PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

Started Sep 12, 2011 | Discussions
ebrandon Regular Member • Posts: 459
PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

This thread is a continuation of my previous thread http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1042&thread=39320745

PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

Based on my initial impressions (just a few days, jpg only) it seems to me that the NEX 5N is a great platform for legacy lenses.

This doesn't make it a better camera or system overall than m43, which in my opinion benefits greatly from its stable of fantastic lenses especially the 7-14mm, 12mm, 20mm, 25mm, two 45mm options one of them a macro, Panasonic 14-45mm. Not to mention the upcoming Panasonic "X" zoom, and fast 12-35mm and 35-100mm zooms. And the great 43 lenses that work well on m43 like the 14-54mkii, the Panaleica 25mm, the Panaleica 14-150 etc.

In addition the in-body image stabilization of the Olympus cameras is sometimes very useful. And while I haven't tested the video on the NEX yet, there is no doubt that the GH2 is an incredible video camera.

For all these reasons I intend to keep & keep my using m43 especially with AF lenses. But as you'll see below, there are compelling reasons to also keep and use the NEX 5N, especially with legacy lenses.

a. Edges & Corners

It's a well known phenomenon with m43 cameras as well as the previous NEX models that edges & corners are often smeared, color shifted, or darkened when using legacy lenses.

This is most commonly seen with

  • Wide lenses (whose edge-of-the-lens light strikes the edge-of-the-sensor at a steeper angle)

  • Rangefinder lenses (as opposed to SLR lenses) whose rear element is closer to the sensor and therefore the edge-of-the-lens light again strikes the sensor at a steeper angle

  • Fast lenses used with their apertures wide open

Here are test shots with the Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 Leica mount lens. This lens meets all of the criteria above -- it's fairly wide, its a rangefinder lens, and its fast. Additionally it has a great reputation with film rangefinder users.

All were shot at each camera's base ISO, on a tripod, from the same position, using self-timer, carefully focused using maximum magnification in the EVF.

These examples are all at f2 because while f2 is overexposed, the f1.2/1.4/1.8 shots were crazy overexposed and the point is still clear at f2.

GH2 image. Click on (original) above the image to see it full size.

Here is a 100% look at the center & corners. The corner smearing is obvious.

(Due to my error, these crops were taken from a raw image and have default lightroom sharpening and noise reduction. Since the full size jpg is available just above and shows the exact same results, I didn't redo this figure from the jpg).

Here is the E-P3 image.

And a 100% look at the center & corners. This was made from the jpg above.

And now the NEX 5N.

And a 100% look at the centers & corners.

In addition to having less corner smearing, you see another advantage of NEX 5N with legacy lenses which is a base ISO of 100 versus the E-P3's 200 or GH2's 160. With these fast lenses, a base ISO of 160 or 200 forces you to stop down quite a bit to avoid severe overexposure on a sunny day.

Looking at all my test shots, it's also worth noting that while the corners are less smeared overall on the NEX 5N than on the m43 bodies, they are "good" by f4.9 on the m43 bodies, and "good" by f5.6 on the NEX 5N. This is probably because the NEX 5N has a bigger sensor as uses a bigger part of the lens' image circle.

Next up -- this doesn't mean corners are always bad on m43.

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OP ebrandon Regular Member • Posts: 459
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

Its important not the leave people with the impression that legacy lenses on m43 will always smear the corners.

Longer lenses, slower lenses, lenses with an optical design that sends the light "straighter" to the edges and corners, will perform just fine.

To prove the point here is the same brick wall with the Contax-Yashica mount Zeiss 60mm f2.8 macro; a lens which performs superbly on m43.

You can click on "(original)" above each picture if you want to see it full size and study the corners more closely.

GH2

E-P3

NEX 5N

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OP ebrandon Regular Member • Posts: 459
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

Another well known phenomenon on m43 cameras using legacy lenses is sometimes called "ghosting".

This has been difficult to pin down because it happens most often with fast lenses used wide open, and it looks quite similar to the optical flaws common to fast lenses used wide open.

Nevertheless, fast legacy lenses (f2 and faster) used wide open have often produced disappointing results on m43 given people's expectations for them from film days. When these fast lenses are used wide open images are often lower in contrast, have less detail, and more artifacts than you would hope.

I have used my f1.2 lenses (Nikon 50mm f1.2 AIS, Olympus OM 50mm f1.2, Voigtlander 35mm f1.2, Konica AR 57mm f1.2) less on m43 than I expected to because the results have usually been disappointing wide open.

On the other hand, these fast lenses have given fantastic results on m43 when used stopped down (generally f2 or higher), and slower lenses have also been fantastic on m43.

Why does this "ghosting" happen? No one is sure (as far as I know) but I have three hypotheses:

1) The m43 sensor is quite reflective. Perhaps light bounces back and forth between the sensor and the uncoated rear element of the lens.

2) The m43 sensor is much smaller than the image circle of these full frame lenses. Perhaps light hits all over the inside of the camera and reflects off of bits and pieces causing the problems.

3) A lot of the adapters, while painted black, have fairly reflective insides. Perhaps the light from the lens is even hitting the inside of the adapter and reflecting?

One of the very first things I tried with the NEX 5N was mounting these fast lenses on it and trying them wide open. My subjective impression is that you see a lot less "ghosting".

I have just about hit my 200megabytes/month uploading limit on DPReview, so subsequent samples will be a different image website.

The following images were all taken on a tripod, self-timer shutter release, base ISO, etc. The image was carefully focused on the flowers.

Here is the Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 again, used wide open on the GH2. (Here is a link to the full-size original http://thebrandons.smugmug.com/Other/Samples-for-forums/16033956_RwC6qZ/1475499547_fpDkNS4#1475500975_nQ28jN8-O-LB )

And here is a 100% crop of the GH2 f1.2 image.

The E-P3 is only a little better. Here is the the whole image (full size here http://thebrandons.smugmug.com/Other/Samples-for-forums/16033956_RwC6qZ/1475499547_fpDkNS4#1475500320_9Lg684W-O-LB )

And here is a 100% crop of the E-P3 f1.2 image.

Now here is the same scene from the same position (so larger FOV) with NEX 5N (full size here http://thebrandons.smugmug.com/Other/Samples-for-forums/16033956_RwC6qZ/1475499547_fpDkNS4#1475516247_Vq5WXgf-O-LB )

And 100% crop of the NEX 5N from the same location @ f1.2

Finally, some people think it's apples-to-oranges unless the FOV is the same. So I physically moved the NEX 5N closer to the pavilion to make the FOV similar to that of the m43 cameras.

So here is the NEX 5N physically closer @ f1.2 (original here http://thebrandons.smugmug.com/Other/Samples-for-forums/16033956_RwC6qZ/1475499547_fpDkNS4/1475516247_Vq5WXgf#1475498174_c6NNxFr-O-LB )

And 100% crop of the NEX 5N image taken from the closer position

To my eyes, this example shows the NEX 5N exhibiting significantly less "ghosting" than the m43 cameras, especially the GH2. While this example is pretty strong, I feel that my experience taking many pictures with the Voigtlander 35mm and OM 50mm on this camera for the last few days has thoroughly convinced me that these very fast lenses perform better wide open on the NEX 5N.

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OP ebrandon Regular Member • Posts: 459
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

Again, I don't want to leave people with the impression that you can't use legacy lenses on the m43 bodies just fine.

The "ghosting" you see at f1.2, is pretty much gone by f2. Here are the same three cameras with the same lens at f2.

GH2 (original here http://thebrandons.smugmug.com/Other/Samples-for-forums/16033956_RwC6qZ/1475499547_fpDkNS4/1475516247_Vq5WXgf#1475501441_T9LQkWh-O-LB )

GH2 100% crop @ f2

E-P3 at f2 (original here http://thebrandons.smugmug.com/Other/Samples-for-forums/16033956_RwC6qZ/1475499547_fpDkNS4/1475516247_Vq5WXgf#1475500786_wWtZTtS-O-LB )

E-P3 100% crop @ f2

NEX 5N same position as other cameras @ f2 (original here http://thebrandons.smugmug.com/Other/Samples-for-forums/16033956_RwC6qZ/1475499547_fpDkNS4/1475516247_Vq5WXgf#1475497825_8fcvxgj-O-LB )

NEX 5N 100% crop same position as other cameras @ f2

NEX 5N closer to pavilion @ f2 (original here http://thebrandons.smugmug.com/Other/Samples-for-forums/16033956_RwC6qZ/1475499547_fpDkNS4/1475516247_Vq5WXgf#1475497063_25B2Q6M-O-LB )

NEX 5N 100% crop closer to pavilion @ f2

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BobYIL Contributing Member • Posts: 942
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

ebrandon, thank you so much for the extensive comparison. The results were indeed indicative.

(Did you use peaking while focusing? To my eyes the actual plane of focus @1.2 seems a little behind of the flowers. You can check it on the wooden floor tiles, for example.. toward inside of the gazebo they seem sharper..I might be wrong though.)

Regards,

Bob
--
BobYIL

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 9,549
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

That's interesting. Makes you wonder if the ghosting control is from the micro-lenses, or from jpeg engine.

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John Krumm
Juneau, AK

Nikkorforever Senior Member • Posts: 1,643
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

Thanks your for taking the time, trouble and patience to do the testing and the excellent write up! Very informative indeed..
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Cheers, Reza

OP ebrandon Regular Member • Posts: 459
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

Other considerations:

I can't keep this post going forever, so let me wrap it up with a few observations.

For non-legacy lens use (AF lens) I believe you can say which camera/system is best for two different kinds of users:

For the user who will just use the kit lens these three cameras are remarkably similar -- they all have superb IQ, image stabilization with the kit lens, useful touch screens, EVFs included or available, similar prices, etc.

The "best" camera for such a user depends, in my opinion, almost entirely on how it feels in your hand and how much you care about their small UI differences such as that some have flip out screens and others don't.

For example, the E-P3 is actually my wife's, and it is of almost no use to me despite being a wonderful camera because my index finger goes way past the shutter button when I hold that camera.

For the user who will buy AF lenses for their camera, and change lenses, to me the m43 system wins hands done because of the superior lens selection.

For the legacy lens user (which is the point of this now way too long thread) I think both systems have pros which to me are:
m43

  • In body image stabilization on Oly bodies

  • Greater depth of field. This is a pro with fast lenses where too little DOF ruins many more pictures than too much DOF.

  • Longer reach with long lenses

  • Lenses better balanced on camera body with long/big/heavy lenses

  • I prefer 4/3 aspect ratio to 3/2

NEX 5N

  • Better dynamic range

  • Likely better high ISO capability

  • Wider FOV with legacy lenses

  • Better corners and edges

  • Less "ghosting" with fast lenses

  • Lower base ISO with fast lenses

  • Focus peaking MF assist

I do want to illustrate with one last example that the m43 pros are real. For example

here is the best I could do in a very dark church with the NEX 5N and a Zeiss 35mm f2 lens. At 1/30 of a sec there's motion blur, and the DOF is a touch shallower than I'd like.

Saint with 5N (full size here http://thebrandons.smugmug.com/Other/Samples-for-forums/16033956_RwC6qZ/1475499547_fpDkNS4/1475516247_Vq5WXgf#1475583202_BDcHKwc-O-LB )

Saint with my wife's 43 system Olympus E5 and an AF 25mm lens. The slightly greater DOF and especially the in body image stabilization made this shot easy.

(full size here http://thebrandons.smugmug.com/Other/Samples-for-forums/16033956_RwC6qZ/1475499547_fpDkNS4/1475516247_Vq5WXgf#1475583331_r8kHwWF-O-LB )

Bottom line --

I still love my m43 and will be using it with AF lenses and with legacy lenses especially where I need longer reach or where I need not just high ISO but high ISO + IS to get the shot.

But, the NEX 5N is pretty amazing and I plan to migrate most of my legacy lens use to it. At least until the NEX 7 arrives!

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breamer Regular Member • Posts: 277
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

Thank you for the great work you have done in compiling and making this information available to others!

Do you see the Nex relegating any of your other cameras to the cupboard for your preferred interests - action, street, travel/hiking? I could see the Nex being a great hiking camera because of the better DR....

Thanks
Derrick

Myari Regular Member • Posts: 441
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

You could have used hand-held twilight mode in this scene

ebrandon wrote:

I do want to illustrate with one last example that the m43 pros are real. For example

here is the best I could do in a very dark church with the NEX 5N and a Zeiss 35mm f2 lens. At 1/30 of a sec there's motion blur, and the DOF is a touch shallower than I'd like.

Saint with 5N (full size here http://thebrandons.smugmug.com/Other/Samples-for-forums/16033956_RwC6qZ/1475499547_fpDkNS4/1475516247_Vq5WXgf#1475583202_BDcHKwc-O-LB )

technic Veteran Member • Posts: 8,932
corner smearing

ebrandon wrote:

a. Edges & Corners

It's a well known phenomenon with m43 cameras as well as the previous NEX models that edges & corners are often smeared, color shifted, or darkened when using legacy lenses.

This is most commonly seen with

  • Wide lenses (whose edge-of-the-lens light strikes the edge-of-the-sensor at a steeper angle)

  • Rangefinder lenses (as opposed to SLR lenses) whose rear element is closer to the sensor and therefore the edge-of-the-lens light again strikes the sensor at a steeper angle

  • Fast lenses used with their apertures wide open

Here are test shots with the Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 Leica mount lens. This lens meets all of the criteria above -- it's fairly wide, its a rangefinder lens, and its fast. Additionally it has a great reputation with film rangefinder users.

Here is a 100% look at the center & corners. The corner smearing is obvious.

thanks, this is great info. It's a bit puzzling though that the corner smearing is not the same for all corners (usually upper right seems better, maybe due to lens decentering problem or minor misalignment between camera and brick wall?)

Do you see the same effect (or maybe stronger) when the lens is focused near infinity? Because that is where such problems will be most obvious in daily practice (landscape/architecture style shots, with most of the subject at large distance).

Does anyone have clear shots (original shots or 100% corner crops) for the SEL2.8/16mm lens showing corner performance on Nex3/5 vs. Nex5N? I read very conflicting statements regarding the improvement in corner sharpness of this lens on the new bodies.

franzel Contributing Member • Posts: 818
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

Wow - just wow !
I loved the 'ghosting' part ...
What can I say - don't quit your day job .

technic Veteran Member • Posts: 8,932
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

thanks for the writeup; this is the kind of information I would like to read from the DPR team. But usually they concentrate on one camera/system, and don't compare between systems (except for the pixelpeeping of studio shots, which is far removed from daily reality IMHO). Your experience is more interesting for people who want to chose a new camera/system!

nzmacro
nzmacro Forum Pro • Posts: 18,310
Very, very interesting

Superb post and I'll go through this tonight for a couple of hours and digest it all. Brilliant and can't thank you enough for this, the best test I have ever seen.

I use the Panasonic G2 and thinking about the NEX 7 when it arrives on the scene. I use large legacy glass, Canon FD 300 F/2.8L, Canon 500 F/5.6 (Fluorite element) and a Sigma 500 F/4.5 APO. Wide open they are all excellent, but I think that comes down to the glass used, UD and Fluorite elements. Generally try and stop them all down a bit and excellent results.

As you say, it could well come down to the tunnelling of the focal length to the sensor. Fascinating. Lenses at F/1.2 - F/1.4 I can see how that would effect the smaller sensors.

Anyway, need to read and go through this later. A massive thanks for your work, SUPERB !!

Danny.
...........................

m4/3 Small birds and legacy teles

http://www.macrophotos.com/avian/avian.html

m4/3 macro

http://www.macrophotos.com/g2macro

Worry about the image that comes out of the box, rather than the box itself.

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viking79
viking79 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,157
Re: corner smearing

technic wrote:

Does anyone have clear shots (original shots or 100% corner crops) for the SEL2.8/16mm lens showing corner performance on Nex3/5 vs. Nex5N? I read very conflicting statements regarding the improvement in corner sharpness of this lens on the new bodies.

I notice that corner performance on the 16mm is better at close focus, and worse at infinity. Variations in tests could be impacted by the focus distance. The focus point for the corner might be significantly different than for the center of the lens, so some objects might be in better or worse focus at the corners depending on how far away they are.

I can't imagine it will improve a lot, but I was hoping for some. They look blurry from optical aberrations. I could see the new sensor fixing color shifts with old rangefinder lenses or some other issue though.

I only have shots on my NEX3 for now, will test on the 7 when it arrives. However, I have a feeling that the lens isn't quite up to the resolving power necessary with the 7 and they might have to come out with an updated version.

Eric

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zink
zink Contributing Member • Posts: 582
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

Thanks very much for this post. Very interesting.

But how can we explain the differences? Is the size of the sensor the only reason?

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Sean_Jayhawk
Sean_Jayhawk Veteran Member • Posts: 7,455
Re: PART V - NEX 5N vs m43 with legacy lenses

technic wrote:

thanks for the writeup; this is the kind of information I would like to read from the DPR team. But usually they concentrate on one camera/system, and don't compare between systems (except for the pixelpeeping of studio shots, which is far removed from daily reality IMHO). Your experience is more interesting for people who want to chose a new camera/system!

I have been on the fence, but this thread helped me to just order a 5N. Thanks for posting the samples and comparisons.

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ntsan Senior Member • Posts: 1,020
Re: corner smearing

Thanks for the test, that is really helpful!

the 16mm is alright lens, really pales compare to the M43 pancakes which are sharp all round

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viking79
viking79 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,157
Re: corner smearing

ntsan wrote:

Thanks for the test, that is really helpful!

the 16mm is alright lens, really pales compare to the M43 pancakes which are sharp all round

I really like the images I get from it, and it is a good lens for the money. However, I tested against my Nikon mount Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 (which excels at 16mm), and the Tokina is in fact significantly sharper, especially at the corners. However, if you asked me which lens I would take on a photo shoot it would be the Sony 16mm. The Tokina weighs 1 kg and makes the NEX look ridiculous

Eric

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dr_elis Senior Member • Posts: 1,164
Re: this doesn't mean corners are always bad on m43

I used far so only one legacy lens on the m43 GF1, the 50 mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor (an older pre-D version). The performance is absolutely flawless, I have never seen ghosting or whatever chromatic aberrations, and the combo is incredibly sharp. Here is an example with the Nikkor plus the 6T close-up lens.

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