Finances I was going to title this "Bashing the Fast Zooms" but I'm really not "bashing" them. They're obviously great lenses. But I suspect that I'm not the only one who can't afford to shell out $2000 to buy the Panasonic 12-35 and 35-100 or the Olympus duo of 12-40 and 40-150, all f2.8s. I guess I could arrange to buy them, but servicing debt or adding to investments, to me, is a better use of my modest paychecks. Had I more money I would probably have these lenses. So, on that note, if you have any of theses lenses, to avoid arguing, I urge you to read no further. When I first got into m4/3s I had an overwhelming feeling that I would need one of these $1000 lenses. But with my current train of thought I'm happy not having them (granted I want a $1000 prime now but that's another problem entirely!). These are reasons for photographers to NOT feel bad for not being able to afford these fast zooms. Forcing Shots The 12-40 and 12-35 are boring lenses. You can take all sorts of wide angle shots without changing lenses and without moving your body. In fact, if you take one of these lenses to the art gallery, you only need to attend the art gallery once, because you'd have shots from all angles in that one visit. And unless if you forced yourself to zoom in or out too far to be creative, the framing of your subject will be average and expected by the eye (your eye, mostly, I mean they're your images, but read on). If that's your objective, fine. But if you have a prime, you can visit the museum once with a 14mm, and again with a 30mm. I would assume you'd take a good 50 shots that day with the zoom and possibly only 20 shots with each prime, but on average, due to some shots being forced, I'd assume a greater percentage of shots from the primes were taken at focal lengths unique to to the subject. If a given statue is 10 feet away, most people with their P&S cameras would take the shot at, say 25mm (m4/3s equivalent), which would get the entire statue and some of the background. This is the optimal angle for the subject. If you have your 12-40mm workhorse, you also take the shot around 25mm and get an even better shot than those P&S users. But what if you only had the 45 with you? Or the 75? Or a 12? All of those angles on that specific statue would be different than what you're used to seeing, and therefore, in many instances, preferred. The fact that you can zoom might make you lazy and suck the creativity out of you (see the Dodge Viper shots below). Oftentimes, if you had a m4/3s 25mm prime, the only way to get the shot would be to walk backwards so the lack of adjustment of the fixed 25mm forces you into a possibly better angle. With a zoom, you might just take the photo at 17mm and leave it at that. To quell argument, sure, you might want the 17mm in that situation. But if you don't and you take the shot at 17mm anyway, then you're shorting yourself. Last year I went to the auto show with an Olympus 14-42mm lens (which I heard isn't too sharp at the long end). The subject of cars made me want to use the wider end of the zoom. Some of the 14mm shots were okay because I could go no wider, but the shots in the 20mm~ range were a bore. I forced myself to test the 30mm~ end of the zoom and actually got some interesting shots doing that. This year I took a 40mm lens with me. I had to keep backing up as the lens was certainly too long for the task; and that made all the difference! I only took a third of the shots as I did the year before but got better shots this year than last. When I got tired of the MF, I put on the 15mm body cap to play with. Same thing. I took some shots from unique positions. Many times, due to many P&S cameras and phones now going to wide angle lenses (28mm equivalent), I think forcing yourself to use something longer more often than not gives you a unique perspective (I guess the same could be said if you only had your 12mm on you...all shots would be wider than expected thus unique). Corvettes - The grey one from last year was taken with the zoom at 20mm. Framing is good. In fact, the shiny gunmetal grey with the pretty girl might even make for better subject matter than the yellow one. But I took the yellow one at 40mm. I had to be far away to get the whole car in, but I prefer the results. Orange Japanese cars - It might look like it but I did not mean to make this comparison when I took these photos! But again, the smaller Corolla from last year was taken at 19mm for perfect framing (or so my brain thought). This year, working in tight quarters with the 40mm, I couldn't even get the entire orange Nissan in the photo (I shot 3:2 for some reason...none of these are cropped, BTW). But again, I prefer this year's results. Dodge Vipers - This might not prove anything, but last year, the Viper (concept?) was taken at the lens's widest 14mm. This year, the green Viper was taken with the lowly 15mm BCL. Almost the same focal length, but from what I wanted to do at the time, the prime gives a more satisfying result IMO. Sharpness, Speed, Bokeh Again, justifying that we don't need to spend $1000 on a 12-40mm (in addition to a couple primes), let's look at what we can buy. The 14/2.5 is only $200 and much more compact than the zoom. A touch faster, and for $100 more you can make it wider with the 11mm converter. You could spend around $8-900 and get yourself a 17/1.8 and a 25/1.4. That's quite a premium combo that would have the wide-normal FLs covered in the best possible way. Both of those lenses are sharper, smaller, faster, and cheaper than a 12-35. Or, a poor-man's version of that combo would be a 20/1.7 and 25/1.8. Those would run you appx $700 and you would not be skimping on quality from the first combo. The Sigma 19/2.8 and 30/2.8 would be useless if you had a 12-40, perhaps? I'd love to see a sharpness comparison, however, and would place my bets on the primes. Plus those can be had for $150 each on sale. And let's not forget the magnificent 45/1.8. A 14, 20, 30, 45 would give you better shots at all FL than the 12-40mm, faster apertures, better bokeh, lighter weight per lens if you're not carrying them all, and you would have only spent $1000. Faster Zooms Exist Sigma makes an f1.8 for $800! But it's for CaNikon DSLRs and covers appx 14~26mm range of what we're used to on our m4/3s sensors. Would you be happy using an f2.8 zoom when you know an f1.8 exists? Or how about the old 4/3s 14-35mm f2.0 zoom? It's huge, but it's awesome. And it's not f2.8, it's f2.0! So, maybe get a 14, 17/1.8, 20/1.7 or a 25/1.8, know you're getting even better lenses--pocket size even--at something that fits your budget. Cheap, Sharp, Wide Zooms Exist Yes, we know the 12-40 or 12-35 are the best options here. But if it's not in your budget, check out this lens: the Panasonic 14-42mm version II. It's like $150 new on Ebay. f3.5-5.6 but who cares, you have primes for speed. And how about that ultra compact 12-32mm? Mine was under $300 and I use it like a P&S when taking "boring" photos of a famous site and I don't feel like creatively taking shots. And throw it in my pocket when I'm done. The 14-45 is good also, but a bit more pricey if you're buying new. Telephoto What about the faster tele zooms, the 35-100 or upcoming 40-150? Personally, I think these would be MORE worth getting than the wider 2.8s, but only for someone who is a) not shooting near the wide end and b) incapable of MF--two things I think most users don't do (if you do, by all means buy the 40-150/2.8 it looks like it will be a great lens!) The 45 is great, as we've mentioned, and the Sigma 60/2.8 ($250) is one of the sharpest lenses around. And if you're willing to adapt, you can get a vintage 50/1.7 for $50 (note above I was using a $30 40/1.8 at the auto show, but most were shot at f2.8 or higher). There aren't many cheap choices in the 60-135mm range, but you really need something in that range? I personally have nothing, but I do have a few 135mm lenses (f2.8-3.5) that were all under $50 mint. I also have a 40-150mm f3.5-5.6 which is one of the best values out there. It could be faster, and maybe sharper at the long end, but I paid $100 new for this lens. I do want something in the 70-90mm range and an f2.8 zoom might be a good solution, but $1000 for the rare instance I use it? And how could I be happy using an f2.8 zoom when I know the 75/1.8 exists, one of the best lenses ever? I'll keep shopping for a bargain in this range... Conclusion I've come to understand that even if I did get the 12-40mm f2.8, I would still want primes for speed, size, and various other reasons. Sometimes I want the simplicity of zoom, but in those types of situations I usually don't need anything fast. In fact, a P&S will generally do the trick here; and it would also fit in my pocket (or use a 12-32 on a GM1 or PM2). If I ever need weather-sealing I'll buy a $200 12-50mm f3.5-5.6 and get macro to boot. If you look below in my signature, you'll see there are some repeat lenses I need to sell (because I enjoy trying them out, comparing, selling them, etc), but if you add it up you'll see that I'm at about $1500. Let's say I buy a 12-40mm for $1000. Which lenses would I sell? Not many. Maybe I wouldn't need the 30 anymore ($125). The 40 is no good at 1.8 anyway so I could sell that ($30). I'd have to keep the 12-32mm because it's so tiny. Everything else I own beats the 12-40 at something or another. And if I get a 40-150/2.8 I could sell all the 135s ($100 total), the 40-150 ($100), and...that's pretty much it. Do I want these zooms? Of course I do. But as you can see, they wouldn't get much use. Recommendations There's no budget lens even close to the FL of the 45. You're going to get it anyway, so maybe get this first? If you like the bokeh, and want a "normal" lens, get the Panasonic 25/1.4. If f1.4 isn't necessary get the Olympus 25/1.8, 20/1.7, 17/1.8, or 14/2.5. You'll have some good lenses, take great shots, and still afford to put food on the table...thanks for reading!