Your recommendation: Single lens

Started Aug 24, 2009 | Discussions
factotum
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Re: Any body, and the 14-54....
In reply to photosen, Aug 26, 2009

Ditto. Great lens!
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marcusaxlund
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Re: Your recommendation: Single lens
In reply to photosen, Aug 26, 2009

Hi

To me personally, thats a very easy question.

12-60 & 520.
A Great lens and a great body.

Even though I am waiting for my 14-35 and will cover 7-100 mm with the SHG lenses I would never give up the 12-60. It's portable with perfect zoom range and delivers stunning pics. The perfect walk-around or light travel lens. It also has some very good close up performance at 25 cm.

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7-14 mm,
12-60 mm SWD,
35-100 mm,
50-200 mm SWD,
50 mm Macro,
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Cynops
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12-60
In reply to photosen, Aug 26, 2009

12-60, and you're covered for about 90% of the situations.

Or go the 14-54 route : excellent lens, you'll soon know if you need to go wider, or longer.

Marc
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photosen
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Re: Any body, and the 14-54....
In reply to factotum, Aug 26, 2009

Wow! Four recommendations for the 14-54 in a row...

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photosen
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Re: Your recommendation: Single lens
In reply to arjanv, Aug 26, 2009

Thanks, that sounds like another crazy good lens...

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photosen
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Re: E-510 + Pana/Leica 25mm f/1.4
In reply to saturnairjam, Aug 26, 2009

Another vote for that lens! And the 510 too...

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photosen
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Re: Your recommendation: Single lens
In reply to kalniel, Aug 26, 2009

Sounds like a sensible route, thanks!

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photosen
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Re: Bingo!?
In reply to Mark Thornton, Aug 26, 2009

Thanks for the tip!

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photosen
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Re: Bingo!?
In reply to kalniel, Aug 26, 2009

Ok...

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TrapperJohn
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One lens for a dslr? Sort of defeats the purpose
In reply to photosen, Aug 26, 2009

This question comes up on occasion. If you're going to buy a dslr, you won't restrict yourself to one lens. Even if your budget is limited, you will expand some day, so basing a choice on one lens only disregards where you're going. It's like asking what P&S has the best screw on lenses. Yes, you can do that, but there's a far better tool for the job.

Having said that, if I were just getting started and on a budget, I'd pass on the 12-60 and go with the older 14-54. Same performance, a lot cheaper, around $350. Combine that with a 620, and you come in for under one grand.

You could get a Pana/Leica 14-150 (if you can find one), and put it on an E420 for around $1600.

My standard kit these days is the 7-14, PL25 1.4, and 50-200. I used to carry the 14-54, but the PL25's rendering qualities are so sublime that I carry it now, and zoom with my feet. If you're going to lug out the dslr, may as well get the best IQ you can.

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Panda9
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Re: Your recommendation: Single lens
In reply to photosen, Aug 26, 2009

I run into similar questions from other people coming from P&S to dSLR, and as you said, "what do you shoot" has a huge impact on body and lens decisions. Since I do not pretend to know what my friends will want, or that my preferences will match their preferences, I usually try to be very conservative about my recommendations, leaving a lot of room for personal choice and flexibility later.

If I were in your position of recommending a camera and lenses to a P&S convert who has $1500 to burn, I would have them buy the entry level kit (the E520 or E620 two lens kit) and use it for awhile. They should soon learn what they want for themselves. Although we as Olympus veterans (I own five bodies, a dozen lenses) think we know what's best, only your friend will know where he wants to spend his money, and he will only know this after he shoots for awhile. Just because he has budgeted $1500 for the system doesn't mean he has to spend it all right away. If he spends $800 on the E620 kit, he would be able to take his remaining $700 to Japan and buy additional lenses there if he chooses. While there is definitely a steep learning curve involving bodies, there is much less of one involving lenses so buying while on the trip won't be as big of a risk.

A potential danger while recommending systems to friends is to put too much of our own biases into the recommendation. I think flexibility is really what should be recommended here. Have him pay $500 for the E520 kit, or $800 for the E620 kit. Let him work with them for a month or two. After that time, he can decide if he wants to spend the remaining $700-1000 on upgrading his standard lens, or supplementing them. He might surprise all of us and decide that instead of upgrading his standard lens to a 12-60/14-54, he wants to expand his range and thus get the 9-18 or 70-300 (or both). An E520/E620 with the 9-18, 14-42, 40-150, and 70-300 is a killer system for the money. If he spends all of the $1500 in the beginning on the HG lens option, it pretty much locks him into that option only.

I know from reading other people's recommendations that the 12-60 and 14-54 are being mentioned, as are some primes. I would say that although it may be helpful for learning dSLRs to use primes, primes are usually frustrating for people coming from P&S cameras. As far as the 12-60 and 14-54 are concerned -- I know that although Oly veterans love the extra IQ of these lenses, the kit lenses are not all that far behind when used within their limits. Buying one of the HG lenses will limit his flexibility in making choices later.

Coming from P&S cameras, your friend will be stepping up regardless of which lens he uses, including the kit lenses. Even if he were to buy one of the two HG lenses, he should buy the two lens kit anyway. They add little to the cost of the kit (at discount, maybe $80 each), and the 40-150 will give him reach when he needs it, and the 14-42 will give him small-and-light when he wants it.

One other factor to consider -- after using the dSLR for a month or two, he may simply decide that he would rather go back to an advanced P&S like the Panasonic or Canon options. If he's only invested $500-800 in his sytem, he's out a lot less than if he goes all out and spends the full $1500.

Anyway, that's how I would approach it. Buying for myself I'd get the E620 and 12-60. Buying for a P&S convert who is unsure of what he wants, I'd start small with the two-lens kit and go from there. Note that the E620 is much better than the E520 at higher ISO shooting and is superior in low-light focusing, so it will allow the slower SG lenses to work in more situations. Hence I would recommend the E620 kit over the E520 kit for that reason (I've owned both). It makes the SG lenses more versatile.

Just my 2c.

BTW - you are to be commended for your open-minded approach to this situation. I have seen way too many enthusiasts try to impose their shooting style and gear choices on everyone they know. It seems they need validation for their choice of gear, or need to convert everyone to the way they shoot. With your approach your friend will have a mentor to teach him the basics, but who won't tell him how or what to shoot. He's fortunate he asked you for help.

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2005magnum
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Re: Your recommendation: Single lens
In reply to photosen, Aug 26, 2009

I am also a very happy Canon user, but dragging around my 5D or my 50D with a couple of lenses is a very heavy proposition. I do have an xti, but I have never been crazy about the ergonomics of that cam.

My wife bought me the E520 with the 2 lens kit (14-42 and 40-150) recently for less then $500.00. Although an upgrade to the 14-54 or 12-60 is very tempting, it defeats the purpose of being able to carry a relatively light weight kit around with me. I can get a decent cam with focal length from 28-300 (equivalent) in a small bag(I have one of those small expensive British made canvas and leather bags which will not accommodate my Canon equipment).

The kit lenses are excellent but there are obvious compromises with this outfit.
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photosen
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Re: Your recommendation: Single lens
In reply to Panda9, Aug 27, 2009

Thank you for your reply, I find it very thorough. One goal with this question is to help people realize the opportunity their interest and the age we live in represents: A good DSLR with two more than decent lenses for $550 USD? Madness! Some of the very best zooms and primes on the planet within reach of any lowly amateur with $1,500 USD to spend? Lunacy!

But then they go and buy the latest camera with all the bells and whistles, a "me too" lens, shoot in automatic modes... And bore the pants off anyone who has the misfortune of having to actually see their photos... And I don't blame them, it's just so very complicated...

Someone else in these replies also made a good point about getting the most out of the kit lenses first, which are apparently better from Olympus and Pentax than from Canon and Nikon - but even those are no dogs (at least not anymore, the previous Canon made more than one wince).

Without imposing my own preferences or wishes on anyone else I'm trying to offer an option, which in this case is to establish a reasonable budget with which to start, which would allow very good to excellent results.

There are many more parameters, and while reading all these really very fruitful replies I realize now the question shouldn't have been "Which single lens" but "How would you start with $1,500 USD to spend?". I am truly astonished that people picked up so easily on that. The one big bias I will admit to is trying to get people into primes; I only have but the one, and it's not even one of the mythical beasts, but it has been the lens that doesn't fail to make me smile and get me more into this.

Here's one particular parameter: what would you take on a trip? All those wonderful primes sound great until you start lugging them around... That's when the Olympus 12-60 or Canon's 17-55 start to take on a special charm...

Another parameter: "learn first, spend later"; really sound advice, except that buying those other lenses might not be that easy and could take you a few more years, simply because you have to travel to another country to get them... And these are perilous exchange rate times...

Perhaps my other bias is that I do have a P&S, which as a gift was really a great gesture... But the truth is I just never use it - not for lack of trying, it's just all blurry, flashed to death, takes the shot when it eventually decides to... I'm still going to try to use it for macro and "zero movement" situations... But while it became a pain to try to get something, anything out of it, my DSLR has given me nothing but joy, and I'm just beginning to scratch the surface of what I want to do - that's the kind of experience I would wish for others...

The amazing thing about Olympus in particular is that for that budget you could get a very safe and versatile kit with the e620, 14-42, 40-150... And a seemingly amazing lens like the 50mm 2.0... What I'm trying to convey to anyone starting out is that Olympus isn't merely an "ok" option, it's an amazing one! And I don't even own one, but I sure appreciate the great pictures this gear can produce...

On the other hand I think something can be said for the "crazy option" of getting a lens like the Panasonic/Leica 25mm in the hands of - gasp! - an amateur: You have the best of the best - now go and do something interesting with it! Is the learning curve going to be Himalaya-steep? Absolutely, but some (not all) people do enjoy a challenge...

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Panda9
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Re: Your recommendation: Single lens
In reply to photosen, Aug 27, 2009

photosen wrote:

The one big bias I will admit to is trying to get people into primes; I only have but the one, and it's not even one of the mythical beasts, but it has been the lens that doesn't fail to make me smile and get me more into this.

I like primes myself (going back to my OM days) and own four of them, but I see mastering a prime lens as actually harder than mastering a zoom lens. It is also not for everyone. Some people will claim that zooms make people lazy -- I counter that zooms give you freedom from one more dimension, allowing you to concentrate on other aspects of taking a photo. For someone trying to find their own way, reducing the number of variables will speed up the process. Let them learn the basics, then graduate to the more difficult subjects later.

It's all well and good to say, "zoom with your feet," but in practice a beginner will have his/her hands full just trying to get the basic settings right. Subtle composition and perspective decisions are advanced topics. In other words, most beginners won't "zoom with their feet," they'll just stand there and take the photo, since they have not learned how to compose properly. To use a prime well, you have to see things in your mind's eye and move yourself to the proper position to take a shot. A photographer needs experience taking and studying thousands of photos before that "mind's eye" is developed to where they can make it happen with a prime.

Okay - I'm ready for the counter-arguments to flood in. Nothing like discussing primes to stir up the blood.

Here's one particular parameter: what would you take on a trip? All those wonderful primes sound great until you start lugging them around... That's when the Olympus 12-60 or Canon's 17-55 start to take on a special charm...

This depends on what kind of trip it is. When I take a car trip, I travel with full gear, including my Bigma and three bodies. When travelling by plane, I will usually reduce that kit down to the basics of the E-30 or E-3 with 9-18, 12-60, and 50-200 plus teleconverters. If I'm travelling by foot, I may reduce it further to the E-620, kit lenses and maybe 70-300. In some cases, I may reduce it down to my superzoom (amusement parks, for example).

This is why, even if he were to get the 12-60 or 14-54, it's useful to have both kit lenses. There are times when the kit lenses simply are the best tools for the situation. As they say, the best camera for taking photos is the one you have with you. If the situation calls for small and light and it's a choice between the kit lenses or nothing, guess what?

Another parameter: "learn first, spend later"; really sound advice, except that buying those other lenses might not be that easy and could take you a few more years, simply because you have to travel to another country to get them...

However, if you've already set up a parameter of $1500 as the budget, then that later will simply be whenever he/she decides which direction he wants to go. You don't have to travel to another country to get this gear - your own country should have it. I was just suggesting that if he happens to be travelling to Asia, he could defer buying the rest of his kit until then. Presumably by that time he will have learned more about his own shooting habits.

This is another reason to own both kit lenses to start, as opposed to just the 12-60 or 14-54. If after shooting 2,000 shots he goes back and sees that most of his shooting was done at 14mm and he wishes he had a wider lens, then that would certainly point to upgrading to either/or 12-60, 9-18, or 11-22. If he finds himself using the 40-150 more and thinking he likes telephoto shooting, he could upgrade to the 70-300 or 50-200 (the latter is not that expensive if you get the "old" non-SWD version used).

If he starts out only with a standard zoom (14-54 or 12-60), he won't really find these things out, will he.

Perhaps my other bias is that I do have a P&S, which as a gift was really a great gesture... But the truth is I just never use it - not for lack of trying, it's just all blurry, flashed to death, takes the shot when it eventually decides to...

Perhaps you just don't have the right P&S. The high end "photographer's" P&S like the Canon G11, Panasonic LX3, or similar offerings are close to dSLRs in image quality, controls, and low-light capability. I have a Panasonic Superzoom which doesn't come close to these other P&S, but within its limits, it serves a purpose within my framework of shooting styles.

When I suggested your friend might decide to revert to a P&S, I was referring to these high-end, "almost dSLR" types. You'd be surprised at how good they have become.

The amazing thing about Olympus in particular is that for that budget you could get a very safe and versatile kit with the e620, 14-42, 40-150... And a seemingly amazing lens like the 50mm 2.0...

I love the 50mm f/2 (I own one and sing it's praises), but I wouldn't get it as my third lens after the kit lenses. I would still recommend that if your friend wants wide, get the 9-18, if he wants long, get the 70-300, or if he's happy with the range and wants to improve the lens speed and IQ, get the 12-60 AFTER the kit lenses. The 50mm f/2 has a lot of quirks and peculiarities that you have to learn about in order to get the most out of it.

On the other hand I think something can be said for the "crazy option" of getting a lens like the Panasonic/Leica 25mm in the hands of - gasp! - an amateur: You have the best of the best - now go and do something interesting with it! Is the learning curve going to be Himalaya-steep? Absolutely, but some (not all) people do enjoy a challenge...

Well, you know your friend better than any of us. If he's into steep learning curves, then go for it. But make sure you're thinking of him and not you. LOL

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photosen
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Re: Your recommendation: Single lens
In reply to Panda9, Aug 27, 2009

Panda9 wrote:

I like primes myself (going back to my OM days) and own four of them, but I see mastering a prime lens as actually harder than mastering a zoom lens. It is also not for everyone. Some people will claim that zooms make people lazy -- I counter that zooms give you freedom from one more dimension, allowing you to concentrate on other aspects of taking a photo. For someone trying to find their own way, reducing the number of variables will speed up the process. Let them learn the basics, then graduate to the more difficult subjects later.

It's all well and good to say, "zoom with your feet," but in practice a beginner will have his/her hands full just trying to get the basic settings right. Subtle composition and perspective decisions are advanced topics. In other words, most beginners won't "zoom with their feet," they'll just stand there and take the photo, since they have not learned how to compose properly. To use a prime well, you have to see things in your mind's eye and move yourself to the proper position to take a shot. A photographer needs experience taking and studying thousands of photos before that "mind's eye" is developed to where they can make it happen with a prime.

Okay - I'm ready for the counter-arguments to flood in. Nothing like discussing primes to stir up the blood.

No counter argument from me, that makes sense... Depends on each person.

This depends on what kind of trip it is. When I take a car trip, I travel with full gear, including my Bigma and three bodies. When travelling by plane, I will usually reduce that kit down to the basics of the E-30 or E-3 with 9-18, 12-60, and 50-200 plus teleconverters. If I'm travelling by foot, I may reduce it further to the E-620, kit lenses and maybe 70-300. In some cases, I may reduce it down to my superzoom (amusement parks, for example).

This is why, even if he were to get the 12-60 or 14-54, it's useful to have both kit lenses. There are times when the kit lenses simply are the best tools for the situation. As they say, the best camera for taking photos is the one you have with you. If the situation calls for small and light and it's a choice between the kit lenses or nothing, guess what?

Another good point for the kit lenses and Olympus...

However, if you've already set up a parameter of $1500 as the budget, then that later will simply be whenever he/she decides which direction he wants to go. You don't have to travel to another country to get this gear - your own country should have it. I was just suggesting that if he happens to be travelling to Asia, he could defer buying the rest of his kit until then. Presumably by that time he will have learned more about his own shooting habits.

Buying lenses in Asia sounds good, and one particular friend is actually planning on going there; that said, it's really no fun paying two or three times the price compared to other countries (The US in particular, and I'm not exagerating).

This is another reason to own both kit lenses to start, as opposed to just the 12-60 or 14-54. If after shooting 2,000 shots he goes back and sees that most of his shooting was done at 14mm and he wishes he had a wider lens, then that would certainly point to upgrading to either/or 12-60, 9-18, or 11-22. If he finds himself using the 40-150 more and thinking he likes telephoto shooting, he could upgrade to the 70-300 or 50-200 (the latter is not that expensive if you get the "old" non-SWD version used).

If he starts out only with a standard zoom (14-54 or 12-60), he won't really find these things out, will he.

Perhaps you just don't have the right P&S. The high end "photographer's" P&S like the Canon G11, Panasonic LX3, or similar offerings are close to dSLRs in image quality, controls, and low-light capability. I have a Panasonic Superzoom which doesn't come close to these other P&S, but within its limits, it serves a purpose within my framework of shooting styles.

I sure don't... But I have yet to handle a P&S I do like... Not much point now, for me at least... I'm not married to the idea of a DSLR for others though...

When I suggested your friend might decide to revert to a P&S, I was referring to these high-end, "almost dSLR" types. You'd be surprised at how good they have become.

I love the 50mm f/2 (I own one and sing it's praises), but I wouldn't get it as my third lens after the kit lenses. I would still recommend that if your friend wants wide, get the 9-18, if he wants long, get the 70-300, or if he's happy with the range and wants to improve the lens speed and IQ, get the 12-60 AFTER the kit lenses. The 50mm f/2 has a lot of quirks and peculiarities that you have to learn about in order to get the most out of it.

Again, really sound advice... I guess I just find myself hooked on primes... Even though I have an excellent 70-200 I am constantly wondering what I could do with an equivalent prime... But hey, that's just me!

Well, you know your friend better than any of us. If he's into steep learning curves, then go for it. But make sure you're thinking of him and not you. LOL

Maybe subconsciously I'm thinking of a "shortcut" from "no knowledge" to "the best tools" without having to accumulate the intermediate equipment, which somehow seems like a waste... Probably not possible...

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Panda9
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Re: Your recommendation: Single lens
In reply to photosen, Aug 27, 2009

photosen wrote:

Maybe subconsciously I'm thinking of a "shortcut" from "no knowledge" to "the best tools" without having to accumulate the intermediate equipment, which somehow seems like a waste... Probably not possible...

This is a very common thing to have happen. Many (maybe even most) people with advanced knowledge of any subject forget what it took to get them to that point, and thus don't know how to guide/teach a beginner to get to the same point. There is no shortcut to advanced skills. You can speed things up by pointing them in the right direction, having them take classes, giving them tips, and so on, but the steps to learning are usually the same. You have to start at the beginning, work through the middle, then move on from there. You can't learn Calculus without learning algebra somewhere along the way.

As far as intermediate equipment being a waste... if you are careful and willing to work at it, you can find excellent used camera gear on EBay or places like 4/3photo. Or by shopping around and finding sales, rebates, etc. you can buy new stuff at below retail. Then when you outgrow gear or want to upgrade, you can resell it and get back much of what you paid for it. If you buy and sell to upgrade, you can move up the ladder somewhat cheaply.

For example, I got lucky and found a Peleng 8mm Fisheye for $170 (a real great price) earlier this year. After using it for about a week or so, I found a used Oly 8mm FE for $480. I turned around and sold the Peleng for almost $300. By applying the Peleng "profits" to the Oly purchase, I effectively bought the Oly 8mm for around $350 (price I paid minus the profit on the Peleng). A new Oly 8mm is $750. I didn't plan it that way, but that's how it worked out.

The only things that drop in value quickly are bodies. Lenses keep their value very well. This is another argument for getting the body you want first, then work your way up the lens ladder. Thus between the E520 and E620, get the E620. That body will probably last through multiple lens upgrades and additions.

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Calvin

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