“Moving to the smaller, lighter, less expensive Panasonic Lumix Micro Four Thirds cameras has made my photography travel life much more enjoyable. Gone are the days of carrying around 12 pound lenses. Getting the most from the smaller systems I’ve started following what I call the Micro Four Thirds Triad. This first video, of my two-part series, explains the cameras and lenses needed to follow the Micro Four Thirds Triad. Watch this video to find out how you can downsize and still get the most possible out of these smaller cameras that save you cash and physical pain. Part two will be released shortly that explains the last part of the triad which is software. Software that solves most problems we have with the smaller cameras so you can produce images that compete beautifully with the larger full frame systems….”
It is timely that wildlife photographer and Panasonic Lumix Ambassador Daniel J. Cox has released his two video about the Micro Four Thirds triad – cameras, lenses and raw image processing – when Panasonic’s Lumix S-Series 35mm sensor format cameras have been announced and are now showing up in touch-and-try events at camera stores around the world.
There is plenty of life left still in the M43 sensor format for photography and video, and many M43 users will doubtless be resisting the temptation to swap over to the larger 35mm sensor format, also misleadingly known as “full frame” and “full format”, and its consequently larger, heavier and costlier cameras and lenses.
I have yet to experience the pleasure of touching and trying Panasonic’s Lumix S1 and S1R cameras and lenses, and am looking forward to several touch-and-try events in Sydney CBD camera stores next week.
Right now I do have some years of experience using Panasonic’s excellent little M43 camera and lenses, as well as Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro professional-quality lenses, for photography and video, and can attest to the high image quality that can obtained from the M43 sensor format.
When I first tried out M43 cameras and lenses, I was struck at how well-suited they are to documentary photography and photojournalism due to their small size and oftentimes innocuous appearance quite unlike that of the big and heavy DSLR cameras and three-zoom-lens kits of which my former magazine and newspaper colleagues still seem to be fond.
There is nothing wrong with larger cameras, as I amply proved every day during my editorial photography career when I would rely on 4″x5″ sheet film, 120 roll film and 35mm rangefinder cameras far more than I did on the regulation 35mm analog film SLRs of the day.
The Panasonic Lumix S1R with its almost-50 megapixels of resolution, for example, is an intriguing proposition for shooting portraits to be printed extra large for exhibiting in gallery shows.
But meanwhile Daniel J. Cox is sharing some good advice in these videos on how to produce image files large and detailed enough to print up to 24″ x 36″ for exhibition and sale to collectors.
I can attest to the quality and speed of using Mr Cox’s number one raw processing software choice, DxO PhotoLab, as well as the utility value of ON1, Inc.’s ON1 Resize 2018 software which is also available as a component of ON1 Photo Raw.
I note that he lists Phase One’s Capture One Pro as his second choice for raw image processing and image editing, and can attest that it makes a great choice when processing Fujifilm X-Trans image files which are, sadly, not supported by DxO PhotoLab.
I often carry a Panasonic M43 camera alongside a Fujifilm APS-C camera, most often my X-Pro2 along with my Lumix GX8, for their distinctly different ways of seeing and recording the world, and it can be difficult to tell which picture was shot with what camera when processing both in Capture One Pro, especially when applying film simulation styles from any of 1stylespro’s three collections – Portrait Styles, Film Styles or Film Styles Extended.
“Brought to you live from Hamburg: The newest Olympus camera in professional photography! Watch here the playlist of the full show of the OM-D E-M1X release event. This clip summarizes the official Press Release Conference on January 23rd, 2019, with guests from Olympus Tokyo….”
For me, the Micro Four Thirds sensor format occupies the place that 35mm inhabited during the analog era and so it is well-suited to the photographic genres that were dominated by 35mm cameras such as sports, wildlife, photojournalism, some subgenres of documentary and specific approaches to fashion photography.
Other sensor formats occupy places once owned by larger analog formats, for example Fujifilm’s X-Trans APS-C has taken the place of some 120 roll film formats while Fujifilm’s G-Series Bayer sensor-equipped medium format cameras have taken the place of 4″x5″ sheet film and the company’s coming GFX 100 will likely match if not surpass the image quality of 8″x10″ sheet film cameras.
Similar analogies apply to other sensor formats such as 35mm where 20+ megapixels sensors amply match if not surpass the quality once obtained by medium format roll film and circa 50 megapixels sensors are inching on the door of sheet film’s house.
Complaints that MFT camera sensors may not be as sensitive as those of larger formats are silly given the mobility, weather resistance and smaller lenses with stellar performance the smaller format affords.
If you need larger sensor cameras, invest in them and let MFT be what it excels at just as one should allow cameras of other sensor formats and body types to be what they were designed to be.
Pretending otherwise is silly.
I am rather fond of the Micro Four Thirds format as it gave me access to the pro-quality video capabilities I could not afford at the time and its cameras proved to be rather good for documentary stills photography and photojournalism too.
If I were working for newspapers and magazines as I used to, MFT cameras and lenses would constitute my core daily working kit, supplemented by equipment in other sensor formats as projects demanded.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1X would be in contention as would the excellent Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses.
The Micro Four Thirds sensor format is perfectly adequate for those genres and applications.
Olympus OM-D E-M1X with lenses and accessories
Olympus OM-D E-M1X Micro Four Thirds mirrorless digital camera with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens, equivalent in the 35mm sensor format to 80mm to 30mm.
The Olympus Lens Roadmap, February 2019
Olympus has been doing a great job of fleshing out its professional-quality M.Zuiko Pro lens collection but gaps remain in its prime and zoom lens offerings and rumours of new lenses, particularly new fast prime lenses, have appeared over the last couple of years without results.
I am rather fond of the M.Zuiko Pro lens series, with my most-used being the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom, and I have been hoping that Olympus will add more prime lenses.
I chose the 12-40mm f/2.8 over what might have been the more logical choice given I use Panasonic cameras, Panasonic’s Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens, for several reasons:
Manual clutch focus – essential in my opinion for achieving fast, accurate, repeatable focus especially when shooting documentary video.
Longer focal length range – 24mm to 80mm in 35mm sensor equivalents, extending the long end into the realm of ideal focal lengths for portraiture.
Excellent optical performance – all throughout the lens’ focal length range.
Excellent mechanical and optical design and manufacturing.
Olympus’ release of its first three fast M.Zuiko Pro prime lenses was very pleasing, but I have long been hoping for the addition of 10.5mm and 14mm prime lenses, equivalent in 35mm terms to 21mm and 28mm, both of which are essentials for documentary photography and video.
While 10.5mm is available wit in the M.Zuiko Pro 7-14mm f/2.8 zoom, that lens requires the use of large, unwieldy and costly adapters for attaching neutral density filters when shooting video.
A 10.5mm M.Zuiko Pro prime lens is a much better choice and it does not need to be as fast as its M.Zuiko Pro siblings with their f/1.2 maximum aperture.
The same applies to an M.Zuiko Pro 14mm prime lens.
Both lenses would be perfectly fine with maximum apertures of from, say, f/1.8 through to f/2.8, though faster is always appreciated in available darkness.
One of Olympus’ new items in its February 2019 lens roadmap, “Bright Prime Lenses”, is encouraging and it appears to be placed somewhere between 10mm and 60mm.
I would love to see wide aperture prime lenses added in popular focal lengths such as the following, in their M43 and 35mm sensor equivalents:
10.5mm – 21mm
14mm – 28mm
37.5mm – 75mm
52.5mm – 105mm
Two other new items in the lens roadmap have me intrigued, “Wide Zoom Lens” and “Standard Zoom Lens”.
I would like to see Olympus take on Panasonic over the latter’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 fast zoom lens that was announced with scant details back in late 2018.
This lens may well be the one I had been looking for when I first bought into Micro Four Thirds, containing most of the focal lengths I need on a daily basis for documentary stills and video, and something similar coming from Olympus for its M.Zuiko Pro lens collection can only be a good thing.
“Equivalence. It’s the bugbear of anyone who reviews Micro Four Thirds lenses. You are being conned says the incoming mail. Your f/1.4 lens is really an f/2.8. And your so called shallow depth of field is commensurate with f/2.8, too, not f/1.4. It’s an argument I’ve heard so many times and while factually true, is pointless and irrelevant. The only rational response is -so what?…
Put simply, a native Micro Four Thirds lens is just that. A native Micro Four Thirds lens. It isn’t a Full Frame lens. It won’t fit a DSLR and if it did it wouldn’t cover the whole frame. I’ve tried more and more to describe lenses according to their angle of view since that is universal. If you know what angle of view you want, you can choose a lens to get it. Thus, I know that I like as a standard prime a lens with a moderate wide angle, around 54° horizontal. A quick calculation at Points In Focus Photography tells me that for a Micro Four Thirds sensor it would be 17mm, for FF 35mm and for Medium Format 55mm. Easy.”
Former Fleet Street newspaper photographer David Thorpe is in my humble opinion one of the best and most useful writers and reviewers on Micro Four Thirdscameras and lenses though it is a pity that camera and lens makers don’t give him the credit and access to review gear that he deserves.
Mr Thorpe comes from a 35mm and 120 roll-film single lens reflex (SLR) background during the analog era whereas I have always relied on rangefinder and view cameras and prefer digital cameras that give me some semblance of those unique ways of seeing and photographing.
The other big difference between Mr Thorpe and I is that I rely on all my cameras, to varying degrees, when making photographs as well as videos and video is better served by fully manual lenses or at least manual clutch focus lenses such as those made by Fujifilm in APS-C X-Mount format and Olympus in M43.
As a result there are M43 lenses, especially small, light and relatively affordable prime and zoom lenses, that I quite like for stills photography but that are ruled out for serious video production, and more specialized M43 lenses such as those made by Veydra in their Mini Prime range, and those made by Olympus under their M.Zuiko Pro brand.
“… I can understand and agree with every reason put forward for those big, expensive optically superb f/1.2. And yet, in my heart, ever since I bought into Micro Four Thirds I’ve retained my original reasoning. Put an Olympus 17mm f/1.8 on a Panasonic GX9 body and go out street shooting in Soho. Now go out with a 17mm f/1.2 on the front. What can I say? Little and good, big and bad….”
Not quite, insofar as hybrid street shooting goes.
Although I have been tempted by the idea of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 given its focal length is my own perfect all-in-one go-to, in reality this lens is apparently a little too compromised for documentary video production, according to a number of pro video reviewers.
I have yet to lay my hands on one for serious try out and review, but the first thing to consider is the practicality of attaching fixed or variable neutral density filters to its 46mm filter diameter via a step-up ring.
I have standardized on 77mm and 82mm diameter variable and fixed NDs in order to keep down costs, but need to maintain a selection of step-up rings to fit those NDs on a range of lenses.
Experience has taught me to stick to brass step-up rings to avoid binding, preferring brands that knurl the outside of their rings for best grip in challenging conditions but then that narrows brand choice down to Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan, PolarPro and Sensei Pro.
Of those only Heliopan makes rings for smaller filter diameters like 46mm but they don’t step-up to 82mm; for that you will need to attach a 77mm to 82mm step-up ring for which I would automatically choose the one made by Breakthrough Photography.
The same goes for other small M43 lenses some of which may be more suitable for video production such as Panasonic’s Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS with its 37mm filter diameter, the Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II Aspheric Mega OIS with its 46mm filter diameter, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 with its 46mm filter diameter and manual clutch focus, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 with 46mm filter diameter but no manual clutch focus and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8, again with no manual clutch focus but with a 46mm filter diameter.
Some made by Olympus, some by Panasonic. some with manual clutch focus, some without, none with wide filter diameters and all needing one or two step-up rings to get them to the magic 77mm or 82mm filter diameter, the latter of which I have chosen as my new default given better ND filter choice in that size now.
Digital Trends – Olympus M. Zuiko F1.2 Pro lenses prove there’s life left in Micro Four Thirds – “Naturally, these lenses are fantastic for portraiture. The sense of depth they give at f/1.2 is like nothing else we’ve ever seen on the format. In fact, the remark that kept coming to mind was, “This looks like film.” It is probably the first time we’ve ever felt that way about Micro Four Thirds…. Olympus’ goal with the F1.2 Pro series was to craft a specific quality of blur, which the company calls “feathered bokeh.”
Digital Trends – Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 Pro review – “… until now, there hasn’t been a fast, wide-angle prime that really targeted high-end and professional users. The Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 Pro changes that, combining the largest aperture of any wide-angle lens available for the format with exceptional build quality.”
Digital Trends – Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 Pro review – “… [the] Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 Pro, however, is a technically excellent lens that may also just be special enough to inspire you emotionally. It highlights the impressive move that the Micro Four Thirds system has made into the world of professional photography.”
Digital Trends – Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 Pro review – “… the 45mm is perhaps the most exciting entry in the series — everything about it is finely tuned for portrait photography… In fact, it is our favorite portrait-length lens for the MFT system.”
“Sigma just patented two new Micro Four Thirds lenses: 14mm f/1.2 and 35mm f/1.2. Now you will wonder…what has this to do with Panasonic? Because Sigma is known to sell those lens designs to Panasonic. The Leica 12mm f/1.4 for example is designed by Sigma…
That’s why there is a high chance the 14mm and 35mm f/1.2 prime lenses will be released by Panasonic (maybe using Leica brand)….”
Or maybe there is an even higher chance that Sigma is planning on selling these two new f/1.2 prime lens designs to Olympus for its top-tier M.Zuiko Pro lens collection to go with its current 17mm, 25mm and 45mm f/1.2 primes?
Sigma Corporation, like Cosina and several other mostly Japanese companies, is an OEM manufacturer of lenses for other brands and apparently has already sold lens designs to Olympus, such as the 150mm-equivalent M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8, considered to be one of the optically finest Micro Four Thirds lenses available.
Sigma apparently was known for some years as a budget lens maker but its Art range of premium lenses proved that it belongs in the ranks of professional-quality lens makers now.
Sigma’s recently released Ciné prime and zoom lens collection cements the company’s reputation firmly in place as does, on the adapted lens front, the company’s much-lauded Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art, often first choice in combo with Metabones Speed Boosters for M43 video camera users working in available darkness.
Two documentary movie and photography favourites, 28mm and 75mm
My two preferred documentary prime lens focal lengths are 28mm and 75mm in 35mm sensor equivalence and they are my first choice when buying into a new camera system.
That choice is often thwarted, though, by their equivalents’ unavailability as native lenses in some mirrorless camera systems or, in the case of Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R, an ageing lens’ quirky mechanical qualities making it next to useless for a high speed approach necessitated by the nature of my subjects and their circumstances.
28mm equivalent prime lenses by Fujifilm, Leica and Panasonic
Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II Aspheric pancake prime lens, which appears to be missing in action from most if not all retailers now.
Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R
Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 Aspheric prime lens for Leica M-Mount.
Panasonic’s pancake prime, the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II, had vanished from most retailers after I tried a review loaner out and although I made some great photographs with it, its performance was suboptimal for everything I wanted to do with it, not least due to its lack of a focussing ring.
I and many other Fujifilm camera users are still waiting for the company to issue its long-rumoured 18mm update perhaps in the form of a Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron”, especially suitable for documentary photography with the X-Pro2 rangefinder camera, the X-E3 rangefinder-style camera and Fujifilm’s smaller DSLR-style cameras.
75mm equivalent prime lenses by Fujifilm, Leica and Veydra
Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 WR R “Fujicron” prime lens, equivalent to 75mm in the 35mm sensor format.
Leica Apo-Summicron-M 75mm f/2.0 Aspheric prime lens.
Veydra 35mm T2.2 Mini Prime, equivalent to 70mm when used on a Micro Four Thirds camera.
Veydra 50mm T2.2 Mini Prime, equivalent to 75mm when used on a Fujifilm or Sony APS-C camera.
Prime lenses in the 35mm sensor equivalent 75mm focal length are as hard to find in the Micro Four Thirds world as their 28mm equivalent siblings, and that relative rarity is not assisted by Sigma’s patent for a 35mm and not 37.5mm focal length lens.
Even so there are times I miss the 90mm focal length equivalent so have Olympus’ M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro high on my M43 lens wishlist, also due to the manual clutch focus featured in all M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lenses making them invaluable for professional moviemaking and photography work.
Given a choice between a manual focus or manual clutch focus lens and a fly-by-wire autofocus or autofocus/manual lens, I will choose the manual or manual clutch focus lens same as I will choose a pair of fast primes over a zoom lens that includes both focal lengths.
There is no denying, though, that some projects demanding stealth, speed and small camera bag transportation can benefit from carrying just one top-quality zoom lens like the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro or the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro.
Designed by Sigma for Olympus or Panasonic?
It is too early to tell whether the 43 Rumors folks are correct about Sigma’s 14mm and 35mm f/1.2 lens design patents being intended for Panasonic.
I am hoping upon hope that the eventual destination will be Olympus and its M.Zuiko Pro lens collection.
Panasonic seems disinclined to replace its lenses’ linear and non-linear fly-by-wire mechanisms with the far more capable manual clutch focus mechanism used in Olympus’ M.Zuiko primes and zooms, and Fujifilm’s 14mm, 16mm and 23mm wider aperture trio for that matter.
Panasonic insiders have told me they constantly receive requests from professional users for manual clutch focus lenses but the company seems set on its current path if its apparently Sigma-designed 12mm, 15mm, 25mm and 42.5mm wide aperture Leica-branded lenses are any indication.
I wish to see Olympus adding to its M.Zuiko Pro collection with 14mm and 37.5mm focal length lenses as well as 10.5mm and 12mm focal length prime lenses.
Sigma’s 70mm-equivalent 35mm f/1.2 lens is not quite my preferred focal length but at least it fills the gap between the current 25mm and 45mm M.Zuiko Pro lenses.
Now let’s see Olympus fill the other gaps in its M.Zuiko Pro collection.
“… A long list of assets with only one more serious flaw and a record-breaking resolution performance – we don’t doubt that the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45 mm f/1.2 PRO deserves our ‘Editors’ Choice’ badge. Our summary is exceptionally short but there’s really nothing to talk about. It’s another excellent Micro 4/3 lens. …”
As our gallery below indicates, the Micro Four Thirds format is not without some notable choices in fast zoom lenses and faster prime lenses in short to medium telephoto focal lengths suitable for the traditional approach to portrait photography and for closeup and big closeup shots in moviemaking, so the LensTip Editor’s Choice Award for the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45 mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens is noteworthy indeed.
Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95
SLR Magic HyperPrime Cine 50mm T0.95
Veydra 50mm T2.2 Mini Prime, equivalent to 75mm when used on a Fujifilm or Sony APS-C camera.
Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 Power OIS prime lens. Considered a benchmark lens in its focal length but it is priced accordingly.
Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 II Power OIS
Adding either teleconverter will reduce the lens’ effective aperture due to teleconverter’s light loss effect but at the gain of considerable ultra-telephoto optical reach.
The lens’ Power OIS stabilization works effectively alone on cameras such as the GH5S or more effectively again in conjunction with Dual IS 2-capable in-body stabilized cameras like Panasonic’s G9 or GH5, or previous-generation Dual IS as on the GX8.
The Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm’s focal length range with and without either teleconverter are testimony to the relative affordability, size and weight advantages of the Micro Four Thirds sensor format compared to the price, size and weight of its near-equivalents within the 35mm sensor format camera and lens systems.
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS
Panasonic’s expansion of its Leica optics-equipped Leica DG lens range with the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens is a welcome signal that the company is taking seriously M43’s viability as a professional-quality format for stills photography and moviemaking.
Leica lenses possess certain qualities regardless of the cameras for which they are designed, namely rich, warm colour, high sharpness and high micro-contrast.
That makes them particularly suitable for subjects and genres that benefit from the exposition of fine detail and lush colour like sports and wildlife, although Panasonic’s Lumix G own-brand lens series has some fine qualities such as small size, light weight and lower cost.
All lens designs are compromises to some degree, especially when price, size and weight are factors and the Vario-Elmarit lenses have compromised with variable maximum apertures, each having a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at their wide end and f/4.0 throughout most of their focal length range.
Accordingly, they are effectively f/4.0 lenses, adding some limitations, in my experience, to their uses under indoors and poor outdoors available light aka available darkness especially when shooting video.
Alternatively, if Dual IS and Dual IS 2 are not absolutely essential for your work, consider Olympus’ great-for-video repeatable manual clutch focus-equipped M.Zuiko Pro professional lens series with its f/2.8 zoom lens fixed maximum apertures and f/1.2 maximum aperture prime lenses.
As borne out by my experience with Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm, the effects of variable maximum apertures are less limiting in stills photography where faster shutter speeds, higher ISOs and Dual IS and Dual IS 2 come into play.
“Back in 2017 we told you that Olympus is developing and will launch a new 12mm f/1.2 PRO lens. We now found a brand newly published patent describing the lens specs in three slightly different version…”
Right now Olympus’ professional-quality M.Zuiko lineup includes three fast rectilinear prime lenses – 17mm f/1.2, 25mm f/1.2 and 45mm f/1.2 – and it is reassuring to know that the 12mm f/1.2 is on its way possibly to be released in 2018.
All good camera systems, especially if aimed at and used by professionals, need a full and well-spaced set of matched prime and zoom lenses, a fact that Canon, Leica and Nikon worked out decades ago and upon which they built their credibility and success.
Mirrorless cameras other than the Leica M-System such as Olympus and Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm’s APS-C and Sony’s APS-C and 35mm systems, need the same optical advantage in order to approach Canon, Leica and Nikon, and would do well to follow their lead.
Olympus is doing well in that regard but gaps remain in their M.Zuiko Pro prime lens line-up with the most obvious being the 10.5mm, 12mm, 14mm and 37.5mm focal lengths.
I recall that 4/3 Rumors shared news of Olympus 12mm and 14mm fast aperture lens designs back in 2017 and I look forward to the announcement and launch of the 12mm f/1.2 M.Zuiko Pro lens sometime this year.
The 12mm focal length is one of my least preferred focal lengths though, whether for stills or video, and I would much prefer 10.5mm as a super wide-angle lens for deeply immersive documentary photography and moviemaking.
While I am grateful that Olympus released its 17mm f/1.2 and 45mm f/1.2 M.Zuiko primes recently, 14mm and 37.5mm (28mm and 75mm in the 35mm sensor format) is a more effective lens pair for two-camera, two-lens documentary work in stills and moving image production.
Not all Olympus M.Zuiko Pro prime lenses need to have a maximum aperture of f/1.2.
Although some super-fast prime lenses are of real benefit in any professional lens kit, many prime lens focal lengths are perfectly useful even if a little slower, such as f/2.0, so long as they share all the other positive traits of the M.Zuiko lens collection such as manual clutch focus.
Professional stills and video cameras in the M43 format are now roaring ahead with the Olympus Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, DC-GH5S, DC-G9 and DMC-GX8 (soon to be upgraded to the GX9, one hopes), and they deserve a range of equally professional and well-spaced, colour-matched lenses to suit.
“… The lens is incredibly sharp even when shooting wide open. The sharpness is uniform from edge to edge. The bokeh is beautiful and soft, resulting in pleasing and natural looking images. Technical flaws are well controlled with no noticeable distortion, minimal chromatic aberration and good flare control. AF is speedy and reliable. the lens just works and it exceeded my expectations….
… Of the three F1.2 lenses, I am surprised to conclude that this 17mm F1.2 is my personal favourite.”
I have been recommending the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro collection of fast maximum aperture prime and zoom lenses for their many attributes of use to cinematographers – their affordability and low weight and small size compared to their 35mm sensor format equivalents, mechanical durability, weather resistance and high optical quality as well as their small set of filter diameters allowing for a smaller set of step-up rings and neutral density filters.
The recent addition by Panasonic of the ability to allocate lens-related, barrel-mounted L-Fn functionality to M.Zuiko Pro lenses via firmware when used on the GH5 has added yet another reason to seriously consider M.Zuiko Pro lenses for video production.
I hope that Panasonic will add that L-Fn functionality to the G9, GH4 and GX8 as well as other Lumix cameras in a new set of firmware updates.
Size, weight, price and capability are relative traits.
Ming Thein reviewer Robin Wong writes:
A genuine concern, however, is the diminishing benefit of Micro Four Thirds systems having smaller, more portable lenses. These new F1.2 PRO lenses are no smaller or lighter than their DSLR counterparts.
Maybe so, and at USD1,199.00 the three M.Zuiko Pro prime lenses are not a great deal cheaper than their f/1.2 Canon equivalents in the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM and EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lenses, but the GH5 possesses video production traits simply not available on Canon EOS DSLRs.
I have not tried any of the Olympus M.Zuiko f/1.8 lenses to which Mr Wong compares the M.Zuiko Pro primes, but have used and owned some of Panasonic’s excellent and affordable little f/1.7 or slower Lumix G prime lenses which are well-matched to the smaller Lumix cameras for fast, discrete stills photography.
Professional video production is something else, often demanding the use of step-up rings, variable and fixed ND filters of 77m or 82mm filter diameters, follow focus devices and focus gearing slipped over manual clutch focus rings for accurate and repeatable focus.
Earlier today I was travelling down suburban streets emptied by withering 40-degree-plus laser-beam sunlight, with Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens mounted on the GH5 and a couple of other small Lumix G lenses on standby should I spot a likely fellow citizen to commemorate with 10-bit 4:2:2 4K HLG HDR video footage.
“The Panasonic GH5 is a popular new camera, in stock and shipping from most of the usual retailers, but have you thought about what lenses you should get for shooting video? In this post I’ll help you get started…”
I had been in two minds about linking to Erik Naso’s otherwise excellent article when it first appeared earlier in the year due to its minimal inclusion of the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lens range.
“Also worth looking at are the Olympus M. Zuiko models. These are high quality lenses that tend to get ignored. I’m guilty of this myself. They are more expensive but have a heavier pro build quality and are high performance sharp lenses.”
I have been singing the praises of the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro range based on relying on the 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens for several years with my GH4 and GX8, plus tryouts of other lenses in the range, most recently the 45mm f/1.2 Pro and 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro.
Although Mr Naso recommends four non-M.Zuiko Pro lenses besides the 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro – the 17mm f/1.8, 25mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8 and 75mm f/1.8 – only the 17mm lens shares the manual clutch focus standard in the M.Zuiko Pro lens range.
As the folks at Calgary’s The Camera Store point out in their excellent video linked to below, shooting video with focus-by-wire lenses really does suck especially if you need accurate, repeatable manual focus.
The M.Zuiko Pro lenses may cost more than others but their high optical and mechanical design and top quality manufacturing, weather resistance and especially their manual clutch focussing justify the expenditure in my opinion.
Panasonic’s recent firmware update for the GH5 permitting the camera to recognize and attach functions to the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses’ barrel-mounted L-Fn button is further justification for taking these lenses very seriously indeed for professional photography and video production.
Cosyspeed – The OLYMPUS 25/1.2 Street-Review – Thomas Ludwig writes that “The OLY 25/1.2 has a certain magic and I would describe it’s special character in the way it closes the gap between a pronounced three dimensional look and a portrait friendly (lower) level of micro contrast…. I don’t know how the OLYMPUS engineers made it, but they found a way to give it a lot of 3D pop while micro contrast is on a natural level.”
TheCameraStoreTV – Focus By Wire: Why It Sucks (Featuring Possible Solutions!) – “It seems every other TCSTV episode, Jordan Drake is complaining about focus-by-wire lenses. So Jordan and Chris Niccolls decided to explain what focus-by-wire is, and why you probably don’t want it if you’re shooting video.”