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Old Mar 1, 2007, 8:11 PM   #51
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Nice shots, but if you're going to use your new camera to take photos while driving (like #1), you should definately consider Anti-Shake. :-)

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Old Mar 1, 2007, 9:11 PM   #52
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That is a significant compilation of data. I congradulate you.

The issue I have with it, however, is that it is a summary of subjective responses, and I'm a big fan of emphirical data.

Regarding the subjective responses, don't you think that it's possible that, in general,Canon owners might be a little more critical, or that Olympus ownersmight be a little more enthusiastic? Either of those possibilities would skew the results of such a comparison, possibly to a significnat degree.

Also, while many of the scores correlated well, there seems to be much disparity in some of the subjective responses. The SLRZone respondents scored the Canon 75-300 f4-5.6 III and the Canon 28-200 f3.5-5.6 USM quite a bit higher than the photozomerespondents. You don't include the number of votes from each website, but if we consider the possibility that the low score for the first lens is a result of a limited number of extremely lowvotes on photozome,then at $150, the Canon 75-300 f4-5.6 III must be considered a best buy in anyone's book.

Your data are, at best, an average of subjective responses, and I don't think they justify your conclusions.

Given my affinity for empirical data, I'd give more weight to something like WhichCompany Makes the Best Camera Menses?While I conceed that this is an average of an average of an average, it's closer to what I would use to pick a lens manufacturer than your effort.
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Old Mar 2, 2007, 4:20 AM   #53
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The photozone survey is more rigourous. They specify specific objective criteria and tests to be used to fill out their survey. The SLRGear site I added just to have a bit more data, and to show that the photozone results are basically confirmed in some degree by subjective judgements by users on another site.

I could have included more data, but I didn't want to make the chart more confusing than it already is. Sample size is a concern on some these, especially the SLRGear site, but I used a weighted average in column 3, so if there are 5 votes on one site, and 20 on the other, the score from the site with 20 votes will account for 80% of the composite.

There are a few things I should note to clarify some of this. The Canon versions with and without IS are generally identical optically. Photozone seems to be inconsistent in how they have handled some of these. They list one entry for both 75-300 versions, and list only one version of the 70-200 f4L (but I suspect have included IS version scores in that), but list the 70-200 f2.8 IS seperately. I would consider the minor differnces in scores between the different versions to not be meaningful here. As for the one 75-300 which recieved an adequate score from SLRGear, that was a result of 4 votes. Given the rest of the data, I have no doubt this is a poor quality lens.

As for the 28-200 3.5-5.6, in that case the acceptable rating at SLRGear was a result of 1 vote on that site. However, I will note that the photozone method might tend to underate such long zooms. Those lenses aren't really expected to be very good given the range they cover. And photozone primarily tests the two extremes. Just because it isn't good at 28mm or 200mm doesn't mean it might not be adequate for a decent range in the middle for those who don't mind the optical sacrifice inherent in such zooms.

As for the link you provided, the photodo site it's based on has MTF data primarily of older film lenses. They don't include any four-thirds lenses in that sumary. They only have MTF charts for 6 Olympus lenses, all of them older OM film lenses (and not a representative selection of the best OM lenses either). And even so, the 3.4 average for Canon isn't much different from their 3.3 for the OM Zuikos.

I do think the objective test data available supports my conclusion, it just gets more technical and complicated to explain and cover all that is available, especially given the different ways much of it is presented.

But, some of the best technical tests purely of lens quality are those conducted by popular photography. They mount every lens onto a specialiaed test bed with a sensor designed for testing them. Thus this is not a test of a camera and lens system, just the lens itself. The only thing that's really "subjective" about their SQF (subjective quality factor) is what really constitues an "A" as opposed to a "B" grade. The data these grades are based on are about as objective as you can get in lens testing.


Lets start with the two recent tests they have on that first page, both included in our list above (and both in my short list of favorites-except this is the pricier IS version of the Canon). I'm looking here at performance at a 16x20" imag size:

Canon 70-200 f4L IS:
70mm 135 200
90.2 87.8 87.8 f4.0
90.7 90.0 89.7 f5.6
90.8 90.6 90.7 f8.0
90.6 89.9 90.1 f11.0
88.5 88.0 88.6 f16.0
85.2 84.6 85.8 f22.0
80.0 81.0 81.4 f33.0

Zuiko 40-150 f3.5-4.5
40mm 100 150
93.1 91.7 88.7 f3.5/4.0/4.5
92.9 92.0 88.9 f5.6
92.7 92.1 89.3 f8.0
91.9 91.6 88.9 f11.0
89.7 89.7 87.5 f16.0
85.9 86.4 84.5 f22.0

CAnon 70-200 f2.8L IS
70mm 135mm 200mm
82.1 74.6 74.9 f2.8
86.1 83.6 79.0 f4.0
86.8 87.0 82.5 f5.6
86.7 87.9 85.4 f8.0
85.8 87.7 86.4 f11.0
83.2 84.9 84.0 f16.0
77.4 79.5 77.8 f22.0
67.9 69.1 68.0 f32.0

A few more from the chart above:
Zuiko18-180 f3.5-6.3
Canon 70-300 f4-5.6 IS USM
Canon 28-300 f3.5-5.6L IS USM
Canon 28-200 f3.5-5.6 USM
Canon 55-200 f4.5-5.6 USM

And here's a fun one, in another focal length:
CAnon 50mm f1
Zuiko 50mm f2

Also check out some of the photzone tests, aside from the survey.

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Old Mar 2, 2007, 6:08 AM   #54
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Tom.. taking pics driving is possible only in Latvia I think.. and USA maybe.. but a scenery should be much more boring..

Thank you, guys, for all the info posted here.. Ken, you are really a walking dictionary of all the tech stuff.. I am hanging up a bid.. I need more time to process everything I read.. in short - I need a break!

As you have mentioned already - I am the one who has to choose.. and I will..

PS. I am off for a weekend.. who knows.. maybe I ll get a few more shots of my fave boat on Garda lake..
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Old Mar 2, 2007, 7:52 AM   #55
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Thanks for the greater detail in your methodology. And I am not denying that Olympus makes fine lenses. But given our limited sample size, I don't think even the empirical data points overwhelmingly in one direction or the other.

In this last set of objective test results you posted, none of the data are for the same focal length; the Canon lenses were tested at 70, 135 and 200mm, while the Zuiko was tested at 40, 100 and 150mm. If we compare the Canon at 135 to the Zuiko at 150, at the same aperatures, the Canon comes out on top (though the Canon is tested in the middle of its range and the Zuiko at its limit). Even dropping the IS, ("The Canon versions with and without IS are generally identical optically." - kenbalbari), the Canon is still twice the price of the Zuiko, but Canon can command a higher price, and we're still talking about different lenses (70-200 vs. 40-150) that would appeal to different people.

A more fair comparison would be the Canon 28-200 f3.5-5.6 USM against the Zuiko18-180 f3.5-6.3. The figures for the Zuiko at 100mm, 8x10, are in the mid 90's and the figures for the Canon at 135mm, 8x10 are in the low 90's. In this instance, Popular Phototography acknowledges that the Canon isn't what they have come to expect ("Conclusion: Not optically up to usual Canon standards or those of other 28—200mm brands ..." - PopPhoto.com), but another significant point is that the Canon is cheaper than the Zuiko.

We're not talking Apples vs. Oranges, probably more like McIntosh vs. Delicious, butI still don't think the data support your conclusions. Our differences may not be down in the level of the noise, but we are discussing the pluses and minuses of slightly different shades of gray, and I would hesitate to point definitively in one direction or the other.

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Old Mar 2, 2007, 8:40 PM   #56
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"and we're still talking about different lenses (70-200 vs. 40-150) that would appeal to different people."

You are missing that they cover roughly the same field of view in their respective systems (assuming the 70-200 is mounted on an entry level Canon rather than the 5D, a $3000 full frame model). Thus comparing a 100mm on the Zuiko length to a 135mm length on the Canon is really comparing a 200mm EFL to a 216mm EFL. And the f4 is pretty close to the f3.5-4.5 in maximum apperture. So they are doing much of the same job, though the Zuiko is 280 grams lighter.

I'm not suggesting though that these are meant to be direct lens to lens comparisons. All I'm saying is that every Zuiko Digital lens so far is at least very good--the 18-180 with that good review from popular photogrpahy may be the worst of them. And on the whole they provide very good value comapred to comparbly priced lenses from the competition.

From Popular Photography I simply posted every available review from both in the range being discussed. The results are consistent with what I've seen from other review sites, with anecdotal evidence, with manufactures MTF charts, with user surveys. I've yet to see a Zuiko digital lens that isn't considered worth it's price.

This is in contrast to Canon, where most experienced Canon users will suggest that certain lenses be avoided, especially a good number of those in the under $1000 range. This "buyers guide" thread from dcresource, for example suggests higher quality third party lenses for budgets under $600.


"In this range, you have a little more room to work with. You still can't afford a "premium" first-party (Canon/Nikon) lens, but you can comfortably buy a top-grade 3rd party lens with money to spare for a 50mm prime (for low light situations)."

And the most commonly suggest alternatives referred to, by the way, are the Sigma DC and Tamron Di lines designed for digital camera sensors. This includes the Tamron 17-50 f2.8, the Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4.5, and the Sigma 18-50 f2.8.

Notwithstanding this, most third party offerings are also spotty. You have to pick them carefully. It's not a coincidence though that the best are most often the recent designs for digital sized sensors. And I'll also add that most of the Sigma lenses made available for Olympus have been from that DC line which is generally decent quality. A good percentage of those not available fall into the not worth considering category.

This is all I was geting at as far as the emphasis on "quantity" of lenses available perhaps overstating the issue. Note that the Mike Johnson quote above reffered to the Zuiko lineup being best for "overall optical quality". That's not saying that they are better than pro level Canon L series lenses. Just that there is high quality overall throughout the lineup.

In the under $1000 price range, the only way Canon would economically be able to provide similar quality lenses, would be to put some effort into expanding their EF-S range. And I fully expect they will do just that, sooner or later. You can't otherwise expect them to provide competitve offerings at the same price when they would have to cover a four times larger image circle (in area) with quality glass in order to do so.

Right now they have 5 EF-S offerrings, and one of them is the kit lens some reviewers say isn't even worth the extra $70-100. I expect that will change sooner or later. Maybe sooner.

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Old Mar 4, 2007, 8:10 PM   #57
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You're right. I missed the fact that Canon dSLRs use a 1.6X lens multiplier while Olympus dSLRs use a 2.0X lens multiplier. This makes it appropriate for us to compare the Canon 70-200 to the Zuiko 40-150. At 100mm, the Zuiko has the same field of view as the Canon at 123mm, so we can use the 135mm data for the Canon, and you are right, the Zuiko is slightly better. But at 150mm, the Zuiko has the same field of view as the Canon at 185mm so we can use the 200mm data for the Canon. In this situation, the Canon comes out on top by a slight amount, but at twice the price (if we leave out the IS.)

But my comparison of the Canon 28-200 f3.5-5.6 USM to the Zuiko18-180 f3.5-6.3 still applies. The 18-180 range of the Zuiko would be equivalent to 22-222 for a Canon. And while the Zuiko does perform slightly better than the Canon, the Canon is cheaper.

I concede that Canon has a few clunkers in its line-up, but to say that nothing Canon has for less than $1,000 is worth buying is a gross exageration. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II is a fine lens, and it is available for $70! The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM AF, EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM are just a few fine Canon lenses available for less than $1,000.

And while good quality lenses are available for Canon dSLRs from third party manufacturers at lower prices, the same can be said for Olympus dSLRs. Compare the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 at $600 to the Zuiko 150mm f/2.0 at $2,200.

I believe we're now talking Apples and Apples. I hold no preconceived notions. My current dSLR is a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D, so I am as unfamiliar with Canon as I am with Olympus. When I look at the data for Canon and Zuiko lenses, I don't see an overwhelming reason to go with one over the other.
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Old Mar 5, 2007, 11:59 AM   #58
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This issue was raised because the Olympus cameras supposedly didn't have lens choices. They do have choices. Excellent choices throuhout three quality levels. All of those lenses are designed for their 4/3 system. There are also a growing list of lenses offered by Sigma, as well as a few close to hitting the street from 4/3 partner Leica.

Olympus hasmore digitally designed lenses available than any other manufacturer and the reviews Ken put forth speak to their quality.

Olympus does have issues that are fair to bring up such as low light focus problems and high iso noise issues. Lense availability is NOT any more of an issue for Olympus than for other manufacturers. Each has areas that others fill better.

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Old Mar 5, 2007, 12:19 PM   #59
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fldspringer wrote:
Lense availability is NOT any more of an issue for Olympus than for other manufacturers. Each has areas that others fill better.

I thought we were going to let this die. But since you decided to resurrect it.What has been established is that Olympus has some very high quality lenses - the examples Ken provided prove that. But you still don't have the same lens offerings you just don't. Out of the dozens of sigma lenses offered only a couple are offered in Olympus mount. So, while I fully admit Ken's research shows olympus has quality lenses, it still doesn't have the same offerings - you're forced to buy from a selected list of lenses only. As an example, these popular sigma lenses are not (to my knowledge) offered in oly mount:

Sigma 120-300 2.8

Sigma 100-300 4.0

Sigma 50-500

Sigma 70-200 2.8 macro

Sigma 24-70

Sigma 12-24

70mm 2.8 macro

105mm 2.8 macro

150mm 2.8 macro


17-70 2.8-4.5


These are all popular lenses sigma makes and none are available for Olympus. so while olympus has quality lenses you still can't make the argument they have the same lens offerings - they dont. They have a smaller, albeit quality, selection of lenses but they don't have an EQUAL amount of lenses available. So if you prefer third party lenses you're still a bit short in the Oly camp. Although as stated, they are getting more lenses. When I can look at the list of available Sigma/Tamron/Tokina lenses and see Olympus next to 90% of the lenses listed then there will be a level playing field. Right now, it's not quite there.

Now - Ken might argue none of those lenses are any good so the fact you can't get them in an Oly mount is not important. I would argue I prefer to make that choice myself - not have it be a forced limitation.
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Old Mar 5, 2007, 12:25 PM   #60
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Great! I think we can make a final line under this topic now.

Thanks you all for the knowledge and considerations shared! I think I ll print out all the info you have given here. Will be a base for the next stage in my development.

Have a great day! And a good luck in daily training!

One of the greatest italian photographers - Angelo Tondini - said just recently - the more photographies I take, the more lucky I get! He is a traveller and book writer too.. Reportage is one of his vafe topics in photography.. and only with film cameras..
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