September 17, 2015 at 3:46AM

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MFT: Wide prime lens or Focal reducer?

I am looking to buy a wide prime lens that goes with my GH3. Having used the M.Zuiko 14-42 (on an E-P1) for the last few years, I found out that 20-25mm suits me best.
My question is:

Would you recommend either saving for a native lens (thinking about Oly 25mm 2.8 or Pana 20mm 1.7) or buying a third party focal reducer (can't afford metabones) in order to adapt a good prime lens from ebay?

I was thinking that buying the focal reducer will save me a lot of money since I can always get another (wide) prime lens for considerably less money.

Am I missing anything here?

20 Comments

Does it matter if the lens has autofocus ?
( I never use AF for video, but I do use it when shooting still photos )

If you don't need AF, then the cheapest route to a great looking image would be a used Canon FD / Nikon AI-S / Olympus OM / Pentax SMC manual focus 24mm f/2.8 lens which you should be able to find priced between $100 - $200, and then get an adapter to mount it on your GH3 camera. I would only buy a used lens with no marks or scratches, and one with multi-coating ( unless you like the flared-out look ). This lens could also be used with a SpeedBooster if you want to go wider and gain an extra F-stop of speed.

I use eight Nikon AI-S lenses ( with and without a SpeedBooster ) with my GH4, and most of them I bought from eBay. After trying out one lens and liking the look so much, I went and bought a bunch of Nikon lenses. They produce a great image and work really well for video, but not so much for still photos because manual focus is slower to shoot with.

September 17, 2015 at 1:32PM, Edited September 17, 1:33PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32841

AF should play no role here (I might keep my zoom lens though).

So, in terms of video quality, you would prefer one of your nikons to one of the mft prime lenses I mentioned? Or is it due to budget reasons?

I've just started reading about some cheaper speed boosters. Can you tell me which you use and if you're satisfied with it?

Thanks

September 19, 2015 at 6:16AM, Edited September 19, 6:16AM

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Rogi Cumzik
Student
239

>>>So, in terms of video quality, you would prefer one of your nikons to one of the mft prime lenses I mentioned?

The Nikons produce a nicer looking image. They have less contrast and seem to produce smoother looking edges on contrasty subjects. The electronic MFT lenses are electronically sharpened, which might not be a good thing when you don't want it.

I used to own a Voightlander 25mm f/0.95 lens when it first came out, but later sold it because I am not a great fan of the "standard lens" look. This is a MFT fully manual lens, so it looks more like my Nikon lenses than the Lumix lenses. ( if I ever have money to "burn" I would love to pick up a whole set of Voightlander f/0.95 lenses: 10.5mm, 17.5mm, 25mm, 42.5mm. These are beautiful lenses that are as fast as they come but still very sharp once you stop down to f/2 or more. ( I hope they add a 14mm lens to this series to complete the set )

September 19, 2015 at 6:44PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32841

The old Olympus OM 24mm has a legendary reputation http://www.16-9.net/lens_tests/24mmcup/final/24mm_final1.html I got one cheap but sold it on and have the very much cheaper 28mm. I suspect that for video, the difference isn't as great. I shot some stills at the weekend on the 28mm in awkward conditions and the results were still pretty good. Certainly gave a spanking to any other cameras there and that was without flash.

Julian Richards

September 21, 2015 at 6:39AM

>>> The electronic MFT lenses are electronically sharpened, which might not be a good thing when you don't want it.

Can you counter that by lowering sharpness to -5 or is it something one has to accept when buying MFT lenses?
Is this what people mostly refer to when they compare "digital lenses" to vintage lenses (in terms of image quality)?
I'm asking because I'm wondering whether one of the above-mentioned MFT lenses will produce any substantial difference ("look") to my M.Zuiko?

When I bought the GH3 I got two m42 lenses as well:
- Porst Super Weitwinkel 28mm 1:2.8
- Auto Rikenon 50mm 1:2
I don't know if that's a bit silly to ask, but how would you compare these two lenses with some of the Nikons?
I found out that RJ sells focal reducers for M42. Is there a good reason not to go the "m42 line"?

September 20, 2015 at 3:54AM

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Rogi Cumzik
Student
239

>>>Can you counter that by lowering sharpness to -5 or is it something one has to accept when buying MFT lenses?

The -5 sharpness setting helps, but it's still not the same as shooting with good manual glass. I wish there was a way to set a flag in the electronic lens firmware to completely disable electronic sharpening.

I think this electronic sharpening issue is a Micro 4/3 electronic lens thing, so Olympus electronic Micro 4/3 lenses should have the same issue.

For photography the electronic lens sharpening makes a lot of sense, as often you want the sharpest image you can get without noticeable artifacting, but it doesn't work the same way for video.

>>>When I bought the GH3 I got two m42 lenses as well

I have no idea on the m42 lenses you posted, but I know that many people like old wonky lenses for their image character. I've even read a blog post about using old lenses from the 1800's on their GH3 and GH4 camera, which produced a very unique image. ( I can't find the link right now )

You can buy m42 adapters pretty cheap, so it's probably worth trying those lenses out to see what they can do.

I chose Nikon AI-S lenses because I know that they are easy to find, they have a very nice image, they produce the same color across the line ( so a wide-angle will produce the same color as a telephoto ), and they are fairly cheap to buy. Some people use Leica lenses this way, but it's out of my budget. I might pick up some Olympus OM lenses to go with my Nikon lenses, as I've heard that they perform better in the wide angle focal-length range. I also like the Pentax SMC lenses, but I haven't had a chance to try them out.

I also use two SpeedBoosters with my Nikon lenses. The Mitakon Zhongyi Nikon F adapter that I paid about $130 for. It performs really well, but has been discontinued for some very odd reason. ( I wonder if legal action forced them to stop ? ) The other SpeedBooster is the MetaBones Nikon G, which offers step-less aperture control, so you can smoothly go from full aperture to the smallest aperture.

September 20, 2015 at 8:42AM, Edited September 20, 8:43AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32841

1800's lenses are a dark art. That's what I've been playing with. https://www.facebook.com/Cave-Art-Films-348651878657791/timeline/

As for M42s, Super Takumars are really good and Helios 44s and their variants are very popular.

Julian Richards

September 21, 2015 at 7:36AM

That's interesting. Just today, I saw that post on dpreview on the different focal reducers and was really impressed by the Mitakon quality (http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3627547).

I forgot to add that I do have a m42 adapter, so I'm using these lenses already. In terms of image quality, I like them both but I really do need the wider field of view (and maybe slightly more sharpness compared to the Porst 28mm).
However, I'm not sure whether the upgrade from those m42 lenses to the Nikon lenses will produce the big difference that, for me, compensates the hassle of changing everything around, selling my current lenses etc.

So I'm still torn between
a) keeping the m42 lenses (which I like) and adding the focal reducer
b) selling everything and buying the Mitakon + Nikon lens
(and maybe still c) swapping the M.Zuiko with the Pana 20mm 1.7)

Is there a substantial argument that goes against spending roughly 150€ for a m42 adapter? I guess I somehow developed the idea that m42 equals poor / average quality (after seeing a pvc box full of m42 lenses at a local dealer, sellling each of them for 5€) and/or that I will have more trouble finding good primes <30mm for m42. Is that rubbish?

September 20, 2015 at 11:36AM, Edited September 20, 11:41AM

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Rogi Cumzik
Student
239

Avoid focus-by-wire like the plague. +1 for a speed booster and Nikon AI and AI-S primes.

September 21, 2015 at 5:29AM

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I am selling a very lightly used Voigtlander 10.5mm f/0.95 in perfect condition. It's a really great wide angle lens for the GH3.

September 21, 2015 at 5:57AM, Edited September 21, 5:57AM

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Gabe Reuben
Director of Photography
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Sorry,I'm afraid Voigtlaender is totally out of my budget of at the most 300€.

Guy: do you have any experience with nikon lenses wider than 28 like the 24 or 20mm? They are quite expensive but in a way, that's the field of view I was looking for..

Rogi Cumzik

September 21, 2015 at 8:02AM

>>>So I'm still torn between...

Buy one Nikon AI-S lens and adapter to try it out. Some old Nikon lenses you can find very cheap. I've seen old Nikon 50mm f/2.0 or f/1.8 lenses sell for as low as $25.

September 21, 2015 at 6:59AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32841

>>>Guy: do you have any experience with nikon lenses wider than 28 like the 24 or 20mm?

I own a Nikon AI-S 24mm f/2.0 which cost about $400 on eBay, but I wanted the f/2.0 F-stop. The f/2.8 version is just as good, just one F-stop slower. The wider Nikons are usually f/3.5 or f/4.0 lenses.

For lenses wider than this I would look at the new Rokinon lenses made for Micro 4/3: 16mm, 14mm, 12mm and are priced between $300 - $500.

September 21, 2015 at 9:34AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32841

If you get the Rokinons, get them in Nikon or Canon mount though, not MFT. Keep in mind the Canon will focus in the standard direction, the Nikon will focus backwards but is adaptable to more mounts. I prefer the Nikon direction personally.

Timothy John Foster

September 21, 2015 at 11:23AM

Timothy, are you proposing to get a Nikon mount in order to use it with a speed booster?

Is there any Nikon lens type I can confidently pass over?
I just came across this 20mm lens: http://www.ebay.de/itm/Nikon-Nikkor-20mm-f2-8-D-Wie-Neu-mit-Zubehor-/351...
Together with the speed booster it will probably come very close to a native wide lens like the Rokinon/Walimex..

September 21, 2015 at 1:25PM

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Rogi Cumzik
Student
239

Yes indeed, you'll at least have the option. You can also adapt it to E-mount (with or without a speed booster) if you ever go with Sony. The issue I had with the 20mm F/2.8 AI-S was that the frame would sort of shift or knock when you focused it, which made it hard to use for video. I do have one for sale if you're interested though.

Timothy John Foster

September 22, 2015 at 2:25AM

When referring to a knock, are you referring to a sound that one can hear? Would it shift in a way that will become visible if not treated afterwards? If not, I might be interested.

September 22, 2015 at 4:46AM

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Rogi Cumzik
Student
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It's a problem with a few of the older Nikon lenses where the lens will shift from side-to-side as you focus it, which makes focus pulling impossible. I had two Nikon 55mm f/2.8 Micro lenses that I sold because they shifted badly when focused. ( the newer 60mm f/2.8 Nikon lens with internal focusing does not have this problem ) I also own a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro lens that doesn't have this problem, so this is what I use for macro shots.

Guy McLoughlin

September 22, 2015 at 7:10AM, Edited September 22, 7:10AM

Do you think I will have the problem with this piece?
http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NTc2WDEwMjQ=/z/RrkAAOSwuTxV-~Ox/$_20.JPG

I take it's a AI-S Series E?

September 22, 2015 at 7:33AM

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Rogi Cumzik
Student
239

Series E lenses are optically pretty good, but not as strong physically. As long as you don't beat-up your lenses I don't think using Series E lenses will matter at all.

20 years ago I owned a Series E 100mm f/2.8 that I used for quickie head-shot photos and it was a good lens.

Guy McLoughlin

September 22, 2015 at 1:48PM

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