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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:46 am 
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Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
:) cliff's notes
NEEDS: street, portrait, low light, macro
SHORTLIST: 12-60mm, 50mm macro, 70-300mm

I've been looking for a new lens: 50mm macro, 12-60, or 70-300mm. A local store has an ex-display 70-300mm for the equivalent of $250 (around 33% here) which I'm going to test tomorrow.

There isn't actually much wildlife to shoot here in Korea, but what there is are lots of fantastic opportunities for street & portrait which I want to do more of, and I also want something better than my kit lenses for insect/flower macro. I'll keep my 2 kit lenses as they're so small & light for hiking and I know the limitations of the 70-300 in the top half of its focal range and also AF issues in low light, although I've yet to try it for myself.

Can someone tell me how useful the 70-300 is in their experience for my needs? Also, how bad is the focusing problems of this lense in low light/night time at the wider end of its range (70-100mm) as I also like to shoot low light street photography.

Aside from the macro feature, and additional weight & cost, I'm thinking that this lense won't add much more to my photography than the 40-150 I already have. The supertele ability of this lens would only be a small % of my photography, although there are times when my kit tele is a little short and the 70-300 is a little brighter at EFLs.

Any advice/suggestions on the 2 alternatives (12-60 & 50mm) would also be appreciated. I know they are much sharper, brighter, and more expensive than the 70-300, but I can only afford to add 1 lens for now.

Thanks for any input.

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Panasonic G3: 9-18mm, 14mm, 20mm, 45mm


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:54 am 
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Location: UK
I used to have the 70-300, almost exclusively when I had an E-510. The macro was quite usable. At maximum magnification it lacks a certain crispness you get from a dedicated macro, but conversely the working distance was massive which really helps with bugs.

I don't recall any one-shot AF issues with mine, although I probably didn't use the wide end much. It wasn't great tracking moving subjects though.

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:03 pm 
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Location: 123° 21´ 56´´ W, 48° 28´ 23´´ N
Wow. You're asking quite a lot from a single lens. You listed four types of photography, but then mentioned only "street and portraits" in your post. Are these two "must haves" and the others "nice to haves"? I think your choice depends a lot on your answer because if one lens "must" do these two types well, the 12-60 will give you the most bang for the buck. But if you really must have all four types, then I would recommend the 50mm.

Just to get this out of the way, the only category where the 70-300 would be the best choice would be for macro, and then only if your subjects tend to move fast. The 12-60 is not a macro lens at all, and the 50 requires you to get within centimeters of a macro subject to achieve the magnifications you will likely expect from your macro photos (1:1). Most bugs (in my experience) will want to climb onto your lens, or run or fly away in mortal fear for their lives if you get that close. By comparison, the 70-300 gives you about one meter of working distance but half the maximum magnification (1:2).

If street and portraits are the "must haves", the 12-60 deserves serious consideration because of the wider range of focal lengths and better (faster) AF performance. These two features make it very good for street photography. While the 50mm macro is probably the better portrait lens, the 12-60 is also very sharp and adds a bit of versatility in the longer focal lengths. The 50mm will, in my opinion, be frustrating to use for street photography due to its fixed focal length. While you are zooming with your feet, you will likely lose many "moments". You will also have no wide angle ability for cityscapes.

But, if you add in low-light and macro to the "must have" list, the 50 starts to look better. It's very strong in the macro and low-light areas compared with the 12-60, and is an excellent portrait lens. It's weakness is in street photography, but it does have one advantage over the 12-60 even here: size. It's significantly lighter and shorter, making it very portable for long periods.

So while the 50mm f/2 macro would perhaps give you what you want for 3 of the 4 types, it may be too frustrating to use in the street. If you can live with a prime lens for the street, I'd say the 50mm f/2 macro is your choice. Of course, with the money you DON'T spend on the 12-60, you could pick up the 70-300 and the 50 then have the macro field pretty much covered. Who knows, you might not have much wildlife in Korea, but I'm guessing you'll find there's more than you think if you erect a bird feeder.

Let us know what you end up with!

Cheers,

Terry

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E-620 : HLD-5 : 7-14mm : 8mm FE : 9-18mm : 12-60mm : 14-42mm : PL 25mm : 50mm Macro : 50-200mm SWD : 70-300mm : EC-14 : EC-20 : EX-25 : XZ-1
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 1:08 am 
you'll need them all. but dont get the 12-60mm get the Olympus 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II this way you can have them all. and get everything you need done with three very sharp lenses.

this is the order you should go. kit lenses, 70-300mm, 14-54mm, sell the kit lenses, 50mm macro.

you should have it all within a few months. 8)


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:44 am 
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Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Thanks for the suggestions. I know I'll need them all as they all have their speciality - I was just looking for something to meet most of my needs initially.

Anyway, the 70-300 I was looking at has been sold so I'll have to find somewhere else I can try one out in low light using its wider end.

Eventhough the 14-54 is cheaper, it's not that much cheaper here and I'd really miss the wide end of the 12-60. I use my 0.7x converter regularly which gives me around 10mm on my kit lens but with very soft corners.

Getting hold of Olympus kit here is really tough. There's one lens rental place but they only have SHG lenses and charge more than $40/day :cry:

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Panasonic G3: 9-18mm, 14mm, 20mm, 45mm


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:31 am 
If you go for the 12-60mm, then you should go for the 50-200mm as well. The 70-300mm is a great versatile lens, but it is after all only standard grade.


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