Which are the sharpest MFT lenses?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by f8andbethere, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. f8andbethere

    f8andbethere Mu-43 Regular

    I recently bought a Panasonic G3 and have the 14-45 and 45-200 lenses. The 14-45 seems pretty sharp, but the 45-200 is only adequate. I am comparing sharpness to some of my Nikon glass such as a 28-70 f/2.8 and 80-200 f/2.8. Are there any lenses out there where I can get similar sharpness?
  2. kenez

    kenez Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 18, 2012
    You could buy a used 50-200mm F2.8-F3.5 non SWD 4/3 lens along with a 4/3 to m4/3 adapter like the MMF-3 for about $800 total. That is a very sharp zoom with a great reputation but AF would be slow and it would be bulky. It would not balance that well with your camera. Your best bet may be to wait for the Panasonic 35-100 F2.8 m4/3 lens and perhaps someday a teleconverter will be available. Right now the telephoto zooms available in m4/3 are all pretty slow in terms of aperture.
  3. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    BWAHAHAHAHA - Seriously, you expect the same out of a $250 lens as a $1100 lens?

    You crack me up.

    Any of the primes, and the 7-14 and 12-35 zooms will hold their own compared to anything you have ever used (but they cost the same as those lenses too)
  4. f8andbethere

    f8andbethere Mu-43 Regular

    I wasn't saying that I expect the same from a $250 lens as an $1,100 lens. My question is to determine if there are equivalent lenses out there which, I am sure, would be priced accordingly.
  5. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Real Name:
    Napier Lopez
    At the moment, the 12-35mm, the primes, or adapted 4/3 lenses are you best bets. All of the primes are amazing regardign sharpness, except the 14mm and 17mm, which i'd classify as quite good though not amazing.The 75mm F1.8 seems to be the sharpest lens on the system. Heck, several websites have now reported it's the sharpest lens they've EVER tested. The 20mm is the second sharpest I believe, although the 25mm is close and may "look" sharper because of better microcontrast. The 45-175 is supposed to be quite sharp as a telephoto zooms, although I've heard about blur issues at certain shutter speeds(I think that's been resolved with more recent batches?). There is also an upcomingg 45-150, which from what has been released so far looks very sharp.

    The adapted 4/3 zooms will most all be insanse sharp, but you'd have to bear with the size, and slow AF, or use MF.

    Then you could also wait for the upcoming 35-100, although it isn't thatttt long of a lens.
  6. capodave

    capodave Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 4, 2010
    Southern Cal
    Real Name:
    I tried out the 75 last weekend, and it's the sharpest I have seen.
    Now trying to figure out how to buy it.
  7. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Looks like you missed the key part of the OP's post (below)

    So to answer the OP's question,
    The Panasonic 12-35 and upcoming 35-100 (both constant ƒ2.8s) should provide comparable results along with the M. Zuiko 75mm ƒ1.8
    • Like Like x 1
  8. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    AFAIK, the sharpest lenses as tested are the 75/1.8 and the PL45.
  9. kevwilfoto

    kevwilfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 23, 2011
    Suprisingly, the 14 holds its own with the best wide-angle :43: lenses out there in sharpness tests, although there can be noticeable differences from one copy to the next, just like any lens.

    LensRentals.com - Wide-Angle Micro 4/3 Imatest Results
  10. Sanpaku

    Sanpaku Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 24, 2012
    In terms of average sharpness across the frame, here's how LensRental's Imatest MTF50avg results ranked them (1, 2, 3, 4). They don't seem to have a bone in this contest from any marketing department:

    Primes (all at f/2.8)
    Oly 75mm 925
    Pany 20mm 875
    Pany 45mm 875
    Voigtlander 25mm 855
    Pany 14mm 850
    Oly 12mm 845
    Pany 25mm 820
    Voigtlander 17.5mm 810
    Oly 45mm 790
    Sigma 19mm 745
    Sigma 30mm 690
    Oly 17mm 590

    Zooms (usually at 25mm, f/ 5.6 unless noted)

    Pany 12-35@35mm f/4 800
    Pany 7-14mm 765
    Pany 12-35@12mm f/4 745
    Pany 14-140mm 690
    Oly 9-18mm 680
    Pany 14-45mm 675
    Oly 12-50mm 670
    Oly 14-150mm 660
    Oly 14-42mm IIR 630

    The eye generally cannot discern a difference of less than 50 in this MTF50 measure. Roger Cicala who does this excellent, educational blog commented that all of the m4/3 supertele zooms were disappointing, but never got around to posting the results.

    Only two of the zooms (the 12-35mm and the 7-14mm) are even in the ballpark of the primes. The Pany 14mm is the best bargain in m43. The Pany 25mm trades in low available light photography & microcontrast, rather than across the image circle sharpness. Not presented here, but the Voigtlanders have terrible edge/corner sharpness at their maximum aperture. Like DxOmark, LensRentals found the 17mm disappointing.

    LensRentals also tested the NEX lens lineup, and the m4/3 primes performed much better as a group than the NEX primes, while the zooms were about the same as sub 7-14/12-35 m43 zooms.
    • Like Like x 13
  11. danska

    danska Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2012
    Portland, OR
    Real Name:
    My copy of the 14mm is very sharp. People seem to knock it frequently for not being so. The 7-14 and 12-35 make a pair of very sharp zooms. As everyone has already said the 12-35 and 35-100 will make an event or many other situations quite easy to get top-notch images from. All three you have a FF equivalent 14-200mm range.
  12. f8andbethere

    f8andbethere Mu-43 Regular

    The LensRentals list is very helpful. Thanks.
  13. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Real Name:
    David Dornblaser
    Yes, it is. Thanks to Sanpaku for posting it.
  14. nagual

    nagual Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 25, 2012
    Yes, my also appreciation of Lens Rentals List. Quite a story for P14/f2.5, start looking at it differently now. Though, you have to be lucky to get quality one.
  15. Kiwi Paul

    Kiwi Paul Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 15, 2011
    Aberdeen Scotland
    Don't forget "sharpness" is only one quality of a lens and not the be all and end all. a really good lens combines all its qualities (sharpness, bokeh, contrast, edge performance, distortion, CA's, clarity etc) which is what makes it so good. Look at the PL25 and Oly 45 lenses which were a bit lower in the sharpness rankings but who would dispute the IQ of those lenses?

    • Like Like x 2
  16. twalker294

    twalker294 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 18, 2010
    Thanks for bringing this up Paul, as I was about to before I saw your reply. I would much rather have a slightly softer lens with more pleasing bokeh and rendering (for lack of a better term,) like the PL25 than a super sharp lens that doesn't have those qualities. I love the look of the shots from the 25, not because of the sharpness but because of the way it renders colors, OOF areas, etc.

    Of course as always, to each his own...
  17. Kiwi Paul

    Kiwi Paul Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 15, 2011
    Aberdeen Scotland
    I guess if a lens has to be rated by one "value" then to me "clarity" probably is the best definition as it describes more qualities, sharpness, contrast, definition and overall picture quality.

  18. jsusilo

    jsusilo Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 28, 2012
    Interesting result particularly on Pany 25mm being lower than 20mm despite the larger size & pricing point. The fast AF is the only upside 25mm has over 20mm. Any idea how these MTF50 list stacked up when done at lower or higher apertures than f2.8 or when comparing corners / extreme edges?
  19. Sanpaku

    Sanpaku Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 24, 2012
    Pretty much every m43 lens fares poorer in edge/corner sharpness at wide apertures, with the only real exception I've seen being the 7-14mm (which like all constant aperture lenses is artificially "choked" on the wide end). The sweet spot for for resolution by m43 lenses is in the range f/2.8-f/8, oft peaking at f/4, with larger apertures prone to aberrations from the more sharply bent light at the lens edges, and diffraction limiting resolution (rather than any lens quality) at smaller apertures beginning at f/11.

    DxOmark has some interesting graphics from their reviewed lenses demonstrating the sweet spots (in these cases, for center resolution):


    Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f2.0

    Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f2.8

    Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4

    Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8

    Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS

    Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH

    Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ

    Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S.

    Panasonic LUMIX G Vario HD 14-140mm F4.0-5.8 ASPH
    • Like Like x 3
  20. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Those charts are very interesting - had not seen them before, thanks for sharing!

    I don't think my color blindness is helping here, but it seems like they are saying that the PL 45/2.8 doesn't have standout center sharpness versus the others? That definitely would not be my experience compared to, for example, the Oly 45/1.8.

    As far as m4/3 lens edge/corner sharpness, my only frame of reference is APS-C system primes, where I find the m4/3 primes to perform noticeably better in this area.