Comparing the PL15 to Legacy Glass

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by ijm5012, Mar 20, 2016.

  1. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    For some reason, I have a natural affinity of 35mm FoV lenses that can create nice, soft out of focus areas. I currently own a PanaLeica 15mm, and while it's a great lens and it can deliver the type of OoF areas I like, I have to work more in order to get the shot. It's a factor of the m43 sensor size, the wide FoV the lens offers, along with a moderate speed of f/1.7. I've recently started looking at what other options could give me what I'm looking for.

    Initially I thought of picking up a Sony A7II and a Canon FD 35mm f/2.0 (I already have some Canon FD lenses, more on that later). The camera would give me IBIS, and it would give me an equivalent of a 17.5 f/1.0 lens on m43. Additional benefits are the 3:2 aspect ratio sensor (for some reason, I crop a lot of my shots to 3:2, I guess that aspect ratio just looks better to me), IBIS for all lenses, and better dynamic range along with noise. But once I started looking at all of the costs associated with picking up some additional lenses and everything else, I started to second guess this option.

    Then, I thought about the Voigtlander f/0.95 lenses. They offer a 17.5 f/0.95, basically equivalent to the above mentioned option. I could get one used for around $600, FAR cheaper than the option of Sony A7II. I'm just not certain how it performs, and from what I've seen wide open it may be a bit soft. To fix that issue, I could stop it down a stop to f/1.4, but then I wonder how close that puts me in terms of what I'm able to get with the PL15 @ f/1.7 I already own. But then I thought of another option.

    Last summer I picked up an RJ Focal Reducer and some Canon FD primes (24f2, 50f1.4, 100f2) so that I had some fast, manual focus options for shooting videos with on my GH4, as I wasn't pleased with the focus-by-wire system in a lot of the native lenses, particularly when trying to do slow focus pulls. Once using the adapted lenses for videos, along with stills, I really enjoyed all that is involved with shooting manual focus lenses. It just so happens that when putting the 24mm f/2.0 on the focal reducer, it becomes a 17.5mm f/1.4 when shot wide open. I figured this would give me a good idea of how the Voigtlander would perform at f/1.4, at least in terms of DoF. Plus, I could see if this combo would be "good enough" for what I'm looking for.

    I took a series of shots from a tripod with both the 17.5 and PL15 lens options, at f/1.4, f/1.7, f/2.0, and f/2.8. I wanted to see just how big of a different the focal length makes in DoF, along with how much DoF control I could gain with a 17.5 f/1.4 lens over a 15 f/1.7 lens.

    The shots can be seen below. They were RAW files, worked in Exposure X for color and sharpening, and then exported to LR 6 for cropping. I attempted to crop each image to the same framing to give me an equal approximation, and resized each image to 1600 px wide.


    17.5 f/1.4

    [​IMG]


    17.5 f/1.7

    [​IMG]


    15 f/1.7

    [​IMG]


    17.5 f/2.0

    [​IMG]


    15 f/2.0

    [​IMG]


    17.5 f/2.8

    [​IMG]


    15 f/2.8

    [​IMG]


    When viewing the results from the 17.5mm combo, I don't really notice a difference between the f/1.4 and f/1.7 examples when it comes to DoF. What I do notice is the vignetting that is present when shooting wide open at f/1.4. I don't notice a real difference in sharpness until the lens gets to f/2.0, but I still think it's sharp enough when shooting at f/1.4 or f/1.7 based on how the image was sharpened.

    As for the 15mm, it's pretty sharp wide open (as is to be expected from a modern lens). It vignettes a bit wide open, just like the 17.5 did (I don't view this as an issue, I tend to like it as it's not too heavy). There also is a slight difference in DoF between f/1.7 and f/2.0, but not as noticeable when compared to the 17.5 at the same apertures. There is a noticeable difference once stopped down to f/2.8, just like with the 17.5.

    So, what did I learn from this? Well, I can definitely see the difference between the 17.5 @ f/1.4 and the 15mm @ f/1.7 (both lenses wide open). I do like the more shallow DoF that the 17.5 offers, although the difference isn't all that great when comparing both at f/1.7 (although I guess every bit counts).

    Questions I still have are, is the Voiglander as sharp wide open @ f/0.95 as the Canon 24mm is adapted and wide open @ f/1.4? If so, maybe the Voigtlander will be sharp enough for me. Also, the additional stop of difference between f/1 and f/1.4, if as noticeable as the difference between f/1.4 and f/2.0, will be a welcome addition. Now I'm just left to determine if the benefits the Sony A7II offer outweigh the cost difference (and also, how sharp is the Canon 35mm f/2 vs. the Voigtlander f/0.95 when shooting both wide open).
     
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  2. robcee

    robcee Mu-43 Veteran

    289
    Jan 10, 2016
    Toronto
    Rob Campbell
    I love my voigts. A lot. The 17.5 is very sharp, probably their sharpest. It's big and heavy though. Sharpness is decent at .95 and sharpens up to 1.4. Much sharper than my 25mm mk II.

    It also focuses extremely close which gives you some pretty wild oof areas. It's nearly a macro.

    I don't think there's another lens in this system quite like it with that fov.
     
  3. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Interesting comparison.

    While I can see a difference in the 17.5mm f1.4, It seems like way too much hassle for such little gain, to me. Could you tell if you weren't concocting tests to show it?

    Here's Lenstip.com's sharpness charts (note slightly difference scales):

    17.5mm (Review)

    3705_roz_centr.

    15mm (Review)

    4137_roz.

    And just for good measure, the Fuji 23mm f1.4 (which gives 17.5mm f1.1 DOF on m4/3):

    4040_roz.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2016
  4. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    Hey thanks for your comments @robcee@robcee. It's nice to hear from someone who actually owns the Nokton 17.5. The size/weight isn't a big issue for me, as I own two GH4's and have shot with a Canon FDn 100mm f/2, which is basically the same size & weight of the 17.5 Nokton.

    Do you have any sample images of the 17.5 wide open, or stopped down to f/1.4? I went to your flickr page, but when looking through you albums I didn't see one dedicated to the Nokton 17.5. I'd be interested to see some full-size images shot at wider apertures to get a better idea of the sharpness.

    Also, do you own all 3? I've had thoughts about selling my PL15, PL25, and P42.5 to get the Voigtlander versions.
     
  5. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    That's a good point tkbslc. Honestly, I think it would be shot dependent (distance to subject, distance from background, etc.). There isn't a huge difference obviously, but when you're talking about the 35mm FoV, every little bit helps (I'm also a fan of the 35mm FoV over the 30mm FoV the PL15 offers. But I got the PL15 after selling the O.17mm because I couldn't use my CPL and attach the lens hood, which made me sell it and get the PL15. I've gotten used to the different focal length, but prefer the slightly tighter 35mm FoV).

    Once the weather warms up and I can get out and shoot, I'll be sure to take my adapted 17.5mm combo out and shoot with it, to see how I find the DoF. I can then make a decision about what to do (buy the 17.5 Voigtlander, but the A7II & FDn 35mm f/2, etc.). If Olympus were to release a 17.5mm f/1.2, that would probably be my go-to option, but I'll have to wait and see what comes of their f/1.2 series of lenses. Fingers crossed...
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2016
  6. robcee

    robcee Mu-43 Veteran

    289
    Jan 10, 2016
    Toronto
    Rob Campbell
    I'm on mobile so it's hard for me to link to some sample images. I do have a few in my Flickr stream but not sure I've tagged them properly. I'll grab some tomorrow or Tuesday.

    I only own the 17.5 and the 25. I've considered the 10.5 and the 42.5 but wafed on them as they're pretty special case for me. The 42 is probably the more useful of the two for me.

    Honestly, I'm not sure I'd trade the Nocticron for the voigt 42.5. For the sake of 1/3 of a stop and a loss of autofocus, I think you're losing more than you gain. JMO.
     
  7. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    So you own the Voigt 17.5 and 25 II, correct? And you think the 17.5 is sharper than the 25 II wide open and one stop down @ f/1.4?

    Also, you own the 42.5 Nocticron? From what I've read, the Nocticron is a better lens, based on CA and sharpness wide open. Plus, the OIS along with the AF, I think you're right about the 42.5 lenses.
     
  8. robcee

    robcee Mu-43 Veteran

    289
    Jan 10, 2016
    Toronto
    Rob Campbell
    yes. the 17.5 is much sharper than the 25 mk ii. I do like the rendering and size of the 25 though so it's not really fair to just write it off for that. It does sharpen up a bit by f1.4-2 and makes a great portrait and street lens.

    I don't own either the voigt 42.5 or the nocticron. I have the Oly 45 1.8. I tend to use my oly 12-40mm and rarely swap out for the 45. I feel like if I could have any 42-45mm prime it would be the PL42.5 but that's just based on reading. I think if I shot more portraits I might want to upgrade, but it's not a thing I do often.
     
  9. JDK504

    JDK504 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    529
    Jun 28, 2013

    Very funny and odd bc I had the same thoughts as you. I thought about picking up the A7R II and the 35 1.4 along with their 55 and 85. In the end I felt it would be a waste of money compared to what I already have.

    Yes the Sony has ibis but I do a lot of walking video and such and nothing beats the em5 II unless you have some kind of rig.

    I thought about selling my 25 1.4 and 42.5 1.2 and getting the equivalent in the Noktons with Also adding the 17.5.
    So I purchased the 25 II before I sold anything and compared.

    Yes the Noktons are a good lenses and I love their character, great build quality and feel. I just didn't feel they matched the quality I had with my pl lenses. I need af for shots and shooting with 1 hand is a must with small kids. There is no way I could do that with MF lenses or the bigger Sony.

    In the end after all my research I ended up falling back in love with my gear and appreciated it that much more.

    I too was waiting for Olympus to announce a fast 17.5 but I got tired of waiting and picked up the 15 and I'm glad I did. I am really impressed with it.
     
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  10. JDK504

    JDK504 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    529
    Jun 28, 2013
    Read this article from Steve Huff. Yes there is a small difference, but not enough for me to justify to start a whole new system. A lot really depends on what you are shooting and when. Sports, birds, fast moving objects, low light, etc.

    Choose the best tool for the job. Every system has pros and cons. You have to decide which ones you can live and live without.

    MIRRORLESS BATTLE! Micro 4/3 vs APS-C vs Full Frame!
     
  11. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    I think you are second-guessing yourself out of the ideal deal.
    An A7 (of any persuasion) and compactish 35mmF2-ish lens sounds like a win for someone really into the 35mm focal range.
    Of course there's the RX1 too ...
     
  12. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Eric
    If all I cared about was the 35mm focal length and could live without an EVF, I'd definitely go with the RX1.

    I too love the 35mm focal length on a full frame camera. Previously I had a Canon 5D Mark II with a Samyang 35mm f1.4 - amazing results but very difficult to focus (even with Magic Lantern firmware and focus peaking). I considered an A7 or RX1, but in the end stuck with my X100T. I find there are still plenty of times the DOF is too shallow at f2 at the distances I regularly shoot.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
  13. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    Maybe, but it's a lot of money for something that is just a hoby. The RX1 is a no-go, as I can't change lenses. With a FE camera, I can use all of the FD glass I have.

    The problem with the A7 scenario is that I'd likely sell all of my prime lenses (PL15, PL25, P42.5) and end up using the FDn 35/2, 50/1.4, and 100/2 instead. The question then becomes, do I pick up a lens like the FDn 20/2.8 and 72mm filters to do some wide angle long exposure stuff, and sell off my P7-14/4 (I'm looking to purchase a filter set for that, but it'll run me about $350 so I want to be sure about what gear I'll be using in the future). I would have a great FF kit of primes (20, 24, 35, 50, 100), but would end up spending an additional ~$1500 to get the A7 II & FDn 35/2 (not deducting the ~$800 I'd get for my primes after all is said and done, so $700 net difference).

    It's entirely a "first world problem" and a direct cause of my "camera money" account having too much money in it along with being kept inside due to the winter months. Ultimately, I'll just continue to sit and wait and see what happens over the next few months. I'll see what Olympus announces with their f/1.2 PRO prime lenses. I'll also monitor prices of the CV17.5 on ebay, and if I can get one at a steal of a price I'll likely buy it just to see how I get on with it. If I don't like it, I can always sell it for a minimal loss since I bought it used in the first place. In addition, the longer I wait, the cheaper A7II's become.

    I'll wait and see what happens, and make a decision then. In the mean time I have the excellent PL15 in addition to an adapted 17.5 f/1.4 to play around with. Once the weather finally breaks here and I can get out and about, that'll likely quell my quest for more gear for a while as well.
     
  14. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Depends on taste.

    My '35' solution is the A7R (which I'll probably replace with the mark II once prices come down some more) and the Voigtlander 35/1.2 mk II, which from what I can tell renders similarly to the 17.5/0.95. I find I much prefer the focus peaking implementation on the Sony compared with the Olympus, don't know how good Panasonic's bodies fare. And the combination of better per pixel performance and much higher resolution makes for nicer files in low light, which is where I shoot most of my 35mm - environmental portraiture in natural light.

    If I had the money, I'd get an RX1 mk II, though. No question.
     
  15. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Eric
    How true this is! I find myself always shuffling camera gear in the winter months for the exact same reasons.
     
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  16. NY Gadget Guy

    NY Gadget Guy Mu-43 Regular

    48
    Mar 17, 2016
    If you feel you have equipment-at-the-ready but not enough to do with it, I highly recommend volunteering your services to a nonprofit. Many need photos to keep their Facebook feeds, blog articles, and web sites fresh. I've learned a ton over the last couple of years by bringing other photographers out to the events and then comparing notes afterwards.

    To find opportunities in the USA, see VolunteerMatch - Where Volunteering Begins .

    Curious to hear whether there are similar web sites to match up photographers with nonprofits elsewhere!
     
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  17. JDK504

    JDK504 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    529
    Jun 28, 2013
    Thank you for this link! My wife and I were actually just talking about how we need to find some charities to donate some time with our 2 girls.
    It looks like there quite a few categories to choose from.
     
  18. robcee

    robcee Mu-43 Veteran

    289
    Jan 10, 2016
    Toronto
    Rob Campbell
    ok, sorry it's taken a couple of days to get back to you, @ijm5012. Here are a few examples of the voigtlander 17.5mm my stream.

    First, sharp, this was around f4 or 4.5. (click'em for the flickr page and full size)

    19426724438_3469d19e7b_b.
    quidi vidi, nl


    Slight blur, f0.95 (sorry, Nick!):

    12720455653_9e0ff07ba0_b.
    Nick at the Benson


    total blurrascuro (taken closeup):

    11568521874_7e5a55f6dc_b.
    oli


    That should give you a bit of an idea what this lens can do. It's fun and makes some great images.
     
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