Friday, September 14, 2012

Olympus Goes Back To Disappointing Me

Olympus will be releasing a few new lenses. The first, a 15mm f/8.0 is one of the weirdest lenses ever released by a major company. It costs $79, which may seem cheap, but when you look at Canon's $100 50mm f/1.8, it's downright expensive. I have no idea for whom this lens is intended. Nor do I understand why Olympus would release something so weird while their proper lens collection remains pitiful and of low quality.

The second is the long-awaited macro lens for m4/3. Is it the same as the stellar 50mm f/2.0. No! Of course not. That would be smart. Instead, it is a 60mm f/2.8. 10mm more length, plus a full stop less light, for more money! What a great idea!

The third lens is almost as big a disappointment. It is the 12mm f/2.0, just black instead of silver. It comes with the hood, but costs $100 more than the silver lens. Gee. How generous of you, Oly. Seriously, did the department that produced the 75mm lens get disbanded or something? Or was that lens a fluke that slipped out by accident?

Why can't Olympus get it, now, and stop fucking around. No one cares about the E-5 and 4/3. Ditch the goddamn system, focus on m4/3, and start converting your optical designs over the new flange distance. Are you out of your fucking minds? Do it now! I don't mind the 50-200mm, but autofocus is shower than shit. I want native lenses, as do almost EVERYONE that bought the E-M5. Because to whom do you think the E-M5 is selling? Pro-thusiasts! Almost exclusively, I'd wager.

And while we're on the subject of lenses, Panasonic's new wunderlens, the X 12-35mm, has finally gotten a charted review. Some early comparisons with other lenses in a similar price range were very disappointing, with both resolution and contrast in the edges being noticeably behind Canon and Nikon's lenses. Photozone's review confirms everything that we all suspected from the test shots, both good and bad.

At 12mm, distortion is unacceptably severe: 5.8%. Both of Panasonic's other zooms, the 14-42mm and the 14-45mm had similar levels of distortion on the wide end, but those lenses were nearly one-quarter the cost. For prices that low, we'll accept some a concession or two. At $1,200, though, the lens better perform, and this lens doesn't.

Granted, the Olympus 12mm had a high distortion rate of 5.4%, and it's not even a zoom lens. And that's precisely why I never even considered buying the 12mm. It was overpriced and disappointing. But even it was four-hundred dollars cheaper.

The Panasonic is a mega-disappointment also because of Panasonic's other, wide-angle lens, the 7-14mm. At its widest, it is only 5.2%. Still pretty bad, but it's a 14mm equivalent! For an angle that wide, again, we are willing to make concessions.

The lens is tack-sharp in the center at all lengths, but wildly disappointing in the corners at all but the longest end. Considering the exceptional lenses made by the competition at these focal lengths and for prices that are sometimes lower, Panasonic should be very disappointed in this. Unless it has special, video-oriented features (like no focus-breathing and whatnot), this lens is absolutely not worth the price. When it drops down into the $800 range, we'll talk. But until then, I'll stick with the 7-14mm, 14-45mm, and 20mm that I bought for as much as this one lens.

And a point missed sometimes is that the 4/3 sensor is significantly smaller than both APS-C and full-frame. Lenses for this format are always going to be cheaper and smaller, and dollar-for-dollar, higher quality. If they are not, it's the fault of the company. Either their engineering department failed, or the company is greedy. Panasonic can take its pick as to which one is true.

I'm beginning to understand why so many photogs like Leica. It costs a fortune, but there is no fucking around. It seems like that's all the other companies want to do. Actually, that's a great idea for an article: Which Company Is Fucking Around The Least?

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