Olympus 12-50 mm vs PanaLeica 25 mm with a wide-angle converter

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by twic, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. twic

    twic Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 15, 2013
    London, UK
    I have an Olympus OMD E-M5 and a Panasonic/Leica 25 mm f/1.4. I love both of them, and together, they take care of 80-90% of my shooting.

    When i want to get tighter than normal, i also have a Sigma 60 mm f/2.8, which i also love.

    When i want to get wider than normal, i'm in a bit of trouble. All i have is the Olympus 12-50 mm f/3.5-6.3 kit zoom which came with the E-M5. This is a decent little lens, but the fact is that the performance is nowhere near that of the PL25 mm - as well as being considerably slower, if i make side-by-side comparison shots, i see a lot less detail with the O12-50. Plus, it's sufficiently bigger that it's more of a pain to carry and use (although still miles better than the equivalents on a full-size DSLR!).

    Given the two primes i have, the only thing i use the O12-50 for is wide-angle shots. And the occasional macro shot, but i only do those because i can. I wonder if there is a better option here.

    Now, obviously two much better options would be (a) buy a good wide-angle prime, like the Olympus 12 mm f/2.0, or (b) buy a good short zoom, like the Olympus 12-40 f/2.8. However, both of those are rather expensive.

    The cheapest whole-new-lens option would be to buy a Panasonic 14 mm f/2.5 - that costs something like 120 GBP new, maybe a bit less second-hand. I have no idea how it stacks up against either the PL25 or the O12-50.

    So what about getting a wide-angle converter lens? There are quite a few of these available, so for the sake of argument, let's consider the one from Photojojo (or if not that, some other high quality wide angle converter lens). This costs 50 USD, and would require a 2 GBP step-down ring to fit on the 46 mm thread of my PL25 (or S60, as it happens). It's cheap, it's compact to carry, and i would be using the lovely PL25 lens to do the heavy optical lifting. Plus, it's one of the two-part types that doubles as a macro adaptor, so i can even keep taking macro shots.

    However, i realise that adding a random lump of glass to the front of my lens does not come without downsides. Barrel distortion? Vignetting? Loss of the all-important fine detail across the field? Sure. Which leads me to the crucial question: would i expect the deleterious effects of the adapter to drag the image quality of the PL25 down to below that of the O12-50, or would this combination be a net win?
  2. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 5, 2013
    I'd go with the P14. I've been very happy with mine and it is so tiny it is easy to carry anywhere. I bought mine used and it was a bargain.
  3. laser8

    laser8 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 29, 2013
    Mare nostrum, Istria
    Being a heavy 25 user myself, I am not sure you'd be happy with the make-do solutions. It's a lens that sets the standards pretty high...

    I'd suggest to save for either the 12 or the 2.8 zoom - if you care about the 12. I personally do and was never quite happy with the 14 FOV for some reason.
  4. O2BanRRT

    O2BanRRT Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    Waterloo, Ontario (Canada)
    WA Adaptor Works at a cost

    I wanted to take pictures at a special event restaurant meal and the event in question was in a very dark location. I decided to use my PL 25mm f/1.4 and add a Wide Angle adapter. I found that it provided acceptable results even at f/1.4. Unlike the WA adapter on my other lens that needed to be stopped down to provide acceptable results. A side effect was a narrower than usual in-focus plane. The resulting field of view was approximately equivalent to 19-20mm (on m4/3s).

    Example: PL 25 @ 1.4, ISO 1000 with WA adapter

    Example of narrow depth of field: PL 25mm @ 1.4, ISO 2000 with WA Adapter

    The Wide angle adapter in these examples is (used with a step up ring -->62mm)

    and another ezample because this desert was not be be ignored :)
  5. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    The 14mm is better than 12-50 but not as good as my 45mm (saving for the 25 so cannot comment - yet).

    However the 12-50 is better at the 12mm end than the 25-50 range.

    Value for money the 14 is outstanding, it works well on the EM-5 and is tiny.

    If you didn't already have the 25mm I would suggest the zoom but in this case I'd go for the 14. I don't intend to sell mine anytime soon.

    If you find out you don't like it or you need to keep getting the 12-50 out for the 12mm POV you should be able to sell it on without losing much value.

    Although I find the "close focus" ability and sealing of the 12-50 an advantage I find myself using the 14mm and 45mm plus extension tubes in preference but have kept the 12-50 for the 12mm POV
  6. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    What about the Panasonic 12-32? It's easily the best kit zoom optically and beats everything except the premium f/2.8 zooms in the standard zoom range. It's tiny and would definitely be better optically and go wider than stacking a converter on your PL25. You lose the manual focus ring, weatherproofing, and close focusing, but these factors may not matter to you.
  7. spacedogg79

    spacedogg79 Mu-43 Rookie

    Nov 9, 2013
    Vancouver, Canada
  8. twic

    twic Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 15, 2013
    London, UK
    The Panasonic 12-32 is an interesting option i hadn't thought of - thanks for the idea.

    That would be a really useful lens, actually - it would cover my wide-angle need, it goes to normal and a bit longer for when i can't be bothered to put the PL25 back on, and it's virtually a pancake, which would be really convenient sometimes. It looks like it can be had for 218 GBP from Hong Kong. One way to look at it is that it's the P14 where you pay an extra hundred pounds and give up some speed to make it zoom out to 32 mm.
  9. twic

    twic Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 15, 2013
    London, UK
    Thanks so much for the examples! Those are fun shots. I am increasingly tempted to get an adapter just so i can try this for myself. I can actually get one (of unknown quality) on eBay for under 10 GBP shipped (and the seller is in London, so i might not even need shipping), and that's cheap enough that if i don't like it, i can use it as a paperweight and not feel too bad about spending the money.
  10. twic

    twic Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 15, 2013
    London, UK
    Thanks also to those advocating buying a proper wide-angle prime. I think i will do this eventually; it seems almost inevitable. But there's definitely some saving up to do before then ...
  11. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    You might want to see what the Panasonic 14mm and the DMW-GWC1 converter will cost you vs the 12-32. That's a .79X converter that preserves all the good/bad things that the P14 can do, If you like the 14, you like the 11mm conversion. If you hate the 14, inquire no further.

    By the way, I expect the converter won't work well on the 25.
  12. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Just do this ;
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