20/21mm on FF..........yet again!
/forum/topic/1133625/4

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plasticmotif
Registered: Sep 23, 2010
Total Posts: 833
Country: United States

timballic wrote:
I thought someone might be interested in all the 20mm-ish lenses I uncovered in my researches.

It soon became obvious from going to review to review that a circular pattern was repeated: Lens A better than lens B; Lens B better than lens C; Lens C better than lens D: Lens D better than lens A !

Anyway for what it's worth here's the list with a few comments: (for which I may be shot down in flames!)

Canon 20/2.8 USM............Good edge to edge definition F5.6 on, (contra many reviews), but rather flat.
Canon 17-40/4L .....My copy @20mm, very good edge to edge definition, clarity and contrast, better than OM 21/2
Leitz Elmarit-R 19/2.8 II .......Worthy of 2nd place to Zeiss 21/2.8, but requires surgery and 2x cost!
Leitz Super Angulon R 21/4...............Meh! (For a Leitz) Designed and made by Schneider under licence
Nikkor 20/4 and 3.5Ai........................2.8 AiS better
Nikkor 20/2.8AiS................................. Sharp centre but weak corners, flare prone, vignette, CA
Nikon 17-35/2.8..........................I include because it rates so highly in several comparison reviews (eg 16-9.net)
Pentax K/A 20/4.............................Small and plasticky but reasonable performers
Pentax A 20/2.8..............................All metal and most flare prone of any I came across, rare.
OM Zuiko 21/3.5.............................Tiny "gem" v. highly rated, but 1 stop less depth of field,
OM Zuiko 21/2.....Rated as 2nd only to Zeiss by some, I found centre definition iffy, low contrast, sharp vignette
Sigma 20/1.8.................Widest aperture 20mm but poor performer until 5.6 and even then not among the best.
Voigtlander 20/3.5....Very good centre definition, colour and contrast, but poor edges and wide open, needs F8/11
Zeiss Jena Flektogon 20/4......(Zebra style) Reputation for least distortion, single coated only, reasonable sharpness
Zeiss Jena Flektogon 20/2.8......Not as good as above
Zeiss Distagon Z* 21/2.8.The undisputed "King" Contrasty, sharp and colourful, but moustache distortion.
Zeiss Distagon C/Y 21/2.8............. =1st. Very little difference. Currently more expensive than Z*!


I'm pretty sure I've used every lens wider than 24 on FF sensor. Well, not the newest Tokina. I just don't like their coatings weird flares and CA

I'd agree with this list with one exception, I liked the Leitz R 21/4.

My favorites in order: ZE 21, C/Y 21, OMs, Nikkors.

The Nikkor 20s and OM 21s are gems and cheaper than the Zeiss offerings. I find the ZE 21 to be one of the best lenses ever made, it's pretty hard to pass up.



timballic
Registered: May 21, 2011
Total Posts: 699
Country: United Kingdom

This is my test scene with the 17-40L @ 20mm

Focussed on the stones (12') in centre. This is F11, which is optimum for sharpness and depth of field, (however even at F16 there is very little diffraction loss in IQ with the 17-40 and the Voigt, although the OM suffers more with it)
The 17-40L @20mm bettered the OM 21/2, and the Voigtlander 20/3.5 (and the Canon 20/2.8 USM) at most points, for resolution, contrast, clarity and lack of CA. (looks like some sharpening artifacts from photobucket have crept in to these) I have sharpened each equally.



100% crop 17-40L @ 20mm Fll



100% Voigt 20/3.5 Fll
Far warmer and more contrasty.Good and sharp here in the centre, if only it could keep that to the edges I'd be happy.

100% OM21/2 Fll
Softer and note the colour fringing on the gate under the top bar.(Remember this lens has just been in to Olympus service centre who confirmed it was calibrated to spec.)

I think I'll revert to my "normal" sharpening after this, however the poorer centre performance of the OM21 compared to the Voigt and 17-40 is apparent here
The Voigt is far warmer, but to my eye the 17-40L is just cleaner, and less CA.

I'll post corner next.



timballic
Registered: May 21, 2011
Total Posts: 699
Country: United Kingdom

Now top right. The softness of the OM is more due to lack of depth of field than lack of resolution. These were focussed at 12' on the central stones.

100% 17-40L @ 20mm
Best sharpness/dof in distance, notice leaves on distant tree. If only it kept up this corner performance at 18-17mm, but it "smears".


100% Voigt 20/3.5
Notice especially how the leaves of the distant tree are indistinct/mushy compared with the 17-40 and the OM


100% OM 21/2
Softness on "HORSES" more a depth of field problem than resolution.Slightly worse purple fringing of the three. However where it is in focus, ie on the honeysuckle blooms, it is even sharper than the 17-40L in this area.



timballic
Registered: May 21, 2011
Total Posts: 699
Country: United Kingdom

The real problem is, I don't like either the OM21/2 (OM 21/3.5?) or the Voigt 20/3.5. It's a case of 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. (It would be really great if the service people can improve the performance of my Voigt, but I'm not holding my breath!)

The search continues, but for the meantime I'll return to using the Canon 20/2.8 USM which is only slightly bettered by the 17-40 in my tests. (I tend to keep the 17-40L permanently on my IR converted 40D and it requires large size ND grads and holder, where all my other lenses work with the 85mm "P" size))

I'll post more crops, and/or the results from the 20/2.8 USM, if anyone wants, just ask.

It would be lovely to do a comparison with the renowned Zeiss 21/2.8 (in either model) or the even more expensive Leica 19/2.8, just to see what a really good lens can do, but for me at this FL, the expense and weight are not justifiable.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11962
Country: United States

One thing to note about the Oly's ... they are a lower contrast lens ... as such they will look softer if you apply the same amount of sharpening that you do for a high contrast/centrally sharp lens.

Oly's in general take a bit more coaxing, but it isn't anything that is problematic, they get there very nicely just the same. The lower contrast (not to be confused with lower resolution) is the tradeoff for the better corners ... optics are a series of compromises (especially UWA/WA), choose your poison.

Don't be afraid to push the Oly's a bit more in post, they deserve it and respond well to it once you've got your PP recipe adjusted to them.

It's too bad you don't have the Oly 21/3.5 to compare with. I think you'd find that the tradeoff's needed to achieve f2 aren't as inherent in the 3.5 version, despite the $$$ paid for the faster 21/2.

Here's a rework of the Oly ... of course, working from a previously worked small jpg isn't ideal in any sense of things, from the RAW would of course be ideal. But, I'm simply suggesting that you don't "throw the baby out with the bathwater" when the bathwater is the wrong temperature ... rather, adjust the temperature of the water to put it where you want it ... that's what the knobs (& sliders) are for.

The Oly 21/3.5 is quite admirable once you understand how to properly PP it differently than a higher contrast lens like the Nikon 20/2.8 AIS (or Voigts, etc.). I would image the same goes for the 21/2. I've got The Oly 28/3.5, 24/2.8, 21/3.5 & 18/3.5 ... they all share the ability to tolerate a stronger push in PP than do my Nikon 20/2.8 AIS or 28/2.8 AIS ... but they also have better corners than the Nikons, while the Nikons are sharper in the center.

Compromises ... choose our poison. Lower contrast is easy, uneven sharpness not so much, imo.




cogitech
Registered: Apr 20, 2005
Total Posts: 11322
Country: Canada

Compose with the vignette in mind, then crop it out. This is one reason I chose a 17mm lens. Crop it down to 20mm and the corners are perfect (they're pretty damned good at 17mm, actually).



jvincenc76
Registered: Sep 04, 2009
Total Posts: 15
Country: Slovakia

thanx to timballic for posting these pictures, and sending me even more. I owned 17-40 F4 L and was happy with it on 300D, but not on 5DII - I sold it, could be I had a bad copy. I was looking at Zeiss 21mm ZE and C/Y but these are:
1. expensive
2. with filter size bigger then 67mm - I own CP and 3 ND (8x, 64x and 1000x) - so I would have to buy them in bigger size = even more expensive.
3. big - and I want to save space in my bag - replace olympus 24mm and vivitar 17mm with one lens 20/21mm
So this leaves me with the decision between 20mm voigtlander and 21mm olympus. Oly is cheaper and from pictures I saw here better then voigtlander. I just have to wait for a good deal on ebay.
Or is there another option? (good corners at F8-11, filter size <= 67mm, price around 500eur)



timballic
Registered: May 21, 2011
Total Posts: 699
Country: United Kingdom

The only other option I know of is the Canon 20/2.8 USM which I am staying with.
I did some comparisons between it and the OM 21/2 on the same test scene as above but on a different day, so maybe I'll post a couple of 100% examples of those. The Canon does use 72mm filters however, which I can just get away with using a W/A "P" holder with 85mm filters.
If there is a better option I'd really like to know because I haven't unearthed it,(other than Zeiss 21 and Leitz 19)
(Most of the reviews I read preferred the Voigt 20/3.5 to the Nikon 20/2.8, but that was the comparison which went circular, A better than B better than A, most often)



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11962
Country: United States

Zeiss 21 if it didn't have mustache distortion, weigh a ton and cost a mint.
Leica 19 if it didn't cost twice a mint
Oly 21/3.5 ... well corrected for distortion, good corners, lightweight and cost friendly. Don't let the lower contrast fool you into thinking it doesn't have good resolution.

Imo, Oly 21/2 ... pass unless you are in dire need of f2, which in today's realm, I don't see the need. I think using the Oly 21/2 is a poor representation of the Oly 21/3.5. BTW, the Oly 18/3.5 is an option as well, following Paul's mention of cropping to 20/21.



timballic
Registered: May 21, 2011
Total Posts: 699
Country: United Kingdom

Here are comparisons between the 17-40L, EF 20.2.8 USM and OM21/2.8.
Taken on a different day to above comparisons, with much flatter lighting, but the same scene.

Again focussed at 12' .


100% 17-40L F11



100% EF20 F11
A yellow colour as if it contained a Thorium element (it doesn't!) Good central sharpness.



100% 0m21 F11



100% 17-40 F11



100% EF20 F11
Slightly weaker in corners, but just acceptable and a lot better than the Voigt.


100% OM21 F11
The bad purple fringe below the top left leaves is very evident here.






timballic
Registered: May 21, 2011
Total Posts: 699
Country: United Kingdom

RustyBug wrote:
Zeiss 21 if it didn't have mustache distortion, weigh a ton and cost a mint.
Leica 19 if it didn't cost twice a mint
Oly 21/3.5 ... well corrected for distortion, good corners, lightweight and cost friendly. Don't let the lower contrast fool you into thinking it doesn't have good resolution.

Imo, Oly 21/2 ... pass unless you are in dire need of f2, which in today's realm, I don't see the need. I think using the Oly 21/2 is a poor representation of the Oly 21/3.5. BTW, the Oly 18/3.5 is an option as well, following Paul's mention of cropping to 20/21.



Most comments I've read (and I've looked extensively), prefer the OM21/2 as sharper than the 21/3.5,(both multicoated), but as I haven't compared them, I can't state a personal opinion.

I've also read that the 21/3.5 has an even shallower depth of focus than the 21/2, which I already find a bit limited in this areas, so for my style of photography that's another mark against it.

I do like the size and heft of the OM21/2 and it's sharp enough at F2 to be easy to focus.

I also know from having the OM24/2.8 for a short time, that the OM21/3.5 would be too small for me for the reasons I stated earlier.

EDIT: After the next sequence showing the OM21/2 to be the best of the three at close distances, I wonder if the 21/2 is corrected more for close focus (having that floating group of elements suggests this may be so) and the 21/3.5 more for distance?



timballic
Registered: May 21, 2011
Total Posts: 699
Country: United Kingdom

..and to complete the series, lower right corner (this time focussed at 3-4' on the forward edge of the mound of grass)

100% 17-40 F11
Here I feel the 17-40 looks almost 3D (to me)

100% EF 20 F11
In the very extreme corner the EF20 gives up, (I checked other exposures to make sure the grass head hadn't moved in a breeze.)

100% OM21 F11
In this close corner the OM21 is definitely sharpest, but then it has a floating design supposed to give improved performance close up.
It also has a more "delicate" look to my eye. (Perhaps the 21/2 is corrected more for close focus and the 21/3.5 is better for infinity?)



jvincenc76
Registered: Sep 04, 2009
Total Posts: 15
Country: Slovakia

to timballic:
Canon 20mm is not on my list - too big, not alt :-)
Leica 19mm is - as you wrote - expensive and I don't want to shave the mirror

to RustyBug:
I agree that Oly 21/3.5 is better choice then 21/2 for landscape, that is the one I'm looking for
Oly 18mm is probably good, and also cropping it to 20/21mm is posible, but you lose resolution on final image. I have vivitar 17mm and I have used it 2 times I think - too wide for me. Also it is starting to cost a mint, almost.



timballic
Registered: May 21, 2011
Total Posts: 699
Country: United Kingdom

Admittedly taken on the first day, but this is what the Voigt 20/3.5 looked like in the lower right corner at F11, focussed on the same point as the above.

Not very good by comparison to any of the above is it. (Sorry for the noise, as it was darker I brightened it)



Gunzorro
Registered: Aug 28, 2010
Total Posts: 6061
Country: United States

To my eye, based on these small images and crops, it looks like you have a pretty terrific 17-40, at least at f/11. EF 20/2.8 looks very good too. Both seem better than either the Voigtlander or Olympus.

Try running these two Canon lenses against each other all the way through their aperture range at 1-stop intervals to f/16 and decide. But it looks like the 17-40 will be best.

Unless you want to spend a lot more money trying out the Zeiss, enjoy!



timballic
Registered: May 21, 2011
Total Posts: 699
Country: United Kingdom

Gunzorro wrote:
To my eye, based on these small images and crops, it looks like you have a pretty terrific 17-40, at least at f/11. EF 20/2.8 looks very good too. Both seem better than either the Voigtlander or Olympus.

Try running these two Canon lenses against each other all the way through their aperture range at 1-stop intervals to f/16 and decide. But it looks like the 17-40 will be best.

Unless you want to spend a lot more money trying out the Zeiss, enjoy!


I quite agree!

However, I'm not sure why these images are SO small, I uploaded at 1600pixels to photobucket, they should have been MUCH LARGER? Perhaps I'll ask that question on the preferred image size thread.
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/viewtopic.php?TopicID=1148881

EDIT: OK that's sorted, there was an output uploader setting in my personal details on photobucket set to 1024px, I've changed it to 1280px for future uploads. Sorry these were so small...if you want me to upload everything again larger you'll have to beg me, it takes forever!



timballic
Registered: May 21, 2011
Total Posts: 699
Country: United Kingdom

This is what they would have looked like @ 1280pxs
OM 21/2 F11



Gunzorro
Registered: Aug 28, 2010
Total Posts: 6061
Country: United States

Thanks for going the extra mile.

I wasn't criticizing, just pointing out that the size and screen rez always makes it a guessing game to evaluate. I find it takes quite a number of comparison scenarios to be truly assured of one lens' strengths and another's weaknesses. The 100% details give the best indication of quality and sharpness in different image areas.

Anyway, my point is you, the user and handler, are in the best position to evaluate between the candidates. The rest of us are along for the ride.

If the question were what ~20mm lens under $600 is best, I think you have a strong contender there, especially if you like to have AF as well.



Mirek Elsner
Registered: Oct 03, 2005
Total Posts: 1020
Country: United States

timballic, you have very high expectations and I think you won't be happy until you get the Distagon. You should rent it for a few days and try. Thee is more to the Distagon than just sharpness at 100%.



timballic
Registered: May 21, 2011
Total Posts: 699
Country: United Kingdom

Mirek Elsner wrote:
timballic, you have very high expectations and I think you won't be happy until you get the Distagon. You should rent it for a few days and try. Thee is more to the Distagon than just sharpness at 100%.


Yep that's right, I want the Distagon IQ, under 500g with a 72mm or less filter size and all for under 500.
(Scottish and Yorkshire ancestry...will out!)

Actually if I used this FL a lot more, then I would probably end up getting the Distagon, but 24mm, 28mm and 35mm seem more "natural" to me and I do spend a lot there.



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