Portrait Lens Help

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by arctic_rogue, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. Hey all,

    I'm new to µFT having just bought all the gear in my sig after selling my 5DII kit (well, most of it anyways). My favorite lenses on that setup were: 35L, 85 1.8, and 70-200 f/4 IS.

    I think I have all of my bases covered except for a wide aperture portrait lens. I know the 12-40 can be used at the long end, but I'd like something with a little wider aperture. I won't be making any money using this lens, just something I can shoot family and friends with.

    I've searched here and read just about everything I can. I've searched google, and read a lot.

    But I'm still no closer to a decision.

    I can spend approximately 1K on a lens right now and I've got it narrowed down to:

    Olympus 45
    Voigtlander 42.5
    Panasonic 42.5 (put away the 1K and save for the rest)
    Olympus 75
    Panasonic 35-100

    I'm leaning towards one certain lens, but I'd like some input based on the experience of others.

  2. chonbhoy

    chonbhoy Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 23, 2013
    Scottish Highlands
    I'd rule out the 35-100 because you d prefer wider aperture and also because the 40-150 f2.8 PRO would be more useful in portraiture (not available yet i know)
    Oly 45 is a great lens and cheap, it's good for indoor head shoulders type stuff :)
    Oly 75 better for outdoors it has same f1.8 but has better DOF due to the FL being 75 think full body shots with great separation of subject.
    The more useful out the two would be the 75 and it's crazy sharp but why not get the 45 as well as it's such good value to cover both basis.
    Now the PL42.5 is the wild card I guess because It's sooo expensive! I'm sure it is a lens that performs extremely well and quite possibly is worth the price tag but it's FL is an awkward one for me that I don't use much. That's not to say it isn't for anybody else, i think it's like the ultimate studio portrait lens type when used wide open, it's harder to have everything in focus at f1.2 so for candids etc you'd want to use it stopped down most of the time anyway, which reminds me about the CV 42.5, same thing which in both lenses cases might be the look you want i.e DOF within the subject for a softer image. The CV 42.5 has another issue non of the others have and that's MF which is fine if you can handle MF for the type of shooting you imagine doing.
    Just my thoughts for a penny......Now where's my penny?

    For got to mention...the CV 42.5 gets great reviews and it's SEXY!
  3. Thanks. I appreciate your input. You've definitely echoed most of my thoughts. I like the idea of the versatility of 35-100. The ability to have flexibility with a wide enough aperture to get good subject isolation is very attractive.

    My issue with the 45 1.8 is that it's really close in focal length to the 12-40 and only a little over 1 stop faster. I'm sure I'd use it, but not sure if it's enough of a difference over my current kit.

    Anyone else mind chiming in?
  4. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    If you buy the Olympus 45mm you won't regret it,
    but looking at your previous full-frame lenses you may need to buy more stuff as it won't be exactly like the excellent 85mm on FullFrame.
    In any case it is a thoroughly enjoyable lens.
    If I had the (comparatively big, expensive) 12-40 I would still use the (pretty, light, reasonably priced) 45.
  5. chonbhoy

    chonbhoy Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 23, 2013
    Scottish Highlands
    The 12-40 optically performs at it's poorest at 40mm when wide open but sharpens up nicely when stopped down, that's all give someone else a go ;)
  6. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Real Name:
    The 45mm is very close to the traditional 85mm portrait length which makes it wonderful for portrait work. It is also razor sharp with excellent micro contrast. The IQ is exceptional as well. It is also fairly small and light. That being said, a slightly softer lens is not a huge problem for portraits so the 12-40 could be fine. The 75mm is longer than the ideal, but is also razor sharp with beautiful contrast and IQ. It is, however, a larger lens.
  7. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Real Name:
    you should be able to find a used 75 and 45 for about $1000. That's what I'd choose.
  8. Wow! Thank you all for the input!

    The main reason I have the 12-40 is that I find it hard to use a prime with my 3 year old. He's super busy and I'm finding the flexibility of the 12-40 is incredible. Once he's older, I may get rid of the 12-40 if I find I'm shifting back to using primes more.

    I remember reading that the 12-40 is weakest at 40mm, but it had slipped my mind. Another + for the 45.

    Given the 12-40, would you go with the 45 or the 75?

    I probably wouldn't find both for 1000. When I factor the US-CDN exchange, it'd be more.

    I think I can get a new 75 for $699 where I purchased my E-M1 from the olympus store less than 30 days ago. That's 637 in US funds. That's perhaps the thing that's drawing me to the 75.
  9. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Real Name:
    While the 45mm is certainly a wonderful, small, sharp and relatively inexpensive lens, If I were looking for something specifically for portraiture and enjoyed the look the 85mm f1.8 has on the 5DII (I own both this camera and lens) I'd go with the 75mm f1.8 provided I was confident I would have enough space to work in to use it and provided I was ok with the price tag. As a reference, for head and shoulder portraits I don't think it would be that difficult as I often shoot those with my 200mm f2.8 on my 5DII (just not in tight spaces obviously).
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Good point.

    I sold my 70-200 f/4 and really missed that. I used the 85 quite a bit, but really missed the 70-200. The 75 isn't really something that I'd normally use indoors. It would primarily be an outdoors lens with the exception of being used in large venues for sports or other kids' activities.
  11. BigOwl

    BigOwl Mu-43 Regular

    May 3, 2013
    San Antonio, Texas USA
    Real Name:
    If you can deal with manual focus, you can pick up a nice legacy prime for less than $100. I bought a Nikon 50 mm f/1.4 that works very well for head/shoulder portraits. The effective FL of 100 mm is about right and the lens is fast enough to avoid needing flash while providing a usable selective focus depth.

    But if you are chasing a youngster, auto-focus may be a must-have.
  12. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    My cheapo Sigma 30mmF2.8 is best indoors with a small moving child.
    The focus is very good, faster than the Olympus 45mm in the same conditions on the same body.
    Focal length is great too, but you have better in your 12-40 zoom.
    Maybe you don't need another lens, 45mm is too long for anything but faces indoors.
  13. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Real Name:
    Depending on how you used those two lenses either the 45mm or the 75mm could suit your shooting. If for example, you used the 85mm for head and shoulders portraits and/or used the 70-200mm closer to the wide end most often, the 45mm may be enough for you. If however you used the 85mm for full body portraits with a shallow DOF or shot the 70-200mm most often at 200mm, I'd go with the 75mm.
  14. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Real Name:
    A used 45/1.8 will be around US $250 shipped so you probably could swing both within your budget.

    If one or the other ends up underused you could sell it for very little loss.

    My first thought would be the 45/1.8. It's inexpensive (especially used), light and is optically excellent. It only looks a bit soft when compared to the amazing 75/1.8.

    I would only go for the 75/1.8 if it was an absolute no question purchase. Or you have money to burn. I'm definitely coming from a low budget perspective.

  15. I definitely don't have money to burn. First, I was going to hold off on another lens to see how the 12-40 would fare outdoors for portraits. The allure of the $200 discount on the 75 is perhaps causing me to rush into a decision.
  16. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I had a 5dii and the 85/1.8. I find the 45/1.8 is a pretty close replacement:

    - Identical FOV

    - Deeper DOF, but I think this is an advantage - I always had to stop the 85/1.8 down to get all facial features in focus. I don't need to do this so much with the 45 (but 1.8 is still pretty shallow at close range). Wider apertures combined with IBIS means I can shoot in lower light at lower ISO. Result!!

    On the positive side too:

    - The 85/1.8 was a beast for purple fringes - probably the worst lens I've ever seen for it. The 45 is MUCH better.

    - The contrast AF on u43 cameras is super, super accurate. I was forever adjusting the AF on the 5dii with the 85 and it was off way too much (exacerbated by the shallow DOF).

    Net, net - get the 45. It's cheap, light, fast to focus, has excellent IQ and, well, it's just a no-brainer.

    The 75 is in another league, but it's clearly much more expensive and can be awkwardly long. I'd recommend you buy one used and if you don't like it, offload it for little or no loss.
  17. I can get a new 75 at probably less than used, so I may go that route. How do you find your 12-35 @ 35 vs the 45?

    Which lens do you go to more? The 45 or 75?
  18. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Real Name:
    My O45 was my favorite lens until I bought the PL25. After a bit of comparison, I have reevaluated the sharpness of my 45. It is still good, but the PL25 is definitely sharper. Still, the O45 is a fine lens and is a nice size. So, I'd be tempted by the 75 as well, since it is reported to be about the sharpest m4/3 out there. However, your comment about needing the 12-40 for it's versatility for a fast moving target makes me think the best lens for you may be the 35-100. Not as fast as a prime, but if you don't have to have the ability to really blur everything out, it is probably fine. Besides, depending on subject distance, you may find that 100mm at f2.8 does as well as 45mm at f1.8.

    My experience with the PL25 has me really wanting the PL42.5, but it is not in my price range at the moment. As far as 45 being too long for indoors, I have used mine quite a bit indoors. I think it would be fine. Especially for shots of a child.

    But I suspect you already knew all of this. You know which lens you really want. My advice is to buy that one.
  19. I know I'd like to have the 75 as well as the 35-100. I might just have to bite the bullet on the 75. If I don't like it, I can always sell it again at minimal loss.

    I've used my 12-40 indoors with my boy, and I find it works great. If he gets too close, I don't have to worry about a lens change. Good point about outdoors and the advantage with the 35-100. I bought the 40-150R to cover off that need... but those shots won't likely have the separation I'd prefer. But for the cost of the lens, I cannot complain.
  20. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    Real Name:
    Get the 45 see how it does and how ya like it ?

    Save funds for the oly 40-150 coming half way through this year ?