the eye in prints. I think the Pany 14 is hard to beat in terms of value (easily found for $160 and less on ebay), but I've haven't shot with it personally. The forthcoming Oly 17mm 1.8, which will likely be similar to Oly 12mm in build, optical quality, and price point, will be a very nice fast wide option in the classic 35mm (equiv.) focal length.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    I'd ask yourself two main questions:

    1) are you going to be willing/able to change lenses to jump between primes? A lot of times that's a real stumbling block when out with friends or trying to capture a moment.

    2) Is f/2.8 on the 12-35mm fast enough to be viable in the low light situations you're in? I've found that in most cases f/2.8 is workable especially with the noise performance on the newest crop of cameras. When it comes to others like say, campfire photos, I end up with the 25mm f/1.4 wide open and *still* pushing high ISO.
  8. Kiwi Paul

    Kiwi Paul Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 15, 2011
    Aberdeen Scotland
    I think jloden has said all there is to say and I can't think of anything to add.
    I have the 12-35 and 25. The 12-35 is a great lens, excellent IQ, performance and build quality as is the 25. Personally I prefer the convenience of a high quality zoom (12-35) instead of a nest of primes. I really don't think you need to worry about the 12-35 being softer at 35mm, it's a great lens at all focal lengths.

    Here's a 100% crop at 35mm @ f4

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

  9. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    I only recommend the 20mm over the 25mm for size/pancake form factor, and price. Otherwise I prefer the 25mm FOV, slightly faster aperture, and bokeh/rendering of the PL 25 over the 20.
  10. QualityBuiltIn

    QualityBuiltIn Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 1, 2011
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    The only one on your shortlist I have is the 14mm f2.5. It is small and neat, and cheap but not in the same league as the 45mm f1.8.
    I seriously thought of sending it back and saving for the 12mm Olympus - but I'm really not a frequent user of wide angles - great for restaurants and indoor events (which I like to capture) and obviously for landscapes (which don't really excite me) so the 45mm lives on mine. I'd expect the Oly 12mm to be the real deal if you are up for spending the money.

    The thinnest will be the just announced 15mm fixed focus f8. Don't expect quality but great bang for your buck.
  11. absolutic

    absolutic Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 21, 2011
    Wow, its nice to see that 14mm is almost as good as 20mm in terms of sharpness.
  12. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Are the 7-14 and the 9-18 not on your candidate lists because they are slower? The 9-18mm is a tiny thing, suiting your goal of having a small package. With the good high ISO performance of the OM-D I wonder if a slower but smaller lens might be a good tradeoff for you.

    That said, I am daydreaming about adding the (bigger) 12mm/f2 to my bag for those dim indoor situations where the 9-18mm is just not quite enough.
  13. absolutic

    absolutic Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 21, 2011

    Upon further thought, I am thinking that maybe 7-14 or 9-18 and a 25/1.4 might be one way to do it.

    then my lens lineup would be 7-14, 12-50, 45-150, with 25/1.4 and 45/1.8 primes. Not much overlapping there. And I can add FL-600R for flash to complete it.
  14. absolutic

    absolutic Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 21, 2011
    when you say that 14/2.5 is not in the same league, are you referring to sharpness wide open, or picture quality, or build? Because build is the least of my consideration, but sharpness wide open, af speed are very important
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