Interesting Swedish lens tests

Started Dec 5, 2003 | Discussions thread
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bokeh freak New Member • Posts: 12
Interesting Swedish lens tests

Hasselblad in Gothenburg Sweden are making MTF, distorsion, vignetting and real focal length measurements for the swedish magazine FOTO. Most of these measurements are completely automatic, so they do not depend on a persons skill. A reviewer at the magazine do the evaluation of all the measurements. The reviewer also does photographic tests for the conclusion.
These are the most reliable lens tests I have seen anywere.

Lately they have tested some of the most popular lenses at the moment. Here is my attempt to summarize:

Canon EF 70-200mm/2.8 L IS USM (real focal length 71-190mm) and Nikkor AFS VR 70-200mm G IF-ED (real focal length 72-196mm).

This is a comparison between a very good lens (Canon) to an extremely good (Nikkor). In fact I can't remember any zoom lens that have shown the values at wide open as the Nikkor VR 70-200mm/2.8. It's the most remarkable since the Canon 200mm f/1.8. Here are some center spot MTF values at f/2.8 for 20 line pairs/mm (as I read them from the graphs):
The Nikon
70mm: 0.89 (?0.7 at the corners)
135mm: 0.90 (?0.45 at the corners. big diff between sagg. and tang. res.)
200mm: 0.78 (?0.4 at the corners)
The same for the Canon:
70mm: 0.75 (?0.3 at the corners)
135mm: 0.80 (?0.5 at the corners)
200mm: 0.68 (?0.4 at the corners)

That big difference is visible. The values for the Canon 70-200mm/2.8 IS should ten years ago been exceptional. In fact this lens is better than the non IS version.

FOTO also tested the VR/IS performance. It were possible to handhold with good results down to 1/15s. No big difference there.

The best zoom lens in the standard range seems to be Canon 24-70mm/2.8 L (25-67mm). The Nikon and Canon 28-70mm were almost equal. But the really big surprise in this range is Tamron 28-75mm XR Di (29-73mm). At least used on a on a small sized sensor DSLR it seems to be very sharp. If you only look at 0-12mm part of the frame, it is sharp as the Canon 24-70mm! Furthermore it shows very good values wide open. Looking at the full frame values it shows heavy vignetting. It's really far superior to any Sigma and Tokina in this range.

The Canon 17-40mm/4 L USM (real focal length 17-39mm) have received very good user reviews. On a small sized sensor DSLR it certainly will show very good results. But on a full frame camera the 16-35mm/2.8 is a better choice. The reason is some problems at the wide end. The vignetting at 17mm is two full stops.The wide open performance at 17mm isn't that good either. But for certain it is a very good lens. The reviewer, who is a Canon user himself, gave the Nikkor 18-35mm/3.5-4.5 (18-34mm) a better review than this Canon lens. Both of these lenses are sharper than the popular Sigma 15-30mm though.

The quality of the Nikkor AFS VR 24-120mm (real focal length 24-110mm!!) have been discussed a lot. For certain it is much, much better than the old one with the same range. The test of that lens were almost embarrassing for Nikon. The MTF of the new 24-120mm compares very near to the test of the Tamron 24-135mm. Very good at the wide end, except the corners and the distorsion. Very good at 35-85mm with little distorsion and vignetting. At the long end the performance is still rather good at the center, but poor at the corners. The wide open MTF were almost the same through the range.

Compared to the Canon 28-135mm the Nikkor 24-120mm is less even through the range. The Canon is definitely a better choice for a full frame camera. On a small sized sensor DSLR it seems rather close between them though. The Nikkor has an edge at wide end, the Canon at the long end. Both in focal length and performance.

The Sigma lenses haven't done so well in these testings. The macros are top performers, as well as 100-300mm/4 EX (101-279mm) and 120-300mm/2.8 EX (123-281mm). In fact these zoom lenses are almost up to the Nikkor 70-200mm standard. It's impressive that they are soo good through the whole range (the 100-300mm shows some corner degradation at 300mm).

Many tests through the years of extenders, shows that you shall always use the extender that is dedicated for the lens. If you do so, an 1,4x extender will degrade the MTF value by about 5-10%. Use Canon for Canon, Nikon for Nikon, Sigma for Sigma.


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