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View Full Version : Olympus 12mm f2 vs 9-18mm question.


snerkler
28th May 2014, 04:03 PM
As some will know from another thread I'm not overly impressed with my 14-42mm EZ Pancake zoom that came with my EM10 and have been considering getting a better wide angle. I already have the 45mm f1.8 and Panny 20mm f1.7, and found a marked difference in IQ between the 14-42mm and the other 2 lenses. The 14-42mm isn't horrendous by any stretch and produces decent images. Here's an example of a shot I took the other day which I consider to be reasonable IQ after a fair amount of PP https://www.flickr.com/photos/99443690@N04/14275640212/

So I would like a wide angle, but only if it would produce as much difference in IQ as I get between the 14-42mm EZ and the 45mm and 20mm. I'm not interested in the Panny 7-14mm as it's too pricey, too big and doesn't accept regular screw in filters. So the two I'm considering are the 12mm f2 and 9-18mm. Would either of these produce a significant difference from my 14-42mm at 14mm in terms of IQ? Is one significantly better than the other, or is there not that much in it?

If they are significantly better than the 14-42mm but not between the two then I'll go for the 9-18mm for the versatility and extra width. However, if the 12mm f2 is noticeably better in terms of IQ than the 9-18mm this could sway me over the versatility. I know the 12mm has much better construction, but I'm mainly interested in IQ.

Any help appreciated.

Cheers, Toby

Ulfric M Douglas
28th May 2014, 05:00 PM
I have the old 4/3rds 9-18 and it isn't as sharp as my Lumix 20mm, and the m4/3rds version isn't as cheap. (I don't have any of the 'dodgy' kit zooms, like yours)
I hear much better stories about the Lumix 7-14, but big and costly :(
Striving for something in an extreme focal length which is also as sharp (and other qualities) as two especially respected lenses with more relaxed focal lengths may be asking too much
however I personally would never go for the 12mm prime as I consider it poor value for money and at the very wide angles I find myself needing the zoominess of a zoom.

How about the Lumix 12-32 pancake? 12mm wide, tiny lens, fun and not really expensive.
Maybe I'm wrong, but there doesn't exist a bitingly-sharp compact ultrawide zoom in m4/3rds ...

Compromise might be on the cards.

pdk42
28th May 2014, 05:57 PM
Hi - I've had a 9-18 for some time and it's a decent lens. Certainly better than the 14-42s (any flavour). I've also just picked up a 12mm f2 and I must say that it's definitely a step up from the 9-18 in most ways:

- Sharper, esp in the corners, even wide open
- Much nicer build
- Faster (duh) a f2 vs f4-5.6 is a big difference in low light

Of course, the 12 doesn't do 9 or 18 (or any of the other numbers in-between).

On the other hand - the 12 is about on a par with my Panasonic 12-35 at 12mm; so if you want a zoom and don't mind the size & cost of this (or the Oly 12-40), then that's an option too.

snerkler
29th May 2014, 10:58 AM
Thanks for the advice. Interesting that the 4/3 lens isn't as sharp as kit lenses

As for the 12-35mm/12-40mm I don't want anything that big, and is why I've ruled out the Panny 7-14mm (as well as the price).

My options are really the 9-18mm, 12mm or stick with my 14-42mm kit. Is the 12mm noticeably sharper than the 9-18mm in the real world, or 'only' pixel peeping? I've been doing a bit of reading up on the lenses and apparently there's a big difference between 9mm (18mm) and 12mm (24mm) in terms of the way the image looks. I've tried to look at examples of the way it effects the image (other than wider field of view) but can't find any. Can anyone point me in the direction of some examples. It doesn't have to be these particular lenses but it would be interesting to see the same shot at 9/18mm and 12/24mm to see what the different appearance is like (hopefully not just seeing a wider field of view)

gazza95
29th May 2014, 11:08 AM
Not test shots but interesting comparison of a range of M4/3 wide angle lenses.

http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/05/wide-angle-micro-43-imatest-results

snerkler
29th May 2014, 12:15 PM
Thanks. Interesting, but not quite what I was after.

pdk42
29th May 2014, 12:18 PM
Is the 12mm noticeably sharper than the 9-18mm in the real world, or 'only' pixel peeping?
I've only had my 12 a few days, but I did some quick testing against the 9-18 and 12-35 at 12mm. The 12 is definitely sharper than the 9-18, especially in the corners where there's a big difference. The 12mm is sharper wide open at f2 than the 9-18 is wide open (at about f5 for that FL). At f4, the 12mm is significantly sharper (i.e. resolving more detail) than the 9-18. It's very obvious. I think you'd notice the difference on larger prints in terms of showing fine detail. Of course, you could make an image from the 9-18 'sharp' by applying an unsharp mask, but you'd lose detail.

The comparison with the 12-35 is much closer. Wide open on both (so f2 vs f2.8) there's little to chose (I could even argue that the 12-35 resolves a hair more detail), but once stopped down to comparable apertures, the 12mm wins. Overall, I think the 12 is an excellent lens (as Roger Cicala said in the LensRentals test).

I've been doing a bit of reading up on the lenses and apparently there's a big difference between 9mm (18mm) and 12mm (24mm) in terms of the way the image looks. I've tried to look at examples of the way it effects the image (other than wider field of view) but can't find any. Can anyone point me in the direction of some examples. It doesn't have to be these particular lenses but it would be interesting to see the same shot at 9/18mm and 12/24mm to see what the different appearance is like (hopefully not just seeing a wider field of view)
Someone on the mu43 forum provided a nice image which shows frames around an image for a range of focal lengths - it's worth a search there. All I can say is that 9 is noticeably wider than 12 (as 7 is noticeably wider then 9). IMHO, 12 is only on the cusp of UWA, but it's an excellent focal length for many uses nonetheless. If you want really dramatic foreground/background perspective though, then the 12 probably won't cut it. For me, I wouldn't want to be limited to 12 as my widest lens.

snerkler
29th May 2014, 12:25 PM
I've only had my 12 a few days, but I did some quick testing against the 9-18 and 12-35 at 12mm. The 12 is definitely sharper than the 9-18, especially in the corners where there's a big difference. The 12mm is sharper wide open at f2 than the 9-18 is wide open (at about f5 for that FL). At f4, the 12mm is significantly sharper (i.e. resolving more detail) than the 9-18. It's very obvious. I think you'd notice the difference on larger prints in terms of showing fine detail. Of course, you could make an image from the 9-18 'sharp' by applying an unsharp mask, but you'd lose detail.

The comparison with the 12-35 is much closer. Wide open on both (so f2 vs f2.8) there's little to chose (I could even argue that the 12-35 resolves a hair more detail), but once stopped down to comparable apertures, the 12mm wins. Overall, I think the 12 is an excellent lens (as Roger Cicala said in the LensRentals test).


Someone on the mu43 forum provided a nice image which shows frames around an image for a range of focal lengths - it's worth a search there. All I can say is that 9 is noticeably wider than 12 (as 7 is noticeably wider then 9). IMHO, 12 is only on the cusp of UWA, but it's an excellent focal length for many uses nonetheless. If you want really dramatic foreground/background perspective though, then the 12 probably won't cut it. For me, I wouldn't want to be limited to 12 as my widest lens.

Interesting thanks. I haven't done much landscape photography, and never used ultra wide angle and so trying to get my head around the benefit other than wider FOV. I've seen plenty of images that show the different FOV from the different FL lenses, but they just display boxes showing what would be in frame, but this is not taking into account the perspective. Would you mind expanding on what you mean by dramatic foreground/background perspective please? The widest lens I've used to date is my Sony 16-50mm, which is 24-75mm eq.

pdk42
29th May 2014, 12:38 PM
Let me dig out some examples when I'm home later that illustrate the point. I'm sure I've got some on Flickr somewhere!

pdk42
29th May 2014, 06:39 PM
OK - so a few examples (FWIW)...

This is at 9mm with the 9-18. 1/350th at f8. The puddle in the foreground was actually pretty small but it looks big and yet there is still lots of background. (In hindsight, the processing is OTT, but we learn and grow don't we?!)


https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8522/8598181985_61b921dffd_o.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/e6MVWZ)
Puddle (https://flic.kr/p/e6MVWZ) by Paul Kaye (https://www.flickr.com/people/47513724@N06/), on Flickr

This one is taken with a 24mm lens on FF (so equiv to a 12mm). The foreground is somewhat more uniform, but I was probably just as close and it doesn't give the same near/far size difference.

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7446/12487424805_700636bf93_o.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/k2tjkF)
Massachusetts Fall (https://flic.kr/p/k2tjkF) by Paul Kaye (https://www.flickr.com/people/47513724@N06/), on Flickr

If you want uber exaggeration of course, then you need a fish-eye:

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3773/10465823125_784762e768_o.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/gWQ5Ai)
Mushroom (https://flic.kr/p/gWQ5Ai) by Paul Kaye (https://www.flickr.com/people/47513724@N06/), on Flickr

:)

snerkler
29th May 2014, 06:46 PM
Thanks for that, much appreciated. It's difficult to know exactly how that would compare to a 12mm, but think the first demonstrates it better. I do like how the clouds converge towards the centre in the 2nd pics and is a look I've often wondered how to achieve as I really like it. Is that due to the lens, or technique? That fish eye's cool lol.

They're not over processed for me (maybe the vignette on the first ;)), plus I tend to sharpen my images much more than this.