Are Micro Four-Thirds lenses inherently sharper?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Jonathan F/2, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I've been using my 75 1.8 for both personal and work and I never seen an AF lens quite so sharp. I have some top quality Nikkor glass for my FX DSLRs such as the 24-70 AFS and 70-200 VR-II, but the 75 1.8 is in a league of it's own.

    So does the 4:3 ratio help in creating a more efficient lens? Are M43 lenses easier to design for? Anybody with engineering knowledge regarding the subject willing to explain? I'm just curious from a technical standpoint what makes these lenses so darn good.

    Any input to quench my curiosity would be appreciated!
     
  2. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    Yes, but at the same time, a μ43 lens needs to be twice as sharp compared to a FF lens in order to get the same resolution at a given print size, which is why on DxO, you'll see that μ43 lenses often come in a little lower than FF lenses because DxO upscales their resolution to that of a FF sensor.

    So...its easier to make high quality lenses when the elements are smaller, but also the smaller sensor size requires more resolution to be comparable to the competition.
     
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  3. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    If that's the case, why not make FF lenses as sharp as M43 lenses?
     
  4. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I also think they have an advantage by not being saddled by old technology. There are no existing lens molds, production lines, etc. All these lenses had to be designed using "current" technology - high refractive optics, etc.

    Certainly, it would also seem to make sense that smaller optics have tighter tolerances than larger ones.
     
  5. KVG

    KVG Banned User

    May 10, 2011
    yyc(Calgary, AB)
    Kelly Gibbons
    Doesn't a shorter flange distance help as well as being newly designed lenses?
     
  6. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    If that's the case why aren't NEX lenses (shorter flange) superior to M43 glass?
     
  7. MikeR_GF1

    MikeR_GF1 Mu-43 Veteran

    I recall, around 10 years ago, studying an Olympus mailer describing the new format, and how it afforded them the opportunity to make lenses designed for digital sensors. The main point was having the light hit the sensor head on (perpendicularly), rather than from an angle. Film did not require being that fussy.

    Here's a pretty detailed description from Wikipedia:
    Four Thirds system - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  8. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    Well, I think that ~tc~ has the answer to that. Most FF lenses are quite a bit older than μ43 lenses and typically the newest lenses coming out of Canon and Nikon are significantly sharper than the older designs. Building lenses on new technology with new tools really helps. Canon and Nikon don't introduce a particularly large number of lenses each year because they don't need to, but the ones they have released in recent years are consistently better than their designs from the 1990s.

    Nikon's D800 is going to put strain on older lenses, too, so if they really want to go the megapixel route, they'll need to start making lenses of higher and higher quality going forward.
     
  9. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    Let's back up a bit.
    Jonathan, you say that the M. Zuiko 75mm is incredibly sharp.

    Well...
    Olympus high grade Four Thirds lenses have always been known for incredible quality so I'd debate that it's more Olympus lenses being sharp rather than Micro Four Thirds in general. :smile:
     
  10. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I've been using my E-M5 & 75 1.8 side-by-side with my D800E & 70-200 VR-II, and honestly I really like what's coming out of my Olympus setup a lot more! If Olympus made an FF/FX system, I'd probably switch!
     
  11. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    Well I think its not just Olympus but Olympus 4/3 lenses and Mike mentioned a reason why

    I think Olympus always made High quality glass and making lenses for a 4/3 sensor makes it easier still to produce sharp lenses.
     
  12. tdekany

    tdekany Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 8, 2011
    Oregon
  13. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
  14. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
  15. tdekany

    tdekany Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 8, 2011
    Oregon
  16. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    The 75 is insane. It just has a certain edge definition that only seem to exist on FF exotics such as the 200 f/2 or 400 2.8. I seriously put the 75 1.8 in terms of sharpness with those heavy guns! If Olympus would get a workable standard 4/3rd adapter together, I may pickup the Olympus 150mm f/2!

    Here's a couple samples which I think may illustrate my point:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. m0nsieur2

    m0nsieur2 Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Mar 8, 2012
    The review from lenstip.com lists one benefit of u4/3 cameras being the smaller sensor size=greater pixel density, and that this AND lens design influence sharpness (represented by the measured MTF value).
    Panasonic G 20 mm f/1.7 ASPH. review - Image resolution - Lenstip.com
    u4/3 cameras also don't have super high image resolutions. Here's some funreading that explains why this can be an advantage due to the diffraction limit of resolution for a lens/sensor system. This also explains why keeping your lens in a specific range avoids abberation and diffraction limited loss of sharpness.
    Diffraction limits of Resolution | Andre Gunther Photography

    Those links give a couple of clues to the sharpness benefits of u4/3, but I'll keep following this thread hoping to learn more about it.
     
  18. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Low hanging fruit reasons are:

    - The small pixel pitch of the 16mp, 4/3 sensors result in a high spatial sampling rate and permit a much weaker anti-alias filter.

    - A large factor in the cost of manufacturing a lens is the diameter of the elements. The image circle for a 4/3 sensor is small than a FF sensor. Olympus probably designs their lenses to have a larger image circle than necessary so the sweet part is being used. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if the design of the 75/1.8 were to be scaled up to cover a FF sensor would increase the cost of the lens by a factor of 3.

    - The AF on µ4/3 bodies is done in live view and generally more precise and consistent than PDAF. The high end DSLR bodies and lenses tend to have more accurate AF than the consumer grade stuff. (check Rodger's articles at lensrentals.com).

    So, combine those three factors in the form of a D800E and a 200/2 lens and sharpness and pop is comparable to and OM-D and 75/1.8
     
  19. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Without a doubt, yes.
     
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  20. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    This is true, but it's slightly deceptive, in that they make it sounds like these facts are unique to μ43. They're not. The same is true for every camera+lens combination. Resolution is always the combination of the sensor and the lens together. And there's no such thing as a lens out resolving a sensor or vice versa. The measured resolution is always going to be lower than the resolution of the higher resolving component and higher than the resolution of the lower resolving component.

    Also, since that review was written, the records have gone higher than that. Four lenses have broken 80lpmm (the CV 17.5mm came close at 79lpmm):

    Panasonic 45mm macro
    3341_roz.

    Olympus 60mm
    3746_roz.

    Olympus 75mm
    3712_roz.

    Voigtlander 25mm
    3279_wykres.

    And over 70lpmm is pretty standard for μ43 primes.

    And all of Lenstip's reviews for μ43 have been on the 12MP E-PL1. If they were done on the E-M5 instead, the resolution for these lenses would be at least 25% higher (the theoretical improvement could be as high as 33%, but I'm trying to be conservative), so these lenses that are resolving over 80lpmm, would be over 100 on the E-M5.

    At the same time, you need to remember that for an equivalent print, compared to a FF lens+camera, you are enlarging the μ43 image twice as much, so it *needs* twice as much resolution to match FF. Suffice to say, 82lpmm on μ43 = 41lpmm on a FF.

    And this actually ends up being rather close to what we see with the Canon 135mm f/2L:

    3505_roz.

    In this case, the 75mm on a 12MP sensor is just the tiniest bit less sharp than the 135mm f/2 on the Canon 1Ds MkIII at equivalent apertures. And again, the 75mm on a 16MP would break 100lpmm (=over 50lpmm on FF) and would actually be sharper than the the 135mm f/2L on the 1Ds MkIII.

    Of course, if Canon came out with a high density camera, that situation might change again...
     
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