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4/3 lenses vs. m4/3 bodies

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by dhazeghi, May 29, 2012.

  1. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Ever since the announcement of m4/3, I've been asking Olympus to do something about compatibility with 4/3 lenses.

    But thinking about it last night, I've come to the conclusion that there are only a handful of 4/3 lenses that would make any sense at all on m4/3. The so-called 'Standard Grade' lenses have basically all been redone as native lenses (all the f/3.5-5.6 Olympus zooms), so there's not much point in using them on m4/3 to begin with. At the other end, the 'Super High Grade' lenses (f/2 zooms and other exotic lenses) are all terribly big, heavy and expensive. They were a dubious fit for 4/3 and a poorer one for m4/3, even if they could AF properly (and the exotic teles like the 300/2.8 or 90-250/2.8 are simply too few in number to worry about).

    It's really only in the middle ('High Grade') of the lineup where existing 4/3 lenses are still an attractive proposition. There are adequate replacements for the 8/3.5 fisheye and the 50/2 macro. The 11-22 and 14-54 have effectively been replaced for 4/3 use by the 12-60. That leaves essentially 2 lenses - the 12-60/2.8-4.0 and the 50-200/2.8-3.5 SWD - which lack m4/3 equivalents and offer something that m4/3 would benefit from.

    But thinking about it now, the current 16MP m4/3 cameras, especially the E-M5, offer around 1 stop better high ISO performance and substantially more DR than any existing 4/3 body. So zoom speed isn't nearly as important on m4/3 as it was on 4/3 for low light, and none of them offered shallow enough DoF to make a fuss over. So a good quality 12-60/4-5.6 and 50-200/4-5.6 ought to be sufficient. Moreover, compared to the 12MP 4/3 bodies, the 16MP m4/3 bodies have an in-built resolution advantage. The lenses need not be as sharp in relative terms to equal or better 4/3 performance - so long as the lp/mm equal out.

    I guess the proof is in the results, but my feeling at this point is that maybe 4/3 compatibility is no longer all that interesting. Supposing the E-M5/12-50 matches the E-5/12-60 for IQ, you've just downsized in weight by half. Doesn't hurt that the price is less than half either.

    Or in summary, with better bodies, perhaps decent but slower zoom lenses aren't much of a disadvantage? And we certainly have plenty of good, albeit slow zooms on m4/3.

    Thoughts?

    DH
     
  2. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Shut yo mouth! We need bright zooms!

    The comparison is not to dated 4/3s equipment, it is to current equipment - all of which has a significant S/N ratio advantage, and to some degree more options for DOF.

    I will be buying the 12-35 f/2.8 (to replace my 4/3 14-50 f/2.8-3.5) as soon as I can find one ... And I'm going to be in Asia looking!

    That said, I would spend more and faster if it had been f/2 constant or even f/1.4-2.8 variable. (and for all you naysayers who said it will be too big/heavy, I say "I told you so")
     
  3. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Fred
    I haven't heard anyone claim the 12-50 even comes close to the image quality of the 12-60. Niether have I seen samples that suggest it is.

    I'm much more interested in native replacements for the higher quality 4/3 lenses than adapting them. And yes, I want faster zooms. I think my Panasonic 14-45 is a very nice lens, but f/5.6 at 45mm is really annoying. Something similar but f/2.8-3.5 like the HG 4/3 lenses would be nice.

    Fred
     
  4. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Patrick
    A m4/3 version of the 50-200 SWD is what I've been waiting for. Try taking pictures with a 45-200 at the long-end on an overcast day and you'll definitely miss the larger aperture.
     
  5. denniscloutier

    denniscloutier Mu-43 Veteran

    204
    Dec 24, 2011
    For me, I live on the rain coast, the big thing missing is weather sealing. When I bought my EM-5 I also got the adapter and the 14-54 lens. It is slower to focus than the native lenses, so it isn't great for action. But it is beautifully sharp and I frequently appreciate the bigger apertures. So I think the 4/3 lenses are worthwhile for improved IQ, speed and weather sealing. If Oly produced a native version of this lens I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
     
  6. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I just don't think the 12-50 and 14-54 are in the same league. I suppose in terms of focal length but I'm not sold they are equivalent IQ wise. I see the 12-50 analogous to the 14-42 kits except with wider WA and weather sealing.
     
  7. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Patrick
    I believe you are referring to the M4/3 12-50 rather than the 4/3 12-60, right? :wink:
     
  8. MichaelJC

    MichaelJC Mu-43 Regular

    A 50-200 f4-5.6 would be no use to me as a wildlife lens because I wouldn't be able to effectively use it with a 1.4x or 2x converter. But a m43 50-200 f2.8...that I would be prepared to pay good money for.

    The 70-300 has been replaced with something I would generously describe as barely adequate. I'll be keeping this 4/3 lens and I hope the AF speed and accuracy are reasonable on the E-M5.

    I wouldn't say the 12-50 adequately replaces my 14-54. I'll miss the sharpness and the shallower DOF (yes, it does make a difference). Having said that, I'll still probably sell my 14-54 and make do, because of the weather sealing, convenient size and the focus speed...plus the fact that at some point I need to sell SOMETHING! :)
     
  9. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    Curious as to why you feel the 50-200 would not be usable with a teleconverter? Is it because of the 1 or 2 stops you lose to the converter? I'm not questioning your assertion (as I have no experience with teleconverters), but just trying to learn something.
     
  10. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    oops my bad...yeah I meant the 12-50. I corrected my post.
     
  11. MichaelJC

    MichaelJC Mu-43 Regular

    Yes that's right. So 'not useable' was a bit of an exaggeration, but a slower lens would be a lot less useful to me. As with everything there's a compromise...If I can get f/4 for $1,000 and f/2.8 will cost me $6,000 I'll take the f/4 :)
     
  12. It's an engineering issue, for telephoto.

    I feel there are some fundamental reasons we won't see fast long lenses at the moment.

    -Fast, long lenses are mainly used by sports photographers and birders. They are expensive, and rarely purchased without thorough research and testing.
    -Phase detect AF is required to do the fast "tracking" focus required by these photographers.
    -Currently, without PDAF, any long fast lens wouldn't be accurate enough to satisfy the above photog's. So who would shell out the $2000+ for such a lens?
    -Motors are different for PDAF and CDAF lenses. Apparently, the PDAF motors (4/3) won't last as long on a CDAF (m4/3) body. Kinda like putting a V8 in a mini....

    So, until Olympus and Panasonic manage to put PDAF on sensor and develop a hybrid system and reliable hybrid lenses, it ain't gonna happen. If you need a really fast, long, weatherproof zoom or prime, the cost of an E-5 to mount it on is not that bad compared to the cost of an E-M5 anyway:wink:
     
  13. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Oh come now... PDAF is an essential necessity for sports photographers and birders, and CDAF is not adequate for them? Do you realize how much better the current CDAF system is than PDAF systems of only mere YEARS ago? Are you saying that years ago sports photographers and birders were not able to do their job because no cameras were fast enough for them?

    I happen to prefer shooting sports and birds with manual focus, which doesn't get confused like AF does. Many sports photographers and birders before me shot with manual focus too, before AF existed. Many photographers used only regular AF before tracking AF existed. Many still do. Yes I know that MF usage is extremely rare these days, but my point is not that you should use MF but rather that a good photographer can get the job done as long as he has the appropriate lenses (ie, like a fast telephoto if that's what the job requires), and that he is not able to use only cameras with the fastest tracking AF currently available in the worldwide market. Certainly not all sports photographers and birders require that last nanosecond of AF speed which can be squeezed out of your system. When you're talking PDAF vs CDAF with today's technology, you're literally talking about mere milliseconds or less. My own ability as a photographer to anticipate the shot will count for a lot more than just a millisecond of AF speed from the camera!

    Neither do all sports photographers and birders rely solely on C-AF (or "Tracking AF"). That is a myth. Some prefer it, some don't. It is NOT a necessity for all. I happen to prefer S-AF, but that's just me. I don't expect every other photographer to shoot the same way I do, and would not base my arguments completely off my own shooting style.

    If you take an E-M5 for instance with a telephoto lens designed for the Micro Four-Thirds system, the AF speed is blazing fast and I don't know any sports photographer or birder who would claim that it's just not good enough because it's not PDAF! The problem with using an E-M5 for such purposes is the fact that you will be restricted to slow telephoto lenses since that is all which have been made natively for the system as yet! So your performance in bright light will be just as good as any DSLR but not as good in poor light unless you forgo Autofocus and mount a fast lens which was NOT designed for Micro Four-Thirds.

    In other words, the problem is lens availability, not CDAF. If the lenses are available, then yes people will buy them if it suits their needs, and yes it WILL give them the performance they need to do their job as a professional photographer.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Hi Ned. I respect your comments, but I think you are fundamentally incorrect, perhaps because of your own preference for MF over AF.
    If a pro, or wannabee pro is shelling out many thousands of dollars for a fast AF system, they want (which is not the same as need) something that does the best job possible with todays technology.
    I have yet to read any review by a professional photographer who feels that current CDAF is as good as current PDAF for tracking fast moving objects. Yes, I have read Kirk Tuck's recent comments, and agree with him, and you: most photographers don't need huge fast lenses or blindingly fast AF tracking. But, those that do want that, are the very people that current fast long lenses are designed for. And CDAF isn't there yet.
    A fast, long lens is a specialty item, and actually used to it's full potential by a small percentage of amateurs and professionals.
    Why would I spend upwards of $4000 on a m43 lens/body combo for bird in flight photography, when I could spend the same in 4/3 and it will perform better?
    Horses for courses. It will come, either in the form of PDAF on sensor, or a paradigm shift in CDAF. But in the meantime, a DSLR system makes more sense. Which is why we still have the four thirds system.
    Personally, I don't currently have a need for such a lens, and the MF lenses in my signature below are fine for me. But I wouldn't assume that my needs are the same as a Pro shooting Formula 1!
     
  15. MichaelJC

    MichaelJC Mu-43 Regular

    It takes more than just a camera with PDAF to shoot birds in flight. The tracking on the E-620 is shockingly bad and I don't think it changed with the E-5. In considering a new camera, I almost opted for a Nikon D7000 for this very reason. But then I thought about how often I really care about shooting BIF and settled for the versatility of the m43 system instead.
     
  16. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Actually, the tracking AF on the E-5 is in a totally different league than the E-620. The E-5 is a pro-grade body with all cross-type AF points (in comparison with other brands it's quality over quantity - less points, but more accurate points). Even the venerable old E-3 has better AF than the entry-level E-620, and also the ability to maximize the focus speed of SWD lenses.
     
  17. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I certainly can't disagree with that! I do hear and agree with the validity of your point, but still think that availability of lenses made for the system is more important than the use of PDAF or CDAF.

    However, having an on-sensor PDAF solution would actually solve both of the problems we each perceive. It would allow PDAF tracking which is the improvement you're looking for, and it would open up the entire lineup of existing Four-Thirds lenses, which is the solution I'm looking for. :cool:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Thanks for the comments Ned. I note that I have also mis-read the OP's topic, which was asking about compatibility of 4/3 lenses on m4/3 bodies.
    I understand your interest in this, given you have two 4/3 lenses that wouldn't be ridiculously large on the E-M5 with grip.

    I don't have any 4/3 lenses, so at the moment have no horse in the race. My point was more geared towards the question of why they aren't bringing out faster telephoto lenses for the m43 system. I feel that it doesn't make sense doing this yet: they need the PDAF on sensor first, then develop lenses optimized to that. Otherwise, lenses optimized for the current CDAF may be obsolete (or less than optimal..) when hybrid PDAF/CDAF arrives. That would really piss people off!
     
  19. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    No, I see your point and agree. Native or non-native, exotic (long fast lenses) lenses are a very small niche, and those that buy them predominantly require good fast C-AF, something that no 4/3 or m4/3 camera offers today, nor would I expect one to offer any time soon. I hope that Olympus and Panasonic spend their efforts on more pressing needs first.

    DH
     
  20. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    I missed this comment the first time through.

    I'm not saying that faster lenses aren't ever useful. I am saying that compatibility for existing 4/3 lenses isn't actually all that important.

    That's because those who are coming from 4/3 with 4/3 lenses are in almost all cases better served with native options than they were with their 4/3 gear.

    (Of course almost nobody who is not coming from 4/3 has any 4/3 lenses).

    Overall, it really does look to me like m4/3 surpasses regular 4/3 in almost all ways at this point, even without the existence of a native HG lens lineup.

    DH