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What lens to buy!

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by colbycheese, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. colbycheese

    colbycheese Mu-43 Veteran

    378
    May 1, 2012
    Way up there.
    I am going on a trip either to Europe or Austrailia. I was wondering what the best lens to get for this trip. I can only afford one at the time and need advice. I do not take many family photos but i do take photos of scenery, wildlife and food. I was thinking a fast prime lens would be good for me. the 20mm lens is a fast choice i believe and will be good for indoor photos and scenery photos. Does anyone have any advice on what the best lens to get for micro four thirds?
     
  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    If super-fast AF is not something you need, the 20mm is a great choice.
     
  3. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    My trip to China last month was done entirely with the PL 20mm. Dark, light, up close or far away it always was ready to get the shot.

    Having said that, the 20mm is not going to do much for your wildlife shooting.
     
  4. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    639
    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    There is no best lens. Unfortunately.

    For Australia when there's sun and you are outside fast lenses are not an issue. Same in the south of Europe. In fact, you might want some ND filters.

    In the north of Europe (or inside anywhere) fast lenses can save your shots.

    For flexibility you need a zoom but for ultimate IQ, compact size, and wide aperture you need a prime.

    For scenery and food the 20mm is excellent. For wildlife? No way. Even 45mm is not enough. For European cities the wider the lens the better. For inside too. Does this sound like you need three lenses? Yep, you do. ;-)

    Decide what you need to shoot most and your budget. We can help you more then!
     
  5. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I love the P20 but I'd probably vote for something like the O12-50 or P14-45 for travel. It's great to not have to change lenses. That said, scenery, wildlife and food and three pretty different needs. You could do scenery and food with the P14/2.5 and/or the P20/1.7 (they're so small that if budget allowed they would be a great combo). Wildlife really needs a big zoom.
     
  6. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
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    All taken in China with E-PL1 and PL 20mm
     
    • Like Like x 4
  7. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Midwest
    Paul
    I would guess that the OP probably has the Oly kit lens? wouldn't make much sense to have the e-pm1 with nothing to put on it! If that is the case, the 20mm would make a good compliment I think - my personal vote would be for something wide like the 9-18mm, but that might be out of budget (what is the budget we're talking here?!).
     
  8. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    639
    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    Nice shots. And it's certainly true that some shooters can live with just one lens and learn to see with that lens. Anything that doesn't fit into that field of view still fits into one's memory! Plus, this approach makes all the purchase decisions rather easy. :)

    I just got back from three weeks abroad with a very small kit consisting of the E-PL2, EVF, ND and polarising filters, plus the Panasonic 14mm and PEN F 38mm. A few times I wished for something wider (but the 12mm would not have cut it either). A few times I needed something much longer (darned chipmunks). But this sufficed 90% of the time.
     
  9. colbycheese

    colbycheese Mu-43 Veteran

    378
    May 1, 2012
    Way up there.
    What i mean by wildlife would be trees and plants. I would not be taking photos of birds. My Thoughts were the 20mm 1.7 from panasonic or the 45mm by olympus. I need a lens that is good for everything. Another way to ask my question is what is the first lens i should purchase?
     
  10. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Mu-43 Veteran

    462
    Jun 21, 2012
    Mississippi, USA
    If you are absolutely limited to 1 lens, the 20mm would be a great starting point. It's a very versatile length and with its large max aperture you're ready to tackle any lighting conditions. I think MajorMagee's shots perfectly demonstrate its versatility. Great shots by the way, MajorMagee!

    For me the only problem with the 20mm is its slower AF speed, but as a single lens choice its strengths outweigh that weakness. It sounds like for your shooting needs it would be a great fit.
     
  11. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    The 20 is more versatile than the 45, that's for sure, and would be a better complement to the kit lens because you'd have great low-light capability at a focal length that is more useful indoors.
     
  12. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    There is no universal "best" lens. But IMHO there is a best single lens for tourist photos: the superzoom. Panny 14-140 or Oly's similar lens. Complement it with a 9-18mm when you can afford it and you have a great tourist kit.

    As a tourist, your vantage points can be limited by many things. A group or vehicle whose movement you don't control. Wildlife that is not interested in stopping to pose for you. Pathways that you are not allowed to leave. Guys with guns. As a result, you often can't move to get the composition you want. You need a zoom.

    There aren't any of MajorMagee's nice photos that couldn't have been taken with a 14-140 and, in addition, the superzoom can get wildlife that a normal (~50mm equivalent focal length) can't.

    Re lens speed, carry a 5- or 6-section (short when collapsed) monopod with a small ball head and you'll be good for many low light situations even with a slow lens.
     
  13. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    if one cannot afford to get 20mm lens... will the 14mm one do ;) ???
     
  14. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Mu-43 Veteran

    462
    Jun 21, 2012
    Mississippi, USA
    Well, it'll do something :D The primary trait of a lens is its focal length, and those are 2 very different focal lengths. Will it do? Depends what you shoot. 14mm is rather wide, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on what your subjects are.

    Decent lens though and the smallest one available. If you like the focal length you'll get some good mileage out of it. Not as sharp as the 20mm but still very useful in different ways than the 20mm.
     
  15. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    I had a longer post written up but thinking about your posts here and in your thread asking which camera to buy, I think you should spend some time shooting with your camera and kit lens to see what focal lengths you *actually use* the most before making any hasty purchases. The 14mm prime will give you some advantages over the kit lens, but it is a wide-angle lens and may not be the best choice for your first prime. Try shooting for a while with the kit lens and not zoom in at all (keep it at 14mm).
     
  16. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I live in Australia, in Brisbane which is sub-tropical, and most of my shooting is done outdoors. I assure you that fast lenses are still handy.

    If it were me, I'd get the lens or lens I'd find most useful for shooting at home if I were shooting similar sort of stuff to what I wanted to shoot in Australia. Yes, there will be more light down here for some of the day, possibly a lot more light than you're used to, but that's only for the middle part of the day. The rest of the time the overall light levels will be similar to what you get wherever you are. After all the day starts in darkness and ends in it here as it does everywhere else. It's brightest in the middle of the day here as everywhere else. Most of the day isn't in the middle of the day and really bright light isn't an issue for most of the day.

    If you can use a fast lens in the morning or evening or in shade wherever you are, that fast lens will be just as useful here in Australia in the morning or evening or in shade.

    Whatever lens will work well for you wherever you are, shooting what you want to shoot, will work just as well for you in Australia. The light can be hard and very bright in the middle of the day and a ND filter is a good idea if you want to shoot at slow shutter speeds at those times of day (you can find yourself shooting at 1/4000 sec at F/5.6 at ISO 200 in really bright light) but if you don't want really slow shutter speeds you can get by without a ND filter. On the other hand I find lens hoods invaluable.

    For a single lens I'd go for the 20 or 25. In many ways the 25 would be my choice but it's more expensive and it's also a much bigger lens. I own the 25and I carry a camera with me everywhere. When I'm not out specifically to shoot the 17mm, which is roughly the same size as the 20mm, lives on my camera because the camera with a pancake lens fits easily into the small shoulder bag I normally carry. I can fit the camera with 25mm into the bag but it's a tight and awkward fit and also more weight. If you want to travel light and with only a small bag when you're out, the 20 would be a great choice. If you don't mind carrying a bit more bulk and you can afford it I'd go for the 25.

    The Oly 45 is a great lens but you can't focus close with it and if you want to photograph people in the street, and capture them full body or close to full body, you need to be far enough away from your subjects for it to be easy for other people to keep coming between you and them.

    The alternative to the 20 or 25 would be one of the mid range zooms such as the 14-42 or 12-50. They'll give you more flexibility in terms of field of view but they're also slower and you will have to shoot at higher ISOs when the light is lower.
     
  17. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    you're absolutely right about trying out the kit lens... I suppose though that the kit lens isn't gonna do a great job on portraits... right?
     
  18. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Agreed. There's a reason they're popular for traveling. Primes may have better quality in the absolute sense, but unless you're a very unusual photographer, you will miss far more shots due to the limitations of focal length with a prime, than due to quality or light constraints with the zoom.

    DH
     
  19. Sophia5

    Sophia5 Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Apr 17, 2012
    So, if weather sealing or image stabilization are not important, which one would you recommend as a walk around lens;
    Pany 14-140 or Oly 14-150 or 12-50 in term of image quality OOC
     
  20. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Well, er ... Image stabilization is important, at least for the two longer lenses in anything but fairly bright conditions outdoors. Below 100mm equivalent focal length I don't worry about it too much.

    Re weather sealing I agree that it's not important. I have had G1s and Panny lenses in all-day rain from time to time, gotten them wet, and never had a problem. A good rain poncho and a little care are all that's required unless you are taking a boat ride into the base of some big falls like Iguazu. Then, put the gear in the dry bags they have for you.

    Re IQ I have a somewhat contrary view to many here. I think there is a threshold above which image quality no longer affects whether a photo is good or not. Further, I think all of the native M43 lenses are above this threshold. I'll agree that this is not true if you are a pixel-peeper, your photography consists primarily of lens test charts, or if you need very large prints, like above 11 x 14." But photography is much more about light, composition, and good luck than it is about small differences in MTFs.

    Back to the lenses: 12mm is nice for shooting interiors. Palaces, churches, etc. but 50mm is not enough for wildlife or sports. So you might choose that one for a European or Russian tour but not for Formula One, Alaska or South Africa. For wildlife, if you have an Oly body with in-body stabilization, then either of the longer zooms would work. IIRC the Oly is cheaper, right? With a Panny body, only the 14-140 with internal stabilization makes the cut.