The 28mm FF focal length prime in mirrorless?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by fast_primes, Nov 13, 2014.

  1. The 28mm lens was very important to me, back in the day of 35mm. I've had them in Contax G, Canon FD, Olympus and Ricoh. Yet it seems hard to translate that into modern digital APC or micro 4-thirds format. Canon (EOS M), Olympus, Samsung and Zeis are so far no-shows at the moment, in producing full-frame 28mm prime equivalents. That leaves the Fuji 18mm F2.0 and the Panasonic 14mm F2.5. Both are compact and "cute". And there in is maybe the problem. It may not be possible to be petite, fairly fast and outstanding optically (critically sharp to the edges by F5.6/F8.0) at the same time.
    The Fuji 18mm F2.0 gets tepid reviews from, and in many user reviews. Fuji's own MTF curves seems to invite one to get the 18-55mm or the 16-50mm zooms instead, if one wants sharp 18mm results. In fact, I'd like to ask here--does the Fuji 16-50mm zoom provide their best 18mm?
    The Panasonic 14mm F2.5 enjoys a better reputation--as befits a more conservatively designed lens (slower maximum aperture/smaller image circle). But even it seems exceeded by the latest Panny/Olympus zooms.
    Obviously, Fuji and Panosonic can design and manufacture outstanding glass--witness the Fuji 14mm F2.8 for example. But my major expectation, years ago when mirrorless first came on the scene, was uniform excellence from the normal on down, due to ditching the mirror. It's a surprise not to get it.
    There is still Sony--they have just announced a new 28mm F2.0 full frame lens for the Sony A full fame mirrorless line, with a VERY interesting twist of offering adjunct adpaters to convert the 28mm to either a 21mm full frame lens or a wider still fisheye. Regrettably, no further word on it's expected performance/MTF curves, weight or even filter thread.
  2. My two cents: find your favourite 28mm SLR lens and use the new version of the Speedbooster; or, use either the Leica M 18/3.8 or the Zeiss ZM 18/4. The M mount lenses will be fine on APS-C sensors - in general, there should be no edge smearing or any abberations you'd find on 'full frame' sensors.
    I recommend against fast wides unless you first know what you're getting in terms of distortion (but I think you already understand this very well). Even wides with moderate apertures can be sub-standard. In fact, the Zeiss 18mm SLR lens (which seems to perform differently from the ZM 18mm) is a bit of a dud IMHO.
  3. I have the Fuji 18mm and 18-55mm lenses. Both are great lenses, though the prime does have less corner sharpness. I think some reviews make a bigger deal of this than it deserves, though. Corners are soft at f/2 and clean up past f/4. At 5/6 and 8 the zooms might have it beat by a hair, but it ranges between really difficult and impossible to notice the difference, depending on the shot.
  4. This is my main grip against Four Thirds (which I'm heavily invested in): No wide angle primes (except for the 8mm Fish eye). The thinking seems to be "you don't need no stinkin' primes, use a zoom".
    In Micro Four Thirds it is better as there's a 17mm (34mm FF), a 12mm (24mm) , the 14mm you mentioned, and talk of a 9mm (18mm FF) that's coming "soon". You could also try the Samyang 12mm f/2 (24mm FF) and crop the image to a 28mm. Be thankful that at least you have choices. My got to have wide angle is the 21mm FF or 10.5mm mFT. If the 10.5mm prime ever comes out I will have to get it and a m43 body. Till then I'm shooting film and scanning it.
  5. The Fuji 16-50 kit zoom is a very good value with very good but not quite excellent center sharpness throughout. The sweet spot is around 20-50mm. In that regard my observations match tests. The main problem is near fisheye-level distortion at 16-18mm. It demands so much correction that it's impossible to achieve critical sharpness at the edges and corners - smearing and softness is unavoidable with that much correction. I've tried manual lens correction in Lightroom and Photo Ninja (PN offers excellent lens correction tools), but the results aren't much better than Fuji's own in-camera JPEGs with built in lens correction. It shows up not only on wall chart tests (I used maps for the fine detail evaluation) but also shows on photos of local architecture where I'd hoped to retain maximum sharpness out to the edges at the wide end - it simply isn't there at 16-18mm. So in effect the kit zoom is a good 20-50mm with a little turbo boost for occasional non-critical use at wider views.
    The Fuji 27/2.8 pancake lens gets very good reviews and may be my next Fuji system lens. tests look very good. Unfortunately I missed the recent steep price discount, so I'll wait and see if the discounts are offered again this holiday season. I'd rather have a 24mm f/2.8 pancake, since I prefer the approximate 35mm focal length on 35mm film/full frame, but the 27/2.8 will do for photos that need critical edge sharpness.
    I've tried my 28mm f/3.5 PC-Nikkor on the Fuji X-A1, but the Fotasy adapter doesn't fit snugly enough for critical applications - there's just enough wiggle to defy critical edge/corner sharpness, and it's likely the long adapter needed for the Nikon F to Fuji mount isn't ideally suited to critical edge sharpness anyway.
  6. it


    I use the Fuji 18mm F2.0 on my XT1. (I don't really find it "cute", whatever that means.)
    I like it for some of the inner city documentary stuff I do for NGOs, like this, or this, or this. And the colours and out of focus are nice at f2.
    My Zeiss 25/2.8 is a more handsome lens on my M9, but I think the little Fuji does OK for what I need. I don't look at MTF curves etc. YMMV.
  7. Great photos, Ian. And I think you've shown what that sort of lens is best used for - getting in close and making your shots
  8. Ian-by "cute" I meant compact and the probable marketing (but not optical design) department pressure to produce such a lens. Would you really mind if your Fuji 18mm was another inch longer and maybe 150 grams heavier? Your two examples are excellent, btw--but what about architecture or landscape subjects?
    Lex--thanks for the careful analysis of the Fuji 16-50mm zoom. I now know to skip it.
  9. I think a LOT of people have decided they'd rather go a little wider and crop in, thereby having more flexibility.

    That's why when I got a "normal" prime for my µ43, I got the Panasonic 20, If I want to shoot the "classic" 50mm field of view, I can crop in.

    So, for me, on µ43 at least, 12mm makes sense.

    I am guessing though, for me, that I'd rather have the 9 - 18 zoom when I do buy that length. When I was Nikon DX, my Tokina 11-16 filled that need as a matter of fact.

    In short, I think camera users are probably buying zooms to cover this length, and only a few of us are interested in primes.
  10. And then there is the Coolpix A and the Ricoh GR - both non-interchangeable-lens cameras but both good alternatives to a 28mm prime lens (at least after the price reduction in case of the Coolpix).
  11. IMO the Fuji 18mm's corner weaknesses are exaggerated, even if you're shooting landscapes or architecture.
  12. The 14mm m43 lens cannot be a 28mm-FF equivalent, because m43 is a different aspect ratio(1.33:1) than FF and APSC(1.5:1).
    I have the Fuji 23mm and 14mm, but am scared off by the lack of focus markings on the Fuji 18, and it's pronounced barrel distortion, which the camera magically 'corrects'....
  13. Keith, I assure you it's close enough, as I've compared anyway.
  14. I'll take your word for it, Peter.

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