Saturday, August 16, 2008

Digital-only Lenses Part V: Four Thirds (Olympus, Leica, Panasonic)

After a two month stall, we continue with our multi-part digital-only lens series with Four Thirds lenses by Olympus, Leica and Panasonic. To catch up from the beginning, be sure to check the Digital Lenses control center.

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$2000+ Lenses
The phrase "you get what you pay for" is often used to justify expensive equipment. Be sure to repeat it over and over until you convince your spouse to "authorize" a four-figure lens purchase :)

You know the bank is going to hurt when you are looking at a 300mm f2.8 ED lens, Four Thirds or not. This is a super high grade (SHG) splash-proof and dust-proof teleprime, and on Four Thirds DSLRs it has the 35mm equivalent focal length of 600mm. The price? Just under $6000.

Half the focal length, but almost one third of the price can get you the Digital Zuiko 150mm f2.0 (yes f2) ED. This is the 35mm equivalent of 300mm on 4/3rds, and the price is around $2200.

Also part of the SHG series is the 90-250mm f/2.8 ED Zuiko Digital going for around $5200. This is the equivalent of a 180-500mm on 4/3rds DSLRs.

Daisy-chained high-end Digital Zuikos under $2000
Daisy-chained focal lengths of course, not daisy chained lenses :) Feel free to experiment with that, but we are not responsible for any damages :)

Olympus goes from 7mm to 100mm with three lenses, and of course in equivalency, that's 14mm to 200mm. Just three lenses, and $5800 that is :)

We start with the 7-14mm f4 ED ($1600), and then move on to the 14-35mm f2.0 ED SWD ($2000). The chain is completed with the 35-100mm f2.0 ED ($2200). And if you don't want to do the math, the 35mm equivalency is 14-28mm, 28-70mm, and 70-200mm respectively.

The Leica-Panasonic connection
Leicasonic generated some buzz with the 14-150mm D Vario f3.5-5.6 MegaOIS lens, which goes for over $1000 on its own. The equivalent focal length is 28-300mm, which allows it to "compete" numbers-wise with the other superzooms.

And we go from one extreme, to another, the "normal prime", the 25mm f1.4 D Summilux for around $800, assuming you can actually find it. When doing the 2x math, this turns out to be a 50mm equivalent, thus the "normal".

Digital Lenses over $500
If Super High Grade is just too expensive, Olympus has a power duo of high grade SWD Digital Zuikos to offer. The 12-60mm f2.8-4 ED SWD ($800) and the 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 ED SWD ($980). The 35mm equivalents are 24-120mm, and 100-400mm. And speaking of the SWD, there was a non-SWD version of the 50-200mm lens as well.

If you want to go wide but pay less, the 11-22 f2.8-3.5 ED gives you the equivalent of 22-44mm but at the lower price of about $650.

Olympus reassures us no fish were hurt in the making of the 8mm f3.5 ED fisheye, but your wallet will hurt 660 times :)

Primes under $500
Looking for some bang for the buck lenses? You are in the right place! The 50mm f2.0 ED MACRO at $425 is hard to resist, especially for telemacro fans as this has the equivalent of 100mm.

If you want a "normal" but don't want to pay Leica prices, $250 will get you the 25mm f2.8 ED. Of course you are getting an f2.8 lens instead of an f1.4 but you are paying 1/3rd lens.

And an affordable macro, the 35mm f3.5 ED Macro is all yours for under $200. Just don't expect it to perform like the Leica 25mm f1.4 :)

Under $500
Versatile zoomers can get the 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 for around $425, giving them the 28-108mm equivalent, which harks back to the good ole SLR days where photography was simple and the computer was a paperweight, not the "digital darkroom".

The superzooms are these days obligatory members of a lens line-up and Olympus showed some "moderation" with the 18-180mm f3.5-6.3 ED for $415. Compare that to the newly announced Tamron 18-270mm. Ouch! Of course the Olympus has a 2x "multiplier" making it a 36-360mm equivalent, so there is no wide angle here.

For a more moderate zoom ratio, the 70-300mm f4-5.6 ED gives you 140-600mm equivalent for $330.

Kit Lenses
Severely discounted when purchased with a dSLR body, these two lenses demand more if purchased solo. The standard kit lens is the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 ED for around $240, while the 40-150mm f4-5.6 ED goes for around $250. $500 is almost as much as you would pay to get the 2-lens kit for the E400-series or older models from the E500-series. Might as well pay a little more and get a DSLR too :)

And if you don't want to do the math, these are 28-84mm and 80-300mm in 35mm equivalent.

These were the second generation lenses that coincided with the general launch of the adorable E400-series. Before that, the kit lenses were the 14-45mm f3.5-5.6 and 17.5-45mm f3.5-5.6.

1. Olympus
2. B&H Photo

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