Weight equivalence: 12-40mm vs. various trinities

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by jamespetts, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Using the official weights from the Four Thirds website, I compared the weights of the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 with the three fixed focal length lenses that most closely match its zoom range, the 12mm f/2.0, 25mm f/1.8 and 45mm f/1.8. The weight of the 12-40mm lens is 382g. The combined weight of the former three lenses is 383g (130g + 137g + 116g), which is only trivially heavier than the single zoom. Interestingly, therefore, on weight grounds alone, there is no (non-trivial) advantage in the zoom over the set of fixed lenses (the combination of wide, standard and short telephoto to which some people refer as a "trinity"). If using other lenses (the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 or Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 instead of the 12mm f/2.0 or the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 instead of the Olympus 25mm f/1.8, for example), a considerable weight saving can be achieved. For example, the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 (55g), the 20mm f/1.7 (87g for the new version) with the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 gives a total weight of only 258g, a whole 124g lighter than the zoom, and anything from a half to just over a stop and a third faster.

    I do not mean to suggest that weight is the only factor of significance, of course: far from it - the abilities to change focal lengths without changing lenses and select any intermediate focal length are of very great value indeed, and the zoom is weather sealed, of course. Still, it is interesting to note that weight alone is not a good reason to choose the zoom over a set of three fixed lenses giving approximately equivalent coverage (although the position is different if one instead makes it four or five, adding a 17mm and/or 14mm lens for intermediate coverage).
  2. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Real Name:
    Ray, not Oz
    Zooms are generally bought for flexibility, speed of use and convenience. There probably isn't a news and sports photographer that doesn't use zooms, other than for the longer on-field work.
  3. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Indeed: these are the sensible reasons to buy a zoom.
  4. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Plus travel. I bring primes for travel, but I leave them on the A7R these days :)
  5. Anthonys

    Anthonys Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 17, 2011
    Real Name:
    Yup, buy the zoom for convenience not weight saving. It's much easier not to have to change lenses all the time compared to carrying another 100g or so.

    I've gone down the prime route as I don't want to compromise on aperture brightness and/or sharpness, and like the ability to take just one or two lenses out at a time so the camera is less bulky. The pro level zooms likely offer similar sharpness though. I also don't make my living from photography so don't mind if I miss a shot as I'm changing lenses or don't get the right crop, and enjoy framing with a prime.
  6. mallmand

    mallmand New to Mu-43

    Sep 20, 2012
    I love primes, but the zoom let's me shoot faces and get group/environmental shots when indoors without changing lenses. I am thinking of adding a 20 1.7 for shooting after dark.

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  7. davidedric

    davidedric Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 24, 2013
    Cheshire, UK
    Real Name:
    It's not just convenience. In a harsh environment (dusty, for example) you really don't want to be changing lenses more than you have to.
  8. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    But the bag holding the primes can be quite bulky...:biggrin::tongue:
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  9. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    In the second case, you're missing 2mm at the wide end, which is pretty much impossible to work around in most situations, so I wouldn't consider it a valid substitute.

    In both cases, you're missing the ability to focus close - the 12-40/2.8 goes to 1:3.3 magnification (better than 1:2 in full-frame) whereas neither of your 2 kits goes closer than 1:7.5.

    To adequately replace the 12-40/2.8, I would need the 12/2, 20/1.7 and 45/2.8 macro. In terms of weight, that's 130g + 85g + 225g = 440g. The 12-40/2.8 can be had for <$700. The primes at a minimum would be $500 + $250 + $450 = $1200. The zoom would also have the distinct advantage in AF speed (vs. the 20/1.7 and PL 45/2.8). Finally, the zoom would be sharper at the wide end. Obviously a lot depends on how you use your lenses, but even setting aside convenience, there are a number of reasons to go with the zoom.
  10. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    Surely it all depends on your style and need from the set of lenses, the weight will only really come in to it if you are either aiming to pack mega light or one or other fells badly balanced. They are all good and give great options to us, we have the choice from ultra small to very high quality pro gear, I can't buy a DSLR that is as small as the gm1 or EPM's with a pancake but I can buy (soon) a full on 4k video cam that takes the same lenses. The 4k could be a sports shooters dream just pull out 8mp frames at 25 or is it 50 fps?
  11. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Real Name:
    Primes are only a good combination if these lenses are used commonly in the field by the photographer. Primes are good when you have a certain amount of freedom of movement to compose your shots, whereas a zoom allows you to crop in tight places.
    Sometimes when I shoot in crowded places or in special events where I am restricted in the amount of freedom I can move, then I use a zoom with a fast prime (28mm or 50mm 35FF equiv). Most of these days when I travel, hike or bike, I combine both my Nikon Coolpix A which is a 28mm nice and sharp prime lens with my m43 E-PL1 and the Panasonic 25mm Leica lens to make a great versatile combo. I might carry along the 40-150 zoom with a Marumi closeup for flower shots as well. If I know in advance I'll be shooting in low light and need the reach, I'll switch the 40-150 zoom to my Lumix 35-100 f/2.8 to gain a stop or 2.

    The best lenses are the ones you use the most in the field, not the ones sitting inside your closet most of the time.
  12. TheRenaissanceMan

    TheRenaissanceMan Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 11, 2013
    Up to 30 fps.

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