Special Glass Is Expensive, But It’s Worth It
A recent blog post by the folks over at Petapixel inspired me to write my own take on how special glass is expensive, but I believe is worth it. I’m writing this having just finished a month in the wilds of South Africa and having shot over 13,000 images, most of them with the very expensive Olympus 150-400mm zoom lens.
Many who follow this blog know I recently produced a video titled: In the field comparing Olympus 150-400mm zoom with Sony 200-600mm. After shooting both lenses for nearly a year I decided to downsize my camera bag on my recent trip to South Africa.
In doing so I left the Sony at home. This gave me the ability to really see some of what are mostly advantages of the Olympus system. In other words, I’m still not done comparing these two lenses/systems.
Specialized glass makes all the difference
The Petapixel blog post talks about the technology many camera makers are using to produce really, really sharp lenses. That technology all revolves around aspherical lenses that fix aberrations and improve sharpness.
The video I’ve linked to above is produced by Canon, but all the manufacturers are producing similar optics. The catch is the kind and number of special lens elements are directly related to price.
Olympus using new glass I had never heard of
The Olympus lens has high-end glass I had never heard of such as HR and EDA lenses. In other words the more special elements there are, the more expensive the lens will cost. Below is a visual showing the many different kinds of specialized glass the Olympus lens employs. Thank you to Imaging Resource for this visual.
Sony using Aspherical and ED elements
Sony too is using Aspherical and ED elements in their 200-600mm, glass that at one time was considered as good as it gets. But Olympus found a way to add even more resolving power with their extra sophisticated glass elements.
After shooting this past month exclusively with the Olympus 150-400mm, I can tell you that I came away feeling this lens is a game-changer for the work I produce. In short, special glass is expensive, but it’s worth it. Especially when it comes to birds. The resolving power this lens has for the fine feather details is absolutely astonishing. Combine that with the extra reach of the 1.2X teleconverter, along with the staggering 7.5 stops of image stabilization and you get a lens that has no equal at this point.
I can tell you that Sony is no slouch in the very sharp images it produces. But… the Olympus just has a substantial edge when it comes to image resolution and details. Now, all we need is a new Olympus body with a new Micro Four Thirds sensor and even better AF capabilities.