Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Open Wider and It Will Crack

No thanks to Fishtan and Brandon Eu who both poisoned me with their ultra-wide-angle (UWA) lenses, I too, would really love to have one for myself. Nonetheless, the cheapest available option for Olympus users would be the 9-18mm and it would cost around RM1.7k, which is quite steep. None of my lenses was priced over RM800. So what happens to a poor photographer wannabe who is stuck with his current limited collection of gears, but still lusting for more flexibility in his pictures?

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness



The answer is simple. I do what I do best. I improvise with whatever cheaper alternative I could churn out with. Like what I did with macro attempts previously, I find myself a wide angle adapter to force my standard kit lens to think and act like an ultra wide angle lens. I may not be able to achieve true UWA quality this way, but hey, the wider angle of view can really create some stunning effects. The way I see it, I can wait for probably more than a year from now until I saved enough cash for that new UWA lens, or throw in that spare few hundred bucks for the converter to fake an ultra wide angle.

Knowing me this well, you guys can guess what happened. Yeap, I got myself an ultra wide angle 0.45x converter, to be adapted on the front thread of my current widest lens. On the 14-42mm, it effectively opens up the wideness to 6.3-21mm.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness



Unfortunately, the working range of the converter was quite limited. At full wide 6.3mm, very noticeable corner cut off can be seen, and the image just suffers overall softness. The result was quite unusable. However, taken at 9mm onwards, the image shows slight improvement, and coupled the end results with some distortion correction on photoshop, the photos come out satisfactory for my standards. There are still noticeable flaws, but hey, at such a cheap option, if it was able to produce perfect images, why do you think the real UWA lenses are so freaking expensive? I am not expecting much from this cheapo converter, hence I would be happy with its mediocre results.

Here is a list of the problems that the converter exhibits:

1) Corner softness
On the whole, the image retains its original sharpness at the center sweetspot, and as it goes away from the center, the quality drops significantly towards the corners. This is quite a normal phenomena for most lenses, but having used Olympus lenses all these while, it was not easy coming in terms with the corner softness, since Olympus lenses are usually tack sharp from edge to edge (as opposed to Full Frame lenses, hah, there you go, not everything about full frame can beat Oly)

2) Chromatic Aberration
CA is a term used to describe serious colour deviation which may occur under a variety of situations, such as under strong contrast highlighted by the harsh sun as shown in the pictures in this entry. The CA problem can be quite irky especially viewed at large size. Nonetheless, the overall colour balance was not affected at all, and the punchy famous Olympus colours is still well-preserved.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




3) Barrel Distortion
I have seen what a true 7-14mm (thanks Brandon) can do, and it shows almost NO distortion even at full 7mm wide. That was very impressive, and I expected nothing less coming from Olympus. This was sadly not the case with the use of my kit lens with the wide angle converter. The distortion was so obvious that in certain situations it was destructive to the photos. This was certainly a disaster when there are a lot of lines in the picture, for example buildings or any sort of architectures. Even after severe correction in photoshop, I could not get rid of the distortion. I guess this is just something I have got to live with for now.

4) Restrictions
Though at full wide open I could obtain the angle of 6.3mm, but in truth, to produce a photograph of acceptable level of quality, I have done a battery of tests and came up with a conclusion that I should use 9mm and above. At 9mm, it was barely an ultra wide angle, and the perspective exaggeration was not very noticeable. Nevertheless, at 9mm, I can cover a field of view a heck lot wider than what the kit lens originally can do, 14mm, which is quite a bonus already. Therefore, I should not really be complaining.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness





I should have really waited till near sunset time before I took the photos for this entry, but hey, I was solely only testing and trying out the converter. I know I could have done a lot better in terms of compositions. Nevertheless, it was not an everyday thing to find clear and blue skies in Kuala Lumpur. I was glad I happened to be there at the right time and the quality of light may not be as good as golden hour times, but it provided me with enough depth and contrast.

*click* image to see its awesomeness



To me, I greatly treasure functionality. It does not matter if there are a million flaws, for the low price, I can live with it. Besides, I am not taking photographs as a profession, and technical accuracy was not exactly a requirement in the photos I take for my own leisure. No doubt, a real ultra wide angle lens is in my "to buy" list which will happen God knows when, but for now, I make the best with what I currently own.

Lets go WIDE !!

16 comments:

  1. You'll have my strong morale support to get 7-14mm lens. I'll probably send cheerleaders to cheer too while you're making the transaction. :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. hey chong,
    thanks very much dude !!!! Just hope that day will come sooner than later

    ReplyDelete
  3. OOo, I didn't even know the UWA converters existed. I'm forwarding this post to Chris, although he probably already knows about it.

    And I reaaaallly like the results of wide angle lenses! And even the converter you're using. For once I feel like I can get more of a feel of the scope of the place you're shooting at.

    ReplyDelete
  4. hey char,
    yeah it does exist, but the reason why you probably never heard of it was simple, the quality issues, or the lack of it.
    The images are not of usable results. Nothing beats the real deal.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dude! Why do you want to correct the distortion of a UWA??!!!!
    I purposely find a UWA that can create more distortion so that it can make photos more interesting!

    Olympus weirdos =S

    Btw, how much is the converter? It's interesting but I thought it's kinda expensive?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Chong, shouldn't you be giving moral support to our dear robin for a 16-35/2.8 instead of a 7-14 ? :p

    Fish - a UWA is definitely on robin's list. he's just trying to make do with what he has at the moment. the distortion he's talking about is barrel distortion, not the distortion caused by the field of view of the lens and also the blurring / fringing at the peripheries of the photograph caused by the converter. shouldn't you be aiming for a carl zeiss 16-35/2.8 yourself?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey fishtan
    got it for 200bucks. Quite expensive considering the image quality issues. I believe the distortion you talked about is perspective distortion. I dont think your lens suffers much barrel distortion that makes tall buildings look circular!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey brandon
    oh you beat me in explaining the distortion issues. Yeah the converter seriously suffers in any way you look at it. Just gimme your 7-14 garghh!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Brandon, I wouldn't mind giving moral support to Robin for both the lenses. Mine is free anyway. :P

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey chong
    you guys should start a kempen derma lensa ultra lebar for me haha

    ReplyDelete
  11. robin.. haha well said. I'll think about it, lol..

    Chong, just looked through your flickr. how the heck did you get someone to give you a 17-40 L lens for free? I'm really interested to know :p

    ReplyDelete
  12. Robin, I would like people setup a fund for me too!

    Brandon, I bought my lense. But my moral support is free. :P

    ReplyDelete
  13. Man, the edges are really really really soft.

    The title sounds VERY wrong too. Haha!

    ReplyDelete
  14. hey brandon,
    LOL I also want a free copy !!

    Hey Chong,
    Awww... morale support? You should be poisoning me on Canon instead though ahaha..

    hey Jasonmumbles,
    Yalar, its not up to a usable standard. Oh well, gotta live with the image issues for now, until I get a real UWA.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Dude, you should know well enough that I'm not that kind of person, right... *grins*

    ReplyDelete