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Olympus 12-50 vs. 12 2.0...I'm blown away...

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by LowriderS10, Feb 16, 2016.

  1. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Hi all,

    As some of you may know, I'm a huge fan of the Oly 12-50 lens. It's light, cheap, versatile, weathersealed, and produces excellent results. Still, I like lenses, and always lusting for more, especially primes. The 12 2.0 is on sale locally, so I thought I'd try it out. I've always liked the manual focus clutch, and its fast aperture...I have to say my first impression was that it's a cheaply-built lens. For the price it commands ($1,120 normally, $900 on sale), I was expecting it to be built like the 75 1.8. It's not. The operation is nice and the manual focus clutch is something I wish Oly had on more lenses. But, the proof is in the pudding.

    I shot a few frames back-to-back just in the store. Now I know the settings weren't ideal, but they were real-world relevant.

    BOTH lenses were shot at ISO 400, 1/40s handheld on an E-M5 with the 2 second shutter delay activated. I know this speed sounds slow, but I can easily handhold around a second at that shutter speed with this camera, so I'm considering it a non-issue (again...real-world relevant!). The aperture was set at f3.5, which should favour the 12mm, since at that point, it's 1 2/3 stopped from wide open, whereas the 12-50 was wide open. WB was Auto in both cases. Auto focus with the focus point being the blue/yellow package. I know this is not a landscape and shooting at f5.0 would have probably yielded even better results (especially for the 12-50), but I was still very surprised by the outcome. I don't think it would be much different had I shot it at a different aperture, or outside...certainly not enough to justify spending $1,000 on that lens. ;) (Yes, I know it's fast...but that still won't sell me on this lens).

    Before anyone says shutter shock, or hand shake, I'd like to point out that the centre of BOTH lenses seems to be just about equally sharp. Even there, the 12-50 seems to have a SLIGHT advantage, but being head-to-head is impressive enough. Crops taken from the edges, however, blew me away. The 12-50 had less CA, and was noticeably sharper at 100%. I don't know if I have a one-in-a-million copy of this lens, or it's just that underrated, but I just can not stop being impressed by this lens.

    100% crops:

    24703180029_9c2c38d418_b. Oly 12-50 vs 12 by Tamas, on Flickr

    Original scene:

    24775366780_96e417816e_b. OMTV6509 by Tamas, on Flickr
     
  2. aidanw

    aidanw Mu-43 Regular

    116
    Nov 19, 2012
    Wellington, NZ
    I've had two 12-50mm lenses, one was rubbish and the second was so much better it was like a different lens.
    HOWEVER, sharpness is well down the list of lens attributes that matters to me, and both the 12-50's had rendering, colour rendition and an intangible "feel" that I didn't like. Images seemed flat and lacking depth (not due to large depth of field) compared to some of my favourite lens. Such as the P12-35 f2.8, O17 f1.7 or Samyang 7.5.

    So yes yay, you've got a sharp 12-50, but this is just one attribute compared to the O12 out of many.
     
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  3. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Thanks for that showing. I think I have a pretty good 12-50 lens too (it does get softer at 50mm though). For a good example I always like to come back to my visit to Broken Hill in NSW where I held the lens hood (rectangle 9-18 lens version) against the restaurant's window (the restaurant is on the slag heap mountain in the centre of town) for a 13 second shot to get a night view of the city. I only edited this in OV3 to try & get the white balance right & crop it. To see the amount of detail it captures, click on it here & again in My Gallery (Olympus UK E-System User Group) for the larger image size (Dimensions: 1940 x 674).
    EDIT: It probably should be noted that this had an aperture setting of f5.6 & that would likely have given better detail than wide open (as well as a bit of the starlight effect).
    O9280986-wbadj4-cr2-s.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
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  4. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Absolutely...you make very good points. The Samyang 7.5 especially has a "pop" few other lenses can match (even ones costing many times more than it does).

    I'm very happy with what the 12-50 does, though I admit its colours tend to be more muted than some of my other lenses (P20, O75)...but I've had "flatter" lenses than it. Plus, CA is almost nonexistent, which is always a bonus, as I hate dealing with that in post.

    But, add to it its incredible versatility (the macro mode itself is well worth the price of admission) and weathersealing, and it makes a very compelling argument for putting it in your bag. ;)

    EDIT: And yeah, I'm beginning to suspect that I won the lens lottery with my copy...Definitely holding onto it for as long as I'm in M4/3!!!
     
  5. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    That's an awesome shot! I'm glad you're liking your copy as well! That's definitely very sharp and rich!

    You're right...at around 50mm, it does fall off quite a bit...but I've still managed to get lots of keepers at 50! (And at 46mm with the macro mode turned on, it's ridiculously sharp, so I usually pull back just a touch from 50mm, and it seems to be okay!).

    My only technical complaint concerning your photo (this is nothing to do with your skills, but rather nitpicking the lens in the name of being fair), are the blotches around lights...I loooove nice stars coming from lights in long exposure night shots, and I've never used my 12-50 for that, but it looks exactly like my 9-18, which has always disappointed me a bit!
     
  6. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I was having dinner with the family there & was trying to grab some keepers. I thought I did OK holding the camera still for that time against the glass (with no tripod at all with me) & if I had thought about it at the time I probably could have stopped it down & would have got the starlight effect from the lights. It's always easy to think of these things afterwards but in the heat of the moment they get forgotten about (at least with me it does). With a 14 hour train ride to get there (more than 12 hours by road) & no family to stay with out there now, I'll probably skip the idea of going back, I think. :rolleyes: ;)
     
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  7. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Don't beat yourself up, you did an amazing job, and my criticism was 100% aimed at the lens and not you. I've been having a very hard time getting starlights out of the 9-18, and this looks exactly the same...I'm really not sure if stopping down would have helped you (through no fault of yours)...the 20 and 14 are amazing at this...sadly, it seems like the lower end Olys aren't that great...oh well, small price to pay!

    As for going back...I quite liked Australia...I've needed an excuse to return...this will be it!!! ;)
     
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  8. aphasiac

    aphasiac Mu-43 Regular

    162
    Oct 18, 2015
    Taiwan
    I don't see the point of a fast wide-angle, unless you're shooting astrophotography.

    For landscape you're going to be stopping down anyway, for indoors it's not that much faster then 3.5, and you can just bump up the iso slightly.

    Pana 12-32 pancake is sharp and compact, 12-50 is ultra versatile, samyang 12/2 if much cheaper for stars.

    The olymous 12/2 really is a speciality lens, not worth it at current price.
     
  9. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Fast wide angles are not really landscape lenses. Also f/2 is still quite a jump from f/3.5 when you need just enough shutter speed to freeze motion. There are loads of users of fast FF 24mm, 28mm, 35mm f/1.4s who use them for street photography and contextual portraits with a bit of subject isolation while retaining a sense of time and place, and being in the scene. I use my PL15 f/1.7 for this, and even then f/1.7 sometimes isn't enough. I could have lived with a slightly larger lens if it had been a 15mm f/1.4.
     
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  10. SkiHound

    SkiHound Mu-43 Veteran

    328
    Jan 28, 2012
    I had a 12-50 purchased as a kit lens with the E-M5. Really unimpressed. Perhaps I had a real dud. Images just seemed flat and lifeless.
     
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  11. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Well, I feel the need to stand up for the 12 and give it some love. Firstly, it is NOT cheaply made. It's metal barrelled and yet it's also very light and compact with a very nice feel to its exterior. IMHO, it has a quality feel to it that the 12-50 simply does not (which I personally think feels very plastic and low-cost). My copy is very sharp right from f2 and compared to the Panasonic 12-35 f2.8 (which is excellent at 12mm) it is sharper at all comparable f-stops.

    It's definitely one of my favourites in the system and most tests place its sharpenss at the top of the pile - e.g. this from Lensrentals

    Wide-Angle Micro 4/3 Imatest Results
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
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  12. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Top Veteran

    767
    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Good lighting should always be your first choice, next comes faster apertures, and finally bumping ISO should come after those. At nearly two stops faster, the 12/2 indoors is indeed significant. Doing it in ISO would mean taking something like 800 to 3200, which I don't consider a "slight" bump.
     
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  13. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Two stops is quite a bit (it would have allowed me to shoot at ISO 100 instead of 400 in that situation), but I agree that it's very much a specialty lens, as are most primes, I guess. The problem with this lens is that it's not all that exciting of a FL, and it's covered by so many other great lenses. I mean this lens costs almost as much as the Oly 12-40 Pro...for me, a lens really has to impress me in at least one area...the 75 does stunning bokeh/street shots...the 12-50 gets me to macro and harsh weather, the 14 and 20 are super tiny and light, the 45 is the perfect street photography lens for when I'm backpacking, etc...I just don't really see a place where the 12 could do something so well that I would slap it in a bag next to or instead of other lenses that already cover this FL.
     
  14. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Build is definitely subjective, but the 12-50 also has a metal mount. The 12-50 certainly doesn't feel like it has an amazing build, but at the price it goes for, I wasn't expecting it to. (In all fairness, though, I've had the 12-50 out in torrential downpours for hours, taken it on countless hikes, and in general lugged it to a bunch of countries, and it's yet to miss a beat!)

    However, at the 12's price point, I was expecting something that's built like the Olympus 75, and it's simply not there. I'd put its build quality on par with the 20 1.7 and the Olympus 45. Great, and no complaints, but not quite the "This lens is simply amazing to hold" that the 75 is. At $500, I wouldn't have mentioned it. At $1,000, I do.

    I'm also certainly not bashing the 12 in any way as far as IQ goes. It's great. It just didn't wow me as I was expecting it to, and I was certainly shocked that my 12-50 returned better results (sharper, less CA) at the edges.

    My 20 makes me jaw drop every time I use it. The 14 isn't all that stunning, but it's tiny and I bought it dirt cheap, so I won't hold it against it. For half its price, I wouldn't have an issue with the 12. I guess I was just expecting a $1,000 prime to absolutely demolish my 12-50, and it didn't. I'm happy, because this means I'm no longer tempted...now there's just the O60...and the O40-150 Pro...and the...well, you get the idea. ;)
     
  15. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    It could very well have been a dud. I've even said in my initial post, that I might have the one-in-a-million copy that's just amazing and tack sharp. I'll see if I can dig up my thread on the Oly 12-50, but I'm very pleased with how vibrant the photos turn out!
     
  16. LebronPhoto

    LebronPhoto New to Mu-43

    9
    May 10, 2012
    I have two 12-50's. One my wife uses and the other one I use. Both are sharp. As for pop, it's not hard to go to vivid mode to add saturation. sRGB mode also tends to be more colorful and appropriate for web use. The cameras and post processing software provide quite a few options to get colorful images that pop. BTW: My Nikon D700, with pro lenses, produced flat looking images SOOC that were usually fixed with a slight contrast adjustment.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  17. heli-mech

    heli-mech Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Mar 9, 2012
    Vancouver Island, Canada
    Andrew
    IQ asside I am surprised by your remarks on build. The 12 is all metal barrel (not just mount) and always struck me as a very well put together lens, equal to the 75 (75 is obviously bigger and heavier) noticeably better than the 45mm (owned all three at the same time). I am not sure how even subjectively you can say the 12 and 45 are the same build quality.



    Sent from my SM-P600 using Mu-43 mobile app
     
  18. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Haha...I'm surprised by my remarks too! I was expecting to be blown away by it. Honestly, I went into the store wanting to love the heck out of that lens. It's spent a lot of time on my dream list...in all fairness, I didn't spend much time with the lens...maybe 10 minutes. I was just not impressed by it. I'm keeping an open mind, though, and going to try another one the next time I see one. I'm not saying it's a bad lens or a badly built lens...it's just not the breathtaking lens I was expecting after all I've read and the price tag. It's a VERY subjective and personal thing, but each and every time I pick up my 75, it feels special and I have to look at it for a minute before mounting it to my camera...then I start taking pictures and the magic continues. With the 12, it felt average in the hand, and performed average on my camera.

    I was expecting something supreme...I found something very good. At $400, my expectations and therefore opinions would be vastly different.
     
  19. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    By the way, I just shot my 12-50 vs my 45 1.8 (a lens I love!) and in the centre of the frame they're just about equal, though the 12-50 may actually be sharper, and at the edges, the 45 is a sliiiiiiight bit sharper. I'll do a proper comparison when I have more time...

    It may just be that I have the world's luckiest 12-50 haha.

    I'll shoot it against my 20 1.7 when it stops raining...the 20 always impresses me.
     
  20. heli-mech

    heli-mech Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Mar 9, 2012
    Vancouver Island, Canada
    Andrew
    I think maybe you need to do more controlled testing. Thus far your findings are the complete opposite of reputable lens reviewers (check lenstip.com for instance), and most user reviews/experiences. Perhaps you just happen to have a remarkable 12-50 and poor 45 (and trial 12) but thats not the most likely scenario verse testing errors. Not trying to insult you in the least but usually when my own results are different than the vast majority I look hard to see what mistakes/errors I may have made before making any declarations.