12-35mm zoom vs 25mm prime. Which has better image quality?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by acuriousman, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. acuriousman

    acuriousman Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 20, 2013
    I'm looking for versatility and I usually don't shoot lower than 2.8 because I can never get all of my subject in focus.

    However, I've been reading that prime lenses destroy zooms in terms of image quality. Is this true with the Panasonic 12-35/30-100 vs the Panasonic 25mm and the Olympus 45mm?
  2. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    From using both, I suspect that the 25mm has very slightly better IQ at the same f-stop, but not so much that it matters. I love the functionality of the 12-35mm. Obviously, though, the 25mm is the go-to choice for subject isolation.

    Out of curiosity, since you are a new poster, do you usually not shoot below f/2.8 on :43: or are you coming from another system?
  3. Linh

    Linh Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Maryland, US
    Destroy is a harsh word. I would not go that far. They are better, but everything has tradeoffs. Your key word was versatility. The zoom will win there. But they are not cheap. Either 25 or 45 will be cheaper, lighter, and more compact. If the cost is not a factor, I'd say you're better off w/ the zoom.

    A lot of the newer lenses (especially quality zooms) have been giving primes a run for pure sharpness. Canon's 24-70/70-200 MKII's are a prime example. Then there's the fact we all pixel peep a bit too much ;) 
  4. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    I've got the 25 and the 14-54ii which is certainly comparable to the 12-35.

    The 25 is slightly better, if you don't have two images to compare then really you won't be able to tell.

    The 25 has fantastic bokeh and low light performance. This is the advantage.

    In my mind the 12-35 has too short a range. I would happily manage with the 14 or 12 and 25 instead of the 12-35. The 14-54 is marginally larger and has a lot more reach especially if you add the ec-14.

    The plus side with the 12-35 is constant aperture and IS.
  5. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    I have the 25mm and I have the 12-35mm. I like the 25mm better for IQ. I do have a lens testing setup in my basement and my 25mm resolves details better than my 12-35. (I say "my" because I have also found lens to lens variations in my own testing).

    In my experience, the 12-35 takes wonderful pictures and you would not have to worry about IQ. But, if you really do some detailed comparisons at the pixel peeping IQ level on fine detail, I think you would find as I have that the 25mm is a sharper and overall nicer lens over most of the frame.
  6. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    In the good old days, this was true. Now the differences between a very good zoom and a very good prime are minor. Even some cheap zooms surprise with good image quality. Most people would be very happy with either.

  7. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    You've pretty much answered your own question. :smile:
  8. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I think the 12-35 has superb IQ. If you're happy with f2.8 and the price, then there should be nothing to stop you getting it.
  9. heli-mech

    heli-mech Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2012
    Vancouver Island, Canada
    The only thing I am not overly happy about with my 12-35 is flare control. Otherwise for all my purposes it matches the 25mm I sold UQ wise (obviously 2.8 and up) but is on my camera much more due to its versatility.

    Sent from my Samsung Note II via mu-43 app.
  10. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    If you don't shoot lower than 2.8 I do not understand why you're asking the question - you already have the answer. Unless maybe you do not want to get ALL of your subject in focus for some situations.

    Versatility in what means?

    You can use the primes to shoot in lower light situations without raising the ISO and also to provide more separation between your subject and background than with the zooms. The zooms provides more versatility with the variable field of view which is a major benefit if you cannot zoom with your feet in some situations.

    As far as IQ, for the 12-35 @ 25 and the 25mm with the same f stop it is very hard to tell the difference between the images of the lenses of the same subject matter. The 75mm has the 35-100mm @ 75mm with the same f stop at a slight disadvantage, but hard to tell with prints smaller than 16 x 20.
  11. slothead

    slothead Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 14, 2012
    Frederick, MD
    I've got both the 25 and the 12-35, and agree with nukeboy, that the 25 is better for IQ. The 12-35 is a better option for walk-around IMHO, but if I want clarity, I'll pick the 25. (I did not take the same images with the 12-35 for comparison - sorry.)

    Here are a couple I took last night for documentation as I was working on a harmonica.


  12. acuriousman

    acuriousman Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 20, 2013
    What about vignetting with the 12-35? I've had a few people say there's horrible vignetting at 2.8.

    Can anybody else confirm this? Will it matter since I'm using a GH2 which I think autocorrects the vignetting effect?
  13. heli-mech

    heli-mech Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2012
    Vancouver Island, Canada
    Yes depending on the subject it can show some vignetting. Never anything that cannot easily be fixed easily in post though, heck usually I add vignetting to allot of shots anyway.

    Sent from my Samsung Note II via mu-43 app.
  14. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    I would not say the vignetting is horrible but if you take a photo of a light subject, you would see it.

    I have test photos at f2.8 comparing the 25mm and the 12-35mm at 25mm. The 25mm shows no easily discernible vignetting at 2.8. The 12-35 is easy to spot with light and uniform subjects like my test pattern wall.

    In the field, I have not had a problem with vignetting from the 12-35mm. Technically, it does vignette at the lower f-stops if you control the conditions and look for it but I have not found it to be a problem.
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