Olympus 20mm F1.4 PRO released

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I'd really be interested in a direct comparo between the OM 20 and the P 20. One of the things that I don't like about the newer O/OM lenses is how they render details. I find them to be almost over sharpened, sort of crunchy looking and blocky. One place where I tend to see this is in eyelashes, and the O-Pro glass I had made it look like everyone had heavy mascara on, while my P/L glass tended to show actual eyelashes with a more delicate rendering. Just as much detail, but with a different idea as to how they should look. I subsequently dumped my O glass, except for my 75 which seems to have been designed differently and more closely matches the P/L look. The P 20 has always been a favorite, but the unit focus needs to be upgraded one of these days.

Interesting observation for sure. I did not notice this with my 17mm f1.2 lens. But I did not have expensive PL glass to compare.
I do have a lot of experience comparing the Olympus with Panasonic consumer options.
In these lenses, I always found the Panasonic option to have more clarity, sharpness and saturation SOOC.

Examples
Pana 15mm vs Oly 17mm
12-32 vs 14-42 EZ
100-300 ii vs 75-300 ii
12-60 vs 12-50

The Panasonic 20mm is a lens that has its faults, but is also razor sharp and had no match from Olympus until now.
I doubt the 20mm 1.4 will be much sharper, but do expect it to focus faster and be better corrected optically, with less flare and CA in the final result.

I agree a direct comparison between the O20 and the ancient P20 would be interesting.

As soon as I have mine, I'll certainly run a few comparisons for everyone , but I don't have a P20 in the bag atm. [...] Maybe I can find / borrow a P20. Any Melbournians with a P20 keen for a comparo, lol?

I still have my Panny, and will only sell it if the 20mm 1.4 coming in a few days can completely replace it.
I already know it's no match in terms of size and weight, only if the other optical qualities are completely convincing will I consider getting rid of it.
So I hope to compare the two extensively, perhaps I can provide some comparisons for the team.
 
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Interesting observation for sure. I did not notice this with my 17mm f1.2 lens. But I did not have expensive PL glass to compare.
I do have a lot of experience comparing the Olympus with Panasonic consumer options.
In these lenses, I always found the Panasonic option to have more clarity, sharpness and saturation SOOC.

Examples
Pana 15mm vs Oly 17mm
12-32 vs 14-42 EZ
100-300 ii vs 75-300 ii
12-60 vs 12-50

The Panasonic 20mm is a lens that has its faults, but is also razor sharp and had no match from Olympus until now.
I doubt the 20mm 1.4 will be much sharper, but do expect it to focus faster and be better corrected optically, with less flare and CA in the final result.





I still have my Panny, and will only sell it if the 20mm 1.4 coming in a few days can completely replace it.
I already know it's no match in terms of size and weight, only if the other optical qualities are completely convincing will I consider getting rid of it.
So I hope to compare the two extensively, perhaps I can provide some comparisons for the team.
Looking forward to see your results!
 

Projectdb

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Another review on the 20 1.4.

This guy's review style and content is my absolute favorite.

 
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Looking forward to see your results!
OK, these samples are far from what I would consider "results", but in this dreary weather I decided to stay indoors for the moment (though the new lens would certainly do fine in heavy rain) and provide these first impressions.

1 hour in and so far the lens seems a bit like a mixed bag, certainly not everything I had hoped it to be (is anything ever?).

Build quality and weather sealing appear top notch. As you can see, it is quite a bit shorter than the small 12-45mm Zoom, but feels more dense due to similar weight.

With this OMSystem branded lens you are getting your first batch of OMSystem branded accessories, from the box to lens caps and manuals, even the little cleaning towel had to forfeit its Olympus branding. There is no lens pouch included in the purchase.

PB290313.jpg
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The size and handling are quite nice. If mounting a pancake leaves you fumbling for the correct grip sometimes, this lens will give you confidence. Especially in manual focus, the large dampened focus ring is a pleasure to use, even sans clutch mechanism.
Unsurprisignly, it feels right at home on both an E-M5 or E-M10 body, though it might look a bit lost on an E-M1 body, similar to the small zoom mentioned before.
On an E-M10, it's perhaps at the limit of what I consider well-balanced for hand-holding without a neck strap.

The focusing mechanism is a joy, speedy and absolutely silent. The 12-45mm is quite audible in comparison.
Even spending 10 minutes with the lens it feels like a major downgrade to go back to the loud and slow Panasonic 20mm pancake.
That lens is not only slower focusing but also less accurate, hunting and missing focus especially in close range, and the little focus ring makes precise focusing a challenge. And it does not provide C-Af at least on my camera.

BUT that lens is the closest competitor so onward to the comparison. I am comparing jpegs here but the observations are equally valid for the raw files, apparently Lightroom classic already has lens profiles for this lens because I could apply them with no issues.

One small caveat, I used auto ISO so for some indoor scenes the ISO is slightly lower on the faster lens. Keep that in mind, but it doesn't matter for the outdoor scene where I look at sharpness.
1638183765320.png
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First the close focus scene. Some things were surprising to me, some weren't.
As we know the 20mm is considered very sharp, cold and clinical in its rendering. In my book, it is a razor.
The OM System lens is the warmer rendering lens, as expected from its Olympus legacy.
It can also focus much closer as you can see, and blur the background even more due to its wider aperture. It does not provide more sharpness in this example but it is wide open, and quite close to the subject. Neither image is a winner but it was much easier to shoot with the larger lens, because both autofocus and the large focusing ring made it easier to focus on the correct spot.
1638184738332.png
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Next, the outdoor scene. Dismal weather (thanks, November!) so I couldn't be bothered to really go outside.
This scene surprised me the most.
Not just because of how much sharpness the little pancake provides, but also how much I needed to stop down the OM 20mm lens to get good sharpness.
The last few releases from Olympus have taught me that I can expect quite good sharpness even from wide open, but I found it quite lacking by f2 and thus stopped down to f3.2 to get a good result here.
And furthermore, you can see here that the angle of view of the Panasonic lens is slightly wider, which may or may not be to your preference.
Personally, I would find a 19mm more versatile than a 21mm but YMMV.

Just a screengrab so time to look closer. ENHANCE!
1638184800116.png
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Aside from the cooler color you can see that the 20mm Lumix lens provides even more sharpness in the center, though the OM lens is competetive.
While I do find the 20mm Panasonic pancake to look unnatural and almost over-sharpened at times, it is hard to deny that it provides the sharper picture overall.
1638184992501.png
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This is not only a good comparison of corner sharpness but also chromatic aberrations.
On an Olympus body, the OM 20mm lens is much better corrected, and might even have less chromatic aberrations out of the box.
The less perfect 20mm Panasonic lens has more aberrations, and possibly some uncorrectable longitudinal CA that Panasonic counters by using a different UV cutoff filter in their cameras.
Though again, it is hard to argue with the superior sharpness of the Panasonic.
1638185188139.png
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Again the OM System is the better lens technically, as it's quite common to cause a lot of flare on the Panasonic pancake. Ironically, that is the lens that I never use a hood for because I value the compact size.
The OM 20mm is quite resistant to flare and I had a hard time finding an angle that would make flares appear.
In addition, it comes with the same lens hood as the 12-45mm lens so they are interchangeable.
1638185364636.png
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Lastly, the bookshelf test, a perfect candidate for staying inside and comparing lenses.
Both are used at their maximum aperture, and again you can see that the OM lens is faster, but less sharp.
Both were shot from the same position, which again shows the wider angle of the Pancake.
1638185467425.png
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1638185563742.png
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Center and corner crop.
Despite higher ISO, we are getting a cleaner picture from the Lumix lens here.

I will reserve my final judgment until I had time to really use the lens, but so far it appears that we are getting a better handling, better corrected, weather sealed, more comfortable to use lens that is unfortunately not as sharp as the little pancake you can buy for a fraction of the price on the used market.

Looking forward to hearing everyone's opinions.
 
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JonSnih

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Lastly, the bookshelf test, a perfect candidate for staying inside and comparing lenses.

Both are used at their maximum aperture, and again you can see that the OM lens is faster, but less sharp.
Both were shot from the same position, which again shows the wider angle of the Pancake.

Center and corner crop.
Despite higher ISO, we are getting a cleaner picture from the Lumix lens here.

I will reserve my final judgment until I had time to really use the lens, but so far it appears that we are getting a better handling, better corrected, weather sealed, more comfortable to use lens that is unfortunately not as sharp as the little pancake you can buy for a fraction of the price on the used market.

Looking forward to hearing everyone's opinions.
Thank you for this comparison. I proccessed few images from DPR gallery in Oly Workspace and got the impression that the sharpness is quite good wide open (definitely better than what was possible to get from the Zuiko 17mm F1.8). Your results match DPR gallery. Guys from DPR TV had sharper sample it seems (or it was just proccessed in different RAW developer?). Can you process the last image of the bookshelf taken with the OM20mm prime in Oly Workspace? Or can you upload your RAW somewhere, so we can develop it? I would like to know if we are dealing with sample variation here or is it just result of different processing?

+1 I like your bookshelf/bookwall.
 
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I'd really be interested in a direct comparo between the OM 20 and the P 20. One of the things that I don't like about the newer O/OM lenses is how they render details. I find them to be almost over sharpened, sort of crunchy looking and blocky. One place where I tend to see this is in eyelashes, and the O-Pro glass I had made it look like everyone had heavy mascara on, while my P/L glass tended to show actual eyelashes with a more delicate rendering. Just as much detail, but with a different idea as to how they should look. I subsequently dumped my O glass, except for my 75 which seems to have been designed differently and more closely matches the P/L look. The P 20 has always been a favorite, but the unit focus needs to be upgraded one of these days.
I can observe a similar effect now in the landscape photo above. Dark lines render much thicker on the OM 20mm PRO compared to the Panasonic. I also see a more 'delicate' rendering of small leaves and branches in the busier areas of the photo. While I generally like the darker look it does appear less natural, and I can see how it would be distracting especially with portraiture.


Thank you for this comparison. I proccessed few images from DPR gallery in Oly Workspace and got the impression that the sharpness is quite good wide open (definitely better than what was possible to get from the Zuiko 17mm F1.8). Your results match DPR gallery. Guys from DPR TV had sharper sample it seems (or it was just proccessed in different RAW developer?). Can you process the last image of the bookshelf taken with the OM20mm prime in Oly Workspace? Or can you upload your RAW somewhere, so we can develop it? I would like to know if we are dealing with sample variation here or is it just result of different processing?

+1 I like your bookshelf/bookwall.

Thank you. The missus had inexplicably decided that the books need to be ordered by color, silly me had tried to order by subject or language, and what good would that do?

I have no doubts that DPR TV got a sharper sample than my own. For some reason, I hoped that a PRO branded lens would be subject to stricter quality control, but it doesn't seem to be the case. At the same time, I really disliked the Capture one processing from DPR in particular. Sharp, but very busy looking outlines etc.

Anyway, here is an example of the same jpeg, on the left processed by the camera and on the right by Olympus Workspace with default settings, super fine jpeg.
The differences are minute, if any exist at all.

1638206784388.png
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Here is the same image, but the one on the left was exported from the ORF file by Lightroom classic with default settings. At 40, the default sharpening is quite aggressive, and adds detail but also introduces more noise, and gives up some color information :
1638216997177.png
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Lastly, since you mentioned it here is the output from the Olympus 17mm f1.8 prime. Wide open, the lens is not a match for the more expensive prime, sharpness is quite bad especially in the corners, and at maximum aperture it requires double the ISO.
1638217195603.png
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oh dear:
1638217254274.png
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However, stop it down a bit, increase shutter speed to 0.5 sec (thanks, IBIS!) and you get THIS
1638217384192.png
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1638217441989.png
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That's pretty darn sharp. So if your subject is static, here is your way to save quite a bit of money by going with the 17mm f1.8 lens.
 
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I can observe a similar effect now in the landscape photo above. Dark lines render much thicker on the OM 20mm PRO compared to the Panasonic. I also see a more 'delicate' rendering of small leaves and branches in the busier areas of the photo. While I generally like the darker look it does appear less natural, and I can see how it would be distracting especially with portraiture.




Thank you. The missus had inexplicably decided that the books need to be ordered by color, silly me had tried to order by subject or language, and what good would that do?

I have no doubts that DPR TV got a sharper sample than my own. For some reason, I hoped that a PRO branded lens would be subject to stricter quality control, but it doesn't seem to be the case. At the same time, I really disliked the Capture one processing from DPR in particular. Sharp, but very busy looking outlines etc.

Anyway, here is an example of the same jpeg, on the left processed by the camera and on the right by Olympus Workspace with default settings, super fine jpeg.
The differences are minute, if any exist at all.

View attachment 920127

Here is the same image, but the one on the left was exported from the ORF file by Lightroom classic with default settings. At 40, the default sharpening is quite aggressive, and adds detail but also introduces more noise, and gives up some color information :

View attachment 920141


Lastly, since you mentioned it here is the output from the Olympus 17mm f1.8 prime. Wide open, the lens is not a match for the more expensive prime, sharpness is quite bad especially in the corners, and at maximum aperture it requires double the ISO.

View attachment 920142

oh dear:

View attachment 920143

However, stop it down a bit, increase shutter speed to 0.5 sec (thanks, IBIS!) and you get THIS

View attachment 920144

View attachment 920145

That's pretty darn sharp. So if your subject is static, here is your way to save quite a bit of money by going with the 17mm f1.8 lens.


It's really hard to tell from the web images. Maybe you could put some of the raws and jpegs into a google drive folder so we can download and see the full images. I like your assessments and observations so far. Thanks for posting these.
 
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It's really hard to tell from the web images. Maybe you could put some of the raws and jpegs into a google drive folder so we can download and see the full images. I like your assessments and observations so far. Thanks for posting these.

Certainly, give it a go with the raw files here.

You are welcome, happy if it helps the community.
I am waiting for better weather at the moment, to give this lens a proper go outside.

I also cleaned up the thread a bit and decided to put most images into spoilers.
That way, any passerby can scroll through and read the thread like a normal person.
Bookshelf nerds can open the spoiler. Hope that works for everyone.
 

JonSnih

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Lastly, since you mentioned it here is the output from the Olympus 17mm f1.8 prime. Wide open, the lens is not a match for the more expensive prime, sharpness is quite bad especially in the corners, and at maximum aperture it requires double the ISO.

oh dear:
Thanks for including the 17mm F1.8. I remember this kind of performance at F1.8/F2.0/F2.2, half of the frame was just meh. The new 20mm F1.4 provides solid central and good corner performance wide open, I would say.

This is a good example (picture 41 from DPR gallery) how the lens performs with less boxy subject :-D
 
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Certainly, give it a go with the raw files here.

You are welcome, happy if it helps the community.
I am waiting for better weather at the moment, to give this lens a proper go outside.

I also cleaned up the thread a bit and decided to put most images into spoilers.
That way, any passerby can scroll through and read the thread like a normal person.
Bookshelf nerds can open the spoiler. Hope that works for everyone.

It's quite remarkable just how much sharper the P is at 1.7 than the OM is at 1.4. If you look at the book in the center with the word DUDEN in black on the spine, the truth is plain to see.

It seems that twelve years of development, larger size and double the price does not make a better lens. I'm surprised and quite frankly disappointed that the OM 20 isn't spectacular. It should be. And frighteningly, the 17 f1.8 seems to be a bit better. It should not. The 17 is not a stellar optic.

At f3.2 it's a bit of a toss up, but I think the P20 still handles corners better. Fascinating results.

Thank you so much for sharing these.
 
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I agree with your first assessment, and am also a bit disappointed at the performance.
As for the 17mm, keep in mind the OM 20 performed vastly better when both lenses were shot at maximum aperture.
I was just showing the 17mm at f4 to demonstrate what is possible with the lens.
I shall do the same again with the 20mm @f4 to keep things fair.
It seems f4 is the sweet spot for Olympus lenses. Even the f4 zooms offer almost peak performance at f4 :)
 
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I agree with your first assessment, and am also a bit disappointed at the performance.
As for the 17mm, keep in mind the OM 20 performed vastly better when both lenses were shot at maximum aperture.
I was just showing the 17mm at f4 to demonstrate what is possible with the lens.
I shall do the same again with the 20mm @f4 to keep things fair.
It seems f4 is the sweet spot for Olympus lenses. Even the f4 zooms offer almost peak performance at f4 :)

F 4 should be the sweet spot for every m4/3 lens. What makes this system so intriguing and makes it competitive with FF35 is the ability to shoot all day wide open with them. I only compared them at wide open aperture for the bookshelf series. At f4 it's clearly better, but then at f4 they will probably all be the same. Why pay for the extra aperture if it's not really useable.
 

Mike Wingate

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I just wish that Panasonic would release a MK.3 version of the P20, f1.7. Due to the outtpourings and demand of the O20, plus orders cannot be fulfilled at present to meet huge demands. A C-af Lumix lens , slightly larger, a little quieter could be a big seller.
 

JonSnih

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It's quite remarkable just how much sharper the P is at 1.7 than the OM is at 1.4. If you look at the book in the center with the word DUDEN in black on the spine, the truth is plain to see.

It seems that twelve years of development, larger size and double the price does not make a better lens. I'm surprised and quite frankly disappointed that the OM 20 isn't spectacular. It should be. And frighteningly, the 17 f1.8 seems to be a bit better. It should not. The 17 is not a stellar optic.
Years ago I saw a video with a senior optical Zeiss engineer who said that you have to find a balance between sharpness and bokeh and these two go against each other. Especially if your design goal is also a compact size. Well, that would explain better sharpness and worse bokeh (and CA) with P20. And smoothier bokeh, less CA and worse sharpness with the OM20.

Why pay for the extra aperture if it's not really useable.
The OM20 is better wide open than the 17mm F1.8. But I agree with you that sharpness should be better. On the other hand modern compact Z/FE/L primes with small filter thread are known for so-so corner perfomance and very high vignetting (-1.7 to -2.3 EV) wide open. We are spoilt with IQ of our m4/3 primes. Even the uderdog 12-50mm zoom gives you great results when the light is there. So yes, all digital lenses are sharp, pixel peeping on a high-res LCD killed the original definiton of sharpness. I can imagine that somebody who shoots with M.Zuiko Pro zooms and the PLF1.7 zooms has different requirements for sharpness.
 
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Years ago I saw a video with a senior optical Zeiss engineer who said that you have to find a balance between sharpness and bokeh and these two go against each other. Especially if your design goal is also a compact size. Well, that would explain better sharpness and worse bokeh (and CA) with P20. And smoothier bokeh, less CA and worse sharpness with the OM20.


The OM20 is better wide open than the 17mm F1.8. But I agree with you that sharpness should be better. On the other hand modern compact Z/FE/L primes with small filter thread are known for so-so corner perfomance and very high vignetting (-1.7 to -2.3 EV) wide open. We are spoilt with IQ of our m4/3 primes. Even the uderdog 12-50mm zoom gives you great results when the light is there. So yes, all digital lenses are sharp, pixel peeping on a high-res LCD killed the original definiton of sharpness. I can imagine that somebody who shoots with M.Zuiko Pro zooms and the PLF1.7 zooms has different requirements for sharpness.

I shot for a number of years with a set of Zeiss ZE lenses on my Canons and liked them quite a bit, aside from the large amounts of CA that they had, they were uniformly better than my Canon L glass at the time. The vignetting never bothered me.

What I liked about them was the differentiation of contrasts in marginal parts of the image, like deep shadows and retention of highlight information. The other important characteristic was how they would render details with a fine structure, regardless of where the aperture was set. The P/L lenses seem to have been designed with the same idea in mind.

I can live with the vignetting and CA, those are correctable. But poorly rendered details cannot be fixed in post. We all have our predilections, and this seems to be one of mine.
 

comment23

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Some more sample images to tease your predilections. I’m don’t currently have the P20/1.7 so my comparisons are between the O20/1.4 and both the O17/1.8 and O12-45/4 at various relevant apertures. Subject about 1.2m/4’ away

O20/1.4 @1.4
1534D1C0-FF8E-47EB-BE5E-34EBC7194A47.jpeg
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O20/1.4 @1.8
46C2D8ED-882B-4737-A0C7-825A74332AAE.jpeg
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O20/1.4 @2.8
8705B935-3E06-42C0-880A-A99BABBA5055.jpeg
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O20/1.4 @4.0
46A065E5-911A-4754-BBEA-90832E1625A0.jpeg
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O12-45/4 @4.0 (20mm)
73D2E16A-9388-4EFF-A5D2-31E84E723FBE.jpeg
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O17/1.8 @1.8
E0246E1F-B018-4D4D-8B36-4758AD9DFED1.jpeg
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O17/1.8 @2.8
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O17/1.8 @4.0
2D07C81F-4096-4457-85A5-7AA1DA8625A0.jpeg
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O12-45/4 @4.0 (17mm)
BB7FEA9D-3942-4AAF-85DE-0BA4C10F7563.jpeg
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saladin

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I'm hopeless at judging these things, and I'm only looking on my phone so that doesn't help. The only opinion I'm willing to offer is that it looks sharper at F/4 than the 12-45 Pro ?
 

greensteves

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I can observe a similar effect now in the landscape photo above. Dark lines render much thicker on the OM 20mm PRO compared to the Panasonic. I also see a more 'delicate' rendering of small leaves and branches in the busier areas of the photo. While I generally like the darker look it does appear less natural, and I can see how it would be distracting especially with portraiture.




Thank you. The missus had inexplicably decided that the books need to be ordered by color, silly me had tried to order by subject or language, and what good would that do?

I have no doubts that DPR TV got a sharper sample than my own. For some reason, I hoped that a PRO branded lens would be subject to stricter quality control, but it doesn't seem to be the case. At the same time, I really disliked the Capture one processing from DPR in particular. Sharp, but very busy looking outlines etc.

Anyway, here is an example of the same jpeg, on the left processed by the camera and on the right by Olympus Workspace with default settings, super fine jpeg.
The differences are minute, if any exist at all.


Here is the same image, but the one on the left was exported from the ORF file by Lightroom classic with default settings. At 40, the default sharpening is quite aggressive, and adds detail but also introduces more noise, and gives up some color information :


Lastly, since you mentioned it here is the output from the Olympus 17mm f1.8 prime. Wide open, the lens is not a match for the more expensive prime, sharpness is quite bad especially in the corners, and at maximum aperture it requires double the ISO.

oh dear:

However, stop it down a bit, increase shutter speed to 0.5 sec (thanks, IBIS!) and you get THIS

That's pretty darn sharp. So if your subject is static, here is your way to save quite a bit of money by going with the 17mm f1.8 lens.

Thanks for these comparisons. It would be nice to see a bookshelf comparison of the OM 20mm at f/1.8 with the Lumix 20mm at f/1.8 (and possibly the Olympus 17mm as well), to get an apples-to-apples comparison. I'm fairly sure that the OM 20mm lens will be sharper at f/1.8 than at f/1.4, but by how much relative to the Lumix?
 

Mike Wingate

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It is not just about edge to edge and 100% extracts. But also about practical issues such as c-af, actually focussing quickly and accurately , never mind the size, price and availability.
 

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