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.