PL25mm 1.4 or 12-35mm 2.8?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Anthonys, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. Anthonys

    Anthonys Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 17, 2011
    Real Name:
    I've been reading a lot over the past few days as I'm looking for something special to fill the gap between my Samyang 7.5mm and Olympus 45mm. I'm hoping the forum experts can help as I keep on changing my mind!

    I shoot travel, people, land/cityscapes, and my 1 year old son. I like to travel as light as possible and happy doing PP. I'd almost be happy with just the two but obviously there are times when neither are appropriate for this type of photography.

    I've tried to fill the gap with 3 lenses over the past two years, while all light and sharp lenses none of them were as much fun and would spend the least amount of time on my camera;

    • 14mm 2.5 - good for landscapes but find that the FE is a lot more fun and if I defish the images often look more impressive than the 14mm.
    • 20mm 1.7 - a great all round lens and good for low light.
    • 30mm 2.8 - bit better for people shots

    I've narrowed it down to two choices:

    • PL 25mm 1.4
    • 12-35mm 2.8

    I'm just left with a few questions for those with experience of these lenses. The PL25mm is still my preference but only because it's smaller, lighter and cheaper but thinking it may be more sensible to invest in the 12-35mm? I have seen that you can buy the Fuji X-E1 with 18-55 lens for the same cost as the 12-35mm itself, which sounds like it may even be a sensible alternative?! :eek:

    1. Does the PL25mm do video well enough? I don't shoot a lot but read it has a noisy focus that can be heard in video, where as the 12-35mm is meant to be absolutely silent? The 20mm had a noisy focus which annoyed me in video work.
    2. Is the 12-35mm better for low light than the PL25mm because it has OIS? I read that it offers up to 3 stop advantage which puts it ahead, but obviously won't work for moving subjects. I assume if I were to upgrade to a camera with IBIS later on this advantage would be irrelevant though, as the PL25 would then be stabilised too? Though seems the GX7 doesn't stabilise video..
    3. Can either of these lenses eliminate the need to carry the 45mm everywhere? (imagine I'd still take it if deemed needed but be nice to carry one less lens in my bag all the time). The PL25mm because it's capable of shooting low light and portraits with similar or better rending qualities? (albeit at a wider angle). Or the 12-35mm because it can do low light with it's OIS and at 35mm 2.8 can cover portraits?

  2. stripedrex

    stripedrex Do or do not. There is no try.

    Jun 8, 2012
    Long Island, NY
    Real Name:
    1. It's great for video imo and I don't get any noise on my GX1 or OMD. However for me handheld it's a focal length long enough where any jitters will be seen so you have to hold it tight or tripod. Also the DOF at f1.4 is SUPER tight so be prepared to stop down or for some focus challenges (GX1 face detection autofocus on someone not moving too much is actually pretty good in my experience). Most people will tell you to manually focus which no matter how hard I practice I always slightly overshoot and correct so prefer the auto focus work well at these aperture values (my technique maybe is no good?). Sadly I love shooting it on my OMD because of IBIS but also like shooting it on my GX1 because of autofocus and better codec. I rant a bit about it here: =p

    2. I went through similar thought processes as you (I have a 3 year old son). I can tell you as he starts running around the challenges I mentioned above with DOF and focus will start to bother you like it did me. There's a camp of video shooters that insist smaller sensor camcorders are more practical for family capture because it has just about everything in focus. I notice I shoot my LX7 (smaller sensor point and shoot with great video) video when I know my sons going to be running around like a crazy kid just so I don't have to fight with manual focus or autofocus with shallow dof. Or try to find a creative composition that covers it. Most of the time I want the character my lenses bring me in video as much as possible however.

    3. I have both the 25mm and 45mm. I found the 25mm has the ability separate my subect very well up close. There's just something about the character of the 45mm that makes me hold on to it. Here's a 25mm shot wide open up close of my boy:

    <a href="" title="New Years Day by AGeslani, on Flickr">[​IMG]"600" height="800" alt="New Years Day"></a>
  3. tdekany

    tdekany Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 8, 2011
    I only really shoot landscape, so I am into wide lenses, but because you shoot so many different stuff, the 12-35 would be the sensible choice. you can't always zoom with your foot.
  4. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I travel a lot, (currently in Shanghai) and the12-35 is practically welded onto the camera. It is not that much bigger/heavier in practical terms than the PL25/1.4.

    I have the PL45/2.8 ... And don't carry it any more. It stays at home for "true" macro use.
  5. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Real Name:
    Doug Green
    For me, you can't compare the two because the 12-35mm would be so much more versatile. I would need to compare it to two lenses - the 25mm, and either the 12 or the 14mm. I'd personally go with the two primes, choosing the 14mm at the wide end.

    But my kit actually has the 7-14, and the 20mm and I only sold the 14mm to partly fund the 7-14.
  6. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    Yeah, I was fine selling off my PL45/2.8 after I bought the 12-35/2.8, even before I picked up the 35-100/2.8.

    The 12-35mm is a great walk-around lens. It doesn't offer quite enough DOF control on :43: for me to get rid of my 25/1.4, but it's good enough for most cases.
  7. m.perle

    m.perle Mu-43 Rookie

    May 9, 2013
    New York, NY
    Any thoughts on the 12-35 the 20mm for people?
  8. Anthonys

    Anthonys Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 17, 2011
    Real Name:
    Thanks for the help.

    It seems those two lenses both get equal praise but ultimately Doug is right, you need to add the 12mm or 14mm to compare them, probably the 12mm to get closer to the IQ and build quality of the 12-35mm.

    So it's more a case of 12-35mm OR PL25mm and O12mm - which seems to have been discussed a lot since the 12-35mm came out!

    Is it fair to conclude that the 12-35mm is cheaper, adds OIS (to my camera) and better for video, while the PL25mm & O12mm combination is a little sharper and gives more DoF control?

    If the above is true then I think it makes more sense to me to buy the 12-35mm, as only view my images on screen where the extra sharpness probably won't be appreciated and can still use the O45mm for DoF, or even buy the new PL42.5 1.2 when it's released?
  9. Anthonys

    Anthonys Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 17, 2011
    Real Name:
    I sold my 20mm as the slow focus was bothering me when trying to capture images of my moving son. The original plan was to replace it with the 25mm.

    From portrait examples the 12-35mm matches the bokeh and DoF at f2.8 of the 20mm at f1.7, the reason given is that the wider barrel helps..
  10. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    One interesting related side note: I did some informal testing, which I confirmed with DxOMark's charts, that showed that the 12-35/2.8 is at least as sharp and bright as the 25/1.4 at f/2.8 and above. That is, for the same aperture, shutter speed and ISO, the 12-35/2.8 produced images that were slightly brighter (noticeable side-by-side, but not even 1/3 of a stop) and slightly sharper (more noticeable.) This is really good for a zoom, especially since the 25/1.4 is a high-quality prime. Of course, that is reflected in the price.

    Obviously, it doesn't do so well below at larger apertures than f/2.8. :wink:
  11. Anthonys

    Anthonys Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 17, 2011
    Real Name:
    That is interesting, and exactly inline with a review I found on the Lumix UK website. I guess you'd use f2 or f2.8 on the PL25mm if you want to maintain sharpness in the edges as seen it can get a bit soft at f1.4?

    This is a shot from the 12-35 at 25mm f2.8:


    This is from the PL25 at f2.8:


    The 12-35 makes a strong argument, even if you pair with with the PL25 it's only a little more than the Oly 12mm, gives pretty similar results but adds OIS and zoom. The only disadvantage is the extra weight!
  12. mister_roboto

    mister_roboto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Real Name:
    Hey there- I had previously owned (not all at the same time- I do try to limit myself :wink:):

    12mm Oly, Panasonic 14mm, Oly 17mm (heh- both, but not at the same time), and Panasonic 20mm. I don't have any of them any longer, and got the 12-35 zoom. I couldn't be happier.

    For my uses the 12-35 is just as sharp as those primes (I'm not much of a pixel peeper- as the majority of my photos stay digital, and when I do print it's rarely ever larger than 8x10- and even then, most look just fine). As for larger dof with the zoom: meh, it's not THAT different, and the lens renders beautifully with good contrast.

    As for the 45mm: I do still carry it with me, at least for now. I may consider selling it, but having a fast + slightly longer lens is pretty handy. It's not too big, and I'm typically a prime lens sort of guy. The 12-35 is excellent for travel.
  13. Anthonys

    Anthonys Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 17, 2011
    Real Name:
    Thanks for the guidance all. I've gone ahead with the purchase of the PL25mm. For anyone reading this in the future I'll summarise my findings with the hope it will be of some assistance.

    Overall these lenses provide basically provide the same IQ, which is why it was hard to choose!

    The PL25mm gives shots that are marginally sharper and also has the ability give thinner DoF, more background blur. It's a little shorter and 100g lighter but not a lot of difference in size.

    The 12-35mm is like a set of primes in one in terms of sharpness. It has OIS that if you don't have in-camera IBIS gives at least a 2-3 stop advantage (depending how steady you can hold the camera) and helps with video.

    The only real difference, and the most obvious, I concluded was the 12-35mm gives you a range of focal lengths without the need to change lenses. It is almost twice the cost, but actually about the same if you factor in a wide angle lens to go with the PL25mm.

    Given I already have access to a 14mm, 7.5mm and 45mm, the extra cost to cover the focal lengths wasn't worth it to me. I also appreciate the fact I can take the camera with just one lens out for a night, making a lighter and smaller package. The OIS was appealing but I think I'd prefer to put the extra money towards a newer body in the future that has IBIS, such as the OMD or GX7. Then the 25mm will have the edge for low light work. I think I'll mostly pair it with the 7.5mm meaning lens changes should be relatively minimal.

    Of course I could change my mind completely in a few months and the PL will be up for sale :)
  14. davidp158

    davidp158 New to Mu-43

    Dec 1, 2011
    similar quandary, different needs

    Anthonys - I hope your lens choice works out for you. Please post your thoughts after you have spent time with the lens.

    I am looking at the Panasonic 12-35mm, primarily for video work with my GH3. However, the cost has me looking for other possible options.

    My current lenses are:
    Panasonic 14mm/2.8
    Panasonic 20mm/1.7
    Panasonic 14-140/4-5.6
    SLR Magic 35mm/T1.4

    The 14mm and 20mm lenses get a lot of use, as they suit my shooting style and have decent performance in low light. Although the pancake lenses are great for portability, mounting a focus ring on them for my follow focus is challenging. Thus, I prefer using larger lenses for shooting video with my follow focus rig. The 14-140 isn't the sharpest lens on the planet, but it works well for outdoor shots, and the OIS and silent zoom/focus are handy for video work. The SLR Magic lens has the most interesting "look" (to me) for video work, but its 100% manual and without stabilization, 35mm can be tricky for hand held shooting.

    The 12-35mm lens looks like a great alternative to swapping lenses, along with OIS and silent zooming and focusing. Also, the 12-35 is weather sealed, which is important as I live in Seattle. I just wish the lens was a bit less expensive and a stop faster.

    The 25mm prime is similar to my 20mm, but it has faster focusing, better color rendering, and costs less than the 12-35mm. The 25mm FOV may not be the best choice for me, so I'm inclined to consider the Olympus 12mm/F2 or (all manual) SLR Magic 12mm/1.6. My SLR Magic 35mm covers the long end of the 12-35, but lacks auto features.

    If I could afford it, I'd spring for the 12-35mm, but I'm open to alternatives. Any advice would be appreciated.
  15. Anthonys

    Anthonys Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 17, 2011
    Real Name:
    David- I also wished the 12-35 was a bit faster and cheaper. I'd also add lighter now that I've been shooting with the PL25 for a week. The PL25 makes the camera significantly heavier than the 20 or 14 ever did, that's the one of the first things I noticed. The colour and shallow depth of field have made for some great shots though, and just about make up for the added size/weight. In some ways I'm glad I didn't go for the 12-35 though, just because of it's extra bulk and weight.

    I haven't missed the different focal lengths of the 20 and 14. I have just been taking the PL25 and the fisheye 7.5, and with Fisheye Hemi been able to use it for wide angle and the PL25 for everything else. I really bought in to the system for the smaller size and lighter weight! I'm hoping I can get away with these 2 lenses in my carry around bag.

    As for advice on your purchases; The PL25 produces lovely images but it's a lot bigger than other primes and if you're not in to the 25 FOV I would rule that option out. The 12-35 for you would effectively replace the 14 and 20 but it'd be twice as heavier as both those lenses combined and costs significantly more. It outputs pretty similar IQ to the 20 and should edge out the 14 so you'd gain a bit there. I think it's bokeh is equal to the 20 too. You also get OIS and weather sealing. So depending what you value most, if the later then I think worth investigating that option.

    The Oly 12 is almost as expensive as the 12-35, and from what I read doesn't produce as sharp images. It's a lot smaller and nicely built if that's important to you though? Otherwise I'd probably go for the 12-35 over it.

    The SLR Magic 12 is a lot different, it's images are softer, more cinematic and I think have more character when compared to the clinical 12-35 images. I think those lenses are for different purposes and could almost work together rather than picking one over the other.
  16. Anthonys

    Anthonys Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 17, 2011
    Real Name:
    Also - if you don't need the speed I think the 14-140, or even the old Panasonic 14-45, are viable alternatives for video work compared to the 12-35. The first gives a lot more flexibility in FOV, while the other is significantly cheaper and produces images not far off the 12-35 in terms of sharpness.
  17. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    Very simple IMO for you to decide:

    1. Do you need the speed of the 1.4 or depth of field of the of the 1.4 as it will keep your iso down and provide significant more bokeh...
    If not, then a no brainer, get the 12-35mm 2.8 as it preforms well at 25mm unless point 3 matters to you.

    2. Do you need 12-24mm or 26-35mm focal lengths..
    If so, then a no brainer, get the 12-35mm 2.8 unless point 3 matters to you.

    3. The 25mm has a certain signature look to the rendered images (very leica ccd like). If that want you want, get the 25mm unless you can figure out a RAW workflow to try and replicated the 25mm image renders.

    I personally really like the 25mm 1.4 rendering and would get that lens but if you want an AIO lens from wide to normal the 12-35 is pretty much the best option.
  18. nuclearboy

    nuclearboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 28, 2011
    Ellicott City, MD
    Real Name:
    Just to add a note. I have a copy of the Olympus 4/3 14-54mm II which is a 4/3 lens that works with the CDAF focusing systems in the m4/3 bodies. These can be had for less than half the price of the panasonic 12-35mm and they are considered an Olympus high grade (HG) lens. The lens is about the size of the 12-35 but then you have to add an adapter to it (like mmf-2) so that makes it another inch or so longer.

    Just adding my 2 cents here. The Olympus 14-54mm for 4/3 is a serious alternative to the Panasonic 12-35 and upcoming Olympus 12-40.

    Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II Interchangeable Lens Review
  19. davidp158

    davidp158 New to Mu-43

    Dec 1, 2011

    Anthonys - Thanks for this, and your previous post.

    I enjoy the size and weight of my 14mm and 20mm lenses, and will likely keep the 20mm for travel and low light shots. They both perform well, compared to their deceptive "toy" look!

    For me, the additional weight of a larger lens isn't a major issue, and the extra mass helps to stabilize the camera when shooting video hand held.

    If I commit to a 12mm prime, the sharpness and convenience of autofocus of the Olympus 12/F2 slightly outweighs my attraction to the funky, cinematic look of the SLR Magic 12mm/F1.6...but I really DO like the SLR Magic, and think the 12mm would cut well with my SLR 35/T1.4. Either lens would outperform my 14mm (which I would sell), and they cost much less than the Lumix 12-35

    The 14-45 doesn't appeal to me, as my old 14-140 covers that range, albeit slower and less sharp.

    Ultimately, the FOV flexibility, auto focus, sharpness and OIS of the 12-35 is what has me so interested in that Lumix lens. Maybe I'll find one on sale for Labor can always hope.

    Thanks again for your advice!

  20. mpresley

    mpresley Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 13, 2012
    Wolfe City, TX
    Real Name:
    The OIS in the 12-35 has been mentioned a couple of times as an advantage over the 25 for low light shooting and that's true enough. In my experience the 25 has an advantage over the OIS in the ability to focus at all if the light level is low enough. I've been in situations where the 12-35 wouldn't lock focus and the 25 had not problems doing so. They are very different lens and I'm happy to have them both in my bag.