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  Micro Four Thirds (MFT, M43, Micro 4/3, M4/3) Lens Reviews...             

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DAVID RUETHER     All Copyright 2012-2016     (updated 10/16/16)
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INTRODUCTION: 

All of this began with an effort to improve video performance (and operational control ability) over what I could do with shooting video with the excellent Panasonic TM700 camcorder. While the image-quality was very good (it appeared to be the best of what was offered by small-sensor equipped camcorders using the AVCHD 28Mbps 1920x1080-60P standard), it could be improved upon in some ways, and I was never a fan of the TM700's menus and controls, especially when switching between automatic and manual modes. The quest for a better (affordable!) video camera led me to Panasonic's still cameras, which appeared (in side-by-side comparisons) to easily surpass the competition in most respects for video image quality. I was headed for the Panasonic GH3, but while I waited for it to appear on the US market, I began using a borrowed GH2 (which I soon replaced with a small GF3) for checking lenses. As I began to collect the lenses covered below, I also began to realize that an interest in still photography was returning (and this has become my third "incarnation" as a photographer...;-). During the next year I took about thirty thousand stills - and I was having great fun again with photography! At about three and a half years "in" at this point (mid-2016), the total number of photos I've taken with this gear has exceeded 170,000 frames (with the electronic shutters being mostly used for their quiet and shake-free operation, and for their not wearing out with use, unlike with mechanical shutters). All of those photos were taken as JPGs rather than as RAW images, both for storage reasons and because I have never been convinced that there is much of an advantage in shooting in RAW if the JPGs from the camera are of high quality and they are also taken with camera settings chosen that preserve the tonal range of interest. With Panasonic MFT bodies, I often shoot in "Portrait" mode with the contrast set down some (with higher contrast modes and settings used when using very long FL lenses, or for other specific purposes), the saturation set up some, with moderate settings of "iDynamic" and "iResolution" on, with the "Shadow-Highlight" curve (if available) set a bit higher in the shadows (and with the G7, a bit lower in the highlights), with the color balance of the WB presets adjusted for my preferences, and with the viewfinders adjusted in all of their characteristics to most accurately show me what the cameras are recording. I also leave the photo preview mode on "Hold" for instant feedback on all photos taken, with removal of the preview image accomplished with a half-press of the shutter release - and I wear a hat with a wide brim to better shade the EVFs.

While video interests suffered more than a little as a result of this renewed interest in photography, I've kept an interest in video. A pair of Panasonic G5s and then a G6 (purchased for both their stills-capabilities and for their video-capabilities), and these plus the GX7 and the GH3 appeared to shoot high-quality 1920x1080 "60"P video - although the feature-sets varied considerably among them. The GH3's feature-set was beginning to look limited in some ways compared with the others, so I did not buy that more expensive camera. Along the way, I noticed some shortcomings with using still cameras for video - mainly the difficulties related to shooting smooth, slow, long-range zooms, and (except for the GH2 and GH3 at the time) their limitations in the available inputs and outputs for using external microphones and for sound and picture monitoring. The G6 did offer a stereo microphone input, but its gain was too low to work well with many convenient and inexpensive mics. While there were workarounds for this with the G6, they were all somewhat awkward to use. The new GH4 was VERY interesting when it was announced, and I preordered it immediately. This last has been one of the best of the many good cameras I have owned, for both stills and video (and the GH4 can also shoot excellent 4K video, as can several others of the newest Panasonic cameras). When the G7 was announced, I also preordered that camera, which offers most of the advantages and features of the GH4 (at least for stills), but in a smaller, lighter, and less expensive package - and this quickly became another favorite camera for stills. The best ten Panasonic cameras (including the recently-introduced G85, GX85, GX8, G7, tiny GM5, and the fixed-lens LX100 and FZ1000) are generally considered excellent for image-quality when shooting video, especially if one uses the 4K mode with the cameras that provide it, down-sizing it to 1080. The best of all for my use with video is the GH4, either with 4K down-sized to 1080 (if one can tolerate a maximum frame rate of 30fps, which I find difficult to do...!;-), or with 1080-60P at 100Mbps (which looks better to me than the same at 200Mbps, All-I). For practicality reasons, I often use 1080-60P at 50Mbps with the GH4, which is very close in quality to the same at 100Mbps - but it is much easier to work with and to store. And, it is now possible to write edited 1080-60P video at 28Mbps to both DVD and Blu-ray disks, which are playable (and look wonderful!) on most recent Blu-ray players.

Of the many things I like about the Micro Four Thirds gear (also called "MFT", "Micro 4/3", "M-43", etc.), I most appreciate the generally small size and light weight of this gear, and also its relatively lower prices compared with what I had been using previously (35mm gear became too heavy for me to handle, and too expensive for me to keep up with - and I've sold off much of my Nikon and larger-format gear to finance this new gear, but I have kept some Nikon-mount lenses that work well on MFT). MFT gear is really FUN to use, and as a bonus (at least in decent light - but I've successfully used some of this gear in low-light, too, using ISOs as high as 3200 for interiors, and 2000 for exteriors - and my favorite camera for this is the G7), image quality can be excellent (good enough for making very sharp 16"x20" prints, or even larger ones - and also for delivering excellent video imagery). Another bonus with using this MFT gear is the range of lens types and focal-lengths now available for it - with a bit of a surprise at the long end, with finding inexpensive ways to shoot stills and video in practical and convenient ways with VERY long focal-length lenses (out to 2,000mm-equivalent in 35mm full-frame terms, and even a bit more than that). For video, FLs out to 1440mm-equivalent are now also both cheap and small, and using FLs out to 2,400mm-equivalent is sometimes practical (although with all of this, atmospheric conditions can strongly affect what can be done...!). In addition to lenses made specifically for the MFT format, almost all other interchangeable lenses made for APS-C/DX (and larger) formats can be adapted cheaply to MFT. Also, the adapters used for doing this generally have enough physical depth available to include an additional function within the adapter, such as a preset-diaphragm mechanism (which works well with lenses that have aperture rings), a lens perspective-control shift, a lens DOF-increasing tilt, and even an optical converter to shorten the effective FL and increase the lens speed of adapted lenses (Metabones). Unfortunately, when adapting lenses from larger formats to MFT, it appears that all sensors are not equal when it comes to changing formats with some lenses (especially with wide-angles and unusually fast lenses), and results with using adapted lenses can sometimes be disappointing. Additionally, I was surprised to find recently that of the six Nikon-mount lenses that I can use successfully on MFT bodies, NONE was usable when adapted to a Sony a6000 24-MP APS-C body for shooting JPGs due to excessive CA and soft edges and corners. Current top-end MFT cameras now have very good electronic viewfinders ("EVFs"), and the best of these can give considerably more feedback regarding exposure, tonal-qualities, and color-characteristics (if they are carefully set up to best-match what the cameras record to the memory cards) compared with optical VFs. Also, the AF in mirrorless cameras does not depend on using a secondary focus system, so it does not require individual lens calibration for best accuracy - and it tends to be fast and accurate (it uses the sensor information itself to determine focus), and it also permits focus anywhere within the frame, unlike with the discrete-position focus sensors in most cameras with optical viewing. In addition, the electronic-shutter option on most of these cameras permits quiet (or silent!) shooting that is also free from "shutter-bounce" (and also "mirror-bounce", since there are no mirrors in MFT cameras) - and electronic shutters also do not wear out with heavy use, unlike mechanical shutters. However, with using electronic shutters there can be some visible geometric distortion ("rolling shutter distortion") resulting from rapid relative movement differences between the camera and subject elements. This generally is not a problem, but it can show prominently with vehicles passing near the camera, or with unsteady attempts to hand hold very long focal length lenses while shooting buildings. For these conditions (along with using flash, which requires the use of the mechanical shutter), it may be better to switch to using the mechanical shutter. For other than those specific exceptions, I generally prefer to use my cameras' electronic shutters.

Within the MFT "universe", there are two main players, Panasonic and Olympus, with Blackmagic and some others also offering some cameras that use this format. In addition, many additional manufacturers now offer lenses for MFT cameras. MFT lenses fit some Blackmagic video cameras, but those may use relatively few of the options offered by the lenses, and the Pocket Cinema Camera also has a smaller-than-MFT sensor area. Some of Panasonic's "pro" camcorders also use MFT lenses and sensors. Many camera bodies, lenses, and accessories are now offered for the MFT format, making this system extensive, complete, and mature at this point. Also, lenses offered by most other camera and lens makers can be adapted to MFT bodies cheaply and easily, although (as mentioned earlier) I've found that many of these lenses do not work well on this format for optical reasons, and some also do not work well (such as Canon lenses, and some Nikkors) for mechanical/electrical reasons (there is no way to control the lens aperture mechanically, although as of now, a Metabones adapter has appeared that has the necessary electrical contacts to do this and more - and a Kipon adapter also supplies electrical contacts...). In general, I've found that adapted lenses from larger formats shorter than about 50mm in FL do not work very well (with some notable exceptions, including a few of them listed below...). Surprising was finding that lenses and bodies from the two main MFT manufacturers also often do not mix well cross-brand due to differences in design philosophies regarding what corrections should be made where. Panasonic tends to "under-design" their lenses in order to keep their sizes, weights, and prices lower, choosing to correct residual linear distortion, chromatic problems, etc. in their camera bodies (where these can often be better-corrected) with JPGs and in video shot with their lenses; Olympus tends to produce more "finished" lenses, but residual problems can be more evident in JPGs and in video - but photo-editors generally offer corrections for still-image deficiencies when shooting RAW image-files. The most recent Olympus cameras, though, now offer corrections for chromatic problems (for Olympus lenses only) in the body, and the Panasonic GX7 and GX8 now offer in-camera stabilization (but it's unfortunately not available for use with video, at least with the GX7 - but this is changing with newer models...) - and the GX8 also now offers combined body and lens stabilization with most Panasonic lenses that have stabilization (although the lenses may need a firmware update for this to work). In general, Panasonic now offers stabilization in most of their lenses; Olympus offers it in their camera bodies, although Olympus now offers in-lens stabilization in their newest very-long FL lens, the 300mm f4 (where in-lens stabilization may be superior compared with in-body stabilization - and combining the two types is VERY effective). Another difference between Panasonic and Olympus bodies appears to be in the amount of image processing applied to JPGs. At the default camera JPG settings for each, Panasonic images may tend to look "less thrilling" straight out of the camera than Olympus images, but with careful choice of menu settings and careful work on the results, I find that the Panasonic JPG images can be quite excellent. I prefer Panasonic's choice of using less "native" processing at the default menu settings, and letting the user adjust the amount of processing for each of the JPG image characteristics either in the camera body menus, or later during editing where it can often be done better - or by combining both methods, which is my choice. Since I shoot only JPG images, this is important to me. I set up the camera menus for best color neutrality and widest tonal range possible (without departing too far from "reality"), and then I use the result to get what I want in the final image while processing it in Gimp (available free, from www.GIMP.org).

When I was first considering Panasonic MFT cameras, I found the various (and numerous) different models confusing (and this is still true for me with Olympus MFT models, which have more complex, less logical, and less memorable designations). So, here is a brief description for "what is what" in the Panasonic MFT-format interchangeable-lens camera body line-up - with all but the GX8 (with 20-megapixels) having 16-megapixel sensors (except for some of the earliest models, with 12-megapixels), with most having touch-screens, and with the highest number with each model type being that of the current model:
-- GM1/5):  An extremely small (and therefore somewhat difficult to hold) camera body - with the GM5 adding a small EVF (eye-level electronic viewfinder) and 1080-60P video (with no mic input).
-- GF1/2/3/5/6/7:  A very compact "casual-shooter's" camera body, but one without an EVF - with the GF7 adding a tilting rear screen and 1080-60P video (with no mic input), plus some other interesting capabilities that would appeal to a "snapshooter".
-- G1/2/3/5/6/7/85:  A compact "DSLR-style" camera body with a built-in top EVF - with the G5 adding a sharp EVF, and the G6 adding an OLED EVF for better color and contrast (but unfortunately with lower visual sharpness compared with the G5's EVF), with focus peaking and a mic input for the 1080-60P video. The G7 added somewhat increased size and weight (although it is still compact and very light), a myriad of control buttons and knobs, a superb EVF with focus-peaking (it's similar to the GH4's, GX8's, and G85's EVF), tonal-response curve adjustment, 4K video and photo modes, and a mic input. The G85 added weather-resistance, in-body stabilization, removal of the anti-aliasing filter, and a metal body internal front structure.
-- GX1/7/85/8:  The GX1, 7, and 85 have compact "horizontal design" camera bodies - with the GX7 and GX8 having a good tilting built-in EVF (instead of the bulky and expensive accessory EVF available for the GX1), a tilting rear screen, in-body stabilization (also with the GX85), tonal-response curve adjustment, and 1080-60P video (with no mic input). The GX8 added a considerably larger and heavier metal-framed "pro" weather-sealed body, a fully articulated rear screen, a larger tilting EVF (similar in performance to the ones in the GH4 and G7), combined in-body and in-lens stabilization (as did the GX85 and G85, usable with most Panasonic lenses that include optical stabilization), 4K video and photo modes, and a mic input. The GX8 offers a 20-MP sensor; the GX85 removed the anti-aliasing filter from its 16-MP sensor.
-- GH1/2/3/4:  The GH1 and GH2 were very compact "DSLR-style" cameras, but the GH3 and GH4 are considerably larger and heavier (having metal frames and weather-sealing, and some "pro" video features added), although they are still very light and small compared with most "pro-oriented" APS-C and "full-frame" camera bodies - and the MFT lenses for them are also generally FAR smaller and lighter! The GH3 added 1080-60P video at higher than usual data rates and a headphone output to go along with the the mic input. The GH4 added a very sharp EVF with very good color and contrast characteristics, focus-peaking, tonal-response curve adjustment, 4K video (and photo, with a firmware update), 96fps 1080P video, and much higher than usual video data rates.
My personal favorites among the above are the G5, G7, and GH4 (to which I add, for stills, the very compact small-sensored Panasonic LX7 - and likely also the GX8 and GX85, which I have not yet used...). 

As for lens selection, I'm an admitted "sharpness-nut" - and a "pathological pixel-peeper"! I like SHARP images, so I select lenses that are best of type, and then (if necessary) I select the best manufacturing sample of a particular lens that I can practically get. The latter is done by thoroughly checking out a new lens with real-world subjects (NOT test charts!) for evenness of performance around the opposite frame edges and among the four corners. If a lens fails this test, I return it for a replacement and test again (an article on lens-testing written in the35mm film era, but still with some possibly useful information, is here: http://www.David-Ruether-Photography.com/lens-testing.htm). Generally, I find a satisfactory lens sample with the first try about half of the time, and a satisfactory sample with either the second or third try for the rest (with choosing from the likely "good" lenses available, based on published test reports, reviews, and full-resolution photo samples). With Samyang-made lenses (which often have great lens designs, and which are also often relatively inexpensive), there is far too often great sample variability - and I've gone through as many as six samples of one lens to find a good one. While checking new lenses, I also check for what is the best stop to use for overall best performance, especially in the corners, and I tend to use that stop with each lens. This is more important with wide-angle lenses and wide-angle FLs included with zooms than with medium or long FL lenses, which tend to have more even center-to-corner performance (at least when stopped down some). *When necessary* (if a better lens is unavailable, or it is unacceptably expensive, large, or heavy), I will accept a lens that is somewhat softer in the corners/edges, but *ONLY* if it can be acceptably sharpened while editing to look evenly sharp everywhere in the frame. Otherwise, it is too "special-purpose" to be useful to me. Ideally, good lenses do not limit what (and how) you shoot with them; but in the "real world", there are no perfect lenses - but by selecting them well (our "tools"...), they can be less limiting. Since I prefer to use the optimum stop(s) for each lens (for best overall sharpness to the image corners), this means that I generally use Aperture-Priority exposure mode, and bias that as necessary using the available exposure bias control on the camera. With good stabilizers (and steady hands), limiting the ISO to 800 with the GH4 and G7 and to 400 with the others, I can shoot successfully hand-held with many lenses indoors, or even with extremely long focal-length lenses outdoors - although this may require timing subject movement for the least ill effect, and taking multiple frames of the same thing to get optimum results (I will do almost anything to avoid the severe positional and framing limitations imposed by tripods!). In addition to using good "known" lenses at their optimum stops, I also sharpen photos carefully during editing (in multiple steps, alternating "Sharpen" and "Unsharp-Mask" overall during editing in Gimp, now often adding sharpening in Piccure+3 software, followed by further local sharpening - and I may also include some "Gaussian-blur" to smooth some out of focus areas, if needed). The recently added Piccure+ sharpening software to use as a final step in preparing some photos, and this can improve image sharpness a bit with many photos without adding noticeable sharpening artifacts. My photo editing also includes adjustments to color-balance, brightness/contrast, saturation (including modifying individual colors), the tonal-response curve, etc. Sometimes it does feel like I'm "painting" a photo - but it is the end result that counts, not how it was achieved...!

Recently I acquired a used infrared-modified G5 body (Thanks, KEH.com!) that has been great fun to use, with over 14,000 frames shot with it in the relatively short time I've had it, and I have added some samples to the reviews of the lenses I have that work well with IR imaging - which are the Panasonic 12-32mm f3.5-5.6, 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 PZ, 20mm f1.7, 25mm f1.7, 30mm f2.8, 42.5mm f1.7, the Nikkor 400mm f5.6 ED non-IF, the Rokinon 14mm f2.8, the Nikkor 28-70mm f3.5-4.5, the Olympus 40-150mm f4-5.6, and the Sigma 60mm f2.8 (with the last four plus the Panasonic 25mm, 30mm, 42.5mm, and 14-42mm PZ lenses being the best of all).

Below are my findings with some of the available lenses for MFT when used on Panasonic bodies, and also with some of the available lens accessories. Click on an item in the list below to go directly to it. Some additional Nikkor lenses that work well on MFT cameras are listed (with samples) here --
http://www.David-Ruether-Photography.com/Mostly-MFT-PHOTOS.htm 

A note to finish this rather "windy" introduction --
For me, there are two items I would like to see Panasonic make: a high-quality 1.4X tele-converter suitable for use with both short and long focal length lenses, and a moderately-priced powered rocker-controlled high-quality fairly wide-range constant-aperture MFT zoom lens suitable for video (one that has a slow, "crawling" zoom speed available, and which can also hold both focus and exposure constant while zooming - but the lens need not be fast for my use). And, I'm very tempted to add the Nikon-lens-to-MFT Metabones Speed Booster to my collection...;-) Also, I hope soon to add a large collection of photographs taken with this gear on a new page on this website, collected in groups by concept rather than by the lenses used...

--DR
 

       

ROKINON 7.5mm f3.5
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PANASONIC 7-14mm f4
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VOIGTLANDER 12mm f5.6
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SAMYANG 12mm f2
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PANASONIC 12-32mm f3.5-5.6  (plus GFC1 fisheye converter and close-up lens, and with infrared)
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PANASONIC 12-60mm f3.5-5.6
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ROKINON 14mm f2.8 on KIPON MFT-to-Nikkor lens shift (PC) adapter  (plus with infrared)
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PANASONIC 14mm f2.5  (plus Konica-Minolta .8X and Olympus 180 degree circular fisheye converters)
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PANASONIC 14-42mm f3.5-5.6
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PANASONIC 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II  (plus IPIX fisheye converter)
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PANASONIC 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 PZ  (plus GFC1 fisheye converter and close-up lens, and with infrared)
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PANASONIC 14-45mm f3.5-5.6  (plus Konica-Minolta achromat)
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NIKKOR 16mm f3.5
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SIGMA 19mmf2.8  (plus Olympus and IPIX 180-degree circular fisheye converters)
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PANASONIC 20mm f1.7  (plus with infrared)
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PANASONIC 25mm f1.7  (plus Sigma achromat, and with infrared)
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PANASONIC 30mm f2.8  Macro  (plus ES1 slide-copier, and with infrared)
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NIKKOR 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 on EZFOTO MFT-to-Nikkor lens tilt-adapter  (plus with infrared)
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TAMRON 28-135mm f4-4.5
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OLYMPUS 40-150mm f4-5.6  (plus Sigma achromat, and with infrared)
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PANASONIC 42.5mm f1.7  (plus with infrared)
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PANASONIC 45-175mm f4-5.6 PZ  (plus 2X and 4X digital, and with achromat)
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PANASONIC 45-200mm f4-5.6
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RODENSTOCK Apo-Rodagon 50mm f2.8
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SIGMA 60mm f2.8  (plus various macro accessories, and with infrared)
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PANASONIC 100-300mm f4-5.6  (plus 2X and 4X digital and Nikon 3T achromat, and with infrared)
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TOKINA 300mm f6.3 Mirror
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NIKKOR 400mm f5.6 ED non-IF  (plus Nikkor TC300 and Nikon 5T achromat, and with infrared)
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NIKKOR 500mm f8 Mirror  (plus Nikkor TC300)
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STITCHED and MANIPULATED PHOTOGRAPHS
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FOTASY auto extension tubes for MFT
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FOTASY MFT-to-M39 lens adapter
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RAINBOWIMAGING and K&F CONCEPT MFT-to-NIKON "G" lens adapters
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KIPON MFT-to-Nikkor lens shift-adapter  (plus Rokinon 14mm lens)
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EZFOTO MFT-to-Nikkor lens tilt-adapter  (plus Nikkor 50mm and 28-70mm lenses)


MORE PHOTOS ARE AVAILABLE HERE  (This page is also large - so it may be slow in loading...)

 

    ROKINON 7.5mm f3.5

    

    

    

    
    - 7.5mm at f11.5 (Infrared B&W) -

- ROKINON 7.5mm f3.5 "fisheye": 

Samyang/Rokinon/Bower/Vivitar/Pro-Optic/Opteka/etc. lenses (they are all made by Samyang in South Korea) are often superb optical designs (sometimes easily outperforming some of the FAR more expensive "big-brand" alternatives), BUT sample variation can be a problem with these. This full-frame 180-degree-coverage (on the 4:3 frame diagonal) "fisheye" lens for MFT has the potential for being a great lens, and (in a good sample) it peaks in performance at the half-stop between f5.6 and f8, where it is very sharp everywhere in the frame and it shows very minimal CA, flare, and ghosting even under the most difficult conditions - but, it took six samples to get the one I kept! Unfortunately, with this lens the infinity mark is also generally not accurately placed, and the other marked focus points are not very useful for scale-focusing this lens. Accurate focus is best done wide-open using viewfinder magnification (although its great DOF may cover some focus errors). Unfortunately, with my infrared converted G5 and this sample of the 7.5mm lens, infinity-focus cannot be achieved - but, by stopping the lens down to f11.5, the DOF is sufficient to cover the error. Exposure can be done either in manual mode (with the meter displayed) or in aperture-priority auto-mode, using exposure bias to make adjustments, if needed. The only reservation I have with this lens (other than the sample-variation problem, not unknown even with MUCH more expensive brands of lenses) is that the barrel is short, and knuckles, microphones, feet, clothes, etc. do have a way of often appearing in photos. This lens has no functional autofocus or stabilization (in common with all other lenses without electrical contacts), but with very short focal-length lenses, neither is really necessary. Even though it is relatively very inexpensive, this little super wide angle lens can be very sharp everywhere in the frame, and it has become one of my favorite lenses. 

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    PANASONIC 7-14mm f4

   
    - 7mm at f9 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - 8mm at f8 - 
    
    - 14mm at f9 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                - 8mm at f7.1 -
    
    - 7mm at f7.1 -                                                                                                                                                                                                               - 7mm at f6.3 -
    
    - 7mm at f9 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - 7mm at f9 -

-  PANASONIC 7-14mm f4: 

The Panasonic 7-14mm lens was a problem for me. It cost about twice what I'd ever before paid for a lens, even when I was still making my living with photography. After deciding to "take the plunge" and buy it (based on universally good reviews, and having seen many impressive sample photos at full-resolution), I was disappointed with the somewhat poor edge performance at the wider FLs, and the soft extreme corners at all FLs, that I found with my first sample of this lens. Amazon was (as usual) wonderful about exchanges, and the next sample was somewhat better (but still disappointing to this "sharpness-nut" and admitted "pixel-peeper"). With the third try, I again got a slight improvement in performance. I found that the best center-to-corner performance with this last sample at the wide end of its zoom range (at 7mm) for exterior photos was at f10, not at f5.6 as recommended by most reviewers, and that it was best at 8mm at f8 - and that it was good stopped down to about f13 near its "long" end.
For interiors, f6.3-7.1 worked well enough. Since I like using wide-angles of all sorts, and this FL-range was important to me, I decided to accept the third sample and to live with its shortcomings. It is, after all, about half the price of the reportedly somewhat inferior original Olympus 7-14mm, and it is less than half the price of the reportedly excellent Nikkor 14-24mm for full-frame 35mm (and it is FAR smaller and lighter than either of these) - and the less-wide (but smaller and cheaper) Olympus 9-18mm (which can accept front filters, unlike the Panasonic 7-14mm) shows too much CA to please me. The newer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 appears to be roughly equal in performance to the Panasonic 7-14mm, but I have not been tempted to buy it since it is larger, heavier, and more expensive than the Panasonic. I'm happy I made the decision to buy this lens, and I have gotten impressively-sharp 16.5"x22" (image-area) prints made from photos shot with it after some work had been done on the images in a good photo editor. While getting that kind of result may take some extra work on the original images shot toward the short end of its FL range, the results have been worth it! This lens has no stabilizer (but it doesn't really need it), and it is not perfect (sharpness falls off noticeably toward the corners, ghosting can be prominent under some conditions - although flare is minimal, CA can be noticeable at some mid-FLs under some conditions, and on Olympus bodies, odd magenta "spots" can appear in some images), but I very much enjoy using this surprisingly small and light super-wide zoom, and I can get results from it that please me. In addition, this is the only zoom lens that I have that can be used for video without experiencing exposure "bobbles" during zooming.

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    VOIGTLANDER 12mm f5.6

    

    
 

-  VOIGTLANDER 12mm f5.6 (used with the Fotasy MFT-to-39mm screw-mount adapter, described below): 

This is a very small super-wide lens (when mounted on a camera), originally designed for use on full-frame 35mm - but since I owned it (and the adapter was under $15), I decided to try it on MFT. Results were good, with good sharpness to the corners (it's best stopped down to the half-stop between f8 and f11), a "pleasant" look to its images, low ghosting and flare, and (as with the Nikkor 16mm f3.5 and 28-70mm f3.5-4.5) it renders the sun as a "star" with many long and sharp points. It is best to turn on "Shading Compensation" in menus while a Panasonic lens is on the camera before mounting this lens to improve the otherwise very darkened corners (and that setting is also useful with all other lenses - but it is necessary with this one!). This setting appears to "stick" even though it is "greyed-out" in the menu when this 12mm lens (with no electrical contacts) is mounted. As with all other lenses and adapters without electrical contacts
mounted on the camera, "Shoot without lens - ON" must be selected in menus for the shutter to release. There is no stabilizer (and it is not really needed) or AF (but scale-focusing or manual-focusing with viewfinder magnification is easy and accurate). This lens is expensive, and while it is not the sharpest lens available at its focal-length, it is good, it offers some advantages over the alternatives, and it is fun to use. 

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    SAMYANG 12mm f2
 

-  SAMYANG 12mm f2: 

I tried two samples of this Samyang/Rokinon fast wide-angle lens: the first was not very good, and I returned it for a replacement; the second was considerably better, and a bit sharper overall than the 12-32mm Panasonic lens I had bought before the second Samyang lens arrived. While it was almost "a keeper", and it was surprisingly sharp to the corners wide open (except for the lower right corner that continued to be somewhat soft even at mid stops), its much greater size and weight relative to the 12-32mm *zoom*, its uneven performance, and especially its prominent magenta CA problem (which appears to be typical for this lens - and it's not easily corrected with my favorite photo editor, Gimp) led me to return it for a refund and to enjoy instead the several advantages and greater versatility offered by the little Panasonic zoom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

     -  PANASONIC 12-32mm

    
    - 12mm at f4.5 -                                                                                                                                                                                                             - 12mm at f7.1 -     
    - 12mm at f7.1 -                                                                                                                                                                                                             - 12mm at f7.1 -     
    - 12mm at f3.5 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 12mm at f7.1 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
                                - 15mm at f7.1 + GFC1 fisheye-adapter -                                                                                                                                        - 15mm at f7.1 + GFC1 fisheye-adapter - 
    
    - 17mm at f16 + Vivitar Series 1 37mm "10X" close-up lens -                                                                                                                                  - 32mm at f18 + Vivitar Series 1 37mm "10X" close-up lens -
    
    - 12mm at f7.1 -                                                                                                                                                                                                             - 12mm at f8 - 
    
    - 12mm at f9 (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                    - 12mm at f8 (Infrared B&W)
    
    - 32mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 12mm at f14 - 

-  PANASONIC 12-32mm "pancake": 

This exceedingly small and light zoom lens turned out to be a pleasant surprise! It not only performed unexpectedly well throughout its range, it also performed well with simple 37mm close-up lenses attached throughout its zoom range (if well stopped down), and very well set at 15mm and f7.1 with the Panasonic GFC1 fisheye adapter attached. Used this way, this fisheye adapter is better on this lens than it is on either of the two Panasonic lenses it was designed for, the 14mm and 14-42mm PZ lenses. "Bare", it performs well for interiors even wide-open (at f3.5) at 12mm, but I stop it down to f7.1-f10 for best results outdoors at 12mm, and often to somewhat smaller stops as I approach its not-very-long 32mm maximum zoom FL. This lens also works fairly well with infrared imaging (many lenses do not - and the edges and corners can be a bit soft with this lens used with infrared...). It is a "fun" lens to use, and it has very few negatives - and I prefer it to the one sample of the 12-60mm that I tried. If I were to "nit-pick", these would be my minor complaints: there is a need to do a bit of extra sharpening near the corners (in common with most lenses...); the smooth barrel without gripping ridges at its base "encourages" using a different lens dismounting position from my usual one to avoid inadvertently extending the lens while removing it from the camera; there is no manual focus ring. All of these are very minor issues for me and this lens has quickly become a favorite, especially when I want to travel "small and light". This lens on any Panasonic body will fit into a remarkably small camera bag!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

     -  PANASONIC 12-60mm
 

-  PANASONIC 12-60mm: 

I debated about reviewing/not-reviewing this lens (which I returned), not wishing to "jinx" what may be an excellent choice for use by travel shooters, or others - or which may be considerably better in another sample (lens sample-variation is, unfortunately, not uncommon), but,
here goes...

The good:
For a 5X zoom lens that includes both a fairly wide angle of view at the short end (24mm FF 35mm equivalent) and a medium telephoto at the long end (120mm-equivalent), this lens is remarkably compact and light. Regarding sharpness, much of the center area of the frame (of the sample I received) was quite sharp, with the edges being very good and the far corners being mostly good throughout the zoom range, even at its widest stops. There was also reasonably good consistency between opposite sides and opposite corners of the frame, indicating good optical alignment. Linear distortion was detectable, but it was low throughout, and easily fixed (if desired) in software. Flare and ghosting characteristics were also good, as was the optical stabilization.

The bad:
The "fatal flaw" in this sample (at least for me) was the rather strong blue CA on contrasty edges that could show in some images at some focal lengths, especially toward the sides and corners of the image frame. Since I shoot "massive" numbers of photographs (about 170,000 in the last three and a half years...!), I shoot only JPGs (some CA issues can easily be corrected when shooting and processing RAW images). I did try reducing the effects of the blue CA using various filters available in Gimp, but I did not succeed in reducing it to tolerable levels in full-resolution images.

At some point in the future I may try another sample of this lens to see if it may be better, but for now, other lenses that I have cover the included focal lengths quite well.

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    ROKINON 14mm f2.8 on KIPON MFT-to-Nikkor lens shift (PC) adapter

                                                                                         

    

    
    - (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                                        - (Infrared B&W) -
                                                            
 

- ROKINON 14mm f2.8 PC-lens (used with the Kipon MFT-to-Nikkor shift-adapter, described below): 

Lens-shifting is useful when it is desirable to place the subject horizon line somewhere other than in the image center while still maintaining the verticality in the image of subject verticals (such as those of buildings, trees, etc.). This feature is an inherent part of many large-format cameras such as sheet-film "view" cameras and a few other types. With most small-format cameras, this function can be purchased in the form of lenses specifically made with this feature included, often called "PC" ("perspective control") or "T/S" ("tilt/shift") lenses. Unfortunately, at this point there are no available PC lenses made that can be fitted directly to MFT-format cameras, and ones that can be adapted are not wide enough in coverage to be useful (there is little point in shifting "longish" lenses since the resulting effect would be minimal, and it can be more easily applied later to such images using photo editing software). 

I ordered the interesting Kipon adapter that permits perspective-control lens-shifting with Nikon-mount 35mm lenses for the purpose of making my own PC lens. Noted earlier (when checking my many Nikkor full-frame lenses on a non-shifting adapter on the MFT format) was that most of the wide-angle lenses I owned for the 35mm full-frame format unexpectedly showed considerable CA problems, and some also showed (VERY unexpectedly!) considerable edge softness on the smaller sensor. Adapted lenses 50mm and longer fared better, and with some of those I've used a lens tilting adapter. I bought this shifting adapter specifically to use with the Samyang 10mm f2.8 (DX-format) lens in Nikon mount, but when that lens finally appeared, it was too expensive for my purposes, it appeared to be too limited in coverage to be very useful, and the first review of it indicated that it may not be good enough to use for making a PC lens. I decided to return to an earlier idea of using this adapter with the (potentially...!) very sharp Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f2.8 lens for a 28mm-equivalent PC lens, even though its linear distortion is quite severe (as is sample-variation with this manufacturer, and it took three tries to get a good enough sample of this 14mm for my purposes). This combination has worked surprisingly well, and even when using the full available lens shift of about 10mm (20mm-equivalent for the 35mm full-frame format, which permits placing the horizon line outside of the frame edge regardless of orientation, which no other PC lens can do), the far edges and corners are sharp by f8-f11 (depending on the amount and direction of shift - and with a good sample of this lens). I do sometimes need to make some linear distortion corrections during the editing of photos of buildings with strong vertical lines, but this usually takes an unexpectedly minor amount of work, if it's needed at all. (There is more information on this adapter below.) 

As for the "reverse-tilted" photos above, who said we can't also have some "silly-fun" with shift lenses...?;-) In both instances above, I raised the lens the maximum amount and then tilted the camera to cover the area of interest, forcing a "quirk" in the perspective-rendering. 

This lens also works very well for infrared photography.

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    PANASONIC 14mm f2.5

    
     - 14mm at f6.3 -                                                                                                                                                                                                             - 14mm at f6.3 -
    
    - 14mm at f5.6 -                                                                                                                                                                                                             - 14mm at f6.3 -
    
    - 14mm at f8 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                - 14mm at f8 -
    
    - 14mm at f14 + Olympus 180-degree .2X fisheye converter -                                                                                                                                   - 14mm at f14 + Olympus 180-degree .2X fisheye converter -
    
    - 14mm at f8 + Konica-Minolta .8X WA converter -                                                                                                                                                  - 14mm at f8 + Konica-Minolta .8X WA converter -
    

    - 14mm at f8 + Konica-Minolta .8X WA converter -                                                                                                                                                  - 14mm at f8 + Konica-Minolta .8X WA converter -

-  PANASONIC 14mm f2.5 "pancake": 

This lens is impressively tiny and it's also "nearly-weightless" - and on a GF2/3/5 or GM1/5 body, the pair will fit into a T-shirt pocket! Its full-frame 35mm equivalent focal-length is 28mm, so its coverage is fairly wide. Performance with a good sample is very good, but not outstanding, and unfortunately with this lens, there is much sample-variation (I've checked eleven samples, and of those, none was perfect, one was the best, two more were good, most were just "OK", and two were poor). It has no stabilization, but it is not really needed with a lens this small, light, and wide. With a good sample, it can be used at f2.8 in low light, but the edges are a bit soft and the corners are too soft for effective sharpening. By f4, much of the frame is quite sharp, but the far edges (and the corners) are still somewhat softer - but overall sharpening plus added sharpening of the edges and further sharpening of the corners can result in very sharp-looking images. CA problems when shooting JPGs aren't noticeable most of the time, but with certain kinds of photos, they can be quite obvious near the frame corners. Overall performance appears to peak around f7.1 to f8 in a good sample (with very good results being had from about f6.3 to f9), but the photo appearance at all stops can still benefit from some careful sharpening (but this is also true for almost all lenses). Further stopping down of the aperture quickly softens the image, and stops smaller than about f10 or f11 should be used only if very necessary to increase DOF. Turning on "iResolution" and setting it on "Standard" improves the appearance of sharpness (with little visible image degradation), and I have recently begun to use that function and setting on all of my Panasonic cameras (except the LX7, since with its relatively low pixel-count, excessive sharpening can show obvious ill effects), and with all lenses. Turning on "Shading Compensation" in the "Record" menu nicely compensates for corner darkening with this lens (as it also does with most others). In general, this is a very useful lens for its image quality, compactness, very low weight, and wide angle of view - and it is relatively inexpensive. I like this lens for general use, but those into a narrower angle of view or who prefer using a zoom might not like it. This lens is also good for landscapes, some interiors, and (surprisingly) for moderate close-ups (it can focus to about 7" from the sensor). As with all of the Panasonic AF lenses, focus is fast and accurate - and it is done internally with the 14mm, making adding front lens converters practical. Panasonic makes three of these for this lens (and they also fit on the 14-42mm PZ) that work fairly well for a wider-angle of view, a fisheye look, and for closer-focus, although most other lens converters that I tried did not work well with this lens. Two notable exceptions are the rather large and heavy Konica-Minolta ACW-100 .8X WA converter (at f8), and the miniscule Olympus Comedia .2X full-circle fisheye adapter (at f14), both used with suitable spacer rings added between the front of the lens and the converter for best edge performance. With additional work done on edge and corner sharpening, both of these converters can look good when used on this Panasonic 14mm lens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    PANASONIC 14-42mm f3.5-5.6

    
    - 18mm at f6.3 -                                                                                                                                                                                                             - 42mm at f9 -

-  PANASONIC 14-42mm f3.5-5.6: 

When I bought my first Panasonic G5 body from Amazon, it was (oddly...!;-) $2 cheaper with the Panasonic 14-42mm G Vario lens than it was
without it! So, it made perfect sense to get the lens. I had read several less-than-enthusiastic reviews of it, and I had seen some samples of photos taken with it that did not inspire confidence, but I figured I could easily sell it cheap if it was too poor for my purposes. I was surprised that around f8 (or maybe even a tad wider), the sample I received performed quite well to the image corners at all FLs (but it's maybe best at f9...), and I liked this light and cheap lens more than I thought I would. I already had the excellent Panasonic 14-45mm zoom, but even so, I kept and used the 14-42mm zoom until a friend needed a lens (and was happy to get this one). I saw another for sale on Amazon used, and bought it. This one was even a bit better, and I kept and used that one also until another friend wanted a lens, and I sold that one, too - and I missed having that surprisingly good lens (in a good sample...), even with its couple of draw-backs: the mount is plastic rather than metal (but that caused no problems for me), and the zooming action was VERY stiff and irregular on both samples (but that also caused no real problems for me). For an inexpensive lens for Panasonic bodies (which correct for lens linear-distortion, CA problems, and illumination irregularities in Panasonic lenses when shooting JPGs), this lens can be a good choice. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    PANASONIC 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II

    
    - 32mm at f8 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                - 33mm at f8 -

    
    - 14mm at f9 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                - 32mm at f13 -
    
    - 32mm at f14 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 14mm at f9 -
    
    - 20mm at f14 + IPIX 180-degree fisheye converter -                                                                                                                                                - 20mm at f14 + IPIX 180-degree fisheye converter -

-  PANASONIC 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II

This kit lens is a more compact and light-weight version of the basic 14-42mm zoom (28-84mm-equivalent), and it has a much smoother zoom control and even better image-quality than the earlier kit version. It's quite sharp over most of the frame (and with reasonably sharp corners) by f8 throughout its zoom range, although slight CA problems can be barely noticeable toward the corners under some extreme conditions. This lens
performs best around f9-f10 with a good sample. I may keep this light and compact lens even though I have six other lenses that include the 14mm focal-length (it's that good!). My only complaints with this lens concern the plastic bayonette mount (unimportant), the amount of wobble in the front part of the lens (unimportant, since it does not appear to affect anything negatively), and the tightness of the removable/reversible lens shade on my sample (it felt like I might break the lens while installing or removing it - so I used a different, but less effective, shade with this lens for a while, then I later carefully shaved down by a bit each of the four "bumps" inside the rear of the shade that lock the shade onto the lens in the normal and reversed positions, solving the problem). And, I've recently found another reason for keeping this lens: it works well with the IPIX fisheye converter when set at 20mm and f14 with stabilization turned off (and with a few spacing rings added between the lens and converter for best image-edge quality). I also add a supporting bar under the converter to relieve strain on the small 14-42mm II lens and to center vertically the image circle in the frame. In post, I mask the circle edge and center the image within the black background. With some work on the images, I have a good-quality low cost full-circle 180-degree fisheye lens - which is otherwise unavailable for MFT.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    PANASONIC 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 PZ

    
    - 27mm at f8 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                - 18mm at f8 -
    
   
- 14mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 14mm at f10 -
    
    - 42mm at f8 + Dig. 2X = 84mm (168mm 35mm-equivalent) -                                                                                                                                    - 14mm at f10 - 
    
    - 14mm at f13 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 14mm at f10 -   
    

    - 42mm at f16 + Sigma 1:1 achromat -                                                                                                                                                                         - 42mm at f16 + Sigma 1:1 achromat -   
    
     - 14mm at f10 + Panasonic GFC1 fisheye converter -                                                                                                                                               - 14mm at f11 + Panasonic GFC1 fisheye converter -
    
    - 14mm at f10 + Panasonic GFC1 fisheye converter -                                                                                                                                                - 14mm at f10 + Panasonic GFC1 fisheye converter -
    
    - 14mm at f9 (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                    - 14mm at f9 (Infrared B&W) - 
    
    - 26mm at f10 (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                  - 14mm at f10 (Infrared B&W) - 
    
    - 26mm at f10 (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                  - 14mm at f10 (Infrared B&W) - 
    
    - 14mm at f9 (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                    - 14mm at f9 (Infrared B&W) - 

-  PANASONIC 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 PZ "pancake": 

I bought this very small 14-42mm mid-range (28-84mm-equivalent in 35mm full-frame terms) power-zoom lens to accompany my 45-175mm power-zoom lens for video work - and both lenses can be zoomed using the G5 and G6 on-body zoom levers, with the zooming speed controlled by that, plus by a "Low/Medium/High" selection in the menus. Unfortunately, while I can get fairly slow zooms with the two Panasonic "PZ" lenses while shooting video, I cannot get my preferred zooming "crawl" speed. To get the best exposure "smoothness" while zooming with video, I found  that with using "Continuous-Focus" set to "On" in the video menus, and with selecting the auto multi-segment AF focus pattern, I can get more uniform exposures while zooming
- although exposures are generally smoother while going from wide to tele than while doing the reverse. Performance (in my particular sample) is quite good, with very good sharpness to the corners throughout its zoom range by f8 (although I generally prefer using f10 with this lens). It also appears to be very good in its ghosting, flare, and CA characteristics, and I have seen no evidence yet of the "double-imaging" with some shutter-speeds being used that some report seeing (but I generally use the shake-free electronic shutters on my cameras that have them). This lens has a new type of optical stabilizer (in common with several other lenses now in the Panasonic lens line), and it can often be hand-held successfully at remarkably slow shutter speeds (such as 1/6th and 1/8th second, especially when using it near 14mm, and with repeated photos being taken of the same thing). The very small size of this lens is useful when it is on any of the compact Panasonic MFT bodies for fitting them into small carrying cases or into large pockets. This lens has become my most-used "grab-and-run" choice for both stills and video - and it has also turned out to be the sharpest mid-range zoom for shooting infrared photos and videos. As with all the Panasonic AF lenses, focus is fast and accurate - and it is done internally with the 14-42mm PZ, making adding front lens converters practical. Panasonic makes four of these for this lens (and most also fit on the 14mm) that work fairly well for a wider-angle of view, a narrower angle of view, a fisheye look, and for closer-focus (although most other lens converters that I tried did not work well with this lens - and most cannot be used due to excessive weight on this motorized-telescoping lens). I settled on using the accessory Panasonic GFC1 fisheye converter with this lens. It performs better on this lens than on the 14mm, and it's best at f10 - but the edges (and especially the far corners) still need extra sharpening to look good. The corners sometimes also require careful filtering to reduce the strong CA that can appear there under some conditions. Image quality to the image corners can be good enough (with work) with this converter to please me, and I often use it due to its very wide coverage and pleasant "look" with people. I've since found that this GFC1 fisheye converter works even better when use at f7.1 on the Panasonic 12-32mm lens (reviewed above), set at 15mm. It also works very well on both lenses for shooting video (although it should generally not be zoomed away from 14mm for the 14-42mm PZ or 15mm for the 12-32mm for sharpest results). 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    PANASONIC 14-45mm f3.5-5.6

         -     - 14mm at f11 -                                                                                                                                                                                                             - 14mm at f11 -
    
     - 14mm at f11 -                                                                                                                                                                                                             - 14mm at f10 -
    
    - 14mm at f5.6 -                                                                                                                                                                                                             - 14mm at f8 -
    
    - 14mm at f13 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 14mm at f10 -
    
    - 35mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 18mm at f9 -
    
    - 14mm at f9 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                - 39mm at f7.1 -
    
    - 33mm at f16 + Konica-Minolta CL-49-200 achromat -                                                                                                                                            - 45mm at f16 + Konica-Minolta CL-49-200 achromat -

-  PANASONIC 14-45mm f3.5-5.6: 

This was Panasonic's first MFT kit zoom lens, and in general, it is still one of their best mid-range zooms if one considers the overall balance among sharpness to the corners at the widest possible stop, low CA problems, minimal ghosting and flare, compact size and low weight, ease of use, and price. And, with an inexpensive Konica-Minolta CL-49-200 acromat added (adapted with a 52-49mm step-down ring), this zoom can also function as a moderate macro lens. While others of the many Panasonic mid-range zooms may be somewhat better in particular characteristics (and I continue to own and use a few of them for those advantages), the 14-45mm is the one that continues to "bring home the goods" under the widest range of shooting conditions. The 12-35mm f2.8 may be a bit wider, and it is certainly faster (if one ignores corner sharpness), but its CA and corner-sharpness problems at wide stops (plus its high price) make it not interesting for me to own; the three 14-42mm zooms are very good at f8, but the 14-45mm is quite good overall by f5.6 (and it is still very good down to around f10); the 14-42mm PZ is certainly more compact, and it has the power-zoom feature, but the 14-45 is sharp to the corners a stop wider. So, being a "lens-nut", I'm likely to keep all three similar-range zooms - plus the nifty little 12-32mm that I recently added...;-) 

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   NIKKOR 16mm f3.5

    
 

-  NIKKOR 16mm f3.5 "fisheye" (used with the RainbowImaging MFT-to-Nikkor "G" adapter, described below): 
  
This lens (the f3.5 manual-focus version, not the f2.8 MF and AF versions!) has long been one of Nikon's best wide-angle lenses, and unlike most of the other Nikon wide-angle lenses, it also performs well when adapted to MFT. While sharpness is not quite as good as with some native MFT lenses, it is very good when used at f8 (or a half stop smaller), with good sharpness to the corners, good CA characteristics, very good flare and ghosting characteristics, a nice-with-some-subjects curvature in the image (being a very moderate fisheye on MFT, with roughly the coverage of a 14mm rectangular-perspective lens), and with the sun, it produces a very nice sharp-pointed "star". It's a "keeper" for its unique characteristics - and with its aperture ring, it is fairly fast and easy to use on the MFT-to-Nikon "G" adapter (which gives it a "preset-diaphragm" mechanism for the quick opening up and then stopping down of the aperture to the selected f-stop for more accurate manual focusing with the VF magnification engaged). Scale (or magnified-viewfinder) focusing and hand-held use without a stabilizer are easy, and the lens offers enough good (and unusual) characteristics to make it worthwhile to use on my MFT camera bodies. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    SIGMA 19mm f2.8  

         -     - 19mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 19mm at f16 + Olympus fisheye converter -    
    - 19mm at f10 + Olympus fisheye converter -                                                                                                                                                             - 19mm at f14 - 
    
    - 19mm at f13 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 19mm at f13 + IPIX fisheye converter -
    
    - 19mm at f13 + IPIX fisheye converter (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                        - 19mm at f11 -

-  SIGMA 19mm f2.8: 

I avoided trying this inexpensive lens until recently due to the appearance of prominent CA problems in almost all of the sample photos I had seen that were taken with it (when used mostly with APS-C sensors). Needing a lens of about 19mm or 20mm to pair successfully with either of the two circular-image 180-degree fisheye converters that I have (the rather large and heavy IPIX and the miniscule Olympus Comedia .2X), I ordered a used sample of this lens to see if it would work well for this purpose (which requires high image quality only in the center part of the coverage of the lens). To my surprise, I found that this lens performed well over the entire area of the MFT sensor from f4 to f14 (with best performance being between f5.6 and f11), with no visible CA problems! Used for its intended purpose as part of a full-circle fisheye lens system, this 19mm lens is better than the two alternatives lenses I had been using (the Panasonic 14mm and 14-42mm II) - but it does require using small stops, and also a considerable amount of work on the resulting images for the best results (and both must be used with suitable spacer rings added between the front of the lens and the converter for best image-edge performance). While both of these two full-circle 180-degree fisheye converters work well on the Sigma 19mm, the IPIX appears to be preferable for its slightly better overall image quality. With this 19mm lens, I now have a practical full-circle 180-degree fisheye lens for MFT cameras that is capable of producing high-quality images (and, surprisingly, it even works well enough for infrared photography) - and, without the fisheye converter attached, I also have a new favorite slightly-wide "standard" lens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  < Return To Index >

    -  PANASONIC 20mm f1.7

    
    - 20mm at f11 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 20mm at f10 - 
    
    - 20mm at f13 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 20mm at f14 - 
    

    - 20mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 20mm at f7.1 (Infrared B&W) - 

-  PANASONIC 20mm f1.7 "pancake": 

This compact and fast lens was one of the first developed for the MFT format - and it is still a very good lens, if not quite "perfect". It is usable wide open and also stopped down to a bit beyond f11, but it performs best around f4-f5. It does have a bit of sometimes-visible CA, focus is noticeably noisier than with other lenses in the line, and (unusual with MFT lenses) it extends/retracts a bit with focus. Overall, though, for many purposes (including for shooting infrared photos), this lens is still an excellent choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

   -  PANASONIC 25mm f1.7

    

    - 25mm at f9 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                - 25mm at f10 -
    
    - 25mm f13 + Sigma 1:1 achromat -                                                                                                                                                                             - 25mm f1.7 (through old glass) -
         -     - 25mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                             - 25mm at f10 -     
    - 25mm at f10 (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                  - 25mm at f10 (Infrared B&W) - 

-  PANASONIC 25mm f1.7: 

This compact, fast, and light "normal" lens for the MFT format performs very well over a wide range of stops (from wide open at f1.7 to a bit beyond f11). For many purposes (including for shooting infrared photos, for which it is the sharpest lens I've yet tried), this lens is a very good choice since it is sharp to the corners even wide open, and (on Panasonic bodies, which automatically correct in-focus CA with JPGs) it exhibits few CA problems even when used under the most difficult conditions. This lens is another "keeper"!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    -  PANASONIC 30mm f2.8 Macro

    
    - 30mm at f13 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 30mm at f9 - 
    
    - 30mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 30mm at f10 - 
    
    - 30mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 30mm at f11 - 
    
    - 30mm at f13 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 30mm at f10 (Infrared B&W) - 
    
    - 30mm at f14 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 30mm at f14 - 
    
   
- 30mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 30mm at f10 - 
    
    - 30mm at f8 + Sigma 1:1 achromat + Nikon ES-1 slide holder -                                                                                                                               - 30mm at f8 + Sigma 1:1 achromat + Nikon ES-1 slide holder -
    
    - 30mm at f8 + Sigma 1:1 achromat + Nikon ES-1 slide holder -                                                                                                                               - 30mm at f8 + Sigma 1:1 achromat + Nikon ES-1 slide holder -
    
    - 30mm at f8 + Sigma 1:1 achromat + Nikon ES-1 slide-holder -                                                                                                                               
- 30mm at f8 + Sigma 1:1 achromat + Nikon ES-1 slide-holder -

-  PANASONIC 30mm f2.8 Macro: 

The first sample of this rather nifty macro lens was slightly softer toward the right edge in the horizontal frame, and the lower right corner was a bit soft even at mid stops - so I returned it for an exchange. The second sample of this lens was well-aligned and very good to the corners even wide open at f2.8, and this is unusually good performance for any lens. This lens performs well over a wide range of stops (f2.8-f13), which is also unusual. Additionally, this lens has a very low level of out-of-focus CA problems - something that is very desirable with any lens, but especially so with a macro lens since with extreme close-ups, DOF will be very shallow even if small stops are used. As a result of having a short focal-length (for a macro lens), when focused at, or nearly at, 1:1 (with a 17.3x13mm field coverage size at 1:1), the front of the lens will be VERY close to subjects, making lighting them (or not casting shadows on them) somewhat difficult. As an additional "feature", this lens is very good with infrared photography, which many lenses are not. 

Lately, I have been looking into various ways to digitize 35mm slides and negatives. Methods tried included the use of a Plustek 7200dpi film scanner with its SilverFast software (which I found more user-friendly than most do, and it is similar in many ways to my preferred photo-editor, Gimp); a Sony a6000 24-MP camera body with a reversed Rodenstock Apo-Rodagon and Nikon ES-1 slide holder (this last has a 52mm-threaded sliding-tube arrangement for adjusting its length, a slide holder at the end, and an opal sheet behind the slide for even illumination of the slide); a Panasonic 16-MP camera body with the same rig that I used with the a6000; a Panasonic camera body with a 60mm Sigma lens, plus an old Sigma "1:1" achromat (from a 90mm macro lens), and the ES-1; a Panasonic body with the Panasonic 30mm macro lens and ES-1; and the same, but with the Sigma "1:1" achromat added to the 30mm lens (although closer-focus was not needed...). Various additional adapters and spacer rings were included with the above as needed to gain the desired magnification and focus... Of all of the above, the last produced the best results, with the best sharpness across the frame, and with the least CA - and it was also the easiest and fastest to set up and to use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    -  NIKKOR 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 on EZFOTO MFT-to-Nikkor lens tilting adapter

    

    

    

    
    - (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                                       - (Infrared B&W) -

-  NIKKOR 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 (used with the EZFOTO tilt-adapter, described below, with 50mm and 100mm photo-samples):

This zoom lens was a favorite of mine on full-frame 35mm film bodies for its excellent image qualities, and it "beat" many other very good (and very surprising!) 28mm lenses for center-to-corner sharpness, contrast, freedom from flare, etc. It sat on my shelf for many years after I stopped shooting 35mm film, and was then offered for sale on my website and then also on Amazon, with no "takers". When I began to buy into the MFT system, I checked out many of my Nikon-mount lenses, but having few I wanted to keep for adapting for use with the new system, I didn't bother with this one given the poor results most adapted shorter-than-50mm lenses had provided - and I had already checked out my Tamron 28-135mm zoom, which was quite good (if very awkward to use) on MFT. A friend bought my 35-105mm MF Nikkor for use on his pro MFT video camera with the Metabones Speed Booster adapter, and liked it very much for his purposes. Without the Metabones, I had tried the 35-105mm on my MFT cameras and had found it "adequate", but not "exciting"...;-) So, I finally got around to trying this old, slow, and "plastic" 28-70mm lens on MFT - and I immediately removed it from Amazon and my website, happy that no one had bought it! Performance throughout its zoom range was quite excellent at mid stops for resolution, contrast, freedom from CA problems, etc., and it has now found a "home" on the lens-tilting adapter (read below the description of the
"EZFOTO MFT-to-Nikkor lens tilt-adapter" for more on how it works, why it is useful, and how it can be used successfully with MFT). This combination of a zoom lens, one with excellent performance throughout its zooming range on MFT, and this well-designed lens tilting adapter, has become a favorite for extending DOF in hand-held photos with a 35mm FF equivalent range of 56mm-140mm. Recently, I also discovered that this lens is an excellent choice for shooting infrared photos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    TAMRON 28-135mm f4-4.5

    
 

-  TAMRON 28-135mm f4-4.5 (used with the RainbowImaging MFT-to-Nikkor "G" adapter, described below): 

While this lens is rather large, heavy, and awkward to use (with its need for a camera mounting-adapter, its two-part focusing mount, and its lack of both an auto-focus capability and an image-stabilization system - and with its focal lengths already well-covered with other good lenses that are handier to use), its roughly 5X continuous zoom range and its other strengths encouraged me to keep it. It has an aperture ring (making adapted use on MFT easier with the Nikon-mount "G" adapter than with lenses without an aperture ring), its aperture remains essentially constant with zooming, it performs well at fairly wide stops (it's best around f5.6 or a half stop smaller), and it has low CA, very low inherent linear distortion, and very good (and even) center-to-corner performance on MFT. It is also very good as a macro lens without needing to add extension tubes or close-up lenses. I don't recommended this lens if ease of use is important, but it is recommended if some other considerations are more important... 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    OLYMPUS 40-150mm f4-5.6
                                
     - 40mm at f9 (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                                               - 40mm at f10 -
    
    - 70mm at f13 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 49mm at f7.1 -
    

    - 40mm at f13 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 78mm at f10 -
    
    - 40mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 40mm at f14 -
    
    - 40mm at f9 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                - 100mm at f5 -
    
    - 70mm at f14
+ Sigma "1:1" achromat -                                                                                                                                                                    - 70mm at f14 + Sigma "1:1" achromat -

-  OLYMPUS 40-150mm f4-5.6

I saw this lens on sale (new!) for $99, so I looked up a couple of reviews of it to see if it was worth buying at that very low price - and it appeared to be neither terrible nor wonderful in the reviews. While I generally avoid Olympus lenses for use with my Panasonic bodies since their often excessive CA problems are not corrected in JPGs with Panasonic bodies (and Olympus lenses also do not generally include stabilization), the very low price tempted me to give this lens a try. I'm happy I did! This lens was a pleasant surprise in that the performance of this particular sample was quite good. Yes, the bayonette mount is even cheaper-looking than Panasonic's two plastic lens mounts (with which I've had no problems) and this fairly long zoom lens (80-300mm FF 35mm-equivalent) is without stabilization - so I need to take more hand-held frames with each photo to get an optimally-sharp one, but the results are worth it! (It does help with steadying the lens to hold its front end with the left hand while gripping the camera with the right, especially when used near 150mm.) I use a 58mm to 52mm step-down ring with 52mm filters without problems - and I also use a Nikon HN-21 shade with this lens. Add an achromatic close-up lens, and this lens becomes a very good macro lens. And, it's also very good with infrared. I like this lens!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

   PANASONIC 42.5mm f1.7

    
    - 42.5mm at f13 -                                                                                                                                                                                                           - 42.5mm at f14 -
    
    - 42.5mm at f11 -                                                                                                                                                                                                           - 42.5mm at f10 -
    
    - 42.5mm at f14 -                                                                                                                                                                                                           - 42.5mm at f14 (ISO-2000) -
    
    - 42.5mm at f14 -                                                                                                                                                                                                           - 42.5mm (at f2.2 1/20th second hand-held) -

-  PANASONIC 42.5mm f1.7: 
  
This compact and light short-telephoto lens performs well to the image corners from wide-open at f1.7 all the way down to f14 - with best performance being from about f2.8 to f11. CA problems are also generally not a problem with this lens - with the exception of having very high contrast situations being shot at wide stops with distant material being far out of focus (such as with distant dark tree branches against a white sky, with focus being on something near to the lens - which can result in a green outlining of the dark branches). In addition to its excellent optical performance, this lens is unusual for a non-zoom in the Panasonic lens line in that it includes optical stabilization, giving it additional low light hand-held shooting capability. The stabilization type is also Panasonic's "Power" type, which improves low-speed movement stability compared with the standard type of optical stabilization. This, combined with the moving-sensor stabilization included in some of Panasonic's recent camera bodies, should enable hand-holding extremely slow shutter speeds successfully. With this lens, one is free to use small stops for great depth of field, or to shoot "wide-open" for shallow depth of field, with very good results for either approach. This lens is also excellent for infrared photography - and it has become yet another "favorite lens"!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

   PANASONIC 45-175mm f4-5.6 PZ

                                                                                        
                                - 85mm at f11 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 45mm at f6.3 -
    
    - 175mm at f20 + achromat -                                                                                                                                                                                        - 107mm at f7.1 -
    
    - 160mm at f7.1 -                                                                                                                                                                                                           - 175mm at f9 -
    
    - 68mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 71mm at f16 -
    
    - 175mm at f9 + Dig. 2X = 350mm (700mm 35mm-equivalent) -                                                                                                                               - 175mm at f5.6 + Dig. 4X = 700mm (1400mm 35mm-equivalent!) -
    
    - 45mm at f11 + achromat -                                                                                                                                                                                          - 175mm at f16 -

-  PANASONIC 45-175mm f4-5.6 PZ: 

The Panasonic PZ 45-175mm f4-5.6 MFT lens (pleasantly!) surprised me. I had returned a Panasonic 45-200mm lens which was relatively inexpensive and sharper than expected - but which had, for me, an unacceptably high level of chromatic aberration problems. I hesitated buying this PZ ("power zoom") lens due to comments about a frequent problem with "double-imaging" at some shutter speeds with the lens used near 175mm, reportedly mediocre performance near 175mm and near infinity-focus, and the relatively higher price. When it appeared that new stock of the lens had arrived at Amazon (and with that, perhaps some "fixes" had been made), I decided to give it a try. I was attracted by its very compact size (given its FL range) which doesn't change with either focusing or zooming), by its reportedly low level of CA, and by its having a power zoom ring (possibly useful while shooting video). What I found with the sample I received was that the image was good to the image corners even "wide" open at infinity-focus (and also at close-focus) throughout its zoom range (and very good throughout from f5.6 to about f10), its distortion level was low, its CA level was also low, its illumination was quite even, and its resistance to flare and ghosting was high. I then checked it with many photos shot at 175mm (350mm-equivalent in full-frame 35mm terms...) in the potentially "offending" shutter speed range of 1/60th to 1/200th second. Only one of the photos of many was not sharp (but it did not show double imaging with in-focus high-contrast edges...). (BTW, this lens that I bought from Amazon had the firmware update version 1.1 already installed.) Next, for "fun", I tried some low-light photos at 175mm and f5.6 with the camera used hand-held for 1/10 and 1/15th second exposures at ISO 1600 with the G5. MUCH to my surprise, some of the photos were quite sharp, even when viewed at 100% - and they even looked good otherwise! (I'm still getting over this surprise!) As for infrared performance, at f10 and 45mm, results were good; at 85mm, results were just "OK"; at 175mm, results were poor. Overall, this turned out to be a VERY good lens for most uses!

I've since tried shooting this lens at 175mm with the in-body 2X digital magnification engaged (for 700mm-equivalent in a small and light lens!), and I was able to get nice-looking images (after some work in a photo editor...), but at a maximum finished resolution of 1920x1440 pixels. With further experimenting (using sub 200-ISO settings, optimum stops, and some specialized sharpening techniques), I have been able to get some very nice full-sized images with this lens used at 700mm-equivalent. I tried adding a Nikon 3T achromatic close-up lens to the front of the zoom (I needed a 46mm-to-52mm step-up adapter ring to do this), and found that this turned the 45-175mm zoom into a useful macro zoom lens. This Nikon 3T achromat also worked well on the Panasonic 14-45mm zoom lens without an adapter, and VERY well on the Panasonic 100-300mm zoom lens with a 67-52mm step-down ring (this does not cause vignetting, although with standard filters, it would). With a given achromat, the longer the focal length of the lens it is used on, the greater the resulting magnification.

I then tried shooting video with this lens. The G5 and G6 are unusual for cameras of their type in that they have on-body zoom levers for use with the couple of Panasonic "PZ" lenses available, of which this is one (the Panasonic PZ 14-42mm is the other). These PZ lenses have zoom controls on them, but I found it easier to control zoom smoothness (while keeping the camera steady) if I used the zoom lever on the camera body. The G5 and G6 also have (in their menus) additional zooming speed-rate selections making it possible to have a fairly slow zooming rate that I prefer to use while shooting video. I saw some problems with exposure consistency when zooming with both PZ lenses during shooting video, but I found that by using "Continuous-Focus" set to "On" in the video menus, and with the auto 23-segment AF focus pattern selected, I can get much smoother exposures with zooming while shooting video, although it is smoother while zooming from wide to tele than it is while doing the reverse.

An additional note: a rattle can be heard as the lens is tilted. This is normal when the power is off (it is not indicative of a fault).

I am VERY happy with using this lens for still photography, and now I also like using the two PZ lenses for shooting video - but I would like to see available a much slower zooming rate, and to have more consistent exposure during zooming. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    PANASONIC 45-200mm f4-5.6
 

-  PANASONIC 45-200mm f4-5.6: 

Given the low price and the reviews I'd read, I was not expecting this lens to be as sharp as the sample I tried was. However, the CA problems it had were rather extreme and this was unexpected, given the full-resolution sample images taken with it that I had seen. DARN! It is light and fairly compact (given its range), has a good stabilizer, is very pleasant to use, and it's relatively inexpensive for such a long FL lens - but in high-contrast lighting situations, CA problems were VERY obvious, even on CA-correcting Panasonic bodies with shooting JPGs. In normal-contrast lighting situations, this would likely be less of a problem, but it remained one for me and I returned it. The 45-175mm was a better alternative in almost every respect.
 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

   -  RODENSTOCK 50mm f2.8 Apo-Rodagon

    


    

    
 

-  RODENSTOCK 50mm f2.8 Apo-Rodagon: 

In an attempt to find a way to copy sections of some 35mm B&W negatives and color slides for stitching them together to make high-resolution digital copies, I bought this used high-quality enlarging lens to see if it would be suitable for my purpose when mounted on an MFT camera body. To check this lens out, I reversed-mounted this Apo-Rodagon by threading onto its front a 40.5mm to 52mm step-up ring. To this I added a Nikon BR2A 52mm-thread to Nikon-lens-bayonet adapter, and to that I added a long Nikon PN11A extension tube plus a Nikon to MFT bayonet adapter plus two MFT extension tubes. With this combination and with the lens set at f11, I was able to get high magnification, good resolution, and low CA in both in-focus and out-of-focus
areas. These photos were taken hand-held, with a Nikon SB27 flash on a Panasonic GH4 body.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    SIGMA 60mm f2.8

    
    - 60mm at f8 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                - 60mm at f11 (with a reflection of the sun in a relatively dark field) -
    
    - 60mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                              - 60mm at f10 -
    
    - 60mm at f7.1 -                                                                                                                                                                                                             - 60mm at f7.1 + Sigma "1:1" achromat -
    
    - 60mm at f18 + achromat (of banana-bunch stems) -                                                                                                                                                 - 60mm at f22 + achromat (of a small toy truck) -
    
    - 60mm at f10 (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                  - 60mm at f9 (Infrared B&W) -   
    
    - 60mm at f10 (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                  - 60mm at f10 (Infrared B&W) -   

-  SIGMA 60mm f2.8: 

I had seen a couple of positive reviews of the Sigma 60mm f2.8 lens (which is offered in both Sony NEX and Panasonic/Olympus MFT mounts, with electrical contacts for AF, AE, and EXIF), and also the sample photos that were included - but they did not prepare me for what this relatively inexpensive lens can do! I have many Panasonic (and also some Olympus, Voigtlander, Tamron, Nikon, and Rokinon) lenses that work well on my Panasonic MFT bodies, but this lens beats almost all of them for optical quality. It is sharp to the corners wide-open at f2.8 (and it's also good even when well stopped down); it does not flare; there are (so far) few observable ghosts from strong light sources being either within or outside of the frame edge; there are essentially no CA problems, even under very difficult conditions (which normally result in noticeable CA problems with most other lenses); this lens remains sharp over a wide range of focus distances (which is not true for all lenses); this first sample I tried appears to be well-aligned optically and mechanically, something that is all too rare (lens samples often do vary, sometimes considerably, regardless of brand or cost); AND, this is also one of the sharpest lenses I have yet found for shooting infrared photos (about half of my lenses are not very good for infrared photography). I - am - impressed! Its minor irritations: a slippery-smooth focus ring makes the lens somewhat awkward to focus manually and also to hang onto securely; there is no internal stabilizer; it doesn't mount onto the camera as smoothly as other lenses and adapters that I have; it doesn't focus very closely (but I have some good achromatic close-up lenses that fit on its front to cure that shortcoming); the included shade is at best just OK (so I use a different shade); the internal focusing section rattles fairly loudly unless the power is on (but this is normal for this lens); and the plastic front doesn't even pretend to speak "quality-construction") - but all of this becomes meaningless when one sees what its image-quality is like, even from wide open, even to the corners (on MFT). I use a wide rubber band on the focus ring to "cure" the most important deficiency/quirk in the design, and this works well enough. I LIKE THIS LENS! (For more on using this 60mm as a macro lens, see "Fotasy MFT auto extension tubes", described below.) 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    PANASONIC 100-300mm f4-5.6

    
    - 300mm at f11 + Dig. 2X = 600mm (1200mm 35mm-equivalent, of lily pads about eight feet away) -                                                                   - 300mm at f10 -                                              

    
    - 300mm at f10 -                                                                                                                                                                                                            - 300mm at f9 + Dig. 2X = 600mm (1200mm 35mm-equivalent, of a berry and spider about four feet away) -      
    
    - 300mm at f6.3 + Dig. 2X = 600mm (1200mm 35mm-equivalent, of a shoe about ten feet away) -                                                                       - 300mm at f9 + Dig. 2X = 600mm (1200mm 35mm-equivalent, of a blue heron VERY far away) -
    
    - 300mm at f11 + Dig. 2X = 600mm (1200mm 35mm-equivalent) -                                                                                                                            - 300mm at f11 + Dig. 2X = 600mm (1200mm 35mm-equivalent) -
    
    - 300mm at f10 + Dig. 2X = 600mm (1200mm 35mm-equivalent) -                                                                                                                            - 300mm at f10 + Dig. 2X = 600mm (1200mm 35mm-equivalent) -
    
    - 200mm at f16 (Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                                                                                                - 150mm at f16 + Nikon 3T achromat -
    
    - 300mm at f9 + Dig. 2X = 600mm (1200mm 35mm-equivalent) -                                                                                                                             - 300mm at f8 + Dig. 4X = 1200mm (2400mm 35mm-equivalent, HAND-HELD!!!) -

-  PANASONIC 100-300mm f4-5.6: 

Wanting a lens longer than the excellent Panasonic 45-175mm, I looked at MANY full-resolution samples from, and reviews of, the Panasonic 100-300mm zoom. From these (and a friend's comments about his), I had the strong impression that this lens was not, to put it mildly, a very good lens (especially at the long end of its zoom range, the area of greatest interest). I therefore located and bought a used Nikkor 300mm f4 AF lens to use on my MFT-to-Nikon "G" adapter, since that lens had a good reputation. It arrived somewhat damaged physically, but I tried it out anyway and found it to be quite sharp, but also very large, heavy, and awkward to use on the small Panasonic MFT bodies - and it had some noticeable CA problems (Panasonic bodies correct much of this in their cameras with JPGs taken with their own lenses, as does Nikon), and I returned it. There appeared to be no other good (and affordable) options, and given Amazon's generous return policies, I decided to buy the reasonably-priced Panasonic 100-300mm f4-5.6 zoom from Amazon and see if its problems were tolerable, given the advantages of the stabilization, the zooming ability, and the relatively much smaller size and weight of that lens. MUCH to my surprise, the sample I received showed NONE of the problems I had been led to expect! By f7.1, it was sharp to the corners throughout the zoom range, with even illumination, and with VERY little CA evident! I can even successfully (with several tries...) hand-hold it with the 2X in-camera digital magnification engaged for a 1,200mm-equivalent focal length - and still make full 4608x3456 finished images that look good (with some extra processing work done during editing...;-)! This can be a VERY GOOD LENS, and it is also one with exceptional extreme-FL capability! Given its native VERY long 600mm-equivalent focal length (in 35mm full-frame terms), I suspect that much of the poor results seen in reviews and samples were due to poor technique while shooting with this lens. If used on a (sturdy!) tripod, I recommend using the electronic shutter instead of the mechanical shutter, at least a wired remote shutter release, and several tries for each photo. Hand-holding requires a high shutter speed, good hand-holding ability and technique, and MANY tries shooting the same thing (later choosing the sharpest of the bunch). Required (when shooting at long distances) is an awareness of air quality and clarity, and of the possible presence of heat-wave disturbances in the air between the lens and what is being photographed. It also helps to increase picture contrast and saturation a bit in the settings in the camera to compensate for atmospheric effects. It is possible with this lens to get amazingly sharp images at ridiculously long focal-lengths, especially given its very moderate price and moderate size. Almost all of the photos shown here were taken at 1,200mm (full-frame 35mm-equivalent) with digital-2X selected in the camera, and one was taken at 2,400mm (full-frame 35mm-equivalent) with digital-4X - and all were taken *hand-held*! The good results I can get (even at full resolution) from using this lens at 2X digital magnification on a GH4 (with some camera settings changed from my usual choices...) still amaze me! An inexpensive 200-1200mm FF-equivalent hand-holdable, relatively small and light-weight lens, equipped with AF and good optical stabilization - WOW!!! 8^) Although for some uses its AF speed may disappoint, its AF accuracy has been excellent - and I have been VERY happy with using this lens for my work.

"But wait, there's more!" Recently I tried this lens with a 67-52mm step-down ring and a Nikon (52mm) 3T achromat and it became a very good, very long macro lens when used at small stops...!;-) Also, while this is not an ideal lens for taking infrared photos (there is a prominent "hot spot" in the image center when using FLs below about 200mm, corners can be soft near 300mm, and this lens flares more than most with backlighting with IR), it can be useful in the 200-250mm FL area as a 400-500mm equivalent long lens for taking advantage of the air-clarifying effects of IR photography.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    TOKINA 300mm f6.3 Mirror

    
    - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -                                                                                                                                                                                   - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 (100% crop from photo on left) - 
    
    - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -                                                                                                                                                                                   - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -
    
    - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -                                                                                                                                                                                   - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -
    
    - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -                                                                                                                                                                                   - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -
    
    - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -                                                                                                                                                                                   - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -
    
    - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -                                                                                                                                                                                   - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -
    
    - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -                                                                                                                                                                                   - 300mm Tokina mirror at f6.3 -

-  TOKINA 300mm Mirror: 

This is going to sound familiar, but this lens was a VERY BIG surprise! Everything I had read, seen, or heard about this tiny (although surprisingly heavy) long focal length (600mm FF 35mm equivalent) and moderately fast (f6.3) lens was negative, but being curious, I "jumped" on one in nice condition being offered by KEH for $119 plus $12 shipping (with easy returns, if not satisfied). Expecting the worst, I tried it out. I quickly settled on a "+3" setting for saturation, and a "+4" for contrast on my GH4 (in a mode separate from my usual ones with various compensations dialed in for recording a wide tonal range), and started shooting with it - and I quickly began to get some results that I liked! This lens, being a "mirror" type, has no adjustable aperture (which would be useful for the greater DOF at smaller stops), and it also has no AF or stabilizer (although, also as is typical with mirrors, CA problems were pleasantly minimal) - but I was getting images that were often quite sharp, and also very "interesting". I have rarely had this much fun shooting with a new lens! While many people complain about the "donuts" often seen in photos shot with mirror lenses, this one seems to be unusually "kind" to out-of-focus areas, and also to have unusually even illumination for a mirror lens - and the "mirror-look" (caused by the central obstruction common to these lenses) enabled some unusual (and to me interesting and pleasant) renderings of out-of-focus areas. It is a "bright light only" lens (either available or from flash) if hand-held, but with good light (and with several "tries" for each photo), I find it easy to get what I want in sharp focus in my photos most of the time (with focus-peaking turned on, with the EVF magnification set for its minimum of 3X on my GH4, and with the automatic engagement of VF enlargement with a turn of the lens focus ring selected). VERY difficult, though, is achieving and maintaining accurate focus on things near the lens's unusually close minimum-focus distance while hand holding this lens - not so much due to the extremely shallow DOF alone, but also due to my movement relative to what I'm shooting, which is not a problem with more distant subjects. Even so, I've managed to shoot some successful close-in photos with this lens hand-held, and even a few at 1,200mm-equivalent (using Digital 2X)! As for comments on "air quality issues", see the review of the 100-300mm - although with its AF and stabilizer, that lens is an easier one to use, if not to pack. But, even with all of its "quirks", I'm very happy I took the chance to buy this little lens - and with it, to be able to shoot photos with a different rendering than is offered by conventional lenses. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   < Return To Index >

    NIKKOR 400mm f5.6 ED non-IF

    
    - 400mm Nikkor at f8 (800mm 35mm-equivalent, hand-held, Infrared B&W) -                                                                                                       - 400mm Nikkor at f8 (800mm 35mm-equivalent, hand-held) -
    

    - 400mm Nikkor + TC300 at f8 (1,600mm 35mm-equivalent, tripod-mounted) -                                                                                                      - 400mm Nikkor at f11 + Nikon 5T achromat -

-  NIKKOR 400mm f5.6 ED non-IF

Having once owned a Nikkor 300mm f4.5 ED non-IF (which was sharp on the Nikkor TC300 2X converter even wide open with 35mm film), and also the Nikkor 300mm f4.5 and 400mm f5.6 EDIF lenses (which were also very good, but not as good as the early non-IF 300mm), I had looked for the 400mm ED non-IF version, but I never found one until very recently. Since lenses perform differently on digital compared with film, and an excellent version (on film) of the Nikkor 300mm f4 AF that I tried showed too much CA on MFT digital to please me, I had doubts that this unusual and early version of the 400mm ED lens would be suitable - but I could not resist trying it. Fortunately, it turned out to be excellent on my Panasonic MFT cameras (although with the TC300 added, it was somewhat less impressive). For use by itself, even hand held (in good light...!;-), I am pleased with this lens - and it is even fairly good for infrared photography. And, with a Nikon 5T achromat on the front, it is also a "handy-dandy" 800mm-equivalent macro lens, too!

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    NIKKOR 500mm f8 Mirror

    
    - 500mm Nikkor f8 Mirror (1000mm 35mm-equivalent, of Cornell buildings from two miles away) -                                                                    - 500mm Nikkor f8 Mirror (1000mm 35mm-equivalent, of a flower shot from about fifteen feet away) -
    
    - 500mm + TC300 (2X) = 1000mm (2000mm 35mm-equivalent, of Cornell buildings from two miles away!) -                                                       - 500mm + TC300 (2X) = 1000mm (2000mm 35mm-equivalent!) -
    
    - 500mm + TC300 (2X) = 1000mm (2000mm 35mm-equivalent!) -                                                                                                                            - 500mm + TC300 (2X) = 1000mm (2000mm 35mm-equivalent!) -
    
    - 500mm + TC300 (2X) = 1000mm (2000mm 35mm-equivalent, of Cornell buildings from two miles away!) -                                                       - 500mm + TC300 (2X) = 1000mm + Dig. 2X = 2000mm (4000mm 35mm-equivalent, shot from 2/3rds mile away!) -

-  NIKKOR 500mm f8 Mirror (used with the RainbowImaging MFT-to-Nikkor "G" adapter, described below - although the "G" feature
   is not useful with this lens, which has no adjustable aperture): 

On film this long FL Nikkor (the larger version, offered before the "macro" compact version appeared) was quite good, and it was even good at 700mm with a TC14 attached between the camera and the 500mm mirror. Adapted to MFT, the best I could get out of it (with much work on the image afterward in a good photo editor) was a photo reduced in size to 1920x1440 pixels - but this was still useful, and it is the full-frame 35mm equivalent of a 1,000mm lens(!), but in a MUCH more compact, light-weight, and inexpensive package. Needless to say, unlike with the other lenses reviewed here (which can all be hand-held successfully under the right, fairly-common conditions), shooting with a 500mm lens successfully with MFT (with its 2X magnification compared with 35mm) will generally require the use of a good tripod, very good technique, VERY accurate focus, and VERY good atmospheric conditions for subjects more than a few hundred feet away. Notable in the 500mm's image is the uniform illumination (unusual for mirrors, but this is not surprising since its normally edge-darkened coverage is cropped by the MFT format). Also notable is the complete lack of any CA problems in the image (which is not surprising since mirror lenses are generally inherently apochromatic). So, with this 500mm I had a usable (if not great) fairly compact and very long FL lens already in my collection. "But, wait - there's more!";-) After I ordered the Nikkor 300mm f4 (mentioned in the Panasonic 100-300mm review...), but before I received it, I ordered two used Nikkor teleconverters for possible use with the Nikkor 300mm. Before they arrived, I returned the lens - and when the converters arrived, I figured that there would be nothing to be gained by trying them on the 500mm, since the resulting images would almost certainly be worse. But, I tried them on it anyway - and as I expected, the 1.4X TC14B did not work very well with the 500mm mirror on the MFT format. So, I tried the 2X TC300. It was necessary with both converters to remove the 500mm's rear UV filter, but with the TC300 I also needed to add a PK11A 5mm extension tube between the front of the TC300 and the rear of the 500mm so that the long tube on the front of the converter would fit inside the 500mm mirror. Fortunately, I had that ring!;-) Next was checking to see if I still had infinity-focus available with the combination, and I did. Next was shooting with this now 2,000mm-equivalent lens(!) to see if it was any good. MUCH to my surprise, it was! Images were still limited to 1920x1440 for good-looking results, but with processing in a good photo editor, results looked very good! Not wanting to stop, I then tried adding the camera's 2X digital magnification for making a 4,000mm-equivalent FL(!!!). With much work on the images, I did succeed in getting "passable" 1920x1440 images, but "good", no - it wasn't quite up to that...! But, still...., for some rare uses......., maybe it's good enough............;-) 

A - FOUR - THOUSAND - MILLIMETER - LENS (35mm FF-equivalent...;-) in a still relatively-small, light, and cheap lens system! WOW! 8^) 

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    STITCHED and MANIPULATED PHOTOGRAPHS  

    

    

    

    


 

-  Stitched and Manipulated Photographs

I've been having a good bit of fun lately stitching photographs together and then manipulating the resulting images using various filters available in photo-editing programs. The resolution of these can be quite high as a result of using several photographs to make a single final image.

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    FOTASY auto extension tubes for MFT

-  FOTASY auto extension tubes for MFT: 

There are three basic ways to adjust a lens focus to a point closer that its inherent minimum focus distance: with extension tubes or bellows mounted between the rear of the lens and the camera body (not practical with most wide-angle lenses); with a "close-up" lens attached to the front of the lens (more effective with long focal-length lenses than with short focal-length lenses); and with reverse-mounting of the lens on the camera body (practical only with some lenses, generally ones that are near the "format-normal" in focal-length). Combinations of these methods can also sometimes be used. With MFT, only with using either extension tubes (WITH electrical contacts included) or with using front-mounted close-up lenses can the auto-features of the lens be maintained. Which method is better to use for sharpest results depends on the focal-length and type of the lens being used, it's specific optical design, and the quality of the close-up lens(es) being attached to its front (and "achromats" used for this purpose are generally FAR better than simple single-element lenses, as are some camera lenses, which can sometimes also be used in this way). Adding both rear extension and front lens(es) can be used with some lenses for additional magnification with good results. For the MFT format, I have found (so far...) only one lens that works consistently very well with either rear extension and/or with *good* front optics added, the Sigma 60mm f2.8. This may be due to its inherent VERY low CA problems (it is one of the very few lenses for digital that, even with its CA uncorrected in the body, it shows very low levels of chroma rings with out-of-focus highlights both in front of and behind the plane of focus with digital images, and it also shows no inappropriate colored edging on high-contrast subject edges). The Fotasy extension tubes, the Sigma "1:1" achromatic attachment sold with the old Sigma 90mm macro lens, and my two Nikkor achromats work well with this lens, either alone, in combinations, or with all of the options piled together(!). With the last option, due to the way "close-up" lenses work, f22 can be used for sharp images with good DOF since diffraction is somewhat "cheated" by the increased lens speed resulting from shortening the lens effective FL with the addition of a front "+" lens...

As for the Fotasy tubes, they are well-made (with thick plastic rings and metal front and rear mounts) and they mount easily and properly on both the body and the lens - and the electrical contacts work properly. My only reservation with these is that they do not mount together as easily. Recommended for use with appropriate lenses. 

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    FOTASY MFT-to-M39 lens adapter

-  FOTASY MFT-to-M39 lens adapter: 

The Fotasy M39 to MFT lens mount adapter does exactly what it was intended to do: adapt Leica screw-mount lenses to micro four thirds camera bodies. Note that it is unlikely for the adapted lens to be exactly aligned rotationally with the camera body when installed, but there are three set-screws around the edge of the adapter that can be loosened and retightened to permit the realigning of the lens relative to the camera body. I use it to mount a Voightlander 12mm f5.6 M39-mount lens on my Panasonic MFT bodies, and it works well. It's cheap, well-made, and recommended! 

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    RAINBOWIMAGING and K&F CONCEPT MFT-to-NIKON "G" lens adapters

-  RAINBOWIMAGING and K&F CONCEPT MFT-to-Nikkor "G" lens adapters: 

The RainbowImaging and K&F Concept Nikon G-type lens to Micro 4/3rds mount adapters both work very well with both G *and* non-G Nikkors when adapting them for use on Panasonic and Olympus MFT bodies - although the K&F adds click positions for whole aperture marks (but unfortunately, only the widest two stops are reasonably accurately indicated...). The prices for these are very good considering their high build-quality and (mostly) good design. The damping in the aperture adjustment rings is just about right (being smooth and easy to turn, but with enough turning resistance to counter the force of the lens aperture actuator-lever spring). The rings can be turned fully to permit aperture selection using the aperture rings on non-G Nikkors that have them. For setting an approximate f-stop on G lenses in aperture-priority auto mode, one can fully open the G-type lens aperture with the ring, note the shutter speed (and the maximum rated aperture of the lens at the zoom setting being used), and (without shifting the image framing appreciably) watch the shutter speed change as the ring is turned to judge how many stops away from maximum the lens is being set to. A similar process can also be used in manual mode, but there is another way to use these adapter with many Nikkor-mount auto-diaphragm lenses. With lenses that have aperture rings on them, the silver ring on the adapters can be used to fully open the diaphragm on the lens to its widest stop to achieve the most accurate focus possible (especially when using the viewfinder image-magnification function), then they can be turned fully to stop the lens down to the stop previously chosen using the lens aperture ring for the desired exposure setting. When the diaphragm is opened with the rings, the camera's VFs flash briefly brighter; when stopping down, the VFs flash briefly darker. Nifty!;-) 

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    KIPON MFT-to-Nikkor lens shift-adapter

-  KIPON MFT-to-Nikkor lens shift-adapter: 

I ordered this interesting Kipon adapter that permits "PC" (perspective-control) lens-shifting with adapted Nikon-mount 35mm lenses from "Best of Japan" for the purpose of making my own PC lens. Their service was excellent, and their delivery to the US from Japan was much faster than expected. The actual "device" that arrived appeared very well made, but it was different in some respects from the one in the photos at Amazon. The shift limit is 10mm, rather than 12mm (minor...), and the shifting-screw mechanism was a bit different (and likely superior). There is no shift lock, but the very slow shift-movement resulting from the shift-screw's low pitch makes one unnecessary - and its action is smooth. Maximum and minimum shift indications are slightly off (minor). The whole device does rotate relative to the camera mount (without a lock, which is unnecessary here), but the action is extremely stiff on my sample. The rotation detentes (for shifting-directions) were misaligned on my sample, but they were easily realigned by carefully loosening three small set-screws, realigning the two sections, and (while firmly pressing the front and rear sections together with the correct alignment) gradually tightening the three screws in sequence until all were tight again (this method keeps the centering correct). As delivered, this device would not mount on a Panasonic G5, G6, or a GH4 since the shift-screw would hit the flash "bump-out" on the camera body before the mounting rotation was completed. This was solved by first rotating the mount relative to the shift-screw position (NOT easy to do with this sample unless it was first mounted on something like a GF3 or other MFT body without the flash "bump-out", or on extension-tubes - although mounting an MFT rear lens cap on the adapter may provide a sufficient gripping surface). With the Panasonic G5, G6, and GH4 (and other bodies with which the shift screw can interfere with the flash housing), the "fall"-movement is not possible to use with horizontal framing - unless "rise" is used instead and the camera (with the lens) is inverted while shooting (there is no problem with the more commonly-used "rise"-movement, or with either rise or fall with vertical framing). Infinity-focus with Nikkor lenses appears to be at least very nearly correct with my sample. This is generally unimportant with focus "beyond infinity", but it is important if the lens cannot reach infinity-focus. Manual focus on MFT cameras with adapted lenses being used should generally be done with viewfinder magnification enabled (and also with focus-peaking turned on, if it's available) for best accuracy, rather than depending on scale focusing. It is advisable to make shift adjustments with the lens facing nearly upward or downward (or with the lens well-supported) to avoid excessive strain on the shift screw mechanism if heavy lenses (such as the Rokinon 14mm f2.8) are used. While this rig (with the Panasonic GH4 and Rokinon 14mm) is fairly large and heavy, it is fairly easy to use, and the results have been good. 

Noted when checking my many Nikkor full-frame lenses on a non-shifting adapter on the MFT-format) was that most of the wide-angles (unexpectedly) showed considerable CA problems, and some also showed (VERY unexpectedly!) considerable edge-softness (adapted lenses 50mm and longer fared better, and with some of those I can use a lens tilting adapter). I mated this shift adapter to a Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f2.8 lens (for a 28mm-equivalent PC lens), even though its linear distortion is quite severe (as is sample-variation with this manufacturer, and it took three tries to get a good sample...). This combination has worked surprisingly well, and even when using the full available lens shift of about 10mm (20mm-equivalent for the 35mm full-frame format - which permits placing the horizon line outside of the frame edge, regardless of orientation, which no other PC lens can do), the far edges and corners are sharp by f8-f11 (with a good sample of this lens). I do sometimes need to make some linear distortion corrections during the editing of photos of buildings with strong vertical lines, but this usually takes an unexpectedly minor amount of work, if it's needed at all.  (There is more information and there are sample photos above, at "Rokinon 14mm f2.8".)

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    EZFOTO MFT-to-Nikkor lens tilt-adapter

    
    - 50mm + Tilt-Adapter -                                                                                                                                                                                                - 50mm + Tilt-Adapter -
    
    - 50mm + Tilt-Adapter -                                                                                                                                                                                                - 50mm + Tilt-Adapter -                              

- EZFOTO MFT-to-Nikkor lens tilt-adapter

Lens-tilting is useful with large format cameras to help improve their inherently shallower DOF (depth of acceptably sharp focus in the image) at a given lens aperture compared with smaller formats with the same angles of view and focus distances - and it can also be useful with small formats such as MFT for increasing apparent DOF with "longish" focal-length lenses under some conditions. 

Preliminary experiments with this adapter indicated excellent construction and design (with the exception of an overly tight interface between the Nikkor lenses and the adapter with my sample). The adapter (with its attached lens) can be rotated any amount for a tilt in any direction, and the amount of tilt is controlled by a ring near the rear of the adapter. The tilt mechanism is smooth, but it has sufficient resistance to not require a lock. Normally with a camera and lens (in an ideal situation, anyway...;-), the plane of the focused subject, the plane of the lens, and the plane of the sensor are all parallel with each other. Tilting the lens tilts the plane of focus such that it is possible to focus properly a subject plane that is not parallel with the sensor. This happens (in theory, anyway...;-) when the extended plane of the sensor, the extended plane passing through the optical center of the lens (and perpendicular to its front-to-back axis), and the subject focus plane all intersect in a single line. The result of this is that common subjects (like flat fields of grass and similar subjects) can be photographed at relatively wide stops, yet have near-to-far correct focus. Various optical "quirks" in the lens (such as field curvature and optical misalignments) can prevent this from happening perfectly. Using this technique does not void the rules of DOF; it just changes the circumstances (a tree in a field's surface plane that has been brought into focus by this method will go out of focus as it rises above the field - so a subject with depth in the third dimension will need to have the selected plane of focus compromised so that stopping the lens down can bring more of the subject parts within the acceptable DOF.

Unfortunately, while first using this adapter I was not able to reliably set the correct tilt for accomplishing its purpose. With a large-format view camera on a tripod, it is generally easy to begin by visually extending the planes of the film and of the lens-board down to the plane of the subject, and to tilt the lens the amount need to approximate a single line intersection of the three planes. With this adapter on MFT, the sensor and lens optical plane placements are unknown, and they are also on too small of a scale to visually make any reasonable intersection approximation possible. The viewfinders also generally don't help much either for getting the best overall focus since with the magnification needed for establishing focus accuracy for different parts of the image while tilting the lens, the whole subject area can't be seen at once - and changing lens focus or lens tilt even a bit changes everything else at the same time. Fortunately, the recent purchase of a Panasonic GH4 camera has solved this problem. Its eye-level viewfinder is sharp enough (with the aid of the focus-peaking feature turned on) to focus accurately over the whole image. This adapter works quite well on the GH4 and the new G7 (even when shooting hand-held!) with my Nikon E-Series 50mm f1.8 and 100mm f2.8 lenses and the Nikkor AF-D 28-70mm zoom that I kept for this purpose (all of these lenses perform well on MFT when stopped down to f5.6-f11, and they are acceptably light and compact). The Nikkor 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 has become my favorite lens for use on this adapter since it provides a FF 35mm-equivalent range of 56-140mm, and it does it (with a good sample...) with excellent sharpness, contrast, and freedom from CA problems.

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                                                                                      Photos Taken With Panasonic MFT And LX7 Cameras

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