A Pro's opinion of EVF vs OVF

Started May 30, 2013 | Discussions thread
chlamchowder Senior Member • Posts: 2,083
Re: Why the writing's not on the wall (and the new link)

I did not mean adapted lenses. What I meant was that mirrorless lenses give more option for manufacturer to design native (wide) lenses. Mirrorless cameras can use proper wide angle lenses which can be designed as simpler, easier, smaller and can be better what the SLR have to use. Note the words "can use", and "can be designed", not they always are. Will they be designed this way is a different discussion, film didn't care what lenses you used, but sensors do and this complicates things. But, as I said, mirrorless simply gives more options for lens designers. A lot of the things you hear cited as mirrorless advantages over SLRs are really not, but this is the one thing that is (and amusingly, a lot of mirroless fans don't even know it).

I see.

That's definitely a theoretical advantage. But now, I think it's mitigated by several factors:

  • The availability of some extremely high quality wide lenses for SLRs using the retrofocus design (think Nikon 14-24, or Tokina 16-28)
  • Corner problems on digital sensors, which means very heavy reliance on software processing to remove color shifts. The Leica M cameras had modified microlenses, and even they suffered from color shifts.
  • It's possible to make very small wide angle lenses for SLRs. The Pentax 15mm f/4 is a good example.
  • The Pentax 15/4 is also an example of why making a small, high quality non-retrofocus wide angle really just targets a niche market. It's lighter and smaller, but has a similar price as the Tokina 11-16/2.8, which is faster, offers a zoom range, and still has excellent optics.

You can look to Zeiss as an example, they make both lenses for SLRs (Nikon F, Canon EF mount) and mirrorless (Leica M mount). Take the 21mm lens, 21mm for SLRs is a 16-element lens, and much bigger than the 9-element 21mm for mirrorless. In this case, mirrorless lens is not better of cheaper (for the end customer), but it is smaller and simpler. Ironically, their new 12mm Touit for mirrorless (Fuji X and Sony NEX) cameras is a "Distagon" lens, so a retrofocus design. This is the opposite example, of how manufacturers do not really take advantage of what mirrorless cameras allow them to do.

Maybe it'll work on mirrorless, where compactness is valued over functionality per dollar. But mirrrorless already has some decent wideangle options. Therefore, I don't see manufacturers going out of their way to design traditional wide angle lenses, especially because that might involve dealing with corner issues on digital sensors, and retrofocus designs are so well established.

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