View Full Version : SHG lens qualities compared to HG lenses.

Kiwi Paul
26th December 2010, 03:59 PM
On another Oly forum someone commented about the lack of discernible differences in image quality between the 14-35 and the 14-54 but they were pixel peeping and looking hard to spot them, I replied to that post explaining how I see the advantages of the SHG lenses over HG lenses and thought I'd post here for those interested.

Often the differences between the 14-35 (and other SHG lenses) and the HG lenses are subtle. The SHG lenses give very fine resolution and the amount of detail they bring out in say a landscape scene is often quite staggering. But you have to view the picture as a whole, it's the subtle combination of all the SHG lenses qualities combined that make it special and pixel peeping looking for better sharpness or extra detail etc won't always reveal what the lens really offers.

Doing A/B comparisons with another lens doesn't always work either as you are "looking" for differences that aren't necessarily so blatant and it's easy to miss the woods for the trees as so to speak.

In some images there may well be no discernible difference between the 14-35 and say the 14-54 at all but in others there are.

I have many photos when viewed full screen or when printed that are unmistakeably taken with an SHG lens, the sharpness, detail and other subtle qualities are that good. They are the kind of photos you look at and think "man that's good, the quality is superb".
One the best qualities of the 14-35 in particular is the detail it preserves right through the photo, even when the scene has a huge DOF.


Ulfric M Douglas
26th December 2010, 04:33 PM
As I understand it the 14-35 is an F2 all the way lens and the 14-54 is an F2.8-F3.5-ish lens. I'd love one for that reason alone, but ... !

I wouldn't care one jot if either was a smidgen sharper than the other, to my mind that's not the point at all.
Almost all the Zuiko lenses deliver on sharpness, in fact when I bought this 14-54MkI from a forum member I wasn't even interested in it being sharper or less distorting than our excellent kit 14-42 ...

26th December 2010, 05:17 PM
I agree that as far as I can tell from the little use I've been able to make of SHG lenses, when you are in the same ranges of F stops, focal lenth etc there is little to be seen as both ranges are excellent

as Ulfric says it's when you want that extra range at the wide open settings that the SHG are going to really pay back. I would love to have it as an option, but can't affrord it


David M
26th December 2010, 05:48 PM
I guess I won't be buying a 14-35 then as I never rated the sample of the 14-54 I used to own.

21st February 2011, 12:04 PM
I guess I won't be buying a 14-35 then as I never rated the sample of the 14-54 I used to own.

Would love the 14-35, but my pockets dictate otherwise.
Surprised about the 14-54mk1, I only noticed how good it was AFTER I changed to the 12-60. I'm not knocking the 12-60, it realy is a super lens, but, I can look back at the photos taken with the 14-54 and know which lens I used (if you know what I mean.
With the ZD range of lenses we (Oly users) are blessed with the best performing (for the money) lenses out there, starting with the kit lenses.
Unfortunatley this has the effect that we sometimes find it difficult to spot, what should be, the obvious differences in image quality, with the progressively better lenses, mainly because we do the obvious, pixel peeping.
I think the differences are much more subtle than that, it's something like the Leica fraternity have, their lenses may technically, be apparently no better than other makes (all be it very expensive) but the overall image quality speaks volumes.

I may of course be talking out of my opposite end, but technical specs aren't and never will be, the be all and end all.

21st February 2011, 12:34 PM
The 14-35 has that je ne sais quoi quality that is hard to describe. I do feel that contrast, colour and sharpness are exceptional under certain conditions, and it's very sharp even wide open.

The 14-54 is a very fine lens, but it does have a weakness and that is sharpness wide open. Olympus designed the lens to focus close and to exhibit very low geometric distortion, but they decided not to use ED glass, and this does mean you need to stop the lens down to get the kind of sharpness we expect of Zuiko glass. The 14-35 (and, I have to say, the 12-60) are significantly sharper wide open than the 14-54. And of course the 14-35 is a much brighter lens, which is why it's so big an bulky.


23rd May 2011, 07:00 PM
Having rented the SHG 150mm f2 and seen the quality difference over my 50-200 I am having a touch of lens lust. There are however a few doubts hopefully you SHG users can expand on.

Every lens has an optimum aperture where it is sharpest. Reducing aperture size simply reduces image quality but increases depth of field. So 50-200 does this at around f5.6. At this and smaller apertures it seems to compete with 150mm whose sharpness peaks at F2.8 ( if I believe lens tests ). The real benefit to me of 150mm is the two stops I can increase shutter speed and reduce effect of camera shake and lens is sharper anyway. Thus I win twice.

So does this also apply to most of the SHG lenses i.e. you need to use them at wider aperture to see real benefit?


Kiwi Paul
23rd May 2011, 09:28 PM
The quality of the SHG lenses is unmistakable. I typically use my 7-14 and 14-35 at f5.6-8 for landscape work and they are sharp as anything, the detail and resolution are amazing, I have no qualms using the lenses from wide open to f9.5. The same is true for the 35-100 and 90-250 but as these are telephoto lenses I tend to use them from wide open to about f5.6 typically although I'd have no issue using up to f9.5.
I've not played about trying to determine the sweet spot, I just use the appropriate aperture setting for the circumstances.


24th May 2011, 06:08 AM
I think the other thing is that the construction of the SHG lenses oozes quality in a way that even the pro lenses don't. You really feel as if you are handling a top notch piece of kit. I bought a 14-35 and a 35-100 second hand late last year but I've not been able to use them as much as I would like. I prefer the 35-100, especially for things like internal zoom, and because I usually commit more photographic sins in that zoom range than in the shorter one.

27th May 2011, 10:09 PM
Some time ago I did a test of 14-35mm vs 14-54mm and 14-35mm is really special :)

Here are my thoughts/conclusions:

- in overlapping focal lenghts and aperture openings, 14-35mm provides better IQ, especially in the corners.

- even wide open (f2, it's better than 14-54mm wide open at all focal lenghts f2.8 - 3.3)

Probably the most interesting fact was that it's somewhat brighter at same aperture opening, i.e. - image taken with +1EV at same aperture will give you shorter exposure times by 1/3EV and will give you even slightly brighter image, especially in the corners.

This comes to 1/2 to 2/3rd EV difference given the same f-number, meaning 14-35mm has better transmission than 14-54mm, so shooting @f2 and 14mm will give you ~1.5 stops of advantage in terms of usable amount of light.

Likewise, shooting @35mm will give you over 2 stops better more light (which would mean difference between using ISO800 and 3200) - no small thing.

Kiwi Paul
27th May 2011, 10:32 PM
The quality of the SHG lenses right through the photo is superior, the detail, resolution, contrast everything, there is no one definable characteristic which makes them better the combined qualities make them special. They really do produce a 3D effect at times, a picture you can almost step into. When folk try to pixel peep to see the superior characteristics of these lenses they are missing the point totally, sure these lenses are sharp but it's the combined qualities that make them so good and that can only be appreciated looking at a whole picture and admiring it for all its qualities.