First zoom: 12-40 and 12-35

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Dayam, Jul 24, 2016.

  1. Dayam

    Dayam Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 15, 2014
    Hi Guys,

    I've been considering getting a native zoom for my E-P5. Currently, I have the 17mm and 45mm and both are awesome. However, I find that changing lenses during company and family events can be quite troublesome. I've read a lot of threads comparing the two mentioned lenses and IQ wise, I really don't see any difference.

    BUT if you were given the chance to choose your first zoom between the two, which would you consider given the prices below:

    12-40 - $900
    12-35 - $600

    Note that the prices are in Singapore Dollars.

    Do you think that the advantages (closer focus, manual clutch mechanism, better build quality) make up for the $300 difference?

  2. snaimpally

    snaimpally Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2012
    Generally, most reviewers who have compared these two zooms recommend the 12-40 because it has slightly more reach. However, the 12-35mm is smaller and lighter than the 12-40mm. If the size of your kit is important to you, then this might be an important consideration. I don't think the build quality of the two is that different. I actually own both and am considering getting rid of my 12-40 because I prefer to make my kit as small and as light as possible and so I usually end up choosing the 12-35. In your case the 12-40 is 50% more than the 12-35. Get the 12-35.

    As an aside, I generally prefer to buy Panasonic lenses because (1) I have both an Oly body and a Panny body (the GM1 is very small and makes for a great 2nd body) and the Panny lenses can work on both and (2) re-sale is easier because the Panny lens can be used by owners of either Panny or Olympus.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Danny_SWE

    Danny_SWE Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 30, 2013
    Sweden (Gothenburg)
    I think the 12-40 has better near limit also

    Sent from my LG-H815 using Tapatalk
    • Like Like x 1
  4. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    I love the 12-40 but I think the 12-35 will be better balanced on your cam
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    The 12-40 is big, I use it on the E-M10 with the extra grip. I'm considering getting the 12-35 for the smaller size, but I've still to see one in real life to decide.

    Semi-macro focus distance for me means one less lens to bring around though, and the clutch is nice, it's like a real mechanical focus ring. And the extra Fn button. I do not know if these are worth $300, but I would shop for what you need rather then best value per se.

    It also depends on what will be your next body: OIS, DfD or a larger body like the E-M1. If you plan to add the 40-150 too then the size difference it's not so relevant for the whole kit.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    My 2-cents worth...

    I use the Panasonic 12-35/2.8 on my E-M1. Mainly due to getting a good price on a used on on our Buy & Sell forum. I am happy with it. Personally I think you will be perfectly happy with either lens. The 12-40 Oly is slightly larger but really not by a lot. So I don't see it being any more difficult to handle on your E-P5 than the 12-35 Panny. But given the large price difference you quoted, since the 12-40mm IQ is about on par with the 12-35 (I have never seen a consensus that one is a clear winner over the other) you might as well get the slightly smaller model and save $300 while you are at it.

    Edits to add photo representation of the size difference between the two mounted on an E-P5 (pictures generated from the simulation tool)

    EP5 lenses.png
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  7. cptobvious

    cptobvious Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 8, 2013
    I've owned both (still have the 12-40). The 12-40 is better but not 50% better with that price difference. The 12-40 is a bit sharper at the edges and corners at the wide end and has better CA control, while the 12-35 is a bit sharper at the long end. The 12-40 has an almost-all metal exterior but is larger and heavier. And the 12-40 focuses very close while the 12-35 has OIS. In the end I think the 12-40 justifies maybe a 10-15% price premium but not a 50% one.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Bruce McL

    Bruce McL Mu-43 Veteran

    I will add a link here to, which is a great place to compare sizes of cameras and lenses.

    Compact Camera Meter

    Note that I have included the Panasonic 12-32 in the comparison. It is a much different lens than the two you mentioned. Probably a lot less money, definitely a lot smaller size, and a lot smaller maximum aperture.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. stevedo

    stevedo Mu-43 Regular

    May 12, 2012
    Steve Douglas
    Given that you describe your current lenses as "awesome" and the only problem you seem to be trying to solve is the lens swapping why not buy a second body? It may well be that you'd like a zoom for other reasons but you didn't tell us that :)

    I've owned the 12-35 and now have the 12-40. In reality there's not much/anything to choose between them in terms of overall performance and size and weight differences are not significant IMHO. Others have already stated the differences in "features".
    • Like Like x 1
  10. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I have the 12-35 which I use with my E-M1 and E-M5. It's an excellent lens. I've tested it back-to-back against the 12-40 and there's no practical difference. I did however find its size notably more compact than the 12-40. The difference isn't enormous on paper or on photographs, but in the hand the 12-35 feels a notch down in size. Given the difference in price, the 12-35 makes much more sense (and you can use it on a GX7 etc as a bonus taking advantage of the OIS). The filter size is smaller too IIRC.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    I don't have the 12-40 PRO to compare, but looking at the specs it would appear the minimum focusing distance of the 12-40 PRO only gets you less than the length of your pinkie finger closer to your subject. Although I don't know if that it is the wide end or the long end. If the wide perhaps when you step back a bit you can get closer with the 12-40 PRO due to the extra 5mm on the long end?

    Maybe someone can clarify that it's the magnification you can get more of with the 12-40 PRO due to the focal length? But specubating the two it would appear they are both in the same ball park as far as minimum focusing distance.
  12. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Find a refurb 12-40. That makes the price easier to swallow.

    Although, in my case I paid full price shortly after it was released and it is my everyday lens. No regrets.
  13. snaimpally

    snaimpally Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2012
    +1 The 12-35mm may look similar in size but its not, its much smaller. Go to a photo shop that has both and see for yourself.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. marcl

    marcl Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 8, 2012
    Something else to consider is if you plan on eventually getting a telephoto zoom to complement your 12-xx zoom. In that case, the Panny 35-100 is much smaller the the Oly 40-150, but has much less reach of course. And both Panny zooms use the same filter thread size making it convenient. I own both Pannys and love how small my kit is. I can fit the E-M1, 12-35 and 35-100 in a Lowepro Traveler 140.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  15. Dayam

    Dayam Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 15, 2014
    I checked around other threads and found a comparison between the long end of both lenses and really didn't see any significant gain in reach for the 12-40. I seems to be just a few steps forward with the 12-35.

    Getting a 2nd body also doesn't seem to be an option for me. If I were to go to an event, I prefer to have one camera with an all rounder lens than having to carry two bodies with me.

    I'm really leaning towards the 12-35 given that I'm using an E-P5 and think that the 12-40 may be too big for the camera which could compromise the handling. Although the 12-35 already looks big on the E-P5. :)

    Thanks for the input guys. Very helpful as always.
  16. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    MFD is somewhat irrelevant, maximum magnification is what matters. The 12-40 is significantly better at 0.3x compared to 0.17x of the 12-35 thanks to having both a shorter MFD and having said MFD at a longer 40mm focal length.

    I compared the two lenses in the shop a while back when I had an E-M5, they are similar enough in general optical quality and feel. The Panasonic is only a little smaller and is still a pretty dense unit. I'd say the 12-40 is just a bit more liable to make your rangefinder setup a bit front heavy though.

    I didn't buy either at the time because both felt too heavy on my gripless E-M5. I stuck with the 12-50 (weather sealed macro) and 12-32 (pancake). Later I got an E-M1, which is much better for taking bigger lenses. In the end I went with the 12-40 for macro and makeshift portrait use at 40mm, usability is fine.
  17. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    35 vs 40 is not only about a few steps. It gives you a different perspective for the same framing. 35 is a little borderline for headshots but you can always take a few steps back to get the same perspective of the 40 and crop later. But yes, the difference is not big and there are many good portrait lenses around anyway (O45, S60, etc.) and you also already have one.
    And 40mm also gives you a little more isolation: probably something hard to notice even in side by side test shots.
  18. astrostl

    astrostl Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 4, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Justin Honold
    The only thing that would give me pause is that the 12-40 performs best wide open, while the 12-35 performs best at f/4. You mentioned only company and family events, which indicates indoor.

    Probably not enough pause to fade a $300 price difference, when concerned about balance.