Ok, perhaps I was a bit silly, but I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to buy a superb Olympus WCON-08B 0.8x PRO quality wide converter which was designed for the Olympus E-20 when it came out in 2001.
In the USA, they come up on Ebay regularly for the price of a good polarising filter, but they don’t come up much on Ebay in Australia so I snapped it up.
Here is the combination on my Panasonic GH-1 Micro Four Thirds camera (but it would also work on a Four Thirds dSLR and you would get image stabilisation as well):
Why, oh why would I buy something like this in this day and age??
Number 1 – it was a reasonable price – albeit twice the price of a good polarising filter here.
Number 2 – it is said to be one of the BEST wide converters you can get – although it is big and heavy for a wide converter
Number 3 – it’s rear thread is 62mm – perfect for my superb Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 lens, and the unique Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm HD lens for Micro Four Thirds.
Number 4 – it may save me carrying around my heavy and expensive Olympus 7-14mm lens, if it gives me just that little bit more width.
Number 5 – it looks good with the Leica-D and makes an interesting talking point while impressing those who know little about photography – after all, the whole idea of Micro Four Thirds is to be under-stated and look more like a casual camera belying it’s awesome image quality for its size, but sometimes you need to give people some confidence in your photographic capabilities 🙂
Why it may end up being false economy:
Number 1 – while it converts the Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 to a 20mm f/1.4, it is very soft on the edges at f/1.4 but pretty good at f/2.8, but I suspect I will be much better off buying the far smaller and lighter Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens one day when I can afford the $A700 for it.
Number 2 – while it converts the Lumix 14-140mm lens to a 11-110mm lens, I would be much better off getting the very nice Olympus 9-18mm lens for Micro Four Thirds which still allows me to use ND gradient filters, etc and is much smaller and lighter.
So, I took it out for a test run today at one of my favourite Melbourne locations, the old artist colony at Montsalvat:
at f/2.8, it performed very well, first, without the wide converter, no sharpening just a little extra contrast added to the jpeg:
and with the wide converter ON – showing almost no vignetting or barrel/pincushion distortion and reasonable but acceptable loss of sharpness at the edges – remember, I am pushing the image circle of Four Thirds lenses here by using native 16:9 image aspect ratio which is a wider sensor than a normal Four Thirds sensor!
I think that is a very acceptable result indeed!
But at f/1.4, the edge softness becomes quite noticeable, although depending on your image, this may not be an issue:
Indoors into the window light is often problematic for many lenses, but even at f/1.4, this combination did a wonderful job of controlling flare:
More photos here.
I think this wide converter will be useful and fun to play with – as long as I don’t drop it while screwing it on!