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Olympus releases the OMD E-M10 this week. I'm in. What lenses make the best start?

Hi all! Let's talk about lenses.

Just consider my query a kickoff, and consider yourself invited to take the conversation wherever you want to!

I'm new and joining the forums with the encouragement of Senior Member Rachel Foster, due to my enthusiasm for the new Olympus OM-D E-M10. Olympus releases the camera week and I plan to snap it up--my first new camera in a decade. It’s no pro DSLR but it seems perfect for my needs.

I need to figure out which lenses to initially buy and I'd LOVE your advice. [But if you're unfamiliar with this camera and curious about it, here are some basic specs: Announced January 29, 2014, the E-M10 offers 16 MP, ISO 200 to 25,600 (with a low ISO 100 equivalent setting), autofocus system with 81 points (Olympus is claiming this is the fastest autofocus in the world, I think), sequential shooting at 8 fps of up to 20 RAW shots (before slowing), included EVF of 1.44 million dots, manual control dials , max shutter speed of 1/8000 second, and the same fast processor as the E-M5.

I plan to use the camera primarily for portraits of my family to start, but would appreciate a good zoom, and eventually would like to use it for a lot of macro (my grandfather was an entomologist and I share his love of subject matter, if not his expertise).

When it comes to figuring out initial lenses to buy, I am entirely over my head, and any tips you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

For example, I don’t know if I should be thinking about a prime lens and a zooms, a couple of zooms with overlapping ranges, or a superzoom. I understand that better lenses are better, but don't know if I'd notice the difference. Nor do I know if I should be saving up for a macro or just going with extension tubes.

Right now Olympus is offering what I suspect are kit-quality lenses on sale with camera purchase, like the URL="http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/lenses/pen-omd/wide-zoom/m-zuiko-14-42mm-f3-5-5-6-ii.html"]14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R[/URL] ($99), the ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R ($149). Maybe those would be great for my son’s growing up years, and maybe they’d hold their value well enough to sell them when I bought a better lens down the line. But if there would be appreciably better photos with a pricier prime or zoom, maybe I should bite the bullet and get something better now. I’ve only used a zoom before, but should I be thinking about, for example, the 45mm f1.8 ($349)? Or maybe the ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ (349) instead of the previously mentioned 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R ($99).

You can tell I'm at a loss here. Are there review sites for lenses that a beginner like me could use to determine what basic set I should start off with?

Then there's trying to figure out which lenses could do macro work with extension tubes (probably all I can afford for the time being).

And I don't know if it's foolhardy to consider buying used lenses to save money--taking whatever risks come with that.

Any tips on any part of my questions would be greatly appreciated! And let the conversation go where it goes!

With thanks,

John
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Hi all! Let's talk about lenses.

Just consider my query a kickoff, and consider yourself invited to take the conversation wherever you want to!

I'm new and joining the forums with the encouragement of Senior Member Rachel Foster, due to my enthusiasm for the new Olympus OM-D E-M10. Olympus releases the camera week and I plan to snap it up--my first new camera in a decade. It’s no pro DSLR but it seems perfect for my needs.

I need to figure out which lenses to initially buy and I'd LOVE your advice. [But if you're unfamiliar with this camera and curious about it, here are some basic specs: Announced January 29, 2014, the E-M10 offers 16 MP, ISO 200 to 25,600 (with a low ISO 100 equivalent setting), autofocus system with 81 points (Olympus is claiming this is the fastest autofocus in the world, I think), sequential shooting at 8 fps of up to 20 RAW shots (before slowing), included EVF of 1.44 million dots, manual control dials , max shutter speed of 1/8000 second, and the same fast processor as the E-M5.

I plan to use the camera primarily for portraits of my family to start, but would appreciate a good zoom, and eventually would like to use it for a lot of macro (my grandfather was an entomologist and I share his love of subject matter, if not his expertise).

When it comes to figuring out initial lenses to buy, I am entirely over my head, and any tips you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

For example, I don’t know if I should be thinking about a prime lens and a zooms, a couple of zooms with overlapping ranges, or a superzoom. I understand that better lenses are better, but don't know if I'd notice the difference. Nor do I know if I should be saving up for a macro or just going with extension tubes.

Right now Olympus is offering what I suspect are kit-quality lenses on sale with camera purchase, like the URL="http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/lenses/pen-omd/wide-zoom/m-zuiko-14-42mm-f3-5-5-6-ii.html"]14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R[/URL] ($99), the ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R ($149). Maybe those would be great for my son’s growing up years, and maybe they’d hold their value well enough to sell them when I bought a better lens down the line. But if there would be appreciably better photos with a pricier prime or zoom, maybe I should bite the bullet and get something better now. I’ve only used a zoom before, but should I be thinking about, for example, the 45mm f1.8 ($349)? Or maybe the ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ (349) instead of the previously mentioned 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R ($99).

You can tell I'm at a loss here. Are there review sites for lenses that a beginner like me could use to determine what basic set I should start off with?

Then there's trying to figure out which lenses could do macro work with extension tubes (probably all I can afford for the time being).

And I don't know if it's foolhardy to consider buying used lenses to save money--taking whatever risks come with that.

Any tips on any part of my questions would be greatly appreciated! And let the conversation go where it goes!

With thanks,

John
I now you're so excited about the new model, you could get any recent sibling and be superbly equipped. The ranges of ISO are no longer important. The lenses are the key here. Olympus has a reputation for surprisingly superior optics. not surprising to me, as I always admired the company's products, but they are surprising in that attached to any 4/3 camera you are in a for a tremendous treat.

Hopefully, Dawid Loubser will add his experience on this line of cameras. I'd get the last years model and an extra pro lens if there was a choice on hoe to spend limited funds!

Asher
 

Michael Nagel

Active member
John,

Welcome here!
µ4/3 is my second system, I use it for almost 2y now (E-M5)
I do not know how much you intend to spend, but here is a combination I would recommend:

Kit lens, standard zoom: M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ

Portrait lens: M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8

Macro lens: M.Zuiko ED 60mm f2.8 Macro

The M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R is not a fast lens, but it is actually pretty good. I can recommend this lens.

Examples for the kit lens: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Example for the portrait lens (not a portrait): Second one in this post

Examples for the macro lens: 1 2

Examples for the 40-150: Here

I do not know what is you experience in photography until now. If you start, buying one or two lenses in the beginning and adding the rest step by step is IMHO the better way as you get more acquainted with system as such and know better how to integrate the new lenses in your work.

Best regards,
Michael
 

Dawid Loubser

New member
John,

The micro four thirds system is such a versatile system, where you can pick and choose between such a variety of great lenses. Most of these lenses, however, project optically-flawed images (especially with regards to distortion), which are corrected in-camera. This is usually not visible.

For the most critical use in large prints etc, and if you don't mind the large size, the Olympus SHG (Super High Grade) series of lenses, made for the Four-Thirds SLR system, are simply the most optically perfect lenses that money can buy, in my experience. The three workhorse lenses are:

  • Zuiko Digital 7-14mm f/4.0
  • Zuiko Digital 14-35mm f/2.0
  • Zuiko Digital 35-100mm f/2.0
I use these extensively, and they are stunning beyond words for the type of work I do. Some examples:










And some (rare for me) color:







The last four images were all taken at f/2.0 :)
If you can find these second-hand, and don't mind lenses that are as large as lenses for 35mm SLR systems, you will find yourself ruined for all the other lenses in the world, if quality is your goal.

For the full "Micro Four Thirds experience", however - compactness, low cost, ultra-fast focusing - stick to the very good Olympus primes made natively for the system:

  • 12mm f/2.0
  • 17.5mm f/1.8
  • 25mm f/1.8
  • 45mm f/1.8
  • 75mm f/1.8
The zooms all all too slow (the fastest are at f/2.8) to provide any creativity with regards to depth of field control, and most of the cheaper ones are not optically impressive.

Quite an amazing little lens range they've already put together though!
 
Thanks so much for your varied responses, and the beautiful pictures!

I'm down to considering a few lenses, discussed below. But first:

Asher, I appreciate the advice to invest in lenses rather than the camera. That's great general advice to a newbie like myself. In this case, the OMD E-M10 is introduced to be intentionally lower in the hierarchy than the two previous OMD models, the OMD E-M5 (Micheal's second system) and the OMD E-M1. It's priced a bit lower, does without some of the features of the two previous models that I don't need, and includes some things important to me that I can't find on other M43 cameras. So I may be making a mistake, but I think I will spend the money to pick up this camera ($699).

Michael, thanks for taking the time to make such a thorough recommendation. I'd been narrowing down to the 12-50mm f3.5-6.3myself (with some worry that it's too dark), as well as the 45mm f1.8, as portraits will be a main focus of my work. I treated myself to clicking through to all of your pictures--I enjoyed your shots and I'm impressed by so much!. The juxtaposition of photos taken by the kit lens and the portrait lens were quite revealing. I've been a hobbyist for years but don't know much, so your advice about slowly building the lens collection makes good sense to me.

Dawid, what a stunning collection of photos. Simply magnificent. The combination of your eye with the light of your lenses is pretty jaw-dropping. Of course I immediately had to check out the Zuiko digital lenses you recommended, and to my dismay, they're all out of my price range, which I'm still trying to get a handle on. Your list is great, and like Micheal's will inform not only what I buy now, but the list that I'll hope to gradually build for years.

My main hope for beautiful shots is portraiture (I have a toddler who occasions the purchase of this camera). I also need a good all-around set of lenses, and eventually would love to shoot wildlife and macro. So right now I'm thinking about the following, and I'd love to hear your comments:

Initial purchase:
M. Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3
M. Zuiko 45mm f/1.8

When I can afford them:
M. Zuiko 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6
Panasonic G. Vario 100-300 f/4.5.6
Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm f/1.4
Kenko DG Extension Tube set

That's a lot of lenses. Part of what causes the long list is that I expect my wife wouldn't be happy with only primes and no zooms, and I wouldn't be happy with only zooms (given their relative darkness and low IQ).

I'd love to try lenses like the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, and the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8. Both happen to be on sale for $200 off if you purchase them with the camera. Part of me wants to "buy ahead"; part of me thinks that's unwise; part of me says hey, I could buy both and resell them as "Like New" for $50 off the usual price and suddenly have close to $300 to put toward one of the new lenses I list above! I can't be the first person to have thought of that...

In any case I have so appreciated your guidance and am eager to see what you think of my proposal.

With gratitude,

John
 

Dawid Loubser

New member
My pleasure, John - and thanks for the compliments!
I just had to throw in a recommendation for the opposite end of the scale :) (both weight- and cost-wise)

All the best with your decisions.
 

Michael Nagel

Active member
John,

Thanks for the compliment. My approach is more on the practical side for starters.

There is one thing you should mind:
With good light (almost) every lens shines, the good lenses also shine with bad light (which does not necessarily mean not enough).

My main hope for beautiful shots is portraiture (I have a toddler who occasions the purchase of this camera). I also need a good all-around set of lenses, and eventually would love to shoot wildlife and macro. So right now I'm thinking about the following, and I'd love to hear your comments:

Initial purchase:
M. Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3
M. Zuiko 45mm f/1.8

When I can afford them:
M. Zuiko 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6
Panasonic G. Vario 100-300 f/4.5.6
Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm f/1.4
Kenko DG Extension Tube set
Your initial purchase is what I started with as well. The 12-50 is a very useful walk-around lens with a surprisingly good macro function and weather-sealed. I used it for hours during rain - no issues.
The 45/1.8 has one of the best price-perfomance ratios you can find.

The 40-150 is not that expensive either and worth it.

I do not have the Pana 100-300. It seems to be a good lens, but I would only consider it if I see that 150mm is not enough.

The 25/1.4 is an excellent lens. I did not put it on my list before because of the price tag.
If you want to look the other way - the Pana 20/1.7 is also a very good lens.

Now the extension tubes. I do not know if you still want them after using the macro function of the kit. If you aim for higher quality, the Olympus 60/2.8 macro is the next logical step in my eyes.

A few pictures with indication of the lens and maybe a few words:

M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ (short end):



M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ (macro):



Lumix® G 14mm / F2.5 ASPH. Lens:



Lumix® G Micro 4/3 LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm/F1.4 ASPH. Lens:



M.Zuiko ED 60mm f2.8 Macro (not the shot you would expect taken with a macro lens):



M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R



Hope you find what you need.

Best regards,
Michael
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Well, I'll give my perspective based on being in the photographic portrait business for some time now. Like the others who have commented here - I use four-thirds and micro 4/3 cameras and lenses for my personal and paying work.

I loved the original 4/3 system and for the past few years, have moved mostly to micro 4/3. I do love my amazing 4/3 lenses and being that I already have an investment in them, continue to use them. But I see no to invest in the expensive adaptor that is required to use them on my micro 4/3 Pen cameras. It is just as cheap to keep a 4/3 body to use them on.

If I were starting fresh with a system as you are, a standard zoom would be good value. The 12-50 is pretty good for that - - - although I have never opted for anything other than the 14-42 kit lenses that came with my bodies - for my style of work. If you want to get serious and have a bit more speed, you would certainly benefit from the 12-40 f2.8.

You have mentioned that you wish to primarily shoot portraits. My view is that I don't necessarily want the sharpest lenses for portrait work and so many lenses may suit that need. The 45 f1.8 would be an excellent lens for sure - and I do love the 90mm equivalent focal length for portrait work. However my present choice in that range (other than my zooms), is a Minolta 50mm f1.7 that I picked up for just about nothing - and I use it by means of an easily available adaptor that cost only a few dollars. If you aren't averse to manual focus (which should be even easier with the viewfinder on the E-M10), older lenses work very well on micro 4/3 cameras.

As Michael has already alluded to - the 40-150 is a very good lens and is dirt cheap really. I would pick it up right after a kit lens as it may be one of the useful ranges for anything from portraits to subjects farther away, and detail shots with a nicely blurred out background.

If you are inclined to a 50mm style look that a 25mm micro 4/3 lens provides - - - yes there is the Panasonic 1.4 - - - but you may wish to look at the new Olympus 25mm f1.8 first. Apparently there is little difference in out of focus background appearance, it is virtually just as fast as the 1.4, it focuses closer, and it just works better on Olympus cameras than the Pano lens does - - - and it's much cheaper:

http://robinwong.blogspot.com/2014/02/olympus-mzuiko-25mm-f18-review-part-1.html

http://robinwong.blogspot.com/2014/02/olympus-mzuiko-25mm-f18-lens-review.html

-----------------


So here is some closeup portrait work created with my old E-PL1 at higher ISO, and the 14-42 kit lens wide open.



This is a street portrait that I took just a few days ago with the original 14-42 kit lens that came with my E-PL1. Shot was taken at 15mm zoom setting : f5 @ 1/60'th second : 200 ISO






These were taken with my E-PL3 at higher ISO on a dreary day, and the 40-150 kit lens






My documentary work over the past 2 years in Nicaragua, has all been taken with primarily the 14-42 and 40-150 kit lenses. I also have the Minolta 50mm f1.8 if I need that. Some day I will likely purchase a fast wider single focal length lens to compliment my zooms.

If your need ends up demanding much more Image Quality for content and usage like Dawid has - - - then down the road you may need lenses of the superb quality that he recommends. I'm just speaking as a people photographer and make use of much more humble lenses in general. My images still enlarge well for the requirements of my clients and demand a high enough price regardless of what was used to capture them. Remember that content and ability trump the best of gear, any day.

Have fun with you new EM-10 - - - looks like it's a little beauty.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
John, Dawid, Bob and Michael,

Amazing that there are images from 3 continents, (Africa, Europe and South America), each shot superbly in so many different circumstances with the Olympus 4/3 and mostly Olympus lenses. It's so impressive. I don't think one can go wrong with any of these choices. George Baumann from Ireland reports that his olympus accompanies him in the shower after a session shooting on a sandy beach.

No question, that Olympus is a great choice. Only thing I'd always suggest, (unless money is no object), to buy a used body and get the best lenses! Lenses are for ever! but your choice in the less expensive model gives you all the function you need and the peace of mind of a warranty!

BTW, what functions does it have that make it an especially suitable choice for your likes? Anyway, at $699, you don't need to rob a bank and have a excellent camera!

Asher
 
Wow, reading your comments is a visual and intellectual feast! I am so glad that Rachel brought me into this community. For someone who previously felt on his own making these decisions, you've made a tremendous difference. Your support means so much more than you could know!

Michael, great shots...I love how the colors pop at St. Bartholoma...and the mountain views help me appreciate the difference between 12mm and 14mm for this system. And I hear you when you say

>With good light (almost) every lens shines, the good lenses also shine with bad light (which does not necessarily mean not enough).

I definitely achieved some great (for me) shots with my superzoom previous camera--a Panasonic PowerShot S5--due mostly to great sunlight. I'd show you some examples except I'm such a newbie I can't figure out how to post photos.

Yes, the 25 mm/1.4 is too pricey for me for now, but it's on my dream list. We'll see how long it stays there--maybe forever!

Robert, I love the examples you lift up. Wish I'd seen your baby portrait a year and a half ago when it would have inspired me to take a similar shot of my son! The street shot has such vibrant energy. The crane operator pic shows such character. The black and white works well in each of these, and I'm curious why you chose that as opposed to sticking with color. The car shot (filtered?) I love too, it's such a great angle that really shows off the car while only revealing a little bit of it!

Your recommendation for the 12-40 1.8 is out of my price range for the forseeable future, but I appreciate your raising the possibility of the Olympus 25mm f1.8 instead of the Panasonic 1.4. I'll look into that seriously.

Asher, Regarding your point about three continents--I was feeling the same way!

As for why the OMD E-M10...Once I narrowed to the Micro 4/3 system, I made a massive spreadsheet, comparing something like 18 or 20 cameras. Although I do most of my shooting through the viewfinder, one of the features that served as a deal-breaker for me was a tilting LCD screen. I really enjoy macro work, and am often shooting moving targets low to the ground, so a screen that tilts up is incredibly helpful to me. While I didn't feel I needed the weather sealing or the 5-point image stabilization of the OMD E-M1, the E-M10 takes much of the best of the E-M1 and puts the same components in a more affordable package. I also wanted a camera I could use as a enthusiast camera, but that other family members could basically use as a bulky point-and-shoot, and the built-in flash and built-in viewfinder (which are less common than I would have thought in this system) were helpful in this regard.

After considering all of your comments and doing some more research and reflection, I decided to change up my approach. I decided, for one thing, to bite the bullet and get a reasonable tele zoom to begin with, and to pay more for the much more highly-reviewed Panny version of the 14-45. So here's my new plan:

Initial purchase:
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 (instead of the M.Zuiko 14-45mm f/3.5-6.3)
M. Zuiko 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6

When I can afford them:
Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm f/1.4
Kenko DG Extension Tube set
M. Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 (maybe)
Panasonic G. Vario 100-300 f/4.5.6 (maybe)

So...I have no macro capacity for now. I already miss it. But the good news is that the camera and the 40-150mm arrived today, and I love both. I took some sample shots on a walk with the family and the IQ is so much higher than what I'm used to, I'm just delighted. Happy to post those casual shots...when I can figure out how to!

I did find some other goodies along the way, that I'll pass along in case you're interested:

Cheers everyone, and I look forward to the ongoing conversation!

John
 
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