Which Micro 4/3 Camera and Lenses Should I Buy? My Recommendation for March 2, 2014.

Discussion in 'Micro 4/3 News and Rumors' started by Amin Sabet, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Very often I get an email or PM like the one which I received this morning:

    Of course this is not an easy question to answer. One of the major advantages of our system is it's depth. We have tons of camera and lens choices, and one person's preferences will vary widely from another's. Heck, my own lens preferences on Tuesday are different than they were on Monday. Some of my favorite lenses for our system are on the larger or heavier side, and several Olympus and Panasonic cameras appeal to me for different reasons.

    That said, here's my recommendation for the fellow above and most others in his situation:

    Highly recommended by Amin Sabet, on Flickr

    Here's why*:

    Camera: The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is stylish, compact, light, has a great EVF, a very useful flip screen, and unbelievably useful in-body image stabilization. It's a great camera for both still photography and casual video. You can find a used one in terrific condition for some impressively low prices in our Buy & Sell forum.

    Lenses: The Panasonic 14mm f/2.5, Olympus 25mm f/1.8**, and Olympus 45mm f/1.8 cover your traditional wide angle, normal, and short telephoto (portrait) focal lengths. Each of them is small, light, fast-focusing, and sharp with pleasing character. Both the Oly 45 and especially the Pana 14 can also be found at great prices in our Buy & Sell forum.

    If I had to choose a single camera and three lenses right now for my personal use, that would be the kit without even considering price. This reflects the degree to which I prioritize size, weight, image stabilization, and certain focal lengths (eg, my preference for 14mm vs 12mm). However, the fact that one can buy this entire kit for about $1350 (used E-M5, used P14, used O45, and new O25) makes it all the easier to recommend.

    No doubt our many great members will have their own recommendations for prospective buyers. Please weigh in!

    *Everything expressed here is just in my opinion, reflecting my own personal judgments and preferences!!!

    **If there's one selection I'm not so sure about, it's the Olympus 25mm f/1.8. I had a hard time deciding between recommending this one and the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 DG Summilux. Ultimately I went with the Olympus recommendation for its smaller size and weight, but I do love the character of the PL25 and honestly would hate to be without it.
    • Like Like x 24
  2. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Good start. Reminds me a bit of an affordable, modern Leica M with 28, 50 and 90. Small and versatile, but with an eye towards IQ.

    • Like Like x 1
  3. BobbyTan

    BobbyTan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 26, 2013
    Long Beach, CA
    If one is considering moving to m43 from a DSLR I would recommend the E-M1 because that is the closest thing to a DSLR. I would also recommend the M. Zuiko 12-40/2.8 PRO lens which is comparable to a DSLR 24-70/2.8 lens. If further weight savings is desired, perhaps the E-M10 with 3 or 4 prime lenses such as the 12/2, 17/1.8, 25/1.8 and 45/1.8 lenses.
  4. mnhoj

    mnhoj There and back again

    Dec 3, 2011
    Los Angeles
    John M
    And maybe later a 7.5 and 75.
  5. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    Ill give the skint persons option, G3 or G5 with a 14mm a 20mm and the Oly 45mm. If really tight drop the 14 and 45mm and get a 14-45mm these options should be obtainable for south of £600 and £300 if you are patient. A G1 or a G2 with kit lens can be had for less than £100 (more if its the 14-45), if you want an uber low cost one prime a G1 with Oly 35 f2.8 is a good choice. The reason for no OLy bodies is all the pens require an additional VF and I like to have the option.
  6. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    I used the 14 and 45 on an EM5 (and before that on the EPL5) with great success. I also picked up the 40-150 since it's fairly cheap and let's you do some nature shots.
  7. foxtail1

    foxtail1 Science geek & photo nut Subscribing Member

    Dec 30, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Of course, the great qualifier for any question like this is, "What do you like to shoot?" If the questioner is like many of our members, that setup would be fine. For someone like me, shooting nature and macro, it wouldn't have worked at all. The longer Panny zoom (45-200) was a perfect starter lens for me. From there, I learned what I liked and expanded.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Very true, but most of the folks emailing me haven't worked that part out yet :tongue:. Fwiw, I enjoy doing nature and close ups with the Oly 45, but of course more reach is needed for lots of stuff.
    • Like Like x 2
  9. snaimpally

    snaimpally Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2012
    For people coming from a DSLR, I think the EM5 is a good choice. I'd take out the 14mm, tell them to get the kit zoom, and include the 75mm.

    Parenthetically, for people coming from P&S, I think the Panasonic cameras, which have a layout and UI similar to a point shoot, are easier to transition to. I know when I bought the G3, I was very much at ease with it. With the EM5, I feel like I'm barely scratching the surface of its customization. It took me a while to figure out with the EM5 that pressing the "ok" button rather than the "menu" button brings up the main menu.
  10. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    I'd have recommended NOCTICRON! :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  11. shaolinmonk

    shaolinmonk Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 31, 2013
    Toronto Canada
    i would go 17mm, kit zoom and 45mm and 45-150mm from a "cheap" budget standpoint

    when most people start with canon... 50mm plastic fantastic is the first lens to go with kit 18-55 and 55-250
  12. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Yikes, this is a "how long is a piece of string" question,

    Amin's suggestion is an excellent one. Personally, I prefer the 12 to 14 FOV so swapping the 14 for the Oly 12 might make sense (at a big increase in price). Replacing all three with the 12-40 is another option.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    If you ask me this question, my answer is E-M1, 17.5mm Nokton and 42.5mm Nocticron :friends:.
    • Like Like x 4
  14. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Yeah, this seems to be a popular enough question that it almost deserves it's own FAQ!

    The only problem I have is lots of people seem to be inclined to buy lenses because they're 'good', rather than because they meet a specific need. They also often end up buying a lens for every scenario, including scenarios they rarely or never actually encounter. That's especially true of primes, since they are so much less flexible than zooms.

    My recommendation:

    Olympus E-M5. $550 secondhand. It's not the newest and is accordingly missing the latest whiz bang features, but in terms of image quality and flexibility, you're not going to do better and the price is perfect. Great sensor, great image stabilization, good EVF, decent controls and ridiculously customizable.

    Olympus 12-50/3.5-6.3. $200 secondhand. Yes, I've been critical of this lens in the past, but it really is the perfect walk around range, and the macro and weather-sealing are a nice bonus.

    Olympus 40-150/4-5.6. $100 secondhand. It's small, it's fast-focusing, it's decently sharp and it's inexpensive. For basic telephoto shooting, it's the ticket. The Panasonic 45-150/4-5.6 is a bit smaller and a bit better, but usually a fair bit more expensive as well.

    Olympus 25/1.8. $400. I wish it were smaller and cheaper (like the Panasonic 20/1.7) but as a compact-ish lens with a wide aperture and fast autofocus, it works well for 'social', street and indoor photography.

    I think this combination gives the all-around shooter something for most situations. Then after spending some time with these lenses, they can adequately assess what areas it makes sense to invest in.
    • Like Like x 7
  15. montaggio

    montaggio Mu-43 Regular

    I think that pretty much nails a great basic kit. I would suggest that someone start with the E-M5 and 14-42 kit lens, then add in particular lenses according to their tastes. Lots of great new (and some quite pricey) primes. If you want the flexibility of a zoom, then perhaps add in the Oly 12-40. That's the great thing about m43 in my opinion - good bodies providing a platform on which you can customize to fit your own style. With more quality lenses coming on the market, it just keeps getting better.
  16. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    For someone moving away from a DSLR, especially a Canon video one - one should add the GH2 & GH3 to the list. :wink:
    • Like Like x 2
  17. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    With extension tubes, Oly 45 can do very nice close up work - not as versatile as a dedicated macro, for sure, but a 10mm and 16mm tube together are very small. I take them along if I'm traveling light but think there might be an interesting insect along the way.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. BobbyTan

    BobbyTan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 26, 2013
    Long Beach, CA
    This may result in sticker shock for anyone moving from a DSLR to m43 … as the first thought that comes to mind is "down-sizing" to something smaller/lighter and cheaper! The Nocticron is not exactly inexpensive. Better to recommend (to a newcomer) the 45/1.8 lens IMO, and if he or she is happy with the system and wants to upgrade later on, he or she can move to more exotic glass like the Nocticron. Having said that, if someone wants a smaller/lighter system with the highest-possible IQ, I would recommend the Zuiko PRO lenses, along with the 75/1.8 and the Nocticron!
  19. emptysensor

    emptysensor Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 8, 2011
    I love my EM5 and think it's a great choice. For me the best basic lenses would be the 25 mentioned but I'd swap the 14 and 45 for the Panny 14-45, an excellent lens that can be had for a great price. In some situations you just have to have a zoom. In addition if you switch to a Panny body later you have the IS. The 25 would handle bokeh and the 14-45 would be the grab and go lens.
  20. montaggio

    montaggio Mu-43 Regular

    Just out of curiosity, how often do people use their camera for video? For me, video doesn't enter the conversation (so the Nikon Df starts to look interesting - but too expensive).
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