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Telephoto zooms & primes

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by MAubrey, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    I'm curious.

    If this Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 rumor is true, is there anyone who would go for the Panasonic 150mm f/2.8 over this Olympus zoom? At the telephoto end, the size difference between primes and zooms isn't particularly big...

    In my mind, beyond 100mm, the value of a prime over a zoom is diminished for most purposes (depending on their aperture).

    Any thoughts on this?
     
  2. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I have the existing Oly 40-150 which basically I only use at 150mm, and I use it mostly for bird photography. While I find it acceptably sharp, for the sort of thing I'm using it for I wouldn't mind something sharper and also faster. Since zooms are often softest at their longest focal length, and tend to be slower than primes as well, I would probably be very tempted if Olympus or Panasonic bought out a fast prime in the 150-300mm range, especially if it were at a reasonable price. In fact I'd prefer that to a fixed aperture zoom, even an F/2.8 zoom.

    So for me the value of a long prime wouldn't be diminished but then you did say "for most purposes" and I'm certainly not thinking of most purposes, I'm only thinking of my purposes which I find far more compelling since there the purposes I'd buy a faster long lens for.

    Definitely a YMMV proposition in my view but I'd definitely vote for a fast long prime of 150mm or longer over a long zoom.
     
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  3. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Sam
    Basically what David said...most zooms lose sharpness at the two extremes, so a fixed prime wouldnt be obsolete.

    Im wishing for longer primes though, in the 200 to 300mm range and no bigger than the Lumix 100-300mm.....a man can dream, cant he?
     
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  4. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    Thanks for the responses.

    It sounds like we're seeing the "law of diminishing returns" functioning in a different manner. You in terms of IQ and me in terms of size...
     
  5. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Bob
    I prefer shooting with primes. However, that means carrying more lenses to cover the same range. This has the potential to negate some of the size benefits of :43: (Portability). The other factor to consider, particularly for long lenses, is whether you will use the whole range of the zoom or only one end. If you plan to primarily use the long end (such as 300mm) then a prime will likely serve better by being sharper. :cool:
     
  6. troll

    troll Mu-43 Veteran

    224
    Jan 25, 2012
    For me telephoto primes are totally useless. Limiting yourself with one focal length is fine as long as you get something real in return, and with "normal" primes you get a smaller/lighter lens that is significantly "faster" than even the most expensive zooms (usually f/1.4 vs f/2.8), sharper and at affordable price. With telephoto primes you don't get any of those advantages with the exception of a bit better image quality. Fast telephoto primes are way less useful (for most people) than a normal prime yet they're always significantly more expensive so paying that much for a lens that is going to be used so rarely doesn't seem reasonable, at least for an amateur like myself.

    Telephoto primes are fine for specialized use - when you know beforehand what focal length you'll need. Yet I don't understand why some people would prefer them to zooms for shooting wildlife.. In my experience a lot of animals stay still as long as you stay in the car, and some would only let you shoot from very far away (and they don't give a damn about the focal length you're using so it's always different "far away"), so "zooming with your feet" rarely works. I mean, if you've got 40-150 for shooting birds and mostly use it at 150mm doesn't mean that you need a 150mm prime, you just need a proper zoom for this kind of shooting which is something in 100-300mm range.
     
  7. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    But I didn't say I "mostly use it at 150mm", I said I only use it at 150mm.

    And yes, a zoom in the 100-300 range would have advantages but it would still run me into the same problems I have with the 40-150. I'd be shooting at an aperture of F/5.6 or smaller in shadowed areas and late afternoon so in order to get the shutter speeds I want/need I'd still be shooting at ISO 1600 or higher and that starts to introduce another range of problems.

    I can see me going for the 40-150 F/2.8 for the 2 stops advantage it gives me over my current 40-150. I've thought and thought about the 2 currently available long zooms. The 75-300 is slower than the 40-150 at the long end and the 100-300 is the same speed. I need a faster lens so as far as I'm concerned neither is an acceptable option. The range is useless to me without the speed since camera stability becomes a bigger concern at longer lengths (I'm shooting hand held) and that means I'll want to use a faster shutter speed than I'm currently using and that will exacerbate my ISO concerns even more.

    I know what I'm shooting and I know the distances I'm shooting at. I'll certainly take a fast zoom but if I had a choice I'd take a fast prime and I wouldn't be zooming with my feet when I used it. At most I'd just crop a bit less and a zoom isn't going to eliminate that problem entirely either.
     
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  8. troll

    troll Mu-43 Veteran

    224
    Jan 25, 2012
    Well, the thing is that MFT is just the wrong system for telephoto wildlife shooting, it doesn't have any serious lenses yet and maybe will never have. By "100-300mm range" I was talking purely theoretically, only about the focal lengths appropriate for wildlife shooting - the current 2 super-telephoto zooms are slow indeed. Still, 100-300 f/4-5.6 is imho a better option for shooting birds than 40-150 f/4-5.6.
     
  9. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Sam
    I agree with what your saying here. If Olympus was going to release a m4/3 300mm f2 lens it will cost and arm and leg. It would be fairly stupid of me to buy such a lens since (a) i dont make a living shooting birds (b) i live paycheck to paycheck and my dad doesnt own an oil well.

    But we are kind of talking about a perfect world scenerio where my dad (and everyones dad) did own an oil well and was willing to support such an expensive hobby in lieu of drug addiction :biggrin:
     
  10. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    Several factors -

    Price; assuming equivalent build quality the zoom might incur a premium because of complexity of design. I would not care to pay for features (such as zoom) that I would not use if there were a reasonable alternative. Edit: this compares "apples to apples"; it must be conceded that this is not always the case - a Nikon 200mm f/2.0 prime is MUCH more expensive than the excellent Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom. However the lenses are not "apples to apples" in that the 200mm is faster and has much better I.Q. when used wide open.

    Image Quality; the prime lens might be sharper wide open than the zoom, again due to the simplicity of prime lens design. Zoom lenses require more design compromises than prime lenses (on average, more or less, give or take, YMMV :biggrin:).

    Weight; zoom lenses require more internal hardware than primes, thus primes may weigh less due to fewer parts. Weight (or the lack thereof) is a big factor in :43: gear (at least for me, more or less, give or take, YMMV...). Edit Again, "apples to apples"; build quality and materials need to be consistent when comparing lenses.

    Shooting style - a prime lens, not offering the flexibility of a zoom lens, requires the photographer to approach the subject differently. Of course the zoom lens can be used at a single focus length (I tend to use my 45-200mm Panasonic at the long end) but it isn't required.

    That's my reason for moving to primes on the :43: (as the budget allows :rolleyes:) - I have to slow down and plan my shot. I have a horrible tendency to "snap shoot" and I find that zooms only reinforce the habit.

    Regards,

    Jim
     
  11. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    I shoot a lot of sports and action stuff. The 40-150 f/2.8 if it was acceptably sharp across the entire range would be a great lens. If it is "too" soft at the ends, then the 150mm would be great.
     
  12. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    When I originally wrote the OP, my own thinking was that if the 40-150mm f/2.8 is satisfactorily sharp to the level that the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 is, then I wouldn't have a need for a fast telephoto prime.

    This is essentially akin to the way many people in the four thirds camp viewed the 50-200mm as the more ideal set of compromises in terms of size, weight, versatility and speed as compared to say, the Oly 150mm f/2. Carrying a single reasonably fast zoom that is still quite sharp, weighs less, costs less, and takes up less space than one faster and incredibly sharp prime.
     
  13. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    The thing is that M43 IS a very good system for what I do. As for the bird photography, well I have diabetes and now a heart condition and I walk for exercise. I started carrying the camera and shooting things I saw and I started shooting birds as part of that. So what I want is a small, light system that isn't a pain to carry and gives me a longish lens that I can take some days in order to shoot birds in a couple of the nature strip areas near home. I'm not trying to win National Geographic's wildlife photography contest or whatever.

    I don't give a damn about whether or not M43 is the best system for telephoto wildlife shooting. That's a small portion of what I shoot and the only thing I regularly use a long lens for. I'm not going to buy a separate system just for that, especially a larger, heavier system that I'm going to carry for an hour to an hour and a half, when I can use the system I have and have some fun trying to get reasonable results at something that is an enjoyable pastime.

    I don't have to worry about whether or not I'm using the right system. Others can fight about that. M43 has given me a small, light system which delivers very good quality results and is just about perfect for how I use a camera these days in my retirement. I said in my original response that I wasn't concerned about what was good for most purposes, I said I was only concerned about my purposes. We all do our own thing.

    I am also endlessly fascinated by views of what is or is not the best system for shooting something. Certainly we can say that one system will deliver better technical quality images than another however I have no doubt that when Henri Cartier-Bresson started shooting with his first 35mm Leica rangefinder everyone told him that he'd be better off with a camera which used a larger negative format. I for one am most glad that he had the sense to ignore them. I'm no HCB but there's more than just image quality to consider when discussing what the best system for a given purpose is, and in my case when it comes to shooting birds I can quite happily say that M43 is a better system for me than any of the DSLR systems no matter what their technical advantages are, and I'll happily concede the technical advantages.
     
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  14. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    And you also said "for most purposes" in your original post. I think you're right when it comes to "most purposes".

    I don't think we're likely to get a longish zoom faster than F/2.8 and I can certainly get by with that. It's just that you asked about what people thought about the need for a fast telephoto prime and if I could have exactly what I want I'd want faster than F/2.8. It's a lot easier to get that in a prime than a zoom.

    I have no expectations of getting what I want, I doubt there's enough people who would want a really fast longish prime to make it a good commercial prospect, and there's always the chance that I couldn't afford it or would find it too large and heavy to carry when I wanted it (see my previous response to Troll). Given that no one has announced that they're working on a fastish long zoom, I also have to accept that a bird in the hand is better than one in the bush (metaphor most carefully chosen) and waiting for something that may never be made isn't a sensible option. I suspect the 40-150 F/2.8 is going to be the best compromise for me but that doesn't stop me from wishing for something a bit more in line with my idiosyncratic set of wants.
     
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  15. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    I totally hear you. And I appreciate your perspective. It's helpful to get another angle--which is why I ask what others thought. For my own part, I would use such a telephoto primarily for landscapes that can only be had with such lenses, such as these two photos, both of which were shot at 300mm with the older four thirds 70-300mm.

    9212419.

    9212427-800x1000.

    The problem is that while I enjoyed the lens and did get some nice images from it, it was still very much a value lens in the sense of cheap. I was finding that I could get equal or better resolution from enlarging images my old Konica Hexanon 200mm f/3.5 compared to 300mm on the Olympus.

    So now I wait for a faster high quality telephoto...depending on the price, I might either go with this new rumored zoom or pick up a used copy of the 50-200mm. We'll see. AF isn't a huge priority for landscape.
     
  16. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nice shots. I like the layering of the mountains in the first one. I can think of all sorts of excuses for why I don't take shots like that but I think I'll stick with "there ain't no mountains like that near me". In fact the tallest mountain near me, several hours driving away and then the hike part, is a mere 4,400 odd feet high in a range that looks nothing like that.

    We don't get snow either, but we do get stinking hot, humid Christmases and I can just tell one is on the way.

    I never expected to get into photographing birds. I bought the E-P3 in the 2 lens kit and got a couple of lucky bird shots with the 40-150 during the first week I had the camera. They weren't great shots but they were just good enough to make me want to do better so I keep at it about once every week or so. The current 40-150 was the real surprise in the 2 lens kit for me. It was the lens I expected to use least and it's given me a lot more fun than the 14-42 which has pretty much sat neglected since I bought my first prime.