So how do you replace the ZD 12-60?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by dhazeghi, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    I finally had a chance to do some real shooting (not just test shots) with the Olympus ZD 12-60 (the 4/3 lens, not the newer m4/3 12-50) today on my E-PM1, and was amazed at just how sharp the combination is. If anything, I'd say it's better than my two primes (the Panasonic 20/1.7 and Olympus 45/1.8) and I don't even have to swap lenses every 5 seconds. Oh yeah, and it has an ultrawide end and close-focus (1:3.6).

    Of course, being a HG 4/3 lens, the 12-60 is an awkward fit with the E-PM1 - I was basically holding the lens, not the camera. The AF also isn't good at all.

    Still, for $650 (secondhand, including adapter), it's by far the most flexible high quality zoom option available for m4/3 that I've come across.

    The problem now is that I have absolutely no idea what m4/3 lens I will ever be able to replace it with for hiking season (the awkward handling and sluggish AF are a no go for a hiking kit).

    EDIT: can't take a photo of the E-PM1 with the 12-60 (don't have any other camera around), but here's one I got of the 12-60, E-P2 and VF2 some time ago, for those curious:

    i-HJPWZqb-L.

    DH
     
  2. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Examples:

    60mm

    P4140838-L.

    12mm

    P4140871-L.

    60mm
    P4140872-L.

    60mm close-focus
    P4140903-L.

    100% crops (ACR, default sharpening).
    i-nQ2TLb5.

    i-gH7K6j9.
     
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  3. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Fred
    It doesn't have the range or speed, but the Panasonic 14-45/3.5-5.6 is probably your best bet.

    Fred
     
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  4. The trouble is that as good as the 4/3 zoom lenses are, it's just not much fun using an over-sized lens with seriously under-performing autofocus.
     
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  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The fact that it's a 4/3 lens doesn't affect the size much though, only the autofocus. The reason the lens is big is because it's fast and it has a broad zoom range. Any fast zoom is going to be larger, and any fast zoom should be held at the lens not the body. This is just the way things work in photography. The 12-60mm has a particularly impressive zoom range for a lens of its class, which of course affects its size.

    I assume you have the 12-60mm because you like a sharp, versatile, fast zoom. If you want to replace it with something smaller, then your best option is the Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II. It is a significantly lighter and smaller lens than the 12-60mm, which was nice on Four-Thirds bodies but is ideal now on Micro Four-Thirds. It will also Autofocus significantly faster (about half the time?) because it is CDAF optimized. It doesn't have the ultra-wide that the 12-60mm has, but it has nearly the same close focus (1:4). The corner sharpness of the 12-60mm is better, but the center sharpness is the same.

    In other words, the 14-54mm II will retain nearly all the performance specs that you love about the 12-60mm but will also improve in all the areas that bother you about the 12-60mm (ie, size and autofocus), though to a minor extent compared with going native. Of course, everything's a compromise. If you bought a native zoom lens you would significantly improve in size and autofocus, but you would go down a huge step in lens speed and sharpness. So just how much are you willing to compromise in your optics for compact size and AF?

    Although... I must also add that I would also consider just bringing your existing Lumix 20mm/1.7 and m.Zuiko 45mm/1.8 primes on your hiking trips, rather than replacing your zoom. ;)

    The fact that you have those two primes though, gives even more reason not to buy a native zoom lens. You should better or match the performance of the primes, and Micro Four-Thirds zooms are not at that level. The Four-Thirds zooms are at that level, which your experience with the 12-60mm shows.
     
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  6. ssgreenley

    ssgreenley Mu-43 Top Veteran

    509
    May 12, 2011
    Not to change the subject, but I love the colors in this photo!! Is this OOC or did you do some PP to bring them out? Anyway, like I said, I dont want to change the subject (I too am waiting a fast, midrange travel zoom; I'm hoping the rumored Panasonic X lenses may help fill the gap), but it's so good I had to ask.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Of the native lenses, I suspect you're right. I did have the 14-45 for a while on my E-P2. It's not a bad lens, but compared to the 12-60 it really doesn't measure up very well:
    -12mm vs. 14mm (getting expansive landscapes and indoor shots is harder)
    -corners are quite soft at 14mm (and at least 40% of my shots are wide-angles)
    -close-focus limits magnification to 1:6 (hard to get close-ups of small flowers)
    -f/5.6 pushes the ISO up to 400 and even 800 on cloudy days at the long end

    True enough, but that has to be measure against the results obtained with normal-sized lenses that feature good AF performance!

    Not very much :smile: I need fast AF to be able to get the shot, and I need the right focal length for the shot to make sense, but beyond that, IQ is paramount. Max aperture is less important.

    In order of important (greatest to least)
    1. AF speed (have to get the shot)
    2. zoom starting at 12mm (needs to cover useful range)
    3. sharp
    4. size
    5. close-focus
    6. 4x+ zoom range
    7. max. aperture
    8. weather-sealing

    I'm a tad skeptical of the 14-54II on the AF front. I know it is faster. The question is whether it is DSLR fast, and my experience when I tried it 2 years ago was definitely not. Granted, CDAF has improved, but I remember trying to photograph an egret about 20 feet away. By the time the lens had finished microadjusting, the bird had gotten bored and flown off!

    I like primes, but I'm not sure they'll work for hiking. I'm not hiking alone and changing lenses regularly would result in me getting left behind quite quickly! I guess I could take 2 bodies, but that's expensive, not to mention cumbersome, and I'd still find myself needing to swap.

    Thanks all for the comments,

    DH
     
  8. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Thanks - this is from Lightroom - nothing but a bit of saturation added. OOC should be fairly similar though.

    I guess we're all awaiting that lens (and wondering if it will break the bank)!

    DH
     
  9. duke

    duke Mu-43 Veteran

    420
    Dec 4, 2010
    Tulsa, moving to Houston
    Duke
    It sounds like the new 12-50 might work for you, only thing is it's a bit slow(aperture, focus is super fast) and I'm not sure how sharp it is.
     
  10. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    I think there could be a great opportunity for Olympus to recreate this lens with a native m43 mount. Panasonic's new x zooms sounds promising, but it still makes you choose for a wide or long zoom. I think I would prefer this sort of middle ground range if it were available. Maybe they can make it a bit smaller with optical compromises and software corrections.
     
  11. ssgreenley

    ssgreenley Mu-43 Top Veteran

    509
    May 12, 2011
    Looking at it, I guess it's just the palette of the bike with the rusty railing and the brick, but it combines really nicely. (Not to blow smoke, but if the credit isn't due to the camera, it must be due to the photographer's eye!) Anyway, great capture! Ya'll can get back to your lens talk...
     
  12. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Fred
    As for #2,3,5,6,7,8 there is no substitute for the 12-60. Focusing speed and size are either deal breakers or they're not. There are small fast focusing zooms but none with the other features of the 12-60. The ONLY other zoom that starts at 12mm is the new 12-50. Early reports don't put it in the same league as the 12-60.

    Fred
     
  13. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Thanks you! Nothing wrong with a little image talk with all the gear either - they're sort of the point! I spent a fair bit of time a few years back trying to get the Adobe colors to match the Olympus ones, only to eventually decide that I didn't actually like the Olympus colors as much on average. But a lot depends on the image too.

    That would be my preference too. The Olympus mid-grade (HG) 4/3 lens line had the advantage of covering an enormous range in just 2 lenses, both of which were sharp and fairly fast. The downside of prime lenses, or 'fast' zooms is you miss a lot in terms of coverage. For street shooting or studio shooting, that's not a big loss, but for other things, it can be.

    Right. I don't realistically expect to find a lens satisfying the whole list, that's why I ordered it in terms of importance (weather-sealing for instance is a 'would-be-nice' kind of feature, not at all a 'must-have' for me). It's just kind of frustrating that they already have a lens that is a few tweaks and a new AF sensor away from being ideal. So close, and yet so far...

    DH
     
  14. CarlB

    CarlB Mu-43 Veteran

    Consider getting two E-PM1s and mounting the Oly 12mm on one, the Oly 45mm on the other. Always ready to rock.

    I usually shoot with an E-1 with the Pana-Leica 14-150mm, and also the E-PM1 with something fast (12mm 2.0, 20mm 1.7, 25mm 1.4, 50mm 2.0) for the "exceptional sharpness and great bokeh."


    The E-PM1 is available refurb for $330 through Cameta. Sell the 14-42 that comes with it, and you've paid about $250 for the camera.
     
  15. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Yes, for casual shooting that would work okay. But keeping two cameras handy is still somewhat awkward, not to mention missing the middle part of the range with the primes. I think I'd probably go with the 12-35/2.8 and 60/2.8 macro in this situation. That at least would match the 12-60 for coverage, though not at all in convenience or (shudder) cost.

    Here's an example of the sort of photograph where I really don't want to have to be fiddling around with more than one body.

    i-jsX3v9p-L.

    (D700 and Tamron 24-135mm lens, taken about 18 months ago)

    DH
     
  16. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Still trying to find the right alternative to the 12-60 for m4/3... I have about 2 months to figure it out as I will be going on two long trips in August.

    Have to say I'm more than a little frustrated. If the model for m4/3 zooms is going to remain slow and soft or fast and high-priced, I may have some rethinking to do.

    DH
     
  17. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    The Olympus 12-60mm lens is super awesome. Sometimes I wonder if I should sell my Micro 4/3 system and get a used E-620 with this lens. That combo simply rocks. Sharp corner to corner, with great FL range and close-focus ability.

    Some images taken with this lens:

    0vz4GxZsmhpP7wgaO9I8.JPG

    DOyPsYbaZ6LVnJ0FsIjl.JPG

    amxDa998FIh9jE1dDht4.JPG
     
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  18. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Nice work! Yes, it is a great lens. If Olympus made a new compact 4/3 DSLR, I'd seriously consider it, in spite of the many headaches I've had with 4/3 and the duplication it would introduce with my m4/3 gear. But I'd not touch the E-620 with a 10 foot pole. That camera had the worst AF of any camera I've ever used. You'd think it would be hard to take a landscape image at 12mm f/8 where nothing was in focus, but that camera could manage it...

    DH
     
  19. SkiHound

    SkiHound Mu-43 Veteran

    328
    Jan 28, 2012
    The 12-60 is a wonderful lens. Some complex distortion at 12-13mm but a really special lens. I agree that when you're out hiking and especially when hiking with people you generally can't be stopping to change lenses. I keep hoping that Olympus will release m43 versions of the 12-60. Physics dictates it's going to be fairly chunky but I'll live with it. I'd also like to see a m43 version of the 50-200. Actually, I'd be really happy with a 40-150 f2.8/f3.5 with the optical quality of the 50-200.
     
  20. CUB

    CUB Mu-43 Veteran

    275
    Apr 19, 2012

    How about the new Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 zoom plus the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 in your pocket?