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Are Pany Lenses as good on an OMD?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by suzyq2463, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. suzyq2463

    suzyq2463 New to Mu-43

    Nov 4, 2012
    Abilene, TX
    So, I'm putting together my lens kit for a trip to Ireland and got some great advice from others on the forum. I currently have the Olympus OMD-EM5 with the kit lens (12-50mm), a Pany 25mm; a Pany 12-35; an Oly 60mm macro; and an Pany 35-100mm.

    Here's the thing (and please be gentle with me because I'm not equipped to do scientific quality lens testing). I paid a lot for the 12-35 and the 35-100 lenses because they are supposed to be sharp and nicely contrasty. But I'm beginning to wonder if they are sharp and contrasty on Pany bodies but not so much on the OMD. I've taken pictures with my Oly 12-50 at 12mm and the Pany 12-35 at 12mm. I honestly can't tell much of a difference. The Pany seems a little sharper, but not $1000 sharper. I haven't gotten to play much with the 35-100, but the pictures I've gotten from it haven't been all that impressive.

    I realize this could be 99% user error, but I'm beginning to wonder if I made a mistake buying these expensive Pany lenses for my Olympus camera. I've turned off the lens stabilization on the Pany lenses so that I'm only using the Oly IBIS. So I don't think that's the problem.

    My head tells me that the Pany lenses are keepers and the 12-50 Oly kit lens is mediocre. My eyes tell me a different story. Plus, I like that the Oly lens has the macro function for when I just want to carry one lens around.

    I returned my Pany 7-14mm. Now I'm wondering if I should return the 12-35, keep the Oly 12-50, keep the 35-100, and repurchase the 7-14 even though it apparently doesn't work as well on an Olympus camera (lots of chromatic aberration), but dang, it takes some super cool wide angles.

    Again, please be gentle with me, because I haven't done pro-level testing with these lenses. I am just not seeing a huge difference in quality between the Oly 12-50 and the Pany 12-35 (at least at 12mm), though I did take a beautiful picture yesterday with the Pany at 35mm.

    What is your advice? I've come from a Nikon D7000 with all sorts of lenses, and I'm trying to build a solid Oly kit.

    So, my questions:

    1. Do Pany lenses work better on Pany bodies and will I fail to get the same quality from them on an Oly?

    2. Should I keep the Pany 12-35, and trust that its image quality is better than the Oly 12-50? I have a dedicated Oly macro lens, so the macro function on the Oly lens isn't imperative, it's just convenient.

    3.. Or, should I keep the Oly 12-50 and return the Pany 12-35 (i.e. is the Pany overrated?).

    Thanks for any advice. I'm just stumped.

  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Those Panasonic lenses have a constant f/2.8 aperture. That's more than enough reason to prefer them and pay $700 more for them. A much better reason than a pissy 1:3 macro (when a standard non-macro 4/3 lens has 1:4 magnification). As you alluded to yourself, that's what a dedicated macro lens is for. The beauty of an interchangeable lens system is to mount specialized lenses which are the BEST at what they do, rather than one frankenstein lens trying to be everything and ending up being nothing.

    You probably can't tell much difference visibly because you're not pixel peeping enough. That's fine. It's there for those who are pickiest, but that doesn't mean the standard lenses don't produce overall great quality already. There are more reasons to buy a good fast lens. These lenses will give you control of fast shutter speeds and subject isolation.
  3. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel

    Your Pany lenses are great and will give you much better results then the 12-50. In your trip when the light will be dim the constant F/2.8 compared to the F/3.5-6.3 of the kit will show you the difference.
    The only reason to prefer the kit lens is its price, in any other aspect the two P are much better and also give you weather protection.
    From other forum members we hear only praise regarding your 3 top quality lenses. If you can afford them kip them.
  4. Chronos

    Chronos Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 18, 2012
    I have an OMD and both the panny 12-35 and oly 12-50.

    the Olympus 12-50 is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be (in my opinion), it is a pretty darn good lit lens.

    The Pany 12-35 is an excellent lens, i have not yet fallen in love with it but i have managed to get some fantastic photos with very very nice subject isolation. With the wide aperture combined with the low light performance of the OMD and the IBIS damn near give it night vision.

    I if i were going to sell one of them, it would definatly be the 12-50
  5. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I have not used any of those lenses, but here's my honest reaction:

    If YOU can't tell or don't value the difference, then why pay more because someone else says they're better. Even if they are -- if you don't notice/care about the difference, then I say shoot for yourself. Not for others.

    A huge difference on those Panny lenses is the 2.8 aperture (vs. 5.6 or whatever on the "kit" zooms). You have to decide for yourself if you need a brighter lens or value a bit less DOF. Also, you should check the bokeh of these lenses. Even if you don't notice anything in sharpness or contrast, bad bokeh can ruin a picture, even after shooting hundreds of brick walls to test (where bokeh never shows up).

    Lastly, Panny lenses should have the same output on Oly or Panny. If you really want better contrast, color and sharpness, then go prime. Zooms almost always step down a notch, because there have to be trade-offs to make all the FLs work (except in some big, expensive DSLR lenses, such as the Canon 70-200 2.8 II, but the price and size of that beast makes you realize why it's so good).
    • Like Like x 1
  6. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    +1 - excellent summary and advice. :2thumbs:
  7. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    As others are pointing out, the constant 2.8 on the 12-35 is often a big deal. If you are just choosing a walk-around lens for photos in daylight I would guess that the differences between the 12-50 and 12-35 would not be huge. I have shot the 12-50, and I agree that it is underrated. I haven't shot the 12-35, but it seems that some folks find it to be "really good", but not necessarily "great". May have to do with the price.

    I had been intending to purchase the 12-35, but given how much I like the 25/1.4 I have decided that I prefer the prime + $600 in my pocket that can be spent on additional lenses. If the money were inconsequential I would certainly have both pricey Panny zooms. :) 
  8. ptolemyx

    ptolemyx Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 19, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    Just a note on chromatic aberration: the difference between the two brands is simply that Olympus does not correct lateral CA in its JPEG files, neither for Panasonic nor Olympus lenses.

    The 7-14 produces the same amount of CA regardless of the brand of the body it's used on, but since Panasonic corrects for this in the camera software, you won't see it in a Panasonic JPEG.

    Now, if you're spending all this cash on a high quality setup, I'd really recommend shooting RAW and getting into Lightroom or similar software: in this case, the question of CA between the two brands is a wash, since the (same!) CA will be present in the RAW files from both cameras.

    The difference is that you're relying on Lightroom to fix it, which is not a bad thing at all. Plus now you have some awesome cataloguing software for all of the pictures you'll be taking. :) 
  9. suzyq2463

    suzyq2463 New to Mu-43

    Nov 4, 2012
    Abilene, TX
    I use Aperture for post processing and I shoot RAW. And I would think that the 2.8 aperture might make a big difference in Ireland, where I expect lots of rain and gloomy days.

    I probably should switch to Lightroom, but, God, what a pain that would be.
  10. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA

    There's really no upside in using something because it's 'supposed' to be better. And so far as lens quality is concerned, things are generally far less black-and-white than it may seem.

    Sadly, I think that is becoming the norm with Olympus. But for a long time, it wasn't the case. The zooms were just as good.
  11. Dalton

    Dalton Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 24, 2010
    Portland, Oregon USA
    Dan Ferrall

    You listed an Olympus 35-100 as one of the lenses you had bought. If that is true, it is a massive, heavy lens which will not be fun to take on a vacation trip. Did you actually mean the Panasonic 35-100 f2.8?
  12. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    For us the :43: camera owners the P35-40 is big and heavy but OP is coming from the Nikon world, for her it is a tiny lens. It weight only 380 grams a little less then the P45-200.
  13. suzyq2463

    suzyq2463 New to Mu-43

    Nov 4, 2012
    Abilene, TX
    That was a mistake. I meant the Pany 35-100 and edited it in my original post even before I got your message.

    Thank you.
  14. dfreezy

    dfreezy Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 23, 2012
    Boston, MA
    I agree with most of what has been said, but also wanted to add that your shooting conditions could really exaggerate the differences between the two lenses. For example: AF speed in low light conditions, flare with harsh backlighting, chromatic abberation in high contrast scenes, etc. Under good lighting and small apertures they might perform identically, but under these circumstances you might notice a difference.

    If you still don't notice any difference and/or don't need the extra speed of f2.8, there's no point in keeping the expensive lenses. Not everyone's needs are the same.
  15. gsciorio

    gsciorio Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 29, 2011
    Miami, FL
    The Panny 12-35 is way sharper then the 12-50 Olympus and brighter too. I try to avoid using my 12-50 Olympus as much as possible. It's nice that its water resistant but sharp? No
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    The 12-35 is also water resistant. And in my case is my favorite lens within the format. I would never sell it.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    I must have a good copy of the 12-50. I'ts one of the best kit lenses I've used. I find the image quality very adequate for day to day use.

    But the 12-35 is a better lens. The much faster aperture, significant improvements in build quality and a zoom ring that doen't sound like the lens is grinding itself to death are worth the extra money for me. I know I can shoot it wide open all day and expect good resolution and at f4 it's very very good. It's also much better in the corners than the 12-50. So if I were shooting landscapes or architecture it would be the 12-35 all the way. And don't forget you didn't need to spend an extra $70.00 for the hood.

    There are times, mostly in bright light, where I don't think there is much difference if I'm shooting at f5.6-f8 and the range of the 12-50 is fantastic. If I'm not obsessing over corner resolution and background separation I'm quite happy to take the 12-50 for a spin. It's sharp enough in the centre and as a lightweight walkaround kit with the EM5 and a 40-150, it's pretty hard to beat. Unlike some the "macro" (sort of) function is one of my favourite parts of the lens. I did think about selling it, but it's found a place in my "taking the kids out where photography isn't the most important part of the day kit".

    But for work or travel it's definitely the 12-35. Even though I'm not a fan of the range.

    As for being better on a Panasonic body. It should be, with the Panasonic corrections. But in my world it's still a very fine lens on the EM5. I don't have any profiles or auto corrections turned on in LR and very rarely have issues with it. Occasionally I'll remove some minor CA or fringing. But I've got much more expensive glass that can't keep up with the Panasonic zoom.

  18. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Great point that I forgot about. If the 12-35 is prone to CA, then that is corrected automatically on a Panny body, but not an Oly body. That could be noticeable. Is the 12-35 prone to CA?
  19. I shoot with mostly Panasonic lenses on my E-M5 and my E-PL1 before that, but I would not be entirely happy with the results if I didn't have a raw converter with very good colour lens correction tools like Lightroom 4.
  20. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    If you shoot RAW it's a bit moot, isn't it?
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