What's a good next micro 4/3 Lens?
August 2, 2014 2:48 PM   Subscribe

I have a Panasonic/Lumix GX1 body with only one lens - the 20 mm 1.7. That lens has been ok but, truth be told, I haven't been blown away by the quality of pictures I am getting. What lens would you recommend I buy?

I'd like to get a new and high quality lens. I'm mainly interested in taking pictures of my kids, vacations, etc. I have a Cannon APC-S DSLR setup and my best lens there by far is a Cannon 50mm 1.4. I feel like a monkey could take really nice pictures with that lens - I'd like to get something of similar quality for the 4/3, that has a "wow" factor.

So the main choices on the high-end seem to be the Lumix/Leica 40.5mm 1.2 Nocticron, the two Summilux lenses (15 or 25mm), or perhaps the new Lumix G 12mm-35mm 2.8. I'm less interested in zooms versus primes and I'm not really interested in long zooms.

The Nocticron wins for sheer sexiness and the very fast speed, which would be cool. I love low-light/no flash pictures with heavy bokeh. I'm a little worried that the effective length of 80mm (or whatever) is going to be too tight and limiting for things like trying to shoot kids together. It's also crazy expensive, but I could get over that if the lens is truly amazing as people say it is. I am a little worried that I would also just be replicating the great 50mm 1.4 that I have on my Cannon (which, I think with the crop factor on my APC-S sensor would come out also to 80mm or close). The Nocticron is so big that I'm not sure my 4/3 setup would be that much smaller than my DSL!

So then there are the two Summilux lenses, but what I am getting there versus the 20mm pancake I already have? Slightly nicer quality? Hard to tell from the reviews.

That leaves the 12-35, which I'm worried is a jack of all trades/master of none/and the 2.8 is too slow for the interior/no-flash stuff I like to do.

Anyway - I would love your shoot-from-the-hip advice on what my next lens should be. Price not a big factor if the lens is awesome. I do have the Panasonic body, so that's a slight issue if you are going to recommend an Oly lens, because the Panasonic does not have image stabilization in the body. Thanks
posted by Mid to Technology (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been really, really impressed with a knock off speedbooster(which is about $100, i have this one which is apparently unobtanium in the US now? there's also the lens turbo, and others) and an old manual film SLR lens.

I got the nikon one and put on the ancient 50mm 1.4 "auto", which gives you effectively f1.0 and the correct 50mm field of view.

Bear in mind i have an APS-C NEX camera, but all the tests i've seen of these for m43 said the same thing as the NEX ones. No loss of contrast/sharpness/etc and it just looks fucking great.

Don't bother with the overpriced brand name speed boosters. People have tried really really nice lenses(L, etc) on these cheap ones and couldn't find any loss of quality.

I've taken some seriously gorgeous photos with this combo, and love everything about it. I especially love that it was under $200. Compared to the similarly meh sony 20mm, the general quality i get out of it is right up there with the best lenses i've used.

I really think nearly all mirrorless lenses are really overpriced, compared to their SLR equivalents. Thusfar i've only bought a 20, and will probably just get more nikon lenses cheap if i decide i want more than a 20 and a 50.
posted by emptythought at 3:45 PM on August 2, 2014

I'm a little worried that the effective length of 80mm (or whatever) is going to be too tight and limiting for things like trying to shoot kids together.

You are right to be concerned. I have the Olympus 45mm, and it's a lovely lens with brilliant sharpness and rendering - but it's essentially 90mm, and function almost exclusive as a solo, upper body only, portrait lens. Two people at most. Additionally, if kids are your concern, razor thin DOF is typically extremely painful as you can never get the little bastards in focus, or at least the right parts of them.

I do most shooting at f4 these days for this reason. My Oly FL-300 has been the best bang-for-buck buy for me so far (as ttl flashes always are, if you take a lot of indoor photos and can bounce em, in my opinion).
posted by smoke at 5:42 PM on August 2, 2014

Opinions will differ of course, but I think going with a MB Speedbooster is preferable to chancing it with a knockoff (see the recent Fotodiox SB knockoff debacle), although some have better reputations than others (f.ex. RJ Lens Turbo). The obvious drawback is the price. That said, once you have the SB, you can try any lenses you may have (buy the SB of the correct mount for your lens collection, of course). There is for example the very excellent Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 in a variety of mounts, which when paired with a SB gives you the FF equivalent of 24-50 at a f/1.2, which is blazingly fast and an extremely useful range. Personally, I'd get both a passive adapter and a SB - that way you can extend the focal range significantly just by changing the adapter.
posted by VikingSword at 6:46 PM on August 2, 2014

Update: I purchased the Olympus 45mm 1.8 lens and it has been fantastic. It is amazingly small and portable for what it does - which is very high quality/high bokeh portrait-type shots. It is a great companion to the 20mm pancake lens for micro 4/3.
posted by Mid at 10:29 AM on August 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

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