Recommendation needed for a fast prime

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by delkhouri, Apr 10, 2016.

  1. delkhouri

    delkhouri Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 1, 2016
    First let me preface this by stating that I am a complete beginner to photography and m43. I wanted to get a good camera to take pictures of family, trips, and hikes. I bought an Olympus OMD-EM10II after Christmas and I have the kit 14-42II lens and bough the 40-150 4.0-5.6 for some extra zoom.

    I am still getting the hang of it all and have been really impressed with this camera's capabilities. I've managed to produce some really nice pictures (or at least not fouled up the camera producing some really nice pictures)

    The problem I am having is that when I am taking pictures of my 2.5 year old daughter inside, I am getting quite a few blurry pictures or pictures that have large blurry areas. I am thinking that a fast prime that lets in some more light will help. I tried to go to a couple local camera stores, and while they carry a very limited selection of M43 stuff they have an attitude that noone ever uses or buys it so they can't be much help. They tend to be focused on DSLR's and Sony cameras.

    I am looking for a lens that I can use indoors to take pictures of my very active daughter, as well as take pictures of landscape/nature. I have also done a ton of research and here are some contendors/conclusions that I have come up with.

    - Panasonic 14 2.8 - too slow in low light and probably too wide for my needs.
    - Panasonic Leica 15mm 1.7 - maybe too wide?
    - Olympus 17mm 1.8 - seems like a good option but would like some opinions
    - Sigma 19mm 2.8 - too slow in low light
    - Panasonic 20mm 1.7 - a good option but worried about slow Autofocus
    - PL25mm1.4/Oly25mm1.8/Pana25mm1.7 - I don't know if 25mm is too narrow for my needs. In this Focal length, I would probably go with the Olympus as it seems the best blend of price(middle price)/size(smallest)/sharpness(only a marginally worse than the PL)
    - I have also considered the zooms - Panasonic 12-35mm2.8 and Olympus 12-40mm2.8, but I am not sure about the low light performance of f2.8 and the price is prohibitive.

    Sorry for the long rambling post. Any advice/opinions are appreciated.
  2. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    IMO, I would give the P20mm a try. Buy it used. It is a bargain. If you absolutely think it is too slow, sell it.

    The 17/1.8 is another good choice but it is typically more money. The 15mm is getting towards the too wide end, IMO. The 25s are a bit narrow when indoors and you are sometimes close. Again, IMO.

    The 20 is not perfect but the focal length is a great compromise between not too wide and not too narrow, the size is great, speed at f1.7 is good, and the image quality is excellent. Auto focusing on the newer cameras is better than what it used to be like on the older m43 bodies.

    I have the EM5-Mkii also and find the P20 to be very acceptable for my needs.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    Many cameras/lenses will have trouble in low light setting. Besides a fast lens, you also need to make sure the shutter speed is fast enough. To do that you will probably need to increase the ISO.
    I like the 28mm-50mm focal length range (35mm eq) for general purpose photography so I think you are on the right track. I like the 25mm/1.4 a lot. I think it does environmental portraits so beautifully. I don't have the Olympus 25mm/1.8 to compare though.
  4. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    +1 Buying a lens is not like getting married. Lurk patiently and buy carefully, try. If you don't like it, write a good advert with lots of pictures and sell. If you do a good job on the buy and sell ends you may actually make some money but, in any event, you are not likely to lose much. An ounce of practical experience trumps a pound of analysis and speculation.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. The Oly 17 is probably the best choice there. Quicker focus, good indoor field of view, but a little pricey..even for the grey market item. Haven't used one, but from reading about them I'd say that would have to be the one.
  6. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
    +2 The 20mm is awesome. Because its a pancake you'll take it places that you'll find a bigger lens will become a burden.

    AF speed can be a little frustrating but cameras can compensate with burst shooting - if you blast off 5 or 6 frames, one of them is likely to be in focus even if the AF is a little laggy (you can also disable the 'wait for focus before shooting' option).
    • Like Like x 1
  7. TassieFig

    TassieFig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 28, 2013
    Tasmania, Australia
    As much as I love my 20 for the iq and size, I would hesitate to recommend it for unpredictable, active kids. The auto focus is slow and sometimes doesn't focus at all. There are tricks to help it along but I would personally think the 17 (or 25) is more appropriate. Especially for a beginner.
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Like Like x 1
  8. svenkarma

    svenkarma Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 5, 2013
    mark evans
    PL25/1.4 all the way for me if you want maximum low light flexibility plus decent AF. It has a 'something' to its rendering that I didn't get with the O17/1.8. The P20 AF can be a pain and I found the focal length a bit betwixt and between. (I ended up with O17/2.8, but it's not on your list). The 12-40 is a fine lens too, but it is kinda chunky for indoor operations.
  9. jsaras

    jsaras New to Mu-43

    Mar 12, 2016
    I'd get one of the 25mm options. Inside and outside my Olympus 25mm f1.8 gets constant use.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    • Like Like x 1
  10. bremner

    bremner Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Feb 27, 2016
    I second the recommendation for the O25. I got along pretty well with that as my only lens.
  11. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    For a prime indoors in a normal sized house, my vote would be for the Olympus 17mm 1.8.

    However had you thought of also investing in a nice hotshoe flash that you can tilt and/or swivel for bounce flash use? Even a lowly kit lens can be a superstar when you have ample lighting. It is all about the light after all. :)
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. Brent

    Brent Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 26, 2016
    I think the 15mm is terrific. I also own the 20mm (my first MFT lens) and the 25mm f/1.4. I like both of those very much, but I think the 25 could sometimes be too tight. For the uses you're talking about, cropping on occasion likely wouldn't be a problem if you got the 15.

    I've never used the 17mm f/1.8, but reviews seem to be a bit mixed about it.

    The 20 is certainly economical, and at one time my favorite prime. The 15 now holds that honor, for me. BUT, it is pricey.

    I like fast primes, so I'd agree with ruling out the 14 (I had one for a while but was never taken with it, aside from its tiny size) and the 19.

    Not sure my comments are much help, but I thought someone should speak up for the 15!
  13. delkhouri

    delkhouri Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 1, 2016
    Thanks for the many replies everyone.

    Here are my thoughts after your comments. I think the Panasonic 14mm f2.8 and sigma 19mm f2.8 are out, just not fast enough indoors. I would be open to most of the rest, and I have spent most of the evening looking at sample images here on the forums. I have time on my side and can stalk the for sale forums looking for a good deal. Like oldracer said, this isn't a marriage, I can always buy and if i don't love it i can sell it break even or not be out a much money.

    I think the Olympus 25mm is the most likely candidate as I have seen them in the $200-$250 range and it seems to meet most of my needs while being a really good performer, even if its a bit long.

    I will say after looking at the image thread of the Panasonic Leica 15mm f1.7 on the forum, that lens seems to be really special. I don't know if the images have been edited or if its just my eyes but there is just something very pleasing to me about the images from that lens. I will definitely be on the lookout for a used copy of it (while saving my pennies)
  14. dlhomesolutions

    dlhomesolutions Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    If you can afford it get the 25mm 1.4 panasonic. It is the best all around lens. Every time I go through my pictures and I see one that makes me go "WOW" it's taken with that lens. If you are on a budget the 45mm 1.8 never fails to impress.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. rezatravilla

    rezatravilla Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 7, 2013
    Reza Travilla
    agreed with @dlhomesolutions@dlhomesolutions PanaLeica 25mm F1.4 has it's own characteristic.
  16. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    I've got both and they both are simply stellar. The 25mm f1.8 is more of a "workhorse" lens being great for a wider variety of shots, included even posed portraiture. It's hard to take a bad shot with it.

    The 15mm definitely has something a little special about it, but it is a little less versatile. You have to get in close and exploit the perspective and DOF control. It can be great in low light, too, because if you step back you can shoot at f1.7-2 and still get everything in focus. But it won't give that unique look if you do that.

    If I were you, I'd start with a 25mm f1.8 and then add a bounce flash before getting the second prime. Used with your kit lens, and flash bounced from ceiling or walls, you can get some pretty amazing indoor quality. If you wanted to start with the flash first, and then add the 25mm later, that's a great idea, too. TBH, I think the primes look best when used indoors during the daytime and you are using them for thin DOF and moderate noise control, while exploiting nice window light. But after dark, the light is often so terrible that even though fast primes will get you OK ISO speeds, you still get very ugly looking light. Whereas if you bounce, you get a room full of very nice light even at f5.6 aperture. The difference in sharpness between a bounced flash shot and an ISO 3200 shot with blah indoor light is quite remarkable.

    Good luck. One of the best/worst things about m4/3 is that there are so many great lenses in this range. It can be hard to pick, but it is also hard to pick something bad.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  17. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    I agree about the P20 ... and why take every "idiot on the Web's" view (and there are quite a number of people posting that its not slow ...) that its slow as being your criteria for selection. You may find that its not slow for you (sure isn't for me) and that its going to be hard for a beginner to find a faster prime of useful focal length to plink with.

    I like my 25, and strangely enough I find that I prefer the 20 over the 25 (which I would never have forseen)
  18. robcee

    robcee Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 10, 2016
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Rob Campbell
    -5 for the p20. great optically, terribly slow compared to just about every other lens in the system for auto focus.

    I'd recommend the Oly 25mm f1.8, the 17mm f1.8 or the PL25 f1.4.

    I haven't tried the PL15 but the dead aperture ring on an olympus body would bug me.

    @pellicle@pellicle I can't tell if you'r pro or con on the p20. too many parentheses.
  19. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    I do have some young kids in the house, including a 2.5 year old like the OP, and I found the 20mm unacceptable. It's not just the slower AF, it is the fact that the lens is incapable of doing continuous AF or video AF. Both are quite frustrating limitations that simply do not exist with the other lenses being mentioned. So you add significantly lower keeper rate, no tracking AF, no continuous AF, no video AF and you end up with a much less attractive lens.

    I guess everyone can decide for themselves whether the idiots are those saying it is slow or those saying it is fine. One that that is certain is that not even idiots would call it fast.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    that was the thrust of what I was saying.

    Its all well documented here that its body dependent, it has been described as "peregrine falcon" on a GH4
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
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