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Thread: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

  1. #1
    ktraphagen
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    Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Other than price (which is significant), can anyone give me some advice or personal experience with these two lenses?

    Panasonic HES045 LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8

    Olympus ED 50mm f2.0 Macro 1:2

    I've got a GF1. Thx!

    Karyn

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    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Karyn,
    I have the Oly 50. I have had the lens since my Oly E3 days. I use it on the G1 and am very happy with the IQ. It does not AF on the current G1/GH1/GF1 but should AF on the G2 (I've read). I would not recommend it for GF1. It is too big. If I didn't already have it, I would go for the Pan-Leica. It is a better size and AF's and has been shown to have excellent IQ.

  3. #3
    ktraphagen
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Thx, Cindy. Very helpful info.

    Karyn

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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    If you're only going to use these lenses for macro work, then AF isn't much of a requirement since most macro stuff is done in MF. So the Oly 50/2.0 is a viable option for macro even on the older G1/GH1s. While the f/2 aperture may sound appealing, that's more useful for non-macro shots than it is for macro. At f/2 you'll have a very shallow DOF to work with, and you'll find yourself mostly working somewhere between f/5.6 and f/11 in macro (depending on the diffraction effects you start to encounter, which should start appearing around f/8).

    However, you can get legacy MF macro lenses that as just as good for less money than the Oly 50/2m so look into that for a dedicated macro lens option. You can pick up a Canon FD 50/3.5 macro with adapter for less than $100, for example.
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

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    Senior Member RonSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    My Panasonic 45/2.8 just arrived last Friday and although I haven't really run it through its paces yet, it seems like an excellent lens. Makes a good portrait lens too.

    Ron Smith
    Flickr

  6. #6
    noirist
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by photoSmart42 View Post
    ....you'll find yourself mostly working somewhere between f/5.6 and f/11 in macro (depending on the diffraction effects you start to encounter, which should start appearing around f/8)
    Is this true for all macro lens or only the Panasonic 45mm?

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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by noirist View Post
    Is this true for all macro lens or only the Panasonic 45mm?
    If you're asking about diffraction, then that's related to the sensor resolution (related to Airy disk effects), so it would apply to any lens that's in front of a particular sensor. Here's a link that attempts to explain the physics of diffraction: link. For the sensors we have in these cameras, theoretically we should start seeing diffraction effects starting with f/5.6, but unless you're pixel peeping you likely won't see anything until you get to f/8 and higher.
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Agree with Dragos' posts on going for a manual focus lens. Lots of choices.

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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by ktraphagen View Post
    Other than price (which is significant), can anyone give me some advice or personal experience with these two lenses?
    Panasonic HES045 LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8
    Olympus ED 50mm f2.0 Macro 1:2
    I've got a GF1.
    I own both Olympus ZD Macros (35mm f/3.5 and 50mm f/2) and have used the Macro-Elmarit 45mm quite a lot too (loaner from a friend) with the G1 body. I use the two SLR lenses with my SLR bodies as well as the G1.

    The Olympus 50/2 Macro is superb. One of the finest 50mm lenses I've owned (which includes a lot of excellent lenses over the past four decades...). However, on the GF1, it is manual focus only, will reach 1:2 magnification (and neither the EX25 or EC14 are usable with it on the GF1), and it is somewhat bulky and heavy with the GF1 body. No matter what its price, you have to add another $130-160 for the adapter too.

    If I were buying a lens specifically to use with the GF1, I'd pick the ME-45 without question. Superb rendering, very sharp, autofocus capable, 1:1 capability in the lens, image stabilization and focus limiter for general purpose shooting, small and light. I'll add one to my kit sometime soon.

    (BTW, I've also used several manual-focus, adapted macro lenses with the G1. Both the ZD 50/2 and ME 45/2.8 out-perform them without question. And they were not poor performers by any means!)

  10. #10
    noirist
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by photoSmart42 View Post
    If you're asking about diffraction, then that's related to the sensor resolution (related to Airy disk effects), so it would apply to any lens that's in front of a particular sensor. Here's a link that attempts to explain the physics of diffraction: link. For the sensors we have in these cameras, theoretically we should start seeing diffraction effects starting with f/5.6, but unless you're pixel peeping you likely won't see anything until you get to f/8 and higher.
    Thank you!

  11. #11
    noirist
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    And to address the OP... I'm new to macro photography and just got the Panasonic 45mm f2.8 lens to play with on my GH1. My first thoughts are as follows. There's a HUGE difference between 1:1 and 1:2. Why cheat yourself with 1:2 when you can have 1:1 on the Pana? I enjoy taking macro movies as much if not more than macro stills, and for macro movies you really need autofocus like you get on the Pana. Even for macro stills, unless my camera is on a tripod and I'm taking a picture of a immobile subject with plenty of time to get the focus right, I really need autofocus. At 1:1 even the tiniest movements of the subject or the photographer can put the subject out of focus and autofocus helps a lot. I've only had the Pana lens for a few days, but so far I'm pleased.

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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by noirist View Post
    And to address the OP... I'm new to macro photography and just got the Panasonic 45mm f2.8 lens to play with on my GH1. My first thoughts are as follows. There's a HUGE difference between 1:1 and 1:2. Why cheat yourself with 1:2 when you can have 1:1 on the Pana? I enjoy taking macro movies as much if not more than macro stills, and for macro movies you really need autofocus like you get on the Pana. Even for macro stills, unless my camera is on a tripod and I'm taking a picture of a immobile subject with plenty of time to get the focus right, I really need autofocus. At 1:1 even the tiniest movements of the subject or the photographer can put the subject out of focus and autofocus helps a lot. I've only had the Pana lens for a few days, but so far I'm pleased.
    Fair point regarding macro videos as far as AF is concerned, but don't sell yourself short either. With practice you'll find you can take great macro shots, perfectly in focus, handheld, by only using manual focus (people have been doing it for decades before the invention of AF). I've taken successful macro shots up to roughly 3:1 magnification handheld. It's all about technique. Once you get used to handheld shots, you'll realize the tripod is actually in the way unless you're doing stuff above 2:1 (you definitely need a stable platform for microscopy...).

    Karyn had a "significant" concern regarding the price of the PL45, and I agree. It's not for everyone. Believe me if I had a spare $800 around I'd purchase that lens as well for as much fanfare as it's received (although for that price I'd consider other lenses as well). Frankly I would expect for that price the lens to be superb. Until then I'll have to walk around with my Tokina 90/2.5, which is not all too shabby a performer =).
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    HI Karyn
    I have both of these lenses.
    the Olympus 50 f2 is really one of the sharpest lenses I've owned - outstanding. However, it does have a rather nasty 'gritty' bokeh, and of course it's big, and even if it will AF on the panasonic in the future it's likely to be irritatingly slow.
    The Panaleica AF works okay (not rocketspeed but fine). It probably isn't quite as sharp overall as the Olympus, but it has a wonderful creamy bokeh in almost all situations (see Ron's shot above). For me this is the real feature, and I'd always pick it up rather than the Olympus.

    all the best

    Just this guy you know

  14. #14
    ktraphagen
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Thank you everyone. That's a lot to consider!

    I've been really happen with my GF1. On the other end of the spectrum, I've been able to get some great video with my mFT 45-200mm and AF while handheld. I've done some wildlife activity video with it out to 200mm and the AF worked amazingly well.

    But now I want to get in as close as possible for macro. I'd like some more feedback about the difference between a lens with 1:1 and a lens with 1:2. I would think a 1:2 would get me in way closer, but noirist (above) said why cheat myself getting a 1:2 when I can get the 1:1. I don't understand that comment.

    Thanks again for all the patient explanations.
    Karyn

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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    1:1 = lifesize, 1:2 - half lifesize

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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Karyn,

    The nomenclature "1:2" or "1:1" is assuming you understand that a ratio of "Image:Subject" dimensions is what is being referred to. A lens that achieves 1:2 reproduction ratio allows you to capture an area as small as 26x34.6 mm, where a lens which achieves a 1:1 reproduction ratio allows you to capture and area as small as 13x17.3 mm (assuming FourThirds format in both cases).

    So ... the Macro-Elmarit 45/2.8 will allow you to capture a smaller area than the ZD 50/2 lens. This will also happen at a closer camera-to-subject distance.

  17. #17
    ktraphagen
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Right, so wouldn't 1:2 mean that I would be able to capture something closer? In other words, I was thinking of 1:1 as 1x and 1:2 as 2x. I want the greater magnification. So, for instance the M-E would give me an even greater magnfication (albeit at a closer camera to distance). This is why I was confused by the comment that it would be a sacrifice to go with the 1:2 instead of the 1:1.

    Karyn

  18. #18
    noirist
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by ktraphagen View Post
    Right, so wouldn't 1:2 mean that I would be able to capture something closer? In other words, I was thinking of 1:1 as 1x and 1:2 as 2x. I want the greater magnification. So, for instance the M-E would give me an even greater magnfication (albeit at a closer camera to distance). This is why I was confused by the comment that it would be a sacrifice to go with the 1:2 instead of the 1:1.

    Karyn
    1:2 on the Olympus 50mm macro means 0.52x magnification with respect to the sensor size. The Panasonic has 1.00x magnification, which is twice as much in each dimension (ie., 4x as many pixels for your subject). To get that kind of magnification on the Olympus, you have to add the EX-25 extension tube (150g, $125).

    P.S. Godfrey says (above) that the EX-25 can't be used on the GF1.
    Last edited by noirist; 30th April 2010 at 18:05.

  19. #19
    ktraphagen
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    OK, thanks. Clearly I need to go back and do some review work with lenses. Thanks for your help and patience, Noirist (and others).

    Karyn

  20. #20
    noirist
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by photoSmart42 View Post
    Fair point regarding macro videos as far as AF is concerned, but don't sell yourself short either. With practice you'll find you can take great macro shots, perfectly in focus, handheld, by only using manual focus (people have been doing it for decades before the invention of AF). I've taken successful macro shots up to roughly 3:1 magnification handheld. It's all about technique. Once you get used to handheld shots, you'll realize the tripod is actually in the way unless you're doing stuff above 2:1 (you definitely need a stable platform for microscopy...).
    Dragos - I'm struggling to keep the camera stable for 1x macro shots without a tripod. How do you do it?

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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by noirist View Post
    P.S. Godfrey says (above) that the EX-25 can't be used on the GF1.
    That is correct. The G1/GF1/GH1 are not compatible with the EX25: they don't send power or control signals through it, so the 50 Macro is dead in the water if you try to use it. You can't focus it and you have no aperture control.

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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by ktraphagen View Post
    Right, so wouldn't 1:2 mean that I would be able to capture something closer? In other words, I was thinking of 1:1 as 1x and 1:2 as 2x.
    Karyn
    Karyn,

    What you need for this ratio of magnification is 2:1, where you're capturing at twice the size with respect to 1:1.

    Think of fractions: 1:1 = 1/1 = 1, 2:1 = 2/1 = 2, 1:2 = 1/2 = 0.5

    Hope this helps.

    Ciao,

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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by noirist View Post
    Dragos - I'm struggling to keep the camera stable for 1x macro shots without a tripod. How do you do it?
    It comes down to some basic techniques, and then lots of practice. If you think about it, the human body has some distinct advantages over an inanimate tripod - the ability to think (different setups, different orientations determined by the environment on the fly), the ability to feel (touch, pressure, balance, etc.), and the ability to control (muscles). By the time you deal with the tripod and your macro rail, you've already lost the opportunity unless you do studio macro.

    Here are some basic techniques to control your camera for field macro shots:

    1. Maintain some sort of three-point control over your camera - that's the best configuration for a stable platform because the three points define a plane. For example, when I'm lying down on the ground for a macro shot, my three points are my elbows and the camera held against my face. Likewise you can use your hands to wrap around a nearby tree/branch, or a stick you may bring along with you for support. I realize that's a bit more difficult to do with a GF1 unless you use the EVF with it, but then the GF and PEN bodies aren't ideal for macro. You'll have to find a way to compensate for the fact that you have to hold the camera away from your body.

    2. Practice breathing techniques. Slow down your breathing and calm down before you take a shot, then when you're ready inhale, then exhale half-way, hold your breath and while you do that slowly press the shutter button. That technique alone will help minimize a lot of vibrations and shaking.

    3. Move your body to focus. Once you've composed the shot you want, hold that configuration steady (however you hold your camera), and rock your body slightly back and forth so your focal plane travels back and forth across your subject. Take your photo as your focal plane crosses the point of interest on your subject that you want to be in focus. This is also a good technique to use if you do focus stacked macros, except you'll be taking a bunch of photos across a variety of points of interest.

    4. Use a fast shutter speed. You definitely want to use the fastest shutter speed possible that gives you the correct exposure. Your aperture should be fixed based on the DOF coverage you want in your photo, so you either need to crank up your ISO (as much as possible without getting to much noise - my limit is 800), or add light, or both in order to get that fast shutter speed. A fast shutter will go a long way to eliminate jitter or instability, but it does come at a cost of reduced light. Even a shutter speed of 1/160 (limited to this when using a flash) should improve your stability.

    5. Slow down. I think a lot of people see macro as interesting simply because you're presenting a view of the world that's not normally seen, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't slow down to compose your macro photograph. It's not about taking a snapshot, it's about creating a photograph. A well-composed macro will have a lot more impact than the passing interest one that's not so composed will have. So if you slow down to compose your macro shots, that will naturally slow down your body, thus enabling you to better use some of the techniques above.

    Here's some additional resources you can use for your macro work:
    a. LordV macro tips
    b. Photomacrography forum

    Hope this helps. Good luck and HAVE FUN! =)
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

  24. #24
    richie15
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    You could get a Canon 50mm macro with adapter for a fraction of the price and I think for macro its as good as the PL45mm.

  25. #25
    noirist
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    Re: Oly vs Pan Macro lens. Thoughts?

    Thanks, Dragos.

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