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Panasonic-Leica 45mm - To buy, or not to buy...

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by speltrong, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. speltrong

    speltrong Mu-43 Veteran

    May 8, 2011
    Northern California
    Hi all

    I'm currently renting the Panasonic-Leica 45mm Macro for a few days, and I'm seriously considering buying it. I still have a few reservations, though, price being one of them. Does anyone own this lens and not totally love it?

    I'm using it on a GF1, if that matters.
  2. Aegon

    Aegon Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    If you tend to use it as a portrait lens, I think the Olympus 45 is a better value with excellent optics.

    If you use it as a macro, then obviously the Oly won't work. :) 
  3. khiromu

    khiromu New to Mu-43

    Apr 29, 2010
    Do you shoot macro? Do you need IS? Otherwise, I would go with Oly.
  4. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    You're literally holding the lens as we speak. Who cares what others think? Use the lens, and if you think it's worth the price, buy it. Leica doesn't put their name on crap.
  5. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Do you have the option to buy the lens you are renting, at a pre-owned price?

    I would still buy it at full retail, but at $500-600, I think this lens is a fantastic value.
  6. CPWarner

    CPWarner Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 24, 2010
    As stated above, if you like macro then the Panasonic 45mm is the way to go. If not, the Olympus is the better choice. If price is the sticking point, then I would recommend holding out for one on the used market. They come up frequently enough.

    One other comment on the Olympus 45mm, it has a 37mm filter size. The Panasonic 20mm, 45mm and Olympus 12mm all are 46mm, which I find convenient. If that matters for a common filter without adapters, then that may be important to you. Also there is this funky adapter to put the hood on the Olympus 45mm that I thought was rather odd. The 12mm does not have that.
  7. Alan_N

    Alan_N Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 22, 2011
    Yorkshire UK
    I have not used the olympus 45mm so can not make any comment on that lens but I have just bought a second hand Panny Leica 45 mm Macro lens. Only used it briefly so far had it less than a week so far. Work keeps getting in the way! But liking it very much:thumbup:
  8. speltrong

    speltrong Mu-43 Veteran

    May 8, 2011
    Northern California
    Thanks for the replies

    I tend to have honeymoon periods with electronics. I had an iPhone 4S that I absolutely *loved* it for the first week or two, happily overlooking some of the major flaws, but then those started eating at me and I kept finding out new things about it that I couldn't deal with until I finally switched back to Android. Thankfully this hasn't happened with a lens yet, but I haven't picked up anything as specialized as this one.

    This is the first macro lens that I've handled. I got great results with still studio shots indoors on a tripod with controlled lighting. I also got some great outdoor shots in full sunlight. I'm just worried that I'm in the honeymoon period with this lens, since I don't know enough about macro to know if this is the right choice, or if the max f/2.8 on a 45mm lens is going to bother me long-term. The GF1 (I feel) only has a max usable ISO of 800, so I haven't been able to get any good indoor candids - macro or otherwise - sans flash (which I also hate :D ). Reading some of the reviews on the lens, the guide-by-wire focusing seemed to not resonate well because of the lack of feedback, especially awkward when using the MF-assist zoom feature. I noticed this and was able to cope, but I have nothing to compare that experience to. This is the first lens I probably have to use manual focus with a lot, so I don't know how that's going to affect me long-term.

    Then there's the whole issue of macro. I love the closeups I got over the last few days, but I don't know if that's the sort of thing that's going to fizzle after a few weeks after I've shot every small object and interesting texture in the house. That's obviously something I need to think about myself, but if anyone had that happen, I'd be interested to hear about it.

    The Olympus is off the table. I don't need 45mm *that* much, and after a lot of hunting for samples and user-submitted images of both, I decided that I like the output of the PL a LOT more, and the macro capabilities pushed me over.
  9. taphapy

    taphapy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 17, 2010
    Orange County, CA
    It is the only m4/3 macro lens. If you don't want to diddle around with non-m/4/3 macro lenses get this one. It takes excellent macro photos and I get very lovely portraits also.
  10. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    One thing I notice when traveling are there are always macro (or near macro) opportunities. If I ever lose inspiration, this is the go-to lens and subject as everything can seem interesting when it fills up the frame all by itself. Food, plants, animals, textures of different building materials, watches, jewelry, ... All benefit from close focus ability.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    Don't be so closed-minded about flash. A photographer needs to get ample light to his or her sensor to create a quality photo, and increasing the amount of light will have a more dramatic effect than buying a new lens. "Using flash" doesn't mean that you have to use it like Terry Richardson, producing harsh direct light from right next to the lens. If you properly use flash properly, your photos look MORE natural, well-lit, and enjoyable than without. Most photographs that you see that make you say "wow" have that look to them precisely because of artificial control of lighting. Any time you've seen a movie, and it looks amateurish and unnatural, it's because of lack of artificial lighting. Read some websites. Learn about flash. After all, "photography" is Greek for "drawing with light." No light = no drawing. If you aren't getting enough light to your sensor, you're throwing away a majority of the camera and lens capability that you've paid such good money for, and are hauling around a relatively large camera compared to most on the market. Besides, compared to APS-C cameras, our Olympuses and Panasonics are weaker in respect to dynamic range and noise, so any additional light we can get closes that gap.

    Flash Photography, The Natural Light Photographers Dirty Words | MCP Photography Blog
    Photography tips and techniques: articles and guides from Photo.net
    Better Beamer
    Flash Photography Made Simple
    Flash Photography 101, Chapter 3 - A Systematic Approach to Bounced Flash - Canon Digital Photography Forums
    Beauty Lighting
    Bounced Flash Photography - The Ins and Outs of Diffusing Flash Light
    Flash 101 (Fill Flash In Use) | The Wonder Of Light
    Lighting tip - 4 ways to bounce a flash | DIYPhotography.net
    Natural Light vs. Flash Photography?? - Canon Digital Photography Forums

    etc. etc. Use some creative google searches, and you'll find all the information you could ever want on better flash use. Saying "I hate flash" is as shortsighted as saying "I refuse to adjust aperture." If you aren't increasing the lighting in your shots, you are burning good money. With macro especially, if you aren't using flash, then you usually aren't going to get results that do your lens justice, simple as that.
    • Like Like x 5
  12. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    If the focal length isn't a draw for you the only thing left is the close focusing ability. If you're shooting with your normal lens and you find yourself saying "D**n! I wish I could get a little closer!" Then a macro/close focusing lens is what you want. The slower f/2.8 aperture is common on macros, but isn't too bad, really, for it's focal length.

    It's on my short list.

  13. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA

    This was taken with an on camera flash bounced off the ceiling.
    33mm @ f/8
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    IF u like macro then its different issue but if its all about portraits and low light photography then PL45 is no match to oly 45 mm . Don't underestimate Olympus 45m mm 1.8 and don't over estimate PL45 2.8
    Olympus 45mm 1.8 is a benchmark portrait lens for MFT and there is no match for it full stop.
  15. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    If you're just interested in macro, there are a lot of other possibilities - close-up lenses and whatnot. No, they won't be as good as the PL 45/2.8, but if you're still in the experimentation phase they'll be just as much fun.

  16. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    Or, if you don't mind MF, try adapted lenses. Even the Olympus 50mm f/2.0 macro from the 4/3 system works well. It's probably about $300-$350 used, plus another $100 or less for the adapter gives you a great macro lens. The camera automatically zooms in when focusing to help you. As you've hopefully tried, manual focus is much easier to work with when doing macro. Even physically moving the camera closer and further from the camera provides better handling then letting the camera try to AF.
  17. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I bought the PL45 just before the Oly was released. Got the Oly, haven't used the PL since. Maybe someday I'll do some macro...
  18. 43hk

    43hk Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 26, 2010
    Both lenses are superb.

    The compromises are either no macro or not much speed.

    I bought the PL45 for a couple of years ago and find it a joy. At f2.8 it produces adequate DOF, good bokeh, is razor sharp by f4 and OIS improves things by about a stop. A little time is required to allow the OIS to lock on and settle before taking a shot, otherwise it can blur.

    As a macro lens it has a few quirks and you might have to adjust technique to suit. Generally on later bodies than the GF1 it focuses faster, or so I'm told. Still nice and sharp at f16 which gives enough depth for most insects.

    I'm very interested in borrowing the Oly 45 to see how it compares. With the later Panasonic bodies producing good images at ISO 3200 I would expect both lenses to operate well in fairly low light.

    A hidden bonus with the PL45 is long exposures, for some reason they come out with a fantastic smoothness and gloss to them.

    Took me a while to get the best out of this lens but once mastered it produces the goods.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. speltrong

    speltrong Mu-43 Veteran

    May 8, 2011
    Northern California
    Thanks much for the input - after another day with the lens and reading more about how to get around some of the issues I have with it, I'm sold. I should be able to buy it in the next few weeks :biggrin: Attached are a few shots I got with it over the last few days.

    To address a few things:
    1. I should have specified - I don't hate flashes, I hate in-camera flashes. I don't use off-camera flashes, but I've seen a lot of amazing work done with them and totally respect them as a light source the way I would a studio light, flood lamp or pocket flashlight. I don't respect the in-camera flash as-is (especially not the one on the GF1 that doesn't articulate like the GX1)

    2. I know the Oly is technically a terrific lens, and the f/1.8 can't be discounted. There's an intangible quality about the PL's photos that speaks to me more, and the more macro I shoot, the more I'm convinced it's not going to be a fad for me.

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  20. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    Wow, you definitely have the hang of the lens! So, you really have to decide whether those images are worth it for you. You seem to be enjoying it enough that if I were in your position, I'd be keeping it hands-down. Your first photo is amazing, and while your 2nd and 3rd photos are really cool, from a technical standpoint it is noticeable that light is starting to fail.
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