Olympus zooms 12-40, 40-150 vs primes

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by billinvegas, Jul 8, 2015.

  1. billinvegas

    billinvegas Mu-43 Rookie

    May 10, 2015

    I shoot a lot of event type photos, I wanted a setup with my M1 to match (as close as possible) my Nikon setup (24-70, 70-200)
    Puchased the Olympus 12-40 and 40-150

    Are the olympus primes better quality in image than the pro zooms?
    If they are close, the only benefit would be a faster lens, or are there any other benefits?

    Debating on adding a 17mm (ish) and a 45mm (ish) to the collection.

    those focal lengths are covered in the two pro zooms as well...

    any other factors to consider adding primes to the zoom kit?

  2. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    I've found the primes very hard to fault optically however there's always critics, I can't flaw their performance however people shooting test charts will often say that both primes are sub par. If you're doing events the zooms are pretty hard to beat and I wouldn't bother with the 17mm (the 12-40mm is fantastic at the short end and the different focal lengths on offer are generally more useful). The 45mm and 75mm are both solid performers (the 75 is universally regarded as amazing).

    The main advantage is really small they are, if you want a small kit the primes are an option well worth exploring.
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  3. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    Real Name:
    The 12-40 and 40-150 Pro zooms are as sharp as the primes unless you pixel peep with a particular lens to compare a specific focal length and aperture combination. The only disadvantage you will find with your new lenses is maximum aperture.
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  4. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Real Name:
    The advantage of zooms vs primes is convenience at the cost of size/weight and higher F stop. For something like events, you aren't going to want to switch lenses much I'd think. Optically they are all on par pretty much.
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  5. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    It depends on the types of events that you shoot and the fluidity of the activities in the events.

    Normally, the events that I shoot are very fast paced and would require me to change prime lenses all the time. IQ wise, you are not really going to notice a lot of difference. The only thing that might push you more toward preferring a prime over the 12-40/40-150 PRO lenses is the faster aperture.

    I run with 2 cameras setup and zooms 99% of the time.

    If I had to, I could survive with the just the 12-40/40-150.
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  6. jcm5

    jcm5 Mu-43 Veteran

    May 12, 2014
    I'm with you that prime IQs are very very good, but I think what made me do the jump to say the 12-40 over keeping the Oly 12/45 was it wasn't enough to justify the hassle of switching back and forth when I needed a different FL. If I had all the money in the world, I suppose I would just keep all the great zooms and primes, but that's not the case, so some had to go. I'd love to try the 75 sometime though as I have nothing that covers this length besides a cheap zoom, but a bit pricey for my taste at the moment.
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  7. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    My copy of the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO produces IQ that is as good as my primes. Where that extra stop of aperture is critical, I will use the primes. For fast-moving events, however, I will always go with the 12-40 and a tele-zoom, either the 40-150 or, when really at a distance, the PL 100-300mm. I simply do not want to be constantly changing lenses amid a crowd.
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  8. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Real Name:
    I have the 2 pro zooms and almost all the primes, the primes are what I started out with and use them most of the time. Primes generally are a bit sharper than any zoom, and the P-Leica Nocticron 42.5 f1.2 and Oly 75mm f1.8 are sharper than both pro zooms and #1 and 2 in all the sharpness tests. But the Oly zooms are very sharp, however the 12-40 is not as sharp at 40 as it is at 12 to 17mm, nor is the 40-150mm as sharp at 150 as it is a 40mm. The point it, don't let all the pixel peepers influence your decision too much, all of the zooms or primes are more than sharp enough for 99% of our purposes.

    What the primes will give you is the ability to handhold the camera 2 stops lower in ss or ISO vs the zooms. This is a big advantage. Yes, 2.8 zooms to 1.8 primes is only 1-1/3 stop, however, the smaller prime size allows you to hold the camera with less hand shake than with a heavier and larger zoom lens, and you can shoot at 1/2 to 1 stop lower because of this. 2 stops can be the difference between flash and no flash, or higher and slightly noisier ISO vs lower ISO with no noise.

    The 45 f1.8 Oly is a very good portrait lens, and over the last 3 years of M4/3 ownership, it has been my most used lens. However being designed as a portrait lens, yes, it may be a little softer in the corners than some others at this focal length (which is great for drawing attention to the subject, just like my Nikon 85mm f1.4 portrait prime). As good as 45mm is, I wanted to shoot at even wider apertures and bought the Nocticron 6 months ago, and now the Oly is just not used, as the Nocticron is just outstanding! The Oly 17 f1.8 is on my 2nd camera body most of the time, especially if shooting inside or in the evenings or doing video. The Oly 25 f1.8 is OK and has theoretically better center sharpness than the 17, but I like the 17mm focal length better, plus the build quality and pull back MF ring is nice. The Oly 75mm is a very special lens, it will give you better combined bokeh and background compression than any other M4/3 lens. If I have the room to shoot a portrait with this lens, it is the one I reach for first.

    So bottom line is that you should have both primes and zooms. Just pick a prime for the purpose you want.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
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  9. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I would only get the primes if you have felt limited by the f2.8 aperture on the zooms or you want a lighter/smaller lens on the camera at those focal lengths.
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  10. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus Loser

    Nov 16, 2010
    You should consider the reactions of your subjects when pointing them with big zoom lens versus a small prime. On the other hand if a client is paying you for photography you better show up with as large a camera/lenses you could possibly have.
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  11. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Somewhat irrelevant imo, use what you need to use to do the job - a large format camera can be much more intimidating than these lenses yet not too long ago it was pretty standard for many uses.
  12. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Real Name:
    For me, the 12-40 and 75mm is the perfect 1-2 combo. It fits so nicely in my Tarmac velocity 6 sling. I used to own the 50-200 swd but it was just too big and bulky on the em1...that said, it was my favorite lens on my e5, with the 7-14 coming in a close second place.

    The 45 is so small and light, but honestly I rarely use it since getting th 75.
  13. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Real Name:
    David Dornblaser
    It is really not a prime vs. zoom debate. Those that are only primarily advocating zooms/primes are missing the point. A lot of it depends on what are your primary subjects. The O17 & 45 are what I use the most, although I do have and use the 12 - 40. It is a great combo for me. You might use the zooms more and the primes less. I don't want to pick a fight with the zoom users, but I can't imagine being limited to PRO zooms.
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  14. newphoto1

    newphoto1 Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 24, 2014
    Real Name:
    I am departing for a wildlife tour in Costa Rica with only the 12-40 and 40-150 plus teleconverter and auto extension tubes. I know I will find the 40-150 combo a little short for birds, but Olympus just won't release that 300 F4!
  15. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    I just spent the last week shooting surfing and paddleboarding with the Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7. Not exactly the "PRO" lens we would all want like the 300/4 PRO, but it works great in good light. Might be a rental option, perhaps as a stop gap?
  16. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Real Name:
    Good light is hard to find in a rainforest.

  17. marlof

    marlof Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 18, 2010
    The Netherlands
    I like to use two camera bodies with lenses attached so they're ready to shoot: one for wide to normal, one for tele. On my next trip, I'll bring two bodies (EM1 and EM5), two fast zooms (12-40 and 40-150) and two primes (17 and 75). I love shooting with smaller lenses more than using zooms, but there will be times where a (tele)zoom will be more useful. The complete set fits in an F-Stop Small ICU. You won't hear me complaining about the size of m43.
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  18. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    Real Name:
    I have the 40-150 pro and to my eyes it's sharper than most prime lenses.

    what you'll get from prime lenses, are probably creamier bokeh and faster aperture.
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  19. VooDoo64

    VooDoo64 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 17, 2010
    Zagreb - Croatia
    Real Name:
    Davor Vojvoda
    i found that 40-150PRO is not so good in af on low light, ofc 45 1.8 is better on af because is f/1.8, but Sigma 30 and 60mm are 2.8 and they are also great at low light -- much better then 40-150 PRO
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  20. slau

    slau Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 26, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    For event type of shooting, you may find some use of a wider and faster lens like the new Voigtlander 10.5f0.95. I will be using my two Panasonic 'pro' zoom lenses + the new 10.5 lens (which replaced my CV 17mm, CV 25mm and PL 25mm) for most of my trips from now on. No matter how good the f2.8 zoom lenses are, they are still f2.8, I have always looked for faster lens here and there under poor indoor lighting.
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