Shootout Olympus 50-200 SWD + EC14 vs Sigma APO 300mm f4 Tele Macro vs Olympus 300mm f4 Pro

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I'm not normally that interested in lens shootouts but recently my Olympus 50-200 SWD stopped zooming and got stuck in the 200mm position and I opted to replace that great combination with the Olympus 300mm f4 Pro. I also have a fantastic Sigma APO 300mm f4 Tele Macro and thought maybe it would be interesting to compare these three lenses with a shootout.

The Sigma was made in 2002, the 50-200 in 2009, and the 300mm Pro just last year. The 50-200 is the longest lens when fully extended and the lightest and as it is a zoom it is also the most flexible. The Sigma weighs about 300g more than the Olympus, is slow to focus, and is about the same length.
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I shot the same Cambodian statue (which has good texture and color) in S-AF at the widest aperture and at f5.6 for all three lenses. Then I took another shot wide open using C-AF. I hope these come out right and it easy to compare sharpness, color, contrast, and bokeh between these lenses. To me, the colors on the older lenses are a little muted. The ancient Sigma is sharper at f4 than the more modern Olympus 50-200 SWD and EC-14 are at f5.6. The Sigma gets a nice contrast boost at f5.6 but sharpness declines with C-AF. The Olympus Pro is sharper at f4 than the Sigma at f5.6, and color and contrast are the best of the three at all aperatures.

What is disappointing is that sharpness using C-AF is still degraded on the Olympus Pro - though marginally still the best of all three lenses.
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What this teaches me is that for critical sharpness on the EM1.2 we need to use S-AF. What do you think?
 
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I remember that thread and once tried Focus Tune. Frustrating to work with and sold it later. When I look at my photos I see a consistency in the blur ratio for each of the lenses, leading me to conclude that the softer focus of C-AF is not related to the lens adjustments but to the camera itself, which is either back or front focusing in C-AF with each lens.

I could play with the adjustments to find out... stay tuned.
 
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I
I never use focus tune systems, i just focus on a small object on tarmac or grass that will show me how much in front or behind is in focus, ok ime a bit crude but happy.
That's a good idea. I just tried to shoot it with C1 (regular shutter), C2 (soft shutter), and C3 (tracking), and then used the lens adjust system to back focus -6 and front focus +6. +6 was better than -6, but C2 with the soft shutter was sharper than C1 with the normal shutter. I think this accounts for the slight change in focus sharpness of the prior series. C-AF with electronic shutter gets sharp shots. C-AF with normal shutter is slightly less sharp.
 

alex g

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Yes, you can save offsets per lens but also a global offset to be applied to all lenses, should you find that your copy of the body has a noticable variance in flange back distance. Typically, per-lens offsets offer better results, particularly if you have a lot of lenses, but it might be worth trying a global offset to begin with if as you say you're observing similar results with all of them. That said, one might be front focusing and the other might be back-focusing by an equal amount, in which case a global offset may work for one lens but make the other worse.
 
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Yes, you can save offsets per lens but also a global offset to be applied to all lenses, should you find that your copy of the body has a noticable variance in flange back distance. Typically, per-lens offsets offer better results, particularly if you have a lot of lenses, but it might be worth trying a global offset to begin with if as you say you're observing similar results with all of them. That said, one might be front focusing and the other might be back-focusing by an equal amount, in which case a global offset may work for one lens but make the other worse.
Thank you. I will try panamike's suggestion to photograph blades of grass wide open with different lenses and see how much back or forward focus I have. Will be an afternoon of Lens Data Science...
 

Phocal

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I think for lens sharpness testing, it might be a good idea to do at least some of the shots on manual focus, with magnification to check focus.
I disagree. I always use SAF because it uses CDAF and here is why:

1) CDAF in theory is 100% accurate (real world I would say 99%). Biggest obstacle is making sure the target is larger than the focus point to ensure it doesn't focus on something that is back/forward of the subject. This can be further mitigated by having nothing around the subject that it could focus on if the focus point is larger, the test photos above are a good example of nothing around the subject. As in you would notice any missed focusing because the background is far enough away.

2) With manual focus you are assuming a lot of things that are almost impossible to control.
a) Persons eyesight
b) Proper diopter setting
 

Holoholo55

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I disagree. I always use SAF because it uses CDAF and here is why:

1) CDAF in theory is 100% accurate (real world I would say 99%). Biggest obstacle is making sure the target is larger than the focus point to ensure it doesn't focus on something that is back/forward of the subject. This can be further mitigated by having nothing around the subject that it could focus on if the focus point is larger, the test photos above are a good example of nothing around the subject. As in you would notice any missed focusing because the background is far enough away.

2) With manual focus you are assuming a lot of things that are almost impossible to control.
a) Persons eyesight
b) Proper diopter setting
Theoretically yes. I have had problems with missed focus even using the small square AF point on S-AF with an M43 lens. For example, birds on a feeder or at a bird bath with a too short lens. I had to switch to MF with magnification to get them in focus. Even with my old eyes I could tell focus was off. Frustrating.
 
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