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Panasonic 30mm Macro - thoughts?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by D@ne, May 21, 2015.

  1. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 23, 2012
    I'm new to macro. I've recently sold off my collection of lenses to downsize. For one reason or another, they were not getting used, and now I feel I may have gone too far.

    Sold were Panny 12-35; Panny 45-175; and PanLeica 25 (my most used).

    I've realized that I'm only interested in 2 things - portability, a "normal" focal length, and price.

    So this 30mm macros has been released, is sub-$500, the right focal length (pretty much), and has the added bonuses of built-in stabilization, and can take macro shots. I realize the length is a bit short for macro, but it's the best I've got.

    The one doubt I have is that the Oly 25 is smaller, lighter, cheaper, and has a wider aperture (1.8 vs 2.8).

    What to do? Thoughts? Opinions? I tend to be a casual photog - pics of pets, friends, inside & out, currently have an EM5.
  2. sdb123

    sdb123 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 25, 2014
    Northants, UK
    That's three things. :blush:

    I'm not sure I've seen any real world views of the 30mm lens (has it been released yet?)...how seriously are you into macro, do you need a dedicated lens? The Olympus 25mm works well with extension rings, which would be a lot cheaper and you get to keep your current lens.
  3. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    I don't think you'd be very satisfied with the 30mm as your main "normal" primes for 3 reasons:

    1) It's not a small lens. It's bigger than the PL25mm by a fair margin. Macro focusing requires moving the elements a lot farther than regular focus so the lens has to be longer. Size comparison: http://camerasize.com/compact/#289.459,289.352,289.411,ha,t

    2) f2.8 is two full stops slower than your PL25mm. This means in low light you'll be at ISO 12800 where you were at ISO 3200 on the PL25mm. Or in other words, barely usable shots vs nice image quality.

    3) 30mm is not really the same as 25mm at all. It seems like it should be, but in the real world it is noticeably longer. You'll notice indoors especially.

    I think the 30mm would make a nice companion lens as a long normal if you already had something wider and faster in the kit for indoor low light. Like a PL15mm/30mm macro kit or something like that. But as an only "fast normal," not so much.

    And just in general terms as a macro, 30mm means you have to get REALLY close to your subjects. Close enough to have issues with casting a shadow on your subject and scaring them away if they are small creatures. It can definitely work, but if you are really interested a 60mm is better and similar cost.
  4. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    If you are not into macro do not buy a macro lens: price, probably slower AF. On the P30 there is not a focus limiter but I found no complaints on AF speed in any review.
    Consider the sigma 30/2.8 too, very good and cheaper.
    With the E-M5 you do not need lens stabilization (unless you plan to move to Panasonic bodies).

    I agree with tkbslc: I found 60mm almost too short for 1:1 macro I wouldn't go any shorter.
  5. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 23, 2012
    Thanks for the thoughts. I guess I can't really answer if I'm into macro photography because I've never had a macro lens.

    The 30mm is longer than the 25, but it's also slimmer, and weighs less, and when you factor in the hood on the 25, it's smaller still.

    As far as stabilization, I currently have an EM5, but that's wont be forever...Olympus' menu system is a nightmare and I would never buy a body from them again, consider the competition. So a lens with built-in stab. is a bonus.

    I guess I've already argued it in my head that it's the best option for me...but wanted to hear thoughts regardless. (And keep 'em coming!)
  6. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    Well I wouldn't dismiss the size so quickly since you mentioned portability as a main goal. It's almost as big as the 45-150mm OIS. http://camerasize.com/compact/#289.459,289.347,ha,t

    Okay, everything else aside, be honest about how realistic f2.8 is when you've been using f1.4. That is 1/4 the light. OIS can't keep your friends and pets to hold still so you'll still need 1/80 or so as a SS floor which means OIS can't make up any difference.
  7. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 23, 2012
    All fair points.

    To be honest, I wish Panasonic would re-release the 20mm pancake minus the flaws. As spoiled as we are for options, there seems to be downfalls to every lens I've looked at.
  8. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    I am starting to feel a bit more covetous of this lens, more so than I expected I would, particularly after seeing just how impressive the performance across the frame is in Gordon Laing's latest review. It looks like a really good lens.

    I think I like the 30mm focal length...I have a good number of keepers from my 14-140mm in the 25-35mm range. When I'm not actively paying attention to the focal length I'm using, and am just zooming to what I need/want, I think that's a good indicator that it's a useful FL. f2.8 on 30mm is also plenty to get a nice defocus / separation. With my 14-140 I'm at a minimum of ~f4.5 at that focal length, so it's not something that bothers me. The only time I shoot my faster lenses wide open is if I'm in low light, or if I'm using the 11-22mm f2.8 as an environmental portrait lens, so I'm not too worried about that.

    ...I ended up ordering an Industar 69 28mm/2.8 pancake lens from Russia for $20. I've heard that's a dog of a lens, and will undoubtedly be an order of magnitude less sharp than the 30mm, but I think it will be a fun knock-around MF lens experiment to let me see how I bond with the focal length a bit more.
  9. Haha, this is sounding familiar.

    I asked over on mflenses if there were any good manual focus/vintage lens alternatives around 20-35mm and under $300-400 with macro or close focus (not necessarily flat field for slide copying, but focuses at macro-like distances and reproduction ratios), and got a lot of options, some of which are bargain basement price looking on ebay. The alternatives I've been given so far -

    Ensinor/Clubman 24/2.8 macro
    Nikkor 28mm/2.8 ais
    Flektogon 35mm/2.8
    Vivitar (Komine) 28/F2 Close Focusing
    Olympus 24mm/2.8
    Sigma 24mm/2.8 superwide II
    Pentacon 29mm/2.8
    Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm F2.4

    Should also add, I don't know how some of the very wide ones do adapted to m43 - have heard some people grousing about stuff under ~30 not doing so well sometimes. But it's enough for further research anyhow :D 
  10. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    The main appeal for me of the Industar was just how incredibly tiny it is (well, that and it being dirt cheap), since it's a half-frame rangefinder lens. I already have an old Takumar 35mm/3.5 that was bequeathed to me that is super tiny...but it practically doubles in size once I add the M42 adapter. And it doesn't seem to perform that well on M4/3, anyway, even with my focal reducer (which brings it down to a 25mm/2.5)

    (Oh, and by most accounts I've read, the Pentacon/Lydith 30mm/3.5 is a better option than the 29/2.8, so there's another one for your ever-growing list)
  11. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    With the sigma 30mm available for $125-ish used, I just can't see adapting something.
  12. While that seems like a really nice lens, from what I can see it's at 19.7" mfd / 1:7.2?

    ed- oops that was the 19mm, the 30 is apparently 11.8"/ 1:8.1
    Last edited: May 24, 2015
  13. ManofKent

    ManofKent Hopefully still learning

    Dec 26, 2014
    Faversham, Kent, UK
    The CZ Flektogon 35/2.4 is an exceptionally good mf lens - not macro but still very close focusing. Not quite as sharp as my sigma 30, but not that far off and focuses much closer.

    I can see the Pana 30 being good for flower shots where you don't always need the extra distance the 60mm brings
  14. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    then get a legacy lens (such as OM 50mm f1.8) and some extnsion tubes and try it. You'll spend perhaps $50 and then you'll know.

    Macro lenses do not benefit from IS nor from fast stops, as you'll always be stopping down.

    Also do not get a normal as slightly tele (like the 50mm will work out to be) allows a greater working distance (meaning you won't scare the little critters nor be needing to jam the lens into the pollen to get focus).

    I'll post a nicer macro shot tonight (when I've got home).

    There is a little about macro in this blog post of mine

    shows the sorts of working distance you get with a 50mm (and thus for the same magnification you'll be closer with a 30mm) and the sort of magnification I can get with the full set of extensions
    Last edited: May 24, 2015
  15. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator


    I had that kind of setup for years and barely used it because it is frustrating to use. I would not have said I was into macro.

    With the tubes, you have to guess at the magnification. If you guess wrong, your little bug friend will be gone before you can swap the tubes around again to change magnification. It's also hard to maintain focus.

    With the 60mm, I can set the focus limiter into the macro range, use AFC and get an impressive in focus rate, even with quick moving insects.

    Since getting a 60mm macro, I've found macro to be enjoyable and am doing lots more macro shooting. I would not have said I was into macro, but now I would.
  16. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa

    spend 4 minutes and learn now one tube works. With a 30mm you will still only have limited ranges of usefulness - and you will scare the bugs by getting too close. With a 50mm and a tube (start with the shorter one if you ask me) you really just move the camera in and out. To me its the simplest possible way to work because you quickly learn how far your camera has to be from the flower to focus. Focus by moving in and out and stop down.

    I think it comes down to approach.

    perhaps ... more investment in lens, and as I said for 50 bucks you can find out. Clearly though we agree on longer focal length than 30mm

    Anyway, my post was to D@ne
  17. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    All I'm saying is I don't agree that it is the same at all having used the exact setup. I apologize if my opinion upsets you.

    My post was for anyone that wants to read this thread.
  18. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    your opinion doesn't upset me (but this sort of passive aggressive nonsence does) I personally only quote someone when I'm replying to *them* ... so it sounded like a discussion ... which I was attempting to do.

    Clearly you don't like discussions which don't invlove me slavering agreement all over you ... personally I learn more by people disagreeing with me, but then perhaps you are at that plane where you have nothing more to learn
  19. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    I think this is all a bit of a digression. The reason we're talking about the Panasonic 30mm here is because of the focal length, not in spite of it. Yes, it will not be particularly useful for 1:1 bug macro due to the working distance...

    ... But it's a nice walkabout focal length, decent aperture, and very sharp corner to corner.

    I also disagree that OIS isn't useful for macro. I think it is very useful for macro any time you aren't using a tripod, because it allows you to stop down without pushing the ISO stratospheric.

    The short FL also has the inherent advantage of a deeper DOF than longer macros. I use my 55/2.8 macro all the time, but my 90/2.8 only comes out on occasion because it ends up being a much more specialized tool with more limitations.
  20. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Never sell your most used lens unless you're desperate for cash. Pana Leica 25 is a versatile lens. It's fast, it's sharp and you can adapt a macro closeup lens to it to shoot closer which I do. While I do own a Pana Leica 45 Macro now for more dedicated Macro, I still like the flexibility of the Pana Leica 25 with my Marumi closeup Achromat filter. Being 2 stops faster than 30 Macro, plus the 5 axis IBIS on the E-M5 is far more effective shooting macro than Mega OIS VR in the lens. Also being 2 stops faster than my Pana Leica 45 Macro keeps me using the 25 with closeup instead of changing lenses. For even longer reach, I would use my Pana 35-100 with the Marumi closeup.
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