Oly 12-40mm f/2.8 as a 17mm f/1.8 replacement +?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by imahawki, May 28, 2016.

  1. Get the 17mm

    4 vote(s)
  2. Get the 12-40

    13 vote(s)
  3. Get both, they're not as "similar" as you think

    17 vote(s)
  1. imahawki

    imahawki Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 12, 2014
    My current kit is in my signature but I'm looking to cull a few items. I don't find that having two bodies is worth the extra effort of carrying two bodies so my EM10 is already listed here as is my 25mm f/1.8. My original intention was to buy the 17mm f/1.8 when the 25mm sells. But yesterday I went and looked at the 12-40 PRO in store and loved everything about it except the size.

    1) I'm thinking for street photography and walkabouts the difference between f/1.8 and f/2.8 won't be that big a difference. When shooting a whole scene where nothing is up close at around 17mm, the entire scene is pretty much going to be in focus either way.

    2) Where it will make a difference is indoors. My 25mm is my go-to for kids birthdays etc. but its too tight and I can't zoom out with my legs any further. With the 12-40 I'll have the option of going even wider than 17mm but of course, I'll lose light gathering.

    3) Finally, the 25mm is left on my EM5 90% of the time and I expected the 17mm to fall into that role. However, the 12-40 is significantly larger. Am I committing to having that beast as my default lens all the time and am I OK with that?

    I'm sure I'm not the first to ask this question here and I can do a search but sometimes its nice to get newer, fresher perspective so I hope no one minds that I started this thread.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. king_solom0n

    king_solom0n Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jun 9, 2015
    I have both but the 12-40 usually stays on my Em1. I really only use the 17mm when I want to travel light. Both are really great lenses. The 12-40 might be a little sharper and it's a lot more flexible, but it's much bigger and heavier. If the weight/size and loss of speed doesn't bother you too much, I say go for the 12-40.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Pstmstr

    Pstmstr Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 22, 2016
    Walking the streets with a 17 is a whole lot more fun than my 12-40. However, 95% of my other stuff can be shot with the 12-40. It's an incredibly sharp lens and focuses extremely close. If I could only have one lens, it would be it. Of course I just bought a 45 and a 75 from some guy here :) so we will see how that goes. I need a little faster lens with some reach for hockey games.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  4. DWS

    DWS Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 6, 2014
    I prefer the flexibility of the 12-40, and it would be my choice if constrained to the "only one" parameter.
  5. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    Since size is a factor, you should consider the Panasonic 12-35mm also. IQ is great (better than the 17mm and on par with the 25mm). It is also noticeably smaller than the Oly 12-40.
  6. alex g

    alex g Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Mar 30, 2016
    New York / Bath
    Looking at your kit list, I'd suggest selling the 40-150 and the 14-42 EZ (unless you really need the motorized zoom) and get the 12-40 and the 17 f/1.8. :)
    I have both - they overlap in focal length but are otherwise pretty different, IMHO.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    The 12-40 can't do f/1.7, and when you need the light, the larger max aperture is more useful than you think.

    I have and use both.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    Do you shoot indoors with lower light a lot? Do you find you have to stop down to get everyone in focus with the 25mm?

    I have both and they serve different purposes. To be honest my 17mm sees more use these days since I pair it with the gm5. I only pull out the 12-40, when I don't mind the extra weight and need the versatility of a zoom.

    You don't have to get both straight away. You could start with the 12-40, since it's a great all round zoom. If you start finding you need the extra stop of light, or want a smaller all round prime lens get the 17mm later.
  9. Theo

    Theo Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2013
    Theo K.
    For indoor evening group shots of 8-10 people without flash the 17f1.8 really shines. I shot wide open and able to get everyone's face in focus at or below iso800. If you use 12-40 at f2.8, you would need iso2000 for the same shots.

    For day time the 12-40 can't be beat for all shooting situations unless you really want the extra bit of shallower DOF.

    Keep your 40-150. It's a gem for its $100-150 price.

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Mu-43 app
  10. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    I have both the 17 and the 12-40, and if the 17 was sealed, I would sell the 12-40.

    Technically speaking, on paper the 12-40 is better, minus the 1+ stop. It wins in corner to corner sharpness, build quality, and handling. It also has great close focus ability(all the PRO lenses share this). There really is nothing to fault with this lens.

    The 17 is not as sharp across the frame, isn't sealed, and locks you into a single viewpoint. But it has a less quantifiable quality to it's rendering that makes it sing. OOF areas are creamy and magical. Colors pop, and tonal transitions look super natural. There's just something about this lens. I find myself walking around with it in full manual focus just for fun, and because it feels like a creative tool meant to be driven with intent. I've never taken as many purposely blurry photos as I do with the 17/1.8.

    I never get that same feeling with the 12-40, much though the images are excellent. It is capable of amazing work. But there's absolute something about the rendering of the 17/1.8 that kinda blows the 12-40 out of the water. I am far from the only person to feel this way about the oly 17/1.8.
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Alex Aina

    Alex Aina Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2016
    They're differents: I sometimes use the 12-40 but the 17mm is still in my everyday bag on the EP5
  12. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    I had the 12/2 and the 17/1.8 before I got the 12-40/2.8 but sold them not long after as I stopped using them almost entirely.

    My 25/1.4 still gets a lot of use though.
  13. BigG

    BigG Mu-43 Regular

    May 29, 2016
    I just bought the 12-40 to have a rainproof general purpose combination with the EM-1. So far I am very happy with image quality, but I would never sell my 17. It's too useful indoors and gives that extra depth quality when desired. Both render beautifully to my eyes.
  14. imahawki

    imahawki Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 12, 2014
    I think I'll miss the extra light AND lament the weight if I only get the 12-40. When I shot Canon I was way too quick to sell a lens to try a new thing. That's why I have so much overlap in my current system with the 14-42 kit, 14-42EZ, 14-150, and 40-150.

    I've got the 25mm listed for sale now but now I'm questioning selling that vs. just adding the 17mm to the family.
  15. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    Slightly off topic, how does the 12-40mm compare to the 20mm 1.7 in terms optical performance? Optically I think the 20mm is superior to the 17mm, but the 17mm is the more versatile lens performance-wise (AF, wider FOV, MF clutch).
  16. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2015
    I havent done any side-by-side or pixel peeping exercises, but my impression is (whatever that is worth) that the 20mm is a tad sharper and renders slighty nicer (whatever that means) however the 12-40 is very close. The 12-40 has all the versatility and blazing fast AF, but that comes at a significant weight and size increase.

    Easily both two of my favirite lenses (along with the Oly 60mm)
    • Informative Informative x 1
  17. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    I'd get rid of the larger of the 14-42s and the 40-150, keep the 14-150 and add the 17/1.8. I'd keep the 25 for the time being to determine if I wanted it or the 17 or both. I'd also keep the E-M10, as I really like having two options ready to go in the bag.

    Tough to give you good advice though imahawki, as it really comes down to preference and shooting style.
  18. anoly

    anoly Mu-43 Regular

    May 31, 2016
    Good to know, I just bought a E-M5 mk2 and 12-40 pro kit and love it. But now looking to get a small, everyday prime lens for days where I don't feel like carrying much weight. I keep debating between the olympus 17mm and pana 20mm but I think I'm now sold on the 20mm.
  19. marlof

    marlof Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    The Netherlands
    I have both the O17, P20, PL25 and O12-40. I like using the 12-40, and it gives great results. You can't go wrong with that lens. But.... I do prefer using a small kit, and that's where the 17 comes in. On a smaller camera body it feels just right, with super fast AF. The 20 is small and gives great results as well, but can't hold a candle to the 17 in AF speed, especially on an Olympus body. For that reason I don't use it as much, after I warmed up to the 17 when restricting myself to use that for a month to see if I should keep it or sell it. The 25 is great, but is larger again and is my low light lens with the bigger zoom kit.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. musicwack

    musicwack Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    May 21, 2015
    South Jersey
    I'm all for buying both, finding out which lenses suit your needs, and selling what you feel you don't need. You do have a lot of overlap with the zooms that you own, so I think it makes sense to downsize your zoom kits.

    I do own the Oly 12-40 but pretty much almost have those focal lengths covered in the primes I own (Oly 17, PL25, PL42.5), but the zooms will never be f/1.8 and faster. Yet my primes are not weather sealed and do not have the focal length flexibility on the fly. You can justify having both sets! :D

    As far as selling you 25mm, I say keep it for now and see how it works in your overall kit. For indoor use, I've grown to love my 17mm as it's wide enough to give environmental context whereas a 25mm can isolate a subject more.