Question: Size/Weight/Convenience vs "ultimate" IQ

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Swandy, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Swandy

    Swandy Mu-43 Veteran

    362
    Dec 15, 2009
    I have the EM10 and absolutely love it's combination of size, weight, features and image quality. My current m4/3 lenses are the 14-42IIR, 40-150R, Panasonic 14mm/2.5, Olympus 17mm/1.8 and the two Body Cap Lenses. (I also have two older Olympus Zuiko manual lenses and a Lensbaby setup.)

    I realize that when I put the Olympus 17mm lens on the camera, to my eyes the IQ as far as contrast and sharpness is better than any of the other m4/3 lenses that I have. And because of that I have been thinking seriously about the Olympus 12-40 lens. (Actually tried it for a while at Adorama yesterday when I was picking up the Fisheye BCL and wanted to see the handling/feel of it on the EM10.)

    But I have also been thinking about either the Olympus 14-42EZ - if I like the power zoom - or the Panasonic 12-32 lens because to me size/weight generally trumps perceived "ultimate" IQ. That is one of the reasons - perhaps the main reason - that I JUMPED from Olympus' 4/3 line (and the "largest" of those bodies that I had were the E-3 and the E-30) to m4/3 when it was first introduced.

    And while I admit that I love what I have seen out of the 12-40 lens from pictures posted here and elsewhere (and my favorite 4/3 lenses were the 14-54 and the 12-60), I just don't know if I really want to give up that size/weight/convenience advantage of the smaller lenses to get that boost in IQ.

    What are your thoughts? Why did you come to m4/3 to begin with? (I know that my son-in-law, who shoots for the NY Post and carries around a backpack loaded with some very LARGE Canon "cannons" would laugh even at the size/weight of the EM10/12-40 combo.)

    Thanks, Steve
     
  2. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    Hi Steve.

    My (now departed) Nikon D300 when equipped with a grip loaded with 8 AA cells and the 70-200mm f/2.8 weighed in at around 10 pounds. THAT was the reason I came to m4/3. The Nikon gear was marvelous but it simply too much for me to schlep around at my advanced age :wink:.

    Size/weight of m4/3 gear is pretty much paramount to me. I prefer primes to zooms and my 'standard' kit is the E-M5 with a Panasonic 20mm attached. I have been tempted by the 12mm Olympus but have the 14mm Panasonic instead; the size advantage of the 14mm trumps the extra 2mm in range and the better corner sharpness of the 12mm.

    I do have the 45-200mm Panasonic - although a bit soft at the far end it's my "zoo" lens. Unless going for a specific shoot (such as the zoo that I frequent often) I prefer schlepping the 40-150mm due to it's weight/size advantage if I think I'll need a long lens. I'll give up the 50mm in reach of the 45-200mm unless I know I'll absolutely need it.

    I have the Rokinon UWA 7.5mm fisheye - but rarely pack it because it's a 'specialty' lens and it's heavy for the few shots I take with it. I'm considering the new 9mm body cap lens as a replacement - the lenses aren't truly comparable but for my shooting style it might be a reasonable trade off.

    You posed a good question; while I'd like to say that "IQ trumps everything" it's pretty apparent from the lenses in my kit that just ain't the way it is. The lenses I actually use are small and light, not necessarily the Best In Class. (I'd like to say I only shoot RAW, use PhotoShop with all of the whiz-bang plug-ins, save triple backups of all of my (carefully culled and post processed) files and keep a safety backup on the Cloud, print only to archival rated paper, and will go out into any weather conditions to get a shot. I'd like to say that - but it would be a lie :biggrin: ).

    After (nearly) half a century shooting 35mm SLRs I've decided that "close enough" really is close enough and that I have to go with what makes the hobby fun for me.

    Regards,

    Jim
     
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  3. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Prime lenses usually are better than pro and consumer zooms in terms of acuity. They have less optics groups and thus maintain a higher degree of contrast with the least amount of aberrations. I always believe a good camera is always the one you have it with you at all times. The 14mm or 17mm are more pocketable this way.
     
  4. PatrickNSF

    PatrickNSF Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Sep 30, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Patrick
    Steve – Having just very recently come back to m4/3s after using a GH1 and GH2 as my primary cameras a few years back, and an E-P3 for a very brief time, what appeals to me about the system now is that you have the option to use quality glass like the 12-40/2.8, or many of the primes, but can also outfit your camera with something like the 14-42 EZ when image quality isn't of paramount importance. I just took delivery of the 14-42 EZ and will take a look at it much more closely over the weekend, but for my use that lens combined with a prime will make a nice kit for places that I frequently visit with my family and may not want the added bulk/weight of a larger system. I envision taking the 12-40/2.8 during summer travels to Yellowstone and Hawaii where I'll have more time to devote to photography (and where I may not visit again any time soon).

    I'll also add that for me it seems like the E-M10 needs the optional grip when you're using the 12-40/2.8. It feels a bit unbalanced without it.
     
  5. Swandy

    Swandy Mu-43 Veteran

    362
    Dec 15, 2009
    While I do agree somewhat about the grip - for me that will make the camera even bigger/heavier than I would like. And I do - especially when using larger lenses - support the lens with my left hand anyways. As I said - I tried the 12-40 and liked it - just don't know if it is for me. And like you said - it seems like it would be used for those "once-in-a-lifetime" trips (like when we go to Israel/Jordan in the fall). To tell you the truth, when I visit places that I visit fairly often, I have been taking my Stylus 1 and been very happy.
    Would love to hear your opinion of the 14-42EZ as I don't know when mine will be arriving to test out against my 14-42IIR. (Hopefully before we go to Memphis/Nashville next month.)
     
  6. PatrickNSF

    PatrickNSF Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Sep 30, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Patrick
    Will do. I don't have any other 14-42 to compare it to, but I will note that I had a 16-50 power zoom with the Sony NEX and didn't think highly of the lens (though it made for a convenient travel package with the camera). The one thing I did immediately did after mounting the lens was change the zoom speed to "high." You're offered three settings (low, normal, high) and can choose different settings for stills and video. That seems very well thought out and addresses one of the primary reservations I had with this type of lens.
     
  7. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I tend to go for IQ - since I moved here from a Canon 5DII, even the 12-40 is dinky. That said, a 12-50/4.0 of the same quality that was lighter would be my choice. I tend to shoot my zoom stopped down, primes if I want subject isolation.
     
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  8. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    I have all of the above. The 12-40 is awfully big for the E-M10, I purchased the E-M10 as a carry-everywhere camera, PEN alternative. The O17 is my favorite Oly lens and it pairs perfectly with the E-M10. I have the 14-42 II R and I just received the 14-42EZ a few days ago. I ordered the EZ for its size, and it is exactly what I want. I have only taken about 40 - 50 pictures with it. I am slowly warming to the power zoom, it was not love at first try. The lens is good quality for a zoom in the "kit" range. The EZ + O17 are going to be my two go lenses for this body.

    Here is a pic that I took out of my home office window this morning with the EZ.

    12972491623_77424e8f46_b.
    P3060165 by David Dornblaser, on Flickr

    And here is a quick pic this morning with the 40-150.

    12972747564_01219a12b2_b.
    P3060175 by David Dornblaser, on Flickr

    The 40-150 works well on the E-M10, mainly because the lens is so lightweight.

    Neither of the above pics have any PP, they are just snaps.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Swandy

    Swandy Mu-43 Veteran

    362
    Dec 15, 2009
    Thanks Dave for the shot. That is why I want to try the EZ lens - first to see if I can "warm up" to the electronic zoom (though I have it on the Stylus 1 and have gotten used to on that camera) and to see how the IQ compares to the 14-42IIR that I already own.
    Have you done any comparisons between the two 14-42 lenses? I would be very interested to hear your opinions (since I don't know when mine will be showing up).
    And I tend to agree that the 12-40 might be a bit large/heavy with the EM10 - that is why when I picked up the Fisheye BCL yesterday I asked my salesman at Adorama to let me play with the 12-40 on my EM10. Not as bad or uncomfortable as I thought it would be. But still would require a different type of bag, etc. to take on vacation than the smaller lenses would. And I would still need the 17mm/1.8 for indoors/nighttime anyways.
     
  10. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    No, I haven't compared the 2 14-42's directly although the EZ strikes me as the better of the two. I know that I can more easily carry the EZ in my messenger bag(s) and that is my main criteria. Yes, the 17mm is great for indoors/nighttime use. I had the EZ mounted when I was at church for our Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner and the O17 would have been a better choice.
     
  11. Geoff3DMN

    Geoff3DMN Mu-43 Veteran

    Maybe the OP should wait a while for the new compact Panasonic 12-35 f2.8 which is expected to be about half the size of the existing 12-35.
     
  12. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Sounds like you're better off trying some of the smaller alternatives first - the Panasonic 12-32 and the Olympus 14-42 EZ. I would expect the Panasonic to be the better of the two optically, but there's not really much data out there yet. That said, the best thing you can do is figure exactly what it is that the 17/1.8 is doing that your kit zoom is not. I mean at 100% magnification or wide open I'd expect a difference, but at the same aperture and normal viewing size, I don't see why there'd be one.
     
  13. PatrickNSF

    PatrickNSF Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Sep 30, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Patrick
    Steve – Just a quick follow-up. I took the 14-42 EZ lens with me today on a walk with the dog and my general impressions are pretty positive. Took some "test photos" at different focal lengths and apertures and with a cursory review in Aperture at 100% zoom they look good (and better than I would have expected with the Sony 16-50 power zoom). Focus was quick and not noticeably different than what I expect from the 17/1.8 (though it was late afternoon daylight, so not a real challenge). Lens extension and retraction when powered on and off is pretty fast, though I'd likely keep it extended if I was planning to shoot. The lens cap is a about the size of a half dollar and I'm sure I'll lose it.

    What has surprised me most is the tactile feedback that the power zoom gives you. Not sure how to best describe it, but it feels like it has a strong spring mechanism behind it that makes it easier to zoom with some level of precision. It feels more precise than the Sony did. And the speed, when set to "High," is fine for me (and it's a variable speed depending on how far you turn it). What makes this lens interesting to me is that combined with something like the 17/1.8, it's really easy to switch back and forth between the two and just keep the one you're not using in the pocket of cargo shorts or something similar. And having the 17/1.8 (or whatever prime is your preference) available means you're not really giving up anything as far as image quality goes.

    One thing you may want to consider w/r/t the 12-40/2.8 is to just stick with the either of the kit zooms and a prime or two and see how it goes. And depending on how you feel about buying refurbished lenses, keep an eye on the Olympus outlet store and jump on any forthcoming promotions they have similar to the one during the Presidents' Day sale. That promotion dropped the 12-40/2.8 down to $512 (plus tax), which could change the equation and make keeping both lenses more feasible. Hope that helps.

    OK, that ended up not being a "quick follow-up."
     
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  14. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    It's hard to beat the new (2013) Panasonic 14-140 for size/weight/convenience. 75mm long and only 265g.
     
  15. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    • Like Like x 2
  16. Swandy

    Swandy Mu-43 Veteran

    362
    Dec 15, 2009
    Patrick - thanks for the followup and the opinions. I am even more looking forward to seeing what the little lens can do. And that was my plan on an upcoming trip to Memphis and Nashville - use the 14-42 for most daytime shots and take along the 17mm for indoors and at night. (And will toss the BCL Fisheye in because it is so small and lots of fun.)
    And yes - I have been watching the refurbished Olympus lenses - did not realize that they discount those for sales also.
     
  17. Swandy

    Swandy Mu-43 Veteran

    362
    Dec 15, 2009
    Thanks Dave - you are right, it does put it into prospective very well.
     
  18. Swandy

    Swandy Mu-43 Veteran

    362
    Dec 15, 2009
    That is very interesting. I had read about a small version of the 35-100 being discussed, did not know Panasonic was planning a smaller version of the 12-35 also. Just might be what I am looking for. Thanks.
     
  19. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    While I am not interested in the Panasonic 12-32, the rumored new compact 35-100 really excites me!
     
  20. Anthonys

    Anthonys Mu-43 Regular

    167
    Nov 17, 2011
    Sydney
    Anthony
    Geoff - isn't the new compact zoom a 35-100? Or are they doing a 12-35 too?