Opinions: 12/2.0 vs 12-40/2.8

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by marcr1230, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. marcr1230

    marcr1230 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2013
    I was wondering if anyone has both of these lenses and
    Can venture an opinion. I have the 12-40/2.8
    It's a great all around lens, I see a bit of curvature in the images shot at 12mm
    Particularly on the outer edges of the image

    This doesn't bother me aesthetically

    I was wondering if the extra stop is worthwhile for evening or night shots and in terms of sharpness
    And field curvature if the prime lens is head and shoulders above the zoom?
    Any flare differences?

    The 12 prime is pricy - is it worth it?

  2. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I don't (only the 12-40), but based on the samples I've seen, the 12-40 is the sharper lens at equivalent F-stops (so yes, even wide open). A DxO lens profile will fix any distortion anyway, far as I'm concerned.

    If you need the additional stop, or just prefer primes, or you want a smaller, lighter package, go with the prime.
  3. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    What you describe above is geometric distortion, not field curvature. Field curvature refers to the curvature of the field of focus - meaning that if you focus at a point in one part of the frame, points at an equal distance in other parts of the frame may actually be out of focus. The 12-40/2.8 does have a bit of that, but no more than the 12/2 I think.

    As to geometric distortion, the 12-40 has modest barrel distortion at 12mm (~1.0%), the 12/2 has modest pincushion distortion (~ -1.1%). You won't gain by switching to the prime.

    Sharpness-wise, the 12-40/2.8 wins. Flare-wise, the 12/2 is noticeably better.

    Will the extra stop be useful for night shots? Yes, up to a point. It really depends how you shoot.

    That's up to you really. Regarding the price though, look at Olympus's online store, in the refurbished section. It goes for around $480 there, which is IMO much closer to what the lens is really worth, rather than the $800 MSRP.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    I have the 12-40. I would however love to have both the 12mm and 12-40, but practically/financially speaking the 12-40 makes the most sense for me.
    The 12-40 is supposedly sharper across the frame than the 12 but that is not to say that the 12mm is soft, it's not. It's very very sharp, just that the 12-40 is possibly sharper.
    At 12mm the 12-40 does display some distortion as most zooms do when open wide. However DXO corrects for this automagically so doesn't affect my workflow - similarly lightroom gives you tools to correct so it isn't a biggie for me at all.
    For the money the 12-40 has more versatility in terms of the obvious variable focal length advantage and it's a great professionl grade lens to have in your kit.
    The following reviewer mentions in the comments section that he personally would take the 12-40 over the 12 as it replaces a bag full of primes; no small feat.
    Professional review of the 12mm here : http://blog.mingthein.com/2012/12/27/olympus-12-2/
    and the same reviewers opinions on the12-40 here : http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/09/13/lens-review-the-olympus-12-40/

    I'd still consider picking up the 12mm, it's a fantastic prime and while some criticize it's plane of focusing which has a greater curvature to it than you would expect, I happen to love the output that people are getting from it in the sample image thread. It definitely has it's own look and rendering that I really love, certainly a lot more than the Oly 17mm.

    Another outside option for you if you want a wide prime is to hold off for a little bit and pick up the Panasonic/Leica 15mm F1.7. Panasonic/Leica have been on a roll lately with some incredible pieces of glass. If the 15mm follows the same formula as the PanaLeica Summilux/Nocticron then it should be really special .... and really expensive.
  5. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    What also isn't mentioned is that the 12mm f/2 focuses incredibly fast in low light. If you want a non-obtrusive wide angle that can be used in low light scenarios like events and party venues, the 12 f/2 excels in those areas. I remember using the 12mm during halloween a couple years back and the lens was able to focus in near dark conditions.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. fdifulco

    fdifulco Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 28, 2011
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    I replaced the 12mm with a 12-40. the 12-40 gives me all that the 12mm did. As Jonathan mentioned the 12-40 is not as fast focus in low light as the 12mm. with two black dogs it sometimes has trouble doing a quick lock. but that is why i kept the panny 25.
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