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Tuesday, 30 January 2018


I remember reading many years a go a book by John Shaw, in which he recommended a set of prime lenses "one stop" apart in terms of focal length. Example: 24mm, 50mm, 100mm, and so on. One could adjust as required, say 28mm and 85mm.

I have always found his recommendation to be full of good sense, and even today that is how I approach the issue. And every system has such lenses.

I think the best budget setup using your two lens solution would be a Canon 6Dmk2 paired with Canon 40mm pancake and the Canon 85mm f1.8.

There is a potential downside to photographing with only one or two lenses as a learning exercise and getting to know them very, very well over time. Which is that their fields of view can become burned into your mind, like the sear marks on a grilled steak, so that after you return to using other lenses again, you'll never see the other photos you could have taken using a different lens.

I know, because this happened to me after I photographed using an RX1 exclusively for 18 months. And even though that exercise ended a few years ago, to this day, I often have to force myself to stop and consider other possible fields of view when I evaluate a scene instead of taking the first photo that comes to mind.

So, as is the case with many things, what you gain on one side of the equation, you lose on the other side.

My perfect crop duo: Pentax 15/4 and 70/2.4 Limiteds. I could shoot most anything I care about with these two on a KP (which is replacing my K-5IIs), and do.

I think you're right to call this the "classic variant." I still have a Leica M6 which I use with such a setup - a 35mm and a 75mm. I think since autofocus got so good (in the early '90s?) a third lens with longer reach should be part of any setup. This addition would do wonders for a photographer's ability to isolate a subject.

I read Orwell's 'Down and out in Paris and London' after reading '1984', 'Animal Farm' and his Burma essays for high school English. In fact I read everything else as well; 'Keep the Aspidistra Flying', 'The Road to Wigan Pier', and so on. At first I liked them, but I eventually found it so existentially depressing that I needed to stop, but it was too late by then as I had read it all! As a very introverted and inexperienced teenage boy, that was not what I needed, and it led me to a somewhat depressed episode. Now, fifty plus years on, I understand that we need to see both the systemic injustice and corruption at which Orwell was pointing, and at the same time, not to lose sight of the possibility for something better.

And my choice for the classic variant is the Leica M mount Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2.0, and the Leica 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit. Enough for anything!

I know the lens images you're showing are not to scale, but DAMN those full-frame lenses look huge! Someone would have to be paying me some serious money to lug more than one or two of those suckers around with a full-frame DSLR body. If that's what it takes to achieve "optical excellence," or "the perfect two-lens kit," then I will gladly settle for less.

[The Sigmas are big and solid (I've only used the 35mm, but the 85mm is appreciably bigger), but remember that some people like large lenses and cameras. Ansel Adams typically responded, when asked what kind of camera he used, "The biggest one I can carry!"

Also, I think the Sigma 35mm is smaller and lighter than either the Nikon or Canon equivalent...? (I could look it up but I didn't.) --Mike]

My favorite pair in this realm have been the Fuji 16 1.4 and 35 1.4 - a bit wide, yes, but with my kids, especially on vacations and such, I never had much a need for longer lenses.

I still deeply miss my Sigma 35 1.4 on a full-frame Nikon, that lens is magic. Paired with an 85, 105, or 135 it would be a great set, I just could never get my 85 1.4 AF properly calibrated on my D600 to love the combo. And it's biiiiiig.

My other favored 'pair' is an X70 and it's surprisingly good 18mm doing the bulk of the work, with a 90 2.8 elmarit on the XT1 as precision tool. As much as I think that the Fuji 90 is great, me and that 90 go back far too long to let go - I mean, I do this for fun, not money, so it should make me smile, right?

We have four graphic designers and a creative director on staff (and all of them are terrific), so I work with art directors every day. The "Let's see that with a 28mm" made me spit my coffee. *Not one* art director I have ever worked with would know what that means. Maybe that a "28" is vaguely wide angle? Maybe. But I've never ever in 30+ years had an art director ask for a specific focal length during a shoot.

On the two lens kit, the 24-70/2.8 (equivalent) and the 70-200/2.8 seem to be the standard professional zooms, though I prefer the Fuji 16-55 for the extra telephoto reach. Another great combo for the Fuji is the 23/2 and the 50/2 (or maybe the 18/2 for those times when someone asks to "see that with an 18...." :) I use the Fuji f/2 lenses for most of my shooting even for work assignments. Love 'em.

[Paul had various ADs who liked to come to the studio for the shoot even when there were no clients there and no models. One guy liked to suggest moving the lights a bit, so Paul and I would set up the lights the way we wanted them, then move them out of position a little so we could move them back into position when the AD suggested it. Another AD liked to let Paul set up the shot, then peer through the viewfinder, approve what he saw and give the go-ahead to make the exposures. I think that was the guy who sometimes suggested a different lens. A photo hobbyist, of course. We'd always go back to the original choice, because it was best, but he needed to feel useful and we needed to be considerate of that. I seem to remember another guy who wouldn't bother us as long as we had fresh comic books for him to read. He'd sit on the futon couch reading comics, occasionally looking up to ask "How's it going?"

Ah, the good old days! --Mike]

You need to add the Sony 35mm f/2.8 and Sony 85mm f/1.8, also a great two lens combo.

Those two Sony's add up to 17 oz! Full frame lenses and impressive image quality.

The key seems to be to know what you like on the "little wide" and "little long" sides. I find it instructive to dive into your catalogue and check what you actually shoot. If you track these things carefully in a system like Lightroom, it's revealing. Apparently I like the angle of view produced by a 35mm lens on full frame a whole lot, and I also like longer than normal, but not too long. So on my APS-C Fuji X-T2, I would be carrying my Olympus OM 24/2.8 and the Olympus OM 50/2. The latter gives me up close and personal (as a "macro-ish" lens) along with "longer than normal but not too long"!

It's been almost 4 years since I started with this kit. The camera is now more than 6 years old. and, Apparently this is all I need ;-)

Oly E-P5, Oly 17/1.8, Oly 45/1.8, Panny 12-24... at first the 17mm was the most used lens, but now these days the 12-24 is the most used to my surprise. I also have the Panny 20, which is glued to the old GF1, set on B&W, but I hardly use it.

The E-P5 & 12-24 can be had under $500 these days, and I think the IQ of the newer m4/3 cameras have NOT improved much since.


I have always gravitated to the wide end but missed certain distant shot. When I started with film, I used a 28mm (35mm) and a small 80-200 zoom. When I moved toPentax, I used a 24mm and a 45-125 (now there is a lens and I think it was F4). Now,I can travel light with a small wide angle and a small stabilized Tele Zoom. Just my take on the two lens kit.

On MFT, I used the 45/1.8 wide open for portraits. But for general shooting, its place was taken by the combnation of the 20/1.7 and the beautiful 45/2.8 macro. On the Sony A7R2 my combination is the 35/2.8 and the 90/2.8 macro. In any combo, I always need to include one close focusing lens. The older I get, the more I tend to look for interesting sights close by.

Fuji X-Pro2 with Fuji 14/28 and the 35/2 for my "tele".

I'm with you on this one, Mike. For Fuji X-system users, one could riff on your two lens recommendations (which are excellent, both optically, and from a use-scenario point of view): instead of the big. fast primes, get the compact, fast-focusing and weather-resistant XF f/2 primes. The 23 and 50mm f/2s are so compact and light that you could add the 35mm f/2 and have a really sweet, compact, and very versatile 3-lens kit that would still weigh 156 grams less than the fast f/1.X 23 and 56 primes and take up less bulk (aka precious space in the camera bag). Pretty dang cool.

I also agree that you should really get to know your lenses. One of the studies I did was to shoot with my Fuji 35-e 23mm primes on a tripod outdoors, looking at the acutance, sharpness and contrast curves of the of the 23/1.4, 23/2 and the 23/f on the X100F on the same subject. All of these lenses had a different range of apertures where they acheived maximal optical performance and most notably, quite different contrast curves. Bottom line: get to know your lenses! ;-)

For an amateur, I think picking a lens for the qualities you like, and then buying a body for it works fine (noting also that some great lenses are attached by the factory to a body). For digital, I am fond of carrying a Ricoh GR (with its great 28mm-e lens/APS-C sensor combo) and a Panasonic GM5 with the excellent (and light) Panasonic 42.5mm 1:1.7. For film, one of the combinations I like is a Rolleiflex 3.5F and a Fuji GA645 W. The Rolleiflex is a slight wide, not a short tele, but I find that the square format makes me compose much tighter than with the 6 x 4.5 Fuji and its excellent Biogon variant. For black and white, I am also fond of carrying my 55 mm 1:1.8 Super-Takumar (I liked it more than the lanthanide glass 50 mm 1:1.4 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar I tried) mounted on a Spotmatic, and complement it with the aforementioned Fuji GA645 W. The Super-Takumar is so sharp that pictures of the same subject taken with the two lens/camera combinations look natural side-by-side.

In the digital era, there is also the issue of good synergy between the sensor of an ILC and the lenses. This cannot be predicted, or at least I can't. A few years ago I bought a Nikon D7000 at a steep end-of-production discount, and tried out the various Nikkors I had sitting in the cabinet. To my surprise, two optically simple manual focus (Ai) lenses performed spectacularly: the 45 mm P-type pancake and the 105 mm 1:2.5 (the Planar version). Both produce a limpid look (sharpness coupled with smooth focus fall-off) that reminds me of the spectacular 80mm for the Mamiya 7 (my personal benchmark). I have yet to find a wide that I like on the Nikon D7000. So I use the Nikon for portraits, with a short tele (the 45 mm) and a moderately long tele (the 105 mm). Strangley, I've never liked either of these two Nikkors on film.

"Crucial to the concept is that you use the two lenses in the OPPOSITE way from how people usually think of zooms and primes. You use the zoom when you're photographing purposefully, when photographing is absorbing your whole attention and concentration; and you use the little prime as a "do-everything" lens when you're just carrying the camera along with you in order to have it along, as you go about your other business or your daily life. The reason for that is that when you're photographing deliberately, you don't mind extra weight; when you're just carrying a camera along for fun is when you want it to be light and handy."

This whole series of posts hangs on the above idea. I've been trying to determine why it bugs me so much. It shouldn't; it's just another way of working that's different from mine. I think the essence has finally percolated out.

The distinction you draw between serious photography and just carrying a camera for fun doesn't fit me. I find it not only possible, but common, to be going about my business and daily life, notice a subject and be, for a moment or minutes, ". . . photographing purposefully, when photographing is absorbing [my] whole attention and concentration . . .", then go back to what I was doing. (Wife and friends will attest to my disappearances.)

Conversely, I may be fully equiped, two serious cameras around my neck, pouch of filters on my belt and bag of lenses and accessories over my shoulder, and find myself paying little attention to possible subjects for a while.

"Moose says that the Panasonic 12–60mm is just as good as the Oly 12–100mm, down to the bokeh. Since I don't need anything quite that long."

LOL! That is my experience, but would not be happy with that lens by itself. When I'm using it, it's always paired with another body, equipped with the PLeica 100-400. If stuck with only one of those two lenses, I would choose the 12-100, because I ". . . always need something longer."

My casual kit is two Panny lenses, 14-140/3.5-5.6 and 42.5/1.7, and an achromatic C-U lens. The lenses are chosen chosen for their OIS to use with the tiny, IBIS-less GM5. My use is also different, zoom for everything but the dim, prime for the speed. I might prefer a shorter prime, but as it's for low light, I would need OIS, too, and such a thing doesn't (Yet?) exist. And it is perfect for casual portraits.
"But for generalist expressive photography, it's quite possible to own and use only two primes."But for generalist expressive photography, it's quite possible to own and use only two primes.

I started out with primes, first the one I could afford, then usually just two, I was sooo happy when I got my first, extremely limited range, zoom and the 70-210 made me think thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Stuck with two primes of the FLs you suggest might force me to drop photography and find another means of artistic expression.

Just sayin' - we're all different

Mrs. Spratt

When traveling, I've been carrying a Ricoh GR and a Sigma DP3 Merrill because not only do their fields-of-view compliment each other, but they share a common battery. When the Sigma eats a battery every 70-100 exposures, one starts thinking of cameras as interchangeable battery cameras instead of ILCs!

They're also small and unobtrusive, especially the Ricoh, and they don't make you look like a typical photo nerd, and even among photo nerds, only the cognoscenti will appreciate what's in front of them.

The Ricoh also has a wide-angle adapter that gives it a 20mm (in 135 FF terms) FOV, which is useful, and is a very fast and easy camera to operate. Every other camera system could stand to copy at least a few things from the GR: it is by far the most perfect handling camera out there. The instant-set exposure in manual mode alone would make every camera more usable.

Both cameras in broad daylight will give you all of the image quality you can ask for and more.

I can play endlessly at thinking about which lenses cover all situations I'm interested in covering. A one-lens kit is easier than a two lens kit: Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 – the angle of view is important, but the angle of view as well as the aspect ratio pretty much wins this for the 40mm-e lens.

For my own pleasure I round it out to a three lens kit. The Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 and the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 already mentioned a few times above. It's true, it's a beautiful lens and a bargain. But really, for the stuff I shoot purely for myself, the 20mm would do. (I also have an Olympus 40-150mm f/4-5.6 gathering dust that was bought to shoot football – soccer – photos; I am terrible at it, probably only partly because of a lack of interest.)

I like to babble about this solution to my "problem": a large(ish) sensor camera with enough of a resolution and fixed a 35mm-e lens. Include a 4:3 or 5:4 crop mode and I'd just use it in that generally. If I need a wide-angle lens, I'll pop it back into 3:2 mode. Offer a screw-on converter lens that makes it 85mm-e or a little longer and I could have my three lens kit on a fixed lens camera with one converter lens.

Mark me down as another 28mm/55mm kind of guy.

With today's high-resolution cameras, cropping is a viable option in many more situations than it was with 35mm film, IMHO. So now when I think of a prime lens, I consider it to have "secondary" focal lengths up to, say, 50% longer than its true focal length, for practical purposes.

So a 28mm is also a 35mm or a 40mm. And a 55mm is also a 75mm, within limits.

Then, too, shooting and stitching multi-shot panoramas is so easy now, in many (not all) circumstances you can use a lens as if it's wider than it really is.

I often find myself using only 28 mm-e and 35 mm-e lenses. On a trip to Cuba I carried the 28, 35 and 50 mm lenses, but realized afterwards that I might as well have left the 50 at home.
What surprises me is that you as a bokeh expert like the Fuji 56/1.2. I ad it for a while and found the bokeh very busy wide open at short distances. Returned it and got the 56/1.2 APD instead. Some say the differences are subtle, but I find them very obvious and love the APD version.

>>I think the Sigma 35mm is smaller and lighter than either the Nikon or Canon equivalent...?

I looked up the weights: The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 weighs 23.5 oz, the Canon 35mm f/1.4 weighs 20.46 oz., and the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 weighs 21.2 oz. Filter sizes range from 67mm to 72mm. In other words, they are all basically the same size and weight. But that's all beside the point. I agree that just because I personally prefer small and light lenses doesn't mean anyone else should.

I think that if I had to live with 2 primes I could possibly cope with only the Canon TS-E 24mm & 50mm lenses.

I started out with fixed lens fixed focal length cameras and I've tended to use my modern cameras the same, with a prime, but more recently I've come to like compact zooms. They can't match a primes wide aperture for low light and shallow DoF but shallow DoF can be overdone and modern cameras are good at higher ISO's so that can begin to reduce the need for a wide aperture for low light.

So these days my two lens set up is often a compact standard range zoom for versatility and a wide aperture prime for when it's needed.

28-70mm f3.5-5.6 and 35mm f2.8 will do nicely on FF and on MFT 14-42mm or 12-24mm and 17mm f1.8.

I started out, lo these many years ago, with a 50 f/2 and 135 f/3.5 kit for my X-370 (yes, I was a broke kid). I do believe shooting with those two lenses only for a few years shaped my seeing to the present day. And I still like the normal/longish-medium-tele kit. For some reason I spot photos at a distance. I've really tried to use wide angles and done not too badly but I know where home is.

The f2 "Fujicron" lenses punch way above their weight and, value-wise, can put the older, faster sibs on the ropes. Lighter weight, fast, whisper-quiet AF and weather-resistance, too. The 23/2 and 50/2 are killer primes and make an ultra-light street combo for Fuji MILCs.

I would bet a bunch of your older posters experienced the two-lens kit (in a slightly weird version) when they were first getting into photography. My first really good SLR was a Pentax Spotmatic, and I bought it with 35, 50 and 135 lenses, which were sort of a standard kit at the time. You quickly found out that the 135 was not often needed, except (somewhat awkwardly) for portraits. So, you would up shooting a lot with the 35 and the 50, which are too close to together, but that's what most of us had. My next lens was either a 85 or 90 (whatever was available then in reasonably fast Pentax lenses; I forget.) Zooms were usually disregarded as being too slow and wonky in various parameters. In any case, I spent a couple of years with what was functionally a two-lens kit. The 35 was too long, the 50 too short, but that's what I had. The little-used 135 was either too short or two long depending on what you were shooting. A 28/60/105 would have done me perfectly. Probably still would, but you always want that one extra long lens for when bigfoot or a UFO unexpectedly shows up.

Oooh. So, when I'm in an even more pedantic mood than usual, I can claim to be one of the few people still around to have regularly worked with a real prime lens – the 150/265mm Symmar on my Technika). Kewl! (actually, it wasn't very good in its 265mm form, even by 1990s standards of image quality) :-)

I agree with Eamon and use my gear in similar fashion, a 28mm 1.8 (330g) and 58mm 1.4 (385g) on a 24mp DSLR (750g), which by the way is not overly big or heavy all things considered - but no competition for M4/3 systems that is for sure, or an iPhone.

Anyhow, these lenses provide me a range of about 28-40 and 58-85 depending on how big I print, which is usually in the 8x10 to 8x12 range, so no problem. I don't crop a huge amount to be honest, but it's a nice feature.

And if you have a DX camera body, the lenses work as 42mm and 85mm equivalents. That's kind of cool as well, and there are some pretty lightweight DX bodies. I use a D5300 (480g) for this, which is fun, especially shooting at 42mm.

Long story short, two lenses is about right for me regardless of what they are, zoom or prime. More choices than that when out taking pictures will fry my brain. But then again, I'm just a retired guy out having fun happy snapping. The choices of gear these days is astonishingly great.

A mild wide angle and short telephoto combination is my favorite for personal and travel photography. For over 40 years I have used various incarnations of this two lens set. In film days I used a 35-40mm/90mm set with two rangefinder camera bodies, same film, just picking up whichever camera had the lens I wanted for a particular photograph. Still have a 35mm Summicron and 90 mm Tele-Elmarit for the one remaining (and not used all that much) M6. Currently I use a Fuji X100F with it's 23mm and a Fuji X-E3 with a 50mm lens. (if I want to have a "fuller" kit, I add the wide angle (WA) teleconverter for the X100F and the Fuji 35mm lens (giving a 28-35-50-75 equivalent set). All of which fits into a small Domke F-5XB bag (using a homemade back to back lens coupler for the WA converter and the 35mm lens).

I like this idea however I keep gravitating back to the 50mm-e view. This is probably because when I started photography I inherited my dad's old Pentax ME Super and a 50mm lens and it's all I used for a couple of years. Now it's my Pentax 35mm 2.4 attached to my K30 more often than not. The problem is sometimes it's too long, meaning reverting to 21mm, or too short, which leads me to my 50mm.

Perhaps 3 lenses is my perfect number. Or maybe I need a zoom to complement my 35. I thought this topic was supposed to stop me buying lenses, but you're making it worse, Mike!

I've always tended to a three lens kit: a wide, a normal & a short tele.

The best example of this was when I owned a Leica CL with a Canon 28/3.5, Summitar 50/2, & Elmar 90/4. I used the same lenses on a Canon 7 for awhile too before ending up digital with Olympus m4/3.

Now with my E-P3, when I go out of the house, I usually leave my zooms at home and I'll have my P25/1.7 on the camera and my 17/2.8 in one pocket and my manual focus 50/2 Russian Sonnar (Jupiter 8) in the other. I use the normal the most (75%), wide next (20%) and rarely use the Sonnar but when I want it, well, I WANT it either as a longer lens or more usually as a portrait lens (very similar to the classic old 105/2.5 Nikkor-P)

Now, if I had the money to buy something that is, for me, as expensive as getting back into Leica would be, I'd get an Olympus 12-40/2.8 & the Olympus 25/1.8 as my 2 lens kit. But that's not very likely; instead over time, I'll trade the 17/2.8 towards a used 12/2 and trade the E-P3 towards a used E-P5. If one fell into my lap, I'd not say no to a nice autofocus 45/1.8 as I've heard it really is a very sweet lens too but perfect is the enemy of good enough - I'd rather upgrade the wide and the body first.

It may be worth remembering that there was a time when people relied not just on two-lens kits, but two-camera, two-lens kits, or even more cameras and lenses, draped around their necks, ready for action.

Photojournalists in the 1960s using 35mm rangefinders were often kitted out in this fashion.

Here's a picture of the late Jim Marshall and another, of the late Larry Burrows, in their heyday.



I've now got the Panny 14/2.5, their 20/1.7, and the Voigtlander Nokton 17.5/0.95. But that 15/1.5 might well beat the first two (and the third as a general lens; I inherited it rather than buying it, and I use it for super-speed situations). Can't possibly quibble with the Oly 45/1.8, which was about the second lens I got in Micro Four Thirds, and still heavily used.

Mind you, last Saturday when I shot 2300 photos in about two hours, it was all zoom all the way, the 12-40/2.8 and the 40-150/2.8, on two bodies. Things were moving too fast to mess around changing lenses (roller derby bout).

One absolutely has to say that the 35/85 combo bulling has to stop. Right now. You have OP singing songs about 35/85 for more than a decade. Tired of that, you turn to Mssr. Tuck to find him proselytizing the virtues of yet another 50mm prime (though now he is onto 60mm effective FL but he'll be back to a small 50mm effective FL in due course). Where do we, adherents of a 24/85 pair go? We get no sympathy and no love even when we switch to 25/105 (as both are as lovely as 24 and 85).

[I fully approve of 24mm / 85mm, and why not 24mm / 105mm? It would be even more challenging.

I was just looking at 31mm / 100mm for the K-1 (so few lenses for that camera). --Mike]

George Orwell and all that ...

Were it not for my really excellent pair of standard kit lenses(14~42mm)for both my E-Pl5 and GX1 (thanks, Oly and Pana), I'd probably be perfectly happy shooting with the deadly duo of 20mm f1.7 and 45mm f1.8.
And, uhhh ... something out of whack? '"The original meaning—the principle or basic component in a set of convertible element groups—has become a "retronym."' ... Mike, surely you meant "principal"? Looks like it could be a spellcheck glitch or something.

oh lens... lenses. When we talk about these kits, I keep remembering the kit I have when I was using Pentax bodies.
You should write an article about the lenses we should have KEPT ;-)
The lenses I should have KEPT: FA*24, F*300, A*200 macro (oh boy), 43Ltd, 77Ltd... would have made a great kit for K-1 (still have 50/1.2)

"when people relied not just on two-lens kits, but two-camera, two-lens kits, or even more cameras and lenses, draped around their necks, ready for action.

Photojournalists in the 1960s using 35mm rangefinders were often kitted out in this fashion."

I imagine another benefit of 4 cameras is 144 frames of film. If something PJ-ish happens while just out in one, or changing film, there's another camera with a not too different FoV ready to go.

I wonder if at least two of the cameras in these four lens kits might not have been the same FL.

The good folks at Olympus have grokked this concept, and it is here: https://www.amazon.com/Olympus-Travel-M-Zuiko-14-150mm-f4-0-5-6/dp/B01G3T61SQ

Here are my impressions from when I purchased it.

The Travel Lens Pack, which contains the Olympus 14-150mm zoom and the 17mm f/1.8 prime, has had the effect of transforming my opinion of the OMD EM5.

Don’t get me wrong: the OMD EM5 is a fine camera. I picked one up as a factory refurb with the 12-50 internally zooming weatherproof lens with the twin thoughts that I would use it in inclement weather and that it would never suck up an image-ruining dust particle as my FZ200 had. (The camera that I carry most often is the Sony HX400V because of its enormous zoom range and the punchy images that it delivers.) But until recently, I hadn’t used the OMD EM5 all that much.

When my FZ200 picked up a dust particle and so did my LX100 (with these fixed lens cameras, getting rid of the dust particle requires an expensive trip to the camera repair shop), I got rid of them. But now I had no low light camera (the HX400V does many things well, but low light is not one of them), so I began casting about for one.

It seemed reasonable to look for a fast wide angle prime for the OMD EM5, and a 14mm f/2 caught my eye, but at almost the same time, I noticed that I could purchase the Olympus Travel Lens combo for exactly the same price. I decided to give it a try.

The 14-150 zoom has been a revelation, covering 28mm e to 300mm e with a twist of the zoom ring and up to 600mm e if you are willing to kick in the digital zoom. The autofocus seems to be very fast at all focal lengths. The 14-150 is plenty sharp enough for all practical purposes. What’s more, the 14-150 is also weather resistant, which is a plus. I use the 14-150 for covering events, and I am pleased with its performance and versatility.

The 17mm f/1.8, though, has shocked me with how much fun it is. But first there was a glitch. When I first mounted it on the OMD EM5, I couldn’t get it to autofocus. The focus square wouldn’t appear, although the focus ring worked just fine. In desperation (remember: Real Men don’t read manuals), I read the manual. The focus ring, it turns out, slides back and forth on the lens barrel. In one position, it is manual focus only, and – street shooters will love this – a depth of field scaled is exposed so you can zone focus. In the second position, autofocus is enabled and you can still manually focus with the focus ring.

The autofocus seems to be instantaneously quick in virtually all conditions . . . press the shutter button, and the AF is locked on so quick it’s like telepathy. It falters only in very, very dark conditions (an unlit room with moonlight bleeding in through a window), at which point the shooter can provide some help with the focus ring. Bottom line: with the Olympus 17mm f/1.8, if you can see it, you can take a picture of it.

Frankly, I am so pleased with the OMD/Travel Lens combo that if someone were to ask me for an m4/3 recommendation, I would say: “Get an Olympus body and the Travel Lens Kit, and, well, enjoy!”

You can see images from the Oly 14-150 here: https://www.seriouscompacts.com/threads/some-shots-from-todays-assignment.36626/

That is not how my dictionary defines retronym.

I couldn't agree more about the Fuji X pair! These were the first and only lenses I had for the first two years, and I rarely found myself wanting for anything more. I how have a number of other Fuji XF lenses, but they all play second fiddle to my gorgeous 23 and 56!

Two-bodies two primes is a nice solution with built-in redundancy.

My 'classic' preference would be the Fuji 18 f2 and 60mm f2.4. Both are underrated, cheap and have character. Ignoring the pronounced CA on the 18, it has lovely contrast - and CA I can fix.

The 60, despite slow macro focus and modest aperture has amazing sharpness and bokeh, and can be used wide-open with impunity.

There is something cheerfully steam-punk about these original Fuji lenses, with their chattering apertures and clunky AF, but the results can be extremely nice - esp. on the older 16MP sensor.

For anyone on a budget, 2 second-hand XE2s and these two lenses used would probably cost less than a new XE3 and a 23 F2.

I might slip the 27mm pancake in the bag for emergencies though. I am coming like like that focal length. I loved my old Pentax 43 mm LTD.

I have sadly left Pentax after 40 years and sold my 77 ....but surely if you went with the K1 it would be

31/77 ....only Pentax does Magic with numbers.

For me its the
45/1.8 and the 17/1.7

People can be rude about the later but its a great FL. I love the colours it brings and the 20 Panny whilst great is just too slow to focus.

My EM5 is loosing out to the G80. Easy to single hand hold

I recall adventuring through the Andes as a young man with an FM, a 35mm F2 and a 105mm F2.5 and not once wishing I had something else. Kodachrome 64 and Tri-X.

Looking back on this I think it was just how I saw things.

In my newspaper career as a reporter -- we had to shoot too -- I kept a 105/2.5 on the camera and a capped 28/2.8 for interiors in my pocket when I was traveling light. The combination served well in most situations.

When I shoot dance in a studio (ie. rehearsal studio not photo studio), the 24/85 combo is very useful, and it's even useful in a theater if you have access to the wings or if you can get close to the stage. It gives a very different look than the usual 200mm/long tele stuff most theater photographers like to use, and you can shoot at f/2 with decent quality for not that much money.

I cheat a little bit these days, and use a 24mm on a full-frame camera, and the Sigma 50-100/1.8 on a DX camera. The 50-100 acts like a very flexible 135mm that gives me an 85mm option too.

I thought to start out with a three lens Canon kit for my APS-C Canons -- 28/1.8, the 'nifty' 50/1.8, and the 85/1.8. All very sharp, very light, and all-around fast (enough) lenses.

I still carry these around in my travel case, but seldom actually put them in my field bag, rather depending these days on three zooms - 10-22, 17-85 (now retired since it was dropped, repaired, and has now gone a little soft when zoomed out long) now 18-135, and (admittedly pretty heavy so little used) 100-400, which replaced a more compact 100-300 DO lens that I eventually grew unhappy with because it was soft on the long end (over 200).

Oh, and I did succumb to the 'must have macro' GAS, and added a 90 macro, which I've used maybe twice.

I've thought often how I'd like to go Oly MFT and use the two-zoom-lens PRO kit, the 12-40/2.8 and 40-150/2.8. I just haven't been able to justify ditching all my Canon glass (and bodies) to change over, so I still schlep my heavy kit around for my favorite subject, fine art landscape.

In my film days, I had two lenses in my bag, a 28mm Elmarit and a 50mm Summicron. Always dreamed about a 75mm Summicron but couldn't afford it. Now I use an X-PRO 2 and although I have a 14mm and a 35mm I will only take my 18-55 zoom to my two week vacation to Mexico. Not a big fan of carrying extra weight.

When shooting my E-M1 I often go out of the house with only two lenses, the Oly 25mm and 45mm f/1.8. Usually, I am quite satisfied and did not wish for anything more.

Yes, OK, I have a 23mm f/2 and a 50mm f/2 for my X-T2, so I'm a believer. But I'm also very nervous because of the risk of getting dirt on the sensor every time I change lenses. So that's a serious disadvantage of two primes over a zoom. And I don't want to carry two bodies, as that negates the advantage of small, light lenses.

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