For the same price, 12-40mm or 9-18mm + 25mm 1.8+ 45mm 1.8?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by ductrung3993, Jul 3, 2015.

  1. ductrung3993

    ductrung3993 Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 3, 2015
    Hi, I'm thinking of switching to micro 4/3 due to the great lens selections. But as many newbies, I'm quite unfamiliar with them all so would need your help here.

    Versatility and convenience, I think the 12-40mm would be much better. The confidence of i-wont-miss-any-moment-due-to-lense-changing really gravitates me toward this lense.

    But on the other hand, for the same $, I can get THREE great lenses at the same times. The wide 9-18mm, the 25mm and of course the infamous 45mm. Ignoring the few extra mm that this setup provide, how would the optical compare to the 12-40mm lense? Would it be worth it to carry extra and switches lense?

    I appreciate all inputs, thank you all for your time.
  2. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Real Name:
    David Dornblaser
    Boy, are you going to get conflicting advice. :dash2: I have the 12-40 and the O12, 17, 25 & 45. I would take 3 primes over the 12-40, I hardly use the 12-40. Others are going to laud the 12-40 for being an excellent zoom, which it is. How do you like to shoot photographs? And, what are your favorite subjects? Do shoot in low light?
  3. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Nice dilemma :)
    The first obvious difference is speed: 2.8 vs 1.8 + 4/5.6. In a few situation it can make a difference (as noise/shutter speed and background blur), do not know if this is something relevant for you or not
    Size/weight is more complex: all the three lenses together weight a little less then to the 12-40. And all the three together take a little more space but individually are much smaller.,521.411,521.412,521.96,ha,t

    If one day you want to travel light you can just pick up one and be fine. The 12-40 in the m43 world is quite big. I have it, I use it, but when you bring the camera around just to take a couple of shots (during a hike for example) you notice the bulk. It's not exactly a "casual" lens.

    Performance: the 12-40, in a direct comparison, is better in the 12-18 range, could be relevant or not, depends if this is the range you'll be using most. In other words you won't be loosing much or any IQ with the zoom.
    The 12-40 is the only weather-proof lens.

    On which body? Are you going for the smaller ones or that is not a priority?
  4. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    9mm is a lot wider than 12mm. F1.8 is a lot faster than f2.8. Carrying one lens and not swapping all day is very satisfying. 12-40 is a bigger lens, but maybe not than carrying 3 smaller lenses.

    Convenience of a fast zoom vs versatility of fast primes is a debate that can go on for days. No right or wrong answer here.
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  5. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    Real Name:
    As dornblaser says, you're going to get conflicting advice all through this thread. I usually shoot in decent light, so larger apertures than f2.8 are not critical for me. I am willing to live with increased grain in low light images for those times I shoot for evening site assessments. As a result, I use a 12-40 as my 'normal' lens; it saves having to keep changing lenses while on the move. The 12-40 is very sharp, as good as some of the primes, focuses to near-macro magnification and is comfortable for me to use on a regular basis. I would, however, like to have a really fast lens for low-ISO available light shooting. It would have to be about an f1.4 maximum aperture to be worthwhile. Anything providing a smaller improvement than 2 stops in lens speed isn't worth it for me. Low light ISO 800 images don't look bad to my eyes when compared to ISO 200 with a faster lens in the same marginal light. It depends how much you're enlarging the images and what your expectations are.
    The important thing for you is to determine what you shoot and what lens or lenses meet that need best. The 9-18 is great if you need to shoot very wide angle photos and stitching images together won't work for you. Too bad there aren't sharp prime ultra wide angle M43 lenses at affordable prices yet. I would love a prime 8 or 9mm rectilinear lens to fill out my collection for exactly that reason. My experience with 35mm film cameras made me appreciate having an ultrawide. I'm currently getting by with a Samyang 7.5mm FF fisheye and defishing as necessary.
  6. Harvey Melvin Richards

    Harvey Melvin Richards Photo Posting Junkie

    Feb 15, 2014
    Southwest Utah
    I have all 4 lenses. Like Carbonman, I shoot mostly in good light. It is a no brainer for me, the 12-40. I also have the 40-150 f/2.8 PRO, so the 12-40 is a light lens. If I could only have 3 lenses, it would be the 12-40 PRO, the 40-150 PRO and the 7.5 Fisheye.
  7. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    You haven't mentioned what body(s) you will be using. The 12-40mm is much larger and heavier than any of the other three. On an EM1 or EM5 body it works very well. On a PM2 or something similar, it would be pretty ungainly.

    That said, I have all 4 of the lenses you mentioned and use them all on my EM5. If I had to choose, I would select the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO in a heartbeat as by far the most versatile. I probably use it for 60% or more of my photos with the rest divided among the other lenses in my kit. I think the speed issue is really a non-issue. I only set the 45mm to f/1.8 for controlled portraits, finding a bit more DOF is helpful in other situations. The Panny 25mm f/1.4 only comes out for interiors or other dimly lit situations where flash is not an option. The 9-18mm is great for landscapes but rarely used for anything else. My typical carry kit includes the 12-40mm on the camera and the 9-18mm and 40-150mm in the camera bag. That way I am covered from 9mm to 150mm with only 3 lenses. The various primes are all in a separate lens bag and only come out when needed for special situations. YMMV.

    Assuming you will be using one of the slightly more beefy bodies like the EM1, I'd suggest starting with the 12-40mm and adding the 9-18 as soon as the budget allows if you do a lot of outdoor, landscape-style shooting. If you tend to shoot "long" rather than wide, then get one of the tele options. It really depends on your particular shooting style.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2015
  8. JasonCdn

    JasonCdn Mu-43 Regular

    May 19, 2014
    British Columbia
    Real Name:
    I had the 9-18mm and the 45mm, sold them to fund my 12-40mm and couldn't be happier. Yes the 12-40 is rather large and heavy compared to most m43 lenses but it's optical quality and convenience outweighs it's size. Maybe it was just my copy, but I found the 9-18mm to be quite soft around the edges, enough so that it bothered me.

    Just my personal preference. Good luck!!
  9. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    Sorry for a little off topic comment but I keep hearing this. It makes me wonder if I got lucky in my copy of the 9-18, which seems to be quite acceptably sharp. I find it quite nice as opposed to what many others report.
  10. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Real Name:
    I think you mean "famous", because infamous is, like, bad.:wink:
  11. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    I'll post this again, worth the read in the OP's situation:

    Bottom line, lens selection should be based on your requirements for what you shoot.
    The 12-40 is a great lens, so are the primes. You are not going to get a bad kit either way you go. It all comes down to requirements for your gear and if the kits you've outlined will meet the needs.
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  12. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    buy all the lenses! they all have their individual purposes!
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  13. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I think there must be copy variation. I've had two - the second is better than the first.
  14. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I've got the primes you mention and rarely used to use a zoom. Then I got the 12-40 mm zoom which is the zoom that converted me to living with a zoom. It's extremely good and f/2.8 is fast enough for me in reasonable daylight since I'm rarely chasing very shallow depth of field. The primes are all individually faster, smaller, and lighter than the 12-40 and I still use them from time to time in available light when I want a faster lens than f/2.8 which isn't all that often or if I'm going out with a particular aim, I want something lighter than the 12-40, and I know what focal length I want to use.

    All of these lenses are good so you can basically forget about image quality concerns. It really comes down to what light you want to shoot in and what focal lengths you need to shoot at. The only way you can make a wrong choice here is if you go for the 12-40 and you need a lens faster than f/2.8 or if you go for primes and find that changing lenses while you're shooting in good light annoys the hell out of you and you find yourself wishing you had a zoom so you didn't have to change lenses.

    Apart from that, hazwing nailed it. They all have their purposes. Go for the option that works best with your needs and more than likely you'll find yourself buying one or more of the other lenses down the track anyway. It probably isn't a matter of which ones to get, rather which would be better to get first. Decide which ones you need and which ones would be nice, then buy the ones you need first. It's easy to buy more lenses later.
  15. ductrung3993

    ductrung3993 Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 3, 2015
    Hey all, thank you so much for the responses.

    90% I will be using these lenses with E-M1, hope that solves the weight issues a bit. I'm aware of the aperture difference but currently put way more priorities on IQ. If optic is very similar in all the overlapping focal lengths (12-18mm, 25mm and 45mm) then I might just get the 12-40mm. Last but not least, its weather sealed body would be quite useful for me.
  16. betamax

    betamax Mu-43 Regular

    May 7, 2011
    NSW, Australia
    Real Name:
    I've got the 12-40, P12-32, P20 and O45. The 3 small lenses are what I use most often, by a fairly large margin as I do feel the size and weight of the 12-40, even with an L-grip. But then I've come from a small setup (ie, never owned the big fast DSLR lenses).
  17. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    Real Name:
    call me Arg
    I think you have already stated that the 12-40 is the one for you. It suits your priorities.

    I opened a closely related thread a few months ago, 12-40 PRO as well as Primes!?. The replies cover a lot of the issues you are thinking about.
  18. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Real Name:
    David Dornblaser
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2015
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  19. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Oh really?
    Chalk and cheese.
    If you only own one body and love mid-range zooms (as a lot of 35mm DSLR users seem to) they don't come better than that 12-40
    on the other hand
    it cannot do what the 9-18 and 45mm can do.
  20. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    Start with 9-18 and 12-40.