Multi-Coating vs Single-Coating


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Jan 29, 2010
South Gippsland, Australia
Real Name
Ray, not Oz
One sideline to another discussion about legacy lenses ie anything not specifically designed for digital sensors was the issue about lens coatings. One view was that multi-coating did not advance the performance of lenses significantly over single-coating, as single coating did over no coating. I think I beg to differ on that point of view. I think that multi-coating did have a significant impact on image quality, but there’s another aspect that needs to be considered when considering digital.

The one thing that became fairly evident with the advent of digital cameras, was that lenses designed for film didn't always perform as well as those designed specifically for digital. There was no rocket science here and the main culprit was the digital sensor, which is effectively a mirror, if one cares to have a look inside their m4/3s camera body. That mirror caused internal reflections at a very critical place.

Olympus got this aspect right from the outset and it took a while for others to start to redesign their lenses to accommodate this requirement. The main issue was the rearmost element, which especially needed coatings to ensure that reflections from the sensor were absorbed/eliminated or whatever. I've done a visual comparison of my Olympus lenses vs the others (manual) and the results are surprising.

All of my Voigtlander M mount lens rear elements appear to have a similar coating structure to that of the 14-42mm, as well as all my 4/3s lenses; they're mutli-coloured, but a greenish tinge predominates. My Minolta CLE lens has a predominantly purplish tinge, with very slight green highlights, as does my Leica lens. My Pentax lenses are all purplish and my Minolta lenses are pretty much yellowish, with some purple highlights. My Komura lens has highlights of yellow and blue, indicating minimal coating.

The M mount lenses are the latest edition in the Voigtlander line and I think they have recognised the need to make lenses for the digital era. While many legacy lenses perform very well with digital cameras, I suspect (from some actual experience) that they aren’t quite in the league of modern lenses designed for digital sensors. Nothing wrong with using them and the results can be great, but be aware that the results may not be optimum. I’ll be doing some testing of all of my lenses and seeing exactly how they perform under the same conditions.

My one caveat is that coating colour/s do not precisely confirm one quality or another, but I think it can be a reasonable indicator. Let the fur fly! :biggrin:




Mu-43 Veteran
Feb 9, 2010
Berkeley, CA
Ray, I haven't done a specific test, but from what I remember when I first started way back in the day multi coat reduced a lot of the flaring that was evident in single coated lenses....

Thanks for the good read and good information.


Super Moderator
Dec 15, 2009
Huntsville, AL, USA
Real Name
I know that typical coatings on telescope eyepieces or refractor objectives usually come in two flavors, a dark purplish tinge or a slightly greenish tinge.

The color really doesn't matter. Multi-coated is always better. Not only does it allow more light into the system, but it also reduces stray light as well.


Mu-43 Regular
Apr 14, 2009
It's more than the coatings though when you use legacy/non-MFT lenses. I have a 25mm Zeiss ZM that performs brilliantly on the M8 sensor while the smearing of detail towards the edges is pretty bad on the E-P2 sensor.

This is most likely due to the micro-lenses that the M8 uses to handle wide-angle lenses with the rear element very close to the sensor.

Luckily the ZM 35mm edge performance on the E-P2 is much better.



New to Mu-43
Mar 12, 2010
Iowa USA
I find the single coated lenses are very well suited for B&W as they have less contrast and tend not to bock up shadows.


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