Reader Question: EP-1 for Fashion Photography

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Today’s question hails from Ron all the way in the Netherlands. It is in regard to using the Olympus EP-1 for fashion photography. Granted, something like a Canon 5D Mk II is better suited for the job, but let’s try to help Ron the best we can.

Hello Chris,

I really enjoyed your article on the best lenses for the PEN EP-1. I was hoping you could help me. I want to start doing fashion photography and bought the EP-1. I intentionally didn’t buy one of the standard DSLR’s used for fashion shoots. I also have the 17 mm 2.8 and the 14-42 mm Olympic lenses.

What I’d like to know is:

- Is the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds 20 mm 1.7 lens a big improvement over the 17 mm 2.8 Olympus lens? Big enough to buy, that is?

- Which lens(es) would you recommend for fashion photography? For use in studios as well as outside? Usually, models are not further away than, say, 9 feet (about 10 meters). Is there a great Four Thirds lens for both studio work and outside? Perhaps a telezoom? Or do you recommend two separate lenses?

Thanking you in advance for your reply,

Best,

Ron Sterrenburg.

Almere,
The Netherlands.

Ron is possibly referring to my articles on how Micro Four Thirds can be an entire system or my actual lens picks for the system. Either way, it is interesting that one would pick the EP-1 for fashion over something like the 5D Mk II, but the EP-1 can most likely hold its own. One of my friends has done some fashion photography with an Olympus E-3 as well as some Olympus professionals that prefer like the articulating Live View screen. The EP-1 arguably has the better sensor.

Now to the questions:

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- Is the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds 20 mm 1.7 lens a big improvement over the 17 mm 2.8 Olympus lens? Big enough to buy, that is?

In all complete honesty Ron, the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 lens is possibly the best I’ve ever tried and had the pleasure to use for the system. I like it a lot more than the 14-140mm F4-5.8 actually. You want this lens, trust me. You really want it. Coming from some experience in shooting celebrities/models then getting the shots to your editors, I know that they will all tell you the same things, “Get the focus sharp and blow out the background.” F1.7 will allow you to blow out the background more than your 17mm F2.8. As an added bonus, you will have the equivalent of a 40mm field of view. However, you may want something with more of a reach. In that case, I’d actually recommend that you get your hands on a portrait lens of some sort.

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In this case, you may want the Sigma 50mm F1.4 for the Four Thirds system and use the adapter. As an alternative, the Olympus 50mm F2.0 is a wonderful portrait lens and also allows for focusing in the macro range. Some professionals have said that it isn’t fast enough to be a portrait lens, but I’ve never had a problem with it.

If you never want to buy another lens again in terms of a prime, try getting your hands on the PanaLeica 25mm F1.4. When I used to use Olympus, this is the lens I craved so badly but couldn’t justify spending the money on because of my work. You, on the other hand, may be able to.

- Which lens(es) would you recommend for fashion photography? For use in studios as well as outside? Usually, models are not further away than, say, 9 feet (about 10 meters). Is there a great Four Thirds lens for both studio work and outside? Perhaps a telezoom? Or do you recommend two separate lenses?

You need the equivalent of an overall zoom. For studio work, I usually use my Canon 80-200mm F2.8L or my 24-105mm F4L IS. I recommend using the PanaLeica lens, otherwise the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 can do the job for the most part since they are never further away than 9 feet. Once again, you’ll need an adapter. Also keep in mind that only Olympus Four Thirds lenses can autofocus on Micro Four Thirds cameras.

If you don’t mind the weight or price, the Olympus 35-100mm F2 on your EP-1 will be able to get the job done fine. You probably won’t need to buy the PanaLeica or Sigmas I recommended either. If you couple this with the Panasonic 20mm F1.7, you should be all set.

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If it helps any bit, the above photo was shot with a 40-140mm kit lens on an Olympus E-510 at last year’s Photo Plus. It’s a wonderful image and is usable in most accounts. Most of my studio work was done with that lens and camera, actually. If your environment allows for it, you can possibly get that Panasonic 14-140mm lens mentioned earlier.

Thanks for the email, Ron. Let us know how it turns out for you. If you have any questions, email them to ChrisGampat@photographybay.com.

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Comments

  1. Ron says

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your advice. I went to a store and bought:

    Sigma 50 mm 1.4
    Zuiko Digital ED 11-22 mm F2.8-3.5
    Zuiko Digital ED 50-200 mm F2.8-3.5 SWD

    I also ordered the PanaLeica 25 mm 1.4. It was out of stock.

    I think I’m all set!

    Ron

  2. says

    Do you really believe thatRegarding my previous post, would you mind, if I adapt it to suit my requirement and use it.