Why don't they think outside the box?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by agentlossing, May 26, 2015.

  1. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Real Name:
    Andrew Lossing
    It seems to me that micro four thirds manufacturers are ignoring the big picture with a lot of the lenses that are produced. I understand that since the 35mm days certain popular focal lengths, and corresponding optical formulas, have developed as industry standards, yet aren't these really only relevant for the format to which they're designed to work? Yes, a 50mm f1.8 is a really useful lens, but it's also popular because it was a cheap and relatively compact optical design.

    It seems to me that micro four thirds ought to have its own specialized niches, rather than aping these same optical tropes. One trope is the f3.5-5.6 variable aperture kit zoom. Do we really need or want f3.5-5.6? On an aps-c dslr that's one thing, but look at a Panasonic kit zoom and tell me they couldn't have made the maximum apertures a little larger.

    And why 25mm f1.4 or f1.8? If you're going to make a fast normal lens, would f1.2 be that much more expensive for an already not-cheap lens? And why not 23mm, or 24mm? Why stick to this convention?

    I look at the Panasonic 12-32mm that I just got with my GM1 (and hope to sell to offset some of the cost) and while I understand how small that thing needs to be with the diminutive GM1, why (and there may be a reason for this as I am no lens engineer) is there no kit zoom that is 12-32mm f2.8-4, or a premium yet small constant f2.8 version? And why no constant f1.8 pro zoom? Sigma did it, and I doubt very much it's impossible with this smaller format.

    I just want these manufacturers to think outside the box and figure out what focal lengths, with what apertures, could truly be the best options for our system. Do what manufacturers did for the 35mm format, except with the benefit of computer models and 3-d printing. Obviously we'd like larger maximum apertures what with the noise threshold and wider dof of the system. These things wouldn't bother users, and would be less ragged on by the competition, if they came out of the box with small, larger aperture lenses. Someone asked for f4 constant lenses, I feel that's shortsighted too. F4 isn't to us what it is to others, so why not more f2.8 versions of lenses? A cheap Olympus 45mm f2.8? A 24mm or 25mm f2.8 from, well,anyone at all, for crying out loud? Let's see more variety! </endrant>
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  2. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I don't disagree. But what happens when they do make lenses like that? The new 30mm macro with OIS gets called an odd focal length and too slow. The sigma 19mm isn't 17 or 20mm, so it's s weird focal length. The PL 15mm isn't wide enough. 60mm isn't long enough. 75mm should be 135 or 200mm equivalent, not 150.

    The fast zooms get called too big for a "compact" system and we complain about the cost. And the compact lenses aren't fast enough. Even the 25mm 1.4 gets called huge, so what we call an f1.2?

    I think consumers are so fickle they are damned if they do or don't.
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  3. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    The Sigma f1.8 zoom for APS-C is about the same size as the constant f2.0 zoom Olympus already made (although it's range is far shorter, it ends at 50mm equivalent not 70mm).

    It's very hard to make small compact large aperture lenses because the entry pupil must be large enough to accommodate the aperture you desire, if it's too small you get heavy vignetting (also oblong shaped highlights in out of focus areas because the highlight doesn't see the full aperture, it only sees an oval portion of it). The 'excess' coverage from larger than 'needed' lenses is to reduce vignetting wide open, back in the days of view cameras the lenses coverage was generally specified at f/22 for this reason.
  4. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    Real Name:
    call me Arg
    Isn't that exactly the approach Olympus took with their Four Thirds lenses? Lens lovers love them, but so few photographers bought the system because its size wasn't in proportion to its sensor.

    That's the issue. If they go with faster 'equivalent' lenses, they will be exactly replicating the Four Thirds vs DSLR war, and we know how that went, but now it will be Micro Four Thirds vs Sony A7. It won't end well.

    Probably $1000+, yes.
  5. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014

    Rough pictures however you get the idea and the same principal applies to lenses made for smaller formats, if you want full coverage with good sharpness and no vignetting you're probably going to have a huge front element and complex optical path to provide it.

    Edit: If you think this doesn't apply to large aperture lenses because the m4/3 sensor is so small... ever looked at the out of focus highlights of a picture taken using a Nocticron? It's as small as they dared make it yet it still struggles.
    Last edited: May 26, 2015
  6. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 30, 2014
    All that is great examples of people who have stuck to a specific field of view with a specific focal length and they cant see around those.

    Like there are people wishing a 67.5mm focal length just in the sake of 135mm for 35mm. Like why?

    Yes we know that it use to be easier optical design point of view to make a zoom with <4x magnification but is that today true ?

    What i know is that the foxal lengths were multipliers with specific ratio (28/35/50/85/100/135/150/200 etc) that was for optical design. Dont know anymore the ratio but someone explained it (probably here).

    But i really like to see some other "odd" focal lengths too.
  7. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    I don't care if a lens has an unusual focal length, but unless there is some logical reason for Oly/Panny to go that route I don't think it makes much sense to stray from what has become a standard just for the sake of being odd.
  8. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    They're all normal or standard lenses of different formats, if there was preexisting lens designs it was far easier to use them than design an entirely new lens. The focal lengths already in use were thus adopted for smaller formats also.

    21mm - two stops down from 42.5mm
    24mm - two stops down from 50mm
    28mm - one stop down from 42.5mm
    35mm - one stop down from 50mm
    42.5mm - Normal lens for 135 format
    50mm - Standard lens for 135 format
    60mm - one stop larger than 42.5mm
    85mm - one stop larger than 42.5mm
    135mm - Normal lens for 4x5
    150mm - Standard lens for 4x5
    210 - Standard lens for 5x7
  9. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Real Name:
    I don't necessarily disagree with the OP's thinking but at the same time it's wishful thinking.

    1. R&D of lenses isn't exactly cheap and with financial woes of every camera division of all brands they need to maximize their R&D dollars. With regards to Olympus, they're actually doing an incredible job of bringing out new lenses.

    2. Fast glass is big and costly, therefore making them a niche product. Any f1.2 glass that is currently available for m43 is $1000+, the cheapest being the manual focus Voigtlander lenses. Add AF like the P42.5/1.2, and there's added cost. The market for these lenses is quite small. Sure, we all lust for these lenses but how many of us will part with $1400 for such a lens.

    3. As for cheaper f2.8 alternatives for popular prime focal lengths, IMO, the current f1.8 versions are cheap enough and an f2.8 version would do nothing more than cannibalize sales with an inferior product for those on a strict budget. Consider the O17/2.8 vs O17/1.8. To me, I wouldn't hesitate choosing the f1.8 version because the cost difference isn't astronomical.

    4. Fast lenses offer two benefits. More light and more DoF. More light is always good but not everyone is willing to pay $1000 more for f1.2 vs f1.8 (P32.5/1.2 vs O45/1.8). Even in the Canikon world, f1.2 lenses are a niche product. Secondly, m43 is probably not the best system choice if razor thin DoF is your thing. With that said, even an f1.8 m43 lens provides decent background blur if you know how to achieve it.

    5. As for odd focal lengths like a 23mm or 24mm, what would be the purpose since it is so close to the 25mm. Also, there are already a few odd focal lengths, namely from Panasonic and Sigma. Would adding a 23 or 24 be of any significance for current m43 shooters or would adding such lenses be a major draw for someone to switch to m43? I doubt it.

    Current "pro" zooms are starting to creep up in size and weight which, IMO, partially defeats one of the attractions of m43 which, again IMO, is the size/weight advantage over DSLRs. For example, the newer Olympus "pro" zooms are all excellent but the size/weight are similar to the Canikon f4 variants and similar to the Sony 70-200/4 and Fuji 50-140/2.8.

    What I would like to see is Olympus/Panasonic come up with a way to reduce size/weight on "pro" lenses without sacrificing IQ. A tall order for sure, but I think that would be more of a breakthrough and an advantage, rather than offering slower, cheaper lenses and/or odd focal lengths.
    Last edited: May 26, 2015
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  10. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 30, 2014
    I didnt mean that those are standards because those exist, but because there is a mathematical formula in to originally choose those focal lengths for ANY format. It goes all the way down and up. And the 4/3 sensor focal lengths are just half of those instead following the ratio.
  11. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 30, 2014
    F/2.8 is often 99€ and f/1.8 is usually around 350€ so there is to me a big difference.
    Sometimes i find f/2.8 as 285€ but on that price i would agree. (Prices as new).
  12. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    There is a mathematical formula for it.

    Take the diagonal of your format, 135 format (aka 35mm) is 42.5mm and m4/3 is 21mm. This is your *normal* lens. Half frame (roughly aps-c) is 30mm, 4x5 is 150mm, 5x7 is 207 (off the top of my head).
    Slightly telephoto from this is your standard lens (50mm, it was originally a cine lens focal length thus the lens designs existed for this focal length).

    When I say one stop I mean one aperture stop apart, the area of the aperture will be the same for a 25mm f2.0 and a 35mm f2.8. It goes up by the square so as a very rough guide multiply by 1.41 or 0.71 to go up or down.
    Edit: the original reasoning behind using lens designs which were "stops" apart was so that the same aperture (also shutter if on a view camera) design could be used and thus mass produced. It reduced costs by not having to have a unique aperture made for every lens design as you could reuse a preexisting one.
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  13. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Regarding "odd" focal lenghts like 23 or 22 I wonder: what would be the advantage? They are so close to the "classic" focal lengths that would make just no difference in practice. You already have 15, 17, 19, 20, 25 and 30.
    Lenses exists and are designed for a specific purposes: sport, weddings, landscapes, macro, portraits, etc. What would be the real world commercial niche that this odd focal length would be serving? For example selfies con be considered a new kind of photography so a dedicated lens could make sense there but how would this lens differ from a 12-32 or a 15mm?

    For the small mid-level 2.8-4 zoom I think it's just a matter of time and marketing. M43 best selling point is still size, putting out too many big lenses is going to kill this message.

    Super fast lenses are going to be expensive or mediocre when wide open, check out the Mitakon lenses for m43. It's rumored that Oly is going to do a few 1.0 or 1.2 lenses, if they will they won't be cheap.

    For the Sigma 1.8 zoom, AFAIK is the only existing zoom of that kind so it's probably not so easy/cheap to design one. The thread size is 72mm and is 121mm long at 800 grams (the 12-40 is 62mm x 84mm, 400 grams as a comparison). Yes the m43 could be slightly smaller, but not much.
    Look at how "big" are the 12-35 and 12-40 from Pana and Oly: you won't get much smaller than that (with current technology at least, curved sensors or super hi-tech glass could change that).

    You could do a 12-25 f2 or f2.8, sounds good for street maybe. But do you really need that extra stop? With this short focal length is not about DoF, are there so many people shooting in low light?
  14. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    Real Name:
    call me Arg
    I was assuming that 22mm was being suggested as it is the mathematical 'standard' lens, equal to the sensor diagonal, hence neither a wide not a tele.
  15. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    I do not want to hijack the thread but I always thought that the 40-50mm length was called normal because (on 35mm film) gives you a FoV close to the human vision. I suspect there are two different "normal" reference numbers, optical and human vision, that for 35mm by chance are close. Does it make sense?
    Or maybe the lenses/sensor/flange distance/etc. are designed so that a focal length equal to the diagonal will always approximately match the human FoV for any sensor size?
  16. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    I think we have a really huge range of modern lenses covering all sorts of odd focal lengths ... I guess this is disagreeing with the OP.
  17. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    You're right that there's a difference between standard and normal, 50mm was a standard lens on the 35mm cine format (roughly half frame). 50mm on 35mm film *WITH* sound track gives the field of view of human vision at two times the the distance of the diagonal of the viewing screen it's projected on. (the normal lens for 35mm film with sound track is 25mm, double that is 50mm which equates to the viewing distance to the screen, the screen being the aperture of the scene you're viewing).
    If you're using super 35 you need a 60mm lens instead.

    A normal is the diagonal of the format, standard is slightly telephoto to provide the correct perspective at desired viewing distance. 50mm was adopted for 135 purely because optical designs already existed for cine usage, not because it actually met the criteria perfectly.

    One reason normal lenses have huge popularity is due to the mirror box on SLRs' giving a flange focal distance close to the normal focal length of the sensor allowing very basic optical designs thus allowing very compact lenses (think 40mm pancakes). The same is true of the Panasonic 20mm due to the flange distance of m4/3.
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  18. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    The only thing I find odd is when you compare m4/3 to 4/3 options. For 4/3s there were f2.0 zooms and 2.8/3.5 - 3.5/4.0 options in addition to the f3.5 - 5.6/6.3 options. For m4/3 zooms fast seems to be limited to f2.8 with nothing in between those and the 3.5 - 5.6/6.3 options.
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  19. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    There's always room for more variety, but realistically, M4/3 is about as complete as any system except for Nikon and Canon FF. It already has more focal lengths and options covered than crop DSLRs (EF-S or DX) even using when using FF lenses in that mix. The only place that it lacks are in extreme niches - rectilinear ultrawide primes, tilt-shift lenses, ultrafast telephotos (like 300 or 400mm/f2.8 or f4) - but most of those lenses start at $1500 and go up from there.

    Panasonic and Olympus need to follow profitability, and to be honest I'm not sure where that leads them. There may be a few people willing to shell out $1000+ for a 17mm f1.2 autofocus lens, but enough to justify producing it? I don't know. As far as f3.5-5.6 vs. f2.8-4, even if it's a smaller format it retains a lot of the same associated issues with optical aberrations because they are due to the real aperture value not an arbitrary equivalence. It's just as hard to make a f0.95 C-mount lens sharp and clean as it is to make one for full-frame. So that kind of limits making faster zooms, since you'll be in the same kind of price bracket as faster zooms on larger formats.

    Just look at the Fuji 18-55 f2.8-f4 - it sells for $700 new. The Olympus 12-60mm f2.8-4 sold for $900. The 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 was $600-700. Does the current market have an appetite for that? Especially when the 12-40mm constant f2.8 can regularly be had for between $600-700 refurbished?

    Sure, it would be nice to have faster, better, lenses but I'm not sure enough people are willing to actually pay for that middle step to make them worth producing.

    One final note with respect to focal lengths...I think it's odd that everyone looks at the direct focal length conversion based on the crop factor without looking at the effect that aspect ratio has. The 75mm 1.8, for instance, has the same angle of view as a 135mm cropped to 4:3. So it actually may be the ideal "equivalent" focal length, rather than what the direct conversion would lead you to believe. Would it have made sense to make a lens that had a wider angle of view and required 4/3 users to crop from the top and bottom in order to achieve the same FOV as a 135mm? Probably not, since you'd be throwing away information, and especially since most portraits end up in a more square format closer to 4:3, 5:4, or even 1:1 anyway...
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  20. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Well 4/3 is kind of a failed system. So you can't blame them too hard for not wanting to duplicate it 100%

    4/3 also had almost no fast primes. I'd take the great prime setups we have over all the big zooms (that most of us would call too big anyway.)
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