Recommendations on a wide prime lens

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Quadna71, Jul 5, 2016.

  1. Quadna71

    Quadna71 Mu-43 Regular

    May 25, 2016
    I recently made the switch from a Canon DSLR to an Olympus PEN with the biggest driver being the want for a smaller form factor and with spending less on lenses (no red rings?) being a close second. Since a large majority of shots seemed to be with my 24-70 and 50mm, at least I knew what to find in order to replicate my comfort zone in regards to focal length. I was able to sell one Canon L lens to fund my EPL7, a 12-40/2.8, and the 25/1.8 prime. So right out of the gate I have that span covered. Then I broke it down even further and saw that most of my shots with the Canon 24-70 were taken around 24mm - so that led me to pick up the 12/2 prime. I took the new camera out this weekend camping for 3 days and it seems like the two prime lens were perfect! The 12-40/2.8 didn't even come out of the bag. But it got me wondering if the reason most of my previous shots with the Canon 24-70 were only taken at 24mm because that was the widest point or if it is because I really liked that length. Hmm. So here I am, wondering if maybe I'd want something even wider for my nature shooting. What are the most common options? Is there a wider/rectilinear lens out there? The 9mm fish eye doesn't seem like the answer...? I'm partial to a prime lens since that keeps the small form factor going but am open to any suggestion.
  2. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    There isn't much option for wide primes. You have the Oly 8mm, but it is a fisheye. If you don't mind the high price and manual focus there is the Voightlander 10.5 Or SLR Magic 10mm Cine lens.

    Otherwise there are zooms that many like - the 7-14's and the 9-18 get a lot of praise.
  3. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Many of us have bemoaned the lack of a wider compact prime lens in the 9mm or 10mm range. That said, the Olympus MZ 9-18mm is almost comically small. It's only 155 grams, so it's only ever-so-slightly larger than your 25/1.8 or 12mm/f2, despite being a zoom.

    Compact Camera Meter

    It doesn't have a fast aperture (f4-5.6), so it's not great for night photography unless you have a tripod, but it's a great architecture and landscape lens, and has a surprisingly versatile field of view. 9mm is also ultrawide but not "ridiculously wide" whereas it's hard to take a normal looking photograph with a rectilinear 7mm - all the edges are crazily stretched. If I could swing the cash, I think I wold probably replace my 11-22mm with the 9-18.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    BTW, Welcome!
    • Agree Agree x 2
  5. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Since you're more curious than sure of what you want I'd go along with Turbofrog and suggest the 9-18mm. It's small and light, relatively inexpensive and reasonably sharp.

    If you do go for it just make sure you're getting the m43 lens, not the older 4/3 lens.

    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Rokfish (Rokinon–Samyang) 7.5mm f3.5 and defish it if needed. It'll set you back less than $200 used. Blistering sharp and crazy small/lightweight.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Yup. 9-18mm. Buy it, try it, sell it if you don't like it. Do not agonize over the decision; you're dating, not getting married.
    • Funny Funny x 2
  8. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    The Oly 7-14,2.8 Pro is the one to check out. Spectacular, just look at the showcase for it to see for yourself.

    The Panny 7-14,4 is also a great lens if you can live with the slower aperture. The Oly is the superior lens though if you don't mind the size.
  9. CarlB

    CarlB Mu-43 Veteran

    I'm also a "mostly wide" shooter.

    The Oly 12/2 has going for it the compactness and f2. It does have some noticeable fringing at the edges. I have this lens, but don't end up using all that often. Every once in a while the f2 can really do remarkable things, though.

    5975642353_79a61630c6_z.jpg bee seeing you ... by Carl B, on Flickr

    For wide angle, I often don't need the widest of apertures. What gives excellent results, is almost as sharp as the Oly 12/2 at both of their sharpest apertures (f4), and has less fringing is the Panasonic 12-32mm pancake. Add to that its versatile (and still sharp) zoom range of 12-32mm. For me it's what I keep ready to shoot on a Pen-F. The following is with that combo; there's a bit of haze due to Canadian fires that were raging at the time.

    26301607833_51b700bc44_z.jpg st croix river by Carl B, on Flickr

    I also have the 9-18mm Oly, and those few fewer millimeters are very noticeable. I love shooting it too, just not as compact and ready to go as the 12-32mm.

    27768787252_c41cd066fa_c.jpg lochness left by Carl B, on Flickr

    There's a Pana Leica prime coming, f1.4 at 12mm ... Not going be compact by any measure. But I'll bet it will be the sharpest, most linear, and least fringing lens of this bunch. I note it only goes to f16, a bit of a disappointment: some of my favorite shots are wide angle with a good f18 or above sunstar:

    21069461698_d0e5b71f32_z.jpg rice creek at lexington - westward by Carl B, on Flickr

    The above is a bit of a "no fair:" It's with a Leica 21mm f3.4 on an M9, heh!

    I note the Oly 12/2 does go to f22 ... It may be time to break that out to see if it does a good sunstar.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  10. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    What they say.

    Our widest native prime is the 12mm f/2 Olympus. It's a good lens, even a quite good lens in many ways, but I think most people can find something they would like to see improved on with it though I also think different people have different views on what they would most like to see improved. Fringing is a common complaint but can often be corrected in processing. At present I think it's the only choice in a native prime if you want something in that focal length. There's a lot of us who think we need a wider rectilinear prime of around 10mm focal length. I'd love to see Olympus bring in a 10 or 10.5mm PRO prime.

    If you want wider than 12mm in a native lens then your options are limited. There are zooms and I own the 7-14 f/2.8 PRO Olympus. It's 1 stop slower than the 12mm prime but otherwise is as good, actually better in my view. I really like the way the PRO zooms render things and I think if I had bought it first I would not have bought the 12mm but the 7-14 zoom probably wasn't even on the drawing boards when I bought my 12mm. The PRO zoom is larger and heavier and expensive. It's also weather sealed. I used to prefer my primes before I got the 12-40 and 7-14 PRO zooms but those two PRO zooms, especially the 12-40, seem to have become my lenses of choice unless I want a bit more speed or a smaller camera and lens combination to take with me. I think they are that good. The Olympus 9-18 and the Panasonic zooms are smaller, cost less, and also good.

    Then you get to the fisheyes. You said "The 9mm fish eye doesn't seem like the answer...?" and if you really don't want to go wider than a 21mm equivalent in a rectilinear wide angle and you have no need or desire for a fisheye then I think you're right on that point. I don't think a fisheye is the way to go if you aren't going to want to use the lens as a fisheye, and it's also probably not the way to go if the field of view you get after defishing is wider than what you want because then you're going to be defishing and also starting to crop quite a bit with every shot you take. I have the Olympus 8mm PRO fisheye and I do defish the results at times but I bought it to use as a fisheye. I don't routinely use it with the intention of defishing and if what I really want is ultra wide rectilinear I choose the 7-14 PRO zoom over it every time.

    The only other alternative is to go with a shorter focal length lens for a different format and use it with an adapter. That means you probably won't have autofocus which is an issue for some and not for others. You may not be able to find a lens profile for any corrections which might be required but that will depend on the lens and on your processing software but in the absence of a profile you may be able to do satisfactory manual corrections. I have no experience with adapted lenses so I'll leave comments on that option to others.

    So at present I think the best option if you want a rectilinear lens that is wider than 12mm is one of the zooms. That may change but no one has announced a wider prime in the pipeline so if you want to wait for a wider prime you may have to wait for quite a long time. All of the ultra wide zooms seem to have strong followings and are well regarded. You can basically make your choice based on how wide you want to go and how fast you want it to be, and whether it's weather sealed or not plus there are the user "comfort factors" of size, weight, price and whether you want to be able to use filters with it easily. If you want it all, you're out of luck. None of the zooms will give you all the way to 7mm, f/2 or better, weather sealing, small size and weight, low price, and the ability to use filters easily. It's a matter of what you are prepared to live with in order to get what you aren't prepared to give up.

    Take a look at the image threads for all of the relevant zooms in order to get a feel for what each can deliver. There are some great images in all of those threads.
  11. danelkins

    danelkins Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 9, 2013
    Norhtern Illinois
    Since you have 12mm covered I would suggest to try stiching images to get wider coverage. Unfortunately there isn't much more UWA offered in the system of which you are seeking except for zooms as mentioned in some other responses. The two 7-14mm lenses will not disappoint and the weight/size savings are as expected in compairison to a EF16-35mm. All m43 lenses won't be pancakes some have to be muffins :) Enjoy your lightweight travel photography, your neck and back will thank you.
  12. The best bang for the buck...Rokinon 7.5. It's wide enough to be a noticeable step greater than 12mm. Wide enough so that you're not thinking "Hey, I could have done that with the 12 if I had just stepped back a bit". It isn't exactly as distortion free as a rectilinear, but with some care, and watching how things change as it's moved around, you can get some fairly low distortion results until you get toward the edges and corners. But you also have the option to turn it loose and get a little crazy with it. Something the rectilinear won't do as well. Small, light, sharp, lots of fun, and not too expensive...what's not to like there?
  13. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I moved from Canon FF (5DII) to u43 to have smaller and lighter gear. For me, the Olympus Pro lenses defeat that purpose, esp the 7-14. Too big, too heavy and too expensive. The Panasonic 7-14 is notably smaller and cheaper and apart from the purple flare it's no worse optically than the Olympus lens. If you can live with 9mm (which in truth is MUCH wider than 12), then the 9-18 is a good option but it's not quite as good in the corners as the 7-14 (I know, I've owned a 9-18 twice!).

    If a prime is a must and fisheyes are not an option then you have to go manual/non-native. There's the Kowa 8.5mm f2.8 which is pretty decent but quite big and expensive; then there's the Voigtlander 10.5mm and SLRMagic 10mm which also fit that description!

    Personally, in your shoes I'd get the 9-18. Small, relatively cheap and pretty decent IQ. If you find you like UWA and want wider and better then you can look at the other options.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. Quadna71

    Quadna71 Mu-43 Regular

    May 25, 2016
    Based on my latest research and in no small part the comments here, it seems the Oly 9-18 most closely fits the bill. While the 7-14/2.8 PRO sounds awesome, I'd be reverting right back to a heavy kit and that's what I'm avoiding. So much so that I'm already looking at bags that won't fit my 12-40/2.8 PRO when packing for a weekend. Too soon to sell though but you get what I'm saying. I think I'll sit on the 12/2 another month or so and then decide...but the 9-18 seems like the smart choice for me. Thanks for all the input, everyone. It was nice to see all the comments roll in each with decidedly different perspectives but all with the same common goal.
  15. thegimprider

    thegimprider Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 12, 2016
    Douglas Coulter
    If you can rent the Oly 7-14 pro and try it my guess is you will be won over but be warned it is not a carry lens. This is one heavy piece of glass for such a small camera. Cine manual focus lenses tend on the large size also. I hope Olympus would crank out an ultra wide prime and can't understand why they have not already done it. Maybe they are making a market killing with that pro zoom?
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