The Essential Budget Lens Collection

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Cool! How did you come up with that chart?

I used Jeffrey Friedl's dataplot plugin in Lightroom 4.4 (the plugin costs whatever price you want to pay), outputted a csv file of the results, and then just created a simple scatter chart in MS Excel. Whole thing took 5 minutes, most of which was faffing with the formatting in Excel...

@algold - that Analytics Dashboard looks cool, I've never hear of that, I'll have to give that a try too.
 
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If you use LightRoom, the easiest way is to use LR Dashboard:
The Analytics Dashboard For Adobe Lightroom
WOW! That analytics dashboard is AMAZING. You can get a lot of the way there from just the metadata in Lightroom but this makes it much more visual, accessible, and easier to understand.

Basically, it told me what I already know. I shoot WAY more with M43 than I ever did with my FF gear (size benefits) and that I really like normal focal lengths (50mm on FF but 20mm on M43).
 

algold

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WOW! That analytics dashboard is AMAZING. You can get a lot of the way there from just the metadata in Lightroom but this makes it much more visual, accessible, and easier to understand.

Basically, it told me what I already know. I shoot WAY more with M43 than I ever did with my FF gear (size benefits) and that I really like normal focal lengths (50mm on FF but 20mm on M43).
50mm on FF vs 20mm on m43 is probably because of the different aspect ratio. 3:2 vs 4:3.
 

Armand Di Meo

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The Olympus 40 to 150mm kit lens exceeded my expectations and I paid only $100 for it on sale at Best Buy. I would also recommend the Olympus 45mm f1.8 (often discounted for as low as $250), the Olympus 30mm f3.5 macro, and the 9mm f8.0 fisheye body cap lens (less than a $100).
 
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I have just read a webpage called "The Essential Budget Lenses “ and was incredulous within minutes - This headline was a complete misnomer as it went on to advise buying the $1267 Panasonic 35-100mm…..but it got me thinking - surely even I can do better than that!

Now - if your earnings depend on it as a professional, then go ahead and spend $1267 on a Pro-Lens. But then again, if your earnings depend on it consider giving up M4/3 cameras and realise that due to the pixel density of crop-factor cameras there is really no alternative to a full frame Nikon like the D850 if you want the size of images required by picture agencies such as Almay. They usually specify a minimum of 40-48MB of data (ask the wonderful professional photographer Steve McCurry why he carries the weight of a D850 - or google him now for a peek at his incredible images). But for those of us who value creative tools that are small and light enough to make one camera bag carry all our kit that is good for 99% of imaging only an MFT camera will do. So let’s put this right at <£110 / <120 Euro / USD $125 per lens.

Since we have the collected wisdom of the M43 Forum at the ready – I look forward to hearing other ideas of how to fulfil the brief in the subsequent comments. This usually results in me opening my wallet to try out some of the advice….so remember the target: <£110 / <120 Euro / USD $125 per lens - or the cost of a good meal for 2. Best wishes to you all……

The ESSENTIAL BUDGET LENSES
View attachment 694225
Image credit to https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/15/Full_camera_bag_(7410223172).jpg
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[1] The Basics, a fast-focusing AF lens zoom good for 90% of all your images comes first, and it is the Lumix 14-42mm Mk II you need. It is as sharp as any professional lens - it comes as the "kit lens" for most MFT Lumix cameras and is a masterpiece that is rated in the top 10 of all MFT lenses for resolution and IQ. The Olympus kit zoom doesn’t come close for sheer lines per mm resolution – and you get in-lens OIS too with the Panasonic. A bargain! Shoot in JPEG mode and all the distortion correction is applied in-camera – a double bargain !!

====

[2] Portrait time – here you need a moderate compression lens to flatter the face with a shallow depth of field to isolate the background. Central sharpness is a must, yes, but peripheral sharpness is not needed. Now virtually any 50mm F1.7 - 2.0 made in the 1970's - 1980s with a M4/3 adapter will do. (I prefer the SMC Pentax 50mm F1.7 but the choice is as individual as each photographer - go on E-Bay and buy 2 or 3 to try them out. Get the Helios 44m with “swirly Bokeh” if you must!) This gives a me 100mm F1.7 portrait lens equivalent with fabulous bokeh. Opened up to the widest aperture setting and even the clumsiest shape of aperture blade creates a shining circle to out of focus highlights. Don't forget to spend £2 / $3 on a telephoto-length lens hood to drop the flare that occurs when we use wider diameter lenses on a crop-factor body. E-Bay and AliExpress have wonderful metal ones at less than my target prices. Add a 8x ND filter to keep you shooting wide open at F1.4 – 2.0 on sunny days and you are good to go for a fraction of the otherwise wonderful 45mm Olympus MFT lens.
====

[3] You will really want a rectilinear ultrawide lens
of about 18-19mm full frame equivalent. The 9-18mm Olympus MFT lens is the “Go-To” for the wealthy – but remember we are on a budget. At my price target there are no alternatives to the full frame 7-artisans 7.5mm f2.8 fisheye on a fixed MFT mount. Currently sold at <£110 on eGlobal or eBay and still inside my target on Amazon today. Add the fabulous free DXO-Pro 11 and set the "defishing" slider to 66% and you have a wonderful ultrawide lens with distortion fully corrected good for 8x10 prints. I cannot praise this combination enough. Autofocus isn’t needed with this angle of view. If you have the time, download the free software called “Hugin” which corrects lens distortion AND fixes panaroma overlap images (but takes many more computer keystrokes than the DXO programme to deliver the picture). Pay $9.99 on the App Store for a “DXO perspective” download for PC or MAC and you can even correct converging verticals with only 3 clicks of your mouse – so much for tilt-shift lenses which we can now leave out of the shopping list.
====

[4] Nature and landscapes come next – so then we need a big telephoto 100-300mm equivalent lens to compress the field of view and isolate the key visual element of each image in an otherwise crowded and busy world: the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-150mm f/4-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. Lens zoom is on sale at just under £110 on eGlobal's website today (and I got mine new at <£100 recently during a sale as a white-box from a dealer splitting a Panasonic 2-lens kit)- sure, this is the "amateur" version, not the Pro F2.8 one from Olympus currently at £999 on Amazon UK - but with its fantastic resolution in the 100-220mm equivalent range (check out the lines per mm on the charts) it is a stunning and affordable alternative. Pushed to its 300mm equivalent full extension it isn’t bad either. Remember that at this range, a bit of “noise” from 800ASA sensitivity is better than blurring from shake.

In reality, pay up for a really good stiff and heavy tripod such as a Manfottro or one of its new “generic” Chinese copies if you are seriously into such imaging. Don't use any fancy geared columns or fancy tripod heads - these only add movement. Remember that you can only have 2 out of 3 of “rigid”, “lightweight” and “inexpensive” until you can afford a £200 / $250 Carbon-fibre tripod – so if it needs a tripod to get the picture, always sacrifice weight to gain rigidity when you are on a budget.
====

[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.
====

[6] Now finally - some fun to get you thinking visually to fill the last space in that camera bag at <150g weight? Surely our creativity needs a help - so buy a Chinese generic C-Mount 35mm F1.4 to 1.6 lens and a c-mount to MFT adaptor. There are several designs at this price point. One brand to look for is FUJIAN. This will come in at <£20 / $25 on E-Bay. These are tiny in size and light on the pocket - the bokeh swirls and they vignette better than the famous/infamous Helios 50mm or any “Lomo" lens - but we want one of them because all these lenses have a "character" that can't easily be added in photoshop. I find they stir creativity. Add 1 or 2 c-mount spacers to increase the lens to sensor distance and you gain a creative macro lens for only a £ or two more.

====

With that spare cash left over – where shall we travel to in this wonderful world too take our next photos?

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

Like everyone else, I agree with your comments about what isn't budget!

But I don't know where you got the idea that Alamy required images to be 40-48MB? I've loaded a good few jpegs on there in the 4-5MB range. Their main requirement is that the sensor has to be 4/3 or greater.
 

pellicle

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That doesn't vignette at all then?
See my blog post for sample pictures, without any adjustment. Note in particular the polarizer I used in that blog post (and the step up ring) because going smaller (like one which screws directly in) does obstruct the edges.

A sample taken recently for discussion here about polarizer filters
p1070320-jpg.jpg
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tkbslc

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50mm on FF vs 20mm on m43 is probably because of the different aspect ratio. 3:2 vs 4:3.

Often times it is just because you shoot with what you have, rather than it being your concrete preference. When I had just the 15mm f1.7, I used it more than anything else. Now that I am using a 12-35mm more often, I'm split between 12 and 18 more often than 15mm.

Maybe they liked 50mm more, but make do with 20mm due to size. Or maybe they kind of always wished 50mm on FF was a hair wider. The graphs can be a little misleading.

Another way they can be misleading is that they will always show that you use the ends of your zoom the most. For example, It may not be that you love 12mm that much, but just that you wanted wider but got stopped at the 12mm limit of your lens!
 

Bidkev

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Like everyone else, I agree with your comments about what isn't budget!

But I don't know where you got the idea that Alamy required images to be 40-48MB? I've loaded a good few jpegs on there in the 4-5MB range. Their main requirement is that the sensor has to be 4/3 or greater.

The actual requirement is that the image size as shown in bottom left of PS when opened is 17m. I don't know what that would show as in other editors but equates to an image size between 5 and 6 meg.

Where a required large crop results in less than 17m I then upsize with Perfect Resize so that it is just slightly bigger than 17m and check quality at 100% before uploading to Alamy. I've never had any of my images rejected by them other than one I used to test their selection that came in at 16.8m in PS so they are very strict on the 17m rule
 
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Like everyone else, I agree with your comments about what isn't budget!

But I don't know where you got the idea that Alamy required images to be 40-48MB? I've loaded a good few jpegs on there in the 4-5MB range. Their main requirement is that the sensor has to be 4/3 or greater.

There's a guy called David Taylor Hughes, who I think used to be active on here, and has his own blog called soundimageplus. He seems to basically make a living as a stock photographer, and has been a keen m43 user on and off. I seem to remember that he once said that where stock agencies wanted higher than 16MP res, he was easily able to simply take an m43 shot and up-res it, no problem at all...
 

Paul C

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See my blog post for sample pictures, without any adjustment. Note in particular the polarizer I used in that blog post (and the step up ring) because going smaller (like one which screws directly in) does obstruct the edges.

A sample taken recently for discussion here about polarizer filters
View attachment 695997
I like the discussion about polarizering filters - and suggest viewers check this out.
--
I thought it was just me that kept an old linear polarizer in my camera bag. Sure, deep blue mediterranean skies can be fixed better in post-processing. However, I find there are some polarizer effects that just cannot be done in photoshop - such as wet rocks by streams and shiny leaf foliage - wher polarizers just add a dramatic pop to the quality of the image. Furthermore, you get to see the effect in real time too! So a good polarizer certainly DOES qualify for a "budget" lens shopping list.
-
As MFT bodies don't have semi-silvered mirrors to worry about - I have never found circular polarizers to be an advantage. In fact they seem far inferior for producing the effect I want.
 

Michael Meissner

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As MFT bodies don't have semi-silvered mirrors to worry about - I have never found circular polarizers to be an advantage. In fact they seem far inferior for producing the effect I want.
Though if you are buying new filters, it is hard to find linear polarizing filters these days. And IIRC, if you find them, they typically are not coated against reflections on both sides of the filter.

For the budget lens collection, I would say still get the Vivitar or whatever cheap polarizers (because there are cases like shooting through water where polarization improves the photo). If you are shooting in bright light (particularly video) also consider getting neutral density filters just to reduce the amount of light without adding the polarization effect. However, with the cheaper filters, you have to be careful when shooting in backlight situations and other cases where you might get unwanted reflections.

I also wonder whether the phase detect focusing mechanisms in the E-m1 mark II need circular polarizers. The E-m1 mark I also has phase detect focusing, but as I understand it, it only uses that focusing when using classic 4/3rds lenses, while the E-m1 mark II uses the PD focusing with all auto focus lenses.

The one place that I know of where the linear polarizer is needed is if you are doing a homemade variable polarizing filter, stacking two polarizing filters. In that case, one of the filters must be a linear polarizer.
 
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Petrochemist

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The one place that I know of where the linear polarizer is needed is if you are doing a homemade variable polarizing filter, stacking two polarizing filters. In that case, one of the filters must be a linear polarizer.
Its a bit awkward but if you reverse the front one you can use 2 CPLs for a variable ND. :)
 

Patrick Donnelly

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AF lenses are great, but you do not have the experience of being in charge when focus and exposure are taken care of by the electronics. Equipment will come and go, but you are what is the end result ... oh and images, still or moving.

Manual focus lenses require effort but last for centuries.... Metal and glass, mostly without plastic. They are still cheap. Slowly or quickly, you can build up a collection that will last for ... centuries. You can clean and lube and adjust them too. Very affordable but never cheap. Cheap is plastic lenses that require software to correct the image, in camera.

What happens when that software or camera get a glitch? Hacked by the Rooskies? Dropped? left in a car on a hot day? immersed in water, fresh or salt?

The bugbear in m4/3 is the wide lens. There is no difficulty in finding them, if you look hard enough. Zooms are capable but primes are well named.

C mount lenses are my speciality.

Machine Vision lenses are available, but not cheap if bought retail. They tend to be tiny which can be an ergonomic disaster. The set or stop screws can be replaced with stalks to get around that difficulty. Want a 1 inch sensor 5mm lens? 5.7mm? 6mm? 8mm? Usually under F/2. Some get onto markets 2nd hand. Made to be rugged, to be used 24 hrs a day 7 days a week in factories that are humming with heavy vibrations. Their most delicate part is the diaphragm, which can be user replaced in some, simple rings like the old Waterhouse stops. Kowa sells theirs by showing them survivng a drop from a 1st floor, ie second storey, window.

Old cine lenses may lack coatings but are still increasing in price and while often well made, they are now pricey. They are also less generous in sensor cover. Many 1 inch sesor lenses fully cover a m4/3 sensor. The GH4 can take a 6mm lens that fully covers.

TV lenses are still quite affordable. The zooms are still best and are usually as fast as the primes.

The zooms are still best and are usually as fast as the primes. Really! The Canon 25mm 0.95 was a TV lens a prime. The Computar 1.2 12.5 to 75mm zooms cost $80 and while a 2/3 sensor lens can be used for stills on m4/3 and at the long end does not vignette, maybe. I don't have one and no one has shown hwat if any vignette it has at say 70mm F1.2.

china has produced many cctv lenses but has now started to make ones more designed for use by shooters and movie makers. All manual focus, glass and metal.

Gosh, I am talking myself into buying one!!!
 

Hoffelijk

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Nice that you dig this topic up, I missed it in 2018 and enjoyed reading it today.

When I go out I grab the "mount of the day" and switch between M42, T-mount, Pentax PK, OM, FD etc with a wide, normal and tele variant.

Furthermore, I try to remember the quality / character of the old lens, for example my copies of the pentacon and the helios "50s" are nice close ups lenses, but in my eyes they cause too much unrest with ambient bokeh, then I prefer to take the Rikenon that provides a somewhat calm background
 

Patrick Donnelly

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Nice that you dig this topic up, I missed it in 2018 and enjoyed reading it today.

When I go out I grab the "mount of the day" and switch between M42, T-mount, Pentax PK, OM, FD etc.

Furthermore, I try to remember the quality / character of the old lens, for example my copies of the pentacon and the helios "50s" are nice close ups lenses, but in my eyes they cause too much unrest with ambient bokeh, then I prefer to take the Rikenon that provides a somewhat calm background
What is your wide lens?
 

Hoffelijk

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I don't have any wider than the 28mm sigma mini II, takumar smc, canon FD, Pentax.. That's not a problem for me after a year of shooting only at 50mm, the 28mm was a relief
 

ivanbae07

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wow, didn't know this kind of thread exist!!!

i am doing my photography just with my spare money, that's why i just went with one camera and only cheap glasses.

uwa: no option for budget rectilinear uwa lens with af on mft (in my country the used olympus 9-18mm is start from 450 usd and panasonic 7-14mm start from 500 usd). so i opted to adapting lens(es). got the sigma 8-16mm (mint) around 390 usd for my video work, awesome lens. so i searched for sometimes if i could got it for cheap, and days ago i bought one for 134 usd, and it came with two cons: black spots on f8 and beyond, and the body was quite well used, but the iq is still good. and the another good news is i could mod it as a tilt shift lens, just i quite hesitant to use my spare money for the adapter, so i might do some diy...

06030615_hp_polarr.jpg
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(the sigma in action @8mm on a speedbooster, ts effect from pp, and there's the black spots)

wide angle: initially i want to buy the panasonic 12-32mm, or the p/o 14-42mm mk2, or the p 14-45mm, or the olympus 14-50mm, but i got the sigma, as it covered 16-32mm efl when adapted, and 11.4-23mm if speeedboosted (yes i got a viltrox ef-m2 ii, 60 usd new).

normal angle: panasonic 25mm (170 usd new, but i want to sell / trade it because i rarely use it anymore), panasonic 20mm (bundled with my pen f, 467 usd).

06050688_hp_polarr.jpg
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(p 20mm in action)

185846473_2929286420686885_974458618483163975_n.jpg
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(p 25mm in action, with my last camera)

superzoom: i don't want to buy it, because the p 14-140mm mk2, o 14-150mm mk2, and t 14-150mm are still 300 usd and beyond. and that's not the price i am willing to spent my spare money...

got no any tele lens (with af), but i got some vintage prime lenses that covering 40mm ish to 140mm ish efl.

190908731_830244217892949_7294658430925095585_n.jpg
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(ebc fujinon 35mm in action on a speedbooster)

and another good thing is, everything is still quite compact, because when ever i went for my photowalk, it will always under 1kg, because 1 camera 3 lenses.

20210609_181309_polarr_1.jpg
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(1 lens if it was like this)
 
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PeteS

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A great deal of these choices depend on what you are doing. What I found at one point in my career (way back) was that was that my 24mm and 100mm (full frame 35mm film) were used 99% of the time. Two prime lenses in equivalent sizes would have suffice nicely for me now for the general use I had at that time. I'd have barely missed having a "normal" lens.

These days I am interested in different things and that setup would not work. Also I am more inclined to spend a bit more. I am retired and getting old enough that I think I'd rather spend my money than leave it for anyone. So a $$$ lens is less likely to be out of the question now. Also I have grown to like zooms more. That means that I'd be likely to use a 12-45mm F4.0 Pro (which I did spring for). Hardly a budget choice and cheaper choices would certainly work well. Since I am more interested in birds and wildlife now a long lens needs to be in the mix. In my case I decided on a 75-300mm F/4.8-6.7. I don't really consider that a budget choice, but for what it is I guess it qualifies, especially compared to the pro level choices.

So I expect to often go out afield with a 12-45mm F4.0 Pro and a 75-300mm F/4.8-6.7 in my bag. I also expect to go with just the 12-45mm F4.0 Pro in many situations. I can't claim these choices are really a budget setup though. Then again the 12-45 isn't priced that bad when you compare it to two primes at either end of the range.
 

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