Micro 4/3 Lens recommendations, please

bysearching

Regular
Location
Fargo, ND
Real Name
Myra Johnson
I lost my camera and lenses in Africa when we couldn't get back because of the pandemic. A short trip turned into a permanent move. I'm looking to replace the lost camera with an Olympus OMD EM10 Mark II. Most of the cameras I'm looking at come with no lens or the stock 12-42mm lens that I'm not enamored with. What are your recommendations for budget/starter options for the following?

1. Prime lens for everyday shooting indoors and out
2. Zoom - probably outdoor for birds or wildlife
 

bysearching

Regular
Location
Fargo, ND
Real Name
Myra Johnson
My favorite is the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 II. It stays on my PenF 80% of the time.
Thanks! I have been looking at this one or the 25mm as a possibility for the everyday carry lens. I had the 25mm on my camera in Botswana. It always worked well except for wildlife I couldn't get close to.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
In :mu43: land, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to good primes ... But it's quite a personal thing, so YMMV. Still, here's a list with recommendations.
  • Panasonic 15mm f71.7 - a wonderful little lens, superb performer, classic feel (my favourite prime for :mu43:)
  • Olympus 17mm f/1.8 - a 35mm equivalent with nice image quality and fast AF.
  • Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 I or II - great value, solid performance throughout, AF on the slow and noisy side for :mu43: - which means, perfectly adequate most of the time.
  • Olympus 25mm f/1.8 - super-compact "fast fifty" with compelling image quality and fast AF; build quality on the plasticky side ...
  • Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 II - if you need weather-sealing and a notch up in IQ over the Olympus 25mm (my currently most used prime for :mu43:).
  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 - strong performer, a bit big, but worth it if you're into portraiture as well as general shooting; best people lens of the bunch.
There are more, cheaper and more expensive ones, but I've owned all of the ones in the list at some point and liked them all.

Addition after reading your second post: The Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 is a cheap and cheerful 50mm-e - it has slightly more optical issues than its more expensive stablemate and the Olympus 25mm f/1.8, but it's more than good enough for the price. I'd still pick either the Olympus or the 20mm over it ...

As for longer lenses, the tele zoom are usually better than the super zoom variants, but both the Panasonic 14-140mm II and the Olympus 14-150mm II are decent performers. For the purpose you mention (walk around with some birding), I'd personally choose the Olympus 40-150mm R - a very inexpensive lens with good IQ and a great range. If you prefer super-compact, look at the Panasonic 35-100mm f/4-5.6 - that's tiny, and a very good performer; it's a bit short for birding, though.

I used to own the Olympus 14-150mm II and was quite happy with it - until the Panasonic FZ1000 (a dedicated super zoom camera) superseded it for all-purpose shooting.

M.
 

bysearching

Regular
Location
Fargo, ND
Real Name
Myra Johnson
In :mu43: land, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to good primes ... But it's quite a personal thing, so YMMV. Still, here's a list with recommendations.
  • Panasonic 15mm f71.7 - a wonderful little lens, superb performer, classic feel (my favourite prime for :mu43:)
  • Olympus 17mm f/1.8 - a 35mm equivalent with nice image quality and fast AF.
  • Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 I or II - great value, solid performance throughout, AF on the slow and noisy side for :mu43: - which means, perfectly adequate most of the time.
  • Olympus 25mm f/1.8 - super-compact "fast fifty" with compelling image quality and fast AF; build quality on the plasticky side ...
  • Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 II - if you need weather-sealing and a notch up in IQ over the Olympus 25mm (my currently most used prime for :mu43:).
  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 - strong performer, a bit big, but worth it if you're into portraiture as well as general shooting; best people lens of the bunch.
There are more, cheaper and more expensive ones, but I've owned all of the ones in the list at some point and liked them all.

Addition after reading your second post: The Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 is a cheap and cheerful 50mm-e - it has slightly more optical issues than its more expensive stablemate and the Olympus 25mm f/1.8, but it's more than good enough for the price. I'd still pick either the Olympus or the 20mm over it ...

As for longer lenses, the tele zoom are usually better than the super zoom variants, but both the Panasonic 14-140mm II and the Olympus 14-150mm II are decent performers. For the purpose you mention (walk around with some birding), I'd personally choose the Olympus 40-150mm R - a very inexpensive lens with good IQ and a great range. If you prefer super-compact, look at the Panasonic 35-100mm f/4-5.6 - that's tiny, and a very good performer; it's a bit short for birding, though.

I used to own the Olympus 14-150mm II and was quite happy with it - until the Panasonic FZ1000 (a dedicated super zoom camera) superseded it for all-purpose shooting.

M.
You give me a lot to think about. The Panasonic FZ1000 is interesting. It's larger than I was looking at going for a camera, but I like the specs on it. I may put that idea in the pot and stir it around.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
You give me a lot to think about. The Panasonic FZ1000 is interesting. It's larger than I was looking at going for a camera, but I like the specs on it. I may put that idea in the pot and stir it around.
It certainly is a bit big for an everyday carry, but in all fairness, it fits into a small bag (I'm partial to my ONA Bowery) alongside a second small camera and doesn't take up more space than any :mu43: with a tele lens mounted - except of course for the tiny Panasonic 35-100mm f/4-5.6. But you get twice the reach and very decent image quality for what is after all a super zoom lens in a sufficiently sturdy body.

I wouldn't the FZ1000 to be my only camera though - it's definitely on the bulky side, and power zooms aren't my favourite kind of zoom.

Do you still have the body - or are you camera-less at the moment?

M.
 

bysearching

Regular
Location
Fargo, ND
Real Name
Myra Johnson
It certainly is a bit big for an everyday carry, but in all fairness, it fits into a small bag (I'm partial to my ONA Bowery) alongside a second small camera and doesn't take up more space than any :mu43: with a tele lens mounted - except of course for the tiny Panasonic 35-100mm f/4-5.6. But you get twice the reach and very decent image quality for what is after all a super zoom lens in a sufficiently sturdy body.

I wouldn't the FZ1000 to be my only camera though - it's definitely on the bulky side, and power zooms aren't my favourite kind of zoom.

Do you still have the body - or are you camera-less at the moment?

M.
I am camera-less at the moment. For the quick trip we planned (full of teaching and other busyness), we planned to use our phone cameras for quick snaps. So everything got left behind.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
The OM-D E-M10 II is as good a pick as any, to be honest - but I'd not rate it any higher than the FZ1000 overall, even though I truely adore the OM-D line (my current main :mu43: body is an E-M5 III - with a Panasonic GX9 riding shotgun ...). It all depends: Are you considering to build a :mu43: system over time - or do you just want a good all-around camera solution? The FZ1000 certainly qualifies for the latter. And make no mistake: This is a camera that can hold its own against any of the 16MP :mu43: offerings - and the lens is really impressively good, though I'd recommend working with JPEGs at the beginning (distortion is huge - but well corrected in-camera; if you use lens profiles, it's also a non-issue).

On the other hand, an E-M10 II with a 25mm f/1.8 would give you an affordable, compact combo that'd be a joy to shoot (I loved my E-M10 (I) to death ...); you could add an appropriate long lens or zoom; there are many great options available. If versatility plays into it, :mu43: is the way to go.

I'm not sure what I'd do if I were in your position. However, I can't help but think that in this "uprooted" state, a all-in-one, travel-worthy solution appears somewhat more suitable. But maybe this is exactly the wrong way to think about it ... Cameras can help us make more out of a situation, especially a loaded one.

M.
 

bysearching

Regular
Location
Fargo, ND
Real Name
Myra Johnson
The OM-D E-M10 II is as good a pick as any, to be honest - but I'd not rate it any higher than the FZ1000 overall, even though I truely adore the OM-D line (my current main :mu43: body is an E-M5 III - with a Panasonic GX9 riding shotgun ...). It all depends: Are you considering to build a :mu43: system over time - or do you just want a good all-around camera solution? The FZ1000 certainly qualifies for the latter. And make no mistake: This is a camera that can hold its own against any of the 16MP :mu43: offerings - and the lens is really impressively good, though I'd recommend working with JPEGs at the beginning (distortion is huge - but well corrected in-camera; if you use lens profiles, it's also a non-issue).

On the other hand, an E-M10 II with a 25mm f/1.8 would give you an affordable, compact combo that'd be a joy to shoot (I loved my E-M10 (I) to death ...); you could add an appropriate long lens or zoom; there are many great options available. If versatility plays into it, :mu43: is the way to go.

I'm not sure what I'd do if I were in your position. However, I can't help but think that in this "uprooted" state, a all-in-one, travel-worthy solution appears somewhat more suitable. But maybe this is exactly the wrong way to think about it ... Cameras can help us make more out of a situation, especially a loaded one.

M.
I'm looking for a good, all-around camera solution. I was looking at smaller cameras because we travel a lot and I like reducing the bulk. My dad has an E-M5 that I have used a bit while visiting. I like the size of that line. My mom has a Lumix GF5 that feels a little small for my hands, but I could get used to the size. I've had some larger cameras in the past that I liked, but it made travel (particularly airports) a bit of a hassle. Pain keeps me downsizing what I carry with me on a plane or in my bag if I'm on the go all day.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
I'm looking for a good, all-around camera solution. I was looking at smaller cameras because we travel a lot and I like reducing the bulk. My dad has an E-M5 that I have used a bit while visiting. I like the size of that line. My mom has a Lumix GF5 that feels a little small for my hands, but I could get used to the size. I've had some larger cameras in the past that I liked, but it made travel (particularly airports) a bit of a hassle. Pain keeps me downsizing what I carry with me on a plane or in my bag if I'm on the go all day.
How important is an EVF for you?

The OM-D EVFs are better than the those in the current Panasonic GX line - but the way I see it, you'd be best served with a GX80 and the two compact 12-32mm and 35-100mm zooms - you'd end up with superbly small combo with better-than-average IQ for its size and price, certainly on par with what an E-M10 II would offer. If you don't even need an EVF, the GX800 might appeal - but if you find the GF5 small, that camera is even smaller. I think the GX80 brings up the sensible middle ground here; it's also the camera that originally supplanted my E-M10 when it started to act up. To be honest, I somehow liked the GX80 better than my current GX9 in some ways, even though the GX9's files are a bit richer and the camera offers even more than its sibling. The GX80 is an understated, solid camera with great features, its somewhat sub-par EVF being its only downside; even though the size difference is negligible on paper, it certainly feels more compact than the GX9.

Of course, the E-M10 II remains a viable choice - but it won't play ball with the 12-32mm's and 35-100mm's O.I.S.; given the somewhat limited light gathering capabilities of those lenses, Dual I.S. is nice to have. Is it a necessity? Only you can decide. I found it pretty impressive, even though nowadays, I rely on I.B.I.S. only (all bodies mentioned have it built in).

The fast primes will work on both bodies, should you want to add one.

M.
 

bysearching

Regular
Location
Fargo, ND
Real Name
Myra Johnson
How important is an EVF for you?

The OM-D EVFs are better than the those in the current Panasonic GX line - but the way I see it, you'd be best served with a GX80 and the two compact 12-32mm and 35-100mm zooms - you'd end up with superbly small combo with better-than-average IQ for its size and price, certainly on par with what an E-M10 II would offer. If you don't even need an EVF, the GX800 might appeal - but if you find the GF5 small, that camera is even smaller. I think the GX80 brings up the sensible middle ground here; it's also the camera that originally supplanted my E-M10 when it started to act up. To be honest, I somehow liked the GX80 better than my current GX9 in some ways, even though the GX9's files are a bit richer and the camera offers even more than its sibling. The GX80 is an understated, solid camera with great features, its somewhat sub-par EVF being its only downside; even though the size difference is negligible on paper, it certainly feels more compact than the GX9.

Of course, the E-M10 II remains a viable choice - but it won't play ball with the 12-32mm's and 35-100mm's O.I.S.; given the somewhat limited light gathering capabilities of those lenses, Dual I.S. is nice to have. Is it a necessity? Only you can decide. I found it pretty impressive, even though nowadays, I rely on I.B.I.S. only (all bodies mentioned have it built in).

The fast primes will work on both bodies, should you want to add one.

M.
I really want a decent EVF. No EVF was the other thing I didn't like about the GF5. I mostly use the EVF over the LCD. Oh, and I don't find dual I.S. necessary.

Thanks for all your input! You have clarified several things for me.
 

agentlossing

All-Pro
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
The Oly 25mm f1.8 is a perfect pairing with EM10 bodies, I highly recommend it. The 17mm f2.8 is also super fun and cheap, and I always beat the drum of its "filmic" rendering.

On the Panasonic side, the 14mm and 15mm primes are both very nice - the 14mm is the smallest M4/3 pancake! I used the 20mm f1.7, probably my number one favorite M4/3 lens, on the original EM10 and I did notice some banding at moderate and higher ISO levels, there was a technological oddity possibly caused by the focus motor that interfered with some of the older Olympus bodies, I'm not sure whether the EM10ii falls into or outside of that range. It would also be slow to focus, even more so than the 17mm f2.8.
 

agentlossing

All-Pro
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
I really want a decent EVF. No EVF was the other thing I didn't like about the GF5. I mostly use the EVF over the LCD. Oh, and I don't find dual I.S. necessary.

Thanks for all your input! You have clarified several things for me.
The Panasonic G100 is a new camera that's worth looking at. Good EVF, great sensor (for M4/3), but skimps on controls a little. Sometimes on sale for $550 with the 12-32mm.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
My advice is always the same - start with the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 and Olympus 45mm F1.8. Then determine future lens purchases from there. Even after you get a zoom, it’s still good to fall back on those two lenses. Stitching multiple images from the 20 on wider angle scenes renders great results too. This is all based on my experience.
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Location
SW Virginia
Real Name
Steve
The “problem” is that mu43 has some really sweet primes. Oly has the 17, 25, and 45 1.8, and the 75. Panny had a similar set (can you tell what brand I favored?) but also the 15 and, of course, the 20. I really liked the look of the Oly 12 f2 but others kinda trash it. And, of course, everyone’s guilty pleasure, the Lumix 14 2.5. Best of all, most of these are easily under $400. Mu43 had some “problems” as a format but glass wasn’t one of them.
 
Last edited:
Location
Boston Burbs
Real Name
David
Rangefinder or SLR is one question when considering the E-M10.2 vs the GX85 (GX80 and GX7 II in other parts of the world). They are different systems and yes the EVF is better on the Olympus. But they both have advantages.

But you can easily put together a capable small system with either.

Do you want a kit lens or only primes in that range?
How much reach do you want?

E-M10.2
P12-32
O40-150
O25 & O45 f/1.8 on a budget (you could also go for the Sigma 60mm f/2.8, not the fastest, but sharp and cheap for more reach)
PL25 & Sigma 56 f/1.4 if can afford more

GX85
P12-32
P20 & P42.5 f/1.7 on a budget
PL25 & Sigma 56 f/1.4 if you can afford more
P45-175

I go back and forth between the P12-32mm and P14mm They're about the same size and speed at 14mm. The P20 can be a bit slower AF, especially in lower light. But it is wonderfully sharp.

You don't have to match the primes brand for brand, but there are advantages. Lens profiles corrections match a little better for in camera JPegs, you get Dual IS on the P42.5 on the GX85,....
 

donlaw

Hall of Famer
Location
Texas
Real Name
Don
For the purpose you mention (walk around with some birding), I'd personally choose the Olympus 40-150mm R - a very inexpensive lens with good IQ and a great range. If you prefer super-compact, look at the Panasonic 35-100mm f/4-5.6 - that's tiny, and a very good performer; it's a bit short for birding, though.

I used to own the Olympus 14-150mm II and was quite happy with it - until the Panasonic FZ1000 (a dedicated super zoom camera) superseded it for all-purpose shooting.

M.
You can probably tell that many of us have tried lots of the options listed and many are great choices. I would just add that the Olympus 40-150mm R that Matt mentions has proven really useful for me. It is ridiculously inexpensive (I paid $80 for a like new used one). I carry it a lot on bike rides. While it is a little slow, it is super light weight and with the IS on Olympus cameras easily hand held in decent light.
 

Bytesmiths

Rookie
Location
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada
Real Name
Jan Steinman
Zoom - probably outdoor for birds or wildlife
Here's a radical idea.

Birds and wildlife are two separate things.

For wildlife, a zoom would be good. But for birds? Go for reach. Birds are really, really small!

You also wanted small and lightweight.

If you can tolerate manual focus, you might consider the Olympus OM Zuiko 500mm ƒ/8 Reflex. It is one of the best mirror lenses ever made. It is small and light, and capable of filling the frame with even a small bird at a reasonable range.

You'll need an adapter. The cheap Chinese ones work pretty well. But then you might want to get a Viltrox EF-M2 II, and a thin EF -> OM adapter. This is a "speed booster" adapter that will turn it into a 350mm ƒ/5.6.

So now, you've got something small and light, with two focal lengths.

Here's the OM 500/8 on a straight adapter:
whale tail.jpg

And here it is with a focal reducer. This was with the Kipon Baveyes, which I don't recommend because in vignettes a bit.
Ketch A038513.jpg
 

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