Primes or Zoom??

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Can_Solo, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. Can_Solo

    Can_Solo New to Mu-43

    Jan 15, 2012
    Hi guys, first post.

    I have been researching for a while but have to accept I am overwhelmed with info and would like some advice please.

    I mainly work with video but I think the principles that matter to me carry over.
    I make some money from part-time event work and would describe myself as a 'startup' semi-pro. I made the jump from prosumer camcorders a few months back and picked up a panny GH1 from Ebay. Since I got it for a great price and it is somewhat superseeded, I took a further gamble and hacked it to make a GH13. My research identified the 20mm f1.7 lens as a good place to start learning about the camera and I was stunned by how good the results are. I quickly brought it into my workflow and it is now my main camera, with a 4k camcorder as back up!! ( + audio etc )

    Thats the background, my question to you guys. I am looking for recommendations of lenses. I will certainly pickup at least one legacy 50mm fast prime and I really like the look of the canon FDs and minolta rokkor options. However, the convenience of a zoom lens in event work would be a huge advantage. In particular, I have found the 20mm to be a great all rounder on the GH1 but need to get too close to the subject for close up shots. I have looked into the question of constant aperture zooms and this is where I get confused.

    I am going to purchase a Panasonic GH2 body fairly soon and the GH1 will be a B cam. So a simple system is vital where by all lenses work on all cameras which would be equiped with the same adapter. I only use the cameras in manual mode so don't need any auto functions, they cannot be trusted for event work. Even OIS is not necessary as I use pro camera stabilising equipment.

    So to sum up... am I best off going for a good selection of legacy manual primes, lets say Canon FD for the sake of argument, accepting the disadvantages of changing lenses at the event etc, but clearly saving myself lots of money.
    Or can anyone suggest a decent solution of a zoom lens the can be used indoors for event video work. Something roughly in the range of 40mm upwards.
    Also, in relation to the constant aperture 'dilema', I probably won't need to zoom whilst recording (although it would be nice to occasionally) so in this case is it true to say that a good legacy zoom with a variable aperture is adeqaute.... and can anyone suggest one of these too???

    A huge thanks for anyone who takes the time to reply to this 'big' first post! I am certain these questions have been asked before so sorry for the repetition if so but hey... I have to post something if I want to talk to you guys dont I.

  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    There are no constant aperture fast zooms yet released for the Micro Four-Thirds system. There are currently two which are coming up, I think in "unofficial announcement" stage or so? Those would be the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 and the Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8. Who knows when they're actually be available for purchase though?

    Legacy zooms are a bad idea, as legacy lenses are generally not as sharp as modern lenses. Primes are sharp enough that even if they are legacy they will perform just fine, but zooms are much more of a compromise as they weren't comparable to zooms until the modern age.

    However, you do have one other option for VERY sharp modern zooms, and that is the Four-Thirds mount. The Four-Thirds collection boasts some of the highest-resolving and fastest zoom lenses around. The Zuiko top-pro collection in particular is the only line that offers f/2 constant apertures in a zoom lens (such as the Zuiko 14-35mm f/2 or the Zuiko 35-100mm f/2). One of the best fits though for Micro Four-Thirds is the Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II, which is not only very compact and sharp, but also optimized for the CDAF system of mirrorless cameras. It will not AF as fast as on Four-Thirds DSLR, but it will focus faster than most other adapted zoom lenses. If you wait on the new m4/3 fast zooms coming from Panasonic, then you will have faster AF (assumably much faster) but if you don't rely on AF then you already have a full line of fully compatible, very high quality fast zoom lenses from top-pro and down, including telephoto and super-telephoto lenses (which will still be absent from Micro Four-Thirds mount even after the Panny lenses arrive).

    However, there is nothing wrong with using all legacy primes either. My lenses consist mostly of legacy primes and Four-Thirds zooms. I consider them the best of both worlds. I generally use Four-Thirds for the more high-powered zooms, so the legacy primes I use offer a more compact alternative for ease of packing.
  3. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Real Name:
    Promit Roy
    Haaang on here a second -- we're talking about video. Sharpness is simply not going to be a problem unless we're talking about running the sensor in fully cropped/tele-converted mode. A Canon FD zoom would probably work just fine.
    I do think this is probably a great idea.
  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    You're right there. I didn't notice he was asking for the zoom just for "event video". Video resolution is incomparably lower than photo resolution. The legacy zooms will work just fine there... In fact, the legacy lenses are great for video because they have the aperture ring allowing you to easily change aperture easily without stopping your recording.

    One of my favorite lenses to use for video is the OM Zuiko 75-150mm f/4. I'm sure there's a good Canon FD like it.
  5. Can_Solo

    Can_Solo New to Mu-43

    Jan 15, 2012
    Ok this sounds very interesting,

    Perhaps I should have posted this in the video part of the forums, I felt it was more to do with Lenses though.

    So, yes by the time the AVCHD codec has squished the footage and I then re-encode for delivery on DVD or even BluRay format, a great deal of sharpness and quality is lost. Also, even the smaller M4/3 sensor is bigger than a 1920 x 1080 frame... I believe?

    So, priorities are, fast lenses ( who doesnt say that ) for indoor situations and convenience, size, focal range etc.
    Oh and of course, cost.
  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    12MP Four-Thirds images are 4032px x 3024px. Sensor size has nothing to do with this kind of resolution (file dimension) - this is the dimension for any 12MP image at 4:3 aspect.

    An easier way to tell the difference is this: Your camera can capture 12 Megapixels of information (4032x3024), while 1080 HD video resolution (1920x1080) is 2 Megapixels total. I'd say that difference is significant. ;)
  7. Can_Solo

    Can_Solo New to Mu-43

    Jan 15, 2012
    Ok, thanks for the info so far,

    the four thirds lenses look very impressive, I hadn't considered that option, a bit expensive though but I have no doubt will pay for themselves over time.

    In the meantime, I am going to experiment a bit, I have just placed a bid on a Sigma 35 - 70 F2.8 ( not sure what it goes upto ) Canon FD mount. Its very cheap and will help me learn what I want from a zoom. Even if the lens is not upto scratch I will learn better by playing with it. Thanks for your advice guys.
  8. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    For telephoto and videos, I wouldn't bother. The advantages of the 4/3 lenses when used on m4/3 are:
    1) (Slow) Autofocus - not useful for video
    2) Autodiaphragm - EVF makes this easy to do without
    3) Generally sharper - not going to see at 1080p
    4) Wide-angle coverage - legacy lenses don't get you wide at all (2x crop factor) - but you wanted 40mm+ so it won't make a difference

    In addition to being inexpensive, legacy manual focus lenses are much easier to focus manually (most 4/3 lenses are focus-by-wire), and the adapters are inexpensive (4/3 lenses require a $100 adapter to maintain electrical control of the lens).

    There are boatloads of inexpensive secondhand MF lenses that will perform excellently for your purpose. Decide your focal length, and go from there...

  9. Can_Solo

    Can_Solo New to Mu-43

    Jan 15, 2012
    Thanks for all the replies guys, that helps a lot.