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Olympus Lenses: The Complete Guide

Lesson 6 of 7

Building a System


Olympus Lenses: The Complete Guide

Lesson 6 of 7

Building a System


Lesson Info

Building a System

Final section in this class I wanna talk about is building a system. Which lenses do you actually choose and which direction do you go with different options in here. So, let's go ahead and take a look at how do you choose which lens fits you? The more you know about what you're gonna take a picture of, the easier it is to figure out what lens to shoot with. I've been doing this for quite a while and so when somebody tells me, we're gonna go here and you're gonna have a chance to shoot this. I immediately start thinking. What equipment do I wanna have? Which lens is gonna best tell the story of this subject and so, I wanna know more about that subject. What does it do? Where Is it? What's other things around it? That's gonna help me decide which exact lens I'm gonna choose. You can get great images with zooms and you can get great ones with primes. I think for most people, it's best to start with zooms, hone in what you're doing and then as you start doing something more a regular basi...

s then you get prime lenses to fill those specific needs because they do that one job a little bit better. Now with any category that you start, you could start here, the 14-42. It's a basic, simple zoom lens. You're gonna want something that's more telephoto. So that would be good to match that with a 40-150. Now if you want something that lets in more light, that's gonna kinda kick you to a different category with the 12-40, f2.8. Another thing is that you can go wider angle, because the standard zoom lenses, they just don't have as much wide-angle as a true wide-angle lens does. So, you can go a little bit wider angle with that 9-18. The other option is you can go a little bit closer. Once you start with your standard zoom lens, these are the different directions that you can choose to go according to your needs. Now if you start out on a little higher in, the 12-40 lens, you're gonna have the same basic options. Once you have that basic lens, you're probably gonna want something a little bit more telephoto, like the 40-150. If you want something faster, you're gonna be into prime lenses, alright? That's the only way to get faster with the zooms. If you wanna get wider angle, there's gonna be the option of 7-14. If you wanna get closer, that's gonna probably put you into the 60mm lens. Now as people before me have said, quality, features, price, pick two. It's hard to have a lens that's super high-quality, tons of features, and super cheap in price. That isn't the way the world works. So you kinda have to choose which factors are most important to you. They can be that for a lot of different reasons. For pure, quality reasons, I don't think any lens is better than the 300 f/4. The greatest range, the greatest capability. I think it's probably in that 12 to 100. It's probably the most versatile lens Olympus makes. Price wise, that little 14-42 is one of the cheapest lenses. You can get that lens for very cheap price and it's quite good at what it does. You want a lot of quality and features? That puts you into something like the 12- which is, once again, one of my favorite lenses. Want good features and a good price? That 14-150 super zoom. It's a relatively small super zoom, fits a very good quality there. Top quality with relatively cheap price would be something like the 25 1. that's 'cause it's a relatively simple lens, it's not trying to do too much. It's doing one thing, small size, reasonable price. So some recommended lenses. Portrait lenses and what we're looking at is short telephotos with fast apertures. So if your intent is to shoot professional, quality photos of people. Whether they're your family members or clients that are hiring you to shoot them, these are the types of lenses that you're gonna be looking at. The 45 1.2 is probably the best head and shoulders, general, people-person lens, but in many cases, I would prefer to be shooting with the 40-150 'cause having that zoom option gives you a lot of versatility. But there is reasons that each one of those lenses might be the best portrait lens for you. If you're into sports photography, you need fast shutter speeds and this is where letting in more light can be very, very helpful. The 40-150 is kind of a basic lens. It's not a particularly lens that's designed specifically for sports, but it's a good general purpose lens. They'll give you the reach and you can shoot decent sports with decent quality light. The 40-150 is gonna be a great sports lens for most action but if the action is further away, the 300 is gonna be the way to go. For doing landscape photography, it can be a lot of things, but it tends to be a little bit more towards the wide-angle end. The 9-18 would get you the smallest option. The 7-14 gets you a lot of great wide angle, but possibly my favorite would be the 12- 'cause that gets you the entire range that you want. You can still use regular filters on it and it might be the only lens you need to bring out in the field with you. When it comes to low-light photography. Well the fact of the matter is Olympus has a lot of different options for fast lenses. So, any of these lenses, depending on what focal length and your budget, and what size of lens you like to work with, are gonna work well for low-light work. Travel lenses, well sometimes they're gonna have zooms, sometimes they're just gonna be smaller in size, sometimes they're just versatile. Any of these lenses I could see fitting someone's niche for being in travel. So, let's talk about some entire systems. Let's talk about for the beginner or maybe the family photographer, somebody on a budget. That 14-42 gets you a compact lens that gets you out the door, shooting photos in a simple, easy way. The 40-150 is gonna allow you to reach out further, look for details, subjects that are smaller and further away. Maybe as a bonus lens the 25 1.8, nice, small, compact lens. You can get all three of these lenses for a very, very good deal. This is not much money that we're talking about here. They're all pretty small, light-weight, easy to use lenses. Next category or dual categories is for the minimalist or the world traveler, somebody who just doesn't wanna have too much gear. The 12-100, as I said before, gives you pretty much all the most valuable focal lengths in one lens. We could call it quits right there, but I'm gonna throw one more little item at ya and that's this little 17 1.8. The 12-100 can be a little bit big and heavy to bring with you all the time. In fact, let me set these out side-by-side for you. So the 12-100 is great for doing general purpose work, but when you go out for dinner at night, that might be a little too big a lens to throw on your camera and that's where the 17 1.8 comes in. Or perhaps you're going into a museum that has limits on bag size or you just don't want to carry a lot of equipment. You throw the little 17 on your camera, it's got a fast aperture, it's good under low-light and you can work with it 'cause it's a good general purpose lens. So, when you have two lenses, it doesn't mean that you're switching back all the time. You're using the practical zoom lens about 80% of the time and about 20% of the time you go for the light-weight, fast aperture option. I think this makes a really good combination. It doesn't matter that you have 17 in this lens here. You're going for the smaller size and the wider aperture. Next category is the prime minimalist. Come on, we all know some people who are single-minded, they like doing things in a very pure manner. The prime minimalist, likes using simple, basic lenses that each have their own specific need. The 17, 25, and 45 are the three smallest ways of doing this. You could have a three-lens camera system just packed into a really small bag with this sort of system. It's gonna be great under low-light. It's gonna be a fun, little system to use 'cause it's real clear when it's time to change lenses. So for the portrait pro, we're gonna go with the 1.2 lenses, the series here, the whole series. I think it's a great combination. You can do lifestyle, environmental portraits, we have the 17, day-to-day shots with the 25, and then more tight head shots, standard portrait shots with the 45. For the sports, for the wildlife enthusiast, you're gonna need a basic lens like the 12-40 for general purpose. The 40-150 is good for the subjects that are a little bit larger that you can get a little bit closer to. The 300 is for reaching out there. That's good doubling your focal lengths. When you want something different. So when you want something more than a 150, boom you go out to and then you can throw a 1.4 converter or maybe a 2x's converter on top of that and that is gonna give you fast aperture so that you can use fast shutter speeds out in the field. It's gonna give you a lot of different lens options, depending on the types of environments that you're in. For the professional or the serious enthusiast, you can really appreciate lenses that have a maximum aperture of 2.8. So we've got 7-14, 12-40 and 40-150, all at f/2.8. Gets you from ultra-wide angle to the super telephoto category, all within three lenses at 2.8 aperture in a very compact size. So, lets see, do I have, I do have all three of those lenses here. So, we'll get the 40-150 out. 70, oh, whoops. One's on a camera here, so we'll do one on a camera. So, these three lenses right here, there's not much else you need. If you wanna be a professional photographer, then those three right there, they would do an excellent job in so many different situations and that is a pretty small set-up that you're bringing along right there. That's gonna fit in a shoulder bag or a backpack with a bottom half of a backpack pretty darn easily.

Class Description


Working with interchangeable lenses can be both exciting and daunting to all levels of photographers. Olympus® Lenses: The Complete Guide with John Greengo will prepare you to select the right lens and get the most out of all of your lens investments. John Greengo is the master of making complex photography concepts easy to understand and in this class, he’ll bring all of your Olympus lens options and operations into focus.


  • Focal length and aperture
  • zoom lenses
  • Which lens accessories to buy
  • Maintaining a lens system

John will cover the full range of Olympus lenses, from ultra-wide to super-telephoto, zooms to primes. You’ll learn how to match the right lens to your needs and get insights on the best ways to use it.

Whether you are thinking about buying a new lens or just want to get the most out of what you already have, Olympus Lenses: The Complete Guide with John Greengo will help you out.


elizabeth chambers

John Greengo's class on lenses was EXCELLENT! This information is very helpful for any prospective Olympus customer or any current Olympus user overwhelmed by the company's lens assortment and interested in learning how the individual components might fit - or not - in their shooting requirements.

user e1cde8

Very Helpful

Mel Sever

I was able to watch the first on microphotography but had to take my wife to the doctor so I missed what I most wanted to see concerning the lens. I have a OMD E-M1 and four lens for it as well as several pro lens for the E3 camera and was looking forward to learning which lens was capable of picture stacking? Is there a way for you to get that information to me? I have looked on the Olympus web site however did not fine it. Thanks