Archive for June 6th, 2008


Panasonic LX2 & Nikon WC-E68 (0.68x)

June 6, 2008

Here it is, the Nikon WC-E68 wideangle converter. For those of us wanting more.. And I finally managed to get a bit of time to write about it. Please note that I am not a professional photographer or reviewer. Take my findings with a grain of salt, I am just a guy who actually uses his gear, and who is not too hooked with quality, sharpness and 100% crop reviews…I just post this in the hope that you will find it interesting or helpful.

The converter fits the panasonic LX2 via a filter and converter adapter. For those who didn´t get the chance to read it or that may be interested in such an adapter, I discussed the why, how, where and how much here.

This lens, with a conversion factor of 0.68, is a very solid piece of gear, as I supose one could expect from something branded “Nikon”. Solid metal body, with a beautiful black finish. The front element is a chunky piece of glass. No way to get around it, the converter, compared to the Leica little lens is BIG.

And it is big not only compared to the leica lens, but also if you compare it with the camera…

The mentioned adapter has a diameter of 52mm, so the Nikon lens, with a thread of 46mm, needs to be mounted via a 52-46 step down ring. The one concern I had when I got the adapter was werther it would stay in place with the heavy Nikon lens mounted. I can happily confirm that, even when the adapter is not mounted in the camera via a thread , it stays firmly in place and has not threatened with getting loose so far. Nice one!

You will inmediately notice that this combo eliminates any trace of “compact” or “pocketable” from the camera. Some people may even think that it defies the whole concept of compact cameras. And you might be right..


So exactly why would one want to do this to a beautifull LX2? What do you win (it is obvious by now what you are loosing) by adding this converter? Well, for those planning on doing some nice landscape or some architecture & interior photogaphy, what this lens does for you is bringing an effective field of view equivalent to 19mm..

And as an image is worth a thousand words, I have done some tests to show what you get. The following pictures have been shot with the LX2 at it´s widest setting without the converter (28mm Equiv.), with the converter (19mm Equiv.) and for comparative purposes I have added a shot in every sequence with the Canon 30D and 10-22 lens @ 10mm ( roughly 16mm Equiv.) As with all the images in this blog, you can click on them to see them in my Flickr photostream and view a bigger version.



I don´t think I need to comment on the coverage difference with the converter, I believe the images speak for themselves. Regarding the Canon, 16mm gives a slight advantage, but as you can see clearly nothing really too critical. You do apreciate a clear advantage for the Canon on the vertical axis, but that is due to the 3:2 aspect  ratio of the Canon against the 16:9 of the Panasonic. Enough said (and shown..).

The good thing about doing the test in an overcast day is that the very bright/white corners are a perfect test for vignetting. Many have expressed their concern (the GX100 seems to vignette badly with this lens mounted at it´s widest setting) regarding the vignetting issue. As you can see there is not the faintest trace of it. Nothing. Strike 1 for the Nikon..

Just a note regarding th GX100 with the converter: because of the 24mm coverage of the Ricoh, the field of view once you mount the Nikon on it is about 16mm. It does vignette badly unless you have the nerve and  decide to do this. Now if you step-zoom once, the vignetting dissapears and you are left with an effective field of view of 19mm…So not a real issue, I guess.

Oh! Now that I mention zooming in with the converter mounted in the LX2:  DON´T!!! On my first day, I mounted the Nikon, and when framing a picture I zoomed in as normally..My heart skipped a beat when I heard the loud “CLACK, CLACK, CLAKC…”. The lens in the Panny recessed completely and left me with a circular image in the screen similar to those fisheye lenses images…I thought I had broken the motor in the lens of the camera. Turned the camera off and everything went back to normal. Suggestion. don´t try it..

The other real concern I had when I purchased this lens was what kind of beheaviour it would have shooting against strong light sources, as normally ultrawide lenses tend to struggle with flare (something I hate and try to avoid as much as possible). Again let´s leave the images speak for themselves..

Flare is not absent, as you can see in the photos, but it´s definetely not one of the worse cases I have seen..Actually not bad at all for an ultrawide. But even worse than flare and ghosts in the image is the “veiling” and loss of contrast. Many lenses give you “washed” images with very low contrast when shot against a strong light source. As you can see, the Nikon remains quite contrasty when shot in this circumstances (even when there is the obvious glare surrounding the sun).This images are RAW´s, processed in Lightroom with no correction applied (no sharpenning, no contrast and just a little of recovery for the highlights). I have not spent enough time with the lens, and worse beheaviour might arise, but I have posted this two images because they are the worse examples I have managed to get so far..Strike 2 for the Nikon!!

Another issue in an ultrawide of this characteristics is distortion..I have done some tests in my kitchen shooting  the glazed tiles from very close: You obviously are going to see visible distortion under those circumstances. But in real life situations, well, have a look at the last two images..really not a bad beheaviour at all. The extremes of the lens might be a bit of a problem, and I plan on doing some interior shots with vertical lines to test it. But it seems that the Nikon is holding up to it´s reputation of high quality lens with probably the lowest distortion you can get in a lens of this complexity and characteristics..

I am not going to comment on sharpness and image quality for the moment. I have spent too little time with the lens, and honestly, I´m not too concerned about it. You are allways going to get some loss when attaching a converter of any kind to a lens. So far all I can say is that images are contrasty and very sharp. Might comment with more detail when I have some morte experience with it..I got this lens for 35$, and that seems to be the price around in “Evil-bay”, so if you are into wideangle photography, for that money all I can say is: Highly recommended!!

Well folks, I hope I managed to make this essay “readable” and not more boring than necessary..I have covered the issues that I believed more interesting and that would be most helpfull. Comments are, as allways, wellcome. If there is anything else I could add to this review or you need to know don´t hesitate in asking, I might even answer..;-) I will start adding pictures with this lens soon and will be commenting on it as things, stay tuned!!

Thanks for taking your time and have a nice day!!