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Are pictures from the 12-40mm and 12-35mm noticeably different?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by broody, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. broody

    broody Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 8, 2013
    Has anyone who's made the switch between both lenses noticed that one's pictures are noticeably more resolving or better than othe other?

    I can purchase both lenses for about the same price, and I've been looking at photos and reviews with both. For some reason, I get the impression that the 12-40mm has considerably higher clarity in spite of both lenses being just as sharp, on paper.

    The issue is further compounded because I have no cameras with 5-axis IBIS... Just an EPL5 and a Lumix G3. If both lenses are 'just as good', then the OIS of the 12-35mm would put it considerably ahead. But it doesn't give me the impression that it's 'just as good', rather the Oly looks considerably more detailed.

    I'd love to have some feedback on this... Right now I don't feel I could make a decision for either.
  2. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    The 12-40 is a little sharper in the corners, has more reach, but the 12-35 is an excellent lens. I would still own it were it not for theft and the package deal with the 12-40. The 12-35 is a smaller lens; the 12-40 isn't big, but tips into the heavier category subjectively, because it's also fairly front heavy.

    I have no reservations recommending either lens. I very slightly prefer the IQ from the 12-40, but slightly prefer the handling (size, balance, bayonet hood) on the 12-35.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    If you have no plans to get a camera with 5-axis IBIS, I'd opt for the 12-35. The built-in OIS will most likely give you more keepers.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. riverr02

    riverr02 Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2011
    New York
    From all the reviews I've read, the objective image quality differences are negligible. The other features (e.g. brand, price, greater reach vs OIS, lens/filter size differences etc) are what I believe sway people one way or the other.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I have the 12-35 and tried a 12-40 for a few shots recently on my E-M5. I didn't do any test charts, but I took shots of the same scene with both lenses at a variety of apertures. I couldn't really detect any noticeable difference in IQ. They are both great lenses. The only differences I noted were:

    - There's a little extra reach on the Oly, but not as much as I thought it would be.
    - The Oly focuses noticeably nearer which may be important for some.
    - The Panasonic feels quite a bit smaller (although neither are small compared to other u43 lenses).

    I think if I were buying now, I'd probably still go for the 12-35 due to its size - I like my gear to be as small as possible and these f2.8 zooms are on the edge as far as I'm concerned for u43 - esp when used on a Pen or GX camera.
    • Like Like x 3
  6. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    I really like the images from the 12-35. It renders very nice. I have shot test charts using the 12-35 vs the 17mm and my copy of the 12-35 at 17mm is sharper than the 17mm 1.8 (both) that I have owned (comparing similar f-stops, 2.8, 4, etc.).

    I also found the 12-35 comparable to other primes in the system.

    I have not used the 12-40 but I can highly recommend the 12-35.
    • Like Like x 3
  7. huai

    huai Mu-43 Regular

    May 24, 2013
    I had both, sold the 12-35. Two reasons.

    1) On an EM-5 the 12-35 rendered yellowish colors for all indoor photos. 12-40 looked much more natural.
    2) 40mm is enough to do portraits, and 35mm is noticeably less so.

    Size and weight of 12-35 is indeed smaller, so that's a reason for that lens.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. figure five

    figure five Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Nov 19, 2013
    Minneapolis, MN
    I had both briefly - I agree with mattia that the Olympus lens is bigger / heavier but more importantly *feels* bigger and heavier due to the way it balances (slightly more front-heavy). IQ was very similar between the two. The close focusing on the 12-40mm was cool though.

    I have a body with IBIS (E-M5) and I still stuck with 12-35 because I like the better handling. If I didn't have stabilization in-body it would be an even easier decision.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Air-Cooled

    Air-Cooled Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 27, 2012
    As others have mentioned and based on my research, the picture quality difference between 12-40 and 12-35 is not enough to sway one in a particular direction. They are both very competent, based on subjective and measured results. Despite having an E-M5, I decided to purchase a 12-35 recently. Mainly due to other reasons such as the size, weight, 58mm thread size, perceived lack of quality issues (lens breaking), no audible lens chatter while zooming (to maintain focus plane) and finally it's made in Japan. Again, these factors mattered to me, they may not to you. I am not trying to play down the 12-40, it is great too.

    Another thing not brought up often on this form is that the 12-35 is a parfocal design unlike the 12-40. It will maintain focus on a point throughout the zoom range unlike the 12-40 which will refocus to give the same impression, hence the audible lens chatter, which is considered a normal operating characteristic.

    In your case, I think having OIS would be quite beneficial but whatever you decide, can't go wrong! :smile:
    • Like Like x 4
  10. orfeo

    orfeo Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 27, 2013
    There were some direct comparison of the two zooms here and frankly you couldn't tell a difference in iq
    • Like Like x 2
  11. lightmonkey

    lightmonkey Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 22, 2013
    cant comment on the Panasonic but for Olympus i like the MF clutch, the cap, the hood... not useful for me but for other bodies the L-Fn button may be appreciated.

    never tried both lens and body OIS together...does it provide a cumulative effect?
    • Like Like x 1
  12. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    No, it causes blur, which is to say, it's worse than no stabilization at all. Enable either one or the other, not both.
    • Like Like x 3
  13. broody

    broody Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 8, 2013
    Thanks to everyone for your excellent insight! Now my choice is clear in the 12-35mm, and I can get it with confidence.

    Happy shooting!
  14. DanG

    DanG Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 22, 2014
    Looks like broody has his answer. I just went through this thought process too, as I imagine many other m3/4 users will. For my Oly OMD e-m5 I believe I read that the auto focus would be snappier using the O12-40 than the P12-35, which weighed heavily in my thought process. Can others confirm the focusing speed differences, and is that just relevant with certain bodies?
  15. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    I have not used the only 12-40 but I have used many of the available m43 lenses. The Panasonic 12-35 focuses very fast and is in the same focusing speed range as many of the good m43 lenses. If the 12-40 is faster, you are splitting hairs at this point IMO.
  16. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    I would have probably gotten the 12-40 because I have the EM5 and EP5 bodies. However, I also have the GX7 so the OIS was a plus. Mostly though, I got the 12-35 for a very compelling reason, price. I bought the 12-35 used (it was brand new for all intents and purposes) it was around $300 less than the cheapest 12-40 I could find at the time. Case closed.
  17. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2013
    I tried my Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8 with OIS on and my E-P5 with IBIS set to auto and shooting at 100mm @ f/2.8, I was able to handhold it and get sharp images @ 1/6sec to 1/10sec. This is insane! 100mm; that's 200mm in 35mm. I can't do that with my Nikons. When I turned OIS off, I need about 2 stops ISO to get similar results with only IBIS on. So it seemed that at insane low speeds, the OIS and IBIS seemed to provide a cumulative effect. But at slightly higher speeds, it produces extra blur. This is GOOD! I hate carrying a tripod for night shots and I have to be mindful to turn off OIS and use 5 axis IBIS when the speeds is higher. I need to do more experimentation, but I have a shoot coming up that will truly test the effectiveness of both OIS and IBIS together with my Lumix tele lens!
  18. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I've never shot the two lenses side by side or on the same body, but the 12-40 feels. I faster (or slower) to focus on my E-M1 than the 12-35 did on my E-M5.
  19. DanG

    DanG Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 22, 2014
    More on the AF speed issue. Have a look at the Blunty review video of the 12-40 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1GhRjYH-os about 7:45 minutes in. "The focusing is much faster..." (comparing 12-40 to 12-35 on an em-1). It sounds like others here, except perhaps mattia, haven't experienced this, but Blunty states it so convincingly with that Australian accent!
  20. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Like I said, maybe head to head there's a difference, but I never tested the speed. They're both fast to focus. Very fast.
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