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Olympus 12-40: Close focusing at 40mm?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Replytoken, Jul 12, 2014.

  1. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I know that many of the reviews have praised the close focusing distance of the 12-40. While it is not 1:1 macro, it does provide reasonable magnification of small objects, like flowers, at close distances. I am used to shooting with the 60mm macro and the 45mm when I want very close focusing or subject isolation respectively. I have been playing around with a 12-40 for a bit, and am a bit unclear if I have been spoiled by the two primes, or if my expectations for the 12-40 are too high (fueled in part by all of the praise by reviewers and owners). I am curious to hear experiences from folks who own the 12-40 and have shot it at 40mm at close range. And, if you own either the 45 or 60, I would be curious to hear your assessment.

    Thanks,

    --Ken
     
  2. Zee

    Zee Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I have the 60 and 12-40. If you want macro, the 60 is really your only choice. I actually sold the 45 F1.8 because it didn't focus close enough for me. Every time I framed the subject the way I wanted, I was too close. Drove me nuts - no such issues with the 12-40, but I'm not treating it as a macro. It certainly allows much closer focus than the 45...

    Z...
     
  3. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Thanks for the reply. I am less concerned about the distance than I am about IQ. The impression many folks impart is that, WRT to IQ, it is a very reasonable alternative to primes if you are fine with f/2.8. But, folks have also said that this lens is at its weakest at 40mm. I have wanted this lens for light travel, and am willing to put up with size and f/2.8 as long as the IQ is up to par. But, I also tend to shoot a lot at the minimum focus distance at 40mm, and if this is a notable weak spot, then that changes the equation for me. So far, my preliminary review of images during culling have me wondering a bit. I have culled enough of these types of images over the years to know what I expect, and this lens has not really knocked my socks off for these types of images, although it is does not appear to be grossly deficient as landscape type shots seem very sharp. I need to update my copy of LR so my E-M1 images will be supported, and if I can get that done this weekend, I can dig a bit deeper into the images that I have recently shot. But, I also think that having a bit of input from others is helpful.

    --Ken
     
  4. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    830
    Sep 30, 2013
    The 12-40 is a little softer at the 40mm end, but still very good IMO. Certainty very good for a zoom. Its just that at the wider end it is phenomenal and compares well with the best primes, which is not typical for a zoom. Hit it with some unsharp mask and it should resolve enought detail even for pretty large prints.
     
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  5. Harvey Melvin Richards

    Harvey Melvin Richards Photo Posting Junkie

    Feb 15, 2014
    Southwest Utah
    I have all three. The 45 is the sharpest, followed by the 60, then the 12-40. I prefer the 12-40 because the sharpness is very, very close to the others, and it's much easier to focus. I wish the 45 would focus closer than it does.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  6. Zee

    Zee Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Weakest is a relative thing. The weakest optical characteristic of this lens is still a very high level, and high enough that I decided it wasn't worth bothering with the 45 F1.8 - I was better off getting a 75 F1.8 instead - what I lost in speed, and slightly better IQ, I mad up for with versatility, and the fact that I could focus close enough that I could actually take the shots I wanted.

    This is very personal, and others may be perfectly happy with the focus distance, so YMMV...

    For me, it's enough that the only ~45 I'd consider is the Nocticron. Both much faster, and can focus closer. If only it were weather sealed...

    Z...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I am happy to pick up a nice wide angle, as I was missing that for some time, and only recently acquired a used 12-50 just before the 12-40 I recently picked up. I plan on importing and processing a large number of images in Lightroom very soon, and will see how the files clean up.

    --Ken
     
  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I used to shoot a lot with my 45 until I bought my 60. The 45 indeed is a very sharp lens, but I appreciate the flexibility of the 60 when shooting small objects. What I am still trying to get a handle on is how close the 12-40 is to these primes. I suspect that these primes, and some of my Nikkor glass has spoiled me over the years. Its not that sharpness is the be-all end-all; it's just that I am frequently frustrated by soft images as they do not hold up as well when printing large.

    --Ken
     
  9. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Satisfaction with a lens is relative, and personal, but they way I hear folks describing the 12-40, you would think that is rivals any of Nikon's "Holy Trinity" f/2.8 zooms, which have garnered quite the reputation over the years (and having shot with a 70-200 VRII, I can attest to many of its amazing characteristics). I am usually slow to warm up to equipment, and it can take many hundreds, if not thousands, of images until I find my groove. I do not think that the 12-40 is a bad lens, it is just that my initial impressions from quick reviews left me felling that my other glass was delivering better results at 40mm when focusing near the lens' minimum focusing distance.

    --Ken
     
  10. letsgofishing

    letsgofishing Mu-43 Veteran

    352
    Nov 21, 2012
    South Africa
    Mike Kaplan
    Here's one shot at 40mm f2.8...

    P3140015s.
     
    • Like Like x 5
  11. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Mike, nice shot. Did you manually focus this shot, or did you let the camera autofocus?

    --Ken
     
  12. letsgofishing

    letsgofishing Mu-43 Veteran

    352
    Nov 21, 2012
    South Africa
    Mike Kaplan
    Thanks Ken - autofocus. I've shot a number of flowers (not what I normally shoot) and am very happy with the results produced by this lens for casual "macro" work.
     
  13. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I tried three different bodies using single point AF, and was not fully satisfied with my preliminary results. Oly embedded jpegs are horrible for culling as they frequently show posterization that is not in the raw files. And, as I did not tune the accompanying jpegs as I normally only shoot raw files, they were not as useful as I had hoped. I suspect there is a combination of high expectations and possibly some user error that may have contributed to my disappointment, but images from both the 45 and 60 get reviewed in the same manner, and they just delivered more keepers. I normally do not test lenses except through normal use, but as normal use seemed a bit off from what I expected, and this lens is not that inexpensive, I have not fully embraced it.

    --Ken
     
  14. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    I own the 12-40 and the 60. To me the IQ is just the same. At 40mm the 12-40 is just very good instead of excellent. Then it depends of what apertures you are comparing.
    The 12-40 at 40/2.8 is at the weakest spot. But also the 45 is not at his best at 1.8. And also the 60 peaks at around 5.6.
    In my experience I never had anything to complain about with both lenses.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. WendyK

    WendyK Super Moderator

    Feb 28, 2014
    Northern Virginia
    Wendy
    Here are a few of my 12-40 closeups - I don't have the 60mm to compare, though. Some were manual focus, some auto focus (can't remember which ones). I hope it helps! I also have (and love) the 45mm, but it's better for getting portraits of, say, flower groupings or a whole plant since you have to stand back a bit.

    38mm at f/3.5
    14514718144_9e43b7d57a_b.
    34mm at f/2.8


    32mm f/2.8
    14225629008_701eca9684_b.

    40mm f/2.8
    14432494493_1371dcec48_b.

    40mm/3.2
    14400029556_0dbb82c0bc_b.
     
    • Like Like x 7
  16. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    The 12-40 is pretty impressive for close-ups, and when lacking the 12-50 in macro does well. Enough for me that I have not purchased a macro lens. But then I don't do macro photography. Here is a close up taken at 40mm when I first got the lens. The image is the full frame and reduced for the web.
    Four_Thirds_43_lens_test_PB201426.

    This is a 100% crop of just the American nickel.
    Four_Thirds_43_lens_test_PB201426-2.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  17. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    353
    Jan 30, 2014
    I have all those three and for me it is 12-40mm mainly and then 60mm if really want to do close-up and macro time. 45mm is not for even close-up. Doesn't focus so close as I wish.

    So if I don't need reach, narrow angle of view or 2:1 ratio, then I take 12-40 as it is just so versatile objective for most situations.

    Still the Pro amazes me so often when I notice I have a lens hood touching almost the subject. Easy to get close and get wide/narrow angle of view.

    Maybe I can tomorrow do sample outdoor studio set where I compare all three.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I shot the 12-40 at f/5.6 as this is where the lens is supposed to be at or near it sharpest. I have been working on a farmer's market these past few years, and have shot a number of close images with the 45 and then the 60, so those images, along with many flower shots, have been the basis for my comparison with the 12-40. I am aware that probably the only condition that puts the 12-40 in a weaker position is to shoot it close at 40mm wide open, so it is not lost on me that I am evaluating a lens at or near its most challenging set-up. I'd like to think that this thread is more of an inquiry rather than a complaint, as I am mostly trying to reconcile my expectations with much of the hype, both good and bad, surrounding this lens.

    --Ken
     
  19. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Thanks for the sample, Clint. Two questions if I may? First, did you use manual focus? And second, did you use a tripod? My keeper rate is somewhat different when working on a tripod, especially with such a small subject like the nickel that you posted.

    --Ken
     
  20. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I would be curious to hear your thoughts if you do.

    --Ken