2484 – Compared To What II

As I said, I used to buy lots and lots of lenses for my Nikon system, and while I still like buying lenses for Micro Four Thirds, my approach is different now. I began to sell.

I have owned four Panasonic lenses, the 14/2.5, the 20/1.7. the 25/1.4 and the super-big, super-heavy (for Micro Four Thirds standards) 7-14. The 7-14 is obviously wider than the 9-18, but apart from its physical characteristics, it had a big, big problem: on the OM-D it ghosts and flares like mad. It’s not just the usual kind of lens flares, it’s lots of purple flares whenever a light source is in the frame.

It does that not only with the sun in the frame, lots of good lenses do that, even the fabulous Sigma 8-16 on my Nikon did it, no, you see those ugly internal reflections even with artificial lights in the frame. Strong street lights can cause it, lights in the Underground, head lights of cars, and that all builds up to a big problem, at least for someone like me, who absolutely loves shooting into the light.

My first image with the new lens was taken at the shop, at 9 mm, wide open, and looking out through the window onto a brightly sunlit street. That’s as bad as it can get in terms of purple fringing, but although there is some of it in extreme situations, it’s well controlled and no problem to get rid of in Lightroom. That’s much better than the two cheap Panasonic lenses, about on par with the Panaleica and the 7-14. Of course lateral CA is also there, but it’s well corrected in in-camera JPEGs, and – as always – Lightroom does an excellent job removing it when developing from RAW.

The images in this post have all been processed, but I have not cloned out any flares. Although the images have the sun in or slightly out of the frame, there is only minimal ghosting. In that respect the 9-18 is not only infinitely better than the Panasonic 7-14, it’s better or at least as good than the Sigma 8-16 or any of the wide-angle lenses that I’ve ever owned.

The near focus distance is 25 cm, that’s the same as the Panasonic’s and one centimeter more than the Sigma. Actually the Sigma on a Nikon adapter would have been the wider lens and the one to focus closer, and while I still had the Sigma, for a short time I had even considered keeping it. Of course it is twice as big and with the adapter it’s four times as heavy as the Oly 🙂

In terms of size and weight the Panasonic was considerably better than the Sigma, and now the Olympus is much better again.

Well, here we are. My new lens is not as wide as some that I had in the past, its optical quality is not as high either, but in terms of usability it is exactly what I always wanted. I finally can carry an ultra-wide at all times, just in case I need it, and the weight does not break my back. You’ll see a lot of pictures made with this lens in the following days.

The Song of the Day is “Compared To What” from Roberta Flack’s 1969 album “First Take”. Hear it on YouTube.

11 thoughts on “2484 – Compared To What II”

  1. Now I am curious, Andreas: I have the 1,7/20mm, and the only thing I miss from my previous Sony experience is the possibility to carelessly shoot backlight situations. The amount of purple in the m43 images can be really garish.
    Is the Olympus 1.8/17mm better in this respect, too?

    1. Yes. On Olympus cameras most Panasonic lenses seem to have badly coltrolles purple fringing. The exeption among those I’ve tried is the 25/1.4.

      1. … and this is the only one left of the Panasonic gang, I guess. It’s kind of a dream lens for me, but I think the 17mm might prove to be more usable for me and in the end replace the 20mm.

  2. Andreas,

    Nice pictures from that lens. The 9-18 has been tempting my for some time now. I like the idea of super wide, especially in a small package. My 12-50 is pretty wide too, so I keep thinking, the extra 3mm may not add much extra, or does it? Thinking in terms of 35mm equivalent (as most of us do) that really is 6mm of difference…. still not that big of a difference.

    What I think I would really like is a super wide prime. I have the 20mm and that is only a bit on the wide but I love the size and the image quality. The Oly 12mm is tempting but a bit pricey for me. The Pany 14 is not really wide enough and has not had great reviews. Not interested in fisheye. So…

    Maybe I should just be happy with what I already have.

    1. John, the 6mm here make a huge difference! I can confirm Andreas’ opinion about the 9-18mm: optically decent and marvellous in terms of size.

    2. Millimeters on the short side do more in terms of visual impression than millimerters on the long side. It’s not linear. Yes, it makes quite a difference.

  3. So far I’ve not run into the issue. Then again I’ve not shot much into the sun with the Lumix.

      1. The OM-D, I’ve finally abandoned the DSLR, sold all my Canon equipment. For pretty much the same reasons as you, too much bulk and the micro 4/3 rds sensors are of excellent quality. But I’ve not tried to shoot into the sun with the Lumix. Out of habit I keep the sun out of the frame.

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