Panasonic GH3 Guide CH.4 Choosing the right lens

OSGFilms Ultimate GH3 Guide : Jump to other content:

1. The Hybrid Mentality | 2.Whats new? wifi and more | 3.Choosing the right SD Card | 4.Choosing the right Lens | 5. Essential Gear | 6. The GH3 for Video & Filmmaking | 7. The GH3 for Photography | 8. Workflow for Film and Video | 9. Workflow for Photography | Conclusion

Panasonic GH3 Guide Ch.4 Choosing the right lens

When it comes to Micro Four Thirds this is a complex question. First there is the crop sensor and this makes a huge difference on what lenses you choose because you are dealing with a 2x crop factor on the GH3. That means if you bought a 20mm you are getting something more like a 40mm in terms of how it will look and behave. If you had a 100mm lens then you really have a 200mm when shooting on the GH3. This is fantastic on the telephoto end sure… but you suffer looking around for wider options well at least you did, its gotten a lot better.

This is a micro four thirds camera but you can virtually use any lens you want! The way lenses are designed for the GH3 and mft cameras means you can adapt almost any lens because on micro four thirds a very shallow distance is used between the sensor and the lens. Most lenses on other bodies are designed to function properly being seated further away from the sensor or film etc. That means with the right adapter you can put more space between the GH3 sensor and any lens you desire from another system since it only needs to be further away.

Lenses with manual controls for the focus and aperture will work best. There are lenses out there that are completely electronic and controlled via in camera software. These lenses cannot be adapted easily because you would lose control over the aperture. Outside of that issue there are little downsides to choosing more organic vintage or great budget lenses from other systems. I shoot manually 99% of the time so for me its a none issue to lose auto focus due to lack of communication with the adapted lens compared to a native MFT lens.

I highly recommend getting a cheap prime lens off of Ebay or second hand to get a feel for a more organic bokeh and look. This often creates a much more cinematic image! Native MFT and modern glass can sometimes be too clinical and too sharp. Your first lens should ideally be a standard length than can be versatile in most situations. Which brings us to our next issue.

Should your first lens be a prime or a zoom lens? I would say definitively a prime lens but many would argue you would be limited to that focal length and a zoom would be better. As a cinematographer i appreciate a prime lens for forcing you to really think about your composition. You have to Walk closer, further away, feel the image! Live the composition. Its far more intentional forcing us to see as the lens sees and making THAT work thus getting better at composition. I like the connection i get out of working with prime lenses only. I do have but some zoom lenses but it was a smart budget buy just to have one around. Lets cover focal ranges and narrow down your needs. What focal range you get largely depends on your Priorities. Here is some need to know:

Lenses 101 : Focal Length

Fish eye, strong barrel distortion up to – 10ish mm
Anything this wide is probably a Fish eye or has a noticeable barrel distortion. These have a specific use and an ostentatious effect which will dominate any photo you take. Not a good first lens but neat if you want this effect.
Landscapes & Architecture | 10-35 mm
These Lenses have large angle of view and lend themselves well for landscapes, beautiful sunsets, shooting cityscapes, architecture. Because they are so side they are also useful in indoor photography due to how much you can see. Even in small quarters you can create some room.
Standard, Close to Human eye | 35-70 mm
This covers close to what the human eye sees! These lens are standard looking and are useful for most situations.
Portraits, Medium telephoto lenses | 75-135mm
These are great for portraits and getting a strong bokeh or blur in the photo. You can make a subject pop much easier from the background due to how much is out of focus compared to the subject in focus.
Spying, Bird Watching, Wildlife. Telephoto lenses | 135-300 mm and over
These go up to ten times or further than the human eye, they are when keeping distance or going unnoticed is crucial. Besides wildlife they are also very common in sports photography and in celebrity photos because you cant always get that close.

When looking at these values keep in mind the crop factor. In the case of the GH3 you must look at them by HALF because what ever lens you get is going to be x2 because the GH3 will double the reported focal length or if its a zoom then it will double the focal range it supposedly covers. That means to shoot the values above as a general guide, you need to get half for the intended look. If you wanted at 100mm lens, then you buy a 50mm lens for the GH3.

Recommended Lenses

For many of these you will need adapters. Adapters are generally over priced so i suggest you [look for them on Ebay Here]
Native MFT Lenses
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens Amazon
Panasonic Lumix 14mm f/2.5 G Aspherical Lens Amazon
Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 Amazon
Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 Amazon
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH Amazon
Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Amazon
Olympus Zuiko M. ED 45mm f/1.8 Amazon
From other systems
Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Nikkor Zoom Lens Amazon

Fore more examples be sure to check out my post on the top native Micro Four thirds Lenses with video examples and images for each lens! | by clicking here |

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