Help evaluate my oly 12mm f2

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markymark101
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Help evaluate my oly 12mm f2
7 months ago

I've never been totally happy my Oly 12mm. I'll fully admit I'm not a professional and probably my pics are best described as amateur snapshots, but I keep thinking there's something not quite right with this lens.

I hike and take a lot of landscapes. In my DSLR days I would normally shoot f8 which allowed plenty of DOF. I figure with m43, f5.6 should have plenty of DOF for the entire image to be sharp. But with the 12mm, I see more softness than I'd expect with such a premium lens. I also have the 9-18mm, and at f5.6 the DOF is deeper and the image is sharper corner to corner than the 12mm.

I really want to like this lens. I like the color, and the images have good pop. The lens is super sharp in the center and when shooting street and targets at less than infinity, the lens performs well. It's landscapes where I'm not seeing what I expect.

Looking through my images, most landscapes were shot a f5.6, but I stumbled across a couple at f8, that are much better. I guess my questions: is my lens defective; is F8 the optimal setting for what I'm shooting; is there user error; or should I quit pixel peeping.

Okay, I know the below is not a scientific test of shooting the same image on a tripod in controlled lighting, The first three images were shot at 5.6 or 6.3; not bad until you start looking at the corners. The last two images are at f8, and the result is more of what I'd expect to see.

All images were shot raw and process in LR. All were sharpened using: Amount 60; Radius 0.8; Detail 40; Masking 50.

When the lens was still under warranty, I had it shipped back to Olympus for evaluation, and they said the lens was within specifications.

Okay, I'll stand back and await the abuse

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X_Holger
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Re: Help evaluate my oly 12mm f2
In reply to markymark101, 7 months ago

Sharpness in the corners seems to be too low.

I have used the Oly 12mm for some time now and I haven't had any landscape shots at F5.6 or 6.3 with similar problems near the edges.

Maybe you have a sub par sample, that is not terrible but just not as sharp as could be expected.

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gsergei
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with DPR's compression it's difficult to evaluate
In reply to markymark101, 7 months ago

I could help you compare your lens to mine if uncompressed photos were available.

Some time earlier today I posted my photo here done with Olympus 75/1.8 and because of the down-sampling it looks unimpressive at best. The originals are simply terrific.

Your photos look good to me. Good composition and colors.

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markymark101
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Re: with DPR's compression it's difficult to evaluate
In reply to gsergei, 7 months ago

gsergei wrote:

I could help you compare your lens to mine if uncompressed photos were available.

Some time earlier today I posted my photo here done with Olympus 75/1.8 and because of the down-sampling it looks unimpressive at best. The originals are simply terrific.

Your photos look good to me. Good composition and colors.

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Sergei,
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www.alberta-photo.com

I agree, the photos look considerably different off my local machine then from the DPReview gallery.

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markymark101
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Re: Help evaluate my oly 12mm f2
In reply to X_Holger, 7 months ago

X_Holger wrote:

Sharpness in the corners seems to be too low.

I have used the Oly 12mm for some time now and I haven't had any landscape shots at F5.6 or 6.3 with similar problems near the edges.

Maybe you have a sub par sample, that is not terrible but just not as sharp as could be expected.

Thanks for the reply, that's what I'm seeing as well.  If I'm shooting street scenes with the subject a few feet away, I'm much happier with the result.  It's landscapes where something seems not quite right.  My 9-18mm is sharper corner to corner at f5.6,  but it doesn't quite have that subjective pop that the 12mm has.

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eques
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Re: Help evaluate my oly 12mm f2
In reply to markymark101, 7 months ago

markymark101 wrote:

I've never been totally happy my Oly 12mm. I'll fully admit I'm not a professional and probably my pics are best described as amateur snapshots, but I keep thinking there's something not quite right with this lens.

I hike and take a lot of landscapes. In my DSLR days I would normally shoot f8 which allowed plenty of DOF. I figure with m43, f5.6 should have plenty of DOF for the entire image to be sharp. But with the 12mm, I see more softness than I'd expect with such a premium lens. I also have the 9-18mm, and at f5.6 the DOF is deeper and the image is sharper corner to corner than the 12mm.

I really want to like this lens. I like the color, and the images have good pop. The lens is super sharp in the center and when shooting street and targets at less than infinity, the lens performs well. It's landscapes where I'm not seeing what I expect.

Looking through my images, most landscapes were shot a f5.6, but I stumbled across a couple at f8, that are much better. I guess my questions: is my lens defective; is F8 the optimal setting for what I'm shooting; is there user error; or should I quit pixel peeping.

All images were shot raw and process in LR. All were sharpened using: Amount 60; Radius 0.8; Detail 40; Masking 50.

Judging from the pictures, I think there are some artefacts - the shilouette of the mountain and small leaves in the centre.

I compared these two - F5,6 vs F8.

Though it is difficult to assess it with these downsampled pictures, the centre is nice and sharp, but the left side looks less sharp even than the right side.

Perhaps there is some decentering defect, but there also is a normal rather pronounced difference between centre and border in this lens. See here:

http://www.lenstip.com/310.4-Lens_review-Olympus_M.Zuiko_Digital_12_mm_f_2.0_ED_Image_resolution.html

This difference is rather pronounced in the leafes. But if you don't view it at 100%, the image appears to be quite sharp.

I don't see much difference between F8 and F5,6, but if you do, coud it be that the focus was on the centre and the much nearer borders are just a little out of focus? This would show more at F5,6 and might be the case in the first of the above pictures. "DOF" is just the depth of field with "acceptable" blurring.

BTW, where did you take this pictures?

Peter

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Paul De Bra
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Not ideal evaluation shots.
In reply to markymark101, 7 months ago

Take a flat surface, like a brick wall or office building, head on so the distance to all four corners is the same. Take a picture at f/2, turn the camera upside down and take another picture at f/2. (You may wish to repeat this with smaller aperture, but f/2 is most important here.)

Compare both pictures on the computer (after rotating the second). They should be equally sharp or soft in all corresponding areas of the image. If they are then your lens is fine. If they are not then your lens has a decentering issue and the two images are evidence to supply to Olympus to get the lens repaired.

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X_Holger
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Re: Help evaluate my oly 12mm f2
In reply to eques, 7 months ago

If you have a look at the sample shots in the test at lenstip.com

e.g. here: http://pliki.optyczne.pl/oly12/oly12_fot09.JPG

you can see that the edges (green gras) are sharp from corner to corner.

In the resolution charts even the corners are way above the decency level at F2.8 to F8.

I have the same impression when I look at the landscapes shots I took with the lens.

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markymark101
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Re: Help evaluate my oly 12mm f2
In reply to eques, 7 months ago

eques wrote:

I compared these two - F5,6 vs F8.

Though it is difficult to assess it with these downsampled pictures, the centre is nice and sharp, but the left side looks less sharp even than the right side.

Perhaps there is some decentering defect, but there also is a normal rather pronounced difference between centre and border in this lens. See here:

http://www.lenstip.com/310.4-Lens_review-Olympus_M.Zuiko_Digital_12_mm_f_2.0_ED_Image_resolution.html

This difference is rather pronounced in the leafes. But if you don't view it at 100%, the image appears to be quite sharp.

I don't see much difference between F8 and F5,6, but if you do, coud it be that the focus was on the centre and the much nearer borders are just a little out of focus? This would show more at F5,6 and might be the case in the first of the above pictures. "DOF" is just the depth of field with "acceptable" blurring.

BTW, where did you take this pictures?

Peter

Thanks for the reply. These were all taken at Zion National Park in Utah, USA.

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eques
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Re: Help evaluate my oly 12mm f2
In reply to X_Holger, 7 months ago

X_Holger wrote:

If you have a look at the sample shots in the test at lenstip.com

e.g. here: http://pliki.optyczne.pl/oly12/oly12_fot09.JPG

you can see that the edges (green gras) are sharp from corner to corner.

In the resolution charts even the corners are way above the decency level at F2.8 to F8.

I have the same impression when I look at the landscapes shots I took with the lens.

I checked the sample shot and think there is less resolution on the right border and the right corners. But the trees on the right border probably are out of focus.
Still, a very sharp lens!

Peter.

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Anders W
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Re: Help evaluate my oly 12mm f2
In reply to markymark101, 7 months ago

You should do the test Paul suggests. When you do, remember to switch to MF before you start shooting and be careful not to touch the focus ring when you turn the camera upside down for the second shot. It's important that the focus remains identical for the two shots.

But based on the evidence you already posted, I agree with eques that the left side looks a bit worse than the right (perhaps especially the upper left, but that may be because the objects in that part of the frame are more distant so that the ideal focus distance differs).

I've had similar problems with the 12. I tried three copies and all were a bit weaker in one or other part of the frame (not the same part on all three copies). I ended up keeping the third copy and solved the problem by shimming the lens slightly at the mount by means of aluminum tape. It's pretty much OK now.

Note that this lens has a bit of field curvature, which isn't unusual with WAs. When shooting landscapes or distant targets, I therefore prefer to set focus at a point about midway between center and the left or right edge. In essence, this mean that the lens will backfocus slightly in the center and front-focus slightly at the corners (but less so than would otherwise be the case). The loss in the center (where the lens is very good) is hardly visible but the edges/corners improve noticeably.

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markymark101
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Re: Help evaluate my oly 12mm f2
In reply to Anders W, 7 months ago

Anders W wrote:

You should do the test Paul suggests. When you do, remember to switch to MF before you start shooting and be careful not to touch the focus ring when you turn the camera upside down for the second shot. It's important that the focus remains identical for the two shots.

But based on the evidence you already posted, I agree with eques that the left side looks a bit worse than the right (perhaps especially the upper left, but that may be because the objects in that part of the frame are more distant so that the ideal focus distance differs).

I've had similar problems with the 12. I tried three copies and all were a bit weaker in one or other part of the frame (not the same part on all three copies). I ended up keeping the third copy and solved the problem by shimming the lens slightly at the mount by means of aluminum tape. It's pretty much OK now.

Note that this lens has a bit of field curvature, which isn't unusual with WAs. When shooting landscapes or distant targets, I therefore prefer to set focus at a point about midway between center and the left or right edge. In essence, this mean that the lens will backfocus slightly in the center and front-focus slightly at the corners (but less so than would otherwise be the case). The loss in the center (where the lens is very good) is hardly visible but the edges/corners improve noticeably.

Thanks everyone who has responded. I'll give the test a try.

I agree the left side is generally softer than the right; that's something I've noticed fairly consistently.  Interesting approach to set the focus point off center. I'll give that a try next time I'm out.

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