Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?

Started Jul 8, 2011 | Discussions
Kaayman52
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Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
Jul 8, 2011

Your opinions requested on the following:

I am a happy E-620 user, however lately I found myself annoyed by some of its limitations:

1. AF capabilities in darker situations (cloudy day)
2. Viewfinder tunnel
3. No video
4. Noise

So I am looking for alternatives in the other brands, such as the Canon 600D/60D, the Nikon 5100D/7000D or the Panasonic GH2.

Regarding the Nikon and Canon I am a bit concerned on the choice of affordable high-quality lenses. The Nikon 16-85 or the Canon 15-85 seem like obvious choices for a mid-range zoom, how do they compare to my 14-54? Any other suggestions?

Thanks,
Remco

SuperVF1
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Re: Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
In reply to Kaayman52, Jul 8, 2011

Well, the obvious would be is that they're both wider and longer than your 14-54, but your 14-54 lets in 1 more stop of light at the wide end, and 1 1/3 of a stop at the tele end
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Teasa
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Re: Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
In reply to SuperVF1, Jul 8, 2011

Hi there,

I have a E620 and have just taken possession of a 12-60 lens. It has improved my set up a huge amount especially in low light. The lens is a gem and I don't care what all the technos say Olympus cameras produce the best jpeg photography bar none to the naked eye.
Teasa

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lightcaptures
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Re: Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
In reply to Teasa, Jul 8, 2011

I'm in a similar position (E600) and the 12-60 has added an extra dimension (no, not literally, still just 2d) to my photography and I was especially surprised by how close it focuses.

I could almost get rid of my 50mm F2!! (This will NEVER happen)

I would love this set up in a body that offers video capabilities too. I'd like a Pen as well for a pocket cam but for anything else the ergonomics of an E600 with Grip and optical view finder are a must for me.
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olyflyer
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Re: Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
In reply to Kaayman52, Jul 8, 2011

Kaayman52 wrote:

Your opinions requested on the following:

I am a happy E-620 user, however lately I found myself annoyed by some of its limitations:

1. AF capabilities in darker situations (cloudy day)
2. Viewfinder tunnel

If the VF is critical than you can forget about the D5100 and the GH2. I am not sure about the 600D, I think that's also dim.

3. No video
4. Noise

So I am looking for alternatives in the other brands, such as the Canon 600D/60D, the Nikon 5100D/7000D or the Panasonic GH2.

Regarding the Nikon and Canon I am a bit concerned on the choice of affordable high-quality lenses. The Nikon 16-85 or the Canon 15-85 seem like obvious choices for a mid-range zoom, how do they compare to my 14-54? Any other suggestions?

The Nikon 16-85 is better than the Oly 14-54. It is slower aperture wise but optically much better according to my experience. It is also considerably wider and longer in focal length. Yes, the few mm differences are noticeable at the wide end as well as the long end. I can't comment on the Canon 15-85, never touched that lens. Other alternatives to those lenses are plenty. It is a common range and there are many alternatives. From Nikon there is the 18-105 which is also excellent but not as good as the 16-85 and there are also 3rd party alternatives from Sigma and Tamron or even Tokina. Faster constant aperture zooms are also available, both 3rd party and Nikon, but the Nikon 17-55 is a bit heavy, old and expensive. Anyway, both Sigma and Tamron have cheaper ones if you want constant aperture f/2.8 alternatives.

BTW, have you considered the E-5? If not, why not? Jumping ship is expensive and may not give you what you are looking for and expecting. All of the above four points are much improved in the E-5 and is also better built than any of the alternatives you mentioned, but of course it depends also on what you already have. If you only have the E-620 and the 14-42 than it's different and not very complicated, but if you have several HG lenses and flash than jumping ship is more expensive than buying the E-5, especially if you are otherwise happy with Olympus.

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d3xmeister
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Re: Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
In reply to Teasa, Jul 8, 2011

I had the pleasure to use a Nikon D80 with the 16-85mm for a while. I also had the E-620 and right now I have the E-5 and the D5100.

Let me share my personal opinions:

I found the 16-85mm to be a very slow focuser, especialy for the price and category. Both tje E-620 and the E-5 will be faster in good light with either the 14-54mm or the 12-60mm. I think with the 12-60mm especially will be a huge difference.

In low-light probably the E-620 will be slower, but not by much with the 12-60mm, but the E-5 will still be much faster, this I tested.

Optically there is no contest, the 12-60mm is much better. I think that the price perfectly reflects reality, 2 times the price 2 times better. They are just in a different league.

14-54mm probably has the same optical performance as the 16-85mm. The Nikon is much more versatile. Yes the 14-54mm is faster but it needs to be to achive the same DOF and to compensate for the lack of ISO performance.

Switching from the E-620 to the D5100 I can honestly say that I saw no advantage to the VF. Yes if you look to compare it is bigger and brighter on the D5100, but for me was not enough to change the experience using them, and I think this is what matters. You are still looking trough a small tunnel. Now with the E-5 or the D7000, you can finally say wow.

If you need high ISO performance, there is no contest. Nikon is years ahead and in comparison Oly looks like a P&S once you hit ISO's above 1000. And I am talking about RAW here.

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Bluetrain048
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From an E620 jumper - consider other brand lenses too
In reply to Kaayman52, Jul 8, 2011

Kaayman52 wrote:

I am a happy E-620 user, however lately I found myself annoyed by some of its limitations:

Same here, and same annoyances.

So I am looking for alternatives in the other brands, such as the Canon 600D/60D, the Nikon 5100D/7000D or the Panasonic GH2.

If you're after pure image quality, then the D5100 or D7000 have the best sensors, by a mile. If you're after portability and video then the GH2 is the king, but after coming from a DSLR like the E620 you may find it very slow indeed. It takes a long time to do anything, from reviewing pictures to clearing the buffer. It frustrated me immensely.

I went for a D7000 although the size and weight now seriously bothers me. If the D7000 was the size of the D5100 with the same controls and build quality I would have found my perfect camera.

However the D7000 did solve every one of the above mentioned problems. AF is fast right down to near darkness. Viewfinder is very nice, noise is very low up to ISO 6400, and it also has nice things like a quiet mode.

Regarding the Nikon and Canon I am a bit concerned on the choice of affordable high-quality lenses.

Affordable and high quality are not Nikon's forte. That was Olympus.

The lack of a mid range affordable and fast DX Nikkor is one of the Nikon DX mount's major failings.

The sad thing is, and I will get flamed for this, is that you can put some consumer zoom on a newer Nikon body and potentally get results that are still generally better than on an Olympus body and high end zoom. Olympus are still somewhat crippled by their sensor.

If you have a D7000 (not a D5100) you can pick up a Tamron 17-50 f2.8. The original non stabilised version is rather brilliant and not expensive. It bests the 14-54 in almost every area except weather sealing, and manages to be lighter into the bargain.

As a short aside.. it was mentioned some time ago when the E1 + 14-54 first came out that the 14-54 was actually a tamron lens in an Oly body (much like the 70-300 is a sigma lens). So it may be that the 14-54 and 17-50 are not so distant relatives at all.

The Nikon 16-85 or the Canon 15-85 seem like obvious choices for a mid-range zoom, how do they compare to my 14-54? Any other suggestions?

The good thing about the 14-54 was it's even-ness. It had good to excellent image quality at any setting. When you move to Nikkors, you'll soon find how wide open you start to get corner softness and CA, and that barrel distortion is much higher than on most Zuikos. The good thing is that if you use RAW the last two things don't matter as a good raw converter will fix those silently.

The 16-85 is a bit sharper than the 14-54 but has more barrel distortion and CA and softer corners wide open. The sharpness will be emphasised by the fact that the 5100 and 7000 have weaker AA filters than the E620 so it will appear much, much sharper.

Also consider the 18-105 (the D7k kit lens). It's about the same size and weight as the 16-85 but much cheaper and with a potentially useful extra bit of reach. It's also a very good lens, especially for its price. Even though the 14-54 is technically a better lens I'm getting much better output from the D7k + 18-105 just because the technology has advanced so much.

D

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olyflyer
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It may be so that the Nikon 16-85 AF is slow...
In reply to d3xmeister, Jul 8, 2011

...on the D80, which is very old, but on the D300s it is as fast as the 14-54 was on the E-3. You are right about the aperture, the 16-85 gives the same DOF but at higher ISO, which is also OK since the Nikon has less noise. What is not mentioned in this thread is the CA, which is substantial in the 14-54, and as far as I remember, also in the 12-60, but not existing in the 16-85. Actually, also resolution wise, the 16-85 is as good as the 12-60. I don't think anyone could see any real difference in comparison images. The two lenses are about the same.

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olyflyer
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Re: From an E620 jumper - consider other brand lenses too
In reply to Bluetrain048, Jul 8, 2011

Bluetrain048 wrote:

The 16-85 is a bit sharper than the 14-54 but has more barrel distortion and CA and softer corners wide open.

Where did you get that from...? I mean the CA and the distortion? The 16-85 is KNOWN to have practically no CA at all, especially if you compare with anything Olympus has. Yes, distortion wise it is about the same as the 12-60 because the 14-54 is really magic, but CA wise, come on... Have you ever handled any of those lenses????

Also consider the 18-105 (the D7k kit lens). It's about the same size and weight as the 16-85 but much cheaper and with a potentially useful extra bit of reach.

Yes and no. It is cheaper because it is a lower build quality than the 16-85 and it has considerably more CA. Also, as far as I know it has plastic bayonet as opposed to the 16-85 and is not weather sealed. It also lacks the focus distance indicator window, if you ever use it is a nuisance. The extra focal length you get at the long end is one thing, but you also lose on the considerably more important wide end. The 2 lost mm are noticeable.

It's also a very good lens, especially for its price. Even though the 14-54 is technically a better lens I'm getting much better output from the D7k + 18-105 just because the technology has advanced so much.

Yes, it is a nice lens, but not sure it is better than the 14-54. More reach but less IQ.

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Stujoe
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Re: Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
In reply to Kaayman52, Jul 8, 2011

Kaayman52 wrote:

the Nikon 5100D/7000D

Haven't used the lenses you are asking about but if lens selection is what you are after, I would be looking at the D7000 over the D5100. The D7000 is the level where the camera has a built in focus motor for AF compatibility with more lenses. Also a better VF and AF system. Downside...bigger and more expensive, of course. D90 is another option with a built in AF motor. Although it is really the previous generation, it is easily available new.

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Kaayman52
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Re: Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
In reply to olyflyer, Jul 8, 2011

Thanks for your reply! Unfortunately, the E-5 is way over my budget, I found the video still a bit so-so and I am afraid for the weight. But indeed what I have seen and heard it is a photography beast.

I have a 14-54, 50-200 II and 50zd2. I did not invest my complete fortune in Zuiko lenses, but I am afraid I will miss them a lot. It is a difficult tradeoff.

Perhaps I should just get a Pen EP-3 with the EVF2 and new m4/3 lenses. This allows me to still mount my good old glass, while resolving a lot of the limitations mentioned.

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AntnioGM
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Re: Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
In reply to Kaayman52, Jul 8, 2011

Well Kaayman, you ask a question that is quite difficult to answer.

I have both the 14-54 and the 16-85. No experience with the Canon.

I do not agree when people say that the 16-85 has a slow focus. Not at all. At least, not with my D300. I do consider it a fine lens, with fast focus, sharp, and with a reasonable weather seal. As for distortion, I do think that it is a very good lens, with very little distortion. As for CA, I think that it's not bad. In a general way, I find this lens perfect for almost everything, bar long reach. It is perfect coupled to my fast D300.

The 14-54, is faster than the Nikon, and as far as I'm concerned, it focuses very fast. Mine, so far works perfectly. I think that the main limitations of the Zuiko are much more dependent on the camera. I tend to think that the Zuiko is perhaps my best everyday lens. I find it very sharp, very good weather seal, and, please do forgive my opinion, with a very low distortion and almost no CA.

Of course, one has to take in account that the Nikon is a more recent design, so it probably is a better performer.

But, in the end, what really matters is what system will you choose. So, first of all, decide where to invest, and after that, choose your lenses. Not the other way, because in that case, you may start buying Leica.

António GM
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illy
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Re: Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
In reply to Kaayman52, Jul 8, 2011

i use an old Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-S DX i bought off ebay for £70, pretty sharp pretty fast and cheap, works for me might be worth looking at some of the Sigmas and Tamrons, they do some nice lenses too
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olyflyer
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Re: Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
In reply to Kaayman52, Jul 8, 2011

Kaayman52 wrote:

Thanks for your reply! Unfortunately, the E-5 is way over my budget, I found the video still a bit so-so and I am afraid for the weight. But indeed what I have seen and heard it is a photography beast.

I have a 14-54, 50-200 II and 50zd2. I did not invest my complete fortune in Zuiko lenses, but I am afraid I will miss them a lot. It is a difficult tradeoff.

Perhaps I should just get a Pen EP-3 with the EVF2 and new m4/3 lenses. This allows me to still mount my good old glass, while resolving a lot of the limitations mentioned.

You have the lenses I had. Considering the cost of replacing those, the E-5 is going to be cheaper than the D7000 and with the D7000 you won't get the swivel screen. Yes, it has better video and many other things, but unless you are really convinced you want to jump ship I still think the E-5 is a cheaper solution. Waiting for a price drop on the E-5 is also an alternative unless you are really convinced about the move away from Oly, which can not be the case if you consider the EP-3. Remember that the EP-3 alternative is also expensive, especially if you are going to get all the new lenses as well. You must also remember that there are no MFT alternatives to your lenses, so you have to keep what you have or get the worse MFT quality.

Not an easy decision. Good luck.

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Kaayman52
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Thanks all for your feedback
In reply to olyflyer, Jul 8, 2011

Thanks for all your feedback, helpful and much appreciated!

Again I realize there is no such thing as the holy grail.
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toyak
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Re: Olympus 14-54 or 12-60 versus Nikon 16-85 and Canon 15-85?
In reply to AntnioGM, Jul 15, 2011

I can not comment on the lens part of the equation but I have an E-620 (25mm pancake, 14-54mm and 50-200mm lenses) and received a canon T2i (50mm 1.8, cheap sigma telephoto ?-300mm and a tamron 2?-70mm lenses) as a gift. I have tried to switch to the canon because it is certainly a better camera body on paper but I find the ergonomics and the amount of control over settings on the E-620 to be noticeably better for me then the canon, enough so that I almost always choose to take the the olympus with me instead of the canon. The one time this is not true is if I know I need a high ISO (greater then 1000 consistently) then the choice becomes the canon because the canon has significantly less noise

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Timmi
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Try the 12-60 first
In reply to Kaayman52, Jul 15, 2011

I know the Nikkor and the 17-55 one and a few more, but not the canon.

The 14-54 was a great lens in its days but he 12-60 is miles ahead (ok some my argue with about slight distortion at 12mm but first its gone at 14 and second 99.9 of the time I does not bother me as most won't notice).

And of course even along distance ahead of the "other" ones you mentioned.

Timi

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d3xmeister
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Re: It may be so that the Nikon 16-85 AF is slow...
In reply to olyflyer, Jul 15, 2011

olyflyer wrote:

Actually, also resolution wise, the 16-85 is as good as the 12-60. I don't think anyone could see any real difference in comparison images.

I could. Even on the unsharp E-620 I found the 12-60mm superior, especially regarding corner to corner sharpness. And focus wise, don't get me started. To me, the 16-85mm just felt like a better built kit lens with slightly better optical performance, just like the 14-54mm feels on Olympus.

AntnioGM wrote:

I do not agree when people say that the 16-85 has a slow focus. Not at all. At least, not with my D300.

You may not agree, but on the D80 I found this lens not slow, but very slow. Do a search on youtube and you will see that even on a D300 this lens is much slower than even the 18-70mm kit lens. Just search, you will find not one, but many, many short movies with the 16-85mm slow focussing speed.

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