Is there any point to "pro spec." zooms for m4/3?

I really like these two lenses. The Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 and 35-100 f/2.8. Anyone who has ever used these type of lenses for 35mm, either film or digital, will know just what brutes they are. Very heavy, very big and very expensive. So as far as these zooms are concerned an advantage in two of those attributes. (They certainly aren't cheap!)

But then some might argue, "Whats the point? This is after all m4/3, which is primarily an enthusiast / hobbyist / snapshooter system" Well I guess we could argue that all day, and its pretty clear by what I buy and what I write, as to which side of the argument I'm on, however it is a legitimate question to ask, who exactly are these lenses for? If you factor in one of the two bodies that could be seen to offer something that could be defined as "professional" (though I do dislike that term) i.e. the Olympus OM-D and Panasonic GH3, then you are talking about an investment of around £3000. Cheaper than a 35mm system, and cheaper than some APS-C systems, but still a pretty significant sum. 

And you still only get 16MP, not particularly good high ISO performance and (though they are trying) still not the same versality, functionality and probably most important of all, reputation for getting the job done that Canon and Nikon DSLR's have. Its also hard to imagine a GF5 owner getting hot and bothered about these lenses.

But, I would argue, a system like this does have its place. 35mm became popular with all kinds of photographers, including professionals, because of its size and weight relative to the other options available. In the days of manual focus, and even the early days of autofocus, 35mm cameras still retained this great size / quality ration. There were classics like the Nikon FM2 and Olympus OM-4 that many photographers loved. Plus most of the early "Pro" Nikons and Canon 35mm film cameras were still far from huge, even when beefed up with battery grips and the like.

But then things got kind of crazy. SLR's got bigger and DSLR's, particularly those aimed at working photographers, got bigger still. Fast responsive cameras and lenses with AF motors and Image Stabilisation systems built into them meant that sizes, weights and prices all went into an upward direction. As far as I was concerned, we lost something.

But now, it seems to me, we have that back. The 4/3 sensor allows us to have all the fancy tech. we want, the fast AF, the IS, the functionally, performance and custom options, without breaking our backs. And yes we can have fast, high quality fixed aperture zooms that don't need a team of sherpas to carry them. And don't forget that files from m4/3 cameras are better than anything 35mm film cameras could ever come up. 

So I think this is great, which is why I got my hands on both lenses as soon as I was able. I love using them with my OM-D or GH3, though it would be nice if it actually stopped raining so I could do some shooting outdoors!! I'm really happy with the quality I get, I'm still amazed that I carry the above outfit around without needing painkillers when I get home and I love that "old-school" 35mm film camera feel and look from a system like this. 

I think its pretty clear by now, that I'm no fan of small, pocket sized cameras, no matter how good they are. They just don't feel right to me. They may well suit others but I just can't take them seriously. I like something that feels like a camera, and yes I have my own particular take on what that might be, but it is my money after all, and I'll like what I like. 

So yes there is a point to these zooms, and I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that. This is the direction I want to see m4/3 going in. Now I'm not saying that Olympus and Panasonic should ignore the "small is super" fans, but I very much want to see both exploring the OM-D, GH3, "pro" zoom, fast prime direction. It seems to me that they have finally worked out who buys m4/3. Its not just the "point and shoot upgraders" (another horrible term) its the "DSLR downsizers" as well. And as I always suspected, they may be discovering what many of us have thought for ages. The latter catergory have more money to spend on cameras and lenses, and most importantly are not shy about doing that. So "chapeau" to Olympus and particularly Panasonic for resurrecting the high quality, smaller, lighter systems that many of us grew up with. It seems also from the enthusiasm generated by these that there are many who didn't have the same experiences as us "old-timers" but still see the advantages of what is now on offer. And whether you shoot for fun or profit (I attempt to do both of course) there is now a real alternative to the CaNikon world of enforced weight training. 

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.

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