Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.4 versus f1.8

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by BBonte, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. BBonte

    BBonte Member

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    Would I get a maior improvement in brightness in my viewfinder with the f1.4 lens ? Or not worth the investement. Would it be optically performing better ?
     
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    When it comes to image quality, talk to anyone other than devotees of Olympus, who will not hear a word spoken against their cameras, and many will tell you that a lot more depends on their quality control (which was at one time notoriously wobbly) than on the lens design.

    Certainly, when I had both f/2 and f/1.2 Nikkors -- a stop and a half, not just the 2/3 stop difference you are talking about -- I didn't find that the extra brightness made a great difference, though the shallower depth of field it did make focusing easier.

    To get a good idea of how much difference it would make to brightness, stop your f/1.8 down a little beyond f/2 and use the preview button.

    Personally I wouldn't bother -- though a 50/1.4 would probably be so cheap nowadays that it wouldn't cost much to find out.

    If you want bright viewing, consider a rangefinder -- or even a 50mm finder in the accessory shoe of a reflex.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  3. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    No noticeable difference in brightness and as for quality, there usually is no gain by getting the 1.4 except for that little extra in low light. I don't know obout Olympus but with Canon the 1.4 is built to a better standard than the 1.8.
    If the 1.4 is not too much more, I would go for it...... they definately look better!
     
  4. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I do find the extra bit of brightness a help in low light, although I agree that it is minor. I don't see much of a quality difference, but then that in itself is quite something as it is harder to make faster lenses. At the time, there was a huge price difference, but not any more on the used market and I have been slowly replacing my OM lenses with the faster versions. I recently got the f2 35mm which is a lovely lens.

    David.
     
  5. BBonte

    BBonte Member

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    Thank you. I suppose that the difference will be less than moving from f3.5 to f2.0 as I did with buying a 80mm as a replacement of my 135mm f3.5. I hardly use this lens anymore. The f1.4 look more professional. They are still fairly valuable on ebay, the f1.2 even more.
     
  6. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    How often do you shoot at f/1.8?

    How often would you shoot at f/1.4?

    The difference of viewfinder brightness, unless you are shooting in extreme darkness, is probably not worth the extra expense if you already own the f/1.8 lens.

    As far as optical performance, if most of your images are shot in "normal" daylight, with the lens stopped down, I doublt if you'll see improved image quality in the final print or transparency. If you are shooting at the edge of extreme lighting conditions wide open, perhaps the f/1.4 will improve image quality slightly when shooting wide-open. You'll see the slight improvement in extreme enlargements.

    Personally, save your money to buy other lenses.
     
  7. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    It's said that early 1.4/50 are inferior to the 1.8/50 but this might only be hearsay. Seems to be that the same lens designs were used over more than two decades with varying quality standards and different kinds of coatings. The 1.8/50 inscribed "made in japan" on the frontring have an excellent reputation though. I have both, an older 1.4/50 and a mij and can't tell the difference.

    Ulrich
     
  8. oscroft

    oscroft Member

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    I've got both the 50/1.4 and the 50/1.8, and there's really not a great deal of difference in viewfinder brightness. I can't really comment on quality difference because my 1.4 is an early single coated silvernose and my 1.8 is a much later multicoated one, and I expect that accounts for most of any differences.
     
  9. frugal

    frugal Subscriber

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    The Zuikoholics (of which I am a member) will tell you that the best 50/1.8 is the last version (says "Made in Japan" along the front of the lens) and the best 50/1.4 is those with a serial number higher than 1.1 million (I've never seen anything saying exactly when the last edition came out).

    Personally, when my 50/1.8 started to go (sticky aperture blades) and wasn't worth being fixed I picked up a 50/1.4 and noticed it was much sharper. I don't know what the serial number of the 50/1.8 was but the 1.4 is in the low 1 millions so I suspect that it's the last version or at least the 2nd last version while my 50/1.8 was probably an earlier version.

    I had a chance to compare a 50/1.8 and 1.4 in a camera shop several years earlier and I remember not noticing much difference in the brightness in the finder. But, with the difference in the lenses that I had I did find the 1.4 was easier to focus but I suspect this was due to it being a better lens (it's really sharp).
     
  10. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I think with most brands the f/1.8 or f/1.7 is a better buy as they are usually significantly less expensive (new) and performance wise about the same as the f/1.4. However, if the price difference is small (as in case of used) I like to have the f/1.4 just because f/1.4 is an even stop (not in between stop).
     
  11. wclavey

    wclavey Member

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    I have both and 2 bodies, and I personally only notice a difference when I have one of the alternative focusing screens in that works better in brighter light, like the split image diagonal, versus the center spot microprism. The 1.8 makes the diagonal go dark in some cases. I honestly cannot say I have ever noticed a difference in overall sharpness.
     
  12. Simon E

    Simon E Member

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    The later multicoated f1.4 lenses are considered the better ones (and definitely an improvement over the early G.Zuiko single coated f1.4 lens), but the difference over the f1.8 lens may be slight. Still, Olympus prices are pretty low these days so they are excellent value. You can buy one and sell it on if you don't like it.

    For improved viewfinder brightness you could try to get hold of the 2-series screens; the 2-13 split-image/microprism is like the standard 1-13, while the 2-4 is all-matte with a circle to mark the area covered by the OM-3/4/Ti spotmeter. But they are very hard to find.
     
  13. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Is it really that much more sharp? I have a 50 f/1.8 on a little OM-G that I picked up for a song a couple of years back and the lens is really, really nice. Could it be that the f/1.4 version, having a more shallow depth of field, aided you in achieving more critical focus? It's a thought.
     
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  15. frugal

    frugal Subscriber

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    Well, as I had mentioned in my post, I think it has more to do with the which generation each lens is. I'm pretty sure that my 50/1.8 was an early multi-coated version, the later versions (especially the final "Made in Japan" version) are reported to be much better. I seriously doubt the slight change in DoF and brightness is enough to make that much of a difference.

    I know my 50/1.4 is in the 2nd last generation, possibly the last generation but I doubt that. It could also be a particularly good sample (and/or maybe my 1.8 was a particularly bad one). I've shown other people the shots with the lens and also had them focus through the camera and they've remarked about how sharp it is too. That's not to say the 1.8 is a bad lens, just that the improvement I got from my particular 1.4 compared to my particular 1.8 was quite dramatic.
     
  16. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    IF you are having a problem with your images being out of focus when shooting low light, then I bet you are having more of a problem with handholding +slow shutter speed instead of focus accuracy or lens performance.

    While there may be a case for the f1.8 not being as critically sharp as the f1.4, the 50mm f1.8 is designed to produce sharp images. And there is just as much of a case as the f1.4 being less sharp.

    If you are really mis-focussing the lens at f1.8, something will be in focus and it should be obvious where your focus landed.

    OK, so jumping up to a f1.4 lens may help by allowing you to use a faster shutter speed.

    Note that if you are shooting wide-open and having problems focussing, you may have more of a problem with the f1.4 because you have less depth of field. if you are stopping down to f2 or smaller, ignore this.

    Something else: the rangefinder patch of many cameras darken and become unusable at low light. You may want to find a microprism or matte screen. (just a suggestion)
     
  17. puptent

    puptent Member

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    What body are you using? If you are using an OM1 or OM2, there is a foam in place around the prism, sometimes this deteriates and people think that it's fungus. You may also not have the correct focusing screen, as mentioned. Your lens should stay wide open until the shutter is fired, so if you are looking through a stopped down lens there is a problem there. I have the 1.4, a couple of the 1.8 and a 55mm 1.2. I use them all, but seem to keep the 1.4 on the camera the most (it is a later serial number). If you view finder is brighter with other lenses, then you can do some simple detective work. Viewfinder brightness is a subjective thing. I would guess that you have a 1-3 split prism screen. Price ranges for screens are between $10 and $20, usually, on ebay. The Zuiko Lens Catalogs have screen suggestions at the back, and most screens will still have their compatability charts with them in the box. Sometimes glasses or contacts don't get along with certain screens.
     
  18. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    Yay for reviving 4 year old threads!
     
  19. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    WTF? how did this happen? There should be a way to lock out threads that are old or considered 'answered'
     
  20. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Since it's revived...

    The f/1.4 is significantly better overall, it has more iris blades for non-distracting out of focus highlights. At f/1.4 it is soft-focus/diffusion look, at least on the G.Zuiko. I lent it to someone with a f/1.8 and actual OM body (I have a OM-10, I mostly use the lens on a film EOS and digital EOS body), they reckon the viewfinder has a noticeable benefit from f/1.4.

    Focussing is easier with less DoF imho, but you also use split-prism on OM bodies anyway, I am fairly certain the G.Zuiko 50/1.4 resolves over 80 lp/mm at f/5.6 already.

    f/2 the soft-focus/diffusion disappears, better contrast (f/1.4 is still sharp when you examine it, it just doesn't appear to be when comparing stopped down).
    f/2.8+ best contrast
    f/4 very sharp
    f/5.6-f/11 out resolves 83 lp/mm digital sensor (hence my statement above), though there is less-loss of lens sharpness from lens to sensor than from lens to film, for comparable resolution films (similar res at 1.6:1 contrast).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2011
  21. John Hermanson

    John Hermanson Member

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    There are 5 different Zuiko 1.8 and 1.4 lenses. 1.4 above serial number 1,110,000 is the most sought after MC version. If you have the oldest 1.8 (SC with silver edged filter ring, or SC with black FR) The last 1.4 will be an improvement in performance but not so much in brightness. John
     
  22. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    My 1.4 is 154,666, and it's great.
     
  23. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I have an old silver-nose 1.4 that does not focus to infinity. I tested it last night by shooting an infinity shot at f/1.4 and infinity is soft on the film as well as the viewfinder, so I think my mirror and viewfinder match the film. Is there any way to adjust these somehow?

    I always felt in my gut that the f/1.8 was sharper and contrastier than the f/1.4 but I use the f/1.4 more for the slightly brighter viewfinder. The focus ring is also bigger and easier to turn.
     
  24. John Hermanson

    John Hermanson Member

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    If focus is good in viewfinder, on film for everything short of infinity, then the lens is out of adjustment. Focus ring is in wrong position. John
     
  25. goodfood

    goodfood Member

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    Remove the rubber focus ring (like a wide rubber band). You will see three very tiny screws. Put your camera on tripod and have infinity object at view. Free those three tiny screws lightly, don't take it out. Once you drop it, you never find it. Now view to infinity, lightly tight one screw, turn and stay in focus. Loose that screw again and turn the focus ring to infinity mark, make sure the focus not shift. Tight all three screw and try focus. Use some light glue and put back the focus rubber ring. When I got my second hand 200mm and 50mm both have soft infinity focus and adjusted by myself. Hope can help.
     
  26. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    Do not stretch that rubber focus ring. At that age the rubber is losing its elasticity. Handle with care.

    Perhaps John H. can tell us if replacements are available?