I hate to admit this...but I really like the 12-50!

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by LowriderS10, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    So...generally, I hate kit lenses. They're slow, have limited range (DSLR 18-55s, 12-32, etc), usually have crap build quality and disappointing IQ. I come from a pro-gear background, with plenty of Canon Ls in my past, and some truly beautiful lenses in my present line-up (the Olympus 75 1.8 is king of the hill, currently)...so I'm no newb, and I have a fairly high standard for my gear...which makes it all that much more praise-worthy that this lens makes me happy so often!

    So, I held off for a good long while on getting the 12-50, but I wanted to have at least ONE lens that'll let me take advantage of my E-M5's weathersealing, so I waited for a great deal and picked one up.

    I have to say...I really like it. Sadly, it doesn't go wide enough for me to use it as a travel lens, but for bumming around town, it's a great little lens, and the macro mode is a fantastic hidden talent!

    It feels solid in hand (even though it's very light), the controls are great, the L.Fn. button is a cool little feature, the fact that it doesn't rotate or extend is nice, and the weathersealing is incredible for a kit lens at this price. Best of all...the image quality is just about on par with my more expensive lenses. Furthermore, at 12mm, it's actually quite a bit faster than my 9-18, which is kind of cool. The f6.3 at the long end is painful, but hey...at least there is a long end. :D

    Some of my recent shots with this lens:

    From a walk yesterday after work...found a cool little hidden temple near my house (South Korea)...the first shot is the handle of a ceremonial bell...macro mode. :)

    12353951663_a2092d76a7_b.jpg EDITVOM2941 by Tamas V, on Flickr


    12354230014_fcf0f98926_b.jpg EDITVOM2935 by Tamas V, on Flickr

    11380946796_c69268e2e2_b.jpg EDITVOM1604 by Tamas V, on Flickr

    April 24 edit....flexing the 12-50's macro muscles:

    14013209293_46e18ebfd6_b.jpg EDITVOM4955 by Tamas V, on Flickr

    That is all...just wanted to share...I like finding hidden little gems at reasonable prices in any line up (the 40 Pancake in Canon's line-up was such a lens)...for Oly, I think the price-to-happiness ratio is best with the 12-50 and the O45. At the prices I paid I don't expect much, and am pleasantly surprised every time I use them!
    • Like Like x 22
  2. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Kirk Tuck had several blog posts extolling this lens, and taking shots at people who looked down on it's performance based on test numbers and not actually using it.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Lowrider - as always it's the photographer, not the kit. I've never become comfortable with the 12-50mm mounted on my E-M5 and have not come close to the results you're getting out of yours.

    I keep mine because (a) it's the only weathersealed lens I have, (b) it came with the E-M5 when there was no 'body only' option, and (mostly) (c) I'm simply too lazy to put the thing up for sale :biggrin:.

    I'm glad you've gotten to appreciate yours; my poor, lonely, unappreciated lens only gets "drugged out" when inclement weather is expected and I can't avoid going out into it.

    Thanks for posting, it's fun to see what others can do, even if I can't do it myself.


    • Like Like x 1
  4. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    I vastly prefer fast lenses and fast primes tend to be much less expensive than fast zooms. I only own one native zoom, the P100-300mm. It's not as fast as I'd like, but I tend to use it outside on bright days and I really like it. I suppose it comes down to what works for you. Nice photos!
    • Like Like x 1
  5. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    I have taken many "keeper" pictures with it. As you said, it is great lens to go along with the E-M5's weather sealing. It is a great outdoors lens. Yes, it is dark for inside but, hey, that is why we pick up a fast prime.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. gprana

    gprana Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 3, 2014
    It's indeed a nice lens considering the price... I think this lens plus, say, a 20mm f/1.7 (for indoor / evening street photography) would make a nice affordable combo for traveling :)
    • Like Like x 1
  7. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    Virtually any modern lens is capable of great results in the hands of a skilled photographer, especially one who knows and understands the limitations of their gear. Photo gear orientated websites tend to focus on the minute differences between lenses and totally blow them out of proportion, if you're not making gigantic prints, shooting in very low light or needing very narrow DOF, pretty much any kit lens for any interchangeable lens camera produced in the last 5 years is up to the job.
    • Like Like x 2
  8. monk3y

    monk3y Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 14, 2013
    in The Cloud...
    Tamas!! :smile: Awesome photos as usual. As for the lens it's a good versatile lens :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  9. madmaxmedia

    madmaxmedia Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 20, 2010
    I think the wider zoom range also makes it very versatile. When I had an X10, I appreciated that little extra at the telephoto end. I think CA was one of the criticisms of the 12-50, but that can always be dealt with in PP.

    I really like 2 and 3, especially #3 with the isolation of color.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Someone has to!


    (for me, it's more the unwieldy size than anything else, but I do appreciate where you're coming from and GREAT images with it!)
    • Like Like x 2
  11. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    I've never found the 12-50 as bad as some people say. I think many people were upset that it was not competitive with the 4/3 12-60, a much more expensive piece of kit. For me, it's always been a very useful lens, even if I use primes much more often.

    That said, I would love to own the 12-40, and would give up the macro to do so. But it is three times the cost.

    I plan on revisiting Laos in November, and will take my E-M5 and a couple of primes, as well as this lens (unless I have that 12-40 by then!) It would be perfect for a day trip by boat up the Mekong, and will be the only thing as wide as 12 I'll have. Nor do I shoot that wide often enough to justify getting the Olympus 12. It isn't that I don't recognize and sometimes feel the lens' shortcomings, and for critical work at most of its focal length,I'd prefer to use a prime if I have it. It's just very useful at times, and the output is fine at the sizes I usually print.
    • Like Like x 2
  12. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    I sold the 12-50, but not because it was a bad lens. It's because I needed to fund other lenses I wanted...

    I'm a minimally minimum person. Do I miss it? Yes sometimes. Especially in pseudo macro situations.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Yeah...I stayed away from this lens for so long because of the bad reviews, and only got it because I needed a weathersealed lens for a trip. I was very (pleasantly) surprised when I started sing it!

    Thanks, Jim, I appreciate the kind words. I think you should drag yours out for the heck of it now and again...I find that having that macro mode at my disposal really makes me look at things differently!

    Thank you! Yeah, I'm a big fast lenses kind of guy too (for years, I had a rule to try and not own anything slower than f2.8), but I really like shooting wide, so 12 isn't nearly wide enough for me....which means that anything 12-xx is going to be a niche/fun lens for me, instead of something that'll see a lot of work. Because of that, I couldn't justify the 12-40 or the 12-35. (If either of those lenses started at 8 or 9, I would have been only too eager to shove my money in Pan/Oly's pockets). I only use this lens for the fun of it and to have a weathersealed lens...and for that, it really hits the spot, especially at its price!

    Exactly. For someone who doesn't desire ultrawide, I think the 12-50 paired with a fast prime would make a smashing good travel kit. My current travel kit is the 9-18, 7.5 and 45. But I've been debating for weeks whether I should switch in the 12-50 for a trip (I travel quite a bit) instead of the 9-18 and see how I like it.

    Exactly! And light, too! It always surprises me how light this lens is, despite not actually feeling cheap.

    This is very true. However, I still think the 12-50 is king among kits as it delivers at least the same IQ as other kit lenses, but with the added bonuses of having better range than most, the macro mode and weathersealing. I'm honestly pleased that Oly has a lens that packs so much into such an affordable package (when bought second-hand...I do think $500 is a bit steep for it new).

    Thanks, Steven! :D

    Thanks very much! :) The CA is actually less apparent than on my 9-18! In my very unscientific study, I've found very little difference between the lenses at 12mm. The 12-50 is ever so slightly less sharp (baaaaaaaaarely visible when viewed at 14x on the LCD), but is quite a bit (nearly a stop, I believe) faster at 12mm. Also, CA is better controlled on the 12-50, although it's an unfair comparison, since the 9-18 is particularly bad at handling CAs.

    Haha...thanks! :D I agree, though...the weathersealing and non-extending nature of the lens come at a price, and that's its length. That's actually one of the reasons I'm hesitant to switch out my 9-18 for this lens as my travel lens. I backpack, and walk/hike a lot...being able to fit the OM-D with the 9-18 into anywhere is a huge advantage.

    That's exactly why I got this lens (to have something weathersealed for a trip). I agree...a 12-40 would be great, if that focal length works for you (it doesn't really for me), then it's well worth the extra money, I think. But, if you're only going to bring it out once in a blue moon for specific purposes (like I do), I think the 12-50 is the way to go. Out of curiosity...what sizes have you printed out of the 12-50?

    I hear ya! This is my "one too many" lens haha. I try to be as much of a minimalist as possible too, but I wanted one lens that'll let me take advantage of the OM-D's weathersealing! :D
  14. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Well LowRider, you know what they say about macro mode:

    Think Big!


    Next time your lens gets "drugged out", post some more pics! :2thumbs:


    • Like Like x 1
  15. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Haha...true! :D I can't wait 'till things are alive again! There's a wetlands near where I live...everything's dead and grey/brown now, but in a few months, it should all be teeming with tiny life! :D
  16. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Thanks for all the kind words, guys!

    Mellow...I agree...I wish it was a little smaller (mostly just shorter...I don't mind the diameter or the weight). I was out shooting with it yesterday and loved it...the macro mode is so much fun without having to carry around (and spend money on) a dedicated macro lens!

    14013209293_46e18ebfd6_b.jpg EDITVOM4955 by Tamas V, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 3
  17. snkenai

    snkenai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2010
    Impressive Lady Bug picture. I have tried that with a variety of macro combos, and just can't seem to capture the clarity and detail.
    And, due to other more important considerations, I have gone backwards in my primary lens choice (for the moment). I now use the tiny Olympus 14-42 IIr, on an antique G1! This combination used carefully, gives very good casual photography results (the only kind I'm capable of :smile:). I would like to add the 20mm eventually.
  18. pinoyborian

    pinoyborian Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 3, 2012
    Peterborough UK
    Jerry Sisican
    Definitely on my wish list this year, i like it for its versatility - would like to experience the 12mm focal length and be able to use macro w/o having to resort to my cumbersome 'macro' set up of Rokkor 50mm + 2x macro tc. This and the Oly 14-150 will be my daylight travel kit in the future plus an f1.8 prime for lowlight. Alas, all in my wishlist, still.

    Actually been eyeing this lens for a long time partly due to this article http://www.ferdzdecena.com/photography/olympus-m-zuiko-ed-12-50mm-macro-field-review-orchid-show/ This photographer was the reason why I went m43. I only found him on the internet when I started researching about which ILC to buy.
  19. jrsilva

    jrsilva Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 1, 2012
    Well done!
    Very good macro shoot.

    I'm a Panasonic user and I've purchased the Olympus12-50mm because of it's versatility.
    I wanted a cheap solution for 12mm focal distance and Macro at the same time.
    I've read some negative reviews and posts about this lens, but it was the samples I've saw and a few positive reviews that made me purchase this lens, and I don't regret at all. I'm very happy with this lens. It turned out to be my most used zoom lens and I'm thinking about selling my Panasonic 14-45mm (that is know to be a little sharper).
    My copy was very cheap second hand. They are selling second hand here in Europe for less than 250 USD.
  20. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    The 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 is not my favorite lens. I much prefer the primes over it.

    Having said, that, I went out and forced myself to shoot with it and get to know it. I don't have anything as wide as the 12mm end, and f/3.5 is not horrible. I don't like the 50mm end as well as the other focal lengths. f/6.3 is not where I normally shoot and 50mm seems softer than the others.

    I've got some great images from it, but those were shoot in good light and using f/7.1 to f/8.

    I really keep it because of the weather sealing.
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