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Wednesday, 03 December 2014


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Another factor that you should consider when buying a portrait lens - Almost all the Olympus micro 4/3 cameras have eye-detect autofocus wherein the camera locates where your subject's eyes are and puts the focus point squarely on them. Not only that, you can specify whether you want the left eye, right eye or the nearest eye to be in focus. Personally I find this feature so useful that I am not going to buy any camera which does not have it.

I too have felt the attraction of the Fuji system. But in the end I'm glad I went for Olympus. The two major reasons are IBIS, and format. The way sensor quality has gone and presumerably is going, I feel that APS-C format is simply an unnecessary addition to bulk/weight. I feel that now and for the foreseeable future, MFT is pretty much the ideal pro format.

(And while this Leica lens is too pricey, an alternative is the ridiculously small and cheap Oly 45mm 1.8, which is great quality, and a good example of the combination of nice qualities one can sometimes get with the format.)

(By the way, JVC just came out with a real high-end video system with lens-on-a-cable, which uses the MFT mount. (One of the reason is that it gives much flexibility re which lenses to use, due to the narrow flange distance.))

I usually shop at B&H but I noticed your links go to Amazon. Do you get a better commission at Amazon?

I have no problem going to either location but would prefer the one that gives you the best return.

[I do get a better percentage at Amazon, but in this case I linked to them because they have the Panasonic lens for a cheaper price. —Mike]

Funny thing by the way, Olympus, lenses and bodies, attracts me strongly in a right-brain way, aesthetically and emotionally. The Fuji X system is strictly a left-brain attraction, which leaves me a bit on the cold side.

Oddly, the Fuji X10 had a strong right-brain attraction for me, but they did not manage, for some reason, to bring it over to the ILC.

My bet is that most first-time m4/3 buyers will opt for either the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 ($999) or the Olympus 45mm f1.8 ($349). Either one gives you more bang for the buck if you can make do with maximum aperture trade off. The m4/3 prime lens line up is superb. BTW, I am a Fuji X shooter so no bias here.

Back in the real world (where us poor people live :-) ) my £199 Canon EOS M can be fitted with a £30 3rd party adapter for Canon EF lenses and as it has a 1:6 crop factor I can get 90% of the performance of your expensive short teles by fitting a second hand £50 Canon 50m f/1.8.
Just my 2p worth of lateral thinking for cheapskates.....

The advantage of Micro-Four Thirds is size and portability, while still retaining excellent image quality and optics. All for an affordable price.

The Nocticron makes very little sense in this system. Unless one is trying to promote conspicuous consumption, the Olympus 45mm (which is just as sharp and actually has better edge resolution) is the lens to own.

At this point the sensor size has already become the limiting factor. Save your money for a second system, say the Sony A7.

I liked the Fuji X100. This caused me to look hard at and buy the X-T1. I like the X-T1 even more.
I have the 56, but haven't shot with it much - use the 14 and 23 much more.

And, for *most* work, the Fuji system is about 2 lenses away from replacing a certain other system in my inventory, a very costly system. One (the 16f1.4) has been announced at least on roadmap.

This leaves a 12mm equivalent - maybe Voightlander will make it - nominally 8mm I guess.

Good execution on those 2 more lenses and I would have to think really long and really hard about selling my fancy German equipment....

I personally wouldn't buy either of them, but rather the Olympus 75mm 1.8 for a m43 camera (probably an Olympus model for the IBIS). The Panasonic presumably carries the "Leica" price premium, and I generally don't think the name is worth the extra $$.

Don't forget the wonderful, small, light and cheap Zuiko 45mm f1.8 It's a great point for the M43 system without a Fuji equivalence.

I may be way late in noting this, but a $1500 specialized lens like this from Panasonic tells me that m4/3 has reached or is close to reaching parity with Nikon and Canon FF systems (in terms of capabilities other than the highest-end image quality.) The system may lack the very exotic super-teles, but that's about all in absolute terms; and some of those other systems may lack access to the m4/3 f1.0 offerings. There are slight differences in depth of field and a few other things, but on the other hand, the m4/3 offers quite a large advantage in weight and bulk (bulk is important when you travel in regional jets.) In terms of image quality, m4/3 is more than you need for any internet application, and I'm not sure about this, but I believe you could do the highest-quality magazine photos as well (that is, I don't think the highest printing quality for even the highest end general-circulation magazines would exceed the quality provide by m4/3.) IN other words, the advantages of FF and APS-C have been pushed to the extreme margins.

I understand that in forums like these, we have lot of people going for the last 1/2 of 1%, which is great. I admire those efforts. But for most of us, I think the difference between m4/3 on one hand, and FF and APS-C on the other, is becoming a matter of bulk rather than image quality. Back in the film days, that was not the case.

Surprise, I will soon crack for the Nikon 1 32mm f / 1.2...

Even though I love my micro 4/3 system very much, and I find myself with a terrible case of gear lust for the Fuji system. That 56 mm isn't helping. Thankfully (?), I don't have the money to sate that lust, and probably never will.

As for the Panasonic, it holds no appeal for me. For the sort of photography I do, I really can't find a single thing wrong with the Oly 45 mm f/1.8. And at a third the price and a less than a third the weight, well...

I very much love the Fuji bodies and lens lineup, but as I like video nearly as much as still photography, M4/3 has such an enormous advantage. But, wow, that 56 f1.2 is one of the loveliest lenses out there right now.

One more vote for the Oly 45/1.8

$, size and weight of the PanaLeica for equal or lesser IQ and one stop doesn't work for me. It goes against the whole gestalt of µ4/3.

Length = 74 vs. 56 mm
Diameter = 77 vs. 46 mm
Weight = 426 vs. 116 g
Price = ~ $1,600 vs. ~ $270

Gotta need that one stop real bad ...

I use the Fuji system, everything from the XPro to the XT-1 and in between. There is one thing that folks going into the Fuji system should be aware of - the standards of the industry, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, do not do as well with the Fuji raw files as Bayer raw files in the sharpening department. Most of the lenses in the Fuji system could use better. I use Iridient Developer and Photo Ninja for most of my work. Capture One does a good job. And I am sure that there are other good processing programs for the Fuji raw files.

Growing up on Photoshop and then Lightroom, I use Iridient and Ninja to produce long scale tifs that I move to Photoshop and Lightroom for the final touches before printing or web imaging. The Adobe programs have improved in their handing of the Fuji files, but, if you are making big, sharp prints, architectural or landscape, I think you might want to investigate some of the other raw file processors.

I prefer to own lenses that have a distance scale, an aperture ring (or two), and at least 9 blades in its iris.

I got the Nocticrone. It handels very well on the GM1. The autofocus is very fast for such a lens, even in low light. Nice for B&W too.. I choose it over the Fuji 56 1.2 because the not so good autofocus in low light of my xpro1. I like that focal length a lot so I have a few different 85mm f1.2 lenses.

Yes, I am also going back and forth between Fuji and m43 and both have their strength and weaknesses. If I was to start from scratch - would have chosen Fuji. AARRGGGHH the GAS is killing me. Is there any good rehab? or accept and enjoy..

... and of course, on the m43 side of things, there are also lenses like the Voigtlander f/.95 and the Handevision f/.85.

Isn't choice wonderful? (Unless you have to make one, that is ...)

I have the Fuji 56 and 60 mm, and the 60 is my fave, I shoot a lot of exec portraits in modern buildings with floor to ceiling windows and facing them with the 56 has a big effect on the contrast and the 60 is less affected with good contrast. In a low light situation the 56 is superb, GB.

I believe the Panasonic lens is better - Fujifilm didn't release the 56/1.2 APD for no reason.

I think it depends on whether you shoot video or not.

Panasonic is a no-brainer, but for stills photography Fuji is my choice.

Price certainly plays into it. The Nikkor 32mm 1.2 will not convert many users to the Nikon 1 system with it's $900 price. The Olympus 45mm 1.8 will always be wildly popular compared to the Panasonic 42.5mm 1.2 due to price.

Well, like many people say, the lens to talk about is the Olympus 45/1.8 which frankly is so good at such a low price that it's a good argument for the whole system!

As for systems, I've used m4/3 for a while, love it and think it's a great system for the majority of people wanting something a bit more flexible than a compact. But right now I'm looking at Sony full frame: manual focus lenses, all that full frame sweetness, nice for factor, throw in the occasional AF lens for the event shot and it's very tempting for my photographic style. It's not to say that Sony as a system is the best, but it might be the system that most suits my current style.

So does the Fuji 56 gimble while the panaleica 42.5 gyres, or is it the other way around?

Having a Panasonic GX7 makes the Nocticron very appealing (to say nothing of the appeal of saying `nock-ti-cron'). Holding me back, are the facts that (a) I don't have 1.5K to blow on camera gear right now, and (b) I promised my wife I would use the Oly. 45 she bought me last year for Chrismakah a lot (and I have). If I had the 42.5 I fear that the 45 would gather dust.

Stop teasing me with lens porn.

On the other hand, I have this ancient Pentax 55mm F1.4 and damn it takes nice portraits, and the adapter works great and Fuji X-T1’s manual focus aids are just awesome…

A gorgeous as the Fuji 56mm is, there's lustworthy and then there's lustworthy. The lens that most of the official Fuji X-Photographers are currently flippin' out about is the new Fujifilm XF 50-140/2.8 (70-200/2.8 35-e), the first professional XF zoom that is constant aperture and weather sealed. It also has OIS that provides approximately 5 stops of image stabilization, superb build quality, gorgeous bokeh, REALLY fast AF, and is unbelievably sharp.

Some photographers state it is the best XF lens Fuji has released to date (which is saying something), and is sharper than the Nikon 70-200/2.8.

Watch out, Canikon!

I know that our esteemed editor is not particularly a big fan of zooms, but this bad boy will make it into the kit of many, many a Fuji working pro.

I have owned both systems and a Fuji x100. I had the X-E1 (with a couple of primes)for a short period of time but sold it. The build quality is cheap. The camera is light weight and feels like a cheap toy. The Panasonics (GF1 and GX7) are smaller but feel more substantial. The good 4/3 lenses are much nicer than the Fujis, which again feel flimsy and cheap to me. I won't be venturing into Fuji again until they learn to once again make cameras and lenses of some substance. The X100 is better but it aint a Leica 3. And the Fuji X-E1 or X-E2 sure ain't a Fuji GSW690.

If I were to buy either of these lenses, I'd buy the Nocticron because I won't ever buy a Fuji. I've bought and returned three Fujis, just didn't like using them much and the XTrans sensor models produce raw files that are difficult to process compared to the Oly, Panny, and Sony cameras' raw files.

When I decided on a 45mm for the Oly E-M1, neither M.Zuiko nor Nocticron were in my sights. I went for the Macro-Elmarit-DG 45mm f/2.8 ASPH, which is a lovely performer from wide open, infinity to 1:1 magnification, and cost me about $750. It's about my favorite mFT lens, overall.

For m4/3, the Voigtlander 42.5 f0.95 has a higher desirable factor.

If you are considering mirrorless APS-C, the Sony A6000 with the FE Zeiss 55 f1.8 is also a great portrait kit.


My advice, if you want to be cured of GAS, once and for all, buy an X100s/t. Then get the teleconverter, and you're set. Oh, maybe the wide angle converter too.

That was a (bad) joke.

Seriously though, the Fuji 56mm f1.2 is almost enough to tempt me away from my X100s as sole camera (okay, X100s & teleconverter). Everything I've seen makes me want one. It's re-GASed my de-GASsing, to the point I'd consider getting the body I'd need just to mount it to.

Plus One for the "neither" vote, because plus one for the Oly 45mm 1.8...probably the nicest 85mm-90mm lens I've ever owned on anything...and relatively cheap...


Olympus Em1 and Nocticron. I sold my 45mm f1.8 to a friend, after receiving the 42.5mm.
From my experience, based on my photos, Nocticron at f1.2 is as sharp as the 45mm at f1.8. Stop it down and sharpness increases again.
My best photog friend used his Fuji counterpart at a model session with me: comparing the shots he admitted that the PanaLeica lens has "something special, something more".
Of course you can achieve a more shallow depth of field with the Fuji, enough to focus just an eye and leave the eyelashes out of focus (thing that I personally dislike), but the Nocticron benefits also of the closer focus distance.
I simply love this lens, my friend sold all his Fuji gear except for the x100t after Fuji released the APO version of his fav portrait lens (actually he uses all kind of equipment except Leica cameras), but we worked together and I saw pictures of the same subject taken with the two systems.
Oh, and the IS is always a benefit, when you have to stop down the lens. (Olympus IBIS works great, obviously)

Neither one. I'm another happy M.Zuiko Olympus 45mm f1.8 user.

I have an EM-5 and a Sony A7R.
A2 prints from both are fully satisfactors. But when comparing technically good shots from both there is a very slight but noticeable advantage in resolution and acutance favoring the A7R.
However, most of my EM-5 shots are technically good (thanks to IBIS), whereas many A7R shots are not.
As a consequence, I use the A7R mostly for landscapes and the EM-5 for everything else.

These two lenses might compete for the title 'Mirrorless Lens of the Year 2014.' But is one of them alone reason enough to choose for Fuji or Micro 4/3 system?

Since the Fujifilm F31fd I am a Fuji fanboy too. However, the 56mm does not make me want to switch from Micro 4/3 to Fuji.
Nor does the Nocticron make me want to upgrade from my unofficial 'Mirrorless Lens of the Year 2012,' the Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm.

I am still more impressed by the design of this Volkswagen Beetle than by the new Rolls Royces of Panasonic and Fujifilm.
It is cheap. For the price difference I could go on a three week holiday on a Greek island or buy my wife enough Chanel No. 5 for the rest of her life. The images are almost just as good (look at Zuleikha) and it is much, much smaller. The main reason to go for mirrorless anyway, isn't it?

Why is everybody all of a sudden so obsessed with blurry backgrounds? Some people really seem to go over the top. They don't go for subjects, they go for blurs. Does this years Oscar go to the best figurant?

Years ago we had a beautiful red carpet. What a presense it had! It was the hero of our interior. Everybody was raving about it.
But after a year we gave it away because we wanted back our privacy. Until now all our friends and family are still talking about that beautiful carpet and nobody remembers all the nice conversations or the lovely meals we had.
Just like a carpet the most important quality of a blurry background should be that you do not notice it. Even if it is an impressive one.

To video or not to video, that is the question. If yes, the m4/3 GH4 is the only answer. If you make your living with the camera, the same applies as video is inevitable for all of us, resistance is futile.

But seriously folks, if you need or want a fully mature lens line for your camera, m4/3 has that. Fuji makes great stuff, and if the lenses that are available now where available when I dropped canon and went all in with m4/3 had been available, I'd have still made the same decision and not gone the fuji way. I don't shoot jpegs, and the raw files are wonky in ACR and LR. And, the video component of their mix is still pretty mediocre, more of an afterthought.

As far as the nocticron, I have it and it is worth every penny, but really because the af in the gh4 is that good. I also had the olympus 45, and wide open, it was ok, but not wonderful. The nocticron is wonderful. I like wonderful, so for me, it was worth it. The 75 olympus is also wonderful, and it replaces my long loved canon 135 f2, but only it's actually better. The 42.5 and 75 have different looks and serve different purposes.

As far as dof when compared between the 42.5, the 56 and an 85 at 1.2, I will gladly take the light gathering ability of the 42.5 and to be able to use it at that aperture and have more dof, it actually makes it more useful to me in real life shooting situations. The oof rendering is still wonderful, but it doesn't have that affected look of an 85 1.2. I'm sure the 56 is killer good too. The 75 is the same deal, more useful wide open than the 135 f2, and sharper to boot.

As far as size, the 42.5 is probably the only lens in the entire m4/3 lineup that is actually larger than it's fuji counterpart. In all other cases, the fuji lenses are larger.

I love my X-E1, and its lenses even more. But yes what is really missing is a stabilisation for all Fuji primes. Best solution would be finally a Fuji body with IBIS. Which could work stand-alone with all primes, and combined with OIS stabilised zooms, like Sony seems to be doing in its latest model. That would make the Fuji system close to perfect in my view.

I would never consider the Lumix/Leica lens. The Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 lens is a miracle of modern optics. I suppose if one were shooting cinema with a Lumix, the Lumix/Leica 42.5 f/1.2 is well worth the price of admission.

Late to the party on this one, but I am very impressed with the Fuji 56mm (non-APD). Whenever I put it to use, I am amazed by the results (I tend to walk around with the 23mm and 35mm.) I'm not sure if I'm using the term properly as you have in the past, but it just draws so wonderfully. Granted, though, that this is the first time I've used a lens with this combination of focal length and large aperture, so my ignorance could be showing.

I recently put it and the 23mm through a heavy week shooting a music festival and got some great results back. A couple examples here and here. These are going straight into the portfolio.

The autofocus did show some weaknesses in an environment like this: relatively subdued lighting and active subjects. It tends to rack fairly slowly through the full focus range when it misses, making it a challenge for this type of shooting (this was with the X-T1). You really need to find a good solid contrasty point and fire when you can or go to manual focus. And manual focus, while certainly on the gorgeous and buttery smooth side, is a bit slow for this use as well. But hey, it's very hard to argue with the results.

+1 for the Panasonic 45mm macro Elmarit. It gets 10x the use of my Olympus 45mm f/1.8, according to my Lightroom catalog. Just love the way it draws. With these two I can't rationalise buying the Nocticron, unfortunately.

I owned, and compared, the Fuji xt1 plus 56, 1.2 and the GH4 with the 42.5, 1.2 for about a week.

I still have the GH4 and the 42.5. All other discussion points aside, the 42.5, 1.2 had the feel of a lens that should be worth about twice what the 56, 1.2 is worth. Both lenses provide considerable freedom in ambient light, hand-held photography; and both represent good value.....IMHO

Mike, it's hilarious how these comments seem to mention the Olympus 45/1.8 more than the lenses in question. Well, it worked for me. I just ordered a 45 from the grey market link that you posted above. Thanks!

Although I've been hearing the Fuji siren song for some time now, I'm a little too heavily invested in m4/3 and one other system to give in. So far. An appropriately updated XPro 2 could overwhelm my common sense and fiscal prudence.

So, I recently purchased the Voigtlander 42.5 f0.95 (called the Nokton) although I considered the Pan-Leica Nocticron. As a manual focus only lens I find the Voigtlander a little tricky to use wide-open, even with focus peaking enabled. But when I get it right, I love the look - I think the shallow dof and bokeh rival my full-frame results.


"My advice, if you want to be cured of GAS, once and for all, buy an X100s/t. ...

LOL! For me, the cure is the Leica X typ 113. With four or five full systems of surpassing quality in the closet, I've hardly taken out anything else since I bought the X. It just motivates me to want to use it. :-)

Leica hasn't offered any lens accessories for it, yet, but I'd love to see a matched teleconverter to give me the same camera with a fast 50mm EFoV lens...

I've moved over to Fuji from Pentax DSLR earlier in the year and have been shooting it for work for the last 3 months. The image quality is excellent and a subtle but definite step up in the main. Especially in low light. The way that Fuji sensor controls colour shift and noise at the highest iso is very appealing.

The main reason for me swapping was size, weight, image quality, the excellent lens range and above all affordability. By shopping carefully second hand, Fuji refurb and keeping my eye out for special offers I was able to build a 3 body system for just a little bit over £2000. 2 x Fuji X-E2, 1 x X-M1, 18mm F2, 35mm 1.4, 56mm 1.2 and the 18-55mm F2.8-4 (which I use mainly for flash work). Nearly a third of my budget went on the 56mm and it was worth it.

The new long 2.8 zoom does look great but expensive for me at the moment and BIG. I've kept a Pentax K30 in the bag with the Pentax 50-135mm 2.8 for when I need longer reach as it's only just heavier then the Fuji lens and gives me another body backup. 95% of the time though I'm using just the primes on the 3 bodies (X-E2's on 35 and 50mm over each shoulder and the 18mm on the XM-1 on a lanyard over one shoulder under my jacket) and it's a joy. So light! The 18mm doesn't review as well as the other lenses but is a super satisfying lens in real life. Surprisingly versatile.

Gotcha's. The autofocus works great the vast majority of the time. When it doesn't it can be terrifying but it's actually rare. This is the only system that I've used where I feel totally comfortable shooting a lens like the 56mm wide open all the time. When it grabs it is very very accurate indeed and it grabs in very very low light when you get your technique right.

I'm shooting raw as I shoot a lot in really mixed low light and once you get your head round how Lightroom treats the raws the quality is perfectly acceptable for what I and my clients need and I'm so fast in Lightroom that shifting to another raw converter is just a terrifying prospect. The sharpening and noise reduction is a totally different ball game to a more traditional sensor though! Took me a while to work it out but I'm finding that moving the detail slider to 100 and working from there gets me very similar results to the Fuji jpegs though. NR wise I'm applying a lot more reduction at higher ISO's than I was but claiming back a lot more detail using the detail and contrast faders and it's all looking very natural to me. I'm shooting people, low DOF and it's all about the content. If you're pixel peeping landscapes ymmv and I do believe that other raw convertors are better but used correctly I believe Lightroom is very up to the job imho and it's such a good workflow for me. I've found that now that I've found my feet with the files my processing time is significantly less than it was.

Battery life sucks but 3rd batteries are light and cheap.

I thought I'd miss IBIS but not so much. The extra stops I'm gaining by being able to shoot wide open all the time make up for it the main.

It's definitely a system with personality but all that personality works for me and I'm very happy... I can see why others might choose other options but it's really making me enjoy taking photos and the results are really really satisfying and garnering a lot of positive comments from clients. One very chuffed new Fuji fan boy over here....

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