PEN PM2 owner looking for help with bodies and lenses

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by piggsy, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 2, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia

    So. A while ago I got frustrated with my ancient Point 'n' Shoot and decided to upgrade, and got a PEN PM2 / 14-42 IIR cheap. I have that kit lens and the Olympus 60mm 2.8 macro (neat score for $400aus) which I'm quite happy with so far - both are essentially nice enough to be far nicer gear than I am ever likely to actually need at this point. Down from that I have the 15mm/F8 bodycap lens which I'm finding to actually be pretty fun to use - certainly an interesting challenge to get anything useable at all out of it, and maybe better at teaching me how not to be so terrible at everything than the photography books I have for the $50 it cost :D

    Anyhow - I have put this together as a list of lens wants -

    1. M.Zuiko Digital 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R - used ex condition from keh or ebay or similar, ~$100us. Apparently utterly ordinary and fine as a lens, which ain't bad for a hundred bucks. Nothing I can see that is this 'not bad' in this price range.

    2. Bower 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye Lens - B&, $249us (manual focus w/ aperture ring, from samples people posted on dpreview, it actually cleans up really nice as a plain ordinary wide angle once cropped and defished ?

    3. Lumix 20 F1.7 G ASPH II - seems to regularly sell for below retail, with a deal through june/july are doing it now for $349us now. Oly 17mm is a bit pricey for me by comparison, at least, not convinced that it's almost twice as good for almost twice as much.

    4. M.Zuiko Digital 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 II - JBHifi, $400aus new after cashback. Apparently a fair bit better than ordinary and fine and given that the Oly 300/F4 is likely to be A Lot of money, this is about as good a thing as I am likely to want to buy.

    All up seems pretty reasonable to me as a list of things, cheap, though if anyone has any better suggestions or anywhere cheaper to get 'em I'd welcome them.

    as item 5. - I was looking at getting a VF-4 viewfinder for my PM2 - ordered one direct from, but we'll see if I get it - price has glitched there to $69aus and no idea if they'll honor it :D

    Now - while I had this pretty much locked down as my plan of things to get for the rest of the year, a couple of really nice deals appeared locally at -,panasonic&gan_data=true

    This complicates things somewhat because those are two nice cameras that I was looking at getting but put off because I didn't want to make a huge upfront investment in a body. So rather than like, $1100 or something equally silly, I can now get a usable new OM-D EM-5 body for $550aus after cashback, or a GX7 body for $687. Both of which do things my current camera doesn't do well (physical ergonomics for both, 60fps video for the GX7, 5 axis IBIS and weather sealing for the E-M5, bunch of other stuff). Assuming that I don't get a VF-4 for a glitched out price of $69aus, both of those look really damn tempting - both of them have decent viewfinders around the VF2/4ish kind of level, which I was looking at getting, so it's like getting the entire rest of the camera for $250/387 minus the VF-4 RRP. Which is pretty much 'one lens' kind of price range for a whole more capable body.

    So, what to do? I should point out that I am still pretty much at the "wow this cat/flower picture was almost entirely in focus" point and I'm not sure if adding a larger camera is really going to be a great help as far as that goes - to be honest there isn't actually much that annoys me yet about the PM2, it would be nice to have more buttons and controls I'm sure, but mainly I'd be interested in weather sealing/5 axis IBIS, and 60fps video/highres viewfinder/customisation niceties out of the GX7. Would it just be pointless wanking to get another camera body at this point? Has anyone else gone the same way (PM2 > EM-5/GX7) and found it was massively beneficial to them as a photographer - more than getting another lens for the PM2? :D
  2. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    I use an Epm2 along with a pair go G3's, what I have found is the Oly is not well balanced with the bigger lenses (Panasonic 14-140 and 40-200). With small lenses it is great, I use it with a Panasonic 12-32 mostly and have the 20mm that is slow focusing compared to all the others but the IQ makes it worth it. I would only get a 7.5mm if it was £20 just not my thing but your milage may vary, I would go for a Tele before the fisheye in your position along with the 20mm, I would though for the longer zooms consider a bigger body, even if you get something slightly older tech like a G3 or G5 Panasonic that can be had for little money. The EVF is a good deal if it comes through.
  3. Ramsey

    Ramsey Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2013
    Zagreb, Croatia
    the general rule of thumb is to upgrade the bodies over the glass only when you sense you're really limited by older technology/lack of functions. Or if you have idle money lying around, when you feel like it. :)

    Basically, the sensor/IQ is (argaubly) the same. EVF, IBIS, video capabilities are all a plus and only you can make the choice if those things justify the extra cost. However, don't make the mistake thinking a better camera (or any other gear, for that matter) will make you a better photographer.

    Your future lenses will primarily depend on your need/shooting preferences and (again) only you can make that choice.
    From what i've seen here, usually the way to go is a standard prime (17-25mm), then telezoom/widezoom (depending on preferences) then portrait prime. A fair share of people tend to take the fast standard zoom (12-35 or 12-40). Fisheye and ultratele come in waaay after that. It's a bit too expensive and too slow for my personal taste (f2.8), as i need something for closed indoors shots.

    40-150 is a good lens. Sharp until (aproximately) 135mm, depending on the copy. Best bang for the buck in the telezoom department IMO.
    7.5mm is great, but a lot of people buy it for the cool FE effect and end up taking up to 10 pictures with it. It's a niche lens. However, as you said, it can be used as a wide angle (when defished/cropped).
    Panny 20mm is sharp and a great lens. It has been a first stop for many m43 camera owners. However, it's notoriously slow in AF, especially on Oly bodies, especially in low light. It is definitely my short term plan to exhange my P20mm for Oly25mm, i just had too many missed shots due to its slow AF.
    Couldn't tell you a word about 75-300, as i don't have it nor have used it. The 600mm (equivalent) must come in handy here and there.

    Alex has some good points on EPM2 balance issues with bigger lenses and the cheap G3's.
  4. Evan614

    Evan614 Mu-43 Regular

    May 6, 2014
    #1) yes sounds like a good plan.
    #2) if you have extra money to burn go for it but not typically a heavily used lens
    #3) with noted limitation by other poster. seems like a decent purchase. wide fast primes are nice to have.
    #4) I'd pass. #1 should do the trick with a little bit of cropping. Unless things you photograph are that far away and you're looking for a tight shot. Just realize it's a slow lens and best used in daytime.

    I'd hold off on a new body.

    my 2 cents
  5. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    I've used the longer zooms wiht both an E-Pm1 and PM2. You have to hold this combination by the lens, which means that camera is predominately in your left hand. This can work fine depending on your preferences. I also used a VF2 with these lenses, however.
  6. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    piggsy, I think you are focusing a bit too much on the cost of lenses and their noted attributes vs your needs and priorities. Tell us what you shoot and where you think you are falling short today.
  7. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I use E-M10 and E-PM2. IMO, it's a great dual body combo sharing same batteries. E-M10's 0 antishock and very effective IBIS make quite a difference in obtaining sharp images at all times. I have to be much more careful when shooting with E-PM2.

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43
  8. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 2, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    Oh, everywhere pretty much - I mean I'm sure I could spend the next few months using nothing but the 15mm bodycap lens and never find myself having taken a worse composed or worse looking shot than any more expensive gear would have produced :D. Put it this way - I was satisfied using a 10 year old 4MP P&S (Oly C770UZ) and only delved into using that deeply for about the last couple of months of those 10 years. Eventually looked into the least spendy way to get a good macro setup with some reach (mainly for shooting my fishtank and corals) and ended up with a PM2/60mm.

    It's really nice - I mean, coming from such an old camera sometimes it completely astounds me how good this stuff is in comparison. Problem is more that I'm not really that good at using it yet and most success is still almost totally accidental. I've spent the last month just trying to take photos and read as much as I could (I have Light Science and Magic, Mastering Exposure and the Zone System for Digital Photographers, Understanding exposure 3rd edition - also can I just say how amazingly cheap these were to pick up for how nice they are :D) and I am gradually getting there towards slightly less accidental and more frequent successes.

    So, falling short at pretty much everything still. But - I simply don't have anything that goes very wide or very long, so essentially any shot that involves either of those is one I won't take with what I own now. I already have a few extremely expensive hobbies (reef fish tanks, travel, computers) and not an amazing amount of money to spend on any of them - so you know, generally if there is a way to get 4 nice things rather than 1 great thing for the same money, I will go for the cheaper nice things :D.

    So my interest is more - am I screwing up with any of those lens choices? And - is getting a 'pro/am' style camera body likely to help me get better any faster? I don't feel constrained by the PM2, as I mentioned, but then, this is pretty much the most technically impressive camera I've used so far to any real extent, so I'm not sure if I'd know if I was being held back by it :D. The one thing I do think limits me is the unmoving, low-ish-res, small-ish LCD back panel, which I was going to fix by buying a VF-4 ... but the marginal cost over that ($299) of a whole new camera body with an EVF (550/687) is, at this point, very tempting to consider as well.
  9. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 2, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    OK, thanks for that (and everyone else's input), I'll have to take another look at the standard prime situation and maybe reconsider the 300mm (more something I was interested in because it's 33% off RRP for a new, non-grey market lens - the 'why not?' kind of factor :D), maybe turn to the GX7 and the OIS lenses for tele zooms and throw the 20mm panasonic prime on that, and leave the others to the PM2? The issues mixing and matching Pana/Oly lenses and bodies sure seem to make for some awkward choices for something that is supposedly joined at the hip :D.
  10. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    I think the 40-150 fits your goals very well. Not sure on the wide side, as I am someone who bought a fisheye and thought it was cool for two days, then didn't use it again for a few months then sold it. 24mm is wide enough for me.

    In your shoes I think I'd move to an E-M5. Saves you cash for the VF4 (assuming your bargain purchase doesn't pan out), gives you way better controls than E-PM2. better IS and weatherproofing. So I'd sell the e-pm2 + 14-42, skip the vf4 and spend that cash on the e-m5 + 12-50. Evaluate if 24mm is wide enough before I buy a FE. I'd want the 17/1.8 as an all-purpose prime, but the 20 or 25 might make more sense for you.
  11. flamingfish

    flamingfish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 16, 2012
    Real Name:
    I'm at about the same level that you are (love the "wow this cat/flower picture was almost entirely in focus" description!) and I'd give a thumbs-up to the E-M5 for two (and a half) reasons: the viewfinder, the IBIS, and the physical controls (that gets only a half, because you said you don't particularly care about it, but I like having the buttons and dials). I really like having the viewfinder built in. I have an add-on VF for my E-PL3, but didn't use it as much as I should have. I also find that the improved IBIS in the E-M5 helps me a good bit.

    My picks from your lens list would be the 40-150mm and the 20 1.7. The 40-150 will give you some reach that you don't presently have, and is so cheap right now that it's hard to pass up. I just bought the 20 1.7 for myself and haven't used it much yet, but my reason for buying it was the added low light capability. Like you, I though the Oly 17mm was a bit expensive for me at this stage.

    The advice from many would be to stick to one lens until you master it -- or, since you have a zoom, stick to one focal length on your lens. That seems like excellent advice, but I'm just not that methodical.
  12. Ramsey

    Ramsey Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2013
    Zagreb, Croatia
    My opinion is that you (not just you, but anyone) should try a lot of things. I don't consider myself a guy that would use an ultra wide zoom but the front page thread by PenWS made me think about it. But for niche lenses (such as fisheye and ultratele), maybe it would be a better thing to borrow/rent them (if you have the option) before buying them. It is true that you won't lose much money if you buy them and send them later on if you see you don't use them (glass loses value much slower), but still, it's a troublesome process.

    If macro interests you that much, i'd suggest getting a flash first (maybe 40-150 first to get some reach, then flash). It is one more area to study (even more things than exposure and camera itself, i know i haven't grasped like 5% of flash photography), but flash will improve your macro a ton, especially in poor weather conditions. And that's without all the creative effects you can achieve. FL36R can be bought used for really good prices (a bit slower recycle time), Nissin i40 is the latest trend (and will compliment your E-PM2 nicely due to size), and FL600R is an awesome little flash (but a bit more money than FL36R). All of these can be bought for same amount (sometimes even less) than any prime lens.

    For non flash macro, 5 axis IBIS (even 3 axis present in EM-10) would be ideal. Also, the main control dial (present on OMD bodies) for instant access to manual control (and mysets) is good to have, but it takes you no more than 3 seconds on the PM2 to change those. However, PM2 does not have focus peaking, OMD bodies have (not sure about E-M5). That said, i think magnify function is better suited for macro (and you can bet you'll evolve into manual focus for macro pretty damn soon).

    Tripod is also very useful, and not just for macro.

    All those books are great. I have yet to force myself to completely study Light, science and magic. You learning about the technical side speaks volumes as to your desire to learn. What i would suggest (as i know it bothers/limits me), is to find something not so much technical, but a bit more on the "art" side. Composure techniques, "The photographers eye" and similar materials are of greater use (at least that's what everyone's telling me) than pure technical aspects. Don't forget to actually go outside and shoot, learning by doing (or failing) is a much better teacher.

    Again, borrow first (IMO). I still use the viewfinder to take shots (although i accidentally got a VF2 for next ot nothing), and it can be used to compose in 95% of the situations (bright sunlight with manual focus for macro/adapted lenses are the exceptions). The magnify function is awesome and (although slow and painful) can be used to override the smallish screen. But it is true that i'd go for a new camera as the marginal cost is relatively "nothing" (don't tell my wife :D).

    Don't get me wrong, but you'll end up with every single one of the native lenses with that "Why not" mentality. All lenses have a discount somewhere along the way. What's important is: 1. Do you really need it? 2. What do you need it for? 3. Can you replace it with something else? 75-300 is great to have (i'd bet) but unless you're shooting wildlife more than 30% of your time, you could crop the 40-150 (as Evan said). Sure, there are more uses for the lens apart from the 300mm length but you get my point.

    All that aside, if you have the money, buy EVERYTHING :)

    Don't worry about the last thing. The Pana and Oly bodies do share the same mount, and there are limited examples as to lower compatibility of Pana bodies and Oly lenses (and vice versa). P20mm is a rare example, maybe a bit more mentioned due to the fact it was one of the first fast normal primes (included as kit lens) and its relative low cost. Just keep in mind that Oly has in body stabilisation, and Panny has the lenses stabilized (not all of them). Apart from that, you're good to go as far as mix and match goes.
  13. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    I wouldn't get the 40-150 AND the 75-300. I'd get one or the other.

    The fisheye can be very versatile! Look at what you can do with it:]
    1) Full size imaged can be cropped in-camera to be appx 15mm at 4mp or 11mm at 8mp (appx FLs). Here's the original but below is the shot I wanted.


    2) When shot in 16:9, corner distortion is gone and you get a nice wide panoramic shot with one exposure.


    3) Defishing, something I don't do, will make the image look like those from the $1000 7-14mm lens

    4) It's one of the sharpest lenses out there.
  14. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 2, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    Ahaha, yeah, I'm pretty much sticking to the chart, about to get that first tripod :D

    Only difference is - several months crash course in M mode from using the C770UZ point 'n' shoot for a few months rather than coming from a smartphone. I found the plain P/A/S modes to be a hindrance trying to learn what the PM2 is actually doing and why it's doing it. As finicky as it probably is in comparison to using M mode on a 'proper' camera body, it's pretty much the most user friendly thing ever coming from trying to use it on a 10y/o point 'n' shoot :D

    Yeah the 40-150 seems to be a no-brainer for the money to me. To be honest I don't find the 14-42mm IIR to be that bad either - I mean - for me it comes down to, am I really good enough yet that owning something much better/sharper in the same focal range would result in any better picture coming out of the camera? For the most part - I don't think it would. The main attractive thing for me with getting one of the 17-20-25mm primes is the faster aperture, which is the only thing I really find myself wishing I had more range to use in the 14-42.

    To be honest I'm not even sure it's been great advice for me. The 60mm macro and 15mm bodycap have been illuminating to use in their own ways - like - I'm sure if I had stuck to the kit lens, I'd be better at using the kit lens, but I would also be about 1/3rd as far along in understanding why the kit lens produces stuff that looks the way it does. The 15mm in particular I'm finding to be a really great teaching tool for both the technical and non-technical aspects of photography - it really eliminates a lot of "woulda coulda shoulda" out of reviewing the pictures, there's no ambiguity to it at all - if it looks terrible, it was definitely my choice to press the shutter with whatever was in front of the camera that screwed it up, and not much else :D
  15. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 2, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    Yep, about to embark on the tripod hunt. I was going to go for the Joby Gorillapod (hybrid or dslr/ball head) but I've since read that this is pretty much what everyone does and a lot of people give it up for something more conventional :D. It does seem awfully convenient and for the asking prices (40-70 bucks or thereabouts) I don't think it's that bad a thing to have, even if it doesn't get used that much.

    As far as flashes go - what I was going to go for was one of the cheap Macro Arm Light style devices - the official Olympus MAL-1 one looks pretty weak sauce, but from looking around there are cheap versions, with 4 LEDs on goosenecks, 3 AAA batteries powering it and you can basically lash that to the camera/whatever else is handy without taking up the flash port on the PM2. I'll have to see what do regarding my VF-4 order before I decide what to do with a new camera body or flash I think.

    For the primary reason I got the 60mm macro (fish/coral tank photography) - I have a sightly different usage case than what I imagine is normal. I'm not sure a tripod is really going to help out that much, other than for some coral shots, and certainly not a flash. You're pretty much limited to 320 shutter and above so IBIS is of very limited use as well. Manual focus is fine for corals but for fish you're really in for a long wait for something to blunder into frame, especially at the kind of DOF you're looking at once you're at 320-640 kinds of appropriate apertures speeds. Give you an idea - here are pretty much the best fish shots I've taken since I've had the camera -

    (I subscribed to adobe photoshop cc/lightroom 5 but at this point my skill is in making things look much worse :D - a couple of them are out of camera crops and the rest are minor wb/exposure saves from olympus viewer)

    There are a few things I can do with the tank setup itself to make photography easier (very difficult right now to get something that isn't lit from behind) but, you know, reasonably happy with what's coming out of the camera at this point. Just need to work on what I'm able to do with it more :D

    The toy I am looking at getting for tank photos is this -

    which is pretty simple and cheap short of trying to waterproof the whole camera and gets around the issue of not really being able to use a flash and having only artificial light from above reflecting on the water surface.

    Daylight for macro has worked out pretty well so far - it's pretty sunny here in brisbane year-round, the main issue lately has been wind necessitating higher shutter meaning faster aperture..blabla. But again fairly happy with the OOC product and I mainly use the RAWs to see what the different camera settings would have done in oly viewer 3 at the moment. Yet to really crack into the digital photography book :D

    Yep, trying to get out every day even for a little bit to shoot at least something :D Have to say I feel really good about the format choice at this point - very discreet for shooting and practicing shooting and not intimidating people with gear. Other than cost the main thing that swung me over to M43 (or at least mirrorless) was the size of the camera. I went to nepal a couple of years back to visit my father, and went around the place with a fairly large range of cameras of different sizes/ages. First thing we learned - the big gear is utterly useless for going places and there are many shots we never would have gotten with the larger cameras we had. By the end we were down to 4 point and shoots of a variety of vintages because that's pretty much all we could carry hiking around at 4-5000m, and the larger DSLRs were impossible to use being jolted around riding an elephant elephant :D

    Yeah, it's very tempting, I must say. The GX7 more than the EM5 at this point, which isn't what I thought it would be coming in. Mainly because there's too much similarity in sensor capabilities with the EM5 (even the GX7 has me wondering there :D) and for the types of stuff I'm doing (now, at least) I'm honestly not sure if IBIS is going to matter that much in the grand scheme of things. The weather sealing was something I considered a dealbreaker for me on the GX7 until I looked at putting together the lens collection and realised how few of the ones I want/can afford are sealed themselves. Plus having a foot in both camps might be nice as far as any potential lens issues go - not expecting it to be a major drama other than for that panny 20mm prime, but still, if it ever came up again on another lens in future...

    Well, I mean, I don't need a camera in the first place, as far as NEED needs go :D And yeah, there something to be said for holding off on deals - jumped straight into the car to pick up the PM2 on clearance only to miss out on another $100 off it once the olympus cashback promo started up here 2 days later. Whoops :D. That said, $400aus for the 75-300 seems like a particularly tasty discount, as is a EM5 body for $550.
  16. Engawa

    Engawa Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2014
    I don't really know anything about aquarium photography, but I think using off camera flash would help a lot. It would allow you to shoot at a lower iso and still freeze motion. Having more on control over the direction of light would also make things easier. It would be an extremely cheap upgrade as you could use very cheap radio triggers and any manual flash.

    I have the e-pm2 and have tried all the lenses you mentioned except the 75-300mm.

    I found that the 20mm lens focuses too slowly for me on the e-pm2.

    I didn't really like the 40-150 on the e-pm2 because it wasn't optically stabilized and I didn't have a viewfinder. If you get the viewfinder, I'm sure you won't have any problems. The AF was quite fast and the lens is quite light. The reason I sold my 40-150 was because I bought a panasonic 45-150 instead for my gm1. If I didn't have a gm1, I would have kept the 40-150 since it is so light and I would still need something in that range.

    I have the rokinon version of the 7.5mm fisheye. I like it quite a bit and find it fun to use. However, I think a fast wide or normal prime would be used much more. I use the 20mm more than any other lens. If I was still using the e-pm2 as my main camera, I would probably get an Olympus 25/1.8 (although I've never tried it before).

    I bought the Gopro version of the Gorillapod because it was on sale and cheaper than the hybrid. I think they are exactly the same except the Gopro version as both a standard tripod plate and a gopro plate. I've only had it less than a week but it's been fun so far.

    I don't think it would be worthwhile to upgrade the e-pm2. Image quality would be similar since they would use pretty much the same sensor so your only upgrades would be in handling. I think it would be better to get more versatility before you upgrade your body.