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I am not impressed with the Oly 12mm f/2

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Ctein, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. Ctein

    Ctein Mu-43 Regular

    Dear Folks,

    I've made some test photos with the Olympus 12mm f/2 lens on my EP1. I am seriously underwhelmed by the edge quality. Is this lens as bad as I think it is?

    I'm posting four test files to a folder on my website, so people can see them at full resolution:

    Index of /micro43

    I don't normally work with wide angles and especially have no familiarity with fast ones. Am I expecting too much from an f/2 24mm-equiv?

    As badly as I'd like a fast wide angle to complement my kit, I am thinking seriously about returning this one to B&H. I mean, $800 for THIS?!

    (The lens arrived on 9/7-- I don't know what B&H's return period is, but I assume it would be a month.)

    Please, opinions, people? This is not an area where I have enough experience to trust my won judgement.

    (I've tried comparing my results to the samples posted in threads here, but those photos are sized down enough that I simply can't tell if the edge quality is similar to what I'm seeing.)

    Thanks for your advice and counsel!

    pax / Ctein
  2. drizek

    drizek Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 5, 2011
    According to SLRgear, it is soft near the edges at F2, gets better at f5.6, diffraction at f8 and beyond.

    Olympus Lens: Primes - Olympus 12mm f/2 ED M.Zuiko Digital (Tested) - SLRgear.com!

    Their blurb says:

    Your results seem to fit the general trend here, although I wouldn't call your picture excellently sharp. Maybe there is something wrong with yours. Their MFT charts show it being considerably sharper than either of the wide zooms available.
  3. CarlB

    CarlB Mu-43 Veteran

    Without seeing the exif on these, I'll guess you have the aperture pretty wide - if so, you can't get everything sharp.

    In the one photo, the far waves look great, but the trees are of course out of focus - what I would expect for a wide-aperture shot.

    Here's one at f4.0 I took with this lens last night. Very happy with this lens:

    • Like Like x 1
  4. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    I've been considering this lens, but those sample shots don't look good at all. Even at f/7.1, there doesn't seem to be any part of the image that is tack sharp. And the chromatic aberration is very noticeable where the branches meet the sky.

    It's hard to believe it's the same lens that Carl used to take his nice late afternoon lake image, even if it's a less contrasty scene. I'm also wondering whether there's something wrong with your lens.
  5. addieleman

    addieleman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 5, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Wherever I state an opinion IMHO is implied :smile:.

    First off, the subject matter you used, branches against a grey sky, is an extremely harsh test on any lens. When I test a lens I do precisely this as one of the tests (telephone poles will do for inhabitants of an urban jungle). At f/2 I can see purple fringing in the center and more of that in the corners, which is expected wide open and makes the leaves against the sky look distinctly unsharp. The trees on the left and right border look a little bit soft, not too bad, center sharpness (details in the trees) looks alright. I'm actually more disappointed by the f/4.5 picture: center sharpness looks OK now, but the corners still show pronounced purple fringing. That shouldn't be for a prime lens at this aperture. At f/7.1 purple fringing in the corners is almost gone, but it still isn't very sharp there.

    To put it into perspective, the highly praised Panny 20/1.7 also shows purple fringing in the center wide open and while it's very sharp in the center at f/2, its corners are much worse. You have to stop it down to f/4-5.6 to get an even performance across the frame. I have a few Minolta legacy lenses that pass these tests with flying colours but these are 50mm and 100mm lenses; even a Zeiss 28mm shows deficiencies and that's not even remotely wide-angle on µ4/3.

    Summing it up, I'd say that the Oly 12mm's performance wide-open is fairly decent, but that your sample must be seriously stopped down to get anywhere near really acceptable performance for landscape shots. In fact, my Panny 7-14mm behaves at least as good at f/5.6 or so and I wouldn't want to use this 12mm for a subject that needs excellent sharpness across the frame. Having seen other sample pictures of the Oly 12mm, I'd guess that you have a somewhat substandard sample.

    Oh, and thanks BTW for supplying full-size samples!
  6. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Dublin, IE
    Branches against an overcast sky show some purple fringing. It makes pictures look softer, but in fact this is the problem of the sensor (purple fringing is usually produced by the microlenses on the sensor) and not of the lens.

    I think the lens show excellent sharpness for a fast wide-angle. It seems to resolve even the tiniest of branches well. The sides and the corners wide open are much better than those of the very expensive Carl Zeiss 24mm f/2 lens for Sony full-frame cameras.
  7. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Hi Ctein, I just took a quick look at your samples. The first thing I noticed is that there has been little or no sharpening applied, so I sharpened them to suit my taste before evaluating further.

    The foreground corners looks about how I would expect for those apertures and a lens this wide. The top left and top right branches look softer than I'd expect. Usually when testing wide lenses, I see the opposite pattern. I wonder if your lens could be decentered. Have you tried shooting a flat target straight on?
  8. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    I believe it's 30 days with BH nowadays. Used to be 14.

    Test your lens on a different subject, preferably with an even/flat background throughout the entire frame of the image. For example, the good ol' brick well test.
  9. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    If B&H went to 30 days, I'd be surprised. I remember them and Adorama only having 14
  10. scotth

    scotth Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 3, 2011
    It is possible you have a dud. I don't have experience with this lens, but I would expect better myself. Maybe there is manufacturing error with the lens you have. You might be able to return it for another one.

    It might be worthwhile shooting something flatter as well. Maybe the point of focus is off in your examples. Though I would expect at f7.1, that would be less of an issue so maybe not.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. CarlB

    CarlB Mu-43 Veteran

    Just to be sure, what was the focus distance on these? Depending on what those were, that might explain some of this too.
  12. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    IMHO....again, IMHO...
    My preferred way of evaluating the sharpness of a lens is to examine the photo without increasing default in-camera sharpness settings and without any post-processing. :smile:
  13. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    I don't know many 24 equivalent lenses that are corner sharp at f/2. What's wrong stopping it down to f/2.8? Plus how many people shoot landscape wide open?
  14. digitalandfilm

    digitalandfilm Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 18, 2011
    My observations exactly.. maybe you got a dud copy.

    BTW- I can see why you went there to shoot those trees.
  15. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    The results look good for only an $800 f/2 wide. The maximum aperture will be soft. You are also judging this with a low-contrast target which will lower resolving power.

    You really cannot compare the corners on a wide with longer focal lengths.
  16. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    And stop pixel peeping. Whether you print or show these images on the web, it does not reflect real world viewing distances.
  17. Rich M

    Rich M Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 2, 2010
    Ctein......first things first. I have been a longtime admirer of your work, especially your work over the years with dye transfer photographs. I have seen some of your portfolio displayed and it is truly remarkable.

    I own the 12/2 and have been generally satisfied with the lens, keeping in mind the general limitations of the :43: format and wide angle lenses. Even at the cost of $800 (not cheap), there are few fast :43: 24mm equivalent alternatives. Wide angle legacy glass mounted via adapters to achieve 24mm doesn't really work due to severe corner smearing.

    That being said, I went out and shot this wide open......it's not that terrible in the corners.....not razor sharp either.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Perhaps you have a poor copy?

    • Like Like x 1
  18. Ctein

    Ctein Mu-43 Regular

    Dear Folks,

    The file names give the apertures. Two of them are at f/2, one at f/4.5 the last at f/7.1.

    I don't care about the purple fringing, it's the serious smearing at the edges, which hasn't gone entirely away even at f/7. And on axis still looks a bit soft.

    The subject distance is enough that all objects in the scene are effectively at infinity. Remember it is only a 12mm lens.

    I'm getting a lot of suggestion here and elsewhere that this looks like a substandard sample. I will ring up B&W Monday and get a swap, i suspect, unless I hear serious contradiction to what seems to be a dominant opinion.

    That would be a relief. I know how to solve a bad sample. Dunno how to solve a bad design.

    pax / Ctein
  19. drizek

    drizek Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 5, 2011
    First take a picture of a brick wall. Use a tripod, low iso, shoot raw, control all the variables so you're sure it is actually something wrong with the lens.
  20. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    This is what I'm wondering.
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