Which Lens for Fun? Sigma 56mm? O75mm? 42.5mm?

tjdean01

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Hey, guys. I haven't been taking many photos lately. Kind of got tired of it. Perhaps some new gear would get me back into it? I really enjoy shooting with narrow depth of field, prefer small size, and am due to spend a little cash on a new toy!

A few things I've always wanted: Olympus 75mm f1.8. Voigtlander 42.5mm f0.95. Olympus 45mm f/1.8. Sony RX1 full frame camera that has a 35mm f2.0 lens. These things are not necessarily comparable, I know. The most recent thing I've had fun with is the Sony A7ii with a Canon 85mm f1.8 lens. But the A7 is big and annoys me because I can't pop a m4/3s camera with a wide angle pancake in the same bag with it and be comfortable. Plus, the older lenses aren't great wide open.

Olympus 45mm f1.8 - I already own the Panasonic 42.5mm f1.7 lens. This was the logical choice vs the O45 because it has stabilization and a closer minimum focus distance. So, why do I still want the O45 in silver to play with?? Something about the size and shape of it and how it tapers smaller towards the front makes it visually attractive so I want it. I totally don't need it bu it's only $2-300 so I might as well just buy it eventually!
1590042580017.png
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--If the P42.5 is a perfectly logical Toyota Camry, the O45 is a much less useful Corvette--

The Sony RX1 would give me the full frame sensor but not necessarily the subject separation I want, yet it would give me more separation than anything m4/3s can offer in that focal length. I'm not going to buy the O17/1.2 because it's too big but full frame at 35mm f2.0 vs, say, the Panasonic 25mm f1.4 shouldn't be much difference regarding subject separation. The Sony looks so sexy though.
1590042987592.png
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--Smallest m4/3s camera GM1 with 25/1.4 next to smallest FF camera Sony RX1 35mm/2.0. The Sony sure would would go nicely in a pocket wouldn't it?--

Then, just today, I read this comparison of these lenses: O45, V42.5/0.95, P42.5/1.2, P42.5/1.7. It reminded me I was smart to get the P42.5/1.7, showed me that the Voigtlander 42.5/0.95 loses to my P42.5/1.7 even at f/2, so scratch that off the list. But it did remind me how much I still like the O45!

Olympus 75mm f1.8 and Sigma 56mm f1.4 - Then, I searched for the O75 on the same site and found a comparison of the O75 and the Sigma 56/1.4. Okay, this is something new. Is it really just as good as the legendary O75, but smaller, cheaper, and with better corners? Very interesting indeed! With the faster aperture of the Sigma, the subject separation of these 2 lenses would be very similar.
1590044947181.png
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--Sigma 56mm f1.4 next to Olympus 75mm f1.8--

So, I guess here are my choices:
  • Used Sony RX1/RX1r for $750 (can't find new)
  • New Olympus 75mm f1.8 for $600
  • New Sigma 56mm f1.4 for $400 new
  • New Olympus 45mm f1.8 for $200 (in silver! I can probably buy this regardless of what else I buy)
Where to put my money?
 

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Reflector

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Comparatives.jpg
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*** = Advantage it has over the other 1-2 lenses
** = Things I like about it personally since I own all 3 that's more than a general positive remark (*** counts too)
* = General positives and remarks
- = Disadvantages or disadvantages when compared to the other 1-2 lenses

Don't count them as a line by line pluses/minuses thing but rather as my personal remarks.

Olympus 75mm f/1.8:
***Buy it if you need the reach/focal length reach you can't get with any of the other lenses/"highest compression" due to FL and aperture.
***Lowest raw distortions, left practically uncorrected.
***Olympus ProCap Low works with it.
***Little astigmatism that goes away completely when stopped down by 2/3ev.
**I consider it just as sharp as the S56 at around f/2.8-4.0+, an excellent lens when stopped down.
*Nice metallic exterior feels nice to the touch.
*It is a secret Sigma, look up the patents and you'll find Sigma makes this lens for Olympus just like the O25 f/1.8.
-MFD is the longest.
-Corners are a bit weak and improve slowly until it peaks at f/4.0-5.6, not a "brick wall lens" unless stopped down.
-Huge, convex and not very deeply recessed front element: Or why I have a UV filter on it.
-Autofocus is the "slowest" when racking back and forth from MFD to infinity but that means a half second each way.
-Most expensive of them all, unless you can find one on sale from the refurb store or second hand.
-No hood included, unlike the O25 f/1.8.

Sigma 56mm f/1.4:
***It has the largest aperture of all the lenses.
***Fairly strong corner performance regardless of the aperture: Starts good and doesn't get any better or worse all the way out to f/5.6.
***Excellent performer wide open and stopped down to f/2.0 where it has a bit of advantage over the O75.
***MFD and magnification is a bit better than the O75, for the purposes of closing with the subject to blow out the background more this is a strong point.
*Includes hood (I personally don't use it and use my hand to shield when needed due to bulk on prime lenses)
*Autofocus is a bit more efficient than the O75 (personal feeling) when going back and forth from MFD/infinity.
*A far better performer on the Micro Four Thirds image circle than APS-C.
*"Feels like a bulky O30mm Macro" physically in my hands.
*/-Autofocus is supposedly a bit hit or miss at times, I haven't noticed this yet.
-Front element is convex and still is a little exposed in the center.
-Still has a bit more distortion on the edges when compared to the other 2 lenses but far, far better than APS-C image circle.
-Corners maybe are a little tiny bit darker wide open but not as bad as on APS-C.
-A bit of astigmatism that doesn't go away completely.
-"Weakest" on flare performance but all 3 lenses don't like too much of the sun in the corner.
-No Procap Low support (but high just works fine)
-Filter thread size isn't really shared across the Micro Four Thirds line but it'll actually take a stepdown ring just fine to use 46mm (along with the lenscap).

Olympus 45mm f/1.8:
***It is indeed the smallest, lightest and least expensive lens of them all.
***Autofocus is the fastest and most efficient, round trip feels like 1/3 to 1/2 of the time of the O75.
**Strongly must emphasize: Size and weight is one of the best parts, it fits within the other 2 lenses in volume and adds very little weight to the camera it is attached to.
**Optically more than acceptable wide open if you're not demanding absolute stunning and record breaking optical performance.
**Corner performance improves faster than O75, beating it at f/2.8, O75 needs to be at f/4.0 to beat.
**Better astigmatism than the S56.
*Helps to shoot at f/2.0-2.5 if you're concerned about optical resolution.
*Little distortions, left practically uncorrected.
*Front element is concave and small enough that I don't feel too concerned about it.
-Field curvature makes things not selected under the AF point appear softer so it is not a "brick wall lens."
-Tiny bit of LoCA (bokeh chromatic abberation/coloration) unlike the other 2.
-37mm filter but it is shared with a few other Micro Four Thirds lenses.
-No hood included.

All 3:
Good bokeh ball quality.
Long enough focal length to be used as multiple shot (and HR) landscape panorama lenses at f/4.0-5.6.
Chromatic aberration is generally well controlled or nonexistent.
Will blow out the background if you need them to (they won't fail at this in general) and have a way to frame the subject from the background.
Long working range for any full body against background shots.
Fun and have their own unique purpose and use, enough so that they all individually have a place in my own personal collection. I swap between them between what I expect.
Will get a tiny, tiny bit "softer" at f/5.6 on a 20mp sensor due to diffraction, peak performance is around f/4.0 give or take when checking test images.

Get it...
...for $200: O45 (but you already own the P42.5, so this is arguable)
...for the reach: O75, S56.
...for the wide open aperture: S56
...for DoF/subject separation: S56, O75
...for the physical size of the lens: O45
...if you absolutely need to shoot it wide open: S56
...if you're fine with stopping down to f/2.0-2.5: All 3
...for the best f/2.8-5.6 performance: O75, S56
 
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SteveAdler

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I have the Sigma 56mm and the Lumix 42.5mm and love them both. I find the 42.5mm more useful overall. It is small, light, focuses fast, and for me its perfect for close-up portraits, landscape panoramas, and macro work with the Raynox 150.
 

kinlau

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For the biggest change in style and feel, I would suggest the RX1. A 35/2 on a full-frame has a very different look from a 50, I have a 35/2 on my Canon FF (5D and 1Ds) and a Rokinon 34/1.4 (it’s huge) on my A7S. If you still have the A7ii, and don’t mind manual focus, 7Artisans makes a 35/1.4 for the e-mount that’s not huge and only US$199-.
 

PakkyT

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I haven't been taking many photos lately. Kind of got tired of it. Perhaps some new gear would get me back into it?
Just a thought but often when people get tired of taking photos it is really because they ran out of subjects to photograph; often shooting the same stuff over and over. So while I am all for buying new toys, one thing to consider is when you buy new lenses are you immediately going to start shooting the same stuff just with new gear? If so, it might be time to rethink what you normally shoot and branch out into areas or types of subjects you might not have thought about before or subjects that maybe you were not comfortable with and avoided (portrait shooting for instance).

That said, the O45/1.8 is a terrific bang for the buck and if you don't mind buying used it is often available for under $200 usd.
 

demiro

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@tjdean01 I'd go with the 75/1.8. The RX1 and 56/1.8 make sense to me as well, the 45/1.8 does not, but I think the 75 will give you a bigger "jolt" compared to what you are used to and maybe help jump start your photography a bit. It will force you to approach your subjects differently, and consider different elements than you may be used to. With this FL at f/1.8 you can pretty much obliterate backgrounds if you choose, which can be an interesting creative tool.

You just missed a nice used copy for $400, but they pop up with some frequency, if you don't mind buying used.
 

LilSebastian

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Along the lines of what @PakkyT was saying about change in subject sparking creativity again but also a gear suggestion would be an ultra wide angle prime lens. Do you have anything below 12mm? I tried the 9mm body cap lens years ago but didn't like it so thought I just didn't like ultra wide prime, but recently picked up a Rokinon (aka Samyang or Bower) 7.5mm f3.5 to try different subjects than normal. There are countless cheap manual options with high quality optics and a range of prices. Or go big with the Olympus 8mm f1.8.
 

Reflector

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This is interesting. So my 3 of my 4 favorite prime lenses are actually Sigma's? What about the Oly 60mm f2.8?
I believe the O60 is an Olympus design unless someone has dug out patents for a lens with an identical or near identical optical formula from someone that isn't Olympus. Tamron, Sigma and Tokina do design work for the primary brands along with other companies, sometimes they also manufacture the lens in parts or whole as well from my understanding. From memory some (1-2?) of the f/1.2 PRO lens also have Sigma patents on the formula as well.

Here's the O25 and O75 versus the Sigma patents:
https://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2015/04/26/sigma-patent-micro-four-thirds-25mm-f-12-olympus
 

bargainguy

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I have an RX1R and love it. But:

1. If you're used to the Olympus menu system, you won't like Sony. Too many buried items, lots of flipping through pages to get to what you want.

2. The accessory EVF is an absolute must if you don't get the RX1Rii with the built-in EVF. Too difficult to compose off the LCD alone.

3. If you do get the RX1Rii, make sure it's had the built-in EVF fix, early ones leaked light onto the sensor.

4. The combination of the 24MP sensor and the 35/2 Sonnar is spectacular. No problems there, just clean, sharp images.

5. Buying a used RX1: Make sure the MF ring still works, this is a problem area.

Good luck, these are awesome cameras.
 

tjdean01

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Thanks for the good replies, guys. It does seem the O45, O75 are unnecessary. I used to dream about them back when they were only made in silver and I was broke working retail. Therefore I have zero interest in the black ones. I guess buying these should be a celebratory purchase question for a therapist, not you guys :)

I forgot about the FF Sigma FP. But there are no fast, small native primes for it that I like at the moment (the 85/1.4 is gigantic and the 45mm is only f/2.8). I could adapt, say, the 85/1.8 or a 50/1.4 but I'd need to stop down half a stop which would negate any advantage in separation over m4/3s + 56/1.4. Plus it's not really that small (the 75/2 I attached below is similar in size to my 85/1.8).
1590181282134.png
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--Sony A7ii with native 85/1.8; Sigma FP with Leica 75/2.0; GM1 with Sigma 56/1.4--

Right now, although not as aesthetically pleasing as many of the Olympus/Panasonic offerings, the Sigma 56/1.4 on m4/3s seems like the best option. The cost isn't bad and I'd have to see how I like it on the GM1. I do have that GM1 grip thingy around here somewhere I could try again.

Also, I haven't ruled out the RX1R. It would frequently replace my "pocket" set up, which is the GM1 with either the 14/2.5, 12-32, or 20/1.7 (yes, I enjoy the 14mm). If I can find one in mint I might try it. It's old as dirt and still nearly $1000. I was hoping it'd be down to under $500 by now! If that camera had a 60-85mm lens, I'd sell everything and have that + the GM1 with 12-32 and be happy forever!
 
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jimr.pdx

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I'm about to try something different in this FL: my old Sigma 90mm/2.8 macro and 0.71x booster. That's a 64mm f2 with native 1:2 close-up. Maybe the sigma 60 will meet its match.. manual focus only, old-school aperture ring.
 
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I know you dismissed it because of its supposed lack of sharpness, but I would strongly advise you to give the Voigt 42.5 f0.95 a try. It's an absolute joy to shoot for portraits! I use it for a lot of my work with the Pen F. The Mono 2 profile and this lens is a magical combination ...

The build quality makes most the other lenses you mention feel like toys. The image quality is just about perfect for beautiful portraits IMO. A little bit of soft glow wide open, and very sharp stopped down to f2 or f2.8. ... Your pictures will stand out from the crowd.
 

RAH

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If you need some encouragement about the Olympus 45mm 1.8, you could read the Lenstip review, here:

https://www.lenstip.com/index.html?test=obiektywu&test_ob=316

The summary says, "The summary of our tests rarely can be so unambiguous. I really can’t imagine a situation when a Micro 4/3 body owner doesn’t have this lens as well. If you haven’t bought it yet, do make up for this complete mistake as soon as possible."

Well, do as it says!! All kidding aside, Lenstip is seldom quite so strong in its endorsement for a lens, although they are generaly favorable toward m43 lenses.

You could also view YouTube favorite David Thorpe's review here:


Myself, I have it and like it very much. I've been using it for hi-res photography with my E-M5.3. I figured I needed a prime lens that is sharp throughout and it seems very good for this. I got it used from KEH (Excellent PLus rating) for $220 in January.

So there's your answer! ;)

As far as whether the lens is "necessary" for you, well hell, GAS ("Gear Acquisition Syndrome") is all about getting gear that is UNnecessary! Go for it!!
 

demiro

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Thanks for the good replies, guys. It does seem the O45, O75 are unnecessary. I used to dream about them back when they were only made in silver and I was broke working retail. Therefore I have zero interest in the black ones. I guess buying these should be a celebratory purchase question for a therapist, not you guys :)

I forgot about the FF Sigma FP. But there are no fast, small native primes for it that I like at the moment (the 85/1.4 is gigantic and the 45mm is only f/2.8). I could adapt, say, the 85/1.8 or a 50/1.4 but I'd need to stop down half a stop which would negate any advantage in separation over m4/3s + 56/1.4. Plus it's not really that small (the 75/2 I attached below is similar in size to my 85/1.8).

--Sony A7ii with native 85/1.8; Sigma FP with Leica 75/2.0; GM1 with Sigma 56/1.4--

Right now, although not as aesthetically pleasing as many of the Olympus/Panasonic offerings, the Sigma 56/1.4 on m4/3s seems like the best option. The cost isn't bad and I'd have to see how I like it on the GM1. I do have that GM1 grip thingy around here somewhere I could try again.

Also, I haven't ruled out the RX1R. It would frequently replace my "pocket" set up, which is the GM1 with either the 14/2.5, 12-32, or 20/1.7 (yes, I enjoy the 14mm). If I can find one in mint I might try it. It's old as dirt and still nearly $1000. I was hoping it'd be down to under $500 by now! If that camera had a 60-85mm lens, I'd sell everything and have that + the GM1 with 12-32 and be happy forever!
@tjdean01 how about an update?
 

demiro

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I know you dismissed it because of its supposed lack of sharpness, but I would strongly advise you to give the Voigt 42.5 f0.95 a try. It's an absolute joy to shoot for portraits! I use it for a lot of my work with the Pen F. The Mono 2 profile and this lens is a magical combination ...

The build quality makes most the other lenses you mention feel like toys. The image quality is just about perfect for beautiful portraits IMO. A little bit of soft glow wide open, and very sharp stopped down to f2 or f2.8. ... Your pictures will stand out from the crowd.
Does little bit of soft glow = not sharp? :) Kidding, at f0.95 you've got to be flexible.
 

SteveAdler

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I have both the Lumix 42.5mm f1.7 and the Sigma 56mm f1.4. I like having both and wouldn't think the 75mm f1.8 would get much more than the Sigma delivers.
 

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