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Oly 12-50 vs. Pan 14mm, Pan 20mm, and Oly 45mm

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by LowriderS10, Feb 17, 2016.

  1. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    It's no secret that I've been a huge fan of the Oly 12-50 since the day I got it. The other day I was in the store and I compared it against the Oly 12mm, and was disappointed in the 12. I posted about it, and started thinking "How does it stack up against other lenses?" (Also, some people questioned my methods, or that perhaps the 12 was a poor copy, and rightfully so, my little test shocked no one more than me). So, I decided to do a bit more testing. All photos were taken from the same spot, using a tripod, AF, AWB, and a 2 second delay. ISO was kept to 200, and the aperture was matched as closely as possible. All photos SOOC. Here are some of the results:

    12-50 vs. 14mm

    Original image:

    OMTV6530 by Tamas, on Flickr

    100% crops:

    Oly 12-50 vs 14 by Tamas, on Flickr

    12-50 vs. 20mm

    Original:

    OMTV6526 by Tamas, on Flickr

    100% Crops:

    Oly 12-50 vs 20 by Tamas, on Flickr

    12-50 vs. 45mm

    Original image:

    OMTV6523 by Tamas, on Flickr

    100% crops:

    Oly 12-50 vs 45 by Tamas, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
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  2. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    So, here are my conclusions...

    1: Yes, I know this isn't the most scientific test ever, but it's far more controlled than just about any "real world" shooting situation, which is the standard lenses should be held to.
    2: All of my primes are excellent copies. I always try every lens in the store when buying and make sure I buy the best ones. I am VERY satisfied with all three of these lenses and have sang endless praises about each and every one of them.
    3: The fact that I have to zoom to 100% and closely inspect the photos to determine which one is sharper in itself says it all: The 12-50 (at least my copy) is absolutely amazing, especially when you take into account that it's light, cheap, weathersealed, a zoom, and has that awesome macro function.

    vs. the 14
    - To my surprise the 14 showed the biggest difference! Seemed to be slightly sharper in the centre, and noticeably sharper at the edges. One interesting note: The Standby light on the amp is rendered as a proper circle with the 12-50, but an oval with the 14. Other than that, though, the 14 wins...but only when inspected closely at 100%.

    vs. the 20
    - The 20 is one of my all-time favourite lenses...and yet...the 12-50 is a touch sharper in the centre, and quite a bit sharper on the right edge. The Pan is sharper on the left edge, something that is a common theme with my 12-50...I think it might be ever so slightly decentered.

    vs. the 45
    - Again...love my 45. I've taken it on countless trips, and will continue to do so. It's an excellent lens. The test, however, seems to indicate that in the centre, if anything, the 12-50 is ever so slightly sharper...the left is a draw as far as I can tell. And the right has the 12-50 a bit sharper (especially if you look at the string).
     
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  3. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    686
    Nov 18, 2013
    I don't know if there is variation in the 14mm (I guess there is in the 12-50 as zooms just seem to have more variation than primes) but my 14mm is an amazing lens - and it works well with the GWC1 adapter. So, while I don't have any of your lenses except the 14mm, I've found that my 14mm is very close to my 12-35mm at 14mm in performance. I would be very comfortable in making large (maybe 24 x 36" prints from either lens). When the PL 100-400 ships it will be very interesting to see how well my much loved Oly 75-300 stacks up (keeping it due to size and I seen to have a very good 75-300 even after getting the PL 100-400). Thanks for the comparison.
     
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  4. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    832
    Sep 30, 2013
    Most lenses in the M43 system are hard to pick apart when shot at F5.6. I had the 12-50 for a bit but sold it, it's just too slow for me.
     
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  5. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Yeah, the 14s a great lens...really, they all are. Apart from the BCLs, I wouldn't hesitate to print big from any Olympus or Panasonic lens. I'm certainly happy with the collection I've got!
     
  6. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Yeah, I tried to shoot them wide open with the 12-50...unfortunately that's f6.0 at 45mm (which is bruuuuuutally slow), and a slightly better f4.0 and 4.6 on the other two lenses (still too slow). I agree, the 12-50's only real sin is its speed. But, all things being equal, it seems to hold its own quite well against some very highly-regarded lenses in the system. (This, of course, does not mean that I'm going to sell my other lenses...I love the utility and creativity afforded by fast lenses).
     
  7. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    832
    Sep 30, 2013
    Yeah, it is interesting to see how well it holds up when so many complain about how soft the 12-50 is. I guess there is a lot of sample variation. I didn't do much scientific testing with mine when I had it.
     
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  8. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Yeah, I've been wondering whether people just complain about this lens because kit lenses usually catch a lot of flak, or because most copies are soft. My best friend just bought an E-M5 with the 12-50...the next time I see him, I'll shoot the two lenses back-to-back and see if his is as sharp as mine...though I'll make sure I mark our lenses in some way so they don't get mixed up, in case mine is a special little snowflake. ;)
     
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  9. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    So how's the 12-50 at f1.7?

    My biggest complain about the 12-50 is the massive fringing with landscapes. I don't see that on other lenses.
     
  10. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    We've already covered the speed issue. ;) But to answer your question, the 12-50 is about as good at 1.7 as the 20 is at 12mm. ;)

    Hmm...I've never really noticed fringing on this lens, but I'll keep an eye out for it the next time I'm out shooting (we're supposed to get a week of sunshine next week!)
     
  11. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    918
    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    I went down this road with the 14mm, 20mm pancakes and my 14-42 zoom a few years ago. Under casual viewing on my PC screen, and all lenses wide open, I didn't see much difference. Zoom in, and I would be able to see the numbers on your watch with the pancakes, but the zoom would be fuzzy. In the center, the bar code would be a little crisper.

    So I trust that the kit zoom will do its job and I still use it. I know that the primes do a better job.
     
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