Panasonic Lumix 14-42 II vs Olympus Zuiko 12-40

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by datagov, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. datagov

    datagov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 2, 2012
    New York
    Here is a comparison I searched the web in vain to find. I've adored my Panasonic 14-42 II for many months. It is small, weighs nothing, and sharp at every aperture and focal length.

    I recently felt "I needed" a the Zuiko Pro lens and bought it. I had a refurbished version of this lens for a week last year and returned it because it performed no better than my Panasonic 20mm f1.7. But since I got the 14-42, I rarely use the P20 or the O45. They often sit in the bag or at home, while the zoom gets all of the attention. It is so convenient and the IQ is excellent.

    But now I have 2 M43 primes and 2 zooms and of course that requires some comparison. All the trade magazines say that the O12-40 is a Pro lens as good as a pocket full of primes and that the P14-42 is a kit lens you should discard when your photography skills are up to the Pro line...

    Well, I have tested them both on objects near and far, and at every equal focal length and every equal aperture and here is my verdict.

    The Panasonic over-exposes by about 2/3 of a stop. Highlights are often blown out.

    The Olympus exposes perfectly and highlights can easily be adjusted down maybe 1/6 of a stop.

    Other than that, both lenses are equally sharp at all common focal lengths and apertures. The Olympus is maybe 5% sharper from f4 to f8, and the Panasonic is maybe 5% sharper from f8 to f16. At f22 both are usable but not critically sharp.

    The Olympus has f2.8 going for it, and it feels nice in the hand. It has a super manual mode and a much nicer lens cap and more convenient hood. It also has a metal mount, Pro label, and costs 7x more. It also has more distortion at wide angles and focuses closer.

    The Panasonic has super low weight going for it. The lens cap sucks and the hood is a pain to mount and unmount. Plastic construction and plastic mount. But it costs only $120 on ebay and if you under expose 2/3 a stop it is just as sharp as the Olympus with less distortion but no close focus.

    I will be keeping both for different purposes. I sometimes shoot long exposures and the cheapo Panasonic is great at f8-14 where I normally shoot. I guess I will keep the Olympus for a while but want to advise all my budget conscious photography friends:

    The Panasonic 14-42 ii is a killer lens as good as the best zooms in the business at comparable focal lengths and apertures. And it is so cheap.

    Some won't believe me so here are the obligatory samples, each shot RAW and processed in Darktable. Added local contrast and equalized the exposures.

    Shot in the following Order:

    Olympus: f5.6

    Panasonic f5.6

    Olympus f8

    Panasonic f8

    Olympus f11

    Panasonic f11

    Olympus f16

    Panasonic f16

    Olympus f22

    Panasonic f22
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