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Olympus 12mm f2 vs 9-18mm question.

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by snerkler, May 28, 2014.

  1. snerkler

    snerkler Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 27, 2014
    As some will know from another thread I'm not overly impressed with my 14-42mm EZ Pancake zoom that came with my EM10 and have been considering getting a better wide angle. I already have the 45mm f1.8 and Panny 20mm f1.7, and found a marked difference in IQ between the 14-42mm and the other 2 lenses. The 14-42mm isn't horrendous by any stretch and produces decent images. Here's an example of a shot I took the other day which I consider to be reasonable IQ after a fair amount of PP https://www.flickr.com/photos/99443690@N04/14275640212/

    So I would like a wide angle, but only if it would produce as much difference in IQ as I get between the 14-42mm EZ and the 45mm and 20mm. I'm not interested in the Panny 7-14mm as it's too pricey, too big and doesn't accept regular screw in filters. So the two I'm considering are the 12mm f2 and 9-18mm. Would either of these produce a significant difference from my 14-42mm at 14mm in terms of IQ? Is one significantly better than the other, or is there not that much in it?

    If they are significantly better than the 14-42mm but not between the two then I'll go for the 9-18mm for the versatility and extra width. However, if the 12mm f2 is noticeably better in terms of IQ than the 9-18mm this could sway me over the versatility. I know the 12mm has much better construction, but I'm mainly interested in IQ.

    Any help appreciated.

    Cheers, Toby
  2. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    I've had the 9-18 for ages, since I like wide angles. When the 12 came out, I did a quick, non-scientific test - tripod, optimal apertures, bookshelves.

    My take was that there was little discernable difference, if any. But remember, this was at f4, f5.6 and f8. If you need the f2, then obviously get the 12.

    For me, the flexibility of the 9-18 wins. It is an excellent lens.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. snerkler

    snerkler Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 27, 2014
    Thanks for this. Do you know how the 9-18mm compares in IQ to the 14-42mm?

    The lens is for landscapes so the slow aperture doesn't matter.
  4. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Never had any kit lens, but both the 12 and the 9-18 should be clearly better. I'm sure someone will chime in soon on that. Happy Ascension Day (holiday here in Germany!)
    • Like Like x 1
  5. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    The 9-18 is a gem. I love it. IQ differences aside, there's a *MASSIVE* difference between 9 and 12 or 14mm. It'll blow you away the first time you use it. :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  6. dohearne

    dohearne Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 23, 2013
    Vermont, Virginia
    Dave Hearne
    I can not compare the 9-18mm to the 14-42 but I can to the 12-50. The IQ of the 9-18 is much better. On a recent trip to Italy I used the 9-18 for 2/3 of my shots and was very pleased.

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43
  7. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I'll go against the consensus here and say that in the shared range (14-18mm), I didn't see a meaningful difference between the 14-42 II R and the 9-18. Maybe I had an unusually bad 9-18, but the lenses had broadly similar characteristics - significant CA, decent center-sharpness, unimpressive corners. IMO, if one is picky about image quality, the only wide-angles that are a significant step up from the basic kit are the 7-14/4 and the 12-40/2.8. Perhaps the 12-35/2.8 as well (haven't tested it myself).
  8. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I hear you like IQ. You should get the m.Zuiko 12mm/2.

    Seriously, you bring up IQ alot in your post and this sounds like an important point. Well, okay... you outright said that you're "mainly interested in IQ". ;)  The m.Zuiko 9-18mm is an inexpensive zoom in the budget "standard grade" range, meant to expand your range and not your quality. It is actually a fabulous lens for what it is, but if your concern is quality then the 12mm prime is an obvious choice.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. snerkler

    snerkler Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 27, 2014
    Thanks for the replies, very interesting to read different opinions. This is actually the trouble I have, opinions differ all over the place whether it be 'professional' reviews, or general public opinion. I guess it's all due to the fact that we all look for and notice different things.

    Prior to me reading the last 2 posts I actually got my hands on a 'relatively' cheap 2nd hand mint condition 9-18mm from a reputable store. I'm now hoping that I've made the right choice based on the last 2 posts :doh: The reason I plumped for the 9-18mm in the end was due to the info that the 9-18mm has better IQ than my 14-42mm (which isn't now the general consensus) and that it will give me more creativity than the 12mm. Also, I got it quite a bit cheaper than any 2nd hand 12mm's I've seen, which is quite a few.

    It's due to arrive on Monday/Tuesday so I'll see how I find it. I could always sell it on if I'm not happy and I doubt I would lose any money on it going by what they sell for on ebay and forums such as this. I may even be able to return it to the store, but I'm not sure what there returns policy is on used. However, fingers crossed I will like it and it will be a nice addition to my lenses.
  10. htc

    htc Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 11, 2011
    I had 9-18 and no complaints except it's toy-a-like and but ugly :)  12 mm is a serious thing, except it's not 9 mm.
  11. snerkler

    snerkler Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 27, 2014
    Thanks. The plastic-ness doesn't bother me too much. I am obsessed with IQ admittedly, but also I'm trying to expand my range of photography as well and feel like the 9-18mm would be better for this.

    I am trying not to be obsessed with IQ as I do feel that it is taking away some of the enjoyment and creativity but I can't seem to see past it at the mo. Hopefully if/when I get better at photography and start taking some decent shots I'll not be as obsessive ;) 
    • Like Like x 1
  12. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    The 20, 25, 30, 45, and 2.8 zooms noticeably beat your 14-42, as you've seen (and mine, I have the non-pancake version that came with PM2).

    A couple lenses that haven't been mentioned are the Panny kits: 14-42 II ($150), 14-45 ($200), and 12-32 pancake ($300). I chose the latter myself because it transforms the PM2 into a P&S, but I even now I'm interested in the 14-42 II for it's aesthetics and reach.

    I really think you made the best choice because the difference between the 12 and the 14-42 is NOT as significant as you're seeing with the 20 and the 45. Even the 14 is better than the 14-42 zooms but if you don't need the size it's not really necessary (then again it's under $200).

    Can I ask what you paid? The 20/25 and 45 are on nearly everyone's list. I think the 9-18 is also a special lens that fits in many situations. I just wish it costs less!
  13. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    I'm with Dara and Ned, I've had my 9-18 for a couple of months and it's pretty great, although the corners seem soft and there is CA. I had the same concern with the 14/2.5 pancake. Have not had the chance to check out the Oly 12/2 in person.

    It's fine to give IQ a high value when considering lenses, but it would seem that focal length has to play just as important a role, no? From all I've heard the Oly 12/2 is an excellent lens, but it can't get you down to 9mm if you need it...nor can it quickly zoom to a "wide normal" field of view as you're walking around. On those points, clearly the zoom wins...
    • Like Like x 1
  14. snerkler

    snerkler Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 27, 2014
    £170 for 45mm new condition and still with plastic protectors on.
    IIRC £170 for the 20mm f1.7 Mark II new. Unboxed as came bundled with a GX7 and the guy already had the 20mm
    £350 for the 9-18mm in as new condition.

    (awaits to be told I've paid over the odds :redface: :wink:)
  15. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    I think the 9-18 *IN GENERAL* (not specific to this thread or any posters within it) gets a worse reputation than it deserves.

    Optically it isn't the best lens out there - that honour is most likely held by an astronomically-priced prime of German origins -...but it's still a ridiculously good performing lens. When I first got my OM-D + 9-18, I compared it to my 5D Mark II and the 16-35L II 2.8...the Oly combo outperformed the 5D+L without question.

    Yes, corner sharpness can be an issue, as it is for *ALL* UWA zooms ever made by anyone. Most people who comment on lenses in general (and this one in specific) do the following things:
    - pixel peep at 200% and draw conclusions
    - regurgitate what they read in a review that filled their heads with lph data and other clinical stuff

    And those are useful...but what very few people do is this:
    Print a picture. Print it HUGE. And see if you like the quality? Guess what? I've got 11x15s (shot JPEG!) all over my house out of the 9-18. I exhibited a handful of photos - printed in A2 size - a few months back, and no one could tell which one was with the "budget" 9-18 and which photos had been taken with other lenses or my previous top-tier pro gear. That should tell you everything there is to know about it.

    The 9-18 gives you EXCELLENT real-world optical results, in a tiny, ultra-light package. It's a dream for someone like me.

    Does it look like a cheap toy? Absolutely! And I love it...it's less of a thief magnet/nobody starts up random convos about my gear when I'm just trying to take a picture in peace. ;) 
    • Like Like x 4
  16. jasjb

    jasjb Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 28, 2014
    Wonder why there is no cheap-ish 9mm prime?

    We have cheap bodycap wides, and the expensive 12mm and Lumix 8mm.

    Could the 9-18mm be made cheaper and better as a 9mm prime? Or am I looking for a false economy here?
  17. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Even morso at 7mm...but that's a different subject.
  18. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    In the first post, the OP specifically stated he is *NOT* interested in the 7-14, hence why I saw no point in discussing it.
  19. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    I've been wondering that myself since I got into M4/3! I really don't consider the Lumix 8 a wide, as it's a fisheye...so, really, the widest prime we have is a 24mm equivalent, which is quite surprising (and disappointing) for a system as extensive as ours.
  20. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Surprising indeed.

    When someone finally makes a high quality, m4/3 native, auto-focus, 7mm rectilinear prime... let it be f/4, if need be, then I'll be willing to give up the fabulous 7-14. Otherwise, the 7-14 is the ultimate wide angle for m4/3 in my view. (I use my 7-14 as a 7mm prime.) I like the 9-18 as well, and have both lenses because they serve different needs. When you want 7mm, the 9-18 just doesn't cut it. But the 9-18 makes a pretty good wide-angle walk-around lens.
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