Olympus vs Panasonic overral Lens Quality

JanW

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This CA correction theory is not based on anything, in fact it is easy to prove that it isn't true.
It is well known that the Olympus 9-18mm lens has quite visible CA.
I just browsed Flickr for images from the 9-18mm paired with an e-p3 and an e-m10.
I searched for 'Olympus 9-18mm e-p3' and 'Olympus 9-18mm e-m10'.
Easy to find e-p3 images with CA but none of the e-m10 images show CA.

As far as I know the design difference between Olympus and Panasonic lies in the correction of purple fringing. This sometimes shows when Panasonic lenses are used on Olympus bodies.
It seems Olympus correct this in their lenses and Panasonic correct it in the glass that is in front of the sensor. Or who knows, maybe it is corrected in software????

Jan
 

Stanga

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It seems Olympus correct this in their lenses and Panasonic correct it in the glass that is in front of the sensor. Or who knows, maybe it is corrected in software????
It's not an improbable assumption. If you look carefully towards the edges of objects in well lit images outdoors on the EVF screen it is possible to detect a bit of colour shift. But the jpg or RAW picture doesn't show that colour shift that is visible in the EVF.
 

SkiHound

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I'd look at individual lenses. Both companies make some terrific lenses. There are some annoyances like the absence of dual stabilization when using Panasonic lenses on Olympus bodies, and vice versa. And things like aperture rings only working on Panasonic bodies. I use lenses and bodies from both companies. If anything l tend to prefer the Panasonic lenses more because of design considerations than optical differences. Limiting yourself to only one of the brands is just that, limiting yourself.
 

archaeopteryx

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Or who knows, maybe it is corrected in software????
If the 9-18 was highly corrected for lateral CA optically your Flickr search wouldn't be finding E-P3 images with CA. To be fully rigorous I think control for lens correction via Lensfun or similar methods in post would be needed but, as the E-P3 uses the TruePic VI and the E-M10 the TruePic VII, your datum appears consistent with the non-optical corrections described on the previous page.
 

JanW

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I wanted to show that Olympus uses in camera lateral CA correction on their more recent models.
Which means there is no difference in design philosophy.

There is a difference however in preventing purple fringing which can be seen on the Panasonic Leica 25 / 1.4 when used on Olympus bodies. Just searched the forum and it seems that an UV 2A filter can prevent purple fringing and blobs.
Seems logical then that Panasonic use this in their sensor filter.

Jan
 

archaeopteryx

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I think the terminology here is not great for clarity as CA commonly also produces purple fringes (with corresponding green fringes). Most of the documentation over differences between the UV cutoffs of Olympus and Panasonic's sensor filter stacks is in connection with use of the Panasonic 7-14 on Olympus bodies (e.g. Forster 2017, Griggs 2013). The difference in spectral transmission between sensor stacks is an interoperability failure of the m43 mount specification and not a lens correction issue. If Olympus or Panasonic has ever attempted to provide a mitigation I'm not aware of it, though perhaps quiet changes in body or lens design have been made in response. I suspect, though, that Olympus would rather people buy the Olympus 7-14 PRO and Panasonic prefers people buy their bodies. This is similar to how the two companies have behaved over dual IS.
 

mumu

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There's good and bad lenses from each brand. Also, a lot of the lenses aren't separated only by image quality; there's also a difference in size/weight which could be a significant factor. I tend towards Panasonic since I prefer their particular balance of size/weight/image quality. But when looking for a new lens, I look at all the options (Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, etc).
 

DHart

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I have a mix of many Panasonic lenses & bodies and many Olympus lenses & bodies.

Overall, I've mixed and matched across the two brands without any complaint. Both firms produce comparably excellent optics AND bodies!

Certainly, specific lenses from each maker are going to be superior/inferior depending mostly on price, which reflects general quality. And, as mentioned above, there may be a lens, or two, which tend to perform better with their native-maker bodies. Overall, I pick and choose by lens specification, not so much by whether it is a Lumix or a Zuiko lens.

I haven't yet ventured into Sigma or other brand lenses made for m4/3. I have used Canon, Zeiss, and Voigtlander lenses on m4/3 bodies, with adapters, but that's another topic entirely.
 
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retiredfromlife

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From viewing a few topics on this and other forums one of the things that I do not see discussed specifically is copy variation. Now with my skills I could not tell if I had a bad lens or bad technique, but others seem to be able to.

So this is more of an interest to me than IQ. Some lenses like the Oly 50mm 1.2 pro seem to pop up more than others for copy variations than others in the 1.2 series, but that may be just what I see, no real idea since I don't own them or are able to test if I did own one.

Since I mainly only use this forum now, I am not sure if this copy variation thing is worse for Mu-43 or is somewhat common across all brands. But for me this is my main concern, but one I can do nothing about.

If anyone has mor einformation on copy variation or site that tests for it, it would be interesting. At least to me.
 
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I am not sure if this copy variation thing is worse for Mu-43 or is somewhat common across all brands.
Based on logic (I do not know of any "hard" data) I would suspect that m43 as a system is less susceptible to copy variation than some other cameras, simply as the sensors on m43 aren't super high megapixel.

The lenses itself will still have variation (everything manufactured has a degree of variation to it, the tolerances of a manufacturer determine the boundaries of these variations). I don't know what the tolerances of Oly/Pan are vs for instance Nikon/Canon and Sony, but sensors with higher megapixels do benefit from lenses with higher resolving power. Lenses with higher resolving power are more difficult to make as you need stricter tolerances.

It's a logical conclusion that any variation would be "more pronounced" on (super) high megapixel cameras.

This is, however, an area where price plays a huge factor as manufacturing tolerances are mostly based on what's obtainable from a reasonable cost perspective. It could well be that lens for super high megapixel cameras do have less sample variation as the tolerances can be much tighter (as the intended audience is willing to pay much higher prices for these kinds of lenses). This goes al the way up to cinematic lenses (where a set of cine-lenses are precisely manufactured to even be identical in color-rendering), but then you are spending somewhere between super expensive to astronomical.

I do recall that m43 lenses don't have any compensating adjustable elements (maybe there are some exceptions). Lenses that include (non-user) adjustable elements can be fine-tuned after being produced to a tighter tolerance resulting in less sample variation (although calibration after production makes the whole proces way more expensive).
All/most m43 lenses depend purely on design and production tolerances, which seems logical to keep prices reasonable as the cameras aren't super high megapixel.

@retiredfromlife I would recommend this article by Roger Cicala of Lens Rentals on (lens) Variation Facts and Fallacies if you are interested in this topic.

Edit: added some nuance to the post
 
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There's good and bad lenses from each brand. Also, a lot of the lenses aren't separated only by image quality; there's also a difference in size/weight which could be a significant factor. I tend towards Panasonic since I prefer their particular balance of size/weight/image quality. But when looking for a new lens, I look at all the options (Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, etc).
I gravitate towards the same view. Panasonic lenses tend to be lighter and smaller.
I am probably one of the few who prefer (most) Panasonic lenses over the Olympus options. That is because I tend to shop in the consumer space, not the pro areas.
It seems Olympus is unable to build good cheap consumer lenses. And it also seems that Panasonic is unable to build beautiful cameras which can produce beautiful jpegs in camera. That is my personal opinion.

As for consumer lenses, Panasonic has it down:

- Panasonic 12-32 vs Olympus 14-42 EZ - the latter has better build, but the Panny is sharper, wider, manual zoom (which I prefer) and can be had cheaper
- Panasonic 12-32 vs Olympus 14-42 II R - the II R is "just a kit lens" and nothing special at all, especially compared to 12-32

- Panasonic 12-60mm f3.5-5.6 vs Olympus 12-50mm - hardly a contest, the 12-60 is shorter, has longer reach, also weather sealed, much sharper and with better contrast than the M.Zuiko. 12-60 is just the better lens, unless you really depend on the macro functionality of the 12-50mm.

- Panasonic 14mm f2.5 vs Olympus 17mm f2.8 - in the pancake category the Panny beats the old 2.8 M.Zuiko in every imaginable way, and while I prefer the 35mm equiv focal length, the Panny is sharper, smaller, lighter, doesn't extend, and has much faster autofocus. The fact that it's a fraction of a stop faster is negligible icing on the cake

- PanaLeica 15mm f1.7 vs Olympus 17mm f1.8 - the small fast prime has strong contenders in both categories, but the Olympus lens suffers from sample variation and the PanaLeica is generally sharper. That said, the Olympus is a great people/event lens, and if you have a sharp copy could even be used for landscape. This may be a tie depending on your preferences

- Panasonic 20mm f1.7 vs nothing - absolutely nothing from OIympus to compete here. They have no good pancakes and Panasonic makes two of them, the 14 and the 20mm, with the 20 being a fantastic lens especially for its size and weight, and price, which is only held back by its slow AF.

- Olympus 25mm f1.8 vs Panasonic 25mm f1.7 vs PanaLeica 25mm f1.4 - have to give it to Olympus here, that lens is magical. The Panny is as fast and can be had cheaper, but it doesn't have any of the special sauce that makes the Olympus so good. The PanaLeica may be even sharper and faster than the Olympus - but it comes at a price, which is more money, size and weight.

- Olympus 45mm vs Panasonic 42.5mm - another tie here IMO - the Panny is said to be even sharper than the Oly, but the Olympus is more common, and thus, cheaper, and both are very fast and sharp lenses with beautiful portrait qualities

- Panasonic 14-140mm II vs Olympus 14-150mm - the former isn't fast, but at least it's somewhat sharp. Neither can be said of the latter.

- Olympus 40-150R vs Panasonic 45-175mm PZ - the fact that the Panasonic has a bit more reach doesn't outweigh the benefits of the 40-150: sharp, abundant, very cheap, manual zoom


I found the Panasonic option to be superior in 6 out of 10 cases, while Olympus took the crown in only two of these match-ups. Two were tied at least in my opinion, yours may differ.

It's a different story when you look at pro lenses, though. The large pro primes and zooms from Olympus are fantastic, and my only experience has been the 12-40, which is known to be an all-around great lens. I've picked up the 12-35 for my own kit because it's slightly smaller and lighter, and not much worse than the Oly. However, I'm ready to jump ship again when the 12-45mm Pro lens is released.
My strategy for Olympus lenses is: Embrace the Pro lenses, but be wary of the consumer options. Except the 25mm, that one is a gem.
 
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dirtdevil

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From what I've seen online, and owning Panasonic lenses, I find colors are warmer with Panasonic and usually colder with Olympus. Is it the camera or the lens?...

One thing is for sure, all camera companies have their top lenses, and their junkier ones...and some in the middle.
 

PakkyT

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I would suspect that m43 as a system is less susceptible to copy variation than some other cameras, simply as the sensors on m43 aren't super high megapixel.
Makes you wonder then, were some of the old Olympus 4/3rds lenses manufactured to lesser tolerances and such because many of them were made back when the E-series started at 5MP and initially stepped up to ones like 8MP? I look at my old 12-60 SWD and ZD 50-200mm which have been used on everything from my old beater E-1 (5MP) up to my current E-m1.1 (16MP) and I can not say I have ever noticed any sort of declining performance as the lenses have moved to higher megapixels. I know you did say "super high megapixel" but you might think back in the 5-8MP days they could afford to be a little bit sloppier, but my feeling is Olympus has always made quality lenses and were probably manufactured to as high a quality as economically possible (at least for the HG; SHG models generally were hand built one at a time) without regard to "good enough for 5MP work". Or as you surmised, maybe everything up to 20MP is still too low to catch most variation in lenses?
 
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From what I've seen online, and owning Panasonic lenses, I find colors are warmer with Panasonic and usually colder with Olympus. Is it the camera or the lens?...

One thing is for sure, all camera companies have their top lenses, and their junkier ones...and some in the middle.
The Olympus 25mm f1.8 may be my "warmest" lens.
The Panasonic 20mm f1.7 is easily my "coldest" lens. Colors come out remarkably more bluish than with other lenses.

At the same time, I've found Olympus Zooms like the 12-40 Pro and 14-150 emphasize green colors more, while my 35-100 f3.5-5.6 Panasonic seems more bluish. This isn't the case for all Zooms, the 12-35 f2.8 seems fairly neutral.

Far from neutral are the jpeg renderings in camera:

Olympus: warm, yellow/greenish cast, blues turn aqua, soft contrast, highlights pop
Panasonic: cold, red/purple/bluish cast, harsh contrast, flat highlights

In this way, I like to combine the color output of "colder" lenses with the Olympus jpeg engine.

That is my experience, the camera makes more difference than the lens.
 
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Olympus has always made quality lenses and were probably manufactured to as high a quality as economically possible (at least for the HG; SHG models generally were hand-built one at a time) without regard to "good enough for 5MP work". Or as you surmised, maybe everything up to 20MP is still too low to catch most variation in lenses?
Yes, the difference between a 5mp and 20mp sensor is fairly limited regarding the increase in resolution, the resolution doesn't scale linear (from a 5mp to 20mp is only double the resolution).
Manufacturers are not only designing a lens for their current cameras but also for future sensor technology, basically over-engineering the lenses to make them work on future sensor technology (e.g. higher megapixels / high res shot). The investment in R&D for a lens can be spread over multiple iterations of sensor technology v.s. needing to redesign a lens with each (relatively small) boost in megapixels/sensor tech.

The production tolerances can also be less strict if a lens has way more resolving power vs the sensor it will be used on. E.g. designing a lens that would be optimal up to an 88mp sensor (a bit more than 3x the resolution of a 5mp camera) can come away with 10% tolerances and still be optimally sharp for many iterations of sensor technology up to 80mp. Design the same lens up to a 5mp standard and you can throw away 10% of the production run, which would be less cost-effective.

Just to go a bit more in-depth, the resolving power of lenses isn't measured in megapixels but in lp/mm.

For a 20-megapixel full-frame camera a lens that can resolve 30-32 lp/mm is sufficient. In order to resolve as much as a FF camera with the same MP count an m43 lens needs to have double the lp/mm so 60-64 lp/mm, as the pixels are more crammed together on the smaller sensor. The "double the lp/mm" is a bit simplified as you should be looking at resolution in lines per picture height, lw/ph (which differs between m43 and FF) but in practice, this comes close.

In this regard, m43 is more susceptible to sample variation as it needs lenses with higher resolving power at equivalent megapixels on smaller sensor vs full frame. Small flaws in lens design are more visible (e.g. loss of sharpness on specific areas of a image) on m43 vs the exact same lens on an equal megapixel full-frame camera (not that this is even possible of course, but you get the point).
To counter this point m43 lenses should be designed to a higher standard (more lp/mm resolving capabilities) and thus stricter production tolerances. But as you mentioned within what is "economically possible", manually calibrating each kit lens isn't feasible.

But my point was regarding cameras with 50+ megapixels. The "smaller megapixel count" of m43 is an advantage vs those high megapixel sensors (even being Full-Frame) as they need lenses >119 lp/mm for optimal results. Those lenses certainly exist but certainly not all FF-lenses are designed to resolve at this level (and there are only a few lenses that reach those numbers in the corners even when stopped down). Any flaws in the lens will also be more visible in this case.
 
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stratokaster

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- Olympus 40-150R vs Panasonic 45-175mm PZ - the fact that the Panasonic has a bit more reach doesn't outweigh the benefits of the 40-150: sharp, abundant, very cheap, manual zoom
The best consumer telephoto from Panasonic is 45-150HD, which is all metal (including metal mount), has manual zoom and is very sharp. It's very inexpensive but feels like a premium lens. I tried Olympus 40-150R and couldn't get over the horrible plasticky feel and sticky zoom, especially in cold weather (I lived in a country with real winters back then).
 

mfturner

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I gravitate towards the same view. Panasonic lenses tend to be lighter and smaller.
I am probably one of the few who prefer (most) Panasonic lenses over the Olympus options. That is because I tend to shop in the consumer space, not the pro areas.
It seems Olympus is unable to build good cheap consumer lenses. And it also seems that Panasonic is unable to build beautiful cameras which can produce beautiful jpegs in camera. That is my personal opinion.

As for consumer lenses, Panasonic has it down:

[...]
I was going to add:

- Panasonic 35-100 f/4-5.6 vs nothing - this is a fabulously small, lightweight, mid-telephoto zoom for travel, hiking, whatever.

But my next lens will probably be Oly 25f1.8
 
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