Klu Klix Klan

I’m thinking of joining the Ku Klix Klan. It’s like the Ku Klux Klan was but it’s for photographers. More exactly, it’s for photographers who hate certain lenses or cameras, even camera makers. If that sound crazy, bear with me.

In a previous blog here,  I explained why I hated Panasonic’s 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron. That was the start of it all. Then Olympus brought out their 40-150mm f2.8 zoom and I have gradually come to hate that. Not that I’ve ever so much as laid my hands on one. Now, I’ve decided that I hate Panasonic itself.  Before I put on my white hood and cape and set out to picket my local camera shop, I’ll explain why.

Like Panasonic’s Nocticron, the Olympus 40-150 is big. Not big by full frame standards but by Micro four Third standards. It is also a mind blowingly drop dead gorgeous lens.  If Panasonic’s 35-100 f2.8 is Orlando Bloom, the Olympus is Brad Pitt. The trouble is, I originally bought in to MFT so that I could take a near as dammit professional outfit out with me on my bicycle or when I went walking.

Neither the Nocticron or the Olympus really fit my needs in that respect. I’d love to have them both but they’d be for the boot of my car, not my backpack. This where I differentiate between the Nocticron and the Olympus 40-150. The Olympus 45mm f1.8  can credibly fill in for the Nocticron.  While being much smaller, lighter and cheaper the performance and speed are not of a different order.

The Olympus 40-150, on the other hand is of a different order from the 35-100 Panasonic. Not in sharpness or speed but simply in range and utility. When I was working as a pro, most of my colleagues had a 300mm lens. It’s the longest lens in FF that you can practically cart around with you. Panasonic’s lovely 35-100mm f2.8 is a great lens (I have one). It is small and light and fits my ‘will it go in my  bikers backpack?’  test.

But it stops at 100mm, and on a regular basis, I f find a need for something a bit longer. The Olympus fills that need but it is too damn big for my backpack test. Yes, I could use it to replace 2 lenses, the 35-100 and the 100-300mm  and it is lighter than the sum of the two. But it is still a big heavy lump in my hands and heavy lumps in my hand are not what I want nowadays.

Which is why I hate it. As Chrissie Hynde said  in The Pretenders’ great song, “it’s a thin line between love and hate”. I think my hate may be closer to love than I care to admit to myself. But who wants a 300mm equivalent lens without stabilization nowadays? I don’t.

So I’d have to swap my Panasonic GH4 with all the time and effort I have spent learning its ways and menu system and video capabilities for an Olympus EM1. It would be like swapping from Nikon to Canon in my pro days. I’d be just as happy with an EM1 as I am with my GH4. Brand loyalty is a stranger to me.  It’s just too much money down the drain and too much disruption.

So I hate the Nocticron and the big Olympus zoom. Why do I hate Panasonic? Why are they bringing out the white sheet wearing tendency in me?

Well hate is pitching it a bit strong but I do feel let down. They have top grade cameras and top grade lenses but only up to a point. Olympus, when they bring in their 300mm f4 and 7-14mm f2.8 will have a range of lenses suitable for any professional who wants to lighten their load and go to MFT.

Panasonic do not. The 100-300mm is OK but it is slow and…well, OK. Their 7-14mm zoom is small and certainly up scratch and the  2 f2.8 zooms are surprisingly light and compact and entirely up to professional requirements.

A 150mm f2.8 prime designed for compactness with a matching 1.4 times converter would fill out the range and give both Olympus and Panasonic owners a genuine choice. But as far as I can ascertain Panasonic have dropped the idea.

Since they don’t even acknowledge any communication from me, let alone reply, I have no insight into their thoughts. What I do know is that without a professional quality 2.8 long lens in the offing, they are selling short their user base.

I really, really, don’t want to start using an Em1 Olympus in place of my GH4 simply only because I can’t face that learning curve all over again, the missing of shots while you trawl through the menus for a parameter you would have assigned to a custom button months ago on your familiar photo machine. But I’ll do it if Panasonic don’t at least express their intention to serve their high end professional and enthusiast customers.

And that’s why I’m thinking of joining the Ku Klix Klan.








17 thoughts on “Klu Klix Klan

  1. Rod Thompson

    I agree and don’t think hate is too strong a word. Until recently I sold pro cameras and I use Olympus. When my boss asked why the f2.8 oly lenses were not selling like the previous M43 offerings had, my answer was “they are now treading in the same territory as the bigger brands who are already there and drifting away from their point of difference”. I also pointed out that the market for these lenses is the smaller and more crowded pro/am market.
    I believe that these monster lenses (by their standards) are making the M43 immigrants question the change, or worse justify their choice. It is possible to get a 6d, 40mm and 70-200 f4 for the same basic size/weight and price as an Em1 20 and 40-150 f2.8. Tough choice and old habits die hard.

  2. Paul Stuart

    Look forward to your posts on your metabones Nikon combination ,
    also like old legacy lenses have certain feel to them (solid Construction)
    Don’t the metabones have electrical contacts in them so your lenses retain image stabilization if it has this ability.

  3. paul stuart

    I have purchased the 40-150mm which in turn forced me to buy a third camera that I don’t need other than the 5 axis stabilization ,so I now own a gh4,gx7 and omd em-1 ,I had to sell a few items to purchase the big Olympus ie the 100-300mm 45mm 2.8 macro and 17mm oly f1.8 ,and I have also got a 35-100mm f2.8 Panasonic which I cant seem to part with as you point out 300+grams v the oly 700+ grams is a big difference ,but is nothing compared to my old dads canon 80-200mm f2.8 ,.I could of lived with the gx7 with the Olympus lens but the size matching looked odd ,more of lens holding the camera than visa versa .bet the pro label weighs 100grams only kidding
    I have sold my self short now I don’t own a lens that goes beyond 150mm unless I buy the t/c for the Olympus lens
    I also gave up on the Panasonic 150mm f2.8 ,I just hope they make a mark 2 100-300mm ,until they do the oly 300mm f4 is looking promising
    anyone got the 6 winning lottery numbers ?

    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Interesting comment, Paul. I’m torn about the big Olympus zoom but I definitely won’t get rid of the 35-100 f2.8. It’s always the stabilization that’s the problem, isn’t it? In the end I just can’t see myself carrying a lens of that weight and a longer one as well. But, something interesting came up. A mate lent me a Metabones adaptor and I bought a 300mm IF ED Nikkor lens lens. It weighs 900gm and is superbly sharp. With the simple Nikkor-MFT adaptor on, it’s a 600mm f4.5 equivalent. With the Metabones it’s a 420mm f3.2 – half a stop better than f4 – and even sharper. I’m so pleased with it and I think I may buy a Metabones.

      With this combo I have the Panasonic zoom out to 100mm f2.8, then a doubling in focal length to 400mm odd and only half a stop slower and then a 600mm f4.5. Funnily enough, it look really good on the GX7 and the stabilization works well with it. The focusing is just superb, silky smooth and fully internal and very easy. Having said that, I’m used to manual focus so it doesn’t worry me.

      And the lens cost me £145 plus the two adaptors at about £300! I’ll do a review on it all soon. Following on your remark, I’ve taken the labels off all my lenses, and you’re right, much, much lighter 🙂

  4. Mark Seawell

    David! As a man of color I have to appreciate the ironic title! Loved the article mate! And you are right. I love my panasonic gear. I love my GX7 and my GH3. I love the 12-35 and 35-100 in my bad. I tolerate the 100-300 lens but it does the job. I don’t want BIGGER gear! I hate that. I love the fact I’m not noticed when I walk the streets of Amsterdam or now Ogden where I reside in Utah. I love the quality of what I capture.

    But I don’t want big gear. I just watched Raber review the 40-150 Olympus lens on LL and it looks like a technically superb piece of gear. I’m sure I would get some great captures with it and hands off to them. But I don’t want this gear because of the size. It defeats M43. Remember this is micro four thirds!!

    Also, I’ve been shooting Panasonic from day 1. Started with the FZ28 to the G1 all the way to the GX7. I love the interface and believe it to be superior to Olympus BUT if they don’t put out what I need or don’t introduce features I need I will move over. And now the rumors of Olympus releasing the E5II capable of 40MP will push me over the edge.

    My two cents worth.


    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Hi Mark. Your two cents worth seem to be my two cents worth too. I think our views are probably shared by a lot of Panasonic stills shooters. It’s just that long area they have to fill with lenses with stabilisation built in. Their camera bodies fit my needs perfectly well but their lens development seems to be treading air at the moment.

      That’s a radical change of environment, Amsterdam to Utah. Are you Dutch living in the States or were you an American living in the Netherlands?

      1. Mark Seawell

        Oh, I’m American from the state of North Carolina. Sadly the KKK had a strong history in the south but their influence has waned. My wife is from Belgium and one of my daughters finished college in the states and moved to Amsterdam. Love the city. Big village actually.

        So, what do you think of this rumor of Olympus producing the 40 MP camera? If so would you move over?

  5. Dan

    I completely understand where you’re coming from, David. I bought my Panasonic GX7 because I wanted the portability that I couldn’t get with my Canon DSLR. I take far more photographs when I can carry my camera around with me. I guess my logic to switch to m43 was similar to yours – and like you, I understood the compromises I would be making when switching.

    However, my other interest is video. I continued using my Canon because Panasonic crippled the usefulness of the GX7 by forgoing a microphone input and clean HDMI out. But when I managed to scrape together the cash, I sprung for a GH4. The GH4 isn’t my compromise – it’s my main video camera and I want the best lenses I can afford. I’ll typically use a tripod, monopod or shoulder rig, so the lens size is less important to me. But there are times when I do require hand-held, and I want stabilisation in the lens. I’m disappointed with Panasonic’s offerings,

    I still prefer the GX7 for photography. Without IBIS, the GH4 my Olympus lenses are less useful. It’s much easier taking candid street photography with a smaller camera and often using one hand. The GH4 form factor is still a little to DSLR like for my taste – I prefer the smaller rangefinder factor of the GX7 … it;s lighter, packs away easier, and I think it’s a handsome beast.

  6. Gary

    I have been thinking about adding E-M1 to my kit as well for quite some time. The image stabilization on the sensor really appeals to me. Not for the 40-150 f2.8, but for the small little primes. My GX7’s stabilization, while it also has a good functional IBIS, it’s not as good as E-M1’s, in fact it’s only as good as my E-PL6’s stabilization.

    I would really, REALLY, wait for Panasonic to come up with a real 150mm f2.8 with Power OIS at some point that is small and light enough to carry, at least just a tiny bit bigger than the 35-100 f2.8. Then I would also love to have a compatible tele-converter for that lens. When that happens, I will forget about Olympus’ 40-150 f2.8. I don’t know whether they dropped the idea or delayed the development, but that’s what the market wants and I’m sure they will listen someday.

  7. Pete

    curiously I haven’t picked up my 4/3 gear for a while. Nothing wrong with it still love it but………

    I had stuff i never used, old cameras lenses and sold them to purchase a nice new LX100 a lovely little camera and somehow i also purchased an FZ1000…. why? it’s fairly big fairly bulky with a smaller sensor.. one of those buy and repent at leisure moments…..

    uh no! It’s really no bigger than a GH4 with a 14-140 (28-280) and the range 25-400 is so flexible. IQ is a stop below the GH4 think a G6 but i can cope with that as when i need better high iso I can use the LX100 with its fast zoom.

    I spent 5 days in the cotswolds and its a nice holiday combo and I never really missed my m4/3. Maybe in future I’ll pack a GX7 with a 7-14 and 25 f1.4. But when flying I want to travel light…..

    New sensors will come out and improve on IQ especially at high iso but am I REALLY needing that much more….? not convinced.

    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      You seem to have found a good combination there and it would make sense to stick with it. But your last sentence sums it up, really.

      The problem is that want is so easily rationalized into need!

      1. Pete

        the want/need ? oh yes! I can relate to that!!!

        would be interesting to go on a holiday with the gx7 and a single prime ! ah the old days when we never had competent long zooms.

  8. Roy Norris

    Hi David,

    Talking of hate, I hate Panasonic for not bringing out the 150mm 2.8 they were going to do (Allegedly).
    I was already to get one for the GH3. As you say the 35-100 although a great lens, but is limited. I needed something for butterflies, the 100-300mm did a fair job at that, but not good enough also the 100-300 was really no good for long range birds especially on the move.
    Sorry, but I have jumped ship. Maybe I’m mad, but I sold it all and went for a Sony Alpha 6000 (APS-C size sensor) with kit 16-50mm and a 55-210mm. The 55-210 gives me 315mm at long end and at f8 is perfect for butterflies and close birds. The A6000 is very fast at (11 fps) and locks on to anything that moves through the air. I also have gone for the Sony A7 full frame and 35mm 2.8. All that kit together is much lighter than the old Pana kit in the cycle bag. However, I have had to revert to a Canon 70D and 400mm prime for long range birds, but then I wouldn’t go shooting birds much on at the bike anyway.
    If you went for the OMD-1 and the Oly 40-150, its lighter than the GH4 with the 40-150, I would have thought. As you have said in the past that you are not (like me) interested in video, so I would have thought the OMD-1 a better choice anyway and the new lens they have and are bringing out are pretty special.
    If anybody can, you could soon learn the system.
    Regards Roy

  9. Marek

    I used to hate Nocticron too, but now I cured. I was lusting for it before, considered buying it and was really close. But at the end it was too similar to 45mm Olympus at a huge price premium (and size too). Probably 10% better, mostly in colour reproduction as I don’t care that much about its extra speed and that tiny bit of extra sharpness.

    So I bought something else instead, something that is polar opposite of Oly 45mm: Carl Zeiss C Sonnar T* 1,5/50, Leica M mount. Fully manual (focus and aperture), beautiful, classic lens portraits on my Olympus OMD EM5 (with an adaptor of course). Until now I used Oly 45mm for portraits and it is razor sharp, up to a point that my model (my girlfriend) complained that it reveals all her imperfections (women eh?). I haven’t had enough time to properly test it but I just love using manual lenses. Zeiss is beautifully crafted, absolutely stunning lens and will probably last decades if looked after properly. I am actually thinking about buying a full frame camera (Sony A7s) just so I can use Zeiss lenses as they were intended to be used (without 2x crop).

    I know your post is about long lenses buy 100mm equiv. is as long I care about 🙂

    Oh, and OMD EM5’s successor is rumoured to be announced in Feb 2015 so you might want to hold off that EM1.

    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      I’m not likely to spend the money on a 40-150 and EM1 body anytime soon unless I win the lottery! Zeiss lenses, you are preaching to the converted here. I used Zeiss lenses on my Hasselblads, 50, 80, 150 and 250mm. Not only razor sharp but they somehow ‘drew’ beautifully, a combination of contrast and colour rendering on top. Plus the precision construction made them a joy to hold and use.

      Expensive, ridiculously so but it always made me think of the guy who worked out some years ago that if you bought all the parts separately at retail you could put together a top quality sports motorcycle for around £1500. He asked a Ducati designer at a motorcycle show how they could justify the price of their bike at £3,250.

      “Easy”, he said, “cost of parts £1500. Knowing how to make them into a Ducati, £1750.”

      1. Marek

        Yes, beautiful drawing is what I bought the Zeiss for, also the colour. Oly’s 45mm 1.8 is very clinical and that’s not always a good thing.

        Now I see my first post is all over the place, I had quite a lot of rum when I was writing it, hopefuly it makes at least some sense.


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