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Olympus 12-40 vs Panny 12-35 dilemma

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Sootchucker, Sep 23, 2014.

  1. Sootchucker

    Sootchucker Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 9, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Hi all. I've had an OMD-EM1 now for a few months with the superb 12-40 F2.8 Pro zoom lens, and after a rocky start we are getting on just fine now.

    I very recently had the opportunity to trade my nearly new GH3 body, for a slightly used GH4, with a pretty minimal outlay as the GH3's lack of Peeking, more restricted ISO in silent mode and a few other areas, gave the head to the GH4.

    Anyway, I now have both bodies and each are superb, but my question relates to the standard zoom lens. Like I said in my opening statement, the Olympus 12-40 F2.8 really is a very nice lens and super sharp, but obviously on the GH4 doesn't have any form of IS. I know that the Panasonic equivalent, the 12-35 F2.8 is equally respected by the Panny crowd, and would therefore give me IS on both bodies for those situations where IS is a benefit / requirement (slow shutter speeds / low light for instance).

    So, the question is, would I be better off selling on the Olympus lens in favour of the Panny, having both (an extravagance), or sticking with the Olympus lens and doing without IS, and switching to the EM1 body when it's required ?

    Would appreciate thoughts from anyone who's been in the same position please.
  2. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    Unless you use a tripod a lot, I'd switch to the 12-35. I'd give up close focusing for IS.
  3. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I have owned both (the 12-35 was stolen with the E-M5 and insurance money plus a bit extra covered the 12-40/E-M1 kit) and would not hesitate to own either lens again. The 12-35 feels smaller and balances better and remains very good and has OIS. You lose 5mm and close focussing and gain a smaller, slightly better balancing lens and OIS. Image quality is perhaps slightly better on the 12-40, but I'm certain I could not tell the difference in a blind test.
  4. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    I don't own either lens, but in my impression the 12-35 renders the most beautiful bokeh, sometimes I find it hard to believe the bokeh is from a zoom lens with short FL
  5. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    You have two somewhat different cameras, one strongly aimed at still photography and one at video, so the first thing to consider is what purpose each is intended to serve. As you already have one lens and both cameras, why not see how things evolve by using the lens that you have, before going for a major change. It's highly unlikely that anyone would have been in the same situation as you, such that they could provide the right advice for your circumstances.
  6. LowTEC

    LowTEC Mu-43 Regular

    I found the IS on 1235 is essential, specially shooting at night time, that helps me to shoot at 3200 iso or lower instead of 6400, which makes a huge difference for our current sensor high iso performance
  7. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Unless you do a lot of macro photography with the 12-40, or use the snap-focus ring frequently, I would dump it and get a 12-35. The performance at the tele-end of the 12-40 isn't as good as it is through the rest of the zoom range, and the smaller package of the 12-35 paired with the OIS makes it a smaller package, and better for video with the GH4.

    An added benefit for me is that I can share filters between the 12-35 and 35-100, since they both have a 58mm thread diameter.

    Either way, you'll be happy with the results you get from either lens.
  8. val

    val Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2013
    12-35mm owner here.

    bloody love it, size is a benefit and if you are getting a Panny body then OIS helps.
  9. Drdave944

    Drdave944 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    The Panny is nicer as it is lighter. I like the pop clutch on the Oly for instant manual focus.
  10. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    I don't have either, but the smaller size and weight of the 12-35 would definitely be a big appeal for me. From everything I've seen, there's nothing to choose between the two zooms in terms of image quality. I did love the focus clutch on the Oly, though...very nice to use.

    The magnification on the Oly is okay at 0.3x, but I find short lenses like that extraordinarily limited for macro because your working distance is so poor. Even though my 14-140 has slightly less magnification, it's more usable because of the longer focal length.

    The difference between 35 and 40mm seems very small to me. Neither is a make or break, because even the 42mm end on the kit zooms feels very limiting on a walk-around zoom lens for me. But I like the tele end of things...
  11. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I owned each for a while and both are great. I guess the biggest questions are how much do you use the last 5mm and the near-macro capability of the 12-40? If you don't care much about either, I'd probably sell it and go for the 12-35, since you'd have IS with either body and I really liked the smaller feel of the 12-35. It's not as much smaller as it seems, but how it seems matters when you're using it a lot.

    In my case, I was shooting with just an Oly body (so I didn't need the IS on the 12-35) and the last 5mm didn't mean a lot (although it does push the lens into near-portrait range, which in my world begins at about 85mm). I'd have been happy enough with the 12-35 in both of those respects, but I use the macro(ish) capability of the 12-40 a LOT. I'm not really a macro shooter so I couldn't justify and wouldn't use a true specialty macro lens. But I thought the macro function on that lens was awesome and used it quite a bit. It was all the macro I needed and having it along any time I was using the general purpose zoom lens was a huge benefit as part of my walk around shooting.

    If you use this function, keep the lens. If you either don't shoot macro or shoot it enough to want a dedicated macro lens and don't use this function on the 12-40, then I'd go for the 12-35 instead if the last 5mm doesn't matter to you...

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  12. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Here is my $0.02 for pretty much all the normal zooms:


    Out of the 12-40/12-35 pair I prefer the 12-35 on the E-M1. The 12-40 is sharper at the wide end, has better macro but feels heavier mounted. Well in all honesty my favourite is the 14-35 but it is a little large for most folk.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. pcnyc

    pcnyc Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 15, 2010
    big advantage of the GH4 is obviously 4k video, and I think OIS is very beneficial, borderline requirement, for video. so if you want to get everything out of your GH4, I would recommend 12-35.
  14. m4/3boy

    m4/3boy Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 21, 2013
    I'm sitting on the fence trying to decide which is the one I want to go with. I've rented the 12-35 last July to shoot with the E-M1 and frankly I was amazed at how good the images were. OTOH, the 12-40 (which I've not used or rented) appears to produce excellent results as well and the price on a refurb is really good.

    I'll be renting the 12-40 (if it's available) to help make my decision. The 12-40 has had reports of not being durable but that seems to anecdotal.

    I do like the idea of possibly owning the 12-40 and the new 40-150 but that's a lot of bulk and money to add to my kit.
  15. Sootchucker

    Sootchucker Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 9, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Thanks for the opinions guys. Seems to be the vast majority of you suggest ditching the Olympus lens in favour of the Panny.

    Problem is, the Olympus lens is so damn good !

    Why oh why, didn't Panasonic put the IS feature from the GX7 in the GH4, then I wouldn't have this dilemma (even if the Olympus IBIS would have been superior) :biggrin:
  16. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    No dilemma, just follow the crowd. :biggrin:
  17. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I'm guessing you may well find someone willing to straight up trade one lens for the other should you choose to swap.
  18. Johnny_Alucard

    Johnny_Alucard Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 28, 2013
    The OIS on the 12-35 is far superior to the IBIS of the GX7. I was really surprised by how effective the OIS is on both the 12-35 and 35-100. As others have stated, if you plan to use the GH4 for video work (and it'd be crazy not to) then the 12-35 is the one to have. It's a really fantastic lens, mine is pretty much glued to my GH4.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Qld Australia
    I have owned both and sold the 12-35mm when I got the EM-1 as it came with the 12-40.
    I liked the smaller size of the 12-35 but I think the 12-40 is a sharper lens and I like the manual clutch and closer focus distance (don't need a macro now).

    If you are serious about video you will probably start using primes to get more shallow DOF with your work. Primes don't have OIS so you are in the same boat for the GH4.
    Many people use the GH4 with adapted lenses and metabones speed boosts etc.

    If you are a casual video shooter why not just use the EM1 for your videos.
    Shot this wedding video with it: https://vimeo.com/102938902
    Also a business promo with the EM5: https://vimeo.com/96366686
    The IBIS is amazing and works for primes also.
  20. Rangerob

    Rangerob Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 9, 2013
    I use the Oly 12-40 with my GH4 without any problems. I can comfortably use shutter speeds as low as 1/20 at the short end and 1/40th at the long end, and still get sharp pictures. However, I do find the lens to be quite large, and if I was given the chance to do a strait up trade for the Panasonic lens then I would.
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