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Real World Lens Test

  1. Penceler
    Having shot OM for 30 years I recently picked up a Nikon FG body and a few lenses. Wondering how the OM gear would compare I conducted a very crude lens test to help me decide if it was time to change. I know the OM system well but there is some allure to the prospect of newer and more modern lenses. Part of me was hoping the OM would hold its own as I much prefer the OM 1&2 viewfinder to the Nikon. Lenses tested were an OM 50 1.8 (yep, the one they give away as a body cap) vs. a brand new Voigtlander 40 2.0. Also tested the Tamron 90 2.5 vs. the Nikon 105 2.5. Please keep in mind these are not scientific tests. I shot a role of film in each body, printed the untouched images at 8-1/2 X 11 and drew my conclusions. For the fun of it, I also put my Fuji X10 into the contest. I only had 6.3mp scans so the X10 did have an advantage. I could not test every aperture as I did not have a tripod with me and both the FG and OM offered somewhat limiting shutter speeds for shooting wide open outdoors. Of the aperture ranges tested, results tended to follow the same pattern. Images were shot on Provia. I will say, the results were not what I expected.

    A few observations first:

    If you ever want to see the difference in depth of field between a 35mm scan and a small sensor digital camera do a comparison. The results are astonishing.
    Overall, it seems the Nikon's (FG no less) metering system was more accurate than the OM. Time for a servicing
    In some cases the OM was easier to focus, in others the Nikon got the nod. Hard to figure as they have very similar screens.
    With one notable exception, image quality was very close and had absolutely no impact on the overall image
    The Voigtalnder 40 was just a fun lens to use. I am now a big fan of the 40mm focal length.
    The Tamron 90 was a lens I really wanted to like. Its a neat looking lens and built like a tank. Unfortunately I did not care for its handling at all. It was the most cumbersome lens tested.

    Normal Lens image 1: The X10 presented the most appealing image in my opinion followed by the Voigt and Om being too close to call. Colors were bright with moderate contrast on the X10. The Voight was a bit contrastier than the OM and had just a touch of that Zeiss look to it. IQ was relatively consistent from center to edge for all lenses. High praise for the X10 zoom.

    Crop of image 1 above - Noticable IQ advantage to the OM at both the center and corner

    Normal lens image 2: Results were the exact opposite with the Voigt taking overall honors followed by the OM and X10. The OM had the most neutral color and contrast, the Voight the most in both cases. Suspect any real world difference in these lenses is simply how accurate the focus and metering is for a particular image. The Voigt does have a bit more "pop" to it but seems to fall short on IQ. Who'd a thunk.

    Short Tele Image 1 - Clear advantage to the Nikon in terms of contrast and image quality. Not even close. Apparently there is a reason this lens has the reputation it does. Tamron came in second followed by the X10. Again, the long focus throw of the Tamron was just a beast to use. It was also extremely heavy and did not, imho, sit well in the hand. My search for a low cost option to the OM 100 2.0 continues.

    Short Tele Image 2 - Again, clear winner for the Nikon with the Tamron and X10 too close to differentiate

    Overall, the X10 got a bump in performance due to its 12mp sensor vs. the 6.3mp scans of the film. In a prior comparison against 30mp scans the X10 was left in the dust by the OM in terms of IQ.

    At the end of the day, I suspect the viewfinder and handling of the OM will win out and it will be the Nikon that I part with. I do want to do another test roll with the Tamron on the Nikon body as I was very surprised by how poorly if faired. On the other side, hats off to the OM 50.

    Again, all of this is opinion.

    John
  2. Allan Swindles
    Allan Swindles
    Penceler, an interesting and worthwhile project, but just how important is the sharpness and definition of the picture these days. To me, very, but to many, not so. In this digital age it seems like anything goes. Pictures on 'phones, tablets and the like, although of dubious quality are taking over, perhaps because of the instant appeal but perhaps the general public just don't appreciate real photography. Very sad.
  3. Penceler
    Penceler
    What can you expect of a generation who's parents used disposable cameras made out of little cardboard boxes!
  4. M6F6E6
    M6F6E6
    Yeah one day someone will write a book on the rise and fall of photographic quality in the media. Sure there are plenty of good photos around but only good enough for the declining standards. Same goes in music videos and movies - what's with all this handheld shakey garbage we are being drowned in?? Pathetic. Awesome test you did. That is a lot of work. well done.
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