Saturday, November 10, 2012

Olympus Readies Another High-Priced Disappointment

Don't ever say that I'm not forgiving. Olympus could burn down Japan and I'd still be saying, "Yeah, well they did make that 75mm lens." When a company truly brings their A-game, I turn into an all-out fanboi.

It is for this reason only that I do not spend the next post eviscerating Olympus for the overpriced 12mm lens and now this, a newly announced, and already disappointing, 17mm lens. I'm going to resist the urge to simply fling invective. I'm going to be measured.

One of the biggest disappointment of the most recent crop of high-quality m4/3 lenses is the extreme amount of distortion. The Panasonic 12-35mm produces distortion of nearly 6% at 12mm. It's even higher than the 14-45mm, and we only forgave that lens because it was so damned cheap.

This is something worth focusing on... no pun intended... because not only are Olympus's 4/3 Zuiko lenses almost free of distortion, but other companies are producing excellent optics for much less money. The 12mm Oly, for example, must compete with the 12mm SLRMagic lens, which costs $300 less, is faster, and produces almost no distortion. Why the hell can't Olympus and Panasonic do the same? Stupidity? Greed? They simply don't give a shit?

The new 17mm is no different. Based on the RAW photos available here, the distortion appears to be well over 5%. This is even more unacceptable when we consider that the Panasonic 20mm is cheaper, smaller, close in focal length, and has still lower distortion.

I understand what they are going for. They want to keep their lenses compact while also providing autofocus. This can be very difficult from an engineering perspective. I get it. But if Olympus is going to sell us concessions in a lens, they damn well better price that lens correctly. $800 for a 12mm lens with distortion that damn-near rips a portal in space-time? Not priced correctly!

I seriously hope that the 4/3 and m4/3 system is eventually, for all intents and purposes, taken away from Panasonic and Olympus. The 2x crop factor seems to be the absolute sweet spot between a smaller sensor and overall performance. Its existence has a good value proposition. If only Panasonic and Olympus knew how to use that to their advantage.


Even better, it's been confirmed that Olympus will follow in the tradition of its 75mm and 12mm lenses and not include a lens hood. Instead, they will try to sell one for $80. Greedy, shitty, and, oh right, I'm just going to buy a $10 hood on Ebay. Fuck off, Olympus.

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