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Is the 12-40 a lot better than the 12-60?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by jonbrisbincreative, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. jonbrisbincreative

    jonbrisbincreative Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Mar 30, 2014
    I pulled the trigger on a refurbished E-M1 after some real deliberation on the merits of the Fuji X-Trans versus mu4/3. I went with the Oly but now I need more than the two lenses I've picked up for my GX7. I'm thinking that a 12-40 zoom would be good for me since I tend to shoot a lot of things (portraits, weddings, sports mainly) so autofocus and high ISO performance are very important to me. But the extra reach of the 4/3 12-60 seems like it might be even better for me but my only concern is whether the 12-60's autofocus will not be as fast as a native mu4/3 12-40. Anyone have experience with these lenses?
     
  2. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    The 12-60 is going to be noticeably bulkier and heavier. Also, the biggest issue with the 12-60mm optically is that it has lots of complex, difficult to correct distortion at the widest focal lengths. I can't speak to the AF performance of the 12-60 on an E-M1.

    My question is, with what you are mainly shooting, how badly do you need the 12mm wide vs. 14mm? Because if you don't, you can pick up a 4/3 14-54 mk 1 lens very cheaply (I paid $108 for mine - at that price, there's no risk in trying it.)
     
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  3. jonbrisbincreative

    jonbrisbincreative Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Mar 30, 2014
    The 14-54 mk II is also an option I'm looking at. Thanks for bringing that up. It's my understanding that the mark II has better AF performance but not sure what that means exactly.

    But you're right, I don't need the 24mm equivalent versus 28mm. The 14/2.5 I have is plenty wide for me. I'm more interested in the reach at the longer end.

    Nice to know about the optical formula and corrections.
     
  4. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    The AF is in a different league. If that's your issue you would be happier with the m4/3rds 12-40.

    AF speed is not important for me with a standard zoom, so I stick with my 14-54MkI, although it mostly stays on the E-1 ... I'm not a standard zoom type of fella.
     
  5. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    That's really not the case on the E-M1 that the OP just purchased. The 12-40 is a little better in certain situations, but it's definitely not night and day.
     
  6. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    On an E-M1, the AF performance of the 14-54 Mk I and Mk II is essentially the same, although not as good as the native Micro 4/3 zoom - this is because they each will be focused using the E-M1's PDAF. On any camera other than the E-M1, the Mk II lens is faster, because it can support CDAF, whereas the Mk I lens doesn't, and it will hunt.

    I can't say how much better the native 12-40mm lens AF is on the E-M1, because I have never had that lens - but it's reputed to be better. My take on the 14-54 Mk I AF on the E-M1 is, definitely useable, but not lightning fast - and it will occasionally miss focus entirely when spanning a big focus range without any pre-focusing - But it did this on 4/3 bodies too.
     
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  7. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    430
    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    12-60mm - A truly great lens; any internet search will show you some tremendous photos. Part of the 4/3's High Grade series of lenses. Big and bulky. This was the ultimate kit lens in the 4/3's days (unless you were 14-35 kind of wealthy). Offers 12mm at the wide end and an extra 20mm on the long end compared to the 12-40. Slower (obviously) and it gets slow faster than the 14-54 whose aperture stays larger for longer. The focus on the E-M1 will be okay; most people say about a half-second to lock focus. On any other µ4/3 camera, it hunts for focus more. At 40mm it's at f/3.7.

    14-54 mk I - Like the 12-60, on the E-M1 focus won't be too bad but on any other µ4/3 camera it struggles a bit more. Also a High Grade lens. Compared to the 12-40, it's slower: at 40mm it's at f/3.3.

    14-54 mk II - My personal choice for an all-around lens for µ4/3. It was built to work with CDAF in the factory (unlike the other CDAF 4/3 lenses which just got firmware updates) and I find that it focuses well on my E-M5 (about the same as the Panasonic 20/1.7 but sometimes gets confused in low light a little bit faster - but the manual focus on the 14-54ii is more accessible). For me, it's the perfect size for µ4/3 with good-sized zoom and focus rings. Solid build. Great working against light. The extra reach over the 12-40 is significant. At 40mm it's at f/3.2.

    So... if continuous autofocus shooting sports is your key thing, then I'd tell you go with the 12-40 (actually, I'd tell you that it's not really µ4/3's forte). If you can bear average focus performance, then the 14-54ii would be the next best choice.

    In terms of image quality, all of the lenses are great. I personally find the high micro-contrast of the 12-40 a little off-putting; though most perceive this as super-sharpness and like it (I think a lot of shots with this lens look way over-processed). The 12-60 and the 14-54 have similar colours and contrast - beautiful. The 14-54ii is more system-ready for µ4/3 as it will perform equally well on any µ4/3 body.

    On the short end, the 12-40 and the 12-60 are the winners, but the 12-60 distorts worse (reports say a double-wavy-moustache - I've only rented it in the past and never noticed). On the long end, the 12-60 and the 14-54 have very noticeable extra reach over the 12-40. The difference between 54mm and 60mm is much less noticeable. Your preferred focal length will be specific to you so only you'll know a what length you shoot the most.

    In terms of lens speed, modern camera's ISO performance and Olympus's IBIS are making wide apertures less significant factors in terms of whether you can get a beautiful picture in any given lighting situation. The question probably becomes how much subject isolation do you want. The 12-40 is the best with a constant 2.8; however, compromising and ending up with a lens that at 40mm is f/3.2 - f/3.7 (depending on which lens you pick) seems trivial to me - it's all less than a stop of light. If you really want something fast at that focal length, I'd strongly tell you to spend $75 and get a 50mm f/1.4 off eBay that gathers 4x the light and truly isolates subjects.

    My pick (and the one I own that is my most-used zoom by a long shot) is the 14-54ii. As the saying goes, it's a way better lens than I'll ever be a photographer - any advantages the 12-40 and 12-60 might have could never be realized by me. The 12-40 is too short for me to think of it as a 1-lens-kit option and I'm not a fan of its rendering compared to the 4/3 lenses. The 12-60 is brilliant, but it's way more expensive than the 14-54ii for negligible quality gains. Knowing that 4/3 glass is probably soon to become vintage, I recently bought a 2nd 14-54ii for $150 in mint condition. The 14-54ii would be my resounding recommendation to anybody looking for a wide-normal zoom on µ4/3. :smile:
     
  8. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    I would still say that, for use specifically on the E-M1, the 12-54 mk I is the best choice, at prices in the ~ $120-140 range, compared to ~$300-350 for the nearly optically identical Mk II. The Mk II is going to focus noticeably better on other cameras besides the E-M1, but for use specifically on the E-M1, you're basically getting the same lens for $200 less with the Mk I
     
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  9. spdavies

    spdavies Mu-43 Top Veteran

    966
    Apr 9, 2013
    Hawaii
    Stephen
    While we're on, or at least near, the subject -
    has anyone compared the quality/performance/features
    of the native Olympus 4/3>m4/3 adapter vs. the much cheaper aftermarket ones?

    Also, there seems to be more than one Olympus model.
    It's all quite confusing . . .
     
  10. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    I use two aftermarket adapters - one is a FOTGA, one is a Viltrox. The FOTGA cost me $43 and has a tripod socket on it, the Viltrox doesn't, and cost me $39. They are fine, they fit snugly, without play, and they passive - merely passing through the electrical signals between camera and lens. Assuming you don't get one with a loose fit, which would be a defect, there is no performance degradation from the adapter.

    The MMF-1 and MMF-2 appear to me to be identical to the Viltrox adapters (in silver and black, respectively, although supposedly, the MMF-1 has more metal in it, and is heavier than the MMF-2). The MMF-3 is better in one respect, and that is that it is weather-sealed. Whether that's worth a $140 premium over the generics - well YMMV. To me, they weren't.
     
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  11. spdavies

    spdavies Mu-43 Top Veteran

    966
    Apr 9, 2013
    Hawaii
    Stephen
    Wow - great info - exactly what I needed to know -
    many thanks . . .