The Essential Budget Lens Collection

tkbslc

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One lens that I didn't see mentioned (maybe I missed it) is the Olympus 12-50mm. The range is outstanding, and it is weather sealed, AND it does macros. It's not extremely popular anymore, being an "old" kit lens, so it sells for very little. There's a couple on ebay right now for $150-ish. For someone on a budget, this lens can cover a lot of bases.
 

Alexlotl

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My budget no-conversion kit would be:

P12-32 - cheap, sharp, goes decently wide.
P20 - low light option. Cheap and sharp. Really versatile FL. AF not great on Oly bodies, but worth the compromise.
O40-150 - plastic fantastic. Cheap as chips, light, and pretty damn sharp.

That gets you 24-300m equivalent (with a small gap 64-80mm), plus low-light capability, with cheap, sharp and compact lenses (which for me is what m43 is all about). You could always throw in the 9mm BCL if you want a cheap way to go ultra-wide.
 

RogerM

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Gotta boost the P20 even though in NZ it still goes for a good price second-hand.
I think the little PZ 14-42 Panny pancake is under-rated. I had a copy and thought it was sharp.
Manual focus macro lenses are a great option on m4/3; the Vivitar 55mm has already been mentioned (I have one) but the Nikkor 55mm f3.5 is a stunner too and often very cheap.
If you're on a Mac the old 'Aperture' photo management and processing software is easily found and Apple have explicitly stated that they have no desire to bother any users (they even have a compatibility update available); it has tremendous colour management and will host the Google versions of Nik plug-ins. I still use it; careful post processing can make cheaper glass really shine.
Great thread.
Edit; oh yeah the P14-45mm & P45-150mm I have had briefly were both excellent and probably sell for under the budget.
 
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Lupin 3rd

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IMHO these two lens pretty much cover all bases:
  • Olympus 25mm F1.8 (US$160)
  • Olympus 14-150 F4~5.6 (US$295)
The 25mm ~ 50mm (nifty-fifty) equivalent works great a general walk around, do-it-all lens. And the 14-150 does everything else. Nice and compact, great for traveling.
 

John M Flores

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My budget kit, that is also about as tiny as you are going to find:

12-32mm - came free with my camera, but $100-120 used.
20mm f1.7 - really cheap used, especially the original version. $150-200
35-100mm 4-5.6 - smallest telephoto zoom I know of and very sharp. It's the size of the 14-42 kit lens. The silver version is available for much cheaper than the black one for some reason - $140
9mm f8 BCL - This takes up zero room, weighs nothing, and is suprisingly sharp and easy to use. It has a less pronounced FE effect than "real" fisheyes, but is also easy to de-fish. $60 used

Total is $450, but truly covers just about every scenario and I can hold all of them in the palm of one hand.

Yup, minus the BCL, I’ve had plenty of photos published with this kit.
 

agentlossing

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I'm actually pretty anti BCL, and I did own the 9mm. The reason being that it's so limited. F8 with a micro four thirds lens is already too small aperture, for anything but bright midday sun. Optical quality may not be quite as bad as a toy lens, but it's poor, especially in scenarios where the subject falls outside the close focus/infinity zone settings. Given that an ultrawide focal length tempts one to make landscapes, it's a rather disappointing lens. You can only make softish midday landscapes.

If you want to really save, get the 7artisans 25mm f1.8 manual focus lens as your standard (~$65), and get the Panasonic 14mm and ultrawide adapter as your wide option.
 

Saledolce

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If you want to really save, get the 7artisans 25mm f1.8 manual focus lens as your standard (~$65)

This is the kind of "saving" where you end buying the P25 f1.7, for $150 three weeks later. :) I have similar feelings on the BCL, I'd play with it for 3 days, and then forget it and wish I saved for a used Samyang...
 

alex66

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I'm actually pretty anti BCL, and I did own the 9mm. The reason being that it's so limited. F8 with a micro four thirds lens is already too small aperture, for anything but bright midday sun. Optical quality may not be quite as bad as a toy lens, but it's poor, especially in scenarios where the subject falls outside the close focus/infinity zone settings. Given that an ultrawide focal length tempts one to make landscapes, it's a rather disappointing lens. You can only make softish midday landscapes.

If you want to really save, get the 7artisans 25mm f1.8 manual focus lens as your standard (~$65), and get the Panasonic 14mm and ultrawide adapter as your wide option.
I had the 9mm before I got rid of most of my m43, it was used very little and I would say unless you get it stupid cheep you are better off getting one of the better alternatives. Though at these focal lengths the need for AF is virtually zero given the wonderful amount of DOF they have. Not so sure its not worth holding out for a Panasonic 25mm coming up at a low price, I don't think I paid £80 for mine.
 

TheMenWhoDrawSheeps

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[5] now a macro lens: we cannot afford the wonderful Olympus 30mm f3.5 micro 4/3 one - so here's the alternatives at the target price…………
++
[5A] Add a 4+ dioptre 52mm diameter accessory close -up lens to the 14-42mm kit lens and voila - all you ever need for a few pounds/dollars AND you keep the AF and the automatic exposure flash control. That combination fills the frame with a postage stamp. The accessory lens is 8mm deep and fits in the little pocket next to the spare battery in your camera bag. I have never even used the +1, +2 or +10 dioptre lenses that came in my set of 4 – so save the pennies for later.
++

[5B] Do the same with a 4+ dioptre lens to the 50mm legacy lens you have bought already and you have a perfect 100mm equivalent close up lens. Dial in F8 for depth of field, pop up the onboard flash to fill in and the lack of AF precision and OIS is overcome. The MFT viewfinder will compensate for the F8 and still stay bright. Learn which output settings are needed for your fill-in flash to be consistent and this is a perfect insect and flower lens.
++

[5C] If you really must have 1:1 ratio - buy the 1980s Manual Focus Vivitar 55mm F2.8 macro from eBay with the appropriate adapter lens mount. Mine was <£50 and is amazing.
++

[5D] Finally - a bit left field – but there were generic manual focus 28mm f2.8 lenses in the 1980s made by a company called CIMKO (There were sold under a range of brand names such as Clubman, Panagor, Photax Paragon, Ensinor etc) or a similar type made by Cosina (sold as Petri’s, Mirandas, etc…). They we sold with “macro” labels but in reality, only reached 1:4 magnification. For nearly all we might need to picture a 1:4 ratio is plenty good enough. My version was a “Clubman” brand and cost me £5.00 on eBay, add another £5 / 6 Euro / $7 USD for a the full-frame to MFT adapter and you are ready to go. Better still - buy it in the same mount as your 50mm and save the pennies.

Now – any other ideas from the collective wisdom of the M43 Forum for us financially challenged photographers?

Best wishes to you all – Paul C in the UK

[5E]buy yourself a reverse ring or retro ring for your 50mm pentax, and mount it reversed on your camera, and set it to infinity - voila, you have smth about 1:1/1:2 macro lens. without light loss, and extra lens space. put 28mm f2.8 lens instead, and you get 3:1/2:1 macro lens. throw in a doubler, you get 5:1 and double the distance to your subject. now throw in some diopter lens;) well you got the idea...

[5F]get a filter to filter adapter, and put old 28mm prime reversed on 40-150 kit. magnification= lens1/lens2. 150/28=5:1 magnification, with autofocus and magnification zoom. try that on oly 60mm f2.8 with focus stacking.

don´t forget the speed boosters.

and tilt/shift adapters.

anyone into bellows?

gosh i think i really have to do a thread on my manual equipment.%)

have fun;)
 

Petrochemist

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[5E]buy yourself a reverse ring or retro ring for your 50mm pentax, and mount it reversed on your camera, and set it to infinity - voila, you have smth about 1:1/1:2 macro lens. without light loss, and extra lens space. put 28mm f2.8 lens instead, and you get 3:1/2:1 macro lens. throw in a doubler, you get 5:1 and double the distance to your subject. now throw in some diopter lens;) well you got the idea...

[5F]get a filter to filter adapter, and put old 28mm prime reversed on 40-150 kit. magnification= lens1/lens2. 150/28=5:1 magnification, with autofocus and magnification zoom. try that on oly 60mm f2.8 with focus stacking.

don´t forget the speed boosters.

and tilt/shift adapters.

anyone into bellows?

gosh i think i really have to do a thread on my manual equipment.%)

have fun;)
You forgot the helicoids, far more robust than bellows & ideal for the reversed lens approach.
Using a spare rear cap to make a hood for the reversed lenses is also worthwhile. It doesn't take long to cut out a suitable hole.
 

twigboy

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[5E]buy yourself a reverse ring or retro ring for your 50mm pentax, and mount it reversed on your camera, and set it to infinity - voila, you have smth about 1:1/1:2 macro lens. without light loss, and extra lens space. put 28mm f2.8 lens instead, and you get 3:1/2:1 macro lens. throw in a doubler, you get 5:1 and double the distance to your subject. now throw in some diopter lens;) well you got the idea...

[5F]get a filter to filter adapter, and put old 28mm prime reversed on 40-150 kit. magnification= lens1/lens2. 150/28=5:1 magnification, with autofocus and magnification zoom. try that on oly 60mm f2.8 with focus stacking.

don´t forget the speed boosters.

and tilt/shift adapters.

anyone into bellows?

gosh i think i really have to do a thread on my manual equipment.%)

have fun;)

Does this (either 5E or F) affect minimum/maximum focusing distance? Meaning, how close do you need to be and how far can you be, and compared to a normal macro lens?
 

junkyardsparkle

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Definitely. You'll have near zero working room with reversed lens.
This is less absolutely true on m4/3 bodies, with the relatively small flange-focal distance. It starts to become more true as you add extension for more magnification, though...
 

agentlossing

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This is the kind of "saving" where you end buying the P25 f1.7, for $150 three weeks later. :) I have similar feelings on the BCL, I'd play with it for 3 days, and then forget it and wish I saved for a used Samyang...
Yeah, you're probably right. I own the Olympus 25mm f1.8 and got the 7artisans mostly out of curiosity... but it's not really a bad lens, providing you get one that the aperture ring isn't too loose or doesn't fall off. Optically it's much better than an adapted lens, probably better than the oldest M4/3 kit zooms. And it's very small, and f1.8. But yes, if you are looking at either spending the current ~$80 cost on Amazon versus just buying a used autofocusing 25mm at even double the cost, it's well worth the splurge.
 

junkyardsparkle

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Does this (either 5E or F) affect minimum/maximum focusing distance? Meaning, how close do you need to be and how far can you be, and compared to a normal macro lens?
It really depends on exactly what "normal macro lens" you're comparing to, and which lens you used for a reverse lens, and how you mount it... mad science! The most recent lens I tried on a reversal mount was this one: Showcase - Olympus OM Zuiko 24mm f/2.8

Note that this is using an actual Micro Four Thirds reversal ring (with 49mm threads to match the lens) which mounts the lens right up against the body. This is far more versatile than reverse mounting on a FF SLR body (or using a reversal adapter made for one on top of an additional adapter to m4/3), since it gives you a much more usable starting point, and allows you to add extension if you want the extreme magnification that starting with a larger flange-focal distance would have given you.

The shot below is of this lens mounted this way, at the (fixed) focus distance from the subject, ~60mm. This is compared to ~80mm using the Oly 60/2.8 at the same 1:1 magnification. This slightly wider angle close-close-up can give a subtly different look, in the same way that different focal lengths can for larger subjects given a similar framing... but I was mostly just playing around with it for fun, because once you have the reverse adapter, why not? :D

hb143666.jpg
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tkbslc

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I have similar feelings on the BCL, I'd play with it for 3 days, and then forget it and wish I saved for a used Samyang...

I went BCL -> Samyang -> BCL.

BCL is so small I bring it everywhere. It fits in an outer pocket like a spare battery or filter. Samyang is big enough it takes a lens slot in my bag. I have to intentionally decide I need fish or UWA to bring it along. For me, fisheye/UWA is usually opportunistic and those are when I found my Samyang was sitting at home 9/10 times. BCL is always in my bag for those shots now. And the IQ is really quite good except for the last 10% at the edges.
 

Saledolce

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Size is a big plus of BCL, thats definitely true. But I would not be able to replace something in my kit with it, I would eventually add it. And this would be against the minimalistic principles of this topic :)
 
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