Which 3 lenses to get?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Rivers, Nov 3, 2015.

  1. Rivers

    Rivers New to Mu-43

    Nov 3, 2015
    Hi. I am planning on purchasing a Olympus E-M10 Mk II body only and was wondering if anyone could advice me on what would be the 3 or 4 optimal lenses I should probably get for a trip to Europe? I think I will be mostly taking:

    1. portrait shots, street photography (creamy bokeh would be nice) - whats the best portrait lens?
    2. food shots
    3. landscape shots (northern lights)

    Would pefer automatic lenses. Thanks in Advance!
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2015
  2. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    12-35 f2.8 or 12-40... that will cover almost everything.

    Also consider a fisheye or UWA zoom such as the Samyang/bower/Rokinon 7.5mm, Oly 9mm BCL, Oly 9-18mm, or Oly 7-14mm.

    If you're planning on shooting a lot at night, also consider the Oly 17mm f1.8, or Pana 15mm.

  3. Rivers

    Rivers New to Mu-43

    Nov 3, 2015
    Thanks. What are your thoughts about the Oly 17mm f1.8 vs the Pana 20mm f1.7?
  4. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Zoom or primes? Is there any budget/size limit/preference?

    My suggestion:
    - Oly 12-40/2.8 (or 12-32 pancake)
    - Sigma 60 (or Oly 75 or Oly 45)
    - Samyang 7.5 fisheye (you can defish it to have an UWA lens)
    - one prime you could like to use in low light: Pana 25/1.7, Mitakon 25/0.95 (manual focus), Pana 17/1.8
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  5. Rivers

    Rivers New to Mu-43

    Nov 3, 2015
    No set budget but would prefer lenses that aren't too heavy.
  6. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    The 20mm has some issues... noisy focusing, slow focusing on darkness and on moving subjects, and banding at high ISO on at least some Oly bodies.

    The 17 1.8 focuses very fast even in very low light. Lots of people say it's not as sharp as the 15mm or 20mm, but it is still sharp.
    I don't think the aurora would need a lot of sharpness anyways.

  7. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I'd go for:

    - Pany 12-35 or Oly 12-40. Fantastic all-round lenses with great IQ and not too bulky (esp the 12-35)
    - Pany 35-100. Fantastic 70-200 equiv lens. I think a short tele lens is great for portraits and for picking out details in landscapes and cityscapes
    - A fast 35mm or 50mm equiv. That means Pany 15/1.7 or Oly 17/1.8 for 35mm equiv or one of Oly 25/1.8, Pany 25/1.4 or Pany 25/1.7 for 50mm equiv. If it were me I'd go 17/1.8 and 25/1.8
    - If a 4th lens is an option, go for a UWA - One of the 7-14s, 9-18 or Samyang 7.5 FE

    That's great travel kit and will cover pretty much all bases.
  8. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Here are my thoughts to your questions,

    1. The P/Leica 42.5 f/1.2, aka the Nocticron, is the best AF M4/3 portrait lens. Although it is quite expensive, I find it well worth it and it has the best boken of any M4/3 lens I have seen (OK... the 75 f/1.8 is right there too). It replaced my beloved Oly 45 f/1.8 portrait lens. If too rich for you, the Oly 45 f/1.8 is an excellent 2nd choice.

    2. The 12-40 f/2.8 Pro, especially since is has close focus and is a bit more macro than other zooms. This is a VERY versatile lens and great for all day action without having to change lenses.

    3. A semi wide angle prime would be great for this and for evening shots/indoors. I have the 12 f/2, 17 1/1.8 and 25 f/1.8. If it was me, I would take the 12 and 17. If only 1, it would be the 17mm.

    ps, I had the Pany 20mm f/1.7. While it is a compact sharp lens, it did have AF problems on my Oly bodies once the sun started going down. Gave up on it and got the 17mm instead, a stellar lens!

    Have a great trip!
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2015
  9. m43happy

    m43happy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 18, 2012
    I'm going to Europe early next year! Along with (2)e-m5ii I plan on bringing my O12-40/O40-150 f/2.8 to fulfill most of my shooting needs and in case of inclement weather. Also bringing the PL15/PL42.5 for evening shots and for any specific shots where I want to achieve shallow DoF. I have the O75/PL25 lenses too, but leaving those at home. :) 
  10. emergo

    emergo Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 17, 2010
    First, a disclaimer - I am a prime lens shooter. That being said, when I return to Europe in the summer, I will be taking the O12, O17 or O25, and my O75.

    As strange as it might sound, when I visited Europe 2 years ago, I went a little "too" minimalist and only took a single, normal prime with a 50mm equivalent focal length (I was back packing it). Loved the shots I got, but was hurting when it came to shooting all the historic buildings and interiors. A wide angle is a must!

    The O12-40 Pro is an excellent lens worthy of the praise that has been lauded upon it. It would cover the focal lengths you will likely use the most on your trip - however, it is a large lens, and I think it would be rather imbalanced on your EM10 II. I'd go to your local camera store and try it first. I had mine mounted to the EM1 and sold it, as I didn't like the front-heaviness and size.

    It's difficult to choose between the O17 and O25. I shoot nearly everything with my 17. However, the 25 is great for tighter shots (such as food) because it focuses much closer than a lens like the O45, and it would give you a more natural image close-in than the 17, I think. I use the 25 every time I am shooting objects that I am selling on ebay...

    The O75 is a great, general use telephoto. Good for portraits, good for street (if you want to maintain some distance from your subjects). the O45 would work too for these purposes, would allow you to be a little closer to your subjects, and is much smaller and lighter.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015
  11. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    O17, O25 & O45.
  12. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    12-40mm f2.8 could cover all 3 on your wishlist.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  13. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011

    I would take (I take) the P12-35 f2.8 (the P12-35 mini zoom would be great too). This range, especially the 12mm end, becomes very useful for this type of trip. You need the 12mm in the narrow streets and to capture whole buildings.

    When the light is lower, I like a small lens with a lower f-stop. For this I like something like the 20mm.

    Finally, for portraits, to do better than the 35mm f2.8 end of the zoom, I take the 45mm f1.8 (or the Panasonic equivalent).

    12-35mm zoom for walkaround everyday shooting in decent light
    20mm f1.7 for a lower light small package option for something like a dinner setting.
    45mm f1.8 for your portraits.
  14. Nathanael

    Nathanael Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2015
    PL 25 1.4
    Panasonic 12-32mm pancake
    Samyang 7.5mm fisheye
  15. cyrax83

    cyrax83 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 8, 2014
    Pro $ Kit
    1. Olympus 12-40 f/2.8 or 75mm 1.8
    2. Olympus 12-40 f/2.8
    3. Olympus 7-14 f/2.8

    Cheap kit
    1. Olympus 45mm 1.8
    2. Pana 25mm 1.7
    3. Samyang 7.5mm and defish?
  16. Don't buy just for a trip to Europe unless you're just planning on selling the stuff you won't use day to day. I would buy for what you will use long term.

    For food, street and environmental portraits, PL15, O17 f/1.8, P25, PL25, O25, O45, P42.5 are all great general purpose options, basically pick 2-3 of your favourite focal lengths and size/price options for travel. The O12-40 will also do just fine for the most part as others have said. The PL42.5 and O75 are excellent but just make sure you're buying them for normal use, not just for the trip, as they are quite specialised lenses.

    Northern lights are a special challenge. You really want as wide aperture and wide angle as you can get - I've tried using the 7.5FE (which is pretty decent for Milky Way) but f/3.5 doesn't quite cut for aurorae. With aurorae you can't just take a longer exposure - they change sufficiently fast that they just blur together into a coloured wash in a long exposure. You need a short enough shutter speed to render the waves and folds distinctly. Hire the 7-14 f/2.8 maybe? Works for architecture too.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. NoSeconds

    NoSeconds Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    If I was starting out again, my first three lenses would be:

    PL15 f/1.7

    O7-14 Pro

    O75 f1.8
  18. MoonMind

    MoonMind Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 25, 2014
    Okay, it's one of those "holy trinity" threads again - we've had quite a number of them already ... Anyway, since it's fun, here goes, according to the needs of the OP:

    Solid performance on the cheap for all needs: Panasonic 14-42mm II - not the most robust lens, not the fastest, but very good optically (though bokeh isn't fantastic). But beware: It really pays to get the metal mount version - the plastic mount is flimsy, mine's already loose (and I don't treat my gear roughly)!

    Minimalist, yet competent: Panasonic 12-32mm, Olympus 45mm (for portraits) - both lenses offer good rendering, the 45mm has nice bokeh. If size was the main concern, that's the combo I'd choose (and have used in the past before my 12-32mm broke).

    As a matter of fact, the "holy trinity" game is great one to play on mFT thanks to fantastic choices:
    Prime galore Ia (moderately priced, good performance: Panasonic): 14mm, 25mm f/1.7, 42.5mm f/1.7
    Prime galore Ib (moderately priced, good performance: Olympus): 17mm, 25mm, 45mm
    Prime galore II (somewhat more expensive, but even better performance: Olympus): 12mm, 25mm, 45mm - that'd be my recommendation
    Prime galore III (very expensive, quite bulky, but best overall performance: Panasonic): 15mm, 25mm f/1.4, 42.5mm f/1.2
    You could also mix and match, of course. And there are also cheaper solutions using the Sigma primes - though you might find them a bit long and bulky.

    The all-in-one solution: Olympus 12-40mm, period (I've never had it struggle in low light, honestly). Together with I.B.I.S. and good high ISO performance, you don't have to give up a lot yet gain heaps of convenience; optical performance is mostly on par with the primes.

    As an aside, you could add the Sigma 60mm to any of the above (including the 12-40mm) for a bit more reach on the cheap. I take it along when I travel - it's small enough and surprisingly competent.

    My current choices:
    Primes ("holy trinity"): Olympus 12mm, 17mm, 45mm on E-PL7 for best shooting experience, pleasing results and minimal bulk.
    Single prime/street photography: Panasonic 20mm on GF1 (small, still a joy to shoot), Olympus 17mm on E-PL7 (fast, very nice rendering), Olympus 25mm on E-M10 (a tiny powerhouse of a lens, sharp and crisp); if portraiture is the main goal, I just use the great Olympus 45mm or sometimes the Sigma 30mm (only on the street; it's actually quite universal, surprisingly sharp, and it pairs well with the GF1 and E-PL7)
    Single zoom: Olympus 12-40mm on E-M10 (that's what I use most often - in spite of all the great primes!)
    Super zoom: Olympus 14-150mm II on E-M10 (or E-PL7) - surprisingly competent for such a tall order ...

    To be totally frank: At the moment, I have the E-M10 with the 25mm, the 12-40mm and the 14-150mm II together in my main mFT bag. With this setup, I can do virtually anything I want if I take care at the long end and reign in my expectations there a bit (but really only a little).

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