Olympus 12-40 easily beats the Canon 17-55 at f/2.8 (but not when stopped down).

Started Nov 3, 2013 | Discussions
Paul De Bra
Paul De Bra Forum Pro • Posts: 12,398
Olympus 12-40 easily beats the Canon 17-55 at f/2.8 (but not when stopped down).
1

My previous camera-lens combination was a Canon 450D with 17-55 lens. When I replaced the Canon by the E-M5 I kept longing for an equivalent lens. Now that I have the 12-40 I can state that technology has really moved on. Below are two pictures I took with the Canon 450D in 2008: one at f/2.8, one at f/8. They are followed by pictures I took today with the E-M5 and 12-40, one at f/2.8, one at f/4 (not stopped down more because wind would cause subject motion blur). Look at the originals: the Olympus 12-40 at f/2.8 blows the Canon 17-55 away. But stopped down there are no meaningful differences to be seen because the images are not under controlled circumstances and also taken 5 years apart and maybe processed differently.

The E-M5 images have been shot at 3:2 so the resulting image size is roughly the same.

Canon 17-55 at f/2.8

Canon 17-55 at f/8

Olympus 12-40 at f/2.8

Olympus 12-40 at f/4

Needless to say I am very happy with my new lens!

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Peng Bian
Peng Bian Contributing Member • Posts: 608
Re: Olympus 12-40 easily beats the Canon 17-55 at f/2.8 (but not when stopped down).

Even though the Canon is half the price, it's so soft at 2.8, I think I've been spoiled by MFT lenses. I can't wait to get my 12-40. Thanks for sharing the comparison.

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Paul De Bra
OP Paul De Bra Forum Pro • Posts: 12,398
The Canon is not that cheap here...
2

Current going price for the Canon here is around 750 (euro) and at introduction this lens was around 1.000. So it is definitely not half the price of the Olympus 12-40. It was and still is the very best standard zoom for Canon EF-S and stopped down just a bit it is very sharp. But f/2.8 is very important as I shoot a lot of low light.

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LTZ470
LTZ470 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,926
Re: Olympus 12-40 easily beats the Canon 17-55 at f/2.8 (but not when stopped down).

Paul not to be rude but the 12-40 absolutely smokes the Canon shot, and the wind wasn't even blowing in the Canon shot and then the Tree Trunk in the Canon shot is HEAVILY sun lit and the 12-40 shot the tree trunk still has more details!

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Paul De Bra
OP Paul De Bra Forum Pro • Posts: 12,398
Different lighting is hard to compare.

The shaded situation with the Olympus actually generates more contrast in the texture of the tree trunk. The 17-55 shot at f/8 also isn't optimal as this lens gives the very best image quality at f/5.6.

But overall the 12-40 is indeed very clearly better than the Canon 17-55, and I was always happy with the Canon as there simply wasn't anything better at the time.

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JIngrouille
JIngrouille Senior Member • Posts: 1,281
Re: Olympus 12-40 easily beats the Canon 17-55 at f/2.8 (but not when stopped down).
4

Paul with respect these are taken with different apertures plus a huge difference in shutter speed also the sun is at a totally different angle which can make a big difference . Thanks for taking the time to do this and post it but your comparing apples with pears.

Regards John

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Ingy

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Peng Bian
Peng Bian Contributing Member • Posts: 608
Re: Olympus 12-40 easily beats the Canon 17-55 at f/2.8 (but not when stopped down).
1

JIngrouille wrote:

Paul with respect these are taken with different apertures plus a huge difference in shutter speed also the sun is at a totally different angle which can make a big difference . Thanks for taking the time to do this and post it but your comparing apples with pears.

Regards John

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Ingy

Need to defend Paul on this one. Sure we are comparing apples with pears, but it's quite easy to see how soft the 17-55 is at the corners at maximum aperture, regardless of shutter speed, angle and lighting. So it's not so hard to see the pear has spots that are rotten and from the perspective of freshness the apple wins for sure.

Sorry about the analogy.

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Paul De Bra
OP Paul De Bra Forum Pro • Posts: 12,398
Regarding the apples and oranges...

(not pears obviously)

Yes the circumstances were different. That is why I did not want to draw any conclusion on the shots that were stopped down.

But the differences at f/2.8 are so big that despite the differences in circumstances the 12-40 is a very clear winner here.

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Sergey_Green
Sergey_Green Forum Pro • Posts: 10,633
Does not anyone see it?
3

Olympus shot looks very digital and unnatural, regardless of the aperture. I often see this stuff posted on the forum, and it is the first thing that pops up. If you think this is where it should be then you got the right camera.

Bw, why second Canon frame at f/8 - this is not where this lens is the sharpest. Anyhow, does not matter really.

Anyone got a good copy of Tokina ?

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- sergey

Steen Bay Veteran Member • Posts: 6,974
Re: Regarding the apples and oranges...

Paul De Bra wrote:

(not pears obviously)

Yes the circumstances were different. That is why I did not want to draw any conclusion on the shots that were stopped down.

But the differences at f/2.8 are so big that despite the differences in circumstances the 12-40 is a very clear winner here.

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The 17-55/2.8 should at least be sharp in the center of the image at F/2.8 (actually a bit sharper than at f/8 according to photozone.de). Maybe a case of missed focus?

Paul De Bra
OP Paul De Bra Forum Pro • Posts: 12,398
I agree: my usual sharpening is too much for the 12-40.

While this routine was needed for shots from other images it isn't for the 12-40.
The fact that these shots look "digital" and oversharpened is all the more indication that the lens is so sharp it requires less processing.

That the 17-55 is not sharpest at f/8 has to do with diffraction. Even on the 12MP aps-c camera f/5.6 is better for sharpness than f/8. But most lenses are so much sharper at f/8 than f/5.6 that this effect outweighs the diffraction softening. Not so with the 17-55. This lens at f/5.6 is stopped down 2 stop from wide open which for most lenses gives optimal sharpness.

For m43 this optimal sharpness is around f/4 but again most lenses sharpen up more by stopping down than that the images become softer due to diffraction.

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Sergey_Green
Sergey_Green Forum Pro • Posts: 10,633
Don't know what you do with it ..
2

Paul De Bra wrote:

While this routine was needed for shots from other images it isn't for the 12-40.
The fact that these shots look "digital" and oversharpened is all the more indication that the lens is so sharp it requires less processing.

Lens does not create halos, and in f/4 they are all over the image. So it must be some kind of a post capture routine. Whether it is from in-camera setting or some other adjustments, I could not tell. Could be a smaller sensor just as well, pretty much the best this camera can do for you.

..
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- sergey

Rens
Rens Senior Member • Posts: 1,637
Re: I agree: my usual sharpening is too much for the 12-40.
1

Paul De Bra wrote:

While this routine was needed for shots from other images it isn't for the 12-40.
The fact that these shots look "digital" and oversharpened is all the more indication that the lens is so sharp it requires less processing.

I don't think this 'digital' look is simply down to sharpness.  I'm constantly trying to remove it from E-M5 images taken with my M 9-18, which is OK but by no means super sharp.

It seems to be an over-contrasty effect, particularly noticeable in foliage - a pain when you take mostly landscapes as I do.  It's a speckley effect I've not noticed from previous cameras (including the E3) and I don't like it.

The OP's E-M5 images are of course taken at a different time of year, when the leaves are not the same solid green as in the Canon images, but the effect I'm trying to avoid is still clearly present.

Rens

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Paul De Bra
OP Paul De Bra Forum Pro • Posts: 12,398
Here is a new one without halos.

Here is one with less sharpening. Sharp but no halos. (If you are seeing halos it must be your monitor. This image shows no halos on my monitor.)

12-40 at f/4

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agray88 Regular Member • Posts: 309
Re: Think it may be your monitor. I see no halos at all. E-M1 pics look great to me.
1

And I don't like over sharpened images.

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PC Wheeler
PC Wheeler Forum Pro • Posts: 17,514
Re: Olympus 12-40 easily beats the Canon 17-55 at f/2.8 (but not when stopped down).

Isn't this all rather academic if you are using a m4/3 body? My Canon lenses EF/EF-s work at all well on my GH3

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ApertureAcolyte
ApertureAcolyte Contributing Member • Posts: 994
Re: The Canon is not that cheap here...

Paul De Bra wrote:

Current going price for the Canon here is around 750 (euro) and at introduction this lens was around 1.000. So it is definitely not half the price of the Olympus 12-40. It was and still is the very best standard zoom for Canon EF-S and stopped down just a bit it is very sharp. But f/2.8 is very important as I shoot a lot of low light.

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Also considering the EF-s 17-55 f2.8 is plastic fantastic ...

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Rens
Rens Senior Member • Posts: 1,637
Re: Here is a new one without halos.

Paul De Bra wrote:

Here is one with less sharpening. Sharp but no halos. (If you are seeing halos it must be your monitor. This image shows no halos on my monitor.)

And I see no halos either.  But it still looks too digital for my taste.

12-40 at f/4

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Rens
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RealPancho
RealPancho Senior Member • Posts: 1,313
Re: Olympus 12-40 easily beats the Canon 17-55 at f/2.8 (but not when stopped down).

PC Wheeler wrote:

Isn't this all rather academic if you are using a m4/3 body? My Canon lenses EF/EF-s work at all well on my GH3

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Phil

He's been waiting both very patiently and somewhat anxiously for this lens ever since the Panasonic 12-35 came out. I think he's pretty excited to finally have this precious jewel in his hot little hands. I know I'll be pretty excited when I get mine. Why, I'm all aquiver thinking about just now.

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bgalb
bgalb Senior Member • Posts: 2,123
Re: Don't know what you do with it ..

Sergey_Green wrote:

Paul De Bra wrote:

While this routine was needed for shots from other images it isn't for the 12-40.
The fact that these shots look "digital" and oversharpened is all the more indication that the lens is so sharp it requires less processing.

Lens does not create halos, and in f/4 they are all over the image. So it must be some kind of a post capture routine. Whether it is from in-camera setting or some other adjustments, I could not tell. Could be a smaller sensor just as well, pretty much the best this camera can do for you.

..

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- sergey

My vision isn't perfect, but all I see on that image is a little over sharpening in post.  I see highlights on leaves at the periphery of the tree on the sunward side of the leaves that look to me to be slightly overexposed highlights from bright sun.  I don't have 20/10 vision any more, but if they are halos, then they are barely perceptible.

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