What's your favourite mu43 native lens to manually focus?

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Hi all,

I often think that I'd like to use manual focus more often on my native lenses, but most of them don't feel nice to do this with; the only one I do like manually focussing with is the Sigma 30mm f/1.4, which has a wide, rubbery focus ring.

My other lenses are: Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 (that's not too bad), Olympus 45mm f/1.8 (rarely used, don't really like it - kept for focal length), Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro (also not bad, as it's quite a wide focus ring), Panasonic 14-140, Panasonic 100-300 (rubbery, but not smooth to turn).

Which native lenses do you find enjoyable to manually focus? Note: I have tried a Voigtlander 25mm mu43 lens, but generally I don't enjoy using heavy lenses much, nor using all-manual lenses (however, contrarily, I do sometimes use adapted vintage lenses).

Also, I'm thinking about adding a wider fast prime, such as the Panasonic Leica 15mm f/1.7, can anyone comment on how that feels to focus manually? I previously tried and didn't like the Panasonic 14 f/2.5 and Olympus 17mm (both f/2.8 and f/1.8). Or, possibly, I could manage with a zoom such as the PL 12-60mm f/2.8-4, but I don't want to go to using Olympus zooms as I can't get my brain to accept opposite turn!

Thanks in advance for your helpful suggestions.
 

Mike Wingate

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I sometimes focus manually with my O60mm. It can take a while, so I auto focus and then change to manual to speed up the process. I have the PL15mm, never focussed manually with it. A perfect lens.
 

robcee

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this is a somewhat unusual question. I was going to suggest the Voigtlanders as they have such a satisfying mechanical feel to them. The knurled metal on their focus and aperture rings are a pleasure to turn and handle, but yes, they are heavy being all metal and glass. You don't get to f0.95 without some weight. The 17.5mm is even heavier than the 25 but it is a treat.

For native, electrical lenses, any of the Oly Pro zooms are outstanding in manual mode with the clutch enabled. The f1.8 primes are decent too. But you don't really like the 45mm, so you probably wouldn't like the 75mm or 25mm either.

My experience with Panasonic lenses in manual mode is mixed. I hated the 20mm when I had it. I use the 45mm Macro quite a bit and like it, though the rubber ring is starting to get a bit worn and a little loose. The 25mm f1.4 is similar. I much prefer the metal or plastic rings on the Oly primes. Also, they focus in the "correct" direction for me, as a former nikon guy, though it's fixable in camera settings.

If you feel like going vintage adapted, some of the M-mount Voigtlanders might be more your style. Something in a 21mm would give you a good standard field of view and is relatively compact. The Nikon D series of lenses are optically decent and relatively small. The AI-S lenses are even cheaper and optically interesting.
 
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The Leica 10-25 with the clutch is very good for manual focus duty. All of the Olympus lenses with the clutch are also really good, although I don't have them anymore as I prefer the zoom direction of the Pana/Leica series.
 

Machi

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I'm using manual focus on my native lenses (Oly 12-40, 14-42, 40-150, Pana 20 f/1.7, Samyangs 7.5, 12, 85...) quite often but it's mostly matter of necessity and not pleasure.
Nothing comparable to old adapted film lenses which are much more enjoyable.
Only exception is Samyang 85mm f/1.8 which has great manual focus.
But my experience can be distorted by the fact that manual focusing with wide angle lenses feels rather different than with longer focal length lenses because of different DOF.
 

Bushboy

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All of the budget models seem to be really bad, apart from the macros. If you want real bad, Panasonic’s 100-300 , unusable really. The best I’ve used was a , Samyang 12mm full manual apsc model with M4/3 mount. Actually a very good lens which I stupidly swapped for the Olympus version, which wasn’t a patch on the Samyang. Go figure. The best I have at the moment is the Olympus 30mm macro. It seems, unless you have pro range, or the fully manual jobbies, manual focus with our gear is budget at best. Luckily the autofocus is truly amazing. Lightning fast and accurate.
 
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doady

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It's too bad my E-M1 II doesn't have electronic distance scale displayed on the LCD for manual focusing like my old C-5060 and C-7070. I don't know if any m4/3 camera has this, so maybe it is one of the weakness of m4/3 system. I'm learning how to use focus peaking and magnify, so I still have trouble manual focusing with E-M1 II. Bigger and higher-res LCD and EVF do not help as much as I thought it would.
 

archaeopteryx

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If you want real bad, Panasonic’s 100-300 , unusable really.
While I wouldn't call the 100-300 unusable, worst focus ring of any lens I've ever used for sure. And not by a small margin. Fortunately I only wanted it for nearly always autofocus things.

Which native lenses do you find enjoyable to manually focus?
I'm not sure I care enough about the process of focusing to really think about enjoying it, so if the focus ring just works and doesn't distract me from composing I'm happy. The Olympus 9-18 and Panasonic 12-60 f/3.5-5.6 are fine, the ring on 45-175 copy I have is a bit stiff to my tastes, the 45-200 II is somewhat better. Since I do lots of focus bracketing I manual focus the Panasonic-Leica 45 f/2.8 macro a lot in setting up brackets. Its ring has the nicest feel but there's no functional difference from the 12-60 and 45-200. The Leica bit certainly isn't adding anything, particularly compared to other comparably priced lenses I've used.

If you go just on manual focus feel, probably the nicest lens I have is a Minolta 50 f/1.7 MD III that I spent a bunch of time running back and forth to get the helicoid loosened up. But it's not native mount and the advantage over the 45 and 45-200 is minor. The difference I think is in the rotating mass from focusing by extension, which won't be found on an internal (auto)focus lens.
 

ABFoz

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No estoy listo para esto todavía.
For photography?I don't have Oly lenses at the moment, but I would choose Oly lenses with the MF clutch (12mm F/2.0, 17mm F/1.8 and the pro ones) because they have enough resistance to keep the control ring intact and the clutch is just handy when doing zone focusing. Those lenses without the clutch would put the focus just around infinity the moment the camera is turned off then on. That's not handy when on the street. The MF clutch takes care of that.

I usually prefer dedicated manual lenses for manual focusing and I actually have just recently acquired a 7artisans 25mm F/1.8 but the problem with that lens for zone focusing is that the rings are a bit too soft so even when the the distance is set to 3m, a slight touch of a hair will throw the focus distance off. I may put a transparent rubber band around the focus ring to give it a bit more resistance. The lens, though, is easy to use for videography.

I am using the 25mm F/1.7 now on my GM5 and I don't mind the speed-sensitive focus-by-wire system but in terms of operation, I prefer the 20mm F/1.7 because the focusing is linear. Actually, I have already gotten used to the speed-sensitive operation of the PL 25mm. I would be nice though for the camera to lock onto the selected focus distance even after power cycling as it would be really handy for zone focusing. Cheers.
 
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