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Tuesday, 12 June 2012


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Perhaps Lens Rental is the answer, or more realistically, plan ahead - then choose lens rental for a day/weekend?

Renting when needed (not sure about 4/3 lenses on renting)? Maybe borrowing from a friend....?

You can't purchase photographic equipment for worst case scenario. Unles you're very well off....

I think you are the only one who is going to worry that the lens was too short.

Your son and his girlfriend will probably just look at it for the shot that it was - a nice shot showing the scene and the occasion.

Soon, I intend to go out shooting birds... in the nicest possible way; with a camera. I don't have a really long lens, so I intend to rent one for the weekend. A Canon 100-400mm f2.8L will set me back $60 for the weekend. At that price I can do a few decades of once-a-year shooting for the price of a new lens!

Sounds to me like you ought to bookmark lensrentals.com.

Why not the 75mm f1.8 that is about to come out, you may want to even use it eventually :-).

Oh yes :-) I'm a wide angle guy, too. In the last three years, I have only used something longer than 85 mm (on DX) for shooting the kids tobogganing - and that would be max twice per winter. I can even use my "slow" 70-210 for that, since there's lots of light. But I still hang on to my "serious" 80-200/2.8 Nikkor although I honestly cannot remember the last time that I used it... The anxiety of not being photographically "armed" for any eventuality, i guess...

I'm with you, Mike. Once in a blue moon. But I did "solve" my problem a few years ago when I was using Oly gear(standard)---their great for the price little, cheap 70-300. Not fast, but plenty good for this sort of stuff. When you need it, well, you need it.

When I moved over to Sony A850 I got the similarly good new Tamron 70-300. Glad I had it! Because the "pro" photography at my daughter's recent college graduation was so bad it was unbelievable. I don't do this kind of thing as a rule, so you know if my shots are better (and they are, substantially, even from a really poor shooting position), the "pro's" truly stank. Now I'll be hunting for something for my NEX 7 as well(because the whole bulky adapter thing doesn't appeal much...).

Isn't this situation exactly what legacy lens adapters are for? My longest m4/3 lens is also the 45mm, but when I really need something longer I can press various old lenses into service. In particular, I've had a very good results from the OM Zuiko 100mm/f2.8 on my E-P1 (like this). It's obviously not perfect, but it's more than good enough for occasional use and is much less expensive than any comparable native m4/3 lens.

My only camera is a digital compact (Canon S95, FWIW), so being "caught short" is part of the game. There are other non-technical restrictions as well: for example a "no photography" rule.

I've missed out on one too many shots over the last few years, so now I have a new approach. I assess the situation early in the piece, decide on the key shots I really want then just go for it.

For the graduation photo situation above, I would sneak up to the front, take a few test shots to check for lighting etc then at the critical moment -- step forward, take the shot and retreat. People can grumble but who cares? People grumble all the time (some people grumble when a P&S camera doesn't have an EVF, for example ;).

It's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission.

Ha! Not only do I do the same kind of thing but my own problem is with telephotos, too — I keep thinking I'll need them, I get drawn by the idea of them but really, it's a twice-a-year need, if that. I shoot a normal focal length more than 90% of the time; the rest is wide angle or a short telephoto 75mm-e.

I do have a slow but acceptable Nikkor 28-200mm that's rarely in the bag or on the camera. Even then, knowing all the above, the feeling of being one lens short never quite goes away.

Rent, borrow ... or go olde-worlde and buy a Pentacon or Vivitar 135mm plus adapter to m4/3rds off eB*y. Cheapness that matches the infrequency of use, with disproportionately good image-quality.

Now, what *I've* found lacking of late is a lens with a long zoom range, like the 14-140mm monster zoom. That's twice in as many weeks I've wondered what lens I'll need and fallen foul of the break between 14-42 versus 45-200mm.

I think the least easiest way to solve the problem is to get an inexpensive Canon fd 85mm manual focus lens, and a third party canon FD to m4/3 adapter.

Just crop it. Whether your camera is a 12MP or a 16MP model, you'll still have plenty of pixels left to play with. Once upon a time professionals were quite happy with the 5MP Olympus E-1.

That's what I do in such situations anyway. For instance, at 2x magnification, my Panasonic G3 with the 14-45mm lens gives me 8MP and 180mm equivalent at the long end. Not good enough for exhibiting in a New York art gallery at 20x30, I agree, but quite sufficient to save the day.

The previous generation "non-X" Panasonic 45-200mm is a very fine lens, and probably available at a reasonable discount to its video-friendly younger cousin. I also rarely need or desire a telephoto, but in certain situations this lens has beaten off decent competition to become the most oft-mounted lens on my EP-2. Yes it probably weighs as much as five MFT primes put together, but it's worth its spot in the camera bag. That 100-300 might sound oh-so-exotic and tempting, but I think you'd find a 200mm-e shortest focal length rather cramping.

Give me a break, Mike, you think you're the only person that goes through this? This sounds like an absolutely typical experience for people who know photography well enough to know what tool to use for what. And we have to go through the same process of "will I use it often enough" and "is it really the right one" and "I really shouldn't spend the money" ad infinitum. Don't stress over it, it's just normal. And sometimes you make the buy, whether it's a good idea or not, and sometimes we don't buy, and maybe should have anyway. But you move on. But sometimes I do think life would be less painful if we had more money than sense. Then we'd just buy and not fret over it. I don't have that luxury, and neither do you. But you can be kind to yourself about it. You may never "learn" but that's OK. It's the price of passion for an avocation.

I can do better! I bought a medium tele because I would need it for portraits and those special occasions such as you mention. Normaly I would use it a dozen times a year or more, Right? Wrong! As I keep leaving it behind some 75% of the time. Either at home or in the car.

Considering the m4/3 crop factor, could you buy an inexpensive adapter and cheap legacy teleprime to answer the rare tele usage need? you could also use other legacy lenses so the adapter could do something besides sitting on the shelf.

I have a nikon 14 - 24mm that I needed for some architectural work that has since dried up. Lovely lens but one which has not paid for itself. At least, not yet...

A $15 adapter from Shēnzhèn and a legacy 135mm and you would have been golden :)

Anyways, I like the picture better this way. If you had the lens you wanted you would have ended up with a so-so portrait under odd light (that you could have taken in the backyard to better effect). But this is sweet: the light hits her in a chiaroscuro way. The overarching heater blowers puts you in a place (this IS Wisconsin, after all). Even the use of the library book cart to hold the diplomas attest to the frugal quirkiness of the school.

I think you would have missed this if you had the "right" lens.

I'm sure that you have other camera systems, or the remnants thereof, so perhaps one of the many adapters (and the 4/3 crop factor) would be a good solution for those rare occasions when you expect to need a longer lens?? I am using a couple of medium-format lenses on a K5 in this way and it works rather nicely :o)

I do like to shoot pictures of birds on occasions so I do have lenses that reach out as far as 400mm (equivalent to 640mm on my APS-C Canon bodies) along with a couple of extenders for even more reach. But these lenses don't get used much anymore. These days I use 4/3 and micro 4/3 as well as a couple of compact cameras. Back when I had my Leicas, I discovered I hardly ever used anything longer than the 50mm.

My advice concerning getting a brand new micro 4/3 telephoto: don't. One of the great points of the micro 4/3 format is the ability to use older manual focus lenses. Lots of adapters are available at low prices that can put just about any older lens on a micro 4/3 body. There were some nice manual focus 50-55mm normal lenses made that can provide outstanding results as 100-110mm lenses on micro 4/3 bodies. And they don't cost much these day. And you don't have to be limited to just the normal lenses--there are some excellent lenses in the 85mm-200mm range that can be even better bargains.

I sold all my Leica equipment a while back but I kept an old Leitz Hektor 13.5cm f/4.5 lens. I bought that lens at a garage sale for $35. The focus ring turns forever, the aperture ring rotates with focusing and the thing looks like it was run over by a Freightliner wearing snow chains. But the pictures are sharp and with a little digital manipulation, contrast can be improved considerably. Add a $20 adapter ring and it makes for a bargain 270mm f/4.5 lens that only gets rare use.

Mike, why don't you go the smart way.....by an micro 4/3 to Nikon converter.....by an old 80-200 4.5 lens and presto you own a mannually focussed 160-400 4.5, that sets you back about 200 bucks.....now you know how to focus I guess....go for 1600 iso on the OM-D and shoot to your hearts content..(btw a 2.5 Nikon 105 is even sharper)....and best thing, you can use all old Nikon glass on that...(or Canon, or Leica, or Olympus OM).

Greetings, Ed

What you should get, IMHO, is the very cheapest telezoom you can find. For my Pentax, that's the Tamron 70-300 without stabilizer, for around 100 €. That's so cheap it doesn't hurt, and it's good enough, because apparently making teles is easy. Sure, it's not great for available light, but you can get amazingly short DOF of you need it even at f/6.3.

In the non-Micro 4/3s world, you can pick up the 40-150/f4 for a song. It's about the size of and weighs less than my old K-mount 100mm/f2.8. The older 40-150/f3.5 is even cheaper but a little bigger. Add to that a second-hand E-510 for just a little more than a song, and for probably less than $350-$400 total, you'd have your annual telephoto combo.


I gave in to that indulgence a long time ago.

Which is why my camera bag has nine lenses in it.

I can, of course, make do with far fewer.

There's considerable overlap that would allow me to ditch half of them in theory.

But there's a wonderful shift in thinking when using a different focal length (or range of lengths), so the wide-angle sits there alongside the super-wide-angle and the superzoom and the normal zoom. There's considerable overlap in the ~24-40mm range, and again when you hit ~100mm. But it's less about the number of ways to cover it and more about the number of ways to *think* about it.

Oh, and some of them do macro or near macro - than can be useful.

And what about those times when I *want* to use a fisheye lens to get the message right? Can't leave the house without that!

So as many as possible go into the bag, which I then lug nearly everywhere with me. One day, I will make a physiotherapist rich - by selling the lenses to pay for my back treatment.

Yes, I know I'm a lost cause.

But I'm a *happy* lost cause.

(Mostly lost in thought about which lens to use, mind you...)

If you're ok with manual focus lenses, there are some great and cheap used lenses on ebay. You'll need an adapter of course, but those can be had for cheap too. I'm really happy with a Minolta 135mm 3.5 I picked up for a song. Plenty of good 70-210mm's too.

It's micro-4/3. Spend fifteen bucks on an old manual 135 or 200, five on an adaptor, and be done with it. Worthwhile even at once per year.


It took me a while to get that, this being a loosely photography related blog and me thinking of f8 and how that was relevant in the sentence, and deciding it was not. That's the thing with "txtspk", it actually takes more time to work out the meaning than proper words.

Harrumph. I must be getting old.

I wholeheartedly endorse the LensRentals suggestion. Great concept executed by some wonderful folks. Two thumbs up. More if I had more hands.

I was shooting the christening of a friends child and foresaw the kind of problem you faced. I came armed with a 85mm F/1.8and had got myself in a good position and felt quite pleased with myself

Before the ceremony began the priest announced to the congregation that he would not allow flash photography. All eyes were on me when I stood up and told him that I wouldn't need any flash. He looked at me and said, Well ok then, but you would better over this side.

I have no idea why I moved from my good position to the lousy one he pointed me to.
It soon dawned on me that I was now too close and I cursed myself for opening my trap and leaving my 35mm at home. I might has well have stood up and said I'm Spartacus, for the good it did me. Seven years on and I've only shared one picture with the parents!

On this side of the pond it's " Closing the Stable door"

You can't move once the service has started, is one worth remembering

There is quite a nice collection of Cheap, Fast Long, Olympus OM used lenses on eBay along with a Olympus MF-2 OM adapter, you have plenty of options. I have a 50mm F/1.8, a 135mm 2.8, and a 75-150mm F/4 all Zuiko Quality lenses. Under $160 for ALL 3 ! It is an economical way to scratch the itch for a little longer glass and get it out of your (obsessed Urge!) All work wonderful on my EP-3 and OM-D. If you hate them, you can always resell them and usually get at least your purchase price back!

Funny a little while ago you wrote an article advising 'buy just a D700, a 35, and an 85' - cool, calm, rationalised, minimal. And it transpires you're as much a turgid mess of 'I [might] need that!!' as the best of us...
I have an awesome Nikkor 105/1.8 - that I love, and I've needed twice. Twice. But I needed it when I bought it - of course I did... same as the nine M42 50s that I obviously need. I want to stop thinking about it now - thinking through the bags is painful from this perspective.

I sympathize. When I ordered my Nex-7 there was a special deal on - get a 2nd lens and get $100 off. So I ordered the 55-210 zoom figuring it would give me a little versatility if I ever needed to shoot long. In 3 months of almost daily shooting with the camera I think I've used that lens 3, maybe 4, times. But boy was I glad to have it on Sunday at my daughter's dance recital. It was perfect and for once I felt vindicated in a (superfluous) equipment purchase.

Buying to meet a past and highly occasional need is what has produced such a strong, largely recession-proof camera industry and secondary market. Can you imagine if every guy always had exactly the camera and lens he needed for imagined past optimal performance? It would be a disaster!

That's why they rent equipment Mike. :-)

If you get an Olympus E-M5 you should consider an old manual focus Canon or other brand 135mm f2.8 or even 200mm f2.8 for $50 to $100 from KEH or Ebay. It will work great wide open with IS on the E-M5 and ISO 1600 to 3200 will be quite useable. Heck, even a 200mm f4.0 lens would probably work fine. I was shooting with my 500mm f8.0 mirror lens hand held by table lamp light last night using my E-M5 at ISO 3200. Half of my 1/30 second exposures came out fine.

As they say in the legal profession, "Hard cases make bad law."

How much of a crop could you make of the shot you took and have it still look good in a 4X6 print?

Had a similar situation in May for my nephew's graduation. Rented a 200mm Pentax from Borrowlenses.com. They're a California outfit but they have a pick-up location in Washington state that was convenient for me. Had the lens for a week and it cost about $65. It was worth it, and had the added advantage of trying out a lens I might buy. Or not.

Small print, big crop, everybody happy.

Gotta disagree here.
I think this is one of those situations where the gear you have predetermines what you see and shoot. If you're always using short lenses, then short lens subjects and situations become all you can see.
It's a photo education cliche, but even our esteemed editor might find it illuminating to walk around with nothing but a longish lens for, say, a week or two. Next thing you know, you start seeing in 200 mm equivalent terms, and you start seeing all kinds of great subjects for a long lens.
Pick up on Canisteo road

I could only wish that I limited myself to agonizing over what the perfect lens would have been for the situation that I was just photographing. I seem to spend much of my time imagining future events and trying to decide what lenses or cameras I need to have to be ready for them - and I suspect that I'm not alone. The biggest challenges have been over upcoming travel, where trying to optimize for image quality, range of subjects, and equipment size pose their greatest challenges. I have to confess that I've frequently just fallen back to my S95 to keep it simple - but that doesn't stop the constant fretting over the options. Maybe I just need to take up meditation.

Consider cropping twice a year; that Photoshop 'lens' should work reasonably well.

With a $25.00 adaptor, you could use one of your SLR lens on the Micro 4/3 camera.


I see that there are a number of adapters available on the market... Do you happen to have an older telephoto or SLR zoom that would work with one? That way, you wouldn't have to invest in new glass, and the adapter would actually add flexibility to your "kit".


Your write up makes me feel so normal... or is it "look less crazy".

I can make a long list of unused equipment, sitting in my condo, collecting dust, laughing at me every day.

PS: I love the "closing the barn door" analogy

See, there is your problem. I knew my wife's college graduation was coming up, so I convinced here I needed the Sigma 150-500 for my rebel *before* the graduation.

It worked pretty good for the graduation, but I have also used it for air shows, the eclipse and transit that just came by and plan on using it on our recent trip to Yellowstone.

When you *have* a telephoto, you will probably find times to use it.

As others have said, rent. I spent $43 to use the nikor 70-210 f2.8 vr2 for the weekend I needed it.

Man, it was wonderful to shoot. And a great fit for what I was doing.

But I don't have $2500 to drop on a lens, and probably won't for the foreseeable future.

That said, If I had one, I'd find uses for it. ;-)


Another proponent of renting lenses here!

I'm lucky, I work less than a mile away from where rentglass.com is located. I've helped shoot a couple of weddings and being able to drop in a pick up a 17-55 for $50 for a week has been great. Its nice to have access to such lenses on the rare occasion I need it because I could never justify owning them.

Unfortunately they don't have any m43 glass for my newly acquired G3 and I don't think I'm a regular enough customer to sway them to add some to their stock :)



Similarly I have a collection of shots of deer that I took in a park. Right after getting home and culling all the bad shots I started looking on line for better tele-zooms for my camera. I settled on the 100-300/4 Sigma, which costs about a $1000 in Minolta mount. So I decided "Man I'm going to save up money and buy this lens and go out shooting wildlife, blah blah blah..."

That was 6 years ago and I haven't gotten the lens yet, nor have I missed it in all that time.

For many years I was intent on (obsessed with?) being able to capture everything that came my way. That of course, meant a lot of gear.

Now I'll settle for being able to handle maybe 75 percent very well so my current obsession is eliminating as much duplication as I can stand. But it's hard!


I've got a long tele zoom at home, similar (identical?) to the one you want that I picked up in a GASsy moment some time last year.

I'll be happy to loan it to you next time you think you might need it, since I can't even remember exactly which model it is. Oh wait... Yep. That's the one I bought from Amazon. Nice of them to remember that for me.

Sounds like you needed more MP and then cropping. Too bad you don't own a 24MP cam.... oh wait, you do. So you just took the wrong camera with you then....

Mike, the great thing about M43, is the abundance of inexpensive adapters for just about every camera made. With the 2X crop factor, you can turn a 35mm film lens into a fairly good telephoto. With my OM adapter, I use quite a few of my OM lenses on the E-M5, quite with great results. Also Leica.

For once-in-a-while use you could probably get a nice crop from that file, and since you are likely not going to be making a big print from it you would be ok. Otherwise, you could always just buy the shot from the guy standing on the stage. :)

I got my feet wet in the m4/3 world with a very cheap refurb'ed E-PL1 a few months ago. It came with the 14-42 kit lens, so I started looking around for some additional glass. I have a 35 year old Pentax 50mm f/1.4 that has been sitting around for a long time, so I bought an adapter for $20 and was very impressed. Just for grins and giggles I picked up a used Vivitar 70-210 f/3.5 (Canon FD mount) for $40 from B&H and spent another $20 for another adapter. Very impressive. I now have a very fast 140-420mm equivalent kit that's remarkably small and lightweight and produces great images. It's manual focus, but you can zoom in tight to confirm that everything is sharp. Total cash outlay in camera and lens assortment was less than $300.

Mike, why not just buy or borrow a 2x extender - cheaper than a full zoom or prime lens, smaller too. What's not to like?

Hi Mike,

A couple of thoughts that may not be here nor there:

Ever ready to volunteer to state the obvious, I'd say there's a good telephoto shot inside that shot (albeit lower res, and yet probably more pixels than we would have been happy with five or six years ago).

Perhaps there is a longish lens for some other system available to hand? I know that you aren't fond of lens adapters, and this idea makes more sense for your future camera (w/IBIS) than your current one, but for a once-a-year need, and for this particular kind of shooting (where you can pre-set everything and wait for the moment), this kludge may be a sensible option.

I sympathise. Soon after buying my first DSLR, in part based on your review, Mike (it was a Pentax K100D), I felt that a telephoto would be useful one day and bought a 3rd party 70-300. On the rare occasions that I actually get to photograph wildlife, I realise that having a bag of lenses with focal lengths from 10 to 100mm reflects how I look at the world and I really should sit back and enjoy the animals without necessarily trying to photograph them.

Yesterday I used the 70-300 for the first time in many many months, remembered why it was taken out of my usual camera bag and am now going to take it out of the bag again and stop trying to photograph things that are too far away. The subject was a small group of impala ewes catching the last rays of the setting winter sun in long dry grass.

There are a couple of possibilities (ignoring the very sensible thing of doing nothing). B&H has the Olympus 40-150mm on special this week for $200. I have this lens and it works well. The other approach is to get a suitable adapter and look for a cheap used lens that would serve your occasional needs. But it would be hard to beat the Oly 40-150, and giving in to an occasional WANT can brighten your life.

That is the best shopping you can do; all the fun and no expenses!

I have a "full set" of M4/3 lenses and would reccommend the Oly 40-150 for most tele uses. It is low cost, esp. if you find one used or buy in a bundle with a new OLy camera, small, really light weight and fine optics - we did one nice 30x40 inch print from it. I also have the Pana 100-300 which I use mostly for birds and wildlife around the farm, but often find it is TOO long. However, for teles, you really need the viewfinder, or the new OM-D - got yours yet?

Why not go buy a cheap, manual tele to adapt for those rare moments? I rarely shoot over a 50mm on NEX (75mm equiv,) but I keep an old Jena 135mm in my kitchen cupboard for the occasional wildlife event out in my backyard.

Oh yeah, Mike, remember a tele will cost you several F-stops, making the 45/1.8 more appealing for most indoor work than the typical tele.

Don't you have something longer than 90mm hanging about for some format? If so buy a cheapo adaptor for MFT bodies.
But if you do, avoid the one with the black and chrome knurled ring (they come from various sources with various names) which claims to be compatible with Nikon G series lenses. The bit which abuts the lens' aperture tab is just the threaded shaft of a bolt - guaranteed to damage the soft alloy of the lens.
Got the OM-D yet?

Yes, renting is a solution, but if you're like me these occasions sneak up on you. ("Oh crap, that's tomorrow!?")

The Olympus 40-150 is perfect as a just-in-case lens. Light, sharp, and best of all, cheap ($199.95) The high ISO capabilities of modern cameras take care of the slow aperture, since this kind of recording-the-event picture will likely be posted on the interwebs, or printed 5x7 or smaller.

The 100-300 and it's brothers are tasty, sure, but overkill for the purpose.

Speaking of graduation ceremonies, this speech is great and has become something of a news item recently:


If you think you'll be using your micro-four-third system for very long time, I could see buying that 100-300. It's a signature lens for micro-four-thirds. Who knows how far back you're going in the crowd to be the next time you use one?

For me the point of micro-four-thirds is that the kit can be so small and light, there really isn't a penalty for packing that 100-300.

In my case, I rarely use ultra wide angle lens. I did buy one. It gets used two times a year, but, I'm glad I had it when I did use it.

$99 buys you a EX+ 60-200 f4 Olympus OM zoom, another $40 and adapter and you've got a very good lens that will cover all yout telephoto needs you can afford to only use once or twice every couple of years! For lees than $20 KEH will sell you an UG+ one that will work just as good!

I just did this, only the other way around. I've started to sell off gear in anticipation of switching systems, the plan being to work myself toward having just the camera body, and that one lens I actually need, before finally making the switch.

The only things I've managed to sell so far are my excellent, but cheap and little used, eighties vintage Nikon Series E telephoto lenses and that hardly ever used Tokina 2x TC. Just in time for one of the boy's graduation.

How about that new 75mm MFT lens Olympus has just come out with? It's the equivalent of a 35mm-format 150mm lens, which should give you some reach. And it's fast, too...

Gonna get myself one, though I'm gonna have to wait a bit--sunk a lot of money already into the EM-5 and various lenses for it.

Oh, I see Mr. NucularHolyWarrior has beaten me to the punch....

Cropping is the answer. The hall looks really ugly (with those horribly intrusive vents) and that guy with his back to you doesn't help the image any so you could kill several birds with one stone.

How large will you be viewing/printing it anyway?

Oh, I should have added: I don't think it's inappropriate, or GASsy, to have one inexpensive longish lens in your bag.

You never know what might come up, and if you have it, you might find yourself using it more than you thought.

I've been using mine for a series of old storefronts from across the street, and last weekend a friend asked me to shoot a model airplane gathering. Not something I would do on my own, but it was fun, and the 40-150 was perfect.

Just for curiosity's sake, have you looked at the picture that was presumably taken by the photographer with the big flash on the corner of the stage?

After several years of using their services I can recommend Borrow Lenses. I'm sure they'll have what you need. For the next graduation.

Careful Mike!
Keep spreading explanations of GAS like that and the camera industry will be most displeased with you.:-)
Personally I make do with the "kit" zooms for occasional use and just spend big bucks if I know the item will get regular use.

For a telephoto for my m4/3 system, I use an old Tamron 90mm Adaptall macro lens with an FD mount. An FD-m4/3 adapter gives me a 180mm-equivalent f/2.5 lens that is surprisingly sharp even wide open, and will shoot very tight closeups (but I'm not willing to do the math to figure out how close.) Best of all, it had been sitting in my locker unused for fifteen years or so, so it was effectively free.

So my m4/3 system is a replica of my first Canon FD system, with the 14, 20, 45/1.8, and the Tamron 90 replacing the 24, 50, 85, and 200mm lenses that went with my F1N, all of which I still have. But the new kit is half the size and 1/3 the weight, which my back appreciates.

If you must have an m4/3 lens, the Panny 45-200 is an excellent value. My wife uses this lens, and it's nicely sharp, handles well, compact, and costs around $250.

Back in the days of film when I was a daily newspaper photog, I remember meeting an A.P. shooter at a golf tournament who said he only really needed two lenses, a 400mm 2.8 and 20mm; either you get the close-up or you get close.

A 400 2.8 is a beautiful monster of a lens that keeps chiropractors in business.

Don't you hate "The one that got away..." feeling? I had a perfectly good set of primes for my current system, but still went out and bought the classical cop-out 16-50/2.8 + 50-135/2.8 pair of zooms.

And you know what? Now, I'm averse to the primes! How's that for fear playing with your photographic mind!


What Geoff said.

Another vote for getting yourself an adapter. Kirk Tuck mentioned inexpensive Alpha-mount-to-micro-4/3rds adapters on the Visual Science Lab recently and I just so happen to have a K-M 7D and a selection of Alpha lenses that I hadn't gotten around to selling gathering dust in a closet. $28 later I had an adapter that effectively tripled the number of lenses I have available for my micro 4/3rds camera (I was skeptical of the quality at that price, but the thing works perfectly and seems robust). Yes, I have to set the aperture and focus manually when using the adapter, but I now have fast primes at a variety of focal lengths for a very minor outlay of money.

Spending hundreds of dollars to gain a focal length you'll seldom use doesn't make sense, but if you've got lenses from another system lying around (and from your posts here I take it that you do) then spending ~$30 to get the extra flexibility that they'll give you on your micro 4/3rds camera is good value for money IMHO.

Never mind the lens - the venue, for a graduation looks rubbish, all those a/c ducts!

I meant to add that I think the image you captured is quite charming, Mike. The girl in her regal red gown in that contextual gray field is actually very striking.

I also have to agree with Geoff Wittig as he wrote, "I think this is one of those situations where the gear you have predetermines what you see and shoot." Of course that's exactly what would happen, speaking from experience.

I followed the 'get a good prime and use just that' advice some time ago - zooming is now down to walking closer, and the headspace I've freed up over not worrying about lenses is great! Now seem to be building a printer problem, though, particularly after the Mike / Ctein nexus of thoughts recently....If i only had the right paper, I could....

It pains me to point out that your after-the-fact instinct is also wrong.. A Panasonic 100-300 would struggle like mad to take a decent shot in that light. Just buy a legacy long f/2.8 and a cheapo adapter. Here are some pics from a wedding that I shot from the cheap seats, in atrocious light, with a $150 OM 135mm 2.8 on my GH2. IBIS would help quite a bit, but not enough to shoot at f/5.6.


(I say the following as a fellow obsessive thinker about camera equipment) It is significant that after the shoot you went straight to B&H, not PS (Photoshop).

I think you ought to use your best Photoshop skills (or whatever digiital darkroom you use) just crop and repost the picture to make it clear to yourself (most of all) and everyone else as well that the picture you did take was just fine. That should put your needs in perspective. Then, with a calm mind, you can purchase something reasonable.

In my own case, after suffering the exact same symptoms, I bought the inexpensive, compact & lightweight 2nd Pentax kit lens -- the 50-200mm and told myself that I didn't want to hear anymore about needing a longer lens ever again.

The next time you need a longer lens, let me know and I'll let you borrow my Panny 14-140 and 100-300. They have image stabilization but are a tad slow. I'd be happy to ship them out - at least someone will be using them.

I really don't know why I keep them. I'm more of a prime/minimalist. I'm about to head out for a week in the Canadian Province of Quebec. I've got a big BMW motorcycle to use, with good size panners, but instead of hauling the zooms, I'll be bringing the following:

This is How I Roll


The problem with that as an environmental portrait is the environment. Those beautiful HVAC units... That elegant library cart... The tastefully decorated stage... (And did Kirsten manage to close her eyes just as you took the picture? Can't quite tell.)

What I see as the general problem here, though, is shopping. Having needed a piece of gear once is just one excuse among many. I do this all the time. Drooling on my keyboard as I think of all the great pictures I'd get with the EFAIS*GXSSDCXDXIFED 12-1200mm f/0.014... And meanwhile the sun is setting and I'm not out taking pictures. Shopping, like all fantasies, can be fun if not overindulged in.

OMG, that craigslist ad from San Fancisco. I think that room should be covered up so that it can be rediscovered many hundreds of years later. All the cameras will be there, lined up at ready attention, like the Terra Cotta Warriors.

Falling for equipment lust is all human I think and I am as guilty of it as the next person. However every now and then you get to know someone like Allan Bruce Zee (http://www.allanbrucezee.com/home/abz/page_1661) that makes me pause and rethink.

There is a great porfolio of Allan in Lenswork Online issue #98 for subscribers(in color, called Portals) and even more humbling video interview of this softspoken gentleman. His images speak for themselves...but interesting fact is he has only used one camera for all his career of decades....pentax spotmatic.

I recently compared the Olympus 40-150mm kit tele against the Panasonic 100-300mm to which you refer. I've found the Olympus 40-150 (both I and II versions) to be reliable, light and portable. The Oly 40-150mm zoom is facile, producing good photos under a variety of circumstances.

In contrast, while the Panasonic 100-300mm lens is capable of very sharp images up to about 250mm, it seems fickle, requiring both a lot of work and some luck to achieve optimum results.

Overall, given the OM-D's high ISO capability and the much lower price for the Olympus 40-150mm zoom, especially when bought as part of a kit, the most feasible approach might be purchasing a two lens OM-D kit with the 40-150mm and then using it at a high ISO. Just my thoughts - I keep musing about buying the 100-300mm lens but can't really justify it.

No, you don't need a tele. Just shoot whatever tight shots you want at your home using the sweet 45mm Oly, and tell us those are taken at the school: with a tele, you are going to throw away the background anyway. Just don't choose a background that betrays it is in your house.

Or buy a Nikon D800 and be a happy cropper.

Well, I used a age-old 28mm AI on my age-old Nikon D200 to shoot my daugther's graduation last week-she got her diploma for her preschool! Did I pratice my advice? No. Sadly, I just come up with this idea :).

Up until last year I had a step-daughter in high school marching band and also attended a great many of her band concerts and other such events at school. My old 35-200 zoom was a useful tool to have around and I lusted after the fast long zooms which I just knew I'd find a ton of uses for if only I could afford one.

Yet the last time I used the zoom lens was over a year ago, when she graduated. It's in my "stuff I really ought to just sell" box now.

JohnMFlores, if you're planning on passing through Montreal you might want to tune into the local radio stations to check out the traffic situations:


(Most of the time it's business as usual, but there's at least one part of town that completely jammed almost every night.)

I know the feeling quite well. There's a few occasions where you just don't have that telephoto lens. This is how I cured it: I just bought it. The cheapest available option, which was a rarely used M.Zuiko 40-150. I still hardly ever use it, maybe four or five times a year, but at least I know i've got it when I need it. It's an okay lens, it's relatively cheap, it's small and light. And the few pictures I take with it are pretty darn good.
It's basically the same with the Panny 20mm pancake. I had it, noticed that I don't use it that often, sold it, missed it, bought it again. When you need it, it's there and brilliant.

I have a project in mind that will require what will be my very longest lens- just ordered a 40mm Voigtlander for my FM3A that I intend to use for portraits.

Dear Mike,

Fundamentally, I think you did the right thing. Unless you're planning for the photograph of a lifetime or your livelihood depends on it, there's really little reason to buy equipment that's going to get you, maybe, two photographs the year. Makes much more sense to live within your means; it's not like there's a shortage of good photographs to be made.

It's why I never ended up getting a view camera. I always had a darkroom that could handle large format negatives, but only a couple of times a year would I find a scene where I knew that 6 x 7 cm wasn't going to cut it and I really needed large format. At most I was slightly tempted by one of those nice folding field cameras… But not very. Yes it would have been nice, but it was nicer not spending the money and hauling around the extra gear and just looking for other photographs.

That said, if you are going to succumb I think you may be looking at the wrong lens. Like other folks here, I think the Panasonic 45-200mm f/4-5.6 G Vario MEGA O.I.S.lens would suit you a lot better.

It's a very good lens, considerably better than most reviews give it credit for. I would consider it on par with many primes. Even at the longest focal lengths it holds up well; that photograph I showed you in Madison of the snow-covered air-conditioning ducts on the roof of the building? (http://ctein.com/Boston_Hotel_Roof.jpg) That 17 x 22" print was made with this lens at the 200 mm setting.

It does a couple of things for you that the 100-300 doesn't. First, it doesn't leave you with a big focal length beyond your 45 mm prime. Second, it's $200 cheaper!

As you know, I'm a telephoto kind of guy, unlike you. I still didn't succumb to the longer lens, because on my Olympus Pen, 300 mm is essentially unusable unless the camera is on a really massive tripod. Even with image stabilization, getting a short enough shutter speed to get a really sharp picture requires bright light and higher ISOs. Even at 200 mm I'm pushing it. Consequently, I think the extra reach would prove almost useless for you.

The equation might balance differently with your new OMD; better image stabilization and 2-3 stops more usable speed, after all. Still, if I were you and buying a long zoom lens, I'd go with the 45-200 mm.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

You have a micro 4/3? The camera that with an adaptor can take any lens since the beginning of time? Why not an FD or Nikon F mount manual focus lens, such as 70-210 or 105 f2.0 or 135 f2.8 lens? Each is usually under $100. Or the Pentax equivalent, or Olympus?

When my nephew B was a tadpole, he spent a certain amount of time poring over all the gadgets advertised in Boy's Life magazine. However, his mother told me, as soon as he got something, he was on to the next big thing!

My wife has often accused me of suffering from "Boy's Life" syndrome. That may have been true at one time, but lately I have been trying very hard to adopt the mantra of B's big sister L. Before going off to grad school last year, she mentioned she was "trying to reduce the size of my life."

PS. I shot B's graduation last week on APS-C and a kit lens (18-55mm.) My only other lens is a 50mm f/1.8. Si se puede!

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