Oly 12mm vs 9-18mm vs Pana 14mm + GWC1

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by PMCC, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. PMCC

    PMCC Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 18, 2013
    I searched the internet but did not find similar discussion.

    The Oly 12/2 has very good reputation for image quality, but is ridiculously expensive.

    The Oly 9-18/4-5.6 is said to be nice for a wide zoom, but is still quite expensive.

    The Pana 14mm + GWC1, is equivalent to 11mm, and costs less that 1/2 of the Oly 12mm. The question is how does the image quality compare to the above? How well does it serve as the poor man's ultra-wide lens?
  2. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Well, I only have the 9-18, but I'm pretty happy with it. The 12/2 is, as you say, quite expensive; but I'd probably have bought it if I didn't think I needed something wider. The 14mm is a nice lens, but I'd be surprised if sticking a wide converter on the front of it will deliver good results.
  3. Muntjack

    Muntjack Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 26, 2010
    There's a thread somewhere on the 14 + the wa converter and its quality.
    I think it was ok but maybe more vignetting than desirable.
  4. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Real Name:
    I knew I needed a wide-angle from my DSLR days, so I bought the 9-18 even before my E-M5 arrived! I tried the 12mm, but the image quality, although slightly better, wasn't enough for me to shout 'Hallelujah' and lose the flexibility and considerably wider FOV of the zoom. Compared to the 14 plus converter, I haven't tried it, but again, the angle difference bezween 9 and 11, together with the flexibility, would bring me back to the 9-18.

    Yes, it's expensive, but it is a very good lens.
  5. Liamness

    Liamness Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    I would not pay the price Olympus are asking for the 9-18 new, but you can save a third or more buying it used. It has been around for a while now, there are plenty of them knocking about, so you can find good deals. It is pretty sharp too, at least at the wide end. I would get it over the 12mm, unless you need to shoot wide in low light... plus 12mm is not really that wide.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Don't have the 12, but do own the 9-18, 14, and GWC1

    Comparing the converted 14mm with the zoom at 11mm, the 14mm with adapter has
    -more barrel distortion, not noticeable to me unless I compare directly
    -more fringing typical of the 14mm
    Details otherwise seem similar to me.

    Two full size jpg's:

    14mm with converter
    9-18 zoom at 11mm
    • Like Like x 3
  7. PMCC

    PMCC Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 18, 2013
    This is what I am looking for - the first comparison of the 14mm + GWC1 with any other lens with similar native FL. :2thumbs:
  8. PMCC

    PMCC Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 18, 2013
    Indeed my plan is to shoot in low light - wide field astrophotography in particular :wink: YMMV
  9. Liamness

    Liamness Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    You can still do astrophotography with a slower lens. You'll need a tripod and long shutter speeds anyway; if the aperture is f/4 instead of f/1.8 or something, then you just adjust the shutter speed or ISO to compensate. Using a wide lens you can probably get away with a 60 second exposure, any longer and the sky's movement might mess up your shot.
  10. PMCC

    PMCC Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 18, 2013
    60s F/4 isn't really enough for astrophotography.

    These photos are taken with a Sony DC. 30s F/2.8 ISO800.



    Any :43: camera should be better than that.
  11. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
  12. Danny_Two

    Danny_Two Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 30, 2010
    Depends how wide you want to go really. I had the 9-18, but sold it, I have the 14-45 and feel that's wide enough for me, I use it at 14 most of the time, If I didn't have the zoom I would just buy the 14mm and use it as my main lens.

    I found the 9-18 a pain to use to, to much faffing about unlocking it and retracting the lens all the time. The 12mm looks good, but as you say, too expensive.
  13. e_kjellgren

    e_kjellgren Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 17, 2011
    Which alternative did you go for?

  14. Axlbg66

    Axlbg66 New to Mu-43

    Sep 30, 2011
    Oly 9-18 is on my list and was wondering if anyone knows about upcoming update or a third party equivalent.
  15. MiguelATF

    MiguelATF Mu-43 Veteran

    the poor man's ultra-wide lens

    The short answer: VERY WELL.

    The Panasonic 14mm pancake is a ridiculously fine lens with astounding (for the price) IQ, resolving power, and even at times (shocking as this may seem) the capability of generating beautiful bokeh wide-open.

    But most of all, for the price....it may be the bargain of the century. There's no question that the Olympus 12mm is a superb piece of glass - but you have to pay for that glass. The 9-18 gives you the convenience of both a much wider angle and of zooming - but in terms of optical quallity and IQ, I think the general consensus is that it's actually not as good as the lowly inexpensive 14mm. Let me amend that - it almost is, at certain apertures, but you have to stop it down.

    So, bottom line - for the 'poor man's UWA' - it's difficult to beat the panasonic 14mm pancake.
  16. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    From what I see the 14 had very little if any advantage compared with any of the 14-42 / 14-45 pana lenses @ 14mm.

    My kit has the 12-35 2.8 (all around quality, speed and great focal range), 14-42 pz (for going small) and rokinon 7.5mm fisheye.
    I defish many of my fisheye images. It's much easier than many people think, as is the manual focus.
    After defishing the angle of view is still much wider than my 12-35@12. I imagine it's more like an 8-9 mm and the IQ surpasses anything on your list. Not too expensive either.
  17. MiguelATF

    MiguelATF Mu-43 Veteran

    14mm and fisheyes

    Well, the one main advantage the fisheye has is that it's quite tiny. When you put it on a PL5 (or a PM2), it makes the camera almost pocketable - which is something it definitely isn't with any of the standard zooms. As to optical quality, well - the 14mm is superb - but quite a few of the Olympus and Panasonic zooms are so good that it would be impossible for most of us to tell the difference. So size is really the major plus.

    And pardon my curiosity and ignorance but something you said intrigued me - how does one go about 'defishing' fisheye images? Is it a complex process? Do you need special software?
  18. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    I agree that the size is the biggest selling point of the 14mm f2.5.
    It's just that, imho, the major advantages of prime lenses are speed (large aperture which in turn allows shallow dof and subject isolation), optical quality better than good zooms and size/weight.

    The 14mm f2.5 is small and light but optically it isn't that great, it isn't that fast (even kit zooms are f3.5 @ 14mm though probably are worse wide open), it doesn't allow enough shallow dof due to f2.5 and short focal length.

    And it also has a very limited focal length. nowhere near been useful for portraiture, not wide enough for many indoors and large group photos.

    For me it's pointless in almost any way.

    About the fisheye defishing I refer you to

    But my method isn't global like hugin etc.
    What I do is open the image in photoshop cs6, filter-> adaptive wide angle and there I manually draw lines (actually curves) on all the major curves, the image gets straightened and then I crop it with a bit of filling-in using content aware.

    I hope to remember to upload a few before-after images when I get home and maybe upload a demo video of me working through an image from start to end.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Real Name:
    Doug Green
    I'd also be curious if anyone has any experience with the 14mm lens and the Sony VCL-ECU1 wide converter, which is a 0.75x converter that, surrendipidously, happens to fit and work with the 14mm lens, and converts it to a 10.5mm lens.

    BTW, in addition to it's tiny size, the 14mm lens is also a full f-stop faster than the various kit lenses at the wide end.
  20. Geoff3DMN

    Geoff3DMN Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia
    Real Name:
    I have a Panasonic 14mm pancake and I like the lens a lot but it's not an UWA (poor mans or not) it's simply a WA.

    What I personally use and recommend as a 'poor man's UWA' is a Rokinon/Samyang 7.5mm fisheye (with de-fish software) :thumbup: