Why the 12mm prime barrier?

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mount evans
mount evans Regular Member • Posts: 401
Why the 12mm prime barrier?

With the exception of the manual focus Cosina Voigtländer Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95, it seems that micro four thirds primes stop at 12mm and everything shorter than that is a fisheye.  Yet zoom lenses go down to 7mm claiming to be rectilinear (and there appears to be a demand for them), and full-frame DSLR systems have primes going down to 14mm despite having to design around a flapping mirror.

I can understand micro four thirds being considered a dead field now, but back when there were an awful lot of new primes coming out crowding pretty close to each other in focal length, why did no one seek to exploit the open territory of the short end?

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Chris666666 Regular Member • Posts: 271
Re: Why the 12mm prime barrier?
5

mount evans wrote:

With the exception of the manual focus Cosina Voigtländer Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95, it seems that micro four thirds primes stop at 12mm and everything shorter than that is a fisheye. Yet zoom lenses go down to 7mm claiming to be rectilinear (and there appears to be a demand for them), and full-frame DSLR systems have primes going down to 14mm despite having to design around a flapping mirror.

I can understand micro four thirds being considered a dead field now, but back when there were an awful lot of new primes coming out crowding pretty close to each other in focal length, why did no one seek to exploit the open territory of the short end?

Laowa have exploited the territory. There has been a 7.5mm available for several years, and a new 10mm has just been launched. Both are f2.0

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sbu Regular Member • Posts: 364
Re: Why the 12mm prime barrier?
1

It’s probably too much of a ‘niche’ focal length for a prime lens to be commercially viable for mft.

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Orangorill
Orangorill Regular Member • Posts: 190
Re: Why the 12mm prime barrier?
3

The Laowa 7.5mm is a very good lens, and from what I read the 10mm is even better. I don't own any of them personally, but I'm considering the latter one.

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mount evans
OP mount evans Regular Member • Posts: 401
Re: Why the 12mm prime barrier?

Chris666666 wrote:

Laowa have exploited the territory. There has been a 7.5mm available for several years, and a new 10mm has just been launched. Both are f2.0

And both manual focus.  Someone needs to update the list on Wikipedia.

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Chris666666 Regular Member • Posts: 271
Re: Why the 12mm prime barrier?
2

mount evans wrote:

Chris666666 wrote:

Laowa have exploited the territory. There has been a 7.5mm available for several years, and a new 10mm has just been launched. Both are f2.0

And both manual focus. Someone needs to update the list on Wikipedia.

Manual focus is not an issue because of the massive depth of field with lenses this wide, even if you are unfamiliar with using manual lenses.

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Impulses Veteran Member • Posts: 7,701
Re: Why the 12mm prime barrier?

mount evans wrote:

Chris666666 wrote:

Laowa have exploited the territory. There has been a 7.5mm available for several years, and a new 10mm has just been launched. Both are f2.0

And both manual focus. Someone needs to update the list on Wikipedia.

Most of the widest (3rd party) FF UWA primes from the likes of CV and Laowa are manual focus too, but they do go much much wider than what's available in smaller formats (Laowa has 9/5.6 & 11/4.5 FF primes, along with some faster ones like 12/2.8 & 15/2, and even a 10-18 zoom)... There's a few third party FF UWA primes with AF at 14-16mm (I believe there's a Sony 16/1.8 GM on the way) but just like M4/3, the zooms tend to outsell the primes by a considerable margin so 1st parties focus on that, eg Sony's 12-24 & 16-35 zooms at f2.8 & f4.

FF options at 18-20mm are much more plentiful tho, with AF even and whether 1st or third party. M4/3 had a pretty bad hole here until Laowa started releasing native UWA primes, the 7/2 is great and the 10/2 and even the 9/2.8 (APS-C transplant) all look pretty good. The system is spoiled with zoom choices tho, back when there were only 2 I never thought it'd end up with 4-5 1st party UWA zooms. There's also the Kowa Prominar 8.5/2.8 btw and the SLR Magic 8/4, Laowa's just ended up being the most popular but they aren't the only player that tried to patch that hole for M4/3.

If I was still shooting M4/3 for wides (mostly using it for teles now) I'd have bought that Laowa 10/2 even tho I already have the 7.5/2... I lusted after the Voigtlander 10.5/0.95 for a long time (has a pretty unique look, including those sunstars) but the combination of it's weight/bulk and MF kept me at bay (bad coma correction too), I eventually scratched that itch with something way sharper at a similar equivalent aperture and at a similar size & price (but lighter!). :>

APS-C systems have had the Samyang 12/2 (18mm equivalent) and later the Laowa 9/2.8, I was kinda jealous of that for a while but the number of nice UWA zooms M4/3 ended up with squashed that jealousy for me. That being said, the better or premium M4/3 (and APS-C) UWA zooms are really not much smaller or lighter than some of the FF ones (eg Nikon Z 14-30 f4, Tamron 17-28 f2.8). There's nothing as compact as the Oly 9-18 elsewhere tho, I started with that and sometimes I kinda miss it. Useful range, very little flaring (often a big issue with UWA zooms on larger formats) and you can even use filters on it.

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Skeeterbytes Forum Pro • Posts: 19,166
Re: Why the 12mm prime barrier?
2

Folks with the 8/1.8 fisheye Pro seem happy with the in-camera conversion to rectilinear option. It's certainly fast and sharp, from results I've seen.

Just got the Laowa 7.5/2 and am happy with initial results. It's obviously not a chore to focus (except very close to the subject wide open, then care is needed) and it's adorably tiny, good bagmate with the other compact primes.

IMO there's a market for an AF rectilinear prime between 8 and 10mm, should someone choose to make it.

Cheers,

Rick

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Impulses Veteran Member • Posts: 7,701
Re: Why the 12mm prime barrier?
1

Yeah the live defish option on higher end Oly bodies with the Pro fisheye seems neat, particularly because it eliminates the biggest pitfall of defishing (not being able to visualize how it'll end up)... The lens isn't even that large, about the size of the 75/1.8 IIRC. I'd have jumped on that if it was any cheaper and/or had I bought an Oly body with that option much sooner.

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Jan Chelminski Senior Member • Posts: 2,466
get an adapter?
2

I have a metabones 0.64X adapter and think it's excellent, although I have not tested AF with it yet.

Mounting a 14mm f/2.8 lens gives 9mm f/1.8, and there are quite a few other EF mount lenses to consider. As an example, I have a small vintage 24mm f/2 lens about to arrive, it will mostly be used adapted, as a 15.4mm f/1.2.

The Viltrox 0.71X AF adapter is excellent and only costs about $150.

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TheEye
TheEye Veteran Member • Posts: 4,865
It used to be worse
1

Your question is a good one and I don't have a good answer but I can offer some observations. Whenever I brought up my desire for a UWA prime, I was advised to either go for one of the zooms (9-18, 11-22) or to get a WA adapter for the 14mm f/2.5. I just think the demand for primes was not high enough to entice either Panasonic or Olympus to come out with UWA primes. Many 4/3 and later m4/3 shooters seemed to disproportionally more into wildlife photography and showed thus more interest in longer focal ranges.

Maybe it's just me but I think a basic set of primes ranging from UWA to tele should be part of any photosystem. What we got were lots of duplicate and near duplicate focal length vario lenses, and warmed-up newer versions of the same old lenses.

Back in 2009 when I bought into 4/3 I never expected Olympus and Panasonic to not add within a reasonable timeframe either a 10 or 9mm prime. That was the only time I ever bought into an immature system and it will never do it again.

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eques Veteran Member • Posts: 3,890
MF with UWA
2

Chris666666 wrote:

mount evans wrote:

Chris666666 wrote:

Laowa have exploited the territory. There has been a 7.5mm available for several years, and a new 10mm has just been launched. Both are f2.0

And both manual focus. Someone needs to update the list on Wikipedia.

Manual focus is not an issue because of the massive depth of field with lenses this wide, even if you are unfamiliar with using manual lenses.

Depth of field is a theoretical construct of acceptable lack of sharpness.

I have a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye lens, and even on my 24 inch screen and f/5.6 it can be seen very well when my subject is out of focus.

The main problem is, that there is no hard stop at infinity and so it is easy to set focus beyond infinity without realising this in the EVF or LCD screen. So you have to use focus magnification to get a really sharp result.

I expect this will apply to the Laowa lenses as well.

Peter

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prsc Regular Member • Posts: 182
Re: Why the 12mm prime barrier?
1

Chris666666 wrote:

mount evans wrote:

Chris666666 wrote:

Laowa have exploited the territory. There has been a 7.5mm available for several years, and a new 10mm has just been launched. Both are f2.0

And both manual focus. Someone needs to update the list on Wikipedia.

Manual focus is not an issue because of the massive depth of field with lenses this wide, even if you are unfamiliar with using manual lenses.

It's the exact opposite. Due to the long acceptable sharpness range it'll be tough to focus exactly where you want to. Isn't really a problem for far away subjects when using small aperture, but can really hinder the performance when you're closer to the subject and need to use the lens wide open.

Skeeterbytes Forum Pro • Posts: 19,166
Re: MF with UWA

eques wrote:

Chris666666 wrote:

Manual focus is not an issue because of the massive depth of field with lenses this wide, even if you are unfamiliar with using manual lenses.

Depth of field is a theoretical construct of acceptable lack of sharpness.

I have a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye lens, and even on my 24 inch screen and f/5.6 it can be seen very well when my subject is out of focus.

The main problem is, that there is no hard stop at infinity and so it is easy to set focus beyond infinity without realising this in the EVF or LCD screen. So you have to use focus magnification to get a really sharp result.

I expect this will apply to the Laowa lenses as well.

Peter

The Laowa 7.5 can be focused past the infinity mark by a small amount before it hits the stop. I haven't experimented yet to find out whether that means it can overshoot to the point everything is soft. My assumption is the aperture scale and focus marks are sufficiently accurate for hyperfocal focusing. Need to figure that out too.

Cheers,

Rick

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Yar1971 Regular Member • Posts: 205
Obsolete question since 2017 at least
1

This is the introduction date of Laowa 7.5/2.0. Nowadays You have also brand new Laowa 10/2.0 and from some time Laowa 9/2.8 (adapted from APS-C). There are also some other lenses, less known or exotic:

-Kowa Prominar 8.5/2.8 (2015-2016 or earlier, rather good, big/heavy, expensive, very little known) EDIT: 2014-2015

-Voigtlander Nocton10/0.95 (2014, not very successful, big/heavy, expensive)

-SLR Magic 8/4.0 (2017, specific lens, probably mostly for video/drone use)

-Samyang 10/2.8 (2013, but originally for APS-C DSLR's, later adapted for some mirrorless mounts, big/heavy)

There are also some cine versions of some above lenses and 1-2 other original cine/video lenses too. All mentioned MF only. Not a problem for <12mm lens. There's a t least 1 AF prime in this FL range, Oly 8/1.8, but it's a fish-eye lens

As You can see, there were some UWA rectilinear primes <12mm even before Laowa, but due to their specific bulk, price or other factors they were not generally user friendly. Laowa 7.5 was a game changer here.

Regards,

-J.

phouphou Regular Member • Posts: 472
Re: And FF mirrorless goes to 9mm rectilinear.
1

mount evans wrote:

full-frame DSLR systems have primes going down to 14mm despite having to design around a flapping mirror.

just FYI The widest rectilinear lens available for any system:

https://phillipreeve.net/blog/review-laowa-9mm-5-6-ff-rl/

So the question could also be: Is it possible to design a 4.5mm rectilinear lens for MFT mount?

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