Should I get the Oly 45mm?

Started Jul 3, 2012 | Discussions
camrnw
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Should I get the Oly 45mm?
Jul 3, 2012

Hi Folks,

I currently have a Pentax SMC 50mm f1.4 which I've adapted to my OM-D, but have been considering getting the Oly 45mm recently. Simple question for you all: is it worth it to spend $400 on the Oly lens?

Manual focus isn't a concern of mine. However, I would like to get better image quality IF the older lens isn't ideal for m4/3, but I don't feel like I know enough about the differences to properly answer that question for myself.

What do you think?

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papillon_65
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Simple answer...
In reply to camrnw, Jul 3, 2012

If you can afford it then it's a no-brainer, if not, then stick with what you have. It's one of the reasons to own an m4/3's camera.
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farrukh
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Re: Should I get the Oly 45mm?
In reply to camrnw, Jul 3, 2012

It sits permanently on my EP3 - don't hesitate!

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forpetessake
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Re: Should I get the Oly 45mm?
In reply to camrnw, Jul 3, 2012

Makes no sense, though I don't have this Pentax, the other 50mm legacy glass I tested is as good or better than newer mass produced lenses. Legacy 50mm lenses are very hard to beat, that was the most popular FL on 35mm format and was perfected through the years. The Canon/Konica/Minolta lenses I tested clearly outresolved the 16MP sensor starting from F2.8-4, and did very well full open. Spend money of something that makes more sense.

camrnw wrote:

Hi Folks,

I currently have a Pentax SMC 50mm f1.4 which I've adapted to my OM-D, but have been considering getting the Oly 45mm recently. Simple question for you all: is it worth it to spend $400 on the Oly lens?

Manual focus isn't a concern of mine. However, I would like to get better image quality IF the older lens isn't ideal for m4/3, but I don't feel like I know enough about the differences to properly answer that question for myself.

What do you think?

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baxters
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Re: Should I get the Oly 45mm?
In reply to forpetessake, Jul 3, 2012

For outdoor use, where you might be at f8 or less, there's no difference between an Olympus 45mm and any number of 50mm f1.8's. Take them both someplace where you need to be shooting wide open at f1.8, then the Olympus nails focus, has great color, and is sharp. Your Pentax SMC f1.4 may be stellar and also do the same. If so, you don't need the Oly 45mm.

I have the FD 50 f1.8, AR 50 f1.8, and OM 50 f1.8. They cannot match the Oly 45 in the above conditions. So I am glad I bought the 45mm. For me, it was a $328 ebay bargain.

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Ben C Davis
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no . . .
In reply to camrnw, Jul 3, 2012

One can buy a Lot of Beer for what it cost.

8)

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napilopez
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If you have the money, yes.
In reply to camrnw, Jul 3, 2012

I researched the Takamur 50mm f1.4 when I was first buying adapted lenses, but settled on a Canon FD of the same numbers instead. For a long time I thought "well, the focal length is similar and my FD is faster", so why should I spend so much money on a newer lens?

For me, the issue is image quality reliability and consistency. I actually prefer manual focus in many instances, yet the output from my 45mm is simply better at f1.8 than my canon is until about f2.8 or later. It's not really only pixel peeping thing either, it's more about micro-contrast, softness, corner sharpness, etc. For example, on my canon shooting at F2, I might get good sharpness for the areas perfectly in focus, but those lying on the edges of the DOF will have a lot of soft fringing or a soft purple glow you can't really correct in lightroom.

Also, the bokeh on the pentax is pretty harsh imo. Much smoother on the 45.

In short, the 45 is technically better in many ways, and you will be shooting noticeably sharper images wide open. Ultimately whether the cost matters or not will be up to you. I definitely didn't have 400 dollars to spend when I bought my 45mm, but I rarely go back to my 50mm unless I'm looking for it's "character", or shooting in the dark.

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mh2000
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Re: Should I get the Oly 45mm?
In reply to camrnw, Jul 3, 2012

Size alone makes it worth it to me.

I own a much smaller LTM C/V 50 which is supperb optically and mates much better to a m43 than your adapted Pentax and I still found it worth it, even though my C/V 50 was not really optically inferior.

As was already stated, the Oly 45 is one of the reasons to buy into the m43 system... the lens is really spectacular!

I guess if you are on a strict budget and you don't think that the 45-50mm FL is that important I'd put the money somewhere else like the P20 or PL25 for fast and normal or O12, P14 or O17 if I needed wider.

FWIW, my Oly 17 is my most used lens since the FL is so perfect for what I shoot, but love the Oly 45... one of the best lenses I've ever shot in my 30+ years of photographing.

camrnw wrote:

Hi Folks,

I currently have a Pentax SMC 50mm f1.4 which I've adapted to my OM-D, but have been considering getting the Oly 45mm recently. Simple question for you all: is it worth it to spend $400 on the Oly lens?

Manual focus isn't a concern of mine. However, I would like to get better image quality IF the older lens isn't ideal for m4/3, but I don't feel like I know enough about the differences to properly answer that question for myself.

What do you think?

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kenw
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Re: Should I get the Oly 45mm?
In reply to forpetessake, Jul 3, 2012

What you write is only true beyond about F/2.8. It might be true at F/2 for legacy lenses that cost more than the 45/1.8 at which point you'd be better off with the 45 anyway.

All the legacy lenses that offer any cost savings over the 45 suffer from pretty nasty spherical aberration at 1.8 and often poor longitudinal CA as well. All of them have lower resolution (perhaps just a pixel peeper problem) and reduced contrast and microcontrast (visible even in web resolutions). Any legacy lens that doesn't suffer such problems at 1.8 costs over $400.

To the OP on the IQ side it comes down to what aperture you shoot at. If you do low light or shallow DoF the 45 is markedly better wide open. It is in fact better than most modern 50s in the same price range as well. If you shoot more around 2.8 or smaller the difference is pretty minor.

Finally, I know you said MF is fine but AF does make it easier to use and auto MF zoom does as well. the size and weight compared to legacy is significant as well.

It is definitely a great lens for the price. Still, your legacy might serve your needs just fine.

forpetessake wrote:

Makes no sense, though I don't have this Pentax, the other 50mm legacy glass I tested is as good or better than newer mass produced lenses. Legacy 50mm lenses are very hard to beat, that was the most popular FL on 35mm format and was perfected through the years. The Canon/Konica/Minolta lenses I tested clearly outresolved the 16MP sensor starting from F2.8-4, and did very well full open. Spend money of something that makes more sense.

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papillon_65
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Not a bleedin' chance
In reply to forpetessake, Jul 3, 2012

forpetessake wrote:

Makes no sense, though I don't have this Pentax, the other 50mm legacy glass I tested is as good or better than newer mass produced lenses. Legacy 50mm lenses are very hard to beat, that was the most popular FL on 35mm format and was perfected through the years. The Canon/Konica/Minolta lenses I tested clearly outresolved the 16MP sensor starting from F2.8-4, and did very well full open. Spend money of something that makes more sense.

There is nothing short of a very expensive legacy lens that will come even close in performance to this lens at F1.8 on an m4/3's camera. Cheaper legacy lenses are softer wide open and suffer from blooming and CA, the 45mm F1.8 beats them all easily.

camrnw wrote:

Hi Folks,

I currently have a Pentax SMC 50mm f1.4 which I've adapted to my OM-D, but have been considering getting the Oly 45mm recently. Simple question for you all: is it worth it to spend $400 on the Oly lens?

Manual focus isn't a concern of mine. However, I would like to get better image quality IF the older lens isn't ideal for m4/3, but I don't feel like I know enough about the differences to properly answer that question for myself.

What do you think?

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ericN2
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Re: no . . .
In reply to Ben C Davis, Jul 3, 2012

Ben C Davis wrote:

One can buy a Lot of Beer for what it cost.

8)

At £230 (SRS in UK) it's not THAT expensive.. and I've seen lots of really good legacy lenses on Ebay at a LOT higher price... if they're cheaper.. it's likely they are just not as good by a long way...

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eric
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Art_P
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Well, if you like manual focus
In reply to camrnw, Jul 3, 2012

And your current lens is sharp enough, then there may be no need to get the 45mm

I have the OMZ 50/1.8. Nice little lens, but by the time you add the adapter, it's not so small any more. Hardly use it as the 45 will AF nicely in low light, seems sharper wide open, and it fits nicely in the pocket. And of course it provides proper EXIF info.

I picked up the 45mm for my E-M5, as one of two primes that complement my 12-50mm

I use it mostly for night shooting around town, or indoors, or when I just don't want to take the larger lens. (not that the kit lens is that much bigger)

My other prime is the Panny 14/2.5- smallest lens available for m43, and quite inexpensive.

Did I need it? No, but one of the reasons I moved to micro was to have access to a couple small primes (almost didn't get the 12-50, but now wouldn't part w that lens)

So, do you want a low light lens or somewhat shallow DoF w/o having to manually focus all the time, then certainly get the 45mm if you've got the cash. I wouldn't go into dept for it... unless perhaps I was making a living off my photos.
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forpetessake
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Keep dreaming
In reply to papillon_65, Jul 3, 2012

Interesting, maybe you can point to testing results you have done that support those outrageous conclusions? What? No? I thought so.

papillon_65 wrote:

forpetessake wrote:

Makes no sense, though I don't have this Pentax, the other 50mm legacy glass I tested is as good or better than newer mass produced lenses. Legacy 50mm lenses are very hard to beat, that was the most popular FL on 35mm format and was perfected through the years. The Canon/Konica/Minolta lenses I tested clearly outresolved the 16MP sensor starting from F2.8-4, and did very well full open. Spend money of something that makes more sense.

There is nothing short of a very expensive legacy lens that will come even close in performance to this lens at F1.8 on an m4/3's camera. Cheaper legacy lenses are softer wide open and suffer from blooming and CA, the 45mm F1.8 beats them all easily.

camrnw wrote:

Hi Folks,

I currently have a Pentax SMC 50mm f1.4 which I've adapted to my OM-D, but have been considering getting the Oly 45mm recently. Simple question for you all: is it worth it to spend $400 on the Oly lens?

Manual focus isn't a concern of mine. However, I would like to get better image quality IF the older lens isn't ideal for m4/3, but I don't feel like I know enough about the differences to properly answer that question for myself.

What do you think?

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MrScorpio
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Olympus 45/1.8 review "el Microscopico"
In reply to camrnw, Jul 3, 2012

Small Light
Cheap Fast AF

Gives fairly good dof (not like Canons L-85/1.2, which is an unfair comparison, but anyway). Very good IQ
Solid build quality and feel

No hood included, which is a robbery to buy separately. Idiotic price for a piece of plastic!

I would rate the lens 4 out of 5.

The Panasonic Leica 4.5 out of 5, for slightly better IQ, wider aperture and more solid build.

BR

Marcus

camrnw wrote:

Hi Folks,

I currently have a Pentax SMC 50mm f1.4 which I've adapted to my OM-D, but have been considering getting the Oly 45mm recently. Simple question for you all: is it worth it to spend $400 on the Oly lens?

Manual focus isn't a concern of mine. However, I would like to get better image quality IF the older lens isn't ideal for m4/3, but I don't feel like I know enough about the differences to properly answer that question for myself.

What do you think?

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forpetessake
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Re: Should I get the Oly 45mm?
In reply to kenw, Jul 3, 2012

Right, and where did you get all that from? Can you provide specifics? Lenses? Prices? Measurements? -- I think not.

Based on my measurements, what you wrote is a complete BS. I will finish testing and publish the results, I'm waiting for a few more lenses to arrive. And no, I didn't pay more than $200 for any of the manual lenses.

kenw wrote:

What you write is only true beyond about F/2.8. It might be true at F/2 for legacy lenses that cost more than the 45/1.8 at which point you'd be better off with the 45 anyway.

All the legacy lenses that offer any cost savings over the 45 suffer from pretty nasty spherical aberration at 1.8 and often poor longitudinal CA as well. All of them have lower resolution (perhaps just a pixel peeper problem) and reduced contrast and microcontrast (visible even in web resolutions). Any legacy lens that doesn't suffer such problems at 1.8 costs over $400.

To the OP on the IQ side it comes down to what aperture you shoot at. If you do low light or shallow DoF the 45 is markedly better wide open. It is in fact better than most modern 50s in the same price range as well. If you shoot more around 2.8 or smaller the difference is pretty minor.

Finally, I know you said MF is fine but AF does make it easier to use and auto MF zoom does as well. the size and weight compared to legacy is significant as well.

It is definitely a great lens for the price. Still, your legacy might serve your needs just fine.

forpetessake wrote:

Makes no sense, though I don't have this Pentax, the other 50mm legacy glass I tested is as good or better than newer mass produced lenses. Legacy 50mm lenses are very hard to beat, that was the most popular FL on 35mm format and was perfected through the years. The Canon/Konica/Minolta lenses I tested clearly outresolved the 16MP sensor starting from F2.8-4, and did very well full open. Spend money of something that makes more sense.

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Chez Wimpy
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Re: Keep dreaming
In reply to forpetessake, Jul 3, 2012

forpetessake wrote:

Interesting, maybe you can point to testing results you have done that support those outrageous conclusions? What? No? I thought so.

I only have the EF Canon 50/1.8 (and a no-name-brand all-manual k-mount 50/2) to go by, but the 45/1.8 is in another universe at wider apertures. Bokeh, long-CA, and micro-contrast the biggest differences.

Perhaps some other consumer brands got their 70's-80's materials science down pat and applied a portrait lens level of dedication to clean OOF areas... perhaps.

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jalywol
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Re: Should I get the Oly 45mm?
In reply to forpetessake, Jul 4, 2012

forpetessake wrote:

Right, and where did you get all that from? Can you provide specifics? Lenses? Prices? Measurements? -- I think not.

Based on my measurements, what you wrote is a complete BS. I will finish testing and publish the results, I'm waiting for a few more lenses to arrive. And no, I didn't pay more than $200 for any of the manual lenses.

I have the Konica 40mm f 1.8 AR, the Yashica ML 50mm f1.7., the Pentax 50mm f2.2, and had a Nikon 50mm f1.8 D and the Konica 50mm f1.7 AR. I can't dig up my comparison photos right now, but I did a whole set of them when I was trying out lenses, and the simple fact of it is that legacy lenses are just not ok wide open on digital sensors. The Nikon 50mm f1.8 was fine, but the D series is not "legacy" (and I never cared for the lens in the first place even when I used it on Nikon bodies, personally, but that's not the issue here).

Test results of my particular lenses:

Konica 50mm f1.7 : Lots and lots of CA and haze/halation at 1.7, some improvement by 2.8. Really good at f4 and up.

Konica 40mm f1.8. More pronounced blue haze/halation around highlights than the 50mm, but it goes away a bit sooner (ok at f2.8, very good at f4)

Pentax 50mm f2.2 Have had this lens for 30 years. It was a dog then, it is a dog now. Poor sharpness, lots of distortion, CA, you name it. I only keep it because it was part of the original kit with my MX, which I still have.

Yashica 50mm f 1.7. Fabulous lens. Terrific microcontrast, amazingly sharp....but not so great at f 1.7. It's usuable if it is not in a high contrast situation, and stopped down even a half stop it's just fine. This lens is the only one of the bunch that gives the Oly any kind of run for its money at all.

Now, compared to all of these legacy lenses, the Oly 45mm f1.8 wide open blows them all away. No fuzz, no blur, no haze, no halation, no nasty CA, nothing. It is just sharp and lovely. It focuses fast and is really a gem of a lens.

Now, that being said: I am considering selling mine and just using the Yashica 50mm instead. Why? Well, it turns out that this is a focal length that I use so rarely that I would be just fine with the legacy lens for it. Now, if Oly or Panasonic came out with a 35mm f1.8 that had a relatively short minimum focus distance, I would be all over that like white on rice.....

And, for the OP: The moral of the story is: If the 45mm focal length is one you use frequently, it is a total no brainer to get the 45mm Oly lens. Yes it is that good. If it is an infrequent use lens and you have a good legacy lens that you enjoy, then maybe you don't need to spend the money......

-J

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sigala1
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The auto-focus advantage
In reply to camrnw, Jul 4, 2012

camrnw wrote:

Manual focus isn't a concern of mine.

The AF on the OM-D has a lot of useful tricks, like face-detection, and the touchscreen which allows you to touch where you want the camera to focus and shoot.

This better allows you to capture the decisive moment, put your subject off-center but still instantly focus on the subject and shoot, and just not getting your subjects irritated while they wait for you to manual focus.

If you have the money, and you take a lot of portraits, then it seems like a no-brainer.

If you don't have the money, or don't shoot a lot of portraits, then maybe you can stick with what you have.

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assaft
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Re: Should I get the Oly 45mm?
In reply to forpetessake, Jul 4, 2012

Do you have any sort of direct comparison of the Olympus 45/1.8 and other 45-55mm MF lenses?

FWIW, I tested some Yashica lenses (50/1.7, 50/2), Konica (50/1.7) and Minolta (50/2) and found them quite hard to use wide open. The halation and low contrast were evident and rendered the lenses quite unusable at wide apertures or thereabout (unless some special DoF is desired). I have samples of the widest usable aperture of each lens in this album, and one stop ((or half stop) before that:

The best one in this comparison was the Yashica 50/1.7, which becomes usable in my assessment when it is stopped down to f2.2.

I purchased the Olympus 45/1.8 just two months ago and found it extremely good even wide open. Unfortunately I don't have the testing setup ready and it's time consuming to repeat the test, but IMHO if we are talking about apertures in the range of f1.8-f2.8 the 45/1.8 will do much better. For example, a sharp image as this I couldn't get at f1.8 from any of my MF lenses:

(jpeg out-of-camera with default settings (sharpness 0, contrast 0, etc.))

MF lenses are usually cheap and great, but as far as I know, at wide apertures, their output suffers from the smaller u4/3 sensor. Maybe on NEX they do better. There are several comparisons on the web, for example (notice both center and corner performance):
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1042&message=37698057

However, such things are also subject to copy variation. There are examples like this, for instance:
http://forum.mflenses.com/viewtopic.php?t=23896
(but note that it was sharpened in PP and downsized)

Another comparison here:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=39156089

The f1.2 lenses (not necessarily those participated in the comparisons above) are probably the ones that can compete with the Olympus 45/1.8 at f1.8 but they are quite expensive and hard to find. The Contax 45/2 is also very good but expensive and as far as I know it is not as good as the Olympus 45/1.8 at wide apertures.

To sum up, at wide apertures (f1.8-f2.x) on the u4/3 sensor I would be surprised if the Olympus 45/1.8 can be challenged by a legacy MF lens at a cheaper price. Above f2.8 the legacy lenses are doing much better and (some of them) become comparable in terms of IQ.

But again, if you have a direct comparison that would be very useful.

To the OP - if you have the money and need wide apertures, get the 45/1.8 and enjoy great performance and fast AF. If you don't, look at comparison charts of legacy lenses and try some.

forpetessake wrote:

Makes no sense, though I don't have this Pentax, the other 50mm legacy glass I tested is as good or better than newer mass produced lenses. Legacy 50mm lenses are very hard to beat, that was the most popular FL on 35mm format and was perfected through the years. The Canon/Konica/Minolta lenses I tested clearly outresolved the 16MP sensor starting from F2.8-4, and did very well full open. Spend money of something that makes more sense.

camrnw wrote:

Hi Folks,

I currently have a Pentax SMC 50mm f1.4 which I've adapted to my OM-D, but have been considering getting the Oly 45mm recently. Simple question for you all: is it worth it to spend $400 on the Oly lens?

Manual focus isn't a concern of mine. However, I would like to get better image quality IF the older lens isn't ideal for m4/3, but I don't feel like I know enough about the differences to properly answer that question for myself.

What do you think?

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jalywol
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Interesting, your results agree with mine!
In reply to assaft, Jul 4, 2012

I posted a similar thread above, but without the comparison photos (can't for the life of me figure out what file they are in, or if I deleted them in a disc cleaning fervor a few months ago ).

My results matched yours, except I think my Hexanon copy was a bit worse (it did not sharpen up well til f4) . My Yashica also does ok from f2.2 up, and in lower contrast situations it is even useable wide open, although far from as good as the Oly wide open.

Have you ever tried the Yashica ML 50mm f 1.4? I am actually most curious about that lens, since it is supposed to be even better than the 1.7 which I really love....

Just curious....

-J

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