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Old Oct 13, 2005, 11:55 PM   #1
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This is a preliminary test report of eight telephoto converter lenses used with a FZ-30. The information will be modified and available on my FZ-30 user guide pages eventually. You may access this guide here for lens specifications: http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam/User-Guide/FZ-30/. The lenses being compared include: Canon TL-55 1.4X, Olympus TCON-14B 1.45X, Minolta ACT-100 1.5X, Nikon TC-E15ED 1.5X, Sony VCL HGD1758 1.7X, Panasonic LT55 1.7X, Nikon TC-E17ED 1.7X, and Olympus TCON-17. Some first impressions about the Nikon TC-E17ED 1.7X can be found here http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=15345170 andhere http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=15383168

This scene is one of my favorite because in a sunny day its light colors and high contrast can easily reveal more problems of a lens. The house is several hundred meters away and should be considered at a long distance.

Shooting parameters are as follows. First, SATURATION, CONTRAST and SHARPNESS are LOW. Second, ISO 80 was used. Third, after some testing shots, the aperture and shutter speed are fixed to f/5.6 and 1/800 second in the manual mode. Fourth, a FZ-30 is mounted on a sturdy tripod. Since it was a little windy, I used OIS mode 2 in case the lens and camera combo could cause slightcamera shake. Fifth, for each lens, 3 to 5 shots were taken and the best of this batch was selected as the "representative" of the lens being used. Sixth, the upper-right, lower-right and upper-left corners of an image are cropped for edge sharpness comparison, and the center portion is also cropped for the center sharpness analysis.

The following is the scene taken with different lenses. It is obviously that the Nikon TC-E17ED 1.7X has the highest reproduction ratio, followed by the Sony VCL HGD1758 1.7X, followed by the TCON-17 1.7X and Panasonic LT55 1.7X. Of the 1.5X class, the Minolta ACT-100 1.5X is the highest, followed by the Nikon TC-E15ED 1.5X even though it can only be mounted far away from the camera lens, followed by TCON-14B, followed by the Canon TL-55. Note that this reproduction ratio difference is mainly due to the lens design formula as discussed in http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=14156233, http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=14168932and http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=14214535




The following shows the center portion of each image. This section is part of the focusing area, and should be very sharp as long as the focus is correct. There is no doubt that the Nikon TC-E17ED captured the sharpest center image. It can even preserve the fine wood texture! The remaining three 1.7X converters (i.e., Sony HGD1758, TCON-17 and Panasonic LT55) appear to be the same. I personally believe the TC-E15ED 1.5X is slightly sharper than the Minolta ACT-100 1.5X; but, of course, you may consider them as equally good. The TCON-14B is slightly behind the Nikon and Minolta mainly due to the purple fringe that reduces the sharpness in the lower right corner. Of these three, the Nikon TC-E15ED has a higher contrast (the same applies to TC-E17ED as well) and the TCON-14B is slightly lower (than the Minolta). The Canon TL-55 has the lowest sharpness and contrast. Moreover, its tonality is slightly different from all other images. In this case, the best 1.7X converter is the Nikon TC-E17ED, and the best 1.5X converter is Nikon TC-E15ED.





The following is the upper-right corner (roof). Again, of the four 1.7X converters, the Nikon TC-E17ED is the leader, and slightly behind is the TCON-17. The Sony HGD1728 also performs well, but not as good as the Nikon and TCON-17. It is odd that the Panasonic LT55 has a very soft corner, nearly the worst of these eight! I don't know the cause yet. A further investigation is needed. Of the four 1.5X converters, I still pick the TC-E15ED 1.5X as the leader. But, I consider the TCON-14B being very slightly better than the Minolta ACT-100 at the extreme corner. The Canon TL-55 is poor. The two Nikons still have the highest contrast. In this comparison, the two Nikons and the TCON-17 performed very well.





Then, let us look at chromatic aberration of these eight. The following image has the crops of the lower right window frames. Note that due to a larger reproduction ratio, the Nikon TC-E17ED and Sony HGD1758 images cannot capture the full frame of that window. Clearly, the Nikon TC-E17ED wins again for its very clear and sharp definition of the window blind. More importantly, we do not see much chromatic aberration. If you are picky, you may find a very slight blue/purple fringe along the top edge of the upper right window; but, it is very insignificant. The Nikon TC-E15ED shares the same characteristic; however, the definition of the window blind is not as clear as that of the TC-E17ED. The Minolta ACT-100, like the Nikons, did not show much chromatic aberration; however, the lower and right frames of each window look blurred, reducing the sharpness of the image. The Sony HGD1758 also performed well and captured a clearly defined window blind (better than the Minolta but not as good as the Nikons); however, purple fringes along the right edge of the middle window frame is clearly seen.. The TCON-17 and Panasonic LT55 are similar, even with a similar purple fringe pattern. The TCON-14B is simply bad, purple fringing is so obvious, and sharpness is also lower. Undoubtedly, the Canon TL-55 is worst, much worse than the other seven.




Next, we shall examine the capability of capturing fine details in dark areas. Lower contrast lenses usually would not perform well. The following image has the crops from the shadow area of the upper-left window. There is a decoration hanging somewhere near the ceiling with a very thin string going from upper-right to lower-left. (I spotted it with a monoscope.) The two high contrast lenses, TC-E15ED and TC-E17ED, captured the string and decoration clearly. The Sony also performed well, but the decoration was not produced as well as the Nikons did. The TCON-17 is slightly behind the Sony; but, the Panasonic LT55 is not as good. IMO, the Minolta ACT-100 and TCON-14B are about the same (I believe the former is very slightly better), with the Canon TL-55 very far behind.




From this comparison, I have the following very preliminary conclusions:

(1) The best of these 8 is undoubtedly the Nikon TC-E17ED. It is sharp with higher contrast. TCON-17 performed better than the more expensive Panasonic LT55, and as good as the Sony HGD1758. Of the four 1.7X, I would rate them as TC-E17ED > Sony HGD1758 > TCON-17 > Panasonic LT55.

(2) Of the four 1.5X, I would rate them as follows: TC-E15ED > Minolta ACT-100 > TCON-14B >> Canon TL-55. You may have a different opinion about the order between the Minolta ACT-100 and TCON-14B.

(3) I believe the ED glass used in the two Nikons does make a big difference.

(4) Previously, the TCON-14B was considered the best for FZ-10/20. But, for the FZ-30, as this comparison shows, the TCON-14B does not take the lead any more. Perhaps FZ-30's 8mp sensor has pushed the TCON-14B resolution to its limit, exposing all of its problems. Note that the TCON-14B was designed for Olympus E-10 (4mp) and E-20 (5mp), while the TC-E15ED and TC-E17ED were designed for 5700(5mp)/8700 (8mp) and 8800 (8mp), respectively. Perhaps, just perhaps, this made a big difference.

Note that the above are preliminary results. With more testing to be done and further examination of the images, I may change my mind. So, treat the above as a reference, please. I will post other preliminary results very soon. Finally, they will become a part of my forthcoming FZ-30 user guide.



CK

http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam
Nikon Coolpix 950/990/995/2500/4500/5700, Panasonic FZ-10 and Canon A95 User Guides



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Old Oct 14, 2005, 9:15 AM   #2
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Thanks for taking the time to do these tests and for sharing the results with us. Great information and commentary.:-)
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Old Oct 14, 2005, 7:59 PM   #3
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Dr Shene

Many thanks for posting here and at DPreview ! Your work is just invaluable. Bye the way are you planning to test the new wide angle lens for the FZ30?

Cheers

HarjTT


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Old Oct 15, 2005, 4:02 AM   #4
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HarjTT,
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Bye the way are you planning to test the new wide angle lens for the FZ30?
The wide angle for the FZ30 is nowhere to be found in the US. I am waiting for a new Raynox HD6600-55 0.66X, which is a specially designed version (with a new lens mount of 55mm and otherwise the optic is all the same as the popular DCR-6600PRO) for the FZ-30. If I could get this Raynox and the new Panasonic new 0.7X soon, I would be able to do some shooting during the winter and have a comparison up sometime early next year. My current plan is getting the tele portion done, followed by the wide end. I did not do the wide end for my FZ-10, and hope to complete this circle for the FZ-30.

CK
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Old Oct 15, 2005, 8:28 AM   #5
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Hi! Thanks for the serious effort you've put in! I'm convinced, and I don't even want a tele-converter. :-) In fact, what I may be leaning towards is a macro adapter (eg Nikon 6T) and was wondering if you had tested (or intend to test) these devices.

Keep up the good work!
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Old Nov 11, 2005, 4:09 AM   #6
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:? I'm just a novice photographer, who hasn't a clue about conversion lenses, either telephoto or wide angle, but have purchased a Panasonic FZ30 (also have the 10 and 20).....Along with the purchase of the FZ30, I additionally purchased the teleconverter and wide angle lenses that were touted to be "suggested accessories" for this model camera and when arrived, didn't fit......These were "Professional" Crystal Optics and excellent lenses, but what does that matter, when they don't screw on...:?......Soooo, back to the store they went and they were replaced with an even MORE expensive set of lenses (compliments of the store), this time threading of 58MM.......(oh, forgot to mention, I'm ordering these off the "net")...These ALSO don't fit....Called the store manager and he said his tech said they must go on with the lens hood:sad:.....I about turned myself inside out trying to get these lenses on with the hood and sure hope I didn't scratch the Leica lens that comes with the FZ30.....sigh........Anyone have any suggestions as to an adaptor (and what SIZE) that I can use.......Otherwise, back to the store they go again....I dont' have $600 to waste for nothing, know what I mean?

PLEASE HELP!!!! I'm about to cry.....

Shelley
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Old Nov 11, 2005, 4:17 AM   #7
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Good grrrrief! I can only say that the tele lense I bought for my FZ 30 fit like a glove no muss no fuss! Obviously someone somewhere has you suffering needlessly. Good luck with getting the correct items...best regards, (and keep us informed, this is unbelievable.)

KennethD
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Old Nov 11, 2005, 4:28 AM   #8
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Hi Kenneth



Thank you SOO much for your prompt reply.......I don't know what to do anymore about this situation........Do you know what the "threading" is of the conversion lens you purchased?......I must be an idiot with a capital "I" to be this clueless about the sizing.....However, these were the ones that were the suggested "accessories" FOR this camera, so I trusted the camera store.....They don't understand why they don't fit either.....Maybe it's MY FZ30 that is the problem?...just the tiniest miscalculation in threading during production would have this occur, wouldn't it?.......sigh..



Thanks again for your fast response!

Shelley
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Old Nov 11, 2005, 5:33 AM   #9
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cherub wrote:
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Soooo, back to the store they went and they were replaced with an even MORE expensive set of lenses (compliments of the store), this time threading of 58MM
Hmmmm, the tech of your store knew nothing about camera. The solution is extremely simple: buy a 55-58mm step-up ring. You screw the 55mm (male) end to your FZ-30 lens and put the 58mm converter lens onto the 58mm end. Then, you are all set. I guess what you get is a Sony or Sony compatible lens. Am I right?

Here is a trustworthy online store: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...amp;Submit.y=8

Here is another one: http://www.2filter.com/prices/produc...pterrings.htmlScroll down and you should be able to find 55-58 step-up rings.

If $$$ is no problem, don't buy general brand step-rings because in many cases they are thicker than necessary. Tiffen and Kenko are good brands, not too expensive.

Good luck to your 58mm converter lens.

CK

http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam

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Old Nov 11, 2005, 12:21 PM   #10
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cherub wrote:
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:? I'm just a novice .................These were "Professional" Crystal Optics and excellent lenses...........Shelley
Shelley - my heart bleeds for you, or anyone who has been taken in by a sales clerk. (And his "manager") Your "fine" ""Professional" Crystal Optics" aux. lenses are NOT of the quality you want to put between the Leica prime lens and your subjects. I suggest that you try to get a full refund for everything, probably including the fZ30 but at least for the add-ons. I bought my FZ30 from buydig.com and was not hassled to buy optional items to the further profit of the store. I suggest that the Olympus TCON-17 is one of the best for the money, and that you look at Dr. Shene's test photos to get your own opinion of it's quality. It needs no stepping ring to attach to the 30, since they are both 55mm threaded. The closer a converter mounts to the camera, the better. While I am not a "pro", I have had over 60 years experience in photography and know that I have much more knowledge than ANY clerk I have met in a long time. Tom
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