Next lens suggestions?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by alder, May 23, 2016.

  1. alder

    alder Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 3, 2016
    About 6 months ago I got an Olympus OM-D E-M10 with the kit lens (Zuiko 14-42mm) and a zoom lens (Zuiko 40-150mm) that came as part of an Amazon bundle. Everything's been great, and I'm thinking about investing in a new lens.

    I've been looking on the internet for suggestions and the consensus seems to be either "Depends on your shooting style," which is not particularly helpful--as a newbie, I can imagine using pretty much any lens. I wanted to ask here for your two cents, given the lenses I have and the kinds of situations where I take pictures:
    • hiking (landscapes and landscape portraits)
    • flowers/plants
    • city tourist photos (streets, buildings, markets)
    • whale-watching and wildlife
    • restaurants (esp. low-light)
    • sunsets
    Right now I usually carry both lenses for hiking or other extended trips where I'm carrying a backpack; for cities and day-to-day use, I just use the 14-42mm.
    I can imagine using a wide-angle lens for summits and broad landscapes, and wouldn't mind carrying one more lens if it's worth it. On the other hand, it would also be nice to have a lighter/smaller lens for cities/day-to-day use (instead of the 14-42mm) but I'm worried I'll miss the zoom too much. And right now I have relatively bad photos in low light, and I wouldn't mind improving those as well.

    Any advice, including the advice to not buy a new lens right now, is more than welcome. Generic suggestions about what kind of lens I'd get the most out of (e.g., wide-angle vs. prime) and specific comments about certain lenses are all welcome. (But I am looking for mid-range or lower in terms of price.)

    Below are a few of my OM-D photos (all unedited) that I like, so you can see the kinds of photos I like to take. All except the first were taken with the 14-42mm.

    P4230892.JPG P4020539.JPG



    Last edited: May 23, 2016
  2. SkiHound

    SkiHound Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2012
    Sorry, but I pretty much agree with the "it depends on your shooting sty'e." Hard to recommend focal lengths for folks. I don't really think 1 lens will suffice for all the things you listed. The 12-40 is very versatile. It will be wider than your current lens (quite a difference between 14 and 12 at the wide end), better optically, has good close focusing capabilities for things like flowers, and it has a faster aperture and will be better in low light. As m43 lenses go it's relatively big and heavy, but an excellent everyday lens. Might be bigger and heavier than you want to carry hiking, though not really burdensome. Won't suffice for most wildlife photography, just not long enough. But, the 40-150 you own is actually a pretty dang good lens. Has some limitations, but is a huge value lens. For what you describe I'd then suggest a fast, normalish focal length prime as your next lens (Panasonic 15 f/1.7, Oly 17 f/1.8, Oly 25 f/1.8, or Panasonic 25 f/1.4). For light, small, and relatively inexpensive the Oly 25 f/1.8 has a very good reputation. But I could make a case for any of the other options. You also mentioned wide angle for vistas. IMO, wide angles usually (not always) produce boring photos unless you have strong foreground elements. They just don't seem to capture large vistas the way our eyes see them, but they are great at emphasizing the relationship between strong foreground, middle ground, and background elements (think close up of flowers on the banks of a lake with mountains in the background).
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  3. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    The two lenses you already have cover quite a range of relative normal shooting, but are limited in lower light levels.
    I'd think a relatively fast prime of normal to moderate wide angle focal length might do a lot to increase your options especially if you add extension tubes (for flowers).
    Depending on your budget & how much you are willing to carry, that could be something like the cheap & small 17mm 2.8 or one of the better rated 1.8 lenses.

    I find the 9mm Body cap, can also be a fun lens to offer something different - but it's more of a challenge to get good compositions at such wide views.

    Of course neither of these options would be much use for whales/wildlife, where you want a longer lens than your 150mm - only really affordable using adapted legacy lenses (fully manual). Getting the most out of these lenses will be challenging!
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
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  4. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Ideally you add a new lens for a very specific purpose after you found problems with your current gear. Problem with focal length, low light, etc.

    You already cover a very good range of focal lengths and outdoor your lenses are fast enough. Yes, going to 12mm may help sometimes but you can also do a simple two shots or four shots stitching when needed, or a couple of steps back when possible. If you feel that your current lens is always too long the 9-18 is a common addition or the WCON-P01 giving you a 11mm view (it does not work with the 14-42 EZ/pancake version). Which one depends on size, budget and how much you are "obsessed" with ultimate image quality.
    Same for the tele end: if you go after free wildlife or birds the 75-300 is an option but a quite specialized and "bulky" one.
    The Samyang 7.5 fisheye is another nice lens (or the BCL-9 toy lens).

    Then there is the indoor world where a prime helps a lot: a 25mm (Pana 1.7 or Oly 1.8) is a common "do-it-all" lens. If you prefer something for portraits/headshots (not in your list) the Oly 45/1.8 is the lens or the Sigma 60/2.8. Another reason for primes, long ones especially, is that can give you a much more blurry background. This is not much relevant for landscapes, where you use small apertures, but nice to have in many other situations.
    The "problem" here is the overlap with your current lenses so you get a 25 or a 45 just for a few specific reasons: better IQ, low light and background blur.

    The more lenses you have the less you use each and the more often you find that you have the wrong lens on the camera. And the more you decide to just leave one at home. And whatever lenses you have you'll always find a situation when you would need a wider/longer one, part of the game is working around these limitations.

    My advice is to spend some time on the Showcase thread on this site (or any other) and see what pictures you like, what gear was used, understand if your current gear and your technique can or can not do it, experiment a little, ask, etc. This is, IMO, the ideal way...that about nobody follows :)

    Another common suggestion is to spend those moneys in photography books or travels where you can practice having fun.

    Last one: get a super cheap manual focus 50/1.8 lens (Canon FD for example) + dumb adapted and play a little with that (if you like this focal length).
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  5. rmcnelly

    rmcnelly Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 21, 2015
    Portsmouth, VA
    Having transitioned to M43 from a Fuji X100 (has a fixed 35/2.0 equivalent lens), I got the Panasonic Leica 15/1.7 (30mm equivalent) as the first lens for my GX8. It was the only lens used for more than 6 months and I love it.

    This lens has a field of view very similar to your smart phone (iPhone is 28mm equivalent). It has the ability to focus extremely close and is wonderful in low light (and is my go to lens if visiting a museum).

    I think you would be happy with any fast prime of similar focal length.

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 mobile app
  6. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Your two lenses already cover your listed scenarios quite well except low light. For a low cost fast prime in such situations try the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 or 25mm f/1.7. The 20mm is not very fast to AF compared to most of the newer designs, especially on Olympus bodies, but is a tiny pancake and excellent optically. The 25mm is much more conventional, but I find it a little large. If you're mostly posing for shots in low light in group situations, the AF on the 20mm should be adequate, and the slightly wider focal length will help with group shots whilst still being tight enough for single portraits in a pinch.
  7. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2015
    You could also consider the oly 12-50mm for extra wide and the semi-macro capability (I would think you should be able to pick one up at a good price second-hand) this could replace your 14-42 (which you could sell) and you could pick up aused prime like pana 20mm 1.7 or the pana 25mm 1.7 (both can be found at reasonable second hand prices - I think) that could work as low-light lens and for lightweight day-to-day use lens (however the 14-42 is already pretty small and low weight).

    Best thing is probably to hold out on any purdchases and wait a bit - shoot as much as possible then you are in a much better position to figure out what you actually need and make a better informed decision based on your actual needs.

    However if you choose to buy something now you really cant go wrong with any lens (check the forums - you will find every lens represented and fantastic images for all)
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  8. bbarnett51

    bbarnett51 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 23, 2015
    My recommendation is a fast prime 20mm or under. These are good for low light, environmental portraits, and can do nice landscape. The 20 1.8 is an affordable pancake lens that has a great reputation and following. I'm choosing the 17 1.8 bc I like the focal length and fast focus.
    On the opposite end of the spectrum are the zooms that I think you would also enjoy. You have a nice range of zooms but could go longer. The 50-200swd 2.8-3.5 would give you a really stellar outdoor lens. It's fast, weather sealed, razor sharp, and great for portraits too.
  9. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    Lighter/smaller and good in low light means Primes.

    Landscapes - 12mm or 15mm. 15mm especially for landscape portraits

    Flowers/plants - 60mm macro, but the 40-150mm may cover this enough.

    City Tourism - 15mm, 17mm 1.8, 20mm or any of the the autofocus 25mms

    Wildlife- your 40-150mm should be OK for now unless you go out at dusk.

    Restaurants - see City Tourism

    Sunsets - see Landscapes

    I would say the 15mm will give you a bit of everything. It's really small too.
  10. pcovers

    pcovers Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 13, 2015
    Give in to the force. You are gonna need a couple to satisfy the itch/need. Since you have 14-150 covered, you either want:
    • a prime in the same range but faster with potentially better IQ (there are many of those in your current range)
    • or a zoom that replaces one of your current lenses that offers both better IQ and wider apertures (e.g., 12-40mm F2.8)
    • or a wide zoom outside of your range like the 9-18mm
    • or wider and faster prime, like a Panny or Oly 12 f2
    Which variables are most important to you. That will lead you to which solution fits.
  11. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    This would be my vote either as to do first or if you (talking to the original poster) want to look into a small fast prime, an upgraded zoom should still be on your bucket list.

    While a small fast prime would satisfy a couple of your wants (better low light performance and a small light "city" lens), it sounds like for general use you may benefit the most with an upgrade of your kits lenses, primarily of the 14-42mm one.

    So one thing you might want to do is go through a lot of your photos and start listing all the focal lengths you used, especially of your favorites. Kind of tedious, but if you do it to LOTS of photos over many shooting situations, you should start to see a trend of what focal lengths you like to use the most and will help point you towards a prime that best matches what you normally shoot.

    In the meantime, save your pennies and start thinking about something like the Oly 12-40 PRO or the Panasonic 12-32/2.8.
  12. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    You seem to be interested in close-up shots and you have no real macro capability. The O60 2.8 is a wonderful lens and Olympus is coming out with a 30mm 3.5 macro in the very near future. Obviously check out the Panasonic counterparts as well. The 60 is also a nice telephoto.
  13. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    I would probably go with a normal-ish focal length prime. One of the 25mm's if you take a lot of pictures with people in them. 17mm f1.8 or 20mm f1.7 if you lean more towards scenery.

    As another suggestion, the MCON-P01 is a pretty cheap add-on to the 14-42 II and 40-150mm which adds great closeup ability for not much money. That's affordable even if you go with a different prime lens as I suggested above.
  14. I really think the smartest thing would be to wait a bit. Keep shooting with what you have and sooner or later, you'll start to see the focal lengths that you use more frequently. Keep an eye on your EXIF data. The thing with primes though is that you can't just have's a somewhat unwritten rule. Some guys live a lifetime with just one, but most succumb to the lure. So before you step into the deeper end of the pool, a little planning and forethought can keep your bank account from total annihilation..unlike some of us here. Done carefully, you can pull it off and make it work. Careful used buying and grey market will help when you're ready.
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  15. Alex Aina

    Alex Aina Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2016
    Also, a 2d-hand 50:2 macro with a mmf3 adaptor could give you a low-light prime lens, a macro one and allows u razor sharp portraits too... in 1 lens!
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  16. thranth

    thranth Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 3, 2015
    Houston, Texas
    The only thing you're lacking would be a brighter lens for indoors and low light situations. I think that if you want to provide some context in a shot, a 25mm lens is too tight for most indoor situations like houses and restaurants.

    I would suggest the 15mm f1.7 or the 17mm f1.8, as both are small and compact. The 20mm f1.7 is also good but I find that it focuses a bit slow on Olympus cameras, especially compared to the 15mm and 17mm.
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
  17. kingduct

    kingduct Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2013
    I agree with a few others that a budget normal prime is the way to go here -- it lets you try something a bit different and if you don't like it, you can usually sell it without losing too much money (as long as you buy it used).

    I own both the Panasonic 20/1.7 and 25/1.7 (I prefer the 20mm). The Olympus 17/1.8 and 25/1.8 are also well-regarded, though I've never used them. You should be able to get any of these used for less than $300, with the Panasonics for less than $200.
  18. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    If you should decide to try to get a prime an exercise to choose one is to use your zoom, for a few hours, fixed on one single focal length.

    Even if you can move back and forth and get a similar framing with different lenses the perspective is going to be different and also in real life you do not want/can to walk every time so the lens will force a different kind of pictures and after a while you will also start to look around you with that framing.
  19. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2015
    Good idea - you can actually download a piece of free software which will do this for you.

    I agree that the 12-40 pro is great, but if you are on a budget that may not be the way to go for you
  20. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    You have a very usable focal range covered already. Landscapes, architecture, sunsets and to a certain extent flowers are covered by the kit lens. Wildlife is just about OK with your telephoto. That leaves low light. As many have suggested, a good standard prime is a great addition to any kit.

    However, looking at what you shoot, would you be better off buying something other than a lens? A good tripod and some nd filters? Or a decent flash with a tiltable head to learn bounce and off-camera flash? These items will last you for ever, no matter what lens is on the camera.

    Generally speaking, buy what you need. Chances are if you don't know what lens you need, you don't need a lens.
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