Comparing Olympus 4/3lenses to FX "Full Frame" offerings

Started Jan 25, 2014 | Discussions thread
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dave gaines
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Comparing Olympus 4/3lenses to FX "Full Frame" offerings
Jan 25, 2014

I have been trying to replace the excellent Olympus lenses I've used with similar "full frame" Nikon FX lenses. It isn't easy.

Sure, the "Nikon Trilogy", the 3 best Nikon f/2.8 G AF Zoom lenses are really good but they are bigger than anything similar I've had with Olympus. The 14-24 mm f/2.8 ($1997) is slightly bigger than the 7-14 mm f/4, but Nikon shooters complain about having to lug the big heavy beast around. The standard Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8 ($1887) is bigger than the 14-54 by a long shot yet about the same size as the 14-35 mm f/2. The Nikon 70-200 m f/2.8G VRII ($2397) is the same size as the Olympus 35-100 mm f/2. If it were an f/2 it would be huge

Don't bother looking for anything like a 50-200 mm f/2.8-3.5 in FX for close to the same price. You'll need the 200-400 mm f/4 for US$6750.

It's amazing what a bargain all the fine Olympus 4/3 lenses are.

After the 3 best Nikon zooms the comparisons get much harder. Nikon and Canon FF shooters complain that all of the fast 50 mm lenses are soft - as if by design, I think. In Olympus we've always been fortunate to have a super sharp 50 mm f/2 and the unrivaled Panasonic/Leica D Summilux 25mm f/1.4 lens for 4/3 format. It originally sold for $800 IIRC, and then soon went up to $900 as the scarcity of these became evident. You had to get on a waiting list to buy one.

For a Fisheye lens all that Nikon has to offer is an old-design, 16 mm f/2.8D AF for US$900. Most of the D lenses focus by a drive motor in the camera body, not an internal focus motor. There's also the Sigma 15 mm f/2.8 that focuses 10 cm (4") closer than the Nikon (with less DOF) for US$610. The Nikon's closest focus is 250 mm. The Nikon is a bit sharper than the Sigma. I just paid $680 + tax and shipping for a like-new, used Nikon 16 mm f/2.8D.

Look at the Olympus 8 mm f/3.5 Fisheye lens. It's super sharp corner to corner and focuses as close as 135 mm from the sensor with more DOF than either FF at the same f-stop. It originally sold for $100 less than the Nikon and it's much newer, better design.

I can't find an equuivalent for the Olympus High Grade 11-22 mm f/2.8-3.5 wide angle lens. The best offerings from Nikon are the 17-35 mm f/2.8 for US$1769 or the 16-35 mm f/4 G VR for US$1257. These both suffer from distortion at the wide end, vignette and CA. None of these poor attributes exist with the Olympus 11-22 mm, which sells for half the average/mean price.

The Olympus EX-25 Macro Extension Tube is a magic hollow tube that makes the 50 mm f/2 macro lens shoot at 1:1 and turns any lens with a focal length over 50 mm into a macro lens. I've personally seen it work on an EM-5 on top of the MMF-3 adapter with the 50 mm f/2. What's not to like?

All of these lenses would be equally fine on micro 4/3 cameras. They'll exceed the IQ of any similar m4/3 lens, especially the zooms. These 4/3 lenses have focus scales and are optically corrected, excellent instruments.

So whatever you do, don't try to replace your 4/3 lenses with full frame equivalents for anywhere near the price or IQ. Keep your E-series and OM-D E-Mx and use these lenses. Make me an offer on my few remaining lenses. It's too late to save me, but you can still benefit from my system switch.

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 dave gaines's gear list:dave gaines's gear list
Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom Olympus E-330 Nikon D800E Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED +7 more
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