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Panasonic 12-35 vs the "cheepo" primes

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by With_Eyes_Unclouded, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Vassilios
    I haven't seen this discussed extensively and I am curious. We have all seen comparisons of the 12-35 with the 12mm f/2.0, the 20mm f/1.7 etc. But what about the economical choices in this focal range?

    I.e., the Panasonic 14mm and the two Sigmas (19mm and 30mm).

    Given that (in Europe, at least) the cost of all three amounts to half the price of the Panasonic, I guess it's a valid question. To avoid missunderstanding, I'm only refferring to IQ and AF performance; the practicality of the Panasonic as well as it's construction quality is beyond discussion.
     
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  2. danska

    danska Mu-43 Top Veteran

    945
    May 21, 2012
    Portland, OR
    Joe
    I would probably throw the Olympus 17/2.8 on that list as well.

    I can only compare it to the 14mm as that is the only one of those that I have. To be honest 14mm is not a focal length I'm thrilled using, and my numbers via the 12-35 show that, 35% of my shots are taken at 12mm and .02% taken at 14mm. Looking at that I don't really know why I still have the 14mm, it doesn't get much love anymore.

    In general I would say the 14mm vignettes more wide open. I would also say the the 12-35mm is equal or better in sharpness by looking at 1:1 crops. Not scientifically of course. The 14mm focuses more quickly on both my EM-5 and GX1. The 12-35 is usually pretty speedy so I don't have to complain about AF speed, but the 14mm focuses before I know it usually.

    Keep in mind that I feel like this lens is as sharp as all the primes I have and have tried other than the 60mm and 75mm.. It doesn't have the rendering or DOF control as the 12,20,25,45 but it does a really amazing job with such a great level of flexibility.
     
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  3. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    I'll note that I don't have the Sigma lenses, though I do own the Panasonic 14mm and various other prime lenses to compare to the 12-35mm zoom. So take this for what it's worth comparing to m4/3 primes generally.

    In my experience, the 12-35mm may not be 100% equal to my prime lenses for IQ (sharpness, micro-contrast, and rendering character), but it's certainly close enough that I don't feel I'm giving up anything. Note that I don't pixel peep at 100% magnification so crops and how my images look at viewing sizes is my benchmark. I've done some aggressive crops and the sharpness and clarity stands up with the 12-35mm, much as it does with the Olympus 60mm macro and 75mm or other high-resolving lenses for m4/3.

    If I don't need the shallow DoF or some other particular aspect of the primes, the 12-35mm is my default choice for "wide -> normal" range shooting. It's sharp, has good contrast, covers a useful focal range, and as a bonus for Panasonic shooters like me it has OIS. As I said in another thread, it's just a high quality zoom lens that stays on the camera a lot longer before I break out the prime lenses instead for low light use. It's IQ is comparable to the primes, aperture is comparable when comparing with the Sigmas & Panasonic 14mm, but the convenience factor is higher and you're getting more focal range on both ends. To me that's it in a nutshell; there's no massive divide in quality on either side and really it just comes down to convenience and cost factors (leaving aside build quality & weather sealing, as noted in the OP).
     
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  4. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    These are good points Joe - I never really notice vignetting myself (or find it objectionable at any rate) unless it's extreme, but I know it matters to many other folks. I've got the CV 25mm which is one of the worst m4/3 lenses for vignetting and even that doesn't bother me, so clearly I'm a bad person to ask :tongue:

    When it comes to AF I tend to only notice a difference when there's a big disparity, like the Panasonic 20mm or one of the macro lenses on full focus travel. Other than that as long as it's 'snappy' and consistent AF like on the 12-35mm I'm happy. You're probably right that the 14mm is a bit faster but certainly I have no complaints on the 12-35mm AF speed.
     
  5. danska

    danska Mu-43 Top Veteran

    945
    May 21, 2012
    Portland, OR
    Joe

    According to the charts on photozone.de the 12-35 actually has a bit more vignetting on the wide end, wide open (1.28 EV) vs the 14mm (1.16 EV). Interestingly at 20mm it's only .47 EV and 35mm 1.13. According to their MTF graphs the 12-35 is a significantly sharper lens but it is tested on a newer 16mp sensor. Could be in my head but I did seem to notice it more on the 14mm when shooting wide open. I do end up using the 12-35 a lot in the 17-21mm range where you really can't even see it. Personally I don't mind vignetting either, but can be bothersome at wider angles. Lightroom makes this an easy fix though.

    Re the AF speed, with the 14mm I just never even notice it focusing in good light. Half click and it's there. The 12-35 takes a bit more time but still is pretty damn fast and always seems to lock onto what I want. Every lens I've tried on this system is fast enough for me. Believe it or not you can achieve some shallow DOF using the long end of the lens. You just have to get a little bit closer :wink:

    Case in point 35mm at minimum focus distance:

    7974815012_1abb061197_b.
    Just an iPhone... by danska8, on Flickr

    Close to minimum @ f/4:

    7947097774_7b778f4d16_b.
    Hello! by danska8, on Flickr
     
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  6. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Vassilios
    Thank you both for the insight guys! :thumbup: