First prime

JediCheese

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I purchased the OM-D E-M10 Mark iii kit with the 14-42EZ lens. I quickly purchased the Oly 14-150mm II and a polarizer which I love for lightweight travel. I'll be picking up the Oly 9-18mm as a wide lens for travel in the next few weeks/months for wide shots that I currently can't capture and if I can find a good deal on a Leica 12-60mm, I'll be jumping on that also.

My dad has had a SLR/DSLR for years for when he travels, but has always owned a nice zoom lens and didn't like primes (didn't use it enough) and I've used it enough to know what a zoom can do and what sort of shots it is good for. Additionally, I've had my camera and lenses for a few months to play with.

The thing is, I want to up my game. I feel a cheap(ish) prime might be nice to have for when I'm around home for throwaway shots. Just throw it on and go out to a local park, trail, or wander around town to see what I can capture. I've found a big part of learning with this is trying to replicate photos I see here (or elsewhere) and understand what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and what various options do.

I wouldn't travel with it because i would have more variability and space/weight is at a premium when I travel (I onebag all my international travel). About the only reason I would carry it when traveling is if it's something I don't have covered by the 9-18mm and 14-150mm or I feel it would be ideal for my travels due to having a higher fstop.

I see people post the Pana 15mm, Oly 17mm, Oly 20mm, Oly 45mm, or the like around here but there are so many options and would love some suggestions. Someone posted the Yi 42.5mm lens on the Hot Deals board and it's tempting. I'm trying to buy a single prime to get my feet wet, and not buying a full set of 3+ lenses at the start to cover all my bases (might get there someday).

Ideally there is something out there that won't break the bank and will allow me to grow as a photographer to understand photography more, but also still be usable once I've got some skills and not be redundant with other overlapping primes as I expand (such as 15mm vs 17mm).
 
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In the Buy & Sell section there are several Oly 17 1.8 lenses available - that would make a good starting point for not too much. There is also a Sigma 30 1.4 - that lens I will always recommend wholeheartedly. It is a good buy at what that seller is asking. Finding Oly or Panasonic 25's for cheap is usually pretty easy here or over on KEH or MPB.
 
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I'd recommend the Olympus 45mm 1.8. A great lense for the money.
Seeing as you will be buying the Oly 9-18 in the next few months, it will have the 17mm fl covered.

I much prefer 45mm (90mm FF) focal length to 25mm, hence MY recommendation. :)

Good luck whatever you choose.
 

PakkyT

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I love my trio of the Oly 17/25/45 f1.8 with the 25 being my favorite and the 45 getting the least use due to the focal length, but otherwise a great lens. None of them are bank breakers, with the 45 being a downright bargain much of the time, and the f1.8 aperture will offer something over your zooms especially if you want something to use at night with lower light shots gaining you that extra stop+ of light gathering.

I recently sold off my Panasonic 12-35/2.8 because I wanted to fund getting the OLY 12-100 PRO, but also because I simply wasn't using the Panasonic much anymore as I prefer to shoot with my primes. I thought might as well upgrade the zoom to the 12-100 so when I do want to use a zoom I have a bit more of a all-in-one lens (perfect for traveling) but still in a high quality lens. Otherwise I probably will continue to shoot with my primes mostly. Even when I travel with zooms (last trip I took my huge 12-60 SWD and ZD 50-200mm) I will still bring a small light primes, typically the 25/1.8.

So ya, I would highly recommend picking up something to start with. The 40+mm focal lengths might be a bit long for everyday use. To test, try setting your zoom to 42 or 45 and put a bit of masking tape on the zoom ring to prevent you from wanting to adjust it. Then see how you do on an outting at that focal length.
 

JediCheese

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Is the 12-60 SWD for M43 or just 4/3? I've seen it before but they seem to longer sell it under mirrorless and I've only see the 4/3 version.

I've looked at my photos and seem to want to shoot slightly wider than 14mm once in a while, but rarely go beyond 60mm. But the 12-40 Pro is not long enough for my travel uses despite the ravings about it here.

Seems the Oly 25 might be my best bet from what I see here.
 
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I started my prime journey with a Sigma 30 2.8 (£100 new as a birthday present from my wife) and it really helped my photography.
It was centred on the focal length where most of my shots on where taken using the 14-42
It was immediately apparent the improvement that the Sigma gave over the 14-42 and on the epm1 I had at the time
really small and enjoyable to use; the 14-42 rarely got used after the Sigma arrived.
It has since been replaced by an Oly 25 better IQ and low light capability but more expensive - you pays your money
It is small enough to go in the travel kit unnoticed until needed (evening use in low light mainly).

The prime that really kicked me off was the Sigma 60 2.8 (also £100, and a Christmas present from wife). The 40-150 took nice portraits, but nothing like the Sigma. It gave me something that I couldn't do with the zooms and a real reason for buying/using it.
It fell into disuse a bit after I bought the PL 12-60 but for convenience reasons only; the PL is good enough at 60mm, although the Sigma is better.
This week I picked up a Sigma 56 and I have fallen in love again. We have been invited to a wedding next week and I am so looking forward to taking it.

TBH I suspect any prime will do to get you started, think of something that will give you an improvement over the zooms,
low light, portrait, macro etc. or where the extra detail will be useful; think what focal length you like to use, either your most used (in my case the S30) or something you hope will be used (S60) and go out and get one you won't regret it .

This is the real beauty of MFT, you can get a small cheap prime for almost any focal length, if you don't get on with it sell it for little loss or if you are clever a profit :) If you do become hooked then bigger, better and more expensive awaits.

My choice if you are taking votes Sigma 60 2.8
 

DanS

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Since you mentioned the park and trails, I'd personally recommend the Oly 60. Since its a macro you can get up close and personal with flowers and bugs, but its also long enough to act as a short telephoto or tight portrait lens. I don't mean to take over your thread, but here are some examples.

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KBeezie

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My native lens grab-n-go kit has usually been the Olympus 12mm f/2.0, Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, and Olympus 45/1.8, though recently I've prefered the Panasonic 42.5 f/1.7 O.I.S. over the Oly 45. But out of the three originals I mentioned, the 20/1.7 and 12/2.0 gets the most use for.

PS: One of the reasons for the 42.5 over the Oly 45 is the focusing distance is about half the Oly. (the other reason is because it seems sharper wide open)

 

KBeezie

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My two main primes are the P15 1.7 and the P42.5 1.7. I will also take the O60 Macro on occasion.
I have several zooms, but find I take better photos with primes.
I don't own zooms (other than on my Pentax Q10), but having the opportunity to easily borrow zooms from the department (such as the Panasonic 12-35 2.8 OIS, or meta-bone-adapted Canon 16-35, 70-200, 24-70, etc), I still prefer primes.

When compared to zooms of equivalent prices, primes are usually :
- Sharper
- Lighter
- Brighter
- Smaller
- Easier to manually focus
 

PakkyT

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Is the 12-60 SWD for M43 or just 4/3? I've seen it before but they seem to longer sell it under mirrorless and I've only see the 4/3 version.
The 12-60 SWD is an old 4/3rds lens and Oly didn't make a version for m43. Panasonic has a couple different 12-60mm lenses for m43. No experience with either so can't compare them to mine or each other.
 

Santa

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you said you wanted: “a prime might be nice to have for when I'm around home for throwaway shots. Just throw it on and go out to a local park, trail, or wander around town to see what I can capture.”

I suggest the Panasonic 20mm 1.7. It is sharp, small and will accomplish all the above very well.
 

Brownie

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Two things:

The Panny 25 1.7 is a very good deal. Go check out some of the photos in the showcase threads.

Second, The PL 12-60 is a great lens, it's also very large and heavy as compared to the P 12-60. The thing about this specific pair of lenses is that the P performs very well when compared to the PL at a fraction of the cost. Unless you need the speed, you may want to consider it as an option. There are plenty of reviews out there for both lenses as well as some direct comparisons. There's a used copy of the P on this board right now for $170. Take a look at the reviews, you may be able to get your prime and a 12-60 for less than the PL.
 

mumu

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The thing is, I want to up my game. I feel a cheap(ish) prime might be nice to have for when I'm around home for throwaway shots. Just throw it on and go out to a local park, trail, or wander around town to see what I can capture. I've found a big part of learning with this is trying to replicate photos I see here (or elsewhere) and understand what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and what various options do.
Sorry to rain on your parade but, IMO, simply using a prime isn't going to up your game. Giving yourself a photographic challenge will be more productive. Now, if your challenge requires or would greatly benefit from a particular prime, then yeah, getting a prime would help.

I see people post the Pana 15mm, Oly 17mm, Oly 20mm, Oly 45mm, or the like around here but there are so many options and would love some suggestions. Someone posted the Yi 42.5mm lens on the Hot Deals board and it's tempting. I'm trying to buy a single prime to get my feet wet, and not buying a full set of 3+ lenses at the start to cover all my bases (might get there someday).
Decide what you want to photograph and then buy the lens to suit, if that's what you need.
 

ac12

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There are a couple ways to go
  • A single prime: either 17 (moderate wide) or 25 (normal)
  • A 2-lens prime kit: 17 + 45. This is similar to the old 35mm PJ 2-lens kit of 35 + 85/105.
    • I would start with the 17, then get the 45 after. Unless you have the cash to get both at once.
I have a 17/1.8 as my indoor low light prime. I use it when the light level is too low for my zoom, so it comes with me as a companion lens to my zooms. I selected 17 because I would probably be indoors, and thus cramped for space, so a wide seemed a better choice than a normal.
 

ac12

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The thing is, I want to up my game. I feel a cheap(ish) prime might be nice to have for when I'm around home for throwaway shots. Just throw it on and go out to a local park, trail, or wander around town to see what I can capture. I've found a big part of learning with this is trying to replicate photos I see here (or elsewhere) and understand what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and what various options do.

I wouldn't travel with it because i would have more variability and space/weight is at a premium when I travel (I onebag all my international travel). About the only reason I would carry it when traveling is if it's something I don't have covered by the 9-18mm and 14-150mm or I feel it would be ideal for my travels due to having a higher fstop.

I see people post the Pana 15mm, Oly 17mm, Oly 20mm, Oly 45mm, or the like around here but there are so many options and would love some suggestions. Someone posted the Yi 42.5mm lens on the Hot Deals board and it's tempting. I'm trying to buy a single prime to get my feet wet, and not buying a full set of 3+ lenses at the start to cover all my bases (might get there someday).

Ideally there is something out there that won't break the bank and will allow me to grow as a photographer to understand photography more, but also still be usable once I've got some skills and not be redundant with other overlapping primes as I expand (such as 15mm vs 17mm).
If all you want to do is to restrict yourself to a single focal length, just set your zoom to one focal length then not touch the zoom control. You effectively now have a prime lens, at zero cost.

Unless you are going to do portrature or something that requires more magnification, I would not go with a 42/45 as your first prime.
A normal (20/25) or wide (15/17) would be a better starting point.
 

RyanM

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The good news is that there are lots of high-quality, affordable primes available for m43; you almost can't go wrong. The P14 f/2.5, DJI 15 f/1.7, O17 f/1.8, P25 f/1.7, O25 f/1.8, O45 f/1.8 are all great and reasonably priced. If you have focal length preferences, let that guide you. The DJI 15mm is my walkaround, everyday-carry lens at the moment.

Since you say that the primary use for the lens is walkabout, I'd definitely consider the 60mm f/2.8 macro. Longer focal length lenses do well for walkaround, since they are better at excluding the clutter of scenes in daily life (either by taking them out of the frame or with thin DOF). Plus the opportunities for macro photography in everyday life abound, so adding that option is great.
 

agentlossing

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I think you will probably want a large-aperture (f1.8 at least) prime in order to see a significant difference from your zooms. When you get into short and medium tele (like the 30mm f1.4 or the 45mm f1.8) you get some nice background separation in most situations. Alternatively you can go for a nice standard (the Oly 25mm f1.8 just renders super well and is a joy to use) or get an ultra-cheap prime for just practicing and minimizing size, in the form of the Oly 17mm f2.8. The latter is not a sharp lens, but it's punchy, and has a rendering that looks gritty and pleasing for street and similar types of photos.

On the Panasonic side, the 20mm f1.7 is slow to focus but the quality is outstanding for its size. The 15mm is a terrific lens by most accounts (I've never used it) and is probably most closely compared to the Oly 17mm f1.8. Those wide-normal large aperture lenses are great single options, but you probably won't see a great deal of difference form your zooms in most applications, unless you are in low light a lot.
 

evilnim

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When I started my interest in photography, I didn’t yet know what I wanted to shoot or how I wanted to do it. What I did know was that I wanted to try a prime and see how I got on. I chose a normal prime - the Panasonic 20mm f1.7. It truly opened my eyes to a different kind of rendering, how to use a brighter aperture for low light scenes and out of focus areas in portraits. Now I’m by no means an expert, and I still don’t really have a ‘thing’ that I am good at unlike many people on this forum, but I like photography and it is fun. I have a place in my lens collection for zooms, often for travel and ease, for my kids, which are bright primes, and for night time photography, which is a wider bright prime.

I can trace all of this back to the Panasonic 20mm. It’s a great price for a great little lens. I’ll echo everyone else as well - that’s just my pennies worth, but your choice may be different. Good luck!
 

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