Investment Decisions

Regardless of the sensor format and brand we may choose, we all face investment decisions when considering various cameras and lenses. This article utilizes some current data and compares the relative costs and weight of my ‘low light’ PRO M4/3 lenses with comparable Nikon mirrorless full frame lenses. I did not include comparisons with other full frame brands simply because I don’t have any personal experience with them. Photographers can do similar comparisons with any equipment they are considering.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. Photos have been added to serve as visual breaks.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, efov 80 mm, f/4, 1/15, ISO-2000, subject distance 630 mm

As regular readers know I did own a fairly extensive full frame camera kit a number of years ago. In July 2015 I made the switch to smaller sensor cameras as they better met my specific business and personal needs.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, efov 80 mm, f/5.6, 1/13, ISO-3200, subject distance 340 mm

This article is not intended to make any value judgements about a photographer’s choice of camera equipment. These are personal decisions we all make based on our individual needs. When making investment decisions with camera gear it is important to look beyond a camera body and also consider the lenses required for us to do our work.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, efov 80 mm, f/2.8, 1/6, ISO-3200, subject distance 2.4 metres

Focal length, aperture, weight and cost are the four primary factors that many of us use when selecting lenses. When I owned full frame gear I could never justify the additional weight and costs associated with the fastest aperture zooms and primes available at that time.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/2.8, 1/50, ISO-6400, subject distance 3.7 metres

So I used f/1.8 primes and mainly f/4 zoom lenses, as well as some variable aperture zooms. There were obvious cost and weight advantages doing so. The trade-off was a reduction in overall kit functionality as losing one stop of light or more, can be very important in specific situations.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 21 mm, efov 42 mm, f/4, 1/30, ISO-5000, subject distance 1.4 metres

When I made the switch to Olympus (now OM System) equipment in June 2019 I specifically wanted the added functionality of faster aperture lenses. Since part of my decision was driven by my desire to eliminate the need for tripods for my industrial client video work, the faster apertures were critical. As a result I decided to purchase the following M.Zuiko lenses as my ‘low light’ kit:

  • PRO 45 mm f/1.2
  • PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8
  • PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8
  • PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 90 mm, efov 180 mm, f/5.6, 1/40, ISO-5000, subject distance 2.2 metres

I did not consider any other brands of M4/3 lenses. A previous and unsuccessful experience with another M4/3 brand played a part in that decision… but it was not the major factor. Future compatibility with Olympus computational photography technologies and weather sealing were far more important factors to me.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, efov 140 mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-6400, subject distance 3 metres

I recently received a product introduction email from Nikon Canada about the company’s new Z-Series mirrorless 85 mm f/1.2 prime lens. This prompted me to review Nikon’s Z-Series lens line up as I had not done so in a few years. The following summarizes the current weight and cost differences between the M.Zuiko PRO lenses in my ‘low light’ kit and similar Nikon Z-mount mirrorless lenses.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, efov 80 mm, f/2.8, 1/6, ISO-1250, subject distance 1.1 metres

Weight Comparison

  • M.Zuiko PRO 45 mm f/1.2 (efov 90 mm)= 410 grams (0.9 lbs.)
  • Nikon Z 85 mm f/1.2 = 1,160 grams (2.56 lbs.)
  • M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 (efov 14-28 mm)= 534 grams (1.18 lbs.)
  • Nikon Z 14-24 mm f/2.8 = 650 grams (1.43 lbs.)
  • M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm (efov 24-80 mm) = 382 grams (0.84 lbs.)
  • Nikon Z 24-70 mm f/2.8 = 805 grams¬† (1.77 lbs.)
  • M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 (efov 80-300 mm) = 760 grams (1.68 lbs.)
  • Nikon Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 = 1,360 grams (3 lbs.)

The total weight of my 4 lens M.Zuiko ‘low light’ kit is 2,086 grams (4.6 lbs.) compared to 3,975 grams (8.76 lbs.) for the Nikon Z kit.

It should be noted that the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 provides considerably more functionality when compared to the Nikon Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 due to its longer equivalent field-of-view range.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, efov 80 mm, f/4, 1/30, ISO-2000, subject distance 680 mm

Cost Comparison

Obviously investment decisions are pointless without assessing the costs of various camera kit components. The costs below are based on current manufacturer’s list prices in Canada.

  • M.Zuiko PRO 45 mm f/1.2 (efov 90 mm)= $1,800
  • Nikon Z 85 mm f/1.2 = $3,799
  • M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 (efov 14-28 mm)= $1,750
  • Nikon Z 14-24 mm f/2.8 = $3,249
  • M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm (efov 24-80 mm) = $1,300
  • Nikon Z 24-70 mm f/2.8 = $3,099
  • M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 (efov 80-300 mm) = $2,000
  • Nikon Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 = $3,499

The total current cost of my PRO M.Zuiko ‘low light’ kit is $6,850 CDN versus $13,646 CDN for the Nikon Z kit.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO-1250, subject distance 960 mm

Avoiding Buyer’s Remorse

Changing one’s camera system is a major decision that needs to be carefully thought out and planned. A photographer needs to consider what camera format and brand best meets their specific needs in terms of functionality. Since this sometimes can lead to a photographer selecting more expensive lenses… these investment decisions are best done without the emotional impacts of GAS.

Choosing lenses with more overall functionality,,, but at higher cost… may make perfect sense for a photographer. Other photographers may have their needs well served by more affordable lenses. It all comes down to personal needs.¬† Either way, it may take time to build the right kit for a particular photographer. Being patient as we build our photographic kit with the right component pieces for our needs helps us avoid buyer’s remorse down the road.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 20 mm, efov 40 mm, f/4.5, 1/30, ISO-1250, subject distance 2.7 metres

Have I had any regrets with the investment decisions I made with my Olympus M4/3 kit? Nope. I’ve never been able to do more with my camera gear than I’ve been able to do over the past three and a half years. I’ve had countless moments when I’ve been out with my camera in hand and thought, “Boy… I’m glad I spent the extra money on this lens.”.

Owning camera gear ultimately comes down to capturing individual image opportunities that may never reoccur. Investment decisions that help us maximize the number and variety of image opportunities we can photograph will continue to add value in our lives. Regardless of the camera format and brand we choose.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW using my standard approach in post. This is the 1,252 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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6 thoughts on “Investment Decisions”

  1. Excellent article. I got my first m43 camera (Lumix DMC-GF2) back in 2011. I knew nothing about any types of cameras.
    Had that until the OM-1 came out and then upgraded. I am slowly building my lens kit from info I got from your articles. The 12-40 f2.8 II Pro came with it. I purchased the 12-100 to go along with my Lumix 100-300. My next purchase will be the 40-150 f2.8 Pro (a free MC-20 right now with the purchase). The f2.8’s will be great for indoor events.

    1. Hi Mladen,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article… thanks for the supportive comment.

      I can identify with your approach pairing up the 12-100 with the 100-300. Makes a lot of sense as you get very good focal length coverage with no overlap in only 2 lenses.

      The PRO 40-150 f/2.8 with the MC-20 is a very nice combination to use for birds-in-flight. If you check our some of my earlier BIF articles from 2019 and 2020 you’ll see plenty of examples of this combination in action.

      Tom

  2. Interesting. How about a camera comparison? Your model(s) of camera(s) against the closest Nikon Z camera(s). Depending on what I’m shooting, I will carry anywhere from one to three cameras at a time.

    1. Hi William,

      I really haven’t kept current on various camera models… so I would be one of the worst people to do any kind of comparison. That is an activity best suited to folks who run websites that specialize in camera and lens reviews. From a practical standpoint I don’t have the necessary contacts to obtain loaner gear. Mat over at Mirrorless Comparisons may have some match ups of this nature.

      When I was shooting with Nikon 1 gear I usually had three bodies in a medium sized shoulder bag… J5 with 6.7-13, J5 with 10-100 and a V3 with 70-300. This was wonderful for travel photography as I could just grab the camera with the appropriate focal lengths and fire away. Since I’m no longer doing any client assignments I don’t usually have more than one body with me at any given time. I find the computational photography technologies like handheld hi res, in-camera focus stacking, pro capture and bird AI give me all kinds of creative flexibility in a single body.

      With my Olympus kit I have my gear divided into two basic kits… with an E-M1X body in each camera bag. This will be the subject of an upcoming article.

      Tom

    1. Hi Ricardo,

      At this point I have no interest in buying another macro lens. I really enjoy using the M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8. At this point I have no GAS pains at all concerning the M.Zuiko PRO 90 mm macro IS.

      I don’t have any access to loaner gear so I don’t have any review planned. I’m sure there will be plenty of online reviews of that lens once it is introduced… which will likely be within the next 14 hours or so.

      Tom

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