I'm sure you've all heard the term GAS before. It's very common in photographers who think that the next piece of new kit is going to improve their photography. Of course it doesn't but there's no point preaching to them, because they just want new toys to play with. I'm not sure if Gear Acquisition Syndrome is only symptomatic to photographers, but I'm assuming it isn't.
I know all photographers go through this at some stage, and I think I've finally conquered this myself. Having said that, there are a few lenses I would dearly love to own, not because I think they'll improve my photography in any way; it would just be a pleasure to own them. Having high quality lenses on a camera gives me a lovely feeling deep down and gives me the impression that whatever I do, the images are going to be in the "fine art" club.
So, without further ado, here are the lenses I would dearly love to own, but just can't justify the expense.
Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f2.8 Power OIS
Another great lens by Panasonic. Beautifully built and extremely sharp.
Present Price: €2000
Panasonic LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT Professional Lens, 50-200mm, F2.8-4.0 ASPH.
In my Canon days the 100-400 was one of my favourite lenses and the Panasonic 50-200 would be the exact equivalent for the M43 system. Much lighter than the Canon version which was for the FF format. I’ll have to think very carefully about this one.
Present Price: €1450
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 ASPH Power OIS
I think this is one of the best lenses produced in the last few years. There is nothing compared to it out there. I would go as far as to say there aren't many lenses on ANY system to campare it to. When you think about it it's equal to a 200-800mm in 35mm terms. Once that sinks in, you have to appreciate and praise the engineers that actually designed this lens. It weight only 985g which is quite remarkable when you look at the focal lengths associated with the lens.
I haven't personally used this lens, or gone anywhere near it because I know if I did, I would walking out of the shop with the lens under my arm. I am also staying away from online shops at the moment. The images I have seen with this lens are of the highest quality, or it could just be I haven't seen the bad images taken with one.
Present price: €1500
Panasonic LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm f1.4 DG Micro Aspherical (H-X012E)
Since Panasonic having working in conjunction with Leica on their lenses, some high quality products have come off the production line. The 12 f1.4 is another one of these. Equivalent to 24mm in 35mm terms, this lens must be heaven for the wide-angle photographers out there. Although I'm not generally one of those, for those rare times when I go that wide this lens would be an absolute dream.
The mail reason I sone own it is for that exact reason, it would spend most of its time on the shelf. I tend to shoot long as that's how I see the world. When you look at the build quality and image rendition, anyone would be hard pressed to find a finer lens. I do won the 15 f1.7 though and that is as wide as I tend to go.
Present price: €1200
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 300mm F4 IS Pro
Equivalent to a 600mm lens in 35mm terms I don't think anyone can complain about image quality from this lens. Very sharp and contrasty with colours to die for. There's not a lot more to say about this lens, just that being a specialized lens I would hardly use it. I can see how birders can easily justify this lens though. I could use it for landscapes but I wouldn't use it too often. Marvellous lens though.
Present price: €2500
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 Pro
To be honest I've been on the fence about this lens for some time. It would pair up with my Olympus 12-40 f2.8 lens. But I haven't had the courage to order it yet. Something tells me I would be going against the principle of the m43 system - small and light. Having said that it is smaller and lighter than the Panasonic 100-400, weighing in at 880g and 160mm long. With an aperture of f2.8 throughout the focal range it has a filter thread of 72mm.
One advantage of the 40-150 f2.8 is you can couple this lens with a 1.4 Teleconverter the MC-14. You lose one step in light making the lens an f4 but with a focal range of 112 x 420mm. This lens is a tough one to resist especially considering I would then have 2 lenses with an aperture of f2.8 throughout the total focal range. And f2.8 is really nice to have.
Present Price: €1100 / €1500 with teleconverter
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO
Another high quality product in the Pro series from Olympus. I would actually own this just have it accompany the 12-40 f2.8 and the 40-150 f2.8. I own the Panasonic 7-14 f4 lens which is plenty wide for my shooting but it does have a couple of drawbacks. It doesn't take filters (but the Olympus 7-14 f2.8 doesn't either) and what is sometimes a major problem on Olympus bodies is the flare and purple blobs issues. Especially flarfe if the sun is anwhere near the front of the lens. I've come across this problem a couple of times myself and has put me off using the lens I must admit.
Present price: €1200
Having written this I have been reading a little about the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH.
And what I have read has brought back some hope. Flare doesn't seem to be a problem with this lens. Ok, it's not f2.8 throughout the range but f4 isn't that much of a problem at the long end. One point I have to point out is the lens takes 67mm filters which is wonderful. This lens would, at this point, make much more sense if I was to
invest again. It has 1mm less at the wide end but gains 4mm at the long end. The more I think about this lens, the more my GAS is coming back. Boy, what a good looking lens.
Present price: €1130
Update: After my Loire trip I have updated my wide angle lens to the Panasonic 8-18. One of the major reasons was it’s ability to take filters where the 7-14 cannot.
Note that all the above lenses are from the m43 family and that is because it's my main system presently and I have no intention of moving away from it. It offers everything I look for in a system right now; a huge selection of lenses, small, light and produces excellent image quality. It doesn't matter which body or lens you select you can chop and change between Panasonic and Olympus. I must admit I prefer using the Olympus bodies but both manufacturers produce excellent bodies with Panasonic putting a lot more effort into the video side of things.
Although I have a few Fuji cameras and lenses I don't long for any of their lenses. I use the 18-55 f2.8-4.0 kit lens a lot with a selection of their prime lenses. I'm quite happy with that. I tend to use my manual focus lenses on these cameras quite a bit because I find it easy and I Iike the image output for B&W conversion. There aren't any better files for this as they are very malleable. I can do a lot with these files and they still look great.
I also have a couple of APS-C and FF bodies from Sony and I find the a7r produces very high quality images. Again, I like using some of my manual focus lenses on these FF bodies and they are the best system for this, in my opinion of course. However, I find their lenses pretty expensive and a lot of these lenses don't pass quality control in my opinion again. Sony have to up their quality control process as I have read a lot about quality problems and lenses getting send back for a second or even a third copy before a good one if found.
You may seem surprised bwith the above lenses because most of them are Panasonic (Leica) lenses. That's because in my opinion they make the best lenses for the M43 system presently. The Olympus offerings are good but not up to par with their Panasonic counterparts. I admit that Olympus do build a couple of lenses that Panasonic do not etc and those are really good lenses. Unfortunately they don't appeal to me. Funnily enough, I prefer Olympus cameras so I'm often out and about with Olympus cameras sporting Panasonic lenses. They work though apart for a couple of compatability problems with IS and so on. Let's see what the future offers because I do believe that the M43 format is here to stay. For me, it's the perfect travelling system out there.