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Thread: Lens recommendation for M 4/3 (Panasonic)

  1. #1
    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Lens recommendation for M 4/3 (Panasonic)

    (For a friend)

    My only friend remotely into cameras has just bought the newest Panasonic 4/3 camera. He did so thinking he could use his 20-year old film lenses, though I guess they will be MF. He is off to a slow start, and the next step may be to toss it in the closet and forget about it.

    He likes to shoot street shots and archetecture in the old parts of the city. Probably dogs at the dog park too. I know nothing about the 4/3 system so I have no suggestions. Shooting Canon I am not used to multiple camera companies sharing a mount, so I am at a loss. (Maybe it is genius!) What is a lens or lenses for the above-described uses on that system?

    Needs to be moderately priced (or just plain inexpensive) but still with good IQ.

    Thanks!

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Lens recommendation for M 4/3 (Panasonic)

    There are a number of companies; Panasonic, Olympus, Cosina (Vogtländer), etc, that manufacture MFT lenses. As well, a number of companies do manufacture adaptors. For instance I have a Novoflex adaptor that allows me to use my Nikon F lenses on my MFT video camera. It's about the same price as one of the lower end Panasonic lenses...

    MFT has a crop factor of 2, which means that your friend's 50mm lens, with an adaptor would act like a 100mm lens would on a ful-frame DSLR or 35mm film camera. Most of the MFT lenses other than those built by Pansonic or Olympus are manual focus. Olympus and Panasonic will autofocus on the Panasonic camera, but Olympus uses an in-camera stabilization system, while Panasonic uses an in-lens system. Bottom line is that only Panasonic lenses (or Leica branded lenses manufactured by Panasonic) are the only ones guaranteed to give full functionality on the camera. I believe Kenko (Tokina), Sigma and Tamron may be planning to built MFT lenses as well.

    Panasonic lens offerings are found at: https://panasonic.ca/english/audiovi...s=All%20Models


    For the type of shooting your friend does, something like the 14mm - 42mm might make sense; wide angle to short telephoto, and I think it is the least expensive of the Panny lenses. I use the 14mm-140mm lens on my video camera; it's the only Panny lens actually designed for continuous focus video and it is fairly pricey.

  3. #3
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Lens recommendation for M 4/3 (Panasonic)

    My recommendation? Tell your friend to consider the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens. It's super-small, super-sharp, and was made for street shooting.

    Lens recommendation for M 4/3 (Panasonic)
    Panasonic DMC-G3, Lumix G 20mm f/1.7. iso 160, f/2, 1/4000s. burst mode. RAW conversion in Lightroom, composited with layers in Photoshop CS5.

    The other fast-normal choice if he's got more money and doesn't care about size would be the Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm f/1.4.

    Also make sure he's post-processing his images. Panasonic does some in-camera encoding of C/A and distortion correction. And the Panasonic software that came with the camera or Lightroom can take advantage of this coding automatically.

    If he's a wide-angle geek and has a bit more money, the Olympus 12mm f/2, Oly 9-18, or the Panasonic 7-14.

    Also tell him not to give up on adapting his manual focus lenses. He just needs the right adapter ring. Fotodiox may have what he's looking for at a decent price (although personally, I tend to use eBay and the seller BigIS). One good place for tons of information on micro four-thirds is the mu4-3.com forum (like POTN, they have sample image threads for lenses, both native and adapted lenses).

    Any manual-focus SLR lens can be used on a µ4/3 camera if there's an adapter ring for the mount. You can also use most rangefinder and half-frame lenses, and if you don't care about vignetting, even 1" video and super-16 cine lenses. The new mirrorless compacts have such thin registration distances that they'll work with a much larger range of adapted lenses than a Canon dSLR can, and most of them have some form of manual focus-assist. But because there's no electronic communication between the camera and the lens, you must set the aperture on the lens (i.e., it must have an aperture ring), and you must manually focus. If we're talking Canon EF lenses, the lack of an aperture ring means that you have to shoot with the lens wide open, or do the mount on an EOS camera, stop-down and hit the DOF-preview-button and unmount trick.

    It's kind of a PITA if you're not used to all-manual shooting.

    The OTHER roadblock PITAness to adapting manual-focus lenses to µ4/3 is that the crop factor of the sensor is 2x. These sensors are smaller than the typical APS-C sensors in dSLRs. (This is the main selling point of the NEX cameras: that they have 1.5x crop APS-C sensors in them. But the smaller 4/3 sensor size means the lenses for µ4/3 can be much much smaller, too). To me, adapting SLR lenses to m4/3 can be fun, but essentially a bit silly, since the lens can be out-of-proportion large to the camera.

    Back to the 2x crop factor. So, a 28mm lens, which used to be wide-angle on film, is now a slightly telephoto lens on µ4/3. Going wide is very hard to do with adapted film lenses for this reason, so native lenses become your only choice, really for wide and ultrawide. OTOH, your telephoto choices got a lot cheaper.

    As a Pansonic µ4/3 shooter, your friend can use all the µ4/3 lenses put out by Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, Samyang/Rokinon, and Cosina Voigtlander. But only the Panasonic OIS ones will be stabilized.

    Native Panasonic/Olympus lenses are actually the best bet, since they're small/light, autofocus, report EXIF, and can have aperture controlled from the camera. They also perform well, and for the most part, cost a little less than their SLR counterparts. A list of most of the lenses currently available can be found at the www.four-thirds.org website. Just be sure that your friend doesn't confuse the terms "4/3" and "micro 4/3". Olympus and Panasonic also made/make four-thirds SLR cameras. It's a different mount system from micro 4/3. And lenses like the Olympus 9-18 and the Summilux 25mm have versions in both mounts.

    One more thing. If your friend picked up a GX-1, and he didn't grab an EVF to go with it, that might also make a difference in the handling of the camera. I deliberately chose the G3 because I'm basically an SLR shooter, and I need to be able to chose between a viewfinder and an LCD screen for composition.
    Last edited by inkista; 26th April 2012 at 09:47 PM.

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    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Lens recommendation for M 4/3 (Panasonic)

    He got a GH2. The 2x telephoto effect would come in handy for the way I typically shoot, but maybe not so much for his building shots. He did get the kit lens, which I believe is the 14-42.
    Interesting product line. I can't believe Leica makes lenses for it, and that the Leica lenses are not the most expensive in the bunch. Also that 3-D lens looks is kind of fun to play with for cheap.

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Lens recommendation for M 4/3 (Panasonic)

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Stephen View Post
    Interesting product line.
    Yup. It's what got me to make the plunge: it's looking more and more like a real lens lineup.

    I can't believe Leica makes lenses for it, and that the Leica lenses are not the most expensive in the bunch.
    Actually, I believe that Panasonic still makes the lenses, but Leica has a hand in the design. Leica and Panasonic have been doing business together for a while, which is why you'll sometimes see Leica-badged lenses on Panasonic digicams. IIRC, the Leica P&S camera has usually been mostly a Panasonic camera, rebadged with a few design tweaks (e.g., Leica D-Lux 5 vs. Panasonic LX-5). Zeiss, of course, has a relationship with Sony, hence all those ZA lenses for Alpha and NEX.

    Mirrorless compacts have some really decent glass.

    Also that 3-D lens looks is kind of fun to play with for cheap.
    It didn't used to be that cheap. The price drop to $70 is relatively recent. I'm still on the fence though. Fixed f/12 aperture, fixed focus, not useful for video... kinda takes some of the fun out of the toy.

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    Re: Lens recommendation for M 4/3 (Panasonic)

    Hi Scott

    an excellent overview from Inkista so I'll stick to a few lens recommendations.

    The Panasonic 14 f2.5 (28 FF equivalent) is a tiny lens which has both good IQ and is cheap (relatively), the lens can be had under £200.

    The Panasonic 20 f1.7 (40 FF equivalent) is another small pancake lens. Again good IQ and it can be had for around £270. A bit to the wide side of normal but a nice street lens.

    I own the first two and on a recent holiday the 14 was a lens I used a lot. The 20 is a lens I've used alot over the past 3 years.

    The third lens your friend might want to look at is the Olympus 45 f1.8 (90ff equivalent). I don't own it but it gets rave reviews from m4/3 users and reviewers and can be had for about £250 and fulfills the portrait lens in the m43 system.

    There are other lenses that are undoubtedly excellent but I've tried to stick to a budget. For instance the Olympus 12 f2 and Panasonic Leica 25 f1.4 are supposedly superb lenses but at a price. For wide angles there's the Panasonic 7-14 and Olympus 9-18 (FF 14-28 and 18-36) and there are a couple of telephotos.

    The above lenses will be better than the kit zoom (well the first two defintely are!!).

    Your friend should buy based on what type of shooter he is.

    As to the Leica name. I believe the lenses are made in Japan by Panny to a Leica spec with some degree of Leica QA. I've read that there are Leica staff on site. Anyone confirm? All of the Leica lenses for both 4/3 and Micro 4/3 have had excellent image quality.

    The Pan/Leica 45 f2.8 macro has excellent image quality but autofocus was poor on the GF1 it is usable on the G3/GX1. Should be ok on the GH2.

    There is mean to be a fast zoom lens launched this year but it will be costly I suspect.

    Nowadays I only use my dSLR for wildlife, I do enjoy using the m4/3. Image Quality is a bit behind the latest APSC cameras at higher ISO's but not so much that faster lenses can't compensate for.

    Hope that helps.

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    Re: Lens recommendation for M 4/3 (Panasonic)

    I wonder why he is struggling with the GH2 .... You should get him to work in AI mode and only gradually try to be clever like the rest of us ... the camera is probably better at it than he is :-)
    Last edited by jcuknz; 27th April 2012 at 10:59 AM.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Lens recommendation for M 4/3 (Panasonic)

    Quote Originally Posted by thequacksoflife View Post
    Hi Scott

    an excellent overview from Inkista so I'll stick to a few lens recommendations.

    The Panasonic 14 f2.5 (28 FF equivalent) is a tiny lens which has both good IQ and is cheap (relatively), the lens can be had under £200.

    The Panasonic 20 f1.7 (40 FF equivalent) is another small pancake lens. Again good IQ and it can be had for around £270. A bit to the wide side of normal but a nice street lens.

    I own the first two and on a recent holiday the 14 was a lens I used a lot. The 20 is a lens I've used alot over the past 3 years.

    The third lens your friend might want to look at is the Olympus 45 f1.8 (90ff equivalent). I don't own it but it gets rave reviews from m4/3 users and reviewers and can be had for about £250 and fulfills the portrait lens in the m43 system.

    There are other lenses that are undoubtedly excellent but I've tried to stick to a budget. For instance the Olympus 12 f2 and Panasonic Leica 25 f1.4 are supposedly superb lenses but at a price. For wide angles there's the Panasonic 7-14 and Olympus 9-18 (FF 14-28 and 18-36) and there are a couple of telephotos.

    The above lenses will be better than the kit zoom (well the first two defintely are!!).

    Your friend should buy based on what type of shooter he is.

    As to the Leica name. I believe the lenses are made in Japan by Panny to a Leica spec with some degree of Leica QA. I've read that there are Leica staff on site. Anyone confirm? All of the Leica lenses for both 4/3 and Micro 4/3 have had excellent image quality.

    The Pan/Leica 45 f2.8 macro has excellent image quality but autofocus was poor on the GF1 it is usable on the G3/GX1. Should be ok on the GH2.

    There is mean to be a fast zoom lens launched this year but it will be costly I suspect.

    Nowadays I only use my dSLR for wildlife, I do enjoy using the m4/3. Image Quality is a bit behind the latest APSC cameras at higher ISO's but not so much that faster lenses can't compensate for.

    Hope that helps.
    The lenses are indeed produced by Panny but to Leica specs and certified using Leica supplied test equipment. I also understand that there is a Leica tech working with Panny. The most important requirement is that the lenses meet the very strict Leica standards and what that means is that the image quality is not altered using in-camera software. What you see is what the lens has produced, so no distortion and abberation correction via software.

    I'm of two minds on this one;it is good to have a lens that meets high standards, but using in-camera correction is no different than running a copy of my files through distortion correction routines in Photoshop or DxO. The purist in me says "good for Leica" but the pragmatist in me says "so what". As an aside, I've been a Leica shooter for over 30 years...

  9. #9

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    Re: Lens recommendation for M 4/3 (Panasonic)

    Different people different priorities :-)
    I gather it is not supposed to be as good as others in the range, yet elsewhere I read a report it was very quick to focus .. anyway my interest is in a tool and how it works and absolute IQ is not on my list.... so I added the 014140 and now use the kit 014042 on my Oly EPL1 bought to use with my legacy lenses with its IBIS.

    I come to M4/3 from bridge cameras, FZ50 being the last of that kind, and I am after basically a large sensor bridge camera which permits me to use higher ISO without the size and weight of a similar DSLR. That it can change lenses is of minor importance though it has meant my older DSLR is redundant since it was primarilly bought to utilise my film-days macro gear.

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