Are Micro Four Thirds Lenses Too Expensive?

Additional thoughts:

I think by now that everyone is already aware of my aversion to slow, variable aperture universal zooms, and it was disheartening to see just how many who picked up the Lumix GH5 decided to go with one of the slow zooms being peddled by Panasonic reps rather than picking up a fast prime or two. The difference between shooting with the Leica 12mm  f/1.4 compared to the wide end of the Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 is like night and day, and I haven’t seen any images from the 12-60mm f/2.8-4 that have blown me away as have either the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 or the Leica 42.5mm f/1.2. I’m not a bokeh whore by any means, but I’m not overly fond of the bokeh I’ve seen from some of these variable aperture zooms either – it’s busy and distracting. And I’m not at all convinced that a more moderate 24-70mm full frame equivalent lens is a disadvantage, especially after seeing some breathtaking images of Nepal shot with the Samsung NX-1 and 16-50mm f/2-28 the other day. As a matter of fact, what I am seeing too often by those with longer zooms is a certain timidity, a lack of intimacy, almost a determination not to approach and confront subjects, but to shoot them from afar: and the viewer is relegated to the position of an outsider rather than a participant. I mention in my vlog how scarce good videos shot with the premium primes are: on the other hand, there is far too much footage shot with these variable aperture zooms in harsh daylight where the user doesn’t even bother with an ND filter, so it’s even often difficult to fairly assess the quality of these lenses. I’m also seeing an over-reliance on IBIS or OIS or both, resulting in jittery footage, when at the very least, out of courtesy to the viewer, the poster could have brought along a lightweight yet sturdy monopod for support.

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Leica Overpriced?

Forum member OliKMIA in the forums over at OESHD, responding to my statement that the Leica 12mm f/1.4 is worth every penny, writes:

I don’t know, is it really ? The Pana 12mm f1.4 is almost 50% pricier than the  Sigma Art 24mm f1.4 which is outstanding. I really have hard time buying M43 lens that are way more expensive than much better FF equivalent. The Tamron 24-70 f2.8 for instance is so much better than the Lumix 12-35 f2.8 (I have both).
Not saying top M43 lenses are bad but the price tags are a little bit too stiff considering the price/quality ratio.

My reply:

So rather than spending $500 more (than the Sigma 24mm) for the Leica, you’d gladly spend $500 less for the Rokinon 12mm f/2 (or something like that)?  To be fair, for the most part, Sigma Art lenses are better optically than most OEM glass and cost much less. Tamron and Tokina also make some good lenses at bargain basement prices. For sure, there are many other factors to consider apart from mere focal length and aperture. For example, while several of Sigma’s lenses have compared favorably with those of Zeiss Otus, the lack of breathing, all-metal construction, longer focus throw, greater edge sharpness and weather sealing of the Zeiss instruments may make them more appealing to some filmmakers. Sigma lenses are made in Japan, unlike many of their rivals, whose lenses come from Thailand, Vietnam or China. You’d expect that Panasonic, which manufactures many of its lenses in China, or Olympus, whose lenses are built in Vietnam or wherever, that those cost savings would be passed on to the consumer, but they aren’t, so I would have to agree, there might be an element of greed at play here. Smaller lenses need to be manufactured to higher precision, and m43 lenses must have something like double the resolution of full-frame lenses, so that may account for the higher price, though it’s common knowledge Panasonic applies electronic correction to their lenses, so don’t quote me on that.  Of course, I’d expect the build quality of the Leica to be superior to that of Tamron or Rokinon. Sample variation would probably be much less with a Leica lens than one emanating from the factories of Rokinon or Tokina. I’d also wager that the Leica would hold its value over time better than that of other third party manufacturers. But when comparing the prices of premium lenses across different formats and manufacturers, I’m not seeing a huge difference – whether it’s Sony G Master, Olympus, Leica or Fuji – I’m finding their top-of-the-line lenses are all rather pricey. And I’ve watched dozens of videos shot with the Rokinon 12mm f/2 and it doesn’t even begin to compare to the Leica 12mm f/1.4, not even close. Whether that quality is something you’re willing to pay for is up to each person and their budget to decide.

Additional Note:

There are some great bargain lenses in the m43 system as well as some outstanding premium lenses. One thing I fail to understand is why some people refuse to pay as much for a top of the line m43 lens as for a full frame equivalent. Carrying that logic even further, the flagship Panasonic GH5 should only cost half that of say, the Nikon D810. In fact, this would make more sense, as many of us replace camera bodies every few years, whereas we often hold onto our lenses indefinitely. I think a good case could be made for purchasing something like a Lumix G85 and a couple of premium lenses rather than a GH5 and compromising on glass, because in three years, many will already be replacing their GH5 with the GH7 with built in ND filters and PDAF anyhow.