What lenses should I buy for Olympus E-M1

NickD

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Hi,
I got Olympus E-M1 with 12-40mm f/2.8 few days back and have been trying to work more and more on it. I am happy with this amazing and sharp lens except a small comparison with other superior lenses. I need to come too close to subject to get a pleasant bokeh. Another need is, to add a tele-zoom lens. I am not too much into wildlife, but whenever I go to any national park/forest, it will always bonus to capture reasonably clear and sharp photos of animals. I do not want to increase my lens collection more than 3 in total. I do not want to carry too much weight because I usually hike for few miles. I am not a pro, but a hobbyist who is slowly learning in this field. Mostly I love to shoot landscapes, nature, portrait+landscapes (my wife or sometimes me+wife, which I do on self-timer). There will be very less chances of using my camera inside room or in a small place. I read lot of posts to decide (and obviously get confused more :) ) and was able to select few options, but I can still change with some mix and match. I am in impression that I should have a standard zoom (which I have - 12-40mm), one tele-zoom and one sharp lens for portrait and low light situations. Considering that, I am thinking of :-

12-40mm + 35-100mm + 100-300mm = Will I miss prime lens and its bokeh here ?
12-40mm + 75mm or 45mm + 45-150mm = ???
12-40mm + 75mm or 45mm + 75-300mm = It will let me for little more reach, I read that 75-300mm is still sharp till 250mm.
Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED = This will make overall kit heavier, not sure if it will benefit me that much.
I am not considering new 40-150mm f/2.8 and 42.5mm f/1.2 due to their costs.

If I need to choose prime, on what basis should I decide between 75mm and 45mm ? Few other posts say that, investing in 45mm is not worth as my 12-40mm should be very near to 45mm. Other says that 75mm is speciality lens, for portrait it is too close and for other purpose, it will be not be sufficient, though it is very sharp, but will hardly in use for a casual photographer. Confused ....

Really seeking help to decide.
Thanks in advance.
 

DoofClenas

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12-40 and 75 are my go to 2 lens kit. If going somewhere dimly lit, I toss in the 25 1.4 to the bag. If going to do landscape work, I toss in the 7.5. The new 40-150 sounds interesting too.
 

getoutandshoot

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My advice: Take your time. Keep enjoying your 12-40mm. It's a great all purpose lens. Secondly, if you're really going to limit yourself to no more than 3 lenses, I would not rule out the new 40-150mm f/2.8. It's expensive, but it would be a high quality telephoto and a great natural companion to the 12-40. It is also rather heavy (don''t know what your limit is in that regard), but it's much lighter and more compact than a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8! Then maybe eventually you pick up the teleconverter, and then you're getting just long enough to get some larger birds, animals, etc. That 40-150 looks like it will be a fun lens! But I'd wait for more reviews before you decide to go for it. Then I might wait and think long and hard about what you most want before getting your 3rd and final lens.

Dave
 

NickD

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drd1135 & DoofClenas : You suggested 75 over 45mm. Is 45mm too close to the image produced by 12-40mm @ 40mm ? Apart from portrait (from a reasonable distance), where else can I use 75mm ?

getoutandshoot : Yes, I agree 40-150 is going to be a excellent lens and I am really getting greedy for it. I have only used Pana 45-150mm in past, so no experience how will 40-150mm will be superior. I am not doubting its superiority, but want to know (learn), what would I gain on visible difference (except extra stop) in comparison to 45-150mm or 75-300mm.
Apart from it, will IQ, sharpness and bokeh of 40-150mm be comparable to any prime lens (45mm or 75mm) ? How different it would be from 35-100 and 50-200mm SWD ?
 

NickD

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Yes, 60mm can be a option. Would you like to explain benefit of practical usage of 60mm over 45/75 and my other questions above ?
 

hazwing

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Its very hard covering all the bases that you want, with only 3 lenses. You'll have to make a compromise somewhere.

I feel that the 45 and 75mm while having a faster aperture and are good for portraits... they are not particularly great as an 'all round' low light lens. Reason being the longer focal length requires a faster shutter speed to avoid camera shake. I'd suggest either oly 17mm 1.8, oly 25mm 1.8 or pan 25mm 1.4, if you are after an all round low light lens.

If you want a nice portrait lens, either the 45mm or 75mm are both good choices. If you have a lot of space to work with, I think the 75mm would be nicer. I don't own the 75mm, but I like the samples that people post here, and I like the background compression it creates. But because the 75mm gets you alot closer, it can be harder to use in tighter spaces. The sigma 60mm has a lot of fans... one of the major benefits is that is cheaper, but some also prefer the rendering from the sigma 60mm.

What I would suggest is start off with your 12-40 and get a cheap 40-150/45-150, just shoot with them for a while and find out what you are missing.
-if you find that the f2.8 from the 12-40 is not fast enough for you, then consider a fast prime. The one and bit stop advantage from fast primes, might be the difference between shooting ISO 3200/6400.
-Try shooting portraits with the 12-40mm @ 40mm, wide open. Try shooting the 40-150 at 75mm, wide open. Compare the focal lengths. If you are finding it hard to get enough space to shoot @ 75mm, consider the 45mm 1.8 instead. If you like the background compression that you get from 75mm, at the cost of a harder to use focal length, you might be swayed with the 75mm.
-Use the 40-150 for wildlife shots. If you are finding the focal length too short, you might want the oly 75-300 or pana 100-300. If you are finding there is not enough light (wildlife is often most active at dawn/dusk where there is limited light), you'll have to shell out for the 40-150 f2.8 + teleconverter.

One more thing... if you are shooting a fair bit of low light fuctions, you might want to consider a flash instead instead of a fast prime.
 

Replytoken

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I like having macro capability, and the Oly 60 offers that, and great optics as a general 60mm lens. It is more versatile than my 75, and a lot more compact. If I was to travel light with three lenses, then my preference would be the 12-40, the 35-100 and the 60. The 75 is an amazing piece of glass, but you need to know where you would want to use it, as it does not really close focus or allow you to use it in tight quarters, so as a casual lens, it is not my first choice. For concerts in a dimly lit environment, for example, I would pick it in a heartbeat.

Good luck,

--Ken
 

hazwing

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Oh and if you really want to decide what to buy NOW...

I'd go with 12-40mm, 75mm 1.8, 75-300/100-300.

And throw in a 17mm/25mm fast prime, if I could afford it

And throw in a fl600r flash as well

And a decent tripod

Did I mention polariser and other filters, too?

:)

Have fun burning your hard earned $$$
 

budeny

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Yes, 60mm can be a option. Would you like to explain benefit of practical usage of 60mm over 45/75 and my other questions above ?
Well, my understanding is that you only need 45/75 lens for portraits as your other zoom lenses will include 40mm and 75mm.
And for portraits Sigma is much sharper wide open than 45 (and even a bit more than 75) and more compact and cost a fraction of 75mm.
It won't give you as shallow DOF as 75mm, but may be you don't need it for your purposes.
 

NickD

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I'd suggest either oly 17mm 1.8, oly 25mm 1.8 or pan 25mm 1.4, if you are after an all round low light lens.
I was in impression that there will not be big recognisable different in sharpness, IQ and bokeh effect between Oly 17mm 1.8, oly 25mm 1.8 or pan 25mm 1.4 AND 12-40mm f/2.8. That was the reason, I thought of picking one from 45mm or 75mm (or 60mm). Am I missing something here ? I may be wrong, since I do not have any of prime right now.
Technically, 40-150 f/2.8 is giving what benefit over 10 times cheaper lens, except better low light (I know low light is a difficult situation and expense worth, but I want to know for my knowledge)
 

barry13

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Technically, 40-150 f/2.8 is giving what benefit over 10 times cheaper lens, except better low light (I know low light is a difficult situation and expense worth, but I want to know for my knowledge)
Faster shutter speeds for wildlife or sports, higher IQ than cheaper zooms, weather sealing.

Barry



Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
 

hazwing

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I was in impression that there will not be big recognisable different in sharpness, IQ and bokeh effect between Oly 17mm 1.8, oly 25mm 1.8 or pan 25mm 1.4 AND 12-40mm f/2.8. That was the reason, I thought of picking one from 45mm or 75mm (or 60mm). Am I missing something here ? I may be wrong, since I do not have any of prime right now.
The difference between 12-40 and the affore mentioned primes is the wider aperture, f2.8 vs f1.4/1.8 . That is about 1-2 stops more light when shot wide open. E.g. if you are shooting the 12-40mm @ f2.8 and you are finding it bumps it to ISO 6400+ (where noise becomes more noticeable), shooting with one of the primes wide open, might allow you to shoot with a lower ISO with less noise. The compromise with shooting wide open on the primes, is that it might be less sharp wide open, and you'll have less DOF.

If you do not shoot in particularly dim settings, the 12-40mm @ f2.8 might be enough for your purposes.

Technically, 40-150 f/2.8 is giving what benefit over 10 times cheaper lens, except better low light (I know low light is a difficult situation and expense worth, but I want to know for my knowledge)
From initial image samples the 40-150 f2.8 seems much sharper than the cheaper alternatives. Besides low light, there are other benefits to the faster aperture, such as offering shallower DOF and background blur. It is also weather sealed, while the cheaper alternatives are not.
However as you noted, it is very expensive, it is heavier... you probably don't need it if you don't value shooting wildlife or sports from a distance.

If your not sure what aperture does to your photo, I would suggest you read some internet tutorials on it. And maybe about the 'exposure triangle'. In the past I've found this website to be a good basic resource: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/

And all the more reason try out a the 12-40, plus a cheap 40-150, to figure out what aspects of your camera gear is holding you back, before you buy more lenses.
 

NickD

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Ok, I will keep using my 12-40mm and will buy a 45-150mm.
Whenever I need to shoot in dim light, it is only when I am on travel and need to take landscape at dusk time. I have tripod, so low shutter speed should not be a issue.
I am not in regular wildlife photography, I had 6-8 visits in past one year where I thought of need of a tele-zoom.
12-40mm is no doubt, a excellent lens, but I need to come too close to subject when I want a nice bokeh. That was the reason I thought of larger aperture prime. Here subject can be my wife or a dog or cat or any other nearby animal (with safer and reasonable distance). When I checked 45mm in store, it was pleasant in comparison to 12-40mm. Am I missing something from my 12-40mm, may not be able to use it to its full strength ?
 

hazwing

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12-40mm is no doubt, a excellent lens, but I need to come too close to subject when I want a nice bokeh. That was the reason I thought of larger aperture prime. Here subject can be my wife or a dog or cat or any other nearby animal (with safer and reasonable distance). When I checked 45mm in store, it was pleasant in comparison to 12-40mm. Am I missing something from my 12-40mm, may not be able to use it to its full strength ?
If that is the area, where you are finding 12-40mm is falling short, I would suggest getting the 75mm 1.8. You get nice bokeh, background blur and shallower DOF. The only thing is whether you have enough room to use the 75mm 1.8 for portraits.

Do you tend to take these portrait shots indoors or outdoors in open spaces? Do you prefer head shots, half body, full body shots, or all of the above? If you want full body shots with decent background blur, 75mm is the way to go.
 

biza48

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I think if you need to ask all these questions, with all your doubts, you need to get more experience. I suggest you don't buy any more lenses for now, until you:

1. Know the focal length you require. For example, there is no point in discussing/comparing 45, 60, or 75mm lenses, as their focal length is so different!

2. Decide on the type of subject that attracts you more, or the type of subject that you think you may need a new lens for. For example, portrait of wife, child, or cat, as you mention above. Have you tried your 12-40 lens under these situations? The lens actually focuses very close at 40mm focal, so have you tried it? Focusing close gives you more separation from the background.

3. Rather than spending now on a lens, enrol yourself in a workshop, they are fantastic learning experiences.
 

getoutandshoot

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I think if you need to ask all these questions, with all your doubts, you need to get more experience. I suggest you don't buy any more lenses for now, until you:

1. Know the focal length you require. For example, there is no point in discussing/comparing 45, 60, or 75mm lenses, as their focal length is so different!

2. Decide on the type of subject that attracts you more, or the type of subject that you think you may need a new lens for. For example, portrait of wife, child, or cat, as you mention above. Have you tried your 12-40 lens under these situations? The lens actually focuses very close at 40mm focal, so have you tried it? Focusing close gives you more separation from the background.

3. Rather than spending now on a lens, enrol yourself in a workshop, they are fantastic learning experiences.
This is pretty good advice. It's easy to get fixated on a nice new expensive thing and so you pull the trigger and buy it but end up not using it, or maybe you do use it but you're unaware that a much less expensive product might have served your needs just fine. Relatively few photographers really know and prove the limits of their current gear before buying something "better."

However, it's pretty clear that you do know you want a longer focal length that can give you better background blurring than your 12-40 without having to get so close to your subject. Your most conservative next move at this juncture would be to keep learning what else you really need/want. Also spend a lot of time browsing the "Native Lens Sample Image Showcase" on this forum. And don't forget to have fun!

Dave
 

DoofClenas

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drd1135 & DoofClenas : You suggested 75 over 45mm. Is 45mm too close to the image produced by 12-40mm @ 40mm ? Apart from portrait (from a reasonable distance), where else can I use 75mm ?
I use mine for landscape work...I also just did a wedding this weekend where I had to use it to shoot from the back of the church in a dimly lit situation.
 

wanderenvy

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You are asking a question where this is no single correct answer, and the responses you see here will be biased to individual tastes. It really boils down to what works for you and even that will change over time as your tastes adapt and develop.

As others have said, play with different focal lengths to see what works for you. A good starting point would be to get a consumer grade 40-150/175 tele zoom to balance the 12-40. See what focal lengths gel with you. You can get fairly good separation with these at long focal lengths. Once you get some experience, you can add a 45 or 25 as needed for either extra bokeh or extra light.

Alternately, If you have the budget you could consider the 35-100 instead to get a very nice two lens kit. The shallow DOF of a 45/1.8 can be approximated with a longer focal length on the zoom and by managing your subject distance.

I would avoid starting with something like the Oly 75. Its a great lens, but it's also a specialist lens. They are a few scenarios where it will give you great results and many where it is either too long or too short. Same about the 60s.
 

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