Learning to like the Olympus 12-50?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by dhazeghi, Aug 10, 2012.

  1. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    My Olympus 12-50 finally arrived yesterday after several weeks waiting (store sent it to the wrong address, took some time to sort out...).

    I didn't have time for more than a quick walk and few dozen snapshots, but I'm not exactly impressed so far. The lens is okay in the center at the wide end, there's really no resolution to speak of at the edges. Long end is more uniform, which is to say, uniformly mediocre. Initial impressions are that the Panasonic 14-140/4-5.8 is a fair bit sharper through the shared range, despite that lens being a 10x superzoom.

    My question is this - has anybody who wasn't impressed with the lens's optical properties initially come to like the lens after more significant use? Is this a lens that grows on you? At the moment, I'm inclined to send it back and go back to the 14-42, or maybe the Panasonic 14-45 for casual shooting, but I don't want to find myself rebuying the lens in 6 months after deciding it really wasn't so bad after all...


  2. newbert

    newbert Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 22, 2012
    Glens Falls, NY
    My 12-50 came as part of my OM-D kit. I liked the lens right from the start. I don't have many native lenses, so have little basis for comparison though. However, I've found that it is quite versatile for my purposes. Since adding a linear polarizer, I find it suits my purposes for landscapes, and the built-in macro function works well.
  3. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 20, 2012
    Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
    Real Name:
    Mine came in the kit & it is the only M4/3's lens I have too. For better quality & shallower DoF I use the 4/3's ZD14-54 II lens, but it is a little slow to focus so it can't be used for too much action with subjects. The 12-50 lens is a versatile lens though & for an occasion where minimal is needed (& fast AF) & maybe also for a walk through a wet rainforest, it would be worthwhile (but the ZD14-54 II can also do that too).
  4. riverr02

    riverr02 Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2011
    New York
    Real Name:
    I prefer my primes on the OM-D over the 12-50 and find that because of that the 12-50 is rarely on the camera. I also find the range a bit limiting, and much prefer the range (and IQ) of the 14-140, though truth be told I use that infrequently, too (hence my reason for putting it up for sale on eBay yesterday). BUT, that's not to say the 12-50 doesn't have its virtues. The main reasons I keep it are that the IQ isn't that bad for a walkabout lens that is weather resistant (main reason for keeping it honestly), and offers both macro capability and motorized zoom for video.
  5. SkiHound

    SkiHound Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2012
    I've not really warmed up to my 12-50. I need to use it more and see if I can get more confidence in it. I have the PL25 and Oly 45 and generally find myself reaching for them. I also have the 40-150 and feel I get consistently better results from that than the 12-50.
  6. wawa

    wawa Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 16, 2011
    I'm very much more into primes personally, but the range 12-50 is definitely appealing. The colour on this zoom is way nicer than the 14-42 and it's sharper, smoother, overall just much better. I couldn't go back from the 12-50 to the 14-42, no way. I've never shot with the panasonic kit zoom.
  7. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    No, I don't really like it. It has an impressive list of features but I'm more interested in what it delivers. The edge performance at wide-angle makes me want to crop, which limits the usefulness of the 12mm focal length. As a kit lens for the E-M5 I feel there is a mis-match between the capabilities of the camera and the lens. When I want a zoom I'll reach for the 14-140mm or the 9-18mm.
  8. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    you guys are obviously a lot more picky than me... I have been very happy with the 12-50....been using it as a walk around lens on holiday and have been happy enough with the performance... sure you don't get a shallow DOF... though you do in macro, and the bokeh is pleasant. Even the slow aperture doesn't seem to get in the way due to the IBIS and higher iSO performance.
    For the price it seems to me to be a fine enough lens and does what the designers intended.

    I will try and post some pics when I stop travelling


    • Like Like x 2
  9. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I agree, especially relative to the 14-140mm. I used both as general purpose/walk-around-type lenses during a photo-intensive two week vacation that I just returned from, and would have to say that the 14-140 significantly exceeded my expectations and the 12-50 unforunately did not meet them.
  10. dre_tech

    dre_tech Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 31, 2012
    So you don't like it even stopped down a bit? I haven't used it very much, it seemed good (not prime or 12-35 like), I keep it mostly for the macro mode.

    Keep traveling! Don't mind us over here...
  11. scarbrd

    scarbrd Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 1, 2011
    Houston, TX
    I can't get past the 50mm F6.3 part.

    That is useless to me.
  12. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Real Name:
    Promit Roy
    Allow me to repeat something I wrote elsewhere:
  13. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    I'll go against the grain here. I'm not much of a standard zoom user...I much prefer primes in this range, and with the 12/2, 25/1.4 and 45/1.8, I'm pretty much set here. However, sometimes I just want to grab one lens and it needs to be versatile, but I usually don't shell out for high end zooms in this range because they just don't get used enough. I actually bought the 12-50 new/used (new, but split out from a kit so I didn't pay the $500 crazy price) after I had my E-M5 for a few months. So far I really like it. Sure, it's not going to challenge my primes in the image quality department, but for a single walk around zoom, I like it a lot. It's a great little travel zoom or something to slam in a bag with one camera for walking around with the family. Unlike the other kit zooms, the 12-50mm range is really useful, going from quite wide to decent telephoto, and while subject separation is non-existant due to the small aperture (though f/6.3 is only 1/3 stop slower than the f/5.6 that every other zoom is...) it's certainly met my expectations. It's decently sharp throughout the range (sure, there's some corner softness, and it's not going to break resolution records, but it's far from bad), and the macro mode actually has very nice image quality and is very useful to have in a walk around lens.

    So, me? I like it quite a bit (though it'll still stay on the shelf more often than not due to how I shoot, but I'll definitely use it...) Plus, being weathersealed, it's a lens I can use when I need to shoot in inclement weather, which is quite nice.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. mister_roboto

    mister_roboto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Real Name:
    For me the size + weather sealing + functions + range, make it an ideal hiking lens.

    Sure it could be faster and have better resolution at some focal lengths (a lot of them actually), but all in all I rather like it, for hiking and outdoor nature uses... that being said I think it's over priced. As part of the kit $300 is "so-so okay" not a chance in hell I'd pay $500 for it though.

    Also should be noted- I'm a prime lens sort of fellow, and only have 1 other zoom, a 45-150 Olympus.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Gusnyc

    Gusnyc Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 9, 2010
    New York
    A few weeks ago, when I was on a trip, it became very handy, because of the weather sealed properties. I like to have it also to play with macro shots. I am not a pixel peeper, so I can't comment on how sharp it is.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Real Name:
    I'm with you. I think this lens is getting an undeserved bad rap. Good construction, weather sealing, internal zooming, useful macro feature, power zoom, good focal range and great AF speed are rather worth 300 euro/dollars IMO. Would I pay $500 for it? Not a chance. Would I prefer a version of the FT 14-54 or 12-60? Sure. And I'd be ready to pay 700-1000 euro for one of these. And perhaps I'll do (or pay 450-650 as a kit with the EM-7, who know?).

    All I can say is, it's a "jack of all trades", "useful" lens. As for its optical qualities (apart from the appalling aperture range), I agree with this review:

    Olympus Lens: Zooms - Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ M.Zuiko Digital ED (Tested) - SLRgear.com!
    • Like Like x 2
  17. gardengirl13

    gardengirl13 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 26, 2012

    I agree. For a kit it's great, for a stand alone $500 lens no way!

    My review is for me personally, my needs are no where what anyone else needs. I went to MFT due to serious health issues. I needed to keep shooting or I'd go crazy. I like the macro, a true macro lens drives me nuts because I can't hold still enough and tripods don't work for me in those situations. Narrow FOV is too hard for me also due to my health. The range is perfect for a walkaround zoom. Yes the corners at 12 stink, big time! I've never seen anything like it in any other lens before. But it's fairly fast AF, weatherproof, decent range, fairly sharp etc...

    I really prefer primes and wish I could afford to get a wide and the 45 right now. With my health it's getting harder to move the way I want so zooms have become a part of life if I want to really keep shooting. I can't hike down a hill to get closer, I need to zoom. I can't run up to something happening because I walk like an 80 year old, so I need to zoom.

    I don't want to spend a ton of money on zooms as I really do still prefer primes. If I could afford a $1600 zoom, I'd get the 2 primes I want instead. Although I do want the 9-18 as my next lens, not a prime. I just wish the 7-14 could take filters.

    I think for others it depends on what you want to shoot and how you go about it. If you buy it with the OMD as a kit it's hard to beat right now. You can get slightly rained on, take macros and not have to switch lenses while out and about. But don't go thinking it'll be the best lens you've ever used.
  18. SkiHound

    SkiHound Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2012
    I wonder how QC is with this lens. Opinions seem really varied. I have a 40-150 that I think is considerably sharper than my 12-50. I look at the output from the 40-150 and think the lens is just to small, light, and inexpensive to produce this. But I see images from the 12-50 posted on a lot of sites that I like. And I think the f6.3 makes it sound really slow, but that's only 1/3 stop slower than f5.6. That said, it becomes slow relatively fast as focal length increases. I get some images with it that I like (I probably need to go back and really look at the focal length and aperture) but overall I'm not very impressed by the IQ and wish I'd just gone for the 14-42.
  19. ayewing

    ayewing New to Mu-43

    Jul 15, 2012
    Peterborough, UK
    Real Name:
    Archie Ewing
    For a kit lens it is not bad. Sharp enough in the centre of the image where the action usually is but a bit soft at the edges especially at the wide end. In its favour there is weather sealing, fast focus,a useful range of focal length, a choice of manual or powered zoom which is quiet enough for video, and a useful macro which is surprisingly effective.

    Given the compromises necessary to secure all these functions, it is a pretty useful lens. OK if I need the highest possible IQ I will use my Leica Summilux with an adapter but for a general purpose, go anywhere whatever the weather lens I think it is not a bad deal. There is probably some sample variation as I think my copy is a bit better than some described here. Valid as a bundled kit lens but probably not worth the extra price as a standalone.
  20. TheBiles

    TheBiles Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2012
    I only use the 12-50 because it is weather sealed. Otherwise, it would be the first lens I put on eBay.

    Sent from my Galaxy S III