Panasonic Leica 50-200mm + converters 1.4/2.0 (vs Olympus m.zuiko 40-150mm PRO + MC-14)

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shidan Forum Member • Posts: 52
Panasonic Leica 50-200mm + converters 1.4/2.0 (vs Olympus m.zuiko 40-150mm PRO + MC-14)

After my first unsuccessful attempt (I posted a test with the Canon 70-300mm USM II + adapter a couple of months ago) to find a cheaper way of getting a lens with longer reach than my Olympus 40-150mm PRO + MC-14 converter (max. 210mm) with similar IQ, I now had the occasion to have a quick look at the new Panasonic Leica f2.8-4.0 50-200mm with the two Panasonic converters (1.4 and 2.0).

My idea is that if one of the Pana+converter combos came close enough to the IQ my Olympus combo, I'd sell the Olympus and keep the Pana combo. Obviously, this would be more expensive than the adapted-lens solution, but slightly cheaper than acquiring an additional lens like the PL 100-400mm. More convenient too, the PL 50-200 being lighter and a bit smaller than the Olympus lens.

I abbreviate as follows:

- pana-solo: Panasonic Leica 50-200mm
- pana-tc14: Panasonic Leica 50-200mm + Panasonic teleconverter DMW-TC14E
- pana-tc20: Panasonic Leica 50-200mm + Panasonic teleconverter DMW-TC20E
- olym-solo: Olympus m.zuiko 40-150mm PRO
- olym-tc14: Olympus m.zuiko 40-150mm PRO + Olympus teleconverter MC-14

Setup: tripod, IS off (of both lens and body), ISO 200, S-AF small focus field in center (aimed at the white metal strut behind the white Audi), manual shutter 12s delay, E-M1II, LSF+RAW, JPG profile 'natural', auto WB. My comments are based on the LSF jpegs.

During the shooting it was getting more and more cloudy. I tried to take all the pictures in roughly the same conditions (i.e. in the sunshine), but I had to take the last pictures in a hurry (got the f-stop wrong for some of them).

General remarks:

- None of the lenses/combos showed noticeable chromatic aberration. Colours were good, maybe a bit more reddish with the Olympus and more blue/greenish with the Panasonic combos. (However, the lighting conditions may have changed, and I used automatic WB).

- Focusing was quick with all the lenses/combos. Obviously, focusing is a challenge when using the full 400mm of the pana+tc20 combo. For my comparison, I probably should have preferred MF in order to nail the focus on the pillar, but I simply didn't have enought time. In any case, focusing was *much* better than with the Canon+adapter combo I had tested previously.

Some remarks on the comparison at equal focal lengths:

- At 150mm
- the pana-solo seems to be a bit sharper than the olym-solo, but both lenses are really good.
- the olym-tc14 shows a bit more detail than the pana-14tc (first screen shot)
- the IQ of the pana-20tc can't keep up with any of the other lenses/combos (second screen shot)

screen shot 150mm-center-crop-olym-pana

screen shot 150mm-center-crop-pana-tc14-tc20

- At 200mm/210mm, the olym-tc14 is maybe a tad better than the pana-solo (they are very close, and I'm realizing I had stopped down to f5.6 with the olym-tc14), with the pana-tc14 lagging slightly behind, and the pana-tc20 being considerably worse regarding sharpness and detail (due to inferior resolution of the TC20?).

screen shot 200-210mm-center-crop

- At 280mm, the Panasonic converter combos are the only players left on the field. The difference in IQ between pana-20tc (left side) and pana-14tc is even more visible.

screen shot 280mm-center-crop

- At 400mm, I compared the pana-tc20 with the cropped 280mm output of the pana-tc14. See for yourself (I'm adding a second comparison below):

screen shot pana-tc14-vs-tc20-tripod

Bottom line(s):

- With respect to IQ, the pana-solo is a near match for the olym-mc14. No need to add anything to the pros and cons, which were perfectly summed up by David Thorpe. The slight loss of aperture (f2.8 vs f3.9 at 150mm) is not an issue. At 200mm it is f4 for both pana-solo and olym-mc14.
- The pana-14tc makes the lens more interesting, even for those who own the Olympus. IQ is maybe a tad inferior (my superficial test doesn't allow me to say more), but definitely good enough for me (and way better at 280mm than the Oly 75-300).
- The performance of the pana-20tc is rather deceiving: whereas I don't hesitate to leave the Oly MC-14 on my lens (and won't hesitate to do so with the Panasonic TC14), the IQ of the TC20 is simply not good enough. The only use I would make of the TC20 is to cover the range beyond 280mm. But still: another shot with both converters (hazy day, ~6km distance, no tripod, OIS active, picking the sharpest shot from a series with each converter) shows that you get roughly the same result by cropping the output of the pana-tc14:

screen shot pana-tc14-vs-tc20-ois

Also, I guess the failure rate due to unprecise focusing is considerably lower with the TC14. Finally I noticed some underexposed pictures in the series taken with the TC20 for which I don't have an explanation.

Sorry for not providing a more elaborate test, but maybe this is helpful for those who are interested in one of these lens-converter combos. If anybody is interested I could create a Dropbox link to the OOC jpegs for some time.

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