Friday, 18 September 2015

The 'Holy Trinity' of Micro Four Thirds lenses

Great things come in threes. Three is a very lucky number in various cultures. It’s balanced (think of the rule of thirds in composition) and just feels ‘right’ for some reason. Photographer’s often talk about the ‘holy trinity’ of lenses – which varies slightly depending on manufacturer. The ‘holy trinity’ of Canon pro zooms, for example, is the 16-35mm f2.8L, the 24-70mm f2.8L and the 70-210mm f2.8L. Another (slightly cheaper) alternative might be the 17-40mm f4L, the 24-70mm f4L, and the 70-200mm f4L. With Nikon, it will be slightly different. Their ‘holy trinity’ of pro zooms consists of the 14-24mm f2.8G, 24-70mm f2.8G and 70-200mm f2.8G.

For the Micro Four Thirds system to be a real contender with working pros and serious amateurs, Olympus needed to address this ‘holy trinity’ in their M43rds zoom lens line up. With the release of their pro body, the E-M1, they also released their first ‘pro’ lens, the 12-40mm f2.8 (24-80mm f2.8 equivalent). This was followed up by the 40-150mm f2.8 (80-300mm f2.8 equivalent), and now finally we also have the 7-14mm f2.8 (14-28mm f2.8 equivalent). All fast (f2.8) pro level glass with solid metal construction all the way from 14mm to 300mm in three lenses. The M43 ‘Holy Trinity’ of Olympus zoom lenses.

The Zoom Trinity. 7-14mm, 12-40mm & 40-150mm f2.8 Pro's

Again, it is slightly different if you are a Panasonic shooter – although of course you can use the Olympus lenses on your Panasonic bodies. If you want to shoot with Panasonic’s own lenses however, then the holy trinity will look something like this; Panasonic 7-14mm f4, Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 and Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8.

If we switch our attention to prime lenses, then it gets a little more subjective. Some consider the Olympus 17mm f1.8, 25mm f1.8 and 45mm f1.8 to be the holy trinity of primes for micro four thirds. Or, on the Panasonic side, we have the Panasonic 15mm f1.7, Panasonic 25mm f1.4 and Panasonic 42.5 f1.2 which gives a decent spread of fast primes. But it all depends on the focal length you are after.

The Olympus Prime Trinity. 17mm, 25mm and 45mm f1.8 primes
Other options include the Olympus 12mm f2, 75mm f1.8 or 300mm f4 Pro, and the Panasonic 14mm f2.5, 20mm f1.7 and 30mm f2.8 macro. Not to mention some amazingly fast 0.95 (manual focus) lenses from Voigtlander. The 17.5mm, 25mm and 42.5mm f0.95 lenses make up their own ‘holy trinity’.

Of course, the great thing about the micro four thirds system is that you can mix and match lenses from the various manufacturers who support the lens mount (including Sigma, Tamron and Tokina). My prime lenses at the moment are the Olympus 17mm f2.8 and the Olympus 45mm f1.8. I’m not quite sure which lens to add to the mix to make my own trinity – I’m torn between the Panasonic 14mm f2.5 or the Olympus 25mm f1.8. The 17 and 45 give me a wide standard (34mm) and reasonable telephoto (90mm). Do I want to go wider still with the 14mm, or more ‘standard’ with the 25mm? I’m not really sure.

I will probably eventually gravitate towards the ‘classic’ 17, 25 & 45mm combo – although there’s nothing that says you only have to have three lenses J   

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