What's the real deal on the Olympus 12-50 ?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Sootchucker, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. Sootchucker

    Sootchucker Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 9, 2012
    HI guys. I've been reading review after review on this kit lens, and to be honest am more confused than before I started. One review will state it's a good overall package (though not stellar - which I wasn't expecting), whilst another will say it's pretty rubbish and so on and so forth.

    I'm not a big one for labs test and charts, and would much prefer honest opinions from users that own the lens and have used it in the real world. Basically, my fledgling M43 system currently lacks anything wider than 14mm (28mm effective), and I find it just a little tight. On my full frame Nikon DSLR's, I find my most used lens the Nikon 24-120, so was thinking that the venerable 12-50 (with an effective 24-100 FOV), would be a good M43 alternative ? I'm looking for a decent travel lens to partner my Olympus EM5 and Panasonic GX7 duo (both with IBIS). Whilst I don't expect the image quality to be up there with the primes and lenses such as the Oly 12-40 or Panny 12-35 F2.8, but is it good enough and sharp enough at all focal lengths for general non critical use ?

    I can currently pick a used one up here in the UK for just over £100 (about $165.00), so was thinking this might tide me over until after my vacation in July this year until I can afford a 12-40 ?
  2. wushumr2

    wushumr2 Mu-43 Regular

    May 20, 2013
    Yeah it'll do the job. Needs to be stopped down a stop at the wide end.
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I found it to a perfectly fine general purpose lens... though I will admit I use it rarely now, but that is because I prefer working with primes. At 100 pounds I would say it was a bargain... its a well built lens... feels solid, has a useful macro feature and its weather sealed.

    here are some of my shots on e-m5

    P8060214 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    P2180019 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    P8010035 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    P7280001 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    P8080233 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    some more here


  4. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    This lens is a generalist - it excels at nothing in particular, but does a lot in one package. As a generalist, it's a pretty good walk around travel lens for me. It's not too heavy or big, is weather sealed, has a useful focal length (including wide), and does decent macro. It's sharpness is underwhelming, but it's pretty consistent across the focal range. There is noticeable C/A at the wide end, but it's mostly correctable to the point where you would have to zoom in to see it. When I go shooting normally, the PL25 and O45 get used a lot, but I still use this for 12 mm shots (and almost exclusively while travelling light or in dodgy weather). Given how good those other two lenses are, I don't think this is as atrocious as some make it out to be - it's definitely still miles better than my Galaxy S3 or point-and-shoot.
  5. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 20, 2012
    Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
    Real Name:
    I still use mine on the E-M5 although it isn't as sharp as other lenses at the long end, but still quite good for general use. It has it's included macro setting fixed at 43mm which is quite useful & also a power zoom option (variable speed) for video use if desired. Also, Olympus made a petal lens hood for it recently, LH55C which is better than the one for the 9-18 lens, but I bought the JJC version instead (cheaper price, but about as good), LH-J55C.

    This is a 13 sec exposure with the camera held up against the glass window of the restaurant cropped from one frame at 12mm. There is plenty of detail in it as far as I can see. Click on it here & again in the gallery to see the large photo.
  6. ccunningham

    ccunningham Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    I think mine is ok for the 12-50 zoom range, less than ok in macro. It was the only weatherproof zoom I could or can afford. Results will likely vary with different samples and expectations.
  7. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    I use it when I need a weatherproofed lens.
  8. Subsonic

    Subsonic Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 24, 2013
    Real Name:
    It's my primary zoom lens, and I think it's really quite good for what it is - a mid-priced kit zoom. I have a 25 & 45 prime to compliment it when I need low light performance or critical sharpness, but I find it to be quite a nice lens for general use - the wide end and the macro I think are especially good.

    It's weaknesses are that it's slow, so indoor photography usually needs flash (which is fine by me, I kind of get a kick out of playing with flash photography), and it's not uber-sharp. Plenty sharp in bright light with good technique though, at least for me, but not pores-on-a-baby's-nose sharp. I personally never noticed any CA, but then again I never really looked too closely for it either.

    I would visit the 12-50mm group on Flickr to see 1000's of images shot with the lens, I think you'll be surprised at what some folks can pull out of this glass...

  9. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    Real Name:
    As part of a kit or for £100 it's excellent value. It's sharper than both Oly 14-42's we have and also a Pana 14-42 that we also have.

    As others have said it's better at the wide end than the 50mm end and needs good light (particularly @50mm) or allowing the ISO to rise. Macro is not that bad either.

    Yes the Oly 12mm is sharper and the Oly 60mm macro is better but that combination is ~£900 (over £1,000 for black) in the UK.

    Even though I am mainly a prime user (14,25&45) mine stays in my camera bag for the 12mm POV, quick macro work and weather proofing with my EM-5.
  10. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Another thumbs-up for the 12-50 based on overall value proposition.
  11. homerusan

    homerusan Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 25, 2012
    izmir, TURKEY
    i think it s must have lens if your area has a lot rainy days.
    have 12mm, have macro, have water seal, have 52mm filter, have L-fn button and lightweight with ok construction...
    there is no other lens in ANY SYSTEM that gives you these features for the price!
  12. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Real Name:
    I'll reiterate what others have said. View the thread in the image samples page and that will tell you what you need to know. It's a decent lens and a great value at $225 or less. At full retail, yeah it might be disappointing. Great for long exposures and the wide end is pretty good. Long end gets soft in low light. The picture is more important than the IQ though if we are really being honest. Lightweight, power focus, manual clutch and weatherproof to boot. I'm selling my 14-42 IIR, because I prefer using the 12-50 for many reasons, despite being a bit bigger.

    I have fast primes and still use the 12-50.
  13. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 21, 2012
    Mississippi, USA
    It has its place. It sounds like you have the right expectations for it, and at the used price you stated it's definitely worth a shot. You should be able to sell it on for around the same price if you end up not liking it or when you get the 12-40mm.
  14. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I owned one and shot a lot of pics I liked with it. I'd say it's very good but not excellent. It's clearly a step or two down from the 12-35/2.8 and 12-40/2.8 but if you can pick one up for the price you mentioned, it's a very useful general purpose lens that you'll probably get a lot of use out of. If not, you can probably sell it without losing anything.
  15. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    I find it underwhelming in almost all respects. It is a decent all arounder...but at the end of the day, unless I need it for inclement weather or adverse shooting conditions - I'm reaching for the 17/1.8 or 45/1.8 instead.
  16. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2013
    Lens quality is relative. You'll get lots of people that will post great pics with a lens in particular, but you'll rarely see side by sides. The reality is that any (native) lens in the M43 system is sharp enough for 99% of the public, when used correctly. The major drawbacks for the 12-50 to me are size and speed.
  17. Salc64

    Salc64 Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 24, 2012
    New York. USA
    Real Name:
    Their is only a few times I enjoy this lense. On the boat were I get sprayed with water. Taking my kids sledding on the snow an I do t want to worry about having to put the camera down. Or random still shots on perfectly sunny days . Almost never indoors cropping the 14, 25,or 45 always outshines using the 12-50 and zooming, for me at least . I try and remember their is a tool for every job don't think it will do all just because it zooms.
  18. madmaxmedia

    madmaxmedia Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 20, 2010
    I guess that Nikon you are referring to is a constant f/4 across entire zoom range. At the long end you are losing over 1 stop of light with the Olympus 12-50mm, that will probably be the most 'real world' difference. So it's up to you whether that will make a difference. If you shoot more wide or generally in daylight then it won't matter much.

    For the price you mention, it seems like a good deal. I don't like the general kit lenses with their slow variable aperture, I often shoot in lower light and prefer a couple of fast primes instead. But for stopgap lens it seems like it should do for you fine since you mention the Nikon.
  19. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Real Name:
    If you are happy with the Nikon 24-120, then you will be happy with the 12-50; that is if you have the latest 24-120VR constant f/4. The original Nikon 24-120 is soft; so if that's the one you have rather than the new f/4 constant, then buy the 12-50!

    A kit lens is designed for price in mind and usually isn't meant like a pro lens would and most people would be happy with it. Most people are unhappy with it because they, AHEMM, PIXEL PEEP. They pixel peep for chromatic aberrations, LCA, microcontrast and sharpness and so forth. There's nothing wrong with pixel peeping if your images are destined to be blown up for ads or prints or fussy clients who want the best. That's why we have the 12-40 and the 12-35 standbys by Oly and Panasonic for those people who need an extra edge to sell their images. So unless you sell lots of images, keep the money and be happy with the 12-50. A sharp photo isn't always the best photo either. It soley depends on content. You can't polish a turd! Why is why most of my Nikon pro lenses were bought used from these people who think owning the best sharpess lenses will help them make great photos. When they realized that's isn't the case, I benefit from their ignorance!
    • Like Like x 1
  20. nuclearboy

    nuclearboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 28, 2011
    Ellicott City, MD
    Real Name:
    I had the 12-50 for a while as part of a kit. The hyperbolic reviews had lowered my expectations for the lens so far that I was surprised by how good it was. I am not sure what the issue with the lens is. I was not crazy about the form factor. It was a little to long and made the camera awkward hanging around my neck. The images from this lens were fine, however, and it should not be discounted to easily.