Quality versus convenience

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When I bought the Olympus 14-150mm zoom, I did wonder what would be the fate of my Leica Panasonic 14-150mm Vario Elmar. While its a wonderful quality lens, it is big and heavy. The Olympus is small and light. As soon as I put the m.zuiko onto a camera and started to take some pictures with it, I immediately liked using it. With any of my m4/3 bodies it makes a very compact camera / lens combination which is a pleasure to use. The question was "Is it any good". Well yes it is. After trying it my E-P2 last weekend I was pleased with its performance. The Voigtlander 25mm arrived on Tuesday and I spent the rest of the week working with that, so didn't get around to trying the Olympus zoom on my GH1 until yesterday. With the better performance of the GH1 sensor the lens produced sharper results than with its "native" body and I can feel the Vario-Elmar slipping towards ebay!


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I have no wish to "endure" my photography, nor should using equipment be a struggle. A light, responsive camera / lens combination is always preferable to a heavy, cumbersome one, providing the quality is satisfactory. Yes the Vario-Elmar is the better lens, but not by as much as I first thought. The GH1 sensor is the best of all the versions that Panasonic have made, including I'm afraid to say, those that they let Olympus have. I'm assuming here that Olympus haven't made the sensor in the E-P2 produce less sharp results and more noise on purpose. 


The point of this is that I definitely get better results from my GH1 than any of my other m4/3 cameras, and by using the Olympus 14-150mm zoom on this camera I was really quite impressed by its quality. 


So its a question of the more user-friendly combination versus the ultimate quality option. This might trouble me more if there was more of a quality gap between the two zooms. However it is smaller than I initially thought and I know that I'm always going to prefer the Olympus, because of its smaller size.


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I also used the Olympus 9-18mm wide angle zoom on a GF1 yesterday. Now this is a really excellent lens. Very sharp and every bit the equal of the Panasonic 7-14mm. No built in OIS stabilisation system and 2mm narrower but for me its the better choice of the two lenses. Firstly its a very (155g) light lens and secondly it takes filters. As I've said before the 7-14's exposed front element always struck me as a disaster waiting to happen. I dont feel that there is much of a quality gap between these two lenses, if there is any at all, but the Olympus is definitely more convenient for me. 


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Another change that may be happening concerns my E-P2. I bought the 14-150mm as part of a kit with an E-PL1. It was always my intention to sell on that camera, bundled with the 14-42mm kit zoom from the E-P2. Indeed I put it on ebay and even got as far as a few bids. Then I actually used it during my Voigtlander 25mm photo sessions. I'd had one before in the summer, but that was part of another kit deal and I'd sold it on pretty quickly. Last week was the first time I'd ever handled an E-PL1 for any length of time and I really liked it. The addition of the handgrip and the re-arranging of a few buttons from the E-P2 design seems to make quite a difference. 


Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 E-PL1


Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 E-P2


In particular, I found using manual focus lenses on the E-PL1 a lot easier than the E-P2, just because of the location of the button that triggers the magnified view for focusing. I even found it easier to use in this regard than my GH1. If the weather forecast is accurate, I'm going out today to try it out, with some MF lenses. Its all very well thinking something works better sitting on the sofa, but how it performs and feels when a few miles of walking are involved is a better test. Anyway I've removed it from ebay to see how it performs on location. If it works better for me then I may use it as my preferred camera for manual focus lenses.


Words - D
Images - D & A