Oly 12 + 45 or the 12-40?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by D7k1, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2013
    I currently have a EP5 and the original 14-42 kit (which for me has been amazingly sharp) and the 40-150. I'm a two system shooter (Nikon and Oly) and want to keep my Oly kit to two or three lens. The 14-42 will live on my EPL1 after I get the new lenses.

    The EP5 will "always be with me" in a small LowPro all weather bag. While the 12-40 seems large (like the 40-150) the quality seems very good. The other two lens are small and produce great images also. The 12/45 combination will cover what I use the kit lens for (almost always at the extremes) in a very small form factor. The 12-40 would be a one lens solution but larger. I often am shooting in harsh environments (lots of dust/sand/spray) even around where I live. I'm really leaning toward the 12/45 combination but the great reviews I see about the 12-40 are compelling also. F2.8 for me is as good as the 2.0/1.8 of the other lens for what I image. I will be shooting mainly landscapes/Macro (MCON01 & 02)/ and rural/cityscapes with this camera . Am I making a mistake not considering the 9-18?

    I will travel with what ever set I get plus the 40-150.

    Since I'm probably buying Oly refurbished, it's not a $1000 decision but a $700 one, but I would like not to have to resale because my decision did not have enough data points. Thanks for your input.
  2. mister_roboto

    mister_roboto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Hmm, well I personally dont' like zoom lenses, but I did get the 12-40 and sold my 12, 17, 20. It's an outstanding lens that I use pretty much wide open and rarely stop down- it's at it's sharpest wide open from about 12-25/30mm, even the 40mm is pretty sharp still. I *did* keep the 45mm though, it's small enough and light enough and performs well enough that I couldn't get rid of it, though I do use it rarely now.

    I should note- the only reason I sold those primes for the zoom is for travel and the sake of not having to change lenses so often. Otherwise, I was really happy with the set up, and I'd say go with the primes for you.
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  3. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    I think that just the 12 & 45 will leave a large gap for you. I think that you need three primes, add in either the 17 or 25.
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  4. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    The 9-18 is a pleasant enough lens - small and convenient - but neither the optics nor the focal length really fit what I'd call landscape or cityscape photography.

    As to the 12-40 vs. the primes, in terms of optics, the 12-40 is somewhat better than the 12/2 and somewhat worse than the 45/1.8. The differences aren't dramatic though. It really comes down to the convenience of having a weather-sealed zoom vs. the convenience of having smaller lenses with an extra stop of light. If you can live with the size (and really, it's not that big - same length as the 14-42 II at 14mm), I'd go with the zoom.

    Oh and the 12-40 has one other trick up its sleeve - it focuses to 1:3 so you may not need that macro adapter very often.
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  5. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2013
    So the 12-40 is only the size of the kit zoom extend? Thanks for that information. I have a few months before I buy but I can see how hard of decision this is going to be.
  6. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Actually, looks like I was off slightly. The 12-40 at 14mm is a bit longer than the 14-42 II (84mm vs. ~74mm). Of course, the 12-40 does reach ~115mm when full extended. My basic point though is that while it may appear 'large' by comparison to the primes, it's not really 'large' in absolute terms.
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  7. wanderenvy

    wanderenvy Mu-43 Regular

    May 11, 2012
    IMO, its a tradeoff between weight and versatility and that's a very individual choice.

    The 12-40 is big and heavy in comparison to other M43 lenses. The weight of your kit won't be very different, but at 380gm, you *will* notice the weight on camera than the size. It's not bad, but the dynamics are different and you will feel the difference. All of the other lenses you mentioned are lightweights at (150 +/- 40) gms each.

    For versatility, the 12 + 45 combo quite simply does not compare with the 12-40. I prefer the 45 for portraits, but for urban/street/travel photography, the 12-40 is the more versatile tool.
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  8. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    I would take a different tack. I have the 12-40 and the Oly 12-17-45 and 75 primes. With the new 12-40 I could see myself letting go of the 12mm, but no way would I get rid of the 45, it is too special. The 12-40 (at 30-40mm) is not as sharp as the 45, does not gather as much light, has greater depth of field, less bokeh and the 80 vs. 90mm is different enough, as the 45mm is very special for portrait use. Why not get both the 12-40 and the 45? Buying a refurb 12-40 and 45 will cost about the same as a new 12-40. Now you have the best of both primes and zooms.
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  9. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    IMO, 12-40 for what you described. You may finding yourself wanting the 17.5mm focal for street work. As for the 9-18.. see how it goes with the 12-40 and you can always stictch a couple images together to get the extra FOV in cases with the 12 is too limiting and crop giving you way more leaway then just a 9mm.., which may or may not be often depending on what you like to photography.
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  10. aukirk

    aukirk Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2012
    I agree with the others... based on what you have provided, I think the 12-40 is going to be the lens for you.

    If you are happy with the 14-42 kit to cover the wide landscape shots and general zoom purposes, then I would suggest getting the 17 or 25m primes together with the 45m. I wouldn't go with the 12 and 45.

    With that said, the 12-40 is a beautiful lens and very well constructed... however, it is BIG. I ended up trading to get the Pany 12-35 only to get a smaller lens in the bag.
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  11. PatrickNSF

    PatrickNSF Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 30, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I've only be using it a little over three weeks, but I think the 12-40/2.8 is great. It will likely be the main component of my travel kit. That being said, I'd find it large for an "always be with me" kit. I'd probably go with the 17/1.8 and 45/1.8, or maybe the 25/1.8 and 45/1.8, depending on whether you favor 17mm or 25mm.
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  12. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    I chose the Panasonic 7-14mm over the Olympus 12mm. I wanted something wider. My next lens would be the 45mm if I did not shoot events. Shooting a wide angle and telephoto forces one to work a little more but I think one ends up with more compelling photographs over all.

    But now throw in Macro, Rural and City Landscapes - the 12-40mm would be the more versatile option. Here is one of the first images I took with the 12-40mm - https://www.mu-43.com/gallery/test-shots-with-e-m1/p43276-close-focusing-the-12-40mm-lens.html
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  13. nardoleo

    nardoleo Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 2, 2013
    The 12-40 is a truely versatile lens and if you are ok with a max aperture of f2.8, I say go for it.

    The convenience of that zoom is too good to ignore. Though I still use and love primes, especially the 12 f2.

    Sent from my trusty Samsung Galaxy Note 2
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  14. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    If the 12-40mm is as good as reported, and no reason to doubt otherwise, then it gives you one very versatile lens that is always ready for any situation. Primes can be great, but they always leave you fiddling around changing from one to the other, zooming with your feet when it's not really convenient, or giving up because you can't easily change from one to the other. When zooms were of poor quality, primes ruled, but that isn't the case today.
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  15. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 5, 2013
    I have a bit of a different suggestion. Keep the 14-42 since you have actually been happy with it and get the 12 and 45 to complement it. I bought the 14 and 45 and later added the PL25 and kept my kit zoom for the times that I felt the versatility of the zoom would be needed. I have found those times very few, but it is nice to have that choice when I want it. If I ever find myself using the kit lens more, then I can upgrade to a 2.8 zoom, but until then I'll be happily shooting my primes. I do live in Florida and sometimes take pictures at the beach. That is the time that I mostly find myself using my zoom because of my concern about blowing sand when I change lenses.
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  16. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    The 12-40mm f/2.8 is really rather large and heavy for a Micro Four Thirds lens, although the quality is very good. I do recommend that you try one in a shop mounted to your camera to see whether the handling is right for you. You might well miss the handling of the E-P5 with the smaller lenses for which it was probably mainly designed. Remember, the E-M1 for which the 12-40mm was mainly designed has a large grip, whereas the E-P5 has a very small grip, which might not be ideal with a larger lens.

    Everyone's style and preferences differ, so it is hard to recommend things for others. I used to have an E-P3 together with the 12mm and 45mm lenses (as well as the 14-42mm lens that came with it, the Panasonic 25mm and 14mm lenses and some more specialist lenses). When the whole kit was stolen in a burglary, I replaced it with an E-M1 and 12-40mm lens (together with more specialist lenses such as macro, long telephoto, fisheye and ultrawide zoom). The reason that I did this is that, with the previous kit, I found that it was awkward to have to change lenses very regularly between a number of fairly standard focal lengths (12mm, 14mm, 25mm, 45mm), and and I often ended up leaving one lens on the camera for a while and taking a number of photographs with that, whether it was the most suitable or not, and only changing it some time later when a subject obviously unsuitable for whatever lens that I had attached presented itself. The loss of anywhere between 1 and 2 stops of light from the fixed lenses is rather less of an issue with the better sensor in the E-M1 (and the low light performance of the E-P5 is comparable) than it would have been with the E-P3.

    Two other observations: firstly, I found the 14-42mm kit lens to be of very poor quality and gave up using it in favour of the fixed focal length lenses when I realised that I was almost always disappointed with the results of the lens, which had poor resolution and contrast. Secondly, you should think twice (and possibly even thrice) before abandoning the ability to have a normal focal length (something between 17 and 30mm). You might not use that focal length much now, but is that because you find yourself preferring the results of the photographs of the 12 and 45mm lenses, not because of their angle of view, but because of the better resolution and contrast compared to the 14-42mm that you use for intermediate distances? The general rule is that the closer the focal length is to the normal (about 22mm in Micro Four Thirds, I think), the more useful that the lens is for general subjects. If you decide to go with a fixed lens solution, consider adding the 17mm or one of the 25mm lenses one day. Even if you prefer 12mm and 45mm now, your style of photography might change or broaden in the future.
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  17. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2013
    I should say it took me a while to get results from the kit zoom but the micro stock houses seem to be happy with the images from it. And I would say I shoot 2 or 3 shoots because one will always be a little softer (shutter shock?), and then I have presets in LR that fix the other issues on the sharper ones. What I'm trying not to do is duplicate my 12-24, 80-200, and 300 setup for my Nikons and keep my kit as small as possible. Perhaps the 12/Pany 12-32/45 or the 12/25/45 would be the solution for me. When I shot film my favorite combo was a Nikkormat and the 24mm. Perhaps the fact that I don't image people (have 4 people shots in my portfolio) is why I don't often use the focal length of a "normal" lens. I'm somewhat concerned that the 12-32 does not have a manual focus ring and appears to have to have OIS shut off by the camera (wonder if that means you will have to use the lens OIS in stead of IBIS with this lens), but the one review I read says that it is extremely sharp. Perhaps the real issue here is that I'm not going to sell of my Nikon system but I want to have the "best" and "smallest" kit in my "always with me" kit. On my last trip I had 47 images @ 14mm, 160 @ 40mm, 125 between 60 & 150mm, and 225 @ 300mm. The old focal lengths were another 117 or so images. On a trip the 40-150 gets a lot of use, the other two focal lengths are really landscape lens on a trip.

    I'm taking another photo trip in September and will buy at least two of the possible three lenses by then. Thank you all for your input, now to spend some time looking at images taken. Hopefully there will be more reviews on the 14-42 & 12-32 new kit lenses by then as well as actual posts on this forum by users. I'll let you all know what I decided.
  18. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 30, 2014
    I bought E-M1 with 12-40/2.8, 15/8, 7.5/3.5, 60/2.8 macro and 40-150/4-5.6. Then after two days I was testing the famous 42.5/0.95 and considering buying it for portraits, only to find out most times I would be shooting f/2.8 to get it sharp enough.

    And then salesperson gave me 45/1.8 and I did really like it, its narrow DoF and very fast AF and I was amazes by its size, even when I had read about it when lens was released. I said I will consider it because it was so cheap (249€). But I found myself owning it 45min later before leaving the store....

    Then I shot with it people only that evening and next day. But I found that I hadn't used 12-40 so much since buying camera as it was for me a workhorse and rest as special tools when needed.
    So I swapped to the 12-40 and I had hard time to accept my decision to buy a 45/1.8 as I could get pretty close same thing but in very versatile manner as I didn't need to change lenses all the time when wanted wider.

    So next day I went and returned the 45/1.8 and it already felt my heart was bleeding because the DoF and sharpness. But now today I picked up 60/2.8 for portraits and 12-40 as main one, and I was very happy what I could get from both ones. Both damn sharp (even at 40mm) and the usage just something crazy. I still believe I get that small one back later on summer if possible.
    Still I think I made correct decision as I would like to see 25/1.4 or even 25/1.2 as I want the extra light gathering and 2-3 stops is a lot in many environments and 45mm is too much for that.

    Today I have hard time to accept using a prime lenses and 60mm macro is exception to that as it is macro. 15mm f/8 is pure fun lens forcing to different thinking and high ISO shooting. And fisheye for amazing effect on landscape, unless I go and buy the 7-14 some day.

    If I would now need to buy a few lenses, I would take 12-40, fisheye and macro.
    The 12-40 weight isn't a problem or size. As it looks good and feels good. More I would say the metal is bad because my fingers gets cold in -1 weather and plastic would keep fingers warm.
    But capability to zoom in landscape shooting and for portraits when you can not move, it is simply a great. Olympus could make it better only by offering f/1.4 or maybe a f1.8 variant of it.
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  19. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    How small and light do people want things? I use the 14-35mm f2 lens (123mm L x 86D) at 900g with my E-M1 vs the 12-40mm f2.8 (84mmL x 70mmD) at 380g. I don't find the 14-35mm with the E-M1 heavy at all, the weight actually helps to steady things when shooting.

    1435.JPG 1240.JPG
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  20. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2013
    I don't mind heavy on my DX stuff, the 80-200 on a BlackRapid is comfortable a long day of shooting as is the 300mm. But for a camera I carry everyday size is key. I also think the size of the EP5 is small and I would like to keep the system small. The EP1 also has a much larger grip.
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