Thumsee Reed

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Thumsee, Bad Reichenhall

Since the beginning of this year, I have shrunken my photographic equipment quite a bit: from a DSLR with zooms down to a tiny m4/3 G3 with just three primes: 14mm, 20mm and 45mm. It resulted in less bulk and – a different way of seeing and framing. I like it a lot, and as image quality is at least on par even for 12″x17″ prints, there is no remorse.

Strolling through my hometown, I recently found a Pentax M 2.0/85mm manual lens for just €30,- in a shop window and decided to try that with an m4/3 adapter (chinese via eba*) on the G3. What a different feeling that lens gives: All metal/glass, a real aperture and distance ring (no fly by wire) and really heavy in comparison with the tiny Olympus 45mm. Manual focusing is ok as the G3 offers an enlargement of a selectable area in the viewfinder just by pressing down the wheel on the backside of the camera. And I do like that shallow DoF, even as the 6 aperture blades become visible in the reflections already at f2.8. A nice lens, not to carry it around every day (that lightweight, frugal equipment spoiled me), but sometimes a welcome addition.


  1. What lens is your 45mm? A macro? It is interesting that there are now so many lenses for m4/3 that one loses touch what is available.

    I like the green-blue framing and background, it goes well with the reeds from last year.

  2. Juha, I bought the Olympus 1,8/45mm – quite cheap in comparison with the stabilised Panasonic-Leica 2,8/45mm macro. I like its speed, sharpness and bokeh – and the speed alone is crucial, as the G3 does not have in-body stabilisation. If I would have waited a bit longer with my decision, I might have chosen the OM-D in spite of its fake retro design and the price.

    But one of the reasons to go the prime route with the new camera was the speed of the lenses. I do like very much to play with selective focus, and here both viewfinder, screen and focus area selection of the G3 shine.

  3. Juha, The 45mm is the equivalent of a 90mm in 35mm. It is a superb little lens, light, sharp and, as Markus says, with great bokeh. It is lovely for portraits and general shooting, as Markus’ pictures attest.

  4. What I have been thinking is using a m4/3 camera with either a 12 mm lens (24 mm equiv.) or with a macro lens, both of very high quality.

    But then I realize that for me the disadvantages compared to using the LX5 would be just too much. But still, I’m tempted.

    1. You have a wonderful blog using the LX5. The 4/3 would give you higher quality files that could only be seen in large prints. I love my G3 with a 14mm,20mm,25mm and 90mm, but your zoom is certainly more handy. Could you borrow/rent an m 4/3 camera to see how you like it?

      1. Yes, what I see from your work, Juha, there is not much that would be improved with a different camera. You’ve mastered your tool in a quite unique way, seeming to be able to handle it without thinking.

        A difference is certainly in the ability of using sharp/unsharp layers in the image, also in print (but I guess only in bigger sizes) and in the usability of high iso.

        The size difference will be substantial, but as you don’t miss the viewfinder (unlike me), the handling might at first have more disadvantages – until you, maybe, start photographing differently. The tool *can* influence the photographer. James’ advice to get a hands-on-experience with a m4/3 is certainly the best you could do.

  5. Well, thanks, much appreciated!

    Markus, your comment about the way a tool influences the photographer is indeed something I have been thinking about… Selecting a camera-lens combination which would push into new directions would be interesting to try out.

    And as James suggested, borrowing a m4/3 camera could be the way to go… have to think about this a bit.

  6. Looking at the prices of Olympus cameras, the entry-level Olympus PEN E-PM1 with the macro-capable AF 12-50/3,5-6,3 EZ ED Zuiko Digital is selling at less than 500 euro here in Finland. This lens seems to have a bit of mixed reviews, and it is slow, and the sensor of the PM1 isn’t great at high ISO either, but the combo is relatively cheap.

    However, this would be quite contrary to the “get a good prime” idea I was pondering earlier. Well, now is a good time to stop thinking about cameras and go and take some photographs…

    1. Juha, as interesting as this combo might look, my guess is that it’s not really a step forward in comparison with the LX5. I would rather look for a used E-PL1 or E-PM1 – in the Olympus forums here they are offered for less than €200 with the kit zoom, and get the 12mm Oly (expensive!) or 14mm Panasonic prime for it, maybe complementing it later with a 45mm macro from Panasonic (if you are inclined to it) or the fast 1,8/45mm Olympus.

      Using primes is different and could bring your intuitive photography one step further: you don’t think about zooming any more but develop a strong visual sense for that lens on your camera body and how it renders things. Some years ago I would have rejected that idea, beeing proud of the long range of focal lengths on my DSLR, but meanwhile I am able to think differently and enjoy that way of learning to see.

      1. I have the 14mm Panasonic lens, very nice little unit. The 20mm is, of course, a stunning lens and the 45mm Oly. is world class. One of those is always on my camera. I seem to “see” more closely to the 20mm most of the time. With the 45mm I put the camera to my eye and then back up three steps. I know Markus “sees” much closer to the 45mm. Mike Johnston and Ctein are the same way.

  7. Markus, I think you are right, no need to try to duplicate the LX5.

    And thanks for the description of the lenses, I think I’m rather “wide” in my preferrred view, but it would be interesting to try the 45 mm Oly, it seems to be quite a lens. Probably good for taking family portraits as well…

    1. As a portrait lens the 45mm is great – especially due to the speed, but also AF with face detection works very well. Of course it should be complemented with some wide angle, the 2.0/12mm or 2.5/14mm are well suited and (especially the latter) incredibly small and sharp.

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