Has anyone swapped their primes for the 12-40? Regrets/Success?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Shoefly, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. Shoefly

    Shoefly Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 15, 2014
    TL;DR: Has anyone has swapped their primes for the Olympus 12-40? Regrets/Success?

    I've never been much a lens swapper and prefer to travel with minimal gear. If I'm going somewhere local, I'm only bringing one lens. If I'm going on a trip, I'll bring everything and chose one lens for the day based on expected conditions.

    I recently switched to m43's from APS-C and am loving it. My current setup is as such:

    -OM-D EM-5
    -Oly 45/1.8
    -Oly 25/1.8 (on preorder)
    -YN-560 III

    I've read all the reviews of the 12-40, and it sounds great. A bit pricey, but am honestly wondering if I'll notice a difference in IQ if I were to get rid of my primes and just use the 12-40?

    Financially, If I were to return the 25, and sell the 45, I'd be looking at around a $300 difference. That's roughly $50 more than the cost of the Pany 14/2.5 that I'd need to get the same range.

    I'd be sacrificing a couple stops, and some bulk, but gaining the versatility of a single lens.

    Surely others have gone down this path. Would love to hear if the primes are missed, or if the versatility makes up for it.
  2. Dalton

    Dalton Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 24, 2010
    Portland, Oregon USA
    Real Name:
    Dan Ferrall
    I sold my 17 f1.8, 12mm f 2.0, and a few other pieces of gear to fund my 12-40 f2.8 purchase. I am more of a zoom person than prime and the added versatility is a huge blessing. I still own a 75mm f1.8, 45mm f1.8, 25mm f1.4, and a 17mm f2.8 pancake. I am using the zoom the vast majority of the time. I keep the other lenses because there are times when I just want to use one lens for a specific purpose or absolutely need the ability to limit depth of field more than possible with the zoom.

    No regrets here and the 12-40 f2.8 is simply an amazing piece of glass for the price.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. I've only had my E-M1 for 2 days now along with the 40-150 R. Tonight, I got my 17 f1.8 in the mail and tomorrow I will likely get my 12-40 in the mail.

    The way I see it, my 12-40 will be my main go-to lens. If I'm not sure or I'm out with my little boy, that's the one that will be glued to the M1. Great results from a semi-fast lens along with focal length versatility without changing lenses, YES PLEASE!

    I'll use the 17 when I want to get as small as possible or in lower light situation. Also, that field of view is perhaps my favorite!

    Finally, the 40-150R is strictly there because it was cheap, provided decent images, and serves as the back-up outdoors lens when the 12-40 just doesn't reach.

    Originally, I was a Canon crop shooter and I ran a 17-55, Siggy 30, and 70-200. Then I switched to full frame and ran 35, 85, 17-40, and 70-200. I really missed having the versatile lens at my disposal.

    A lot of people see unnecessary overlap with the 17 & 12-40 (or 30 & 17-55), but I think it is a fantastic combo. Sure, sometimes both lenses can do the same/similar job, but I love having that choice.

    Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure what's best for you, is to try it. If you have the buy the lenses to do that, it can be an expensive endeavour.

    All the best!
  4. Shoefly

    Shoefly Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 15, 2014
    So this is also a worry. I've shot with 1.8 lenses for a while now, and love to use a lower aperture. Looking at my absolute best shots in lightroom, I've got a decent bit below f2.8. I'd certainly miss the stops. Perhaps switching to a (single) f2.8 lens isn't the best idea for me.

  5. wanderenvy

    wanderenvy Mu-43 Regular

    May 11, 2012
    Hmm.. Is that data based on using one single lens, the 45/1.8? Then I would posit that the nature of the lens (ideal for portraiture) and its characteristics (good bokeh and sharpness at 1.8) would very likely bias your usage. I checked my Lightroom stats and over half of my shots with the Oly 45/1.8 And PL 25/1.4 are under f2, and over half of the 12-40 are at f2.8. It may be a case of shooting open because you can. :)

    There is no way I am getting rid of the 45, the ability to blur the background is very different at f/1.8 than f/2.8 at portrait distances. The PL25 on the other hand is seeing less usage. The only reason to bring it out is if you want its specific rendering or the light is really low.

    You should know that the 12-40 has one significant issue. It sticks on the camera and requires significant mental effort to remove. Beware!
  6. Shoefly

    Shoefly Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 15, 2014
    No. This spans back to a few previous cameras and lenses. Primarily a Nikon D40 + 35mm f1.8 and the Fuji X100. Lots of low fstop shots on both of those. Still, some of that is going to be due to trying to get enough light into the D40 (which wasn't worthwhile at anything above ISO 800). However, a majority are shallow DOF.

    I just processed a few more shots tonight with the Oly 45. If the 25 is as sharp, I'm going to have a hard time getting rid of either of them.
  7. nardoleo

    nardoleo Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 2, 2013
    Real Name:
    The olympus 12-40mm is a lovely zoom and the only zoom I have.

    However, it does not replace the primes I have as I shoot alot of indoor shoots in available light and f2.8 is often not fast enough.

    Plus, I really love the images from my current set of primes, even the 12mm f2 which many will sell once they have the zoom.

    For travelling, the zoom is essential. I cant do another lens changing frenzy for my next holiday.

    Sent from my trusty Samsung Galaxy Note 2
  8. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Real Name:
    When I got my 12-40, I tested it against my 17 1.8 and my 45. The zoom was (for me) just as good as the 17, the 45 was sharper than the zoom at 40.

    I like the 45 for portraits and have kept it, but the 17 went to a good home. I had the 12 at one point, but it didn't have enough of an advantage over the 9-18.

    The IBIS on the M5 is so good that I don't miss having a faster prime for low light (most of my subjects don't move).

    Less DOF helps for portraits, though - another reason to keep the 45.

    I won't look at the 25 unless it's clearly better than the 12-40.
  9. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Depends what you shoot/how you shoot; I still dither about whether or not to get a 'fast fifty' (i.e. 25mm) for the E-M1, as it's one of my favourite focal lengths on FF, but the Sony Zeiss 55/1.8 is just so good that I'm not sure it's worth it for me on the E-M1. If I find a great deal on the Panasonic I may spring for it, because IBIS can make a real difference. And shooting a 'normal' fast prime is a much different experience than shooting a zoom, and makes for a much more compact package.

    The 12-40 is truly excellent, and while I shoot it wide open a fair amount, if I want subject isolation I go to the FF or shoot a faster MFT lens. It all depends on the type of shooting you do, and the context. For travel, a fast zoom in the normal range is ideal, and I prefer a single prime to a heavier zoom in the medium telephoto range (the 135L when I was shooting canon, right now I'm thinking of replacing the 45/1.8 with a 75/1.8) for portraits and such.
  10. shutterduster

    shutterduster Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 8, 2013
    Keremeos, BC. Canada
    Real Name:
    Dave T
    You should know that the 12-40 has one significant issue. It sticks on the camera and requires significant mental effort to remove. Beware!

    Too funny :th_salute:
    • Like Like x 4
  11. jmaher

    jmaher Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 7, 2012
    Sarasota, FL
    Real Name:
    Sold my 45 - kept my 25 - bought the 12-40.

    12-40 does seem glued on (see above) most of the time.
  12. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    I'm keeping my primes alongside the 12-40/2.8. I don't find f/2.8 really to be fast enough for low light - the 1.5-2 stop advantage of the 25/1.4 and 45/1.8 are significant for me. The difference in DoF is also significant. In terms of size and optics the primes don't have much of an advantage (none of the camera/lens combinations is pocketable, and none is significantly sharper than the prime in normal photographs), but the flexibility is important.

    The primes I would definitely replace with the 12-40/2.8 are the 12/2, 17/2.8, 19/2.8, 20/1.7, 30/2.8 and 45/2.8. In the case of the 12/2, I don't find the extra stop as useful (for ultra wide, the limiting factor on shutter speeds is invariably subject movement). For the 20/1.7, the improved AF speed just makes the zoom more useful, even in low light. For the 45/2.8, the focus is slow and the 12-40/2.8 focuses close enough that I wouldn't miss the macro ability. For the other f/2.8 primes, the 12-40/2.8 is equally sharp and focuses faster.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. shizlefonizle

    shizlefonizle Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 21, 2012
    Sold my 12/2 to get it and havent looked back. It stays on my camera most of the time so my 25/1.4 is getting less use unless Im shooting indoors and my 45/2.8 stays home since it does decent close ups.

    Yeah its kinda big and heavy (in the m43 world) but this lens along with the 35-100/2.8 is a 2 lens combo that covers most of my shooting.
  14. zensu

    zensu An Old Fool

    Aug 8, 2012
    Alabama, USA
    Real Name:
    Sold my Oly 9-18 ยต43's zoom and my P/L 25 f1.4 to acquire the 12-40 which now seems to be permanently attached to the E-M5. I think the P/L 25 f1.4 has a little better IQ than the 12-40 but it's not enough IMHO to give up the zoom. As for the Oly 9-18 zoom the 12-40 has better IQ IMHO. I really don't miss the P/L 25 f1.4 but I do sometimes miss the Oly 9-18 zoom from 11mm to 9mm. It's my understanding that Oly will soon bring out a 40-150 f2.8 PRO zoom along with a 300 f2.8 PRO tele this year. Next year they say they are going to release a new 9-18 f4.0 PRO zoom (I'm saving my pennies for this one).
  15. BobbyTan

    BobbyTan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 26, 2013
    Long Beach, CA
    The 12-40 is a great walk-around lens and it's very sharp wide open BUT f2.8 doesn't cut it if you need to diffuse the background or shoot in low light. I bought the 17/1.8 as I think a fast prime is much better for environmental portraits when you want the background to be a little out of focus. Having said that, I am now trying to sell my 17/1.8, 25/1.4 and 45/1.8 to fund the Nocticron. I think I will be much happier with the 12-40 zoom plus the Nocticron than a bunch of primes.
  16. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    I am still surprised that after all this time no 3rd party company's have made and released a zoom that is faster than a Kit lenses and less expensive than OLY or Panny's 12-XXmm pro lenses
  17. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Real Name:
    Depends. If your subject doesn't move, IBIS is your friend. I have many shots of details in very dark churches, ISO 1600, 1/6th sec, 12-40 at f2.8. Tack sharp at first attempt.
  18. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I've not got the 12-40, but I do have the 12-35 and TBH, I'm thinking of off-loading it. I find the compactness, wide aperture and IQ of the primes to work best for me. I bought the 12-35 as a walkaround lens but these days I find I can take a pretty small bag with my E-P5 and 4 lenses (Rok 7.5 FE, 9-18, 17/1.8 and 45) and it covers a much wider range of capability than a single medium range zoom. For sure it adds additional lens changing and the weather sealing on the 12-35 is nice to have too - but it's all a question of compromises isn't it?
  19. zpierce

    zpierce Super Moderator

    Sep 26, 2010
    Minneapolis, MN
    Real Name:
    I sold my 45 1.8. I found I can isolate well enough with the 2.8 and I just never felt the 45 love and rarely found myself interested in using it. I kept my 25 1.4 for low light and for its general awesome rendering and the 14 2.5 as a tiny walk around. I find the quality and speed of the 12-40 equals or bests my primes and I like the versatility. Much easier for outdoor general shooting than the primes in my opinion.
  20. BobbyTan

    BobbyTan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 26, 2013
    Long Beach, CA
    I would rather not increase the ISO and increase noise. All things being equal, a faster lens is always better - as long as it's sharp wide open.