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Thursday, 16 November 2017


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What proportion of submission for Leica-lens photos do you expect will be from µ43 lenses? ;)
(mine will be!)

Carrying around a full frame Nikon and 28-70 f2.8 was just to much of a back braking ordeal. So I tried APC with Fuji. The primes were a joy to use on the go but the 16-55 f2.8 just didn't seem right on that camera body; too unbalanced.

Finally, m43 in an Olympus with a 12-40 f2.8 seemed like a perfect match; hand in glove.

My Nikon has it's place and my Fuji has it's place. For walking around aimlessly for hours with a camera in hand, that's my Olympus's place.

I would say Fuji users also have a lot of fun (maybe even more luckier). These Olympus f1.2 lenses are huge and expensive, while Fuji 23/2, 35/2, and 50/2 lenses offer only marginally less power to blur the background and are a lot smaller and cheaper. They have the reputation for highest quality too. While these f1.2 lenses are great, they negate the size advantage of m43.

I got into the Olympus line because the lenses are great and small.

This is especially true for the "primes of normal aperture" ... but also the excellent zoom line.

And now these "primes of abnormal aperture"...

I sort of wish the 17 were wider. Like a 14. But whatever.

Unless you're a shooter who likes primes shorter than a 28mm equivalent...

I think the Leica/Panasonic thing might be less mysterious than you think. Zeiss, for instance, do more or less the same thing (I own the ZI rangefinder which wasn't actually made by Zeiss, several Zeiss lenses which were definitely not made in Germany, and the Contax G2 which has Zeiss lenses which ... were not made in Germany, and all of these may or may not have had Zeiss input at the design stage).

I think that the mistake is to misunderstand the structure of a company like Leica. What I tend to think is that Leica sit there making, well, Leicas, and then have this weird badge-engineering sideline with Panasonic. But I think that's probably wrong: Leica are a company which does the badge-engineering thing and have a tiny sideline of making cameras and lenses themselves. I'm sure they make, well, at least hundreds of cameras a year, but the licensing income probably just dwarfs (dwarves?) that. The same is probably true for Zeiss.

(Note in both cases I'm talking about the photographic business of these companies: that in turn is probably tiny compared to the other business they do -- spectacles, scientific instruments &c &c).

I bet the badge-engineered Leica lenses are just great though: all the badge-engineered Zeiss stuff I have is.

And with some cheap (and other not so cheap) adopters I can use my old AI and AIS and almost any Nikon lenses with my m4/3 cameras. That makes the format even more fun. Its true micro 4/3 users are some of the "luckiest people in the world" or at least some of the luckiest in regards to their choice of camera formats and mix and match lens possibilities.

I’ve just switched from 11+ years with Nikon APS-C bodies to a Lumix GX8, which I got a good deal on. (£460 plus VAT with the dual-IS-compatible 12-60mm included, after Panasonic double cash-back – for the UK at our current exchange rates, that is better than it might sound.)

After having to manually adjust my Nikons to get acceptably accurate focus in all light conditions, as well as helping my photographer clients set autofocus fine-tune on their high-res DSLRs, the single biggest positive for me so far is that the GX8 just nails focus and does it very quickly, at least with this kit lens, even in very low light.

I’m only a few hundred shots in so far but have thrown the tricks things at it and wow, what a relief to have a rock-solid focus system. And the dual-IS with this combination is very pleasing. I’m using the electronic shutter in low light, with shutter speeds so long that there’s no sign of problems with artificial light power cycles.

There are apparently minor disadvantages using one company’s lenses on the other’s bodies (e.g. lower-strength UV filtering on the Olympus bodies supposedly meaning more purple fringing if you use certain Panasonic lenses, fixed by using a Wratten 2A —not something I was expecting!) but I can live with this kind of thing.

I’ll be exploring primes soon and have been agonising about it, of course. Can I put up with the 20mm f/1.7 II's reportedly bothersome AF behaviour in low light? (Low light—it’s the only light I know.) Some people don’t experience the problems, others end up getting rid of the 20mm because of them. Tricky because it’s my ideal focal length, really. I’m fighting the urge to get the 7Artisans 25mm f/1.8 MF lens for £80 while I mull over the rest. Will be a while before I can stretch to one of these f/1.2 primes (the 17mm looks spectacular) but I’m very happy that they exist!

I think a lot of lens "advances" in the last two or three decades, have really been in the interests of the manufacturers – replacing metal with plastic, adding auto focus to the detriment of optical performance, and so on. That's why many of us, including me, have a preference for the old fashioned metal, manual focus, manual aperture lenses from Leica (and Nikon in it's AIS manifestation). Selecting lenses designed the old way, you got, and still get of course, a really great lens where it counts (optically), and it's usually small and well made into the bargain.

Now at last with these Olympus PRO lenses, what we are seeing is a move into modern times by putting the new technology into use primarily for the photographers benefit.

These lenses offer a set of features you can't get anywhere else. They seem to be designed to be at full optical performance at wide open (and top grade performance it is too), they are very fast and accurate in auto focus, but implement manual focus in a very elegant way through a clutch and sliding focus ring, and are fully weather sealed.

I have owned the 25mm f/1.2 for about a year, and have tried out the 45mm f1.2. (I will be getting one shortly, and as 35mm is a favourite of mine on FF, no doubt I will add the 17mm f/1.2 in due course.)

Some puzzled people seem to think the 25mm PRO is just an expensive 'equivalent' of the cheap nifty fifty they have for a DSLR, but they are completely mistaken, there is no comparison.

But... While these lenses are great to own and play with, you don't really need them to make great pictures: Asymptosis strikes again!

But not lucky at higher ISO compared to AP-C etc, according to most tests, isn't that so?

In fact, tell me it ain't so - I'll believe it. I believe the studies. I believe too much.

I had an E-PM1 with an Olympus 45mm 1.8 and the colour and the lens were lovely. But they are gone the way of all things now, so I can't check the high ISO that the studies that I believe tell me isn't so good.

Not THAT lucky. I can't afford 'em.

Btw, both my LX7 and my LX100 have "Leica" on their lenses. Do they qualify for the Bakers Dozen?

Correction: Rich people who can afford the new Micro 4/3 lenses are the luckiest people. You can tell I'm still somewhat upset with some of the recent lens choices (a 200/2.8 for 3k, are Panasonic nuts?).


I like M4/3s so much, I sold all my Nikon equipment and turned that into some nice Sonus faber floorstanding speakers.

A PanaLeica is not an overdressed Buick. They are fine lenses; I have the 25/1.4 (a Summilux 50-eff). It is half the size of the recent batch of f/1.2's from several manufacturers. My hunch is that Leica got involved to learn lower cost, higher volume manufacturing tricks for auto-focus lenses. It is believed that Panasonic makes a very nice set of APS-C lenses under Leica's label for the TL series. There the collaboration had to be pretty close. I have some of them and they live up to their exceptional specifications. Besides the TL, Leica seems about to announce a CL to provide a second platform for this group of lenses.

". . . I was thinking that photographers who shoot Micro 4/3 are the luckiest photographers in the world."

Couldn't have expressed my feelings better myself.

Came back from Bhutan a month ago. 15 days, 3,500+ stills*, 180 videos. On the Bhutan part of the trip, actually used three Oly bodies, two Leica lenses, four Oly lenses, one Laowa, 7.5 to 400 mm FL range.

Fabulous photo trip. The gear was close to perfect, excellent results.

Could I have been just a tiny bit happier? With the as yet imaginary E-M5 III, with the faster focus and better focus tracking of the E-M1 II, perhaps.

BTW, the f1.2 lenses that set this post off are just noise to me. I seldom used even the f1.8-2.0 max apertures of the lenses I carried, 83 shots, f1.8 - f3.5.

[Back to the digital darkroom, slave!!]

*Counting the multiple exposures of focus stacks each as only one shot.

Now a note from the dark side. I didn't get m4/3 (my main system now) because I want to have fun, for me it's purely about function. I don't print big, so I don't really need a FF camera (though I have a D800 and a bunch of Nikon lenses) because most everything I do is either on-screen or printed fairly small (less than 19" on the long side.) I can get a camera, charger and three lenses in a friggin' Dopp kit. I can get two bodies, five lenses (including three f2.8 zooms), charger, etc., in a bag no bigger than my first grade lunch box. And the way I shoot, I'm not going to get ultimate resolution anyway...it all hand-held and mostly on impulse. Like a lot of people here, I got most of my training in the 20th Century, when ISO 400 felt like a privilege, so I really don't require a perfect 12800.

I do feel the suck from Fuji, but I ask myself, why? I don't like the 3:2 aspect ratio, and all the pieces of the system are more expensive. Fuji is actually the system it seems like you'd get for fun, rather than practicality. Not yet for me, but I do feel the suck.

I have the Pen F and a few lenses, my favorite being the 60mm macro. If you aren't going to print big, m4/3 is just fine, not to mention small and handy. I know, I know, the real devotees insist you can print huge from the format, but I can't.
Small,handy, and a lot cheaper than the big boys.

At risk of going waaay OT, in response to Benjamin and Mike, there are news stories doing the rounds about the stress caused by repeated playing of Christmas carols in stores in the 2-3 months beforehand. It's having a counter effect in that it puts customers off Christmas, and causes stress to staff who are mentally trying to tune it out. I can only concur from my teenage years pushing trolleys and working the floor and checkouts. I worked there over 4 antipodean summers, and the store had the same 3 Christmas carol CDs on rotation every year. By MENNEN, by MENNEN by MENNEN!!!
Carols should be played for maybe 12 days - 2 weeks max.

There are all sorts of cameras—I tried to count them all and couldn't, either current ones or all-time—and a vast array of lenses that, while decidedly not comprising a coherent, considered system (part of what's good about it, in my view) offer up all the wonderful toys pretty much anyone could dream of. -Mike

Have to respectfully disagree with ya on this one, Mike. To my mind an 'incoherent, not considered system" is not a plus.

As Peter Gilbert cites Thom Hogan about there being 30 Panasonic over 20 Olympus bodies: I, and I would expect a lot of customers as well, would consider that something of a problem.

Sony in particular has suffered from this, and rightly so, with developing too many cameras and lenses for too many different mounts over too short a time. The problem is that it is very confusing for customers.

Customers don't want an overwhelming set of choices about which products to buy. Just think about the experience of trying to decide which HDTV to buy at a big-box store. Its not what most cusotmers would consider to be a positive experience.

This is what I particularly like about Fujifilm's approach to product development. It's driven by very strong Voice of the Customer (VOC) capability and an outstanding set of core competencies in design and manufacturing that allows them to execute their product development at a very high level. Their VOC drives an informed product development strategy and roadmap. Fuji then develops a product development plan and, most importantly, executes the plan at a very high level of engineering specification, thus creating QUALITY and VALUE for customers. This results in a product portfolio that is fully aligned with customer needs and is clearly differentiated for customers to be able to make informed decisions about which products best meet their needs/requirements.

One the one hand you have a company like Fuji that executes their product development at a very high level with discipline, and on the other hand, you have Sony, who executes product development like a bull in a china shop.

Just imagine how ear wormy it would or would not be if sung by Jim Backus as Mr Magoo/Scrooge. Legend has it that the Mr Magoo Christmas special and Funny Girl were being written concurrently and the producers of Funny Girl didn't want the song in their show.

Speaking of memes, have you seen the recent viral one showing the guy and girl walking down the street with the guy turned around looking at the girl they just passed? So does that make you the guy holding hands with Fuji while looking at Olympus?


I found the M 4/3rds system to offer a lighter setup to my Nikon kit. Olympus EM-1 version one and lots of those small compact lenses (olympus & panasonic).

I see with the most recent EM-1 mark II and recent Panasonic that focus is much closer to DSLRs, and even low light performance is better than prev. generations

TOP: the only photography website where Barbra Streisand and Micro 4/3 are mixed in the same article. Quite a feat, Mike :)

Earworms - jingles count.
"The Stars My Destination" by Alfred Bester, a classic SF novel, the protagonist used it/them strategically, to block thoughts from mind readers. Called them "Pepsi's" - as in - well, if you're old enough, you know.

I think statements like “x group are the luckiest people” is the kind of thing that continues Wars, puts emphasis on gear and not photography. The luckiest people are those who bought the photographic equipment they need and wanted - and use it for photography.

Just my two cents.

It's become undeniable that the m43 system has grown to become arguably the best value for those looking for a solid relatively affordable photo system. You really don't need a suitcase full of pricey lenses to have your needs covered. I've had a variety of these cameras and lenses over the years. Today I have only the Lumix GX85 with a few excellent zooms; it makes for an outstanding travel kit.

I will add that that GX85 also makes for a terrific mate for Leica M-mount lenses, particularly the longer focals. The camera's IBIS is a perfect complement to the outstanding Leica optics.

Um, I think that should be "People who NEED people."

We may be lucky - but we still have to be able to afford them. Unfortunately none of my Panny lenses are leica lenses so I have nothing to submit.

On the earworm thing, Disney's "It's a Small World After All" defeats all earworms, and is such a despicable, foul tune that it carries itself away, as well.

Nice photo, pretty model... but: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2015/09/a-plea-to-photography-teachers.html

[Good point and good catch. It's a manufacturer-supplied sample image but I should have made the connection. --Mike]

One way to deal with that earworm is to listen to gravelly voiced Greg Laswell's cover version of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." Having a man sing it as a slow ballad offers an entirely new interpretation to the song.

Hat tip to the wonderful Coverville podcast where I first heard it.

These f1.2 lenses are no doubt very good, but they are also expensive, big, and heavy. I am sure they provide lots of fun, but at a high cost, for a system that, in the end, offers a small sensor size for the price. To properly use and balance these lenses (or the excellent Voigtlander f1.2 lenses), you need to use the larger m43 cameras, which in themselves approach USD 2,000.

For the same cost, or even lower, I would rather have fun with a Sony A7II plus the Loxia lenses:)

The closest I am to being a "fanboy" of any camera company is Olympus. My first real cameras were Olys---one of the little rangefinders when about 15, and then an OM-1 a few years and a lot of work and saving later.

I still have a bit of feeling for Oly. I can use my adapted Zuiko lenses which give fine performance on M4/3. And the newer Olympus lenses that I have are all nice---the 17mm 1.7 and the 45mm. The Panasonic lenses seem very nice too, the 25mm 1.4 Panasonic/Leica is one of my favorite lenses of the digital era, and the 12-35 2.8, isn't bad at all for a zoom.

I can't say I have much of a warm feeling for Panasonic M4/3 cameras---the GX7 has been such a disappointment, but I can tolerate it.

When I compare the M4/3 lenses to the Fujifilm lenses, I am afraid the nod goes strongly to the M4/3 side. I never thought the modern Oly lenses were all that well built until I got started with Fuji. The X100 had the SAB defect which got me a new lens, but hinted something about Fujifilm quality. Then the 35mm F2 on my XE2 fell apart in my hands last Christmas Eve which forever fixed the image of "tatemae" (metal on the outside!) quality/durability with Fuji. In the end, I choose M4/3 when I am thinking of photography, and Fuji when I want to think of the camara.

If I compare with my DX Nikon lenses, I am afraid I have little to compare 'cause Nikon can hardly be bothered with good DX lenses.

So I feel lucky. Perhaps M4/3 has too many lens choices for some, but I know what I need. Perhaps there are too many bodies to choose from (and the Olympus naming system is more idiotic than their menus) but I have a pretty good idea of what I need there too. I have choices and flexibility with M4/3 that I cannot get with Nikon or Fujifilm. And their lenses don't fall apart in my hands. Maybe I could call that the "M4/3 magic."

And in part because there are so many bodies and lenses around, 2nd hand stuff is cheap. You can get a PL5 + kit lens for next to nothing, $250 or so, less than what some people spend at the hairdresser's. That gets you a perfectly good set-up that's not that old. What's not to love.

Mike Said: "There are all sorts of cameras—I tried to count them all and couldn't, either current ones or all-time—and a vast array of lenses that, while decidedly not comprising a coherent, considered system (part of what's good about it, in my view), offer up all the wonderful toys pretty much anyone could dream of. "

For a good overview of Olympus/Panasonic camera and lenses including discontinued models go to: http://www.four-thirds.org/en/microft/

While I use my K1 and film cameras more for fun, I actually keep my EM1 around for when I want competent “get the shot” reportage. If someone asks me to shoot an event, indoors or out, I grab the 12-40 and the EM-1. The new version with the larger battery would be even better. It’s a great system. Some cross-brand problems are likely inevitable as they develop new tech, but that hasn’t stopped a pro like Kirk Tuck from using the Olympus 12-100 on his Panasonic cameras, with success.

Great! Three more large, heavy, unaffordable lenses. It's hard to believe there is a large enough demographic out there with this much disposable income. Where are the simple, compact low weight, and affordable f2.8 and f2 offerings.
Oh, that's right, no bragging rights. We have become victim to the 'mine is bigger than yours' mentality.
Especially now, since you can dial up the ISO to a gazillion and IBS lets you shoot a black cat in a coal bin on a moonless night....hand held, then, where are the reasonable lenses for the other 90% of hobby photographers.

Your caption, "The three ƒ/1.2 lenses (this is the 17mm) appear to have been designed specifically for idealized bokeh" made me chuckle.

After seeing that lovely (young, young, young) lady, the first thing on my mind wasn't photographic technicalities. (I'm just saying she's beautiful; I don't work in Hollywood or D.C.!)

After buying and shooting the olympus 30mm 3.5 macrolens I got truly happy.

From that web URL, it looks like there's a new abbreviation for Micro 4/3: microft!

So it’s really exciting to have a set of m43 lenses equivalent to 35/1.8, 50/1.8 and 90/1.8 lenses for full frame Canon or Nikon (but at higher cost)?
... or maybe a set of Summicrons for Leica M?

[There's no such thing as "equivalent aperture." Only the D-o-F wide open for equivalent angle of view and the same focus distance is approximately similar. --Mike]

The Olympus 12-100mm f/4 Pro lens is a miracle of modern optics.

I love my A7rII, although I mostly reach for my Pen F + 12-100mm f/4.

My biggest regret re photo equipment is having sold the Oly 7-14mm f2.8.

I wish Oly would introduces an ultra wide angle prime.

I've spent my photographic career largely in search of more depth of field, not less. So Micro Four Thirds is largely a win in that regard. I care about aperture nearly entirely for light gathering; I can always stop down if I want less light or more depth of field, but I can't open up beyond max if I need more light. This modern obsession with fast lenses for shallow depth of field looks really bizarre from the point of view of somebody who bought fast lenses through the 70s and 80s for the light.

I just cannot find any attraction in a large lens that is half a stop or at most one stop faster than a tiny lens, even if it is optically a bit better. Lens speed is not that important in digital where even with m4/3 one can crank up the ISO that 1/2 stop difference and the stabilisation helps with slower speeds. With the cost of any one of those you could get a good set of f/1.7 17, 25 and 45 lenses and maybe even a 2.5 14.

[That's what choices are for! --Mike]

For what it is worth: Here an even more comprehensive list of the Micro Four Thirds system. 53 cameras, more than 130 lenses.


These big lenses undo the size advantage of micro 4/3 bodies. I cannot imagine them balancing well.

I'm rather happy with Fuji cameras and Fuji lenses. Small, fast and plenty sharp.

I still use some of my Nikon equipment, as I am getting better results

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