11/15/12

Olympus M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.8 review

Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.8
@ f/5.6, 4 s. and ISO 200.
Olympus introduced a new 17 mm prime lens finally, after many rumors and a long wait. The new lens is very different from the 17 mm f/2.8 that came together with the very first PEN model. The all new M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.8 has reasonably fast max aperture and promises first class image quality.

Mechanical construction of the lens is similar to the 12 mm f/2, and it certainly feels solid with a metal exterior. The focus ring can be pulled back to activate manual focus and to reveal a focus scale. The ring imitates the feel of a traditional manual focus pretty well. Unfortunately the lens hood must be purchased separately.

The new Zuiko also looks good to me, but I wish Olympus made a black version too. It would suit so much better with a black camera body.

Tha autofocus is silent, accurate and very fast. I can't say if it is faster than the 12 mm or the 45 mm, but it is not slower either. Accuracy is excellent and the focus is always right on.
Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.8
@ f/1.8, 1/400 s. and ISO 200.
1119 x 852 px 100% crop from the center the above picture.
The optical performance is our main interest, of course. So, let's see how the new M.Zuiko does.

Wide open at f/1.8 in the center of the frame the sharpness is good, the edges average and the corners a bit soft, but not mushy. Stopping down to f/2.8 brings the center to excellent, the edges to good and the corners to average level. The best overall sharpness over the entire frame is available from f/4 to f/8, when even the corners are in good level. After f/8 the diffraction starts to soften the picture, but with some post process sharpening even f/16 is useful. I still don't recommend anything smaller that f/8 unless you have a very good reason.
Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.8
@ f/4, 1/4 s. and ISO 200.
1053 x 622 px 100% crop from the left edge of the above picture.
Cromatic aberrations are mild and easily corrected in post with just a click of a mouse. Distortions are software corrected so there are none to be seen, but the correction method robs some of the edge and corner sharpness. Purple fringing is almost nonexistent and that makes the images look clean and tidy. Purple fringing can be very hard or almost impossible to remove and it makes me happy not to see any with this lens.
Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.8
@ f/1.8, 1/15 s. and ISO 3200.
I compared the new Zuiko to my Panasonic 20 mm f/1.7. The Panny is a tad sharper wide open, but the Zuiko catches up after minimal stopping down. Panasonic has serious problem with purple fringing that can be seen all over the place. Pana is also an old design and that shows with noisy and slowish autofocus.
Olympus E-PL5 + M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.8
@ f/1.8, 1/80 s. and ISO 800.
All in all, I think Olympus M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.8 is a very nice lens with good image quality. It is not quite in the same league with the Zuiko 45 mm and 75 mm f/1.8, but still very usable. I think the price is quite well in balance with the quality.
Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.8
@ f/8, 2 s. and ISO 200.
1197 x 910 px 100% crop from the center of the above picture.
I especially like the angle of view that resembles the classic 35 mm full frame lens. Back in the film days I had 35 mm in one body and a 85 mm in another. Now I can have almost the same with my Olympus if I use the 17 mm and the 45 mm. Yes, I have preordered a M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.8.
Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.8
@ f/5.6, 5 s. ja ISO 200.
I shot all these pictures in raw and processed them in Lightroom 4.3 RC. I have made some tonal adjustments, but I have left the sharpening as LR default.


10/3/12

Olympus M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 Macro review

Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 60 mm Macro
@ f/5.6, 0,8 s. and ISO 200.
1:1 magnification.
Olympus introduced M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 Macro months ago, but now it is real. Once again I had to be impressed about the small size and weight of a lens. At first I thought the box was empty by judging the weight of it, but there was lens inside after all. The Macro is really compact and light weight, but still feels robust and well made. On top of everything this lens is weather sealed, so it should withstand adverse weather conditions especially if mounted on E-M5 body. Unfortunately the lens shade is not included and must be purchased separately.
Size comparison with a Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4.
On the top side of the lens there is a distance scale that shows the magnification ratio and close focus distance. This is useful, because of the large focus range compared to any normal lens. On the left side there is a selector for limiting the focus range for close distances. This is a handy feature and can prevent the focus from hunting back and forth in some situations.
M.Zuiko 60 mm macro and E-M5. The focus range selector
is visible on the side on the lens.
M.Zuiko Macro can reach 1:1 magnification ratio, but because of the 60 mm focal length that equals 120 mm full frame lens the subject is still in comfortable distance and not touching the front lens.
Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 60 mm Macro
@ f/8, 1/125 s. and ISO 200.
Screws from MacBook Pro lap top.
The screw on the left is approximately 6 mm long and
the blue goo is thread locker.
The autofocus is fast in normal shooting, as fast as any m4/3 lens, but it takes a while to move from 1:1 to infinity. This only normal for a macro lens due to the large focus range.
Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 60 mm Macro
@ f/4, 1/1000 s. and ISO 200.
Autofocus is not necessary or sometimes not even practical in macro shooting, so I'd like to see a button on the lens for activating the manual focus when needed. Programmable Fn button would really be excellent addition.
Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 60 mm Macro
@ f/4, 1/500 s. and ISO 200.
M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 Macro is good optical performer and in macro distances it really shines. The sharpest apertures are f/2.8 - 5.6 and after that the diffraction gradually cuts in. I would still use even f/16 if I needed the depth of field, but the smallest aperture f/22 is visibly softer and I'd avoid that if possible.
Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 60 mm Macro
@ f/2.8, 1/20 s. and ISO 800.
The 60 mm macro is suitable for general photography as well. The maximum aperture is not the fastest, but at least a stop better than that of the average zoom lens at the same focal lenght. The macro does not replace either M.Zuiko 45 mm or 75 mm because of the max aperture, but if you need a short tele and also fancy a macro lens the 60 mm could be the answer.
Olympus E-M5 + M.Zuiko 60 mm Macro
@ f/4, 1/640 s. and ISO 200.
Actual pixels from above picture, 811 x 811 px crop.
This is a nice addition to the already strong m4/3 lens selection. I liked it so much that I bought one after trying it. I own both the 45 mm f/1.8 and the 75 mm f/1.8, but I did not own any macro lens, so the 60 mm fills that gap just perfectly.



9/30/12

Olympus Body Cap Lens 15 mm f/8


Olympus introduced this small and fun lens in Photokina this year. The lens is really small and hardly bigger than a body cap, as the name implies. The body of the lens is plastic including the bayonet, but it is still reasonably sturdy and does not feel like a cheap toy. Because of the small size and light weight I feel that the plastic is plenty strong for almost any use.
The lens is really small and light.
The optical construction is three elements in three groups. There are no aperture blades or mechanism, because the lens has fixed f/8 aperture. In the front there is a small lever for focusing, and the lever has three marked positions: infinity, distant focus and close focus. That same lever also actuates the built in lans cap. There is no electrical connection between the lens ad the camera body.

Using the Olympus Body Cap Lens is rather fun experience. The small size makes handling of the camera different than with any other lens. There is no natural place for left hand. You can still support the camera from the bottom, but not like with with any normal lens. I shot many pictures only with one hand and that felt actually quite natural even though I would not do that with my other lenses.

It is possible to focus the lens, but that is not easy, because of the great depth of field and the short movement of the focusing lever. If focused carefully the lens is rather sharp in the middle of the frame, but the edges are always a bit blurry.
100% crop in the middle of the frame.
The camera to subject distance is about 1 m.
I set the focus lever to "distant focus" and shot everything like that when I was outside. That was fun because there was no need to worry about the focus at all. I just fired away. That fixed f/8 is not practical for interiors or any available light shooting indoors. Or in dim light generally. You need to crank up the ISO to be able shoot hand held or anything that moves. However, that should not prevent you from experimenting either with long exposures or high ISO.

I think this lens is not for pixel peepers, but a fun lens that should not be taken too seriously. It makes a nice and cheap addition to any m4/3 system for some of those special occasions. Used with any of the  PEN bodies the combination is practically pocket size.

I made these pictures with Olympus E-M5 camera with aperture priority, which makes sense with a fixed aperture lens.