primes or

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by frafra, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. frafra

    frafra New to Mu-43

    Jan 30, 2016
    I have Pentax K5 system with some nice lenses. I also have Olympus e-pl5 with standard zoom and 9-18. I want to invest in better Olympus M43 camera/lenses because Pentax has become too heavy.
    I do not make prints. I use only the computerscreen (1920*1080). Does it make sense to buy some nice primes or is it hard to see the difference with cheaper lenses on a computerdisplay.
  2. SkiHound

    SkiHound Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2012
    I'll offer a few thoughts. Unless you're pixel peeping I doubt you'll notice much difference in terms of perceived sharpness. And I actually think the 9-18 is pretty darn solid. That said, different lenses do render differently. Maybe I'm hallucinating but I find I really like the look of files from the PL25. Another thing about primes is that several are really small and light. I can stick my E-M10 with either 17 or 45 mm lens in my ski jacket pocket and it's fairly comfortable. Additionally, a prime would give you a much faster maximum aperture than the kit zoom or the 9-18.
  3. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Real Name:
    My favorite two prime lenses are the 25 1.4 and 75 1.8. As for the body, em10ii or em5ii would match up nicely.
  4. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    The 16mp sensor has 4608 x 3456 pixels. If viewed full screen on a 1920 x 1080 monitor, it's not possible to see the full resolution of the image, and you will see no difference due to the difference in lens resolution. If you zoom in, aka pixel peep, you can see differences.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Welcome to the forum.

    Sharpness is not the only advantage you get with a prime, you also have wider aperture.
    Wider aperture means faster shutter speed that means less blurry or micro blurry pictures in low light. Also means lower ISO when shooting wide open and this in low light means less noise and this is something you can probably see even downscaled.

    Another advantage is with heavy cropping: if you crop your picture down to a quarter of the area you are actually seeing at about 100% size in your screen and here the sharpness difference can be seen.

    But the main difference, that you can see also on the smartphone screen, is the amount of background blur. Yes, it is abused, but is something that can really make some pictures work isolating the subject from the background, especially with long lenses (Oly 45, 75, Sigma 60, etc.). You may fall in love with the pictures you get with this lenses. If this is something that could be interesting you could get a used copy just to try (eventually reselling with almost no loss).

    Consider a couple of things:
    - not all primes are equal and not all zoom. So it depends what you are comparing
    - all lenses stopped down improves a lot so the difference at f4 is usually bigger then the one you have at f8 between a basic zoom and a good prime.
    - if you shoot mostly outdoor the speed/noise advantage is smaller (unless you shoot sports). The same if you plan to shoot mostly landscapes where you usually stop the lens down.
    - post processing matters a lot: downscale the image to the final size, sharpen it properly and you get a much better result that you get with the default quick downscale of the operating system/image viewer.
    - the fixed focal length can help you to take better pictures forcing you to move around the subject, while you move you notice how the relative size/location of the elements changes and you can find a better point of view/composition.
  6. frafra

    frafra New to Mu-43

    Jan 30, 2016
    Thanks for the answers. I realize that primes do more than just sharpness. And for a new camera I know now that I can stay with 16mp (no Pen F).
    I might go for the E-M10 II or the old E-P5 (now for a good price, and I don't need a evf)
  7. Mattyh

    Mattyh Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 14, 2013
    Don't forget the Sigma DN range of primes, I'm a huge fan of the 60mm f2.8, staggering IQ for a very cheap price.
  8. Dave Reynell

    Dave Reynell Guest

    I use only primes. 12/2.0 / 20/1.7 & a Sigma 60/2.8. Compact, fast and pin sharp. Agreed the Sigma 60 is superb.
  9. DaveEP

    DaveEP Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 20, 2014
    York, UK
    I know lots of people here shoot only primes and are happy with that. While there are days I like a prime lens, there are also days I want a zoom. I can't always zoom with my feet due to obstacles, walls, water, roads, people etc!

    In every day shooting you simple won't see the difference between a low/medium priced prime and a decent zoom, especially on a 1080p screen. Of course if you buy the cheap, slow, small zooms then no one really expects those to match (do they?). but get a decent zoom like the 7-14 Pro, 12-40 Pro or Lumix 12-35 and you can get some pretty handy results without having to keep changing lenses.

    Of course, decent zooms do weigh more than tiny primes, so you have to consider that, but if it also replaces two or three (or more) primes then maybe it's all a wash? Example, the Lumix 12-35 (with hood) weights 325g whereas carrying the Oly 12, Lumix 20 and Oly 45 weighs 398 grams. I don't need to change lenses and don't have the chance of getting dust on the sensor while doing so. Is it bigger? Yes it's bigger than any one of those primes but not bigger than carrying them all.

    So, what do you want to shoot? Where do you want to shoot it? If you only shoot in a cave then primes are going to be where you need to be, but if you're out and about then the f2.8 zooms work just as well.

    What about slower zooms? Some of the newer zooms like the Lumix 35-100 are tiny, but they are slower.

    We could recommend primes or zooms all day long, but really we need to know more about what you shoot, where and when :) Primes have that 'draw' to them, but in every day shooting not everyone wants a prime all the time.
  10. So Thankful

    So Thankful Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 9, 2015
    I use a combo of primes and zooms. I just picked up a 14-150 II and find it does a pretty good job. Is it as sharp as a prime? No, but it does quite well as a walk around one lens solution when I don't want to drag my entire kit with me.
  11. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I don't print, Like you, I only view my images on screen. I used to shoot mostly primes and use the basic 40-150mm prime for bird shots or if I needed a long lens. I always used primes instead of the kit zoom.

    Then Olympus started releasing the PRO zooms. The 12-40 F/2.8 PRO got me using it rather than primes. I think it has a slightly different character to the primes in some way but it gives up nothing to the primes in image quality and it has become my "standard lens" simply because of its versatility. Having said that, I kept my primes. As Klorenzo said,

    There are times when I want that speed, and there are times when I want the smaller package that my E-M1 and a prime makes. The 12-40 PRO is a largish lens for M43.

    The top M43 zooms can certainly match the best M43 zooms when it comes to image quality and you can see the difference in lens quality on screen. The choice between primes and zooms is largely one of speed, size and weight, and personal preference now in my view. Our top zooms can deliver all the image quality you will want but there are other reasons for picking a prime.
  12. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 27, 2011
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Look at lenses form both Panasonic and Olympus. If size was what turned you from Pentax to M43, I'd suggest looking at the Panasonic zooms over the Olympus ones, even more so if it's the 12-35+35-100/2.8 vs 12-40+40-150/2.8. But! Oly's 7-14/2.8 looks amazing, and the 9-18/3.5 is the only UWA to take filters. Primes are a mixed bag. Oly's FE8/1.8 is stunning, so are the 12/2, 60/2.8macro, 75/1.8, and likely the 300/4. On the other hand many love the 15/1.7, 20/1.7, 25/1.4, and 42.5/1.2~7 variants from Panasonic. There are also lenses like the Samyang FE7.5/3.5 that are absolutely fantastic. Remember to love the fact that we can shoot lenses from both camps.
  13. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    I don't have the best eyes, but even I can see a big difference in sharpness between kit lenses like the 14-42 and a prime or pro zooms on my monitor.
  14. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Real Name:
    Andrew Lossing
    I'm a prime guy, and it's mainly for the opportunity to use a larger aperture, but I feel like there's a certain character to my primes, or rather different character in each, whereas zooms just never seem to have that, almost a recognizability, and just sort of look generic. I'm sure a high quality zoom like the 13-35 or 12-40 would perform better in that category, though.

  15. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I have nothing against zooms. I have had a few over the years that I liked quite a bit like the Olymous 14-54 (from my 4/3rds days), the Panasonic 14-45 and the Fuji 18-55. I'm sure there are more. I bought an m43 body however because I like to have a small easy to carry kit and zooms that can compete with my primes are generally bigger (and more expensive). My Panasonic 14/2.5 (.8" thick and weighs under 2 oz) and 20/1.7 (1" thick and just over 3 oz.) are pretty compact. I could add a lens like the Panasonic 42.5 or Olympus 45/1.8 and have the classic 3 focal length kit of 28, 40, and 90 where all three lenses stacked on top of each other would be around the size of a can of soda.