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So, what's all about this 15 mm?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by SojiOkita, Oct 26, 2015.

  1. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 Top Veteran

    614
    Feb 23, 2014
    France
    Hello everyone.

    I keep reading on numerous threads that the 15 mm is a fantastic lens, that has something special about the way its images render.

    Is it really so obvious?
    Do anyone has made comparisons with another lens to show this?

    All these comments about it piqued my curiosity...
     
  2. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    773
    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Ron
    I like the 30-35mm-e focal length, but that's obviously personal preference. The aperture ring is useful if you prefer to shoot in A-mode. I'm always a little suspicious of claims regarding 'rendering', but the photos that come out of the 15mm are very good. On a recent trip to Italy, it was glued on my GX7 (the GM5 had the slow 35-100 on), and I took about 80% of my photos with it.

    When I bought it, I still had the Olympus 17 1.8, and the 15 is definitely sharper.
     
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  3. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    It is just a nice sharp lens with nice color, contrast and bokeh. I don't think you'll find anything more "magic" than that if you go looking for it.
     
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  4. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 Top Veteran

    614
    Feb 23, 2014
    France
    In fact, at first this lens was on my blacklist because of its aperture ring that doesn't work with Olympus bodies.
    (I have an E-M10 and a GM1)

    I'm also suspicious a lens rendering, but when I compared the Oly 17/1.8 and the Panasonic 20/1.7, I clearly noted some differences.
    The 20 mm sometimes has a "look" that I like, when the subject is very sharp and the background nicely blurred.
    The 17 mm can't do this, it's pleasing too but in a very different way (a soft way). I didn't keep it (not sharp enough wide open and redundant with the 20)
     
  5. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I do struggle with some people assertion that the 17 is not sharp wide open...maybe I just got a good one

    8491856250_54531b990b_b. P2200110 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    11076001295_a4f9f6da69_b. PB250019 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    in terms of bokeh or background blur, the 17 and the 20 and indeed the 15 are distinctly different Focal lengths, with differing amounts of DOF and differing qualities to the out of focus areas, but in terms of subject separation, longer is always going to be better than wider

    K
     
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  6. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 Top Veteran

    614
    Feb 23, 2014
    France
    It's hard to judge on downscaled pictures, but I believe you.
    Mine was cleraly soft wide open, I won't say it was non acceptable but the direct comparison with the 20 mm was quite hard for the 17 mm. And I had more focus errors with the 17 too.
    The difference was lower when stopped down, but the 20 mm still had an advantage over the 17.

    Concerning the 15 mm, I read some reviews yesterday. Most reviewer like the lens but it's funny how the sharpness appreciation is different from a review to another.
     
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  7. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    A lot depends on how much value, in relation to the image you wish to create, that sharpness is a significant contributor to that image.. this of course varies depending on the photographer and the image.

    However my personal view is that sharpness of a lens or indeed perceived lack of such is only really comes into play when all the other variables in the image creation process are absolutely spot on.. and that sharpness is a vitally important part of that image.

    With many topics on this and other forums, such as shooting in low light, best IQ, best lens for etc, I get the feeling that too many people are looking for technological solutions...eg more or better gear, before they master the technical solutions of actually learning fully how photography works, appreciate what are realistic expectations and whether the missing thing they seek actually is that important to the final image.

    My goal is to get a good photograph, one that someone looking at it who is not a photographic gearhead, will enjoy and will not notice that its noisy, not sharp, not perfectly in focus, not sharp in the corners

    but hey thats just me!

    K
     
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  8. Ricoh

    Ricoh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    906
    Nov 2, 2013
    UK
    Steve
    I've owned both the 1:1.8/17mm and the 1:1.7/15mm (still have the latter). Both are excellent and the ideal focal length for my type of work. Which is better or are they equal? It's a subjective decision, but I like the output of the 15 better. Lab tests should provide the evidence one way or the other, but I don't bother reading lens reviews, I just use them.

    For me, the aperture control is important on a panasonic camera. I have the 15 welded to my GM5 and it accompanies me at all times.
     
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  9. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 Top Veteran

    614
    Feb 23, 2014
    France
    I pretty much agree with you on this. However, when comparing similar pictures from the 20 and the 17, I did prefer the "sharp" look of the 20 to the "soft" look of the 17. It's possible that it would be possible to get the same results with the 17 and some post processing, but some of the pictures from the 20 had a immediate "catch" and I feel that this was linked to the excellent sharpness of the subject (sharp lens + precise focus) and the nice bokeh of the rest of the image.
    The 17 was less sharp and the subject was sometimes not exactly in focus. I had some nice pictures with it (with pleasingly soft images) but that was not what I was looking for.
     
  10. johnvanatta

    johnvanatta Mu-43 Regular

    181
    Aug 5, 2014
    Oakland, CA
    I was disappointed by the pl15 overall.

    It had a nice rendition and punchy color, especially in the reds, which is probably where the "magic" comes from. (I've never seen magic in the PL25, as compared to the 12-40/2.8. But I have in the oly 75)

    But I found severe focus shift (I posted in detail about it a while ago here) and sharpness was a bit worse overall than the 12-40 at 2.8.

    So, I think it's only a good lens if it's mostly going to be used wide open. Wide night street maybe?

    I couldn't justify that narrow envelope even though I like the FOV.
     
  11. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    can't argue that the 20 offers a softer bokeh

    5215016220_5b1e138103_b. The Check by kevinparis, on Flickr

    but I do feel you must have had a bad 17... soft is not how I would characterise my copy in any way.... bokeh not quite creamy smooth as the 20 I would give you that... but soft ...no way

    but then again.. I have no clue to what you are trying to achieve... its hard to understand where you are coming from without evidence of images you create

    K
     
  12. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Going by measurements, the PL15 is not that great. Sharpness is good not great, it suffers from barrel distortion (even after correction that robs it of a little edge sharpness), and gives purple fringing more than I'd like wide open on an Olympus body. It's compact, well built, and has good colour and bokeh quality though.

    The major thing for me is that it's a good fast WA - that's what most of the magic is for me. If this lens isn't used more open than f/2.5 at least half the time it's not worth it IMO, given the decent P14 and excellent f/2.8 zooms. There's not much else in m4/3 in the way of fast WA with AF. I'm sure the 17mm would be good as well, but it's obviously not as wide so has a slightly different use case.
     
  13. JoFT

    JoFT Mu-43 Veteran

    360
    Nov 11, 2014
    Stuttgart
    Johannes
    I am a Summilux 15mm f1.7 lover, too. I love this lens for its performance and versatility. And it educates you to get close - instead of zooming....

    Here are some examples, 2 shots shot at f1.7

    p170109612-6.

    p373095632-6.
     
  14. zensu

    zensu An Old Fool

    Aug 8, 2012
    Southeastern USA
    Bobby
    I too owned the Oly 17mm F1.8 and was happy with the images I could get out of that lens. I was given the P/L 15mm F1.7 and the images from that lens are just striking to me. It has the same 3D pop quality that the P/L 42.5mm F1.2 has. I think each person should just try both of these (17mm +15mm) and judge for yourself. I decided to sell the 17mm.
    Bobby
     
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  15. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I don't wholly agree. Part of the reason I picked it is because there are really no other primes that have corner sharpness like the 15mm, even stopped down. Sure some may have better max absolute central sharpness, but the 15mm is very sharp and very evenly sharp.. It's a great landscape lens for that reason.

    The only lens that I think can slightly beat it would be the 12-40, and that is only at f2.8, not at f5.6 which is where I want to be for landscapes. For some reason the 12-40 measures sharpest wide open and falls somewhat rapidly.
     
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  16. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I value absolute sharpness for landscape photos since those tend to be the ones that I want to reproduce large, and it disappoints me when one step of the imaging chain is a let down (for clarity, that step is usually me!)

    For other photos where I'm not looking for absolute corner-to-corner detail, I think one of things that I'm find very striking about the medium format pictures I've just started taking (with a 50 year old camera, and scanned at the lab at 5MP...) is not so much the absolute sharpness, as the contrast between the softer DoF transition and the stellar crispness of the focal plane. And the focal plane is deeper than I'm expecting, it's not like a razor's sliver the way that I often get with fast lenses, even if the amount of background blur is similar. It's also the transition in sharpness that is noticeable. Both abrupt and subtle. I'm quite taken with it, and it's hard to find direct parallels in digital that haven't been shot with strobes to accentuate the subject...

    I'm just rambling at this point, probably best to ignore me...
     
  17. JoFT

    JoFT Mu-43 Veteran

    360
    Nov 11, 2014
    Stuttgart
    Johannes
    Since the discussion is moving to landscape: I want to spice the discussion with some photos...

    p544117657-6.
     
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  18. JoFT

    JoFT Mu-43 Veteran

    360
    Nov 11, 2014
    Stuttgart
    Johannes
    Here another landscape shot:

    p519643625-6.
     
  19. Benzy

    Benzy Mu-43 Regular

    156
    Mar 18, 2014
    This is the first MFT lens I have owned where there is an actual improvement to the colors and contrast in the photos. It's something quite noticeable. Colors are deep and authentic and the images have much improved contrast over the 12-35/2.8, 14-140ii, 20/1.7 and Oly45 lenses I have owned. It is super sharp by my standards, built very well and has an awesome hood.
     
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  20. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Interesting point. I rarely use my fast primes for landscape (except at night or if they're the only thing I have in the appropriate focal length). But then I'm often stitching - will have to try it with the PL15 and see.
     
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