Featured: 'The 12-40/2.8 is the lens Olympus should have released with the E-M5' by dhazeghi

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by dhazeghi, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I've had my 12-40/2.8 now for just over a month, and I can honestly say that I have no desire to ever use the 12-50/3.5-6.3 again. Whatever aperture or focal length I choose, the results from that lens are simply subpar compared to the 12-40 - lots of CA, softness outside the center 1/3 of the frame and so on. The 12-40 is about the perfect size for the E-M5, balancing in my hands without any need for an external grip.

    The 12-40 has also convinced me that (non micro) 4/3 lenses are a dead-end. As much as I liked the optics of the 12-60/2.8-4.0 and 50-200/2.8-3.5 and others, fast competent autofocus is simply too much to give up. I've been getting shots that I hadn't been able to since I stopped using Nikon. Even the E-M1's PDAF solution with 4/3 lenses is nowhere near as fast and accurate as the AF on a good native lens.

    In short, the 12-40 has given my 16 month old E-M5 a new lease on life. I think Olympus made a real blunder not releasing this lens with that camera - by saddling the E-M5 with the 12-50 kit they dramatically undersold the capabilities of the E-M5 by pairing it with such a mediocre optic.

    A couple of samples from the 12-40.




    • Like Like x 22
  2. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    As someone who prefers primes anyway, I like the cheap zoom option and versatility the 12-50 brings. I don't doubt the 12-40 is better, but for the cost I'd rather have a 17/1.8 + 45/1.8 + 12-50.

    I get your point though. The E-M5 deserved a high end fast zoom as an option. No doubt.
  3. Dch

    Dch Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 20, 2013
    This is true for people that bought the kit with the 12-50 AND thought the results would be top notch...
    I got mine body only and with the 45 1.8 and 20 1.7 i doubt i'm getting inferior results :smile:
  4. humzai

    humzai Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 17, 2012
    I was pretty underwhelmed when the 12-50mm lens was announced. Before the announcement it seemed as if Olympus was going to release a fast weather sealed zoom but we got the slow weather sealed zoom instead. The only redeeming qualities of that lens are the focal length and weather sealing.
  5. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Oh sure, there are plenty of combinations out there. My point is that releasing a high-grade camera and selling it primarily with a slow mediocre zoom strikes me a bad way to go. For what it's worth, the cost of the 12-50 and 17/1.8 alone (without the 45/1.8) is the same as the 12-40/2.8.

    I'd guess between 2/3 and 3/4 of the people who got the camera got it with the 12-50, because that was the only commonly available zoom kit. By releasing and promoting that kit, Olympus was basically ensuring that most people would be exposed to the camera with that particular lens. I don't think that did either the camera or Olympus and favors.

    So what you're saying is that to get high quality results from the E-M5, you had to buy a Panasonic lens for it!
  6. shizlefonizle

    shizlefonizle Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 21, 2012
    In defense of Olympus, mirrorless is moving very fast in development so it might have been difficult to prepare a high grade weather sealed zoom to pair with the OM-D. And with Olympus not knowing if the OM-D would be popular it would have taking a risk developing an expensive lens especially considering the 12-40mm doesnt pair well the PENs IMO. Olympus probably needed to know that customers were willing to pay for a high end body to prepare more high end lenses to match.

    Look at Fuji. They are going to release a weather sealed camera with no weather sealed lenses besides a kit which will probably be mediocre. Im pretty sure if this new camera sells well they will release more weather sealed lenses.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 21, 2012
    Mississippi, USA
    I think we all forget sometimes that the E-M5 was a real breakthrough camera. It generated the most buzz for Olympus since the E-P1 started it all, and as such really lifted Olympus's profile and chances of survival. Preparing a pro standard zoom at the same time would have been a massive gamble since they didn't know how well received the E-M5 would be, so it makes sense that they didn't have it ready to go alongside the E-M5.

    But even if it were ready to go, $1000 for a kit lens is a lot. Something like a 12-50mm f/2.8-f/4 would have made sense and still does IMO--lighter and cheaper than the 12-40mm f/2.8 but higher quality than the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3. A mid-range standard zoom is a hole in the lineup I hope they fill soon.
    • Like Like x 3
  8. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    Although the 12-50 is not in the same league as the 12-40 or Pana 12-35 it's better than both the Oly 14-42 and Pana 14-42 we have and is weather sealed. As when I bought the kit it gave me the 45mm F1.8 for free the overall cost of this lens was hardly anything.

    Yes the handling on the EM5 is not the best which is why I am going over to primes 14, 25, 45 but the 12mm view and surprisingly good "macro" means it will still have a place in my bag for now. (just need to decide Oly or Pana 25).

    EM5 + 12-40 I could not have afforded so for me the 12-50 allowed me to buy the EM5 - I'm not going to kick it for that:eek:
    • Like Like x 1
  9. humzai

    humzai Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 17, 2012
    Those are good points and I doubt an Em5 kit of 2k would have been well received but the 12-40mm has been too long in coming. It felt that way to me at least since I have been in it since the EP1. They really need to push out the pro lens quickly. The system needs better telephoto options.

    I have been vacillating between buying the 150mm F2 and waiting for the 40-150mm 2.8 since I got my E-M1 and have finally settled into the wait for now valley. Much of this was eased by an ebay seller who was too slow at responding to emails offers and wouldn't bother calling for 2 minutes to make a deal. I wanted to buy the lens from him off of ebay and so reduce the price to me, while impacting his profits in now way or at least just a little bit.
  10. Dch

    Dch Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 20, 2013
    Not really; at least my 45 1.8 has olympus written on it so it's probably not a panasonic lens :wink:
    I actually prefer the oly 45mm to the pany 20mm; but those are the lenses i have and used as an example. I suspect i would be as happy or happier with the 17 1.8 instead of the pany 20mm.
    I do get your point; but you did not pick up on something i wrote in my previous post: that you would assume to get BEST results from a kit zoom lens, especially with those specs and price. For what it is and costs, it does not look so bad.
  11. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    It would still have been a $999 lens back then, making an EM5 kit perhaps $1899. That would have been a big jump in pricing in 2012 for many M43 buyers coming off PEN's and GX/GF series cameras. Today as pricing has crept upward with the fast zooms, GH3, and EM1, all vastly better than M43 of the past, you have more buyers accustomed to bodies that cost more than $1000, $1000+ lenses and $1999 kits.

    Me, I'm still beer budget. I bought the EM5 body for 20% off its retail, and never had any desire for the 12-50.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. shizlefonizle

    shizlefonizle Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 21, 2012
    Yeah I agree. Even with the popularity of the EM-5 a lot of people still express how expensive the EM-1 + 12-40mm kit is so if Olympus started with that 2 years ago Im pretty sure they wouldnt have been as well received.
  13. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I wouldn't say no to a mid-range zoom, but there's no reason they couldn't have offered both kits (12-50 and 12-40) as options. What they did was though was offer their primary kit with a decidedly low rent lens. Up until that point, every higher-end Olympus body had come with a good (or great) kit. The E-1 had the original 14-54/2.8-3.5. The E-3 had the 12-60/2.8-4.0 SWD. The E-30 had the 14-54/2.8-3.5 II. The E-M5 and 12-50 was the first high-end Olympus digital kit where the lens was clearly the weak link.

    Actually I'd disagree - both the Olympus and Panasonic 14-42 mk2 lenses are better than the 12-50 on average.

    I'm not saying they should have had the 12-40 as the only kit for the E-M5, but having the 12-50 as the main kit was IMO a mistake.

    I wouldn't buy any 4/3 lenses unless you really can't wait. They're just not a good long-term bet. The 40-150/2.8 isn't going to be cheap, but when it arrives, there's good reason to believe it'll just work. No worrying about missing AF cross-points, or fiddling with AF limiters or switching to 9-point boxed AF because single points are low on contrast.

    If that were the only kit, I'd agree. But having the option of E-M5/12-50 at $1300 and E-M5/12-40 at $1700, I think they would've been fine.
  14. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    I bought the E-M5 as a bundle with the 12-50, but immediately sold the lens, or rather, swapped it for a Sigma 30mm. Why? When I bought the kit, body-only wasn't an option here, and I was underwhelmed by the reviews of the 12-50. In addition, I was so convinced that the E-M5 was the camera for me (and that m43 was a great system), that I bought the 9-18 and the 45 (based on good reviews) BEFORE I got the camera. I thought I would need the 30mm to fill the gap between 18 and 45mm, but found out I didn't miss the 'normalish' focal length at all.

    Later added the 40-150 (wonderful value-for-money lens), and bought several lenses second-hand, tried them and resold them for very little loss (or rental cost, as I thought of it).

    I love the 35mm FF Fov though (that's why I kept my Fuji X100), and sold my Panasonic 20mm in favour of the Oly 17mm 1.8. Now we're getting close to the point of my rambling.

    Though I like primes, I am often in situations where I don't have the time to swap lenses, so when the first glowing reviews of the 12-40 came out, I decided to try it. Got a good deal from someone who was selling it on from the E-M1 bundle. And I tested it against the 9-18 at 12, the 17 and the 45 (compared to 40). Non-scientific, just tripod shots of bookshelves at various apertures.

    It was better than the 9-18 at 12, but not a lot, and I really like 9mm, or I would have kept the 12mm prime I tried. It was not as sharp as the 45, so I have kept that: it's really nice for portraits, and not expensive. BUT, it was clearly better than the 17mm 1.8 at all apertures from 2.8 upwards. Since the ISO performance of the E-M5 is good enough for my needs, and I don't need the shallower DOF of the 17mm, I sold it to help pay for the 12-40.

    The 12.40 really is a very special lens, and has become my 'always on'.
  15. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    From what I recall, wasn't the E-P2 kit that came with the 17mm f2.8 and V-F2 something like $1200? When compared to that $1900 for the E-M5 (that has a built in EVF) and an f2.8 zoom doesn't seem completely outrageous, though maybe a little high.
  16. Drdave944

    Drdave944 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    The absolutely sweetest thing about the new 12-40 Oly f2.8 is the clutch that lets you go to manual ,peak focus,manual assist with a flick of the wrist. So you can use this with any M43 camera.
  17. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Not tried the 12-40 (and probably won't since I'm very happy with the 12-35), but I totally agree about the 12-50. Whatever its IQ is like (and the majority opinion is "nothing special"), it's just such a dim beast - I mean f6.3 for goodness sake. I'm sure it's anything but the lens to show off the E-M5.
  18. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    So that means they would've had to delay 2yrs or so the release of the E-M5
  19. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Glad to hear you are enjoying the 12-40. I am quite happy to schlep the extra weight of the 12-60 personally. And the 50-200 will need to be pried from my cold dead hands (well until something better comes along :wink: ).

    I likely would have sprung for the 12-40 if it was smaller. But given the proportional size the 12-60s extra reach does it for me.
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