Newb question...what is the difference between Oly Pro lenses and regular lenses?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by kgeissler, Jan 12, 2015.

  1. kgeissler

    kgeissler Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 25, 2012
    Rowlett, TX
    Besides a different aperture, do pro lenses give that much better picture quality? For example the M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm f2.8 PRO is almost $900. The M.Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R is only $300. Why the big price difference?

  2. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer


    Fast aperture
    Better build
    Better quality optics
  3. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer


    Fast aperture
    Better build
    Better quality optics
    Better optical correction

    All contributes to a better final end result.
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  4. wanderenvy

    wanderenvy Mu-43 Regular

    May 11, 2012
    This is kind of like asking - what's the difference between a Toyota and a Lexus when both can go at 70 mph? :)

    The PRO lenses are targeted to a more discerning and demanding photographer. The 12-40 is all metal, weather sealed and has some exotic glass elements. That little detail about "a different aperture" is important. This is a workhorse lens for a working or serious photographer that gives great results in a wide zone of conditions. The 14-42 actually goes for $99, $299 is Oly's ridiculous list price. This lens is gloriously made of plastic. It works perfectly well as a day time lens and is actually very sharp within a certain limited zone of usage. But it has no pretensions of being a Lexus.

    Of course, the not so simple answer is that the difference is also partly in the eyes of the beholder. The 12-40 and 14-42 are extreme comparisons. There are many other lenses that give spectacular results - the 75, 60 and 45mm primes come to mind - and these have not been marketed as PRO lenses. The 75 certainly could have been marketed as one, but it was released before Oly came up with the PRO label. The 45 has no such pretensions and the 60 is somewhere in the middle.

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  5. Benzy

    Benzy Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 18, 2014
    Actually the street value of that 14-42 is about $60, so there's an even grater disparity. The thing is aperture and optics can be matched or exceeded with olympus and pannys non pro prime lenses (P20, Oly 45 etc) But to get the zoom range and f/2.8, you gotta go pro. With that you get pretty stellar build quality and likely a very high resale value.
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  6. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    The "Pro" branding is just marketing fluff and I wouldn't pay any real attention to it. However, the differences between the 14-42 and the 12-40 in real terms are significant. As others have said, you're paying for larger aperture (and the relationship of cost to max aperture is not linear - you pay increasingly more as the max aperture increases), better IQ and better build. The latter includes weather sealing too.

    However, the 12–40 is still a relatively cheap lens for what it is (compared to equivalent high end lenses on other systems) and it's not perfect. For example, the build may look metal, but it's actually metal cladding around a plastic carcass - as witnessed by some high profile cases of the mount detaching from the lens body under impact. In contrast, the 75mm is not a "Pro" lens, but that does have an all-metal carcass. It's not weather sealed though!

    In the final analysis, you generally get what you pay for and the 12-40 is a very, very good lens - but it still has its weaknesses. It is a lot better than the 14-42 but if all you ever do is photograph in good outdoor daylight, then it might not make a big difference to the end result.
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  7. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    The PRO lens is also designed for use in wet weather, but that only matters if you shoot in such conditions, AND you have a weather-proof body (e.g., EM1/5, GH3/4).

    I have bought f/2.8 zoom lenses in the past simply because I needed the larger aperture opening to give me sufficient light at the necessary shutter speed to capture images of my children's musical performances in dark indoor concert halls and auditoriums.

    The PRO zoom will also provide much sharper image quality with the aperture wide open (f/2.8) than the standard lens wide open at f/3.5-5.6.

    If you stopped down both lens (e.g., f/8), the difference in image quality may be much less apparent, which is why others have commented that on a bright, sunny day, the standard lens may be good enough.
  8. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Real Name:
    If you shot both at f8, you wouldn't be getting their best photos. M4/3 lenses start to degrade about there from what I have seen. That is a real disadvantage of the slower lenses in M4/3. They have a small window of where they are 'best' before they start to degrade. But still, kit lenses in my experience, aren't always terrible. Just limited. Funny thing is with my primes I hardly ever shoot even at 2.8. I find myself under 2 practically all the time, unless I am outdoors in bright sunshine.
  9. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Real Name:
    Weather-sealing. Constant aperture.
    Kit lens is nice, but just too slow, and I HATE, HATE, HATE, the locking barrel.
  10. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    Real Name:
    I shot an extreme closeup with my 12-40 at f16 and am very pleased with the sharpness. It's probably much less sharp than the absolute best this lens can provide, but the end result has removed my fear of 'severe' reductions in resolution due to small apertures. Look for yourself:

    [​IMG]Ortofon Super OM40 by Bottombracket, on Flickr
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  11. InlawBiker

    InlawBiker Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 1, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    Real Name:
    You only have to use one once to know the difference. If you don't need the pro lenses to get your shot consider yourself lucky and a good deal heavier in the wallet!
  12. priomas

    priomas New to Mu-43

    Jan 13, 2015
    12-40 pro lens is worth every bit of its cost.

    After buying m43 camera with kit lens 14-42 (which is my first upgrade from P&S), I compared it with my friend's cheap Canon combo (550d + 50/1.8). That cause me feel regret for choosing m43 over Canon. When 12-40 was released, I bought it and compare again with my friend's Canon, this time 12-40 m43 combo won by extra miles.

    Some of the advantages of 12-40 are
    1. consistent sharpness across the frame even at f2.8
    2. lens is sharpest at f2.8, so you don't need to step down to get maximum sharpness like other lenses in the market
    3. At 40mm f2.8, you can take pretty good portrait (my usage on oly 45mm has been much lesser since I got 12-40)
    4. You can get decent macro shot at 40mm due to short (20cm) minimum focus distance.

    I won't buy any zoom lens except pro-zoom or I will just stick with cheap prime lenses.
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  13. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    My two cents...

    Yes, the PRO lenses are great. Some of us just can't afford them. I wish I could, but it is just not possible. We plebes just have to be happy with those slower native lenses, and only shoot in bright sunlight or take the plunge into adapted lenses. Maybe it will make me a better photographer - I keep telling myself that, at least.
  14. getoutandshoot

    getoutandshoot Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 28, 2012
    Olympus Pro lenses get announced 5 years before they are actually available (or it seems like that long).

  15. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Real Name:
    Ray, not Oz
    There's one thing about Olympus pro lenses and that applies to the 4/3 lenses that pre-dated m4/3, is that they work exceptionally well wide open. From so many reports that I read about other brands, the oft repeated recommendation or comment is that stopping down one or so stops makes the lens very sharp. Olympus puts the effort into their lenses so that if you buy an f2 lens, you can use it at f2 without having to stop it down to f2.8 to get great results.
  16. newphoto

    newphoto Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 12, 2013
    Real Name:
    Should be mentioned that for an outdoor photographer like me, the sturdy build and weatherproofing of the Pro lenses are very important.