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All other DSLR's and Four Thirds, 4/3 All DSLRs excluding Canon and Nikon mounts ie Sigma, Pentax, Olympus, Sony, Leica R Back DSLRs and 4/3 System

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  #1  
Old February 14th, 2013, 12:12 PM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Default Olympus Four Thirds SHG Lenses: 14-35/2.0

Being a mostly film-based user, for my digital needs, I could be a bit more "creative" in making my equipment selection. Having been continually dissatisfied with the optical performance so mercilessly laid bare by full-frame sensors, I have to admit to completely "getting" the Four Thirds philosophy, and putting my money where my beliefs are. ("dead" system or not! - though it's not dead, Olympus just operates in mysterious ways...)

I've just had the pleasure of receiving the highest-performance photographic lens I've ever had the pleasure to operate, the Zuiko Digital 14-35mm f/2.0. I'm looking forward to using this lens creatively, but I've never seen a lens that can do this at f/2.0 in harsh daylight:


What a masterpiece (the lens, not my silly test shot...).
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  #2  
Old February 14th, 2013, 07:41 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Dawid,

This seems to be a stellar optic. If one is going to use these small pitch sensors, it's better to be using them as wide as possible so as not to get into the interference with the tiny aperture. Diffraction in packed sensors we see today is already real at f 5.6. A lot of folk don't realize that in many great lenses they are built to be used wide open. I'd love to know how large you can print. Perhaps you can make trial prints of the cutouts you select to see how far you can go and still be impressive at 15 inches or so.

Asher
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  #3  
Old February 15th, 2013, 03:51 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Asher, I'm going to have some large prints made next month, so then I will be able to answer you. As a reference point, the E-5 with this class of lens beats the pants of a Canon 1Ds MkII + L-series lenses (old tech 16MP, I know, but it's all that I have real experience with to compare) - and accordingly, image detail is also far superior compared to the 12MP full-frame nikons (D3, D700).

The cameras I mention were a mere 5 years ago the cream of the crop, the large printer's dream, so I suspect the E-5 files will print very well. This system punches far above it's weight considering it's only 12MP, but with the sort of microdetail you see in the crops above at f/2.0 already, you can imagine how good the fully diffraction-limited performance at f/4.0 is on this camera which has a sensor with an incredible ability to capture fine detail.

I was so interested in the small, high-quality prime lenses in the Pentax Limited series - but the sad fact is that the Olympus wide zooms, shot at wide open aperture, is superior across the frame compared the Pentax lenses stopped down to f/8.0 even. It's just in a different league - you can compare my f/2.0 crops above to this f/5.6 image of the Pentax 21/3.2.

If I required low-light performance, I would not use this system particularly. But for somebody who shoots film at ISO32, limiting myself to ISO400 on this system with its incredible f/2.0 lenses and 4-stops-plus in-body image stabilisation (still the best in the business) is not a problem :-)

Anyway, I just wanted to share the pleasure of using these incredible optics. Luckily they are so limited in their shallow depth-of-field abilities, otherwise I would literally be spoiled for the world of lenses, one could not ever ask for more, performance-wise.
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  #4  
Old February 15th, 2013, 04:01 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Default ZD 7-14 Sample

Just an illustration that the ultra-ultra-wide 7-14mm f/4.0 has exactly the same consistent pixel-perfect performance across the fame (here stopped down one stop, but look at that rendering in the corners - it's insane). Nobody has been able to show me one image from another camera system that can do this in the corners - not only pixel-perfect rendering, but also no Moiré Aliasing.


I figure this would still be good performance in the corners if I doubled the resolution of the image, which means it competes handily with the best available today for detail rendition. I am thus a very very happy camper :-)

For film, compact symmetrical wide-angle lenses (such as the Super Angulon lenses for 4x5in, I use two old chrome-bodied examples from the 50s/60s) remain the best to use on black and white film. But the Zuiko Digital lenses almost feel like cheating, they're that good.
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  #5  
Old February 15th, 2013, 06:05 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Default Full-size 14-35 image for download

For the curious, I've uploaded a full-resolution (7MB) JPEG image of the following test image (click it to download). Note: No noise reduction etc was applied to the RAW file, it's purely to demonstrate the perfect fine-detail rendition:


This was taken at f/4.0 (for sufficient depth of field) and at 25mm. Making large prints with this kind of detail should be no problem I think.
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  #6  
Old February 15th, 2013, 07:39 AM
Chris Calohan Chris Calohan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawid Loubser View Post
For the curious, I've uploaded a full-resolution (7MB) JPEG image of the following test image (click it to download). Note: No noise reduction etc was applied to the RAW file, it's purely to demonstrate the perfect fine-detail rendition:


This was taken at f/4.0 (for sufficient depth of field) and at 25mm. Making large prints with this kind of detail should be no problem I think.
Superb quality lens!
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  #7  
Old February 15th, 2013, 09:07 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Calohan View Post
Superb quality lens!
Chris, since I'm subscribed to this thread by e-mail, I got your original slightly more vocal reply (which I preferred, by the way ;-)

To answer that question, it's not a full-frame lens, it projects a tiny image on a quarter-the-area-of-35mm sensor used in the Four Thirds cameras. It's ultra-high resolution, and perfectly corrected, because it's so large in relation to the image sensor.

You could obtain the same absolute performance on a full-frame sensor if you had a 4Kg 28-70mm f/4.0 lens (roughly-speaking) :-) Imagine the ridiculous optical performance you could get if you had a lens with that much glass, and such modest parameters? Well, that's exactly what Olympus did here, and it shows, I think.

It works for normal photography also, though... ;-)



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  #8  
Old February 15th, 2013, 09:10 AM
Chris Calohan Chris Calohan is offline
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As I rather ineloquently, and slightly sacreligiously posted earlier (but retracted), Jesus Christo, Madre Deo...what a sweet piece of glass. I only wish Nikon had a similar lens as it would be in my kit already.
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  #9  
Old February 15th, 2013, 09:55 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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We can assume that quality would remain with the Mirrorless OM-D. The nomenclature is weird in the it's also called the E-M5! At 16 MP it's only slightly ahead of the E-5. Is their much other difference? These cameras have 5 axis stabilization and perhaps that is why the micro-resolution, shown in the fabric, above is so amazing.

Asher
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  #10  
Old February 15th, 2013, 11:05 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
We can assume that quality would remain with the Mirrorless OM-D. The nomenclature is weird in the it's also called the E-M5! At 16 MP it's only slightly ahead of the E-5. Is their much other difference? These cameras have 5 axis stabilization and perhaps that is why the micro-resolution, shown in the fabric, above is so amazing.

Asher
Hi Asher,

I am not sure that the image stabilisation can take the credit for a picture taken at 14mm and 1/350s, but it might have helped at a micro level. I am amazed when I think of the precision required to make a sensor-shift mechanism that can operate to these levels of precision.

Most of the credit simply has to go to the amazing optics, and the extreme telecentricity of even the 7-14mm lens - only that can produce the crisp quality in the corners also.

The image quality of the OM-D E-M5 should on all fronts be a bit ahead of the E-5, save perhaps for the E-5's special (according to Olympus) micro detail. But the extra 4MP should more than make up for it.

These lenses are way too large for the E-M5 though, and the auto focusing is terrible by comparison, so I think I will patiently wait for Olympus to release a better "native" body, something that they have publicly committed to now.

I am going to give the E-M5 a skip (also because it's far more expensive than the second-hand E-5 I bought, and the E-5 is a much more robust, professional, ergonomically-sound body to my tastes.)
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  #11  
Old February 15th, 2013, 11:11 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawid Loubser View Post

The image quality of the OM-D E-M5 should on all fronts be a bit ahead of the E-5, save perhaps for the E-5's special (according to Olympus) micro detail. But the extra 4MP should more than make up for it.
So, Dawid,

What are the technical claims for the "micro detail" and is that technology really missing from the mirror less version? Is this like Canon dumbing down the 5DIII to make the 6D with just one central cross focus point, so as to protect the parental camera and it's sales?

Asher
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  #12  
Old February 16th, 2013, 12:47 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
These cameras have 5 axis stabilization and perhaps that is why the micro-resolution, shown in the fabric, above is so amazing.

I have had the possibility to compare a Sony A900, which is stabilised, to a Nikon D800 in normal daylight shooting. Indeed the Sony pixel sharpness gains from stabilisation over the D800 at speeds like 1/100s or even 1/200s. I am not sure that this would be apparent on the lower resolution of the E-5, however.

As to the lens, while the Olympus is certainly a great lens, the 24-70 f/2.8 of Sony, Nikon or Canon give excellent results as well. Tested on 12 mpix (as is the E-5), with electronic corrections as Olympus or Nikon automatically do, I would expect that they would be just as sharp...
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Old February 16th, 2013, 07:24 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Hi Jerome!

The full-frame cameras are of coure in theory capable of *much* higher quality, but I wonder about "in practice"? Did you look at the detail right in the corner of my wide-angle shot (the blue fabric). I've scrutinised the output of many of the available wide-angle lenses on full-frame cameras, and I do believe Olympus has a different standard when they call a lens "sharp" compared to some others... or have you seen that level of detail in the corners before?

Not that it matters for most images, mind you - I'm just extolling the virtues of a system where the lenses are genuinely usable across the entire frame, at any aperture. Canon's wide-angle zooms, for example, are a disaster by comparison - at no aperture will it even approach the corner performance of the Zuiko 7-14mm as shot at wide-open aperture, where it's already almost diffraction-limited.

The Olympus system is a quirky one, with a very different philosophy (which failed in the market - but many good things often do...), but they sure got the lens/sensor interaction right.

One last remark in reply to your post: There is absolutely no digital correction applied to the lenses of the four thirds system whatsoever, and none is needed. Don't confuse this system with the vastly inferior micro four thirds (mirrorless) system lenses, which require serious electronic correction, and are in a much (much) lower class.
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  #14  
Old February 16th, 2013, 08:00 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawid Loubser View Post
There is absolutely no digital correction applied to the lenses of the four thirds system whatsoever, and none is needed. Don't confuse this system with the vastly inferior micro four thirds (mirrorless) system lenses, which require serious electronic correction, and are in a much (much) lower class.
Surprising. I would have expected the E-5 to have the latest bells and whistles. But if the lens is already perfectly corrected, there is no need for digital correction, obviously.


Quote:
The full-frame cameras are of coure in theory capable of *much* higher quality, but I wonder about "in practice"? Did you look at the detail right in the corner of my wide-angle shot (the blue fabric). I've scrutinised the output of many of the available wide-angle lenses on full-frame cameras, and I do believe Olympus has a different standard when they call a lens "sharp" compared to some others... or have you seen that level of detail in the corners before?
In practice, full frame 24-70mm lenses have poor extreme corners at 24mm and f/2.8 but better ones at 28mm and f/8, which is more or less the equivalent of what you are showing. The new Canon 24-70 is supposed to be much better, however.


Quote:
Canon's wide-angle zooms, for example, are a disaster by comparison - at no aperture will it even approach the corner performance of the Zuiko 7-14mm as shot at wide-open aperture, where it's already almost diffraction-limited.
I have not tested the Canon 16-35 lenses. The equivalent of the Zuiko 7-14mm would be a 14-28, which exists in Nikon mount. That lens is an optical wonder. But then, of course, you get what you pay for. The lens is big, heavy, unpractical and expensive.

If you are interested in lens tests, I do mine on the horizon to avoid problems with focus, being parallel, etc... I post the images on my flickr account. The pictures from the Nikon 14-24, for example, are here.
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  #15  
Old February 21st, 2013, 04:57 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Thank you for the link to your lens tests, Jerome - it's nice to have so much additional data. I agree that when you stop down to "equivalent" apertures, the really good FF zooms render quite similar detail to the Zuiko at f/4.0. I don't think the same is the case when you shoot at f/2.0 on the Zuiko and f/4.0 on the equivalent FF lens, where the Zuiko's inherent advantage of the strong telecentrity and large size in comparison to the sensor records visibly more aberration-free detail, according to my tests at least (as illustrated by my posted f/2 image also). Unfortunately, the four thirds images will have grain no matter what ISO you shoot them at, the sensors just can't compete. The E-5 does make up for it with superb rendition of fine detail though.

I by no means think that the four thirds system with the inherent sensor disadvantage can easily "beat" full-frame, but I do think that it's interesting that, with this old sensor technology, the four thirds system still offers solid competition for many kinds of images (in good light), probably due to the wonderful lenses.

I wonder what's in store for the future of the system...
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Old February 22nd, 2013, 07:57 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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I am really amazed at the superb imaging qualities (colour, contrast, resolution) of the 14-35/2.0 between f/2.0 and f/4.0. The resistance to flare at high-contrast boundaries verges on the unbelievable, i.e. in my first image below, where the trees cross the disk of the sun, I've never seen a lens hold the detail in the foreground (black) to this extent.

Sentinel tree and sunset (f/4.0)


Green grass, tree, and mountain (f/4.0)


Lounge (f/2.0)


In the last image, the lucid rendering of the glass objects is also notable to me.
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Old April 11th, 2013, 08:26 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Just an addition to this thread - I honestly don't think there are many f/2.0 lenses for any system whatsoever that resolves as well as the 14-35mm f/2.0 zoom. I know the Olympus E-5 has an outdated (but ridiculously "sharp") 12MP sensor, but this lens is just screaming for a higer-resolution sensor (16MP is not that big an increase, I am talking about 20MP+). Here's another example (the stereotypical cat, I know)


I'm still a much bigger fan, and user, of film-based monochrome imagery, but I do like the images I am getting from this lens:

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  #18  
Old April 11th, 2013, 10:14 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawid Loubser View Post
Just an addition to this thread - I honestly don't think there are many f/2.0 lenses for any system whatsoever that resolves as well as the 14-35mm f/2.0 zoom. I know the Olympus E-5 has an outdated (but ridiculously "sharp") 12MP sensor, but this lens is just screaming for a higer-resolution sensor (16MP is not that big an increase, I am talking about 20MP+). Here's another example (the stereotypical cat, I know)

Dawid,

I put more attention to your invitation, making it red! It's worth seeing the capability of this lens. I think you're correct in predicting that this could lens deserves and can handle more pixels in the 4.3 sensor.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawid Loubser View Post
I'm still a much bigger fan, and user, of film-based monochrome imagery, but I do like the images I am getting from this lens:


I like the subject here, very much, especially in B&W as it removes the distracting beauty of color and we pay more attention to form. What's revealed is a restful refuge; a gently framed portal to tranquil water!

Asher
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  #19  
Old August 7th, 2013, 02:02 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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This lens is an optical wonder. At closest focusing distance and f/2.0, I am getting snapshots with a lucidity of colour and detail that a zoom lens has no right producing:

Yellow petals, green bed

(Zuiko Digital 14-35mm f/2.0 @ 35/2.0, Olympus E-5, developed with RawTherapee on Arch Linux)

Happiness :-)
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Old August 7th, 2013, 06:29 AM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is online now
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Very nice Dawid

I don't own the 14-35 - because it isn't a useful range for the work that I do. But I can imagine, how wonderful it would be to work with - - - with the experience I have had with my most used 12-60 f2.8/4 and 50 f2 Macro. These as well are incredible performers. I've longed to get my hands on a 7-14 of my own. I love that range and especially Olympus' version of it.

I don't know if I agree with you though, about your conclusion that micro 4/3 is far inferior. It is the exact same system/sensor size as 4/3 - just the mirror has been removed. I think the current sensors are comparable to the E-5 (which is wonderful).

True, micro 4/3 doesn't have the incredible zoom range and with the speed and quality of the 4/3 system. But the great selection of fast primes of high quality is there. that said - I have done no technical side-by-side comparisons.

It is a shame really that everyone gets on a band wagon and trashes perfectly usable and competent technology - just because something new (in Olympus' case, nothing new) has been introduced in a time frame they expect. The E-5 - even E-3 and E-510 that I have - along with the incredible lenses Olympus has provided us for those cameras - - - are still up to snuff for producing high image quality and will be for years to come. Congratulations on continuing to find value in the "old" technology.

BTW - for all of us with some of the great glass from Olympus 4/3 - we are supposedly getting closer to newer sensor camera that will make use of it, as well as allow us to invest in some of the new micro 4/3 offerings. For people like me, that use both systems and have ailing camera bodies (from heavy use - not from being inadequate), this is something Olympus users have been waiting for. I'll be waiting to see if it comes true this time. If not, I'm still happily firing away with what I have.

I appreciate your real-life review of this Olympus lens.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 07:22 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Hi Robert,

Thank you for your reply! I agree with you that the quality of the Micro Four Thirds cameras are extremely good. There are almost no native lenses for this system, however, that approach the same optical quality. Almost all of them are optically crippled with extremely high distortion, light falloff and colour fringing, which are correct in software (with reduced quality in the corners as a result).

Not that this really matters for most images, but there is a marked quality difference when doing technical testing. Micro Four Thirds optics lag behind most good contemporary optics from major SLR manufactureres, and those in turn lag behind the Four Thirds SHG optics.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 01:05 PM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawid Loubser View Post
Hi Robert,

Thank you for your reply! I agree with you that the quality of the Micro Four Thirds cameras are extremely good. There are almost no native lenses for this system, however, that approach the same optical quality. Almost all of them are optically crippled with extremely high distortion, light falloff and colour fringing, which are correct in software (with reduced quality in the corners as a result).

Not that this really matters for most images, but there is a marked quality difference when doing technical testing. Micro Four Thirds optics lag behind most good contemporary optics from major SLR manufactureres, and those in turn lag behind the Four Thirds SHG optics.
I don't doubt you Dawid. Although I have a hard time imagining that the 24mm 1.8, 45mm,1.8 or 75mm1.8 lag behind anyone. In fact my $150 40-150mm m4/3 zoom lens is a great little zoom that I feel easily outshines any other manufacturers 75-300mm equivalent and may even give higher end optics a run for the money.

Yes the SHG lenses are impressive. So are the SWD ones that I have. I would challenge that the SHG are better than the 4/3 50mm macro though. Maybe you'll have data to back that up (I'm not a techie data guy - just a creative).
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Old August 7th, 2013, 06:24 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Dawid,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawid Loubser View Post
I've just had the pleasure of receiving the highest-performance photographic lens I've ever had the pleasure to operate, the Zuiko Digital 14-35mm f/2.0. I'm looking forward to using this lens creatively, but I've never seen a lens that can do this at f/2.0 in harsh daylight:


What a masterpiece (the lens, not my silly test shot...).
I had somehow missed this when you originally posted it.

That is just stunning performance!

Best regards,

Doug
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Old August 8th, 2013, 01:22 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Watcher View Post
Yes the SHG lenses are impressive. So are the SWD ones that I have. I would challenge that the SHG are better than the 4/3 50mm macro though. Maybe you'll have data to back that up (I'm not a techie data guy - just a creative).
Hi Robert,

At this level of performance, it's probably not practically possible to distinguish between the 14-35/2.0 or the 35-100/2.0 (SHG) and the 50mm f/2.0 Macro (HG). All three are - for all intents - perfect. And I don't use the term lightly, I do mean it. There is no appreciable performance difference across the entire frame until diffration softens the image (past f/5.6 or so it becomes visible).

Now if only we could get the pleasing, "organic" black and white tones out of digital images that we can out of film :-)
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