August 16, 2015 at 12:44PM, Edited August 16, 12:52PM

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Best Micro 4/3 Lens for video

Hey guys,

I just purchased a GH3 for shooting video, but i am completely new to the micro 4/3 system.
I'm looking for a versatile lens and good for shooting video as well but my budget is about 400$.

I've found 4 lenses that i can afford and i would like to know which one is better:

Panasonic 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II
Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6
Panasonic 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3

Also if you guys have any advice on shooting short films with gh3's or micro 4/3 cameras I would love to hear.

Thank you.

20 Comments

Any of the Panasonic lenses you listed are quite good. They are sharp and have optical image-stabilization for handheld shooting. They also have great autofocus when shooting still photos.

My favorite of the three lenses you listed is the 12-32mm f/3.5 - 5.6 because of the extra wide angle of view. 12mm is very nice when shooting indoors or when you want to include a lot of the environment you are shooting in.

August 16, 2015 at 4:28PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31937

Thank you for taking your time to reply. I was reading about the Olympus 25mm f / 1.8 and seems to be very nice.
Do you think the Panasonic 12-32mm is better than the Olympus 25mm for a first kit lens even being slower lens ?

Raissa Quintão

August 17, 2015 at 7:30PM

I wouldn't suggest investing in M43 glass, unless you plan on never shooting on any other camera system ever again. I've learned it's dangerous to invest in M43 glass as that M43 sensor/mount will never be considered the industry standard, rather PL or CF will be, so it seems.

I recently purchased a Speedbooster, a Zeiss Planar 85mm and Zeiss Distagon 35mm, couldn't be happier. They are simply better lenses than any M43 out there, although more expensive. They do not have a autofocus, which in my opinion, for video you shouldn't really be using autofocus. You could also consider investing in some Canon glass with a Speedbooster, that way should you ever abandon M43 your glass will still be relevant!

August 17, 2015 at 5:25AM

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Gabe Reuben
Director of Photography
336

You can't get a lens with 12-32mm or 12-35mm zoom range that is not m4/3, so while I agree that SpeedBooster's are very handy tools to have, I would always recommend getting a m4/3 kit lens first, and then anything else second. ( the kit lenses are also handy because of their optical image stabilizer that lets you shoot smooth hand-held shots )

The same applies for a m4/3 7-14mm zoom lens, which is pretty much impossible to duplicate without using an actual m4/3 lens.

Guy McLoughlin

August 17, 2015 at 6:27AM

at 400 dollars you aren't making much of an investment, people buy Iphones every year or so.... I agree on getting the 12-32mm and also stay away from the olympus lenses, they are very light and not stabilised.

August 17, 2015 at 9:51AM

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gandulf charpentier
director of pornography
749

I think Gabe said it. Do not invest in M43 lenses. Use a cam that is M43 but use full frame lenses on it with a speedbooster. That's much smarter and that way your full frame lenses become your investment if your cam isn't.

August 18, 2015 at 3:57AM

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I'm not sure I agree with Guy on this one. It is not really about investing in a SpeedBooster, rather the SpeedBooster is what allows you to use better glass. Like Philippe said, unless you plan on shooting M43 for the rest of your career (very unlikely), M43 lenses are simply a bad investment and will not be worth anything in the future, opposed to Canon/Zeiss glass which will retain much more value over time. This way you aren't limiting yourself to M43 glass for years to come, and you are simultaneously ensuring that your lenses will relevant and attractive for the long term.

Also, a proper Metabones SpeedBooster will make your glass faster and wider, and aperture can still be controlled in camera (unless the lens has a manual iris ring, like any cine lenses). See this link:

http://www.metabones.com/products/details/MB_SPEF-m43-BM1

August 18, 2015 at 7:50AM, Edited August 18, 7:50AM

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Gabe Reuben
Director of Photography
336

>>>It is not really about investing in a SpeedBooster, rather the SpeedBooster is what allows you to use better glass.

But it's NOT better glass, it's different glass....

- Many people like to make hand-held shots, which means you need some form of stabilization, so an optically stabilized kit lens is an inexpensive way of achieving this.

- The Micro 4/3 format requires lenses with focal lengths from 7mm and upwards, which is NOT something you are going to find when trying to adapt larger FF still photo lenses or PL mount cine lenses.

- Lots of video shooters also want to shoot still photos, so having a lens with good autofocus performance makes things a lot easier.

- Lastly there's a HUGE size difference between Micro 4/3 glass and FF still photo or PL mount cine lenses. Part of the reason for choosing the Micro 4/3 format in the first place is the compact size of the system, which won't matter for a digital cine shoot, but might make a big difference for a nature shooter, travel shooter, or even one-man-band corporate shooter.

>>>opposed to Canon/Zeiss glass which will retain much more value over time.

Both Canon and Zeiss FF still photo lenses ( or their PL mounted equivalents ) vary in quality quite a bit, with some lenses showing a lot of chromatic aberration and low resolution for the Micro 4/3 format. ( the Micro 4/3 image format is designed for lenses with double the lines per millimeter resolution of FF still photo lenses, so you can end up with soft looking results when adapting lenses that would be OK for larger formats )

When I first bought my Panasonic GH2 camera I started to buy a few Zeiss ZF.2 lenses which I adapted for my Micro 4/3 camera, but after shooting with these lenses for 6 months I sold all of my Zeiss glass because I could not stand the amount of purple chromatic aberration that these lenses had. The lesson I learned is that Zeiss lenses have their own set of image problems.

Since then I've bought 8 Nikon AI-S lenses that I use with my GH4, and over all I am very happy with the image they produce. I still own some native Micro 4/3 glass that I use for hand-held shots and for very wide angle shots, as there's no way I can get equivalent results when adapting FF still photo lenses. So owning native Micro 4/3 glass along with a nice set of Nikon AI-S lenses gives me the best of both worlds, and I don't rate one type of lens as being "better" than the other because they are not.

Guy McLoughlin

August 18, 2015 at 11:28AM, Edited August 18, 11:28AM

I shoot on a GH4 and love my 25mm Voigtlander F.95 and 12mm Samyang F2.0 so my vote would be for your Panasonic 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6. The 12mm being the equivalent of a 24mm on a 35mm sensor makes it a nice wide perspective without too much noticeable distortion, making it a very nice moving/follow shot type of lense. The 25mm is a super versatile length too. As for the advice shared about not investing into MFT lenses - yes, the lenses don't play on other cameras. However, I personally prefer avoiding adapters as I shoot a lot on a gimbal so extra weight is always a no no and adapters introduce one more point of failure. Also, if you take good care of your lenses you'll have no problem selling them in the future should you decide to switch camera systems. Happy shooting! -George

August 18, 2015 at 10:35AM

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George Mihaly
Director at storyfirm.com
249

I would have to disagree with the notion that a 12mm lens is "a very nice moving/follow shot type of lens". A 12mm lens does NOT become a 24mm lens on a 2x cropped sensor, the characteristics like distortion and depth of field remain the same. Unless you use a focal reducer like the speed booster a 12mm lens remains a 12mm lens.

Cary Knoop

August 19, 2015 at 6:09AM

>>>A 12mm lens does NOT become a 24mm lens on a 2x cropped sensor, the characteristics like distortion and depth of field remain the same.

Not sure what you are getting at here ???

Depth of Field is determined by the focal-length and F-stop ( or T-stop if you like ) of a lens, so a 12mm f/2.0 Micro 4/3 lens has EXACTLY the SAME depth of field as a 24mm f/4.0 Full Frame 35mm still-photo lens.

As far as distortion goes, it's ENTIRELY dependent on the lens design and the ability of the manufacturer to make a lens that meets the original design spec. Lens distortion has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with focal length of a lens. So you can have lenses with very short focal lengths ( i.e. Micro 4/3 or C-mount lenses ) that have exceptionally low distortion, provided they were designed and manufactured to be high performance / low distortion lenses.

Guy McLoughlin

August 19, 2015 at 10:16AM

"so a 12mm f/2.0 Micro 4/3 lens has EXACTLY the SAME depth of field as a 24mm f/4.0 Full Frame 35mm still-photo lens."

Nope!

Cary Knoop

August 19, 2015 at 10:36AM

Hi Cary, Thanks for clarifying the technical details. Yes, a 12mm lens is still a 12mm lens, no doubt. Here are two videos with movement I shot with the 12mm Samyang lens. Definitely a bit of distortion, but in terms of relatively smooth movement, it's been serving me well. Cheers -George

https://youtu.be/YxYK8B6SoLQ
https://youtu.be/rySm-vvlm30

George Mihaly

August 20, 2015 at 11:25AM

Thanks for that video, I like the constant camera movement, both the people and the camera moving constantly is very catching!

Cary Knoop

August 20, 2015 at 6:09PM

Thanks Cary — appreciate the kind words. -George

George Mihaly

August 21, 2015 at 11:37AM

I think that after reading some of the comments here, there is one question you need to address first. What type of shooting will you be doing, i.e. events versus narrative?

For Event shooting you will want some sort of zoom lens with stabilization. For narrative work you may want an adapter with a few cheap prime lenses to start, like canon or nikon, etc.

But as far as the statements about investment, $400 is not a large amount of money to worry about if you change camera systems down the road.

August 18, 2015 at 2:10PM

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Derek Armitage
Filmmaker & Vlogger
637

id look for a voigtlander 25mm 0.95 used. they pop up for about 500 some times

August 19, 2015 at 6:00AM

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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1648

""so a 12mm f/2.0 Micro 4/3 lens has EXACTLY the SAME depth of field as a 24mm f/4.0 Full Frame 35mm still-photo lens."

Correction yes with F/2 it would be but you would have to double the aperture. 12mm at F/2.0, okay great.

August 19, 2015 at 10:45AM, Edited August 19, 10:55AM

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Cary Knoop
Member
1882

People tend to make a bigger deal out of the DOF difference between the Micro 4/3 format and the FF still-photo format, which most of the time is not an issue at all. The extra DOF of the Micro 4/3 format is often useful because your DOF can be way too shallow when shooting wide open with a FF camera.

Guy McLoughlin

August 19, 2015 at 1:16PM

>>>Correction yes with F/2 it would be but you would have to double the aperture.

Which is often a good thing because most of the time you want the extra DOF.

Many FF still-photo lenses at their widest aperture have too little DOF for video work, so you end up closing down a couple of F-stops and now you have the SAME DOF as the Micro 4/3 equivalent lens.

Guy McLoughlin

August 20, 2015 at 12:03PM

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