Need recommendation for a manual prime lens for portraits etc.

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by jhumroo, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. jhumroo

    jhumroo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2015
    Hi all. New E-PM2 owner here with kit lenses. I'm looking for recommendations on good prime lenses to use with an adapter on this camera. I'm mainly looking to take portraits of family/friends, and kids at play etc.

    From reading on various forums the OM Zuiko 50mm/1.8 keeps coming up, as do the Nikon VR and Canon FD lenses. Are these the best ones to use, is the Oly recommended over other brands, any other brands/lenses I should consider?

    Also, what's the most I should expect to spend on the prime? I've seen anywhere from $20 to $50+ for these on ebay.

    Thanks in advance :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  2. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    What is your consideration for wanting this kind of lens? Is it purely cost?

    The Olympus prime lenses, specifically the 25 and 45 f/1.8 lenses are spectacular, and you can get them used for a few hundred. I'd put my money that way first, even if you had to wait to save up for them.

    If you want to get by on the cheap, I can recommend the Nikon 50/1.8D (has aperture ring), which can be found used for under $100, or the Tamron 90/2.8 in Nikon mount. They older model has an aperture ring as well.
  3. EricRose

    EricRose Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 2, 2014
    The upper 12
    Real Name:
    Eric Rose
    I would imagine you will want a lens somewhere between 40 and 50mm given the crop factor with your Oly. I have used with success an old Nikkor 50mm f1.4, Nikkor 50mm f2 and Nikkor 60mm f2.8(?). Keep in mind you will not get the razor thin DOF using even the f1.4. If you can pick up an old Tessar style lens like Zeiss 50mm f3.5 used on 1950's Exakta's (plus adapter if one can be found) that would be a very special winner IMHO.
  4. jhumroo

    jhumroo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2015
    Yes, I'm considering these mainly for cost, while I'm saving up for a better body (E-M10) and the 45 f/1.8.
  5. jhumroo

    jhumroo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2015
    Not looking for razor thin DOF. I guess a f1.8 or f2 would be ideal.
  6. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I have a old Pentax Super Takumar 50mm/1.4 that I inherited from my dad. Works brilliantly.

    Any 50mm lens from one of the "camera brands" (Pentax, Olympus, Nikon, Canon, Minolta, etc...) in the f1.4 to f2 range should work wonderfully. The advantage of the faster 1.4 lenses is that they will tend to be optically better when stopped down to f2 from their maximum aperture.

    They are all so common that great examples can be found in the $50-120. Go with whatever suits your fancy, and you really can't go wrong.
  7. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    I think it's hard to hard to go wrong with any used 50mm f1.7-1.8's. It looks like none of the older/common ones sell even close to the $50 level on ebay. The number of newly minted manual lens users must be down. Personally, $20 is my limit.

    I own several 50mm's. OM50, FD50 and AR (Konica) 50. All were cheap. For these three, there's no reason to pick one over the other, except that the FD is heaviest. I would suggest you pick on the basis of price. Whatever is cheapest, as long as they make an adapter for it.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    Its also worth checking the adapted lens image threads - see if there is some characteristic that catches your eye.-

    As per previous comment, you can't go to far wrong with a name brand nifty-50.
  9. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Real Name:
    For my money I would go with any of the following on an E-PM2

    1. Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.8 (made in Japan version) - Arguably they are the sharpest of the Zuiko 50mm f1.8 lenses and is smaller, lighter, and cheaper than their f1.4 counterparts (many of which aren't terribly sharp wide open and don't offer a partial stop in between f1.4 and f2)

    2. Canon FDn 50mm f1.8 - made of plastic so its very light and can be found very inexpensively as they came stock with pretty much all the Canon AE1 Program cameras as well as others. The downsides to this lens is that the focusing isn't quite as smooth as the Olympus or others and the lens only has 5 aperture blades so bokeh stopped down isn't the best

    3. Fujian 35mm f1.7 c-mount lens - tiny, cheap and I love the character this lens has in its rendering, especially for portraits. The downside is that it can tend to flare a lot if there is a light source near or in the frame and its never going to be sharp in the corners no matter how much you stop it down. Its also a shorter focal length than the 50mm lenses so you won't get as much compression in your portraits)
  10. ManofKent

    ManofKent Hopefully still learning

    Dec 26, 2014
    Faversham, Kent, UK
    Real Name:
    My favourite nifty-fifty is the Nikkor 50mm f2 AI, but there are plenty of nice fifties out there. If you fancy close focus and don't mind the slower speed then the 55m Micro-Nikkor f3.5 is a great lens close-up and for distant stuff and very cheap. Some of the East-German Carl Zeiss Jena's can be picked up cjeaply and can be excellent, but as with the Soviet lenses quality control was variable... Very cheap though, and a good copy could be excellent.
  11. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    Like someone already mentioned , the 50mm from major brands all seem to be pretty good. If you plan to use it in low light situations, I would get a F1.4 lens instead of 1.8.
    It's definitely a good cheap alternative to 45mm.
  12. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    Real Name:
    My first adapted lens was a canon FD 50f1.8 it was OK but the build quality was crummy. Knowing that Olympus were good optics (used to own OM, used Olympus microscopes) I bought a OM50f1.8 and found it was significantly better than the FD

    This blog post from 2009 gives samples

    FD adapters can be tricky to use, but as I already had a good one I ended up getting some more FD lenses as they were cheaper, I went for a 200f4 (new FD) and a 300f4

    At those focal lengths I just didn't see a difference with the OM (and I already had good adapters from ciecio7)

    Recently I bought a Olympus 45f1.8 and naturally my first use was to compare it to my OM

    From that link you can see other links to comparing the other 50's I have and even the FD50f1.4 vs the OM50f1.8

    As was said above you can't loose.

    Personally I think rear screen only cameras stink with manual focus, I wonder if the many who hate MF also happen to have cameras without EVF ... I started on a G1 because nearly 10 years of digital cameras before 2009 made it patently clear to me that an EVF was essential to me.

    Given that my two cameras now are still a GH1 and a GF1. But I dislike using a MF lens on the GF-1
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  13. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    You could also try something longer like a 85 f/1.4 or f/2 but the price should be higher (canon fd, nikon ais).

    Or Pentax Super Takumar 55 f/1.8 or 50/1.4. Or Zenit Helios 44M-7 58mm f/2. Nikon E series 50mm is cheap and compact.
  14. jhumroo

    jhumroo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2015
    Can you comment on stopping down; I've read that on some forums and don't quite understand the need to do that. Is it not possible to shoot these adapted lenses at the maximum aperture?

  15. jhumroo

    jhumroo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2015
    Thanks you all for such good recommendations. Lots here to choose from and find on ebay :)
  16. jhumroo

    jhumroo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2015
    Thanks for the reply and examples. Eventually, I would love to get something like the E-M10 with EVF, I am using the E-PM2 as an entry into the m4/3 system, also because the E-M10 is currently not in my budget :smile:
  17. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Yes, it is absolutely possible to shoot any lens at its maximum aperture. However, there are very few lenses that can achieve their best quality when "wide open" at their max aperture. Typically, if you close the aperture by 1 stop or so, you will get a much sharper image. What many people don't realize is that in many cases you often end up with more pleasant (smoother, creamier, etc...) bokeh by stopping down slightly as well, even if a little bit more of the image is in focus.

    By going with an 50mm f1.4 lens you have a bit more flexibility. You can either use it wide open and have better low-light performance or shallower depth of field at the expense of a somewhat softer "glowier" image, or if you stop it down to f2, you will usually end up with an image that is sharper and clearer than a f1.8 or f2 lens used wide open.

    Obviously it costs a bit more, but unless you are on a very tight budget, at $80 or so one of the many good quality 50mm/1.4 lenses is probably the best lens bargain available today, in my opinion.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  18. jhumroo

    jhumroo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2015
    Thank you so much for the clarification.

    Having never used this setup, do you set the lens to max while focusing, then stop down and take the shot--letting the camera decide at Aperture priority what the Shutter Speed should be?
  19. nuclearboy

    nuclearboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 28, 2011
    Ellicott City, MD
    Real Name:
    I would get the Canon FD 50mm f1.4. These are about $70 in the USA in excellent condition. Adapters are $15.
  20. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Real Name:
    Yes, you will get more accurate focus that way.

    Note that some lenses, such as the 'Auto' Pentax Takumars on m42 mount, have a Auto/Manual switch which makes it easy to open the aperture for focusing. This requires that the mount adapter not block the pin on the lens, but many adapters including the cheap fotodiox can easily be disassembled to remove the flange.