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.