Which to buy this week? Oly 12-40mm or 12mm & 17mm/45mm

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by egb, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. egb

    egb Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 22, 2011
    west coast, canada
    Just picked up an E-M5 last week on an amazing web deal and so far I absolutely love it. I also own a GF1, GH2, Sony Nex-5n, and Nikon D600. After a few days with the OMD I've already decided to sell the GH2, Nex-5N and a bunch of lenses.

    So, I'm ready to make a lens purchase this week in prep for upcoming holiday events and trips. My dilemma is deciding on the new Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 vs adding a couple more primes to my inventory, like the 12mm f/2, 17mm f/1.8, and 45mm f/1.8.

    My current arsenal is: P20 1.7, P25 1.4, and a few manual lenses: Sigma A 35mm 1.4, Nikkor 50mm 1.8, Zeiss 85mm 1.4

    I am a huge fan of the 35mm angle, so am interested in the 17mm.
    A lot of my photography is landscape, so want at least a 12mm.
    Weight is a bit of concern as I'm usually on photog/cycling trips.

    I know opinions will vary, but will definitely help with my decision. Thanks!
  2. Photodan1

    Photodan1 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 26, 2012
    Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    I own the new 17 and love it, but I am considering selling a few lenses (45, 12-50) and getting the 12-40. It is such a versatile option. If you did that and kept the Pany 25 for a low light option and some of those other brand primes it would make a nice kit. I don't think you lose either way.
  3. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    The 12 and 17 primes would cost about the same or more than the zoom, and I don't think you'd be losing any IQ with the 12-40 over the 12 and 17 primes. It is bigger and heavier than the 2 primes combined, but is weather proofed, which might be useful if you're cycling.

    Personally, if I accepted the size and weight of the zoom, I wouldn't get any primes in the 12-40 range except for a really fast lens like the PL25 for low light stuff.

    The 45 on the other hand, is very useful in its own right as a dedicated portrait lens, and does not overlap at all with the zoom. It's also quite a bit cheaper compared with the other two primes.
  4. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Get the zoom. It seems like a lot of trouble to change lenses roadside, at the top of a hill, covered with sweat and road grime, with cars passing by. Just bring the 20 or 25 along for the evening dinners.
  5. tomas

    tomas Mu-43 Regular

    I use zooms the most when I travel and bring the 17 and the 75 primes for special static situations. As was stated above, the zooms are more versatile, and, with the weather proofing of my Panasonic 12-35 and the 35-100, much more care free.

    I'd go for the Olympus 12-40 or the Panasonic 12-35. I'd rather cope with the added size/weight of the zooms than be constantly changing primes on the fly. It's a bit different when working in static situations or very low light where primes are often more useful.
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  6. egb

    egb Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 22, 2011
    west coast, canada
    I think the struggle point for me was figuring out a combination that worked with my PL25 in it, but that lens has never been that inspiring to me. I think a great combo would be the 12-40, 17, and 75. For now, I can sub the 17 with the PL20 pancake.

    So I'll start with the 12-40mm and the 75mm will come next. Thanks for the input everyone.
  7. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    Since the 20 is close to the 17 have you considered the 12 and 17 while selling the 20?
  8. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    I like 35mm FOV also, and while I currently have the 14 f/2.5 and 25 f/1.4, I just ordered the 17 f/1.8. I am going to see if it serves my purposes, like it does for so many others here, then decide on whether to keep the 25. The size of the 25 is a little annoying, but the shots are just so nice. If the 17 is anywhere near, I may just go with it.
  9. JeanLucX

    JeanLucX Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 3, 2013
    I would definitely get the 12-40 f2.8 over the two primes.
  10. htc

    htc Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 11, 2011
    You need one bright prime for special occasions, but definitely zoom for every-day use.
  11. ebo

    ebo New to Mu-43

    Oct 27, 2013
    Michigan, USA

    Glad to hear of a fellow photo-cyclist, because I've been struggling with this same issue.

    While cycling for 3 days of continuous rain in Taiwan, I left my Canon 3ti in my luggage and took photos with an iPhone.
    In France, I left my Fuji Xe-1 at home some I could carry a Canon G15 on my waist
    But now, with my OMD -EM1 and an Oly 12-40, I will not plan to change lenses while on the bike. I'll take a Coolpix a in the hip bag for a fixed lens/ low light photo. This way I can avoid getting junk on the sensor there and have a weather proof system.....and I can stop missing amazing photo opportunities while cycling.

    EGB;... what's your next destination? Any photos from your recent trips posted? Maybe we should start a cycling thread?

  12. egb

    egb Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 22, 2011
    west coast, canada
    I haven't, no. The PL20 stays on my wife's GF1 and she's pretty attached too that setup. I also love that lens for focal range, IQ, and size.
  13. egb

    egb Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 22, 2011
    west coast, canada
    Definitely let us know what you think. I was considering the PL14 as well for its size, but it isn't quite fast enough to be my only prime. The 17 would be a great option, even though its a bit bigger then the PL20.

    The Oly 12-40 seems like more weight then I'd want to pack, but I think its the best option as it covers the 12mm range, pseudo-macro, and short telephoto. Then the PL20 or O17 would work as a great everyday lens as I prefer to work with just a semi-wide fast prime and my legs.

    I've got both the 12mm and 12-40 lenses arriving on Tuesday at my local shop. Thinking it'll be the zoom.

    No big cycling trips planned, but I'd like to do the Oregon Coast next year. I'm over on the west coast of Canada so most of my trips are in the pacific northwest. I drove the coast earlier this year and was sad that I didn't do any cycling.
  14. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    I would suggest combining the 12-40 f2.8 zoom with really fast primes.
    The difference of f2.8 vs. f1.8 is to small to justify the extra expense.

    When combining zoom with primes do it like that:

    Versatility 12-40 f2.8
    Low light: 17.5mm f0.95 and/or 25mm f0.95 Voigtländer, if you really need Autofocus take the PanaLeica 25mm f1.4 instead (I have both but if I had to chose only one I would chose the Voigtländer without hesitating...)
  15. egb

    egb Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 22, 2011
    west coast, canada
    I did shoot with the Voigtlander 25 previously and as beautiful of a lens it is, it doesn't quite fit my needs for an everyday lens. I may be the oddball, but I prefer a semi-wide pancake as an everyday lens, so the 12-40 zoom to me would be a specialty lens when I need wider or zoom.

    After some more reading, I think a nice setup with my E-M5 could also be:

    Olympus 12mm f/2
    Panasonic 20mm f/1.7
    Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro

    Decisions decisions. I'm sure it'll be easier to decide once I have the 12mm and 12-40 zoom for a hands-on comparison.
  16. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    I don't think that the 12mm f2.0 is a worthy addition to the 12-40 f2.8.
    There's just one stop difference and image quality wise these should be on the same level (some even report that the 12-40 surpasses the 12 f2.0 at same apertures).
    So there is only the size advantage left...
  17. egb

    egb Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 22, 2011
    west coast, canada
    Yeh, I thought an alternate route could be to go with just primes and skip the 12-40 zoom.

    So 12mm for wide, P20 for everyday, and Oly 60 for macro. It would keep the weight down and the macro is really special purpose, so don't mind that lens being bigger.
  18. zensu

    zensu Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 8, 2012
    Alabama USA
    I'm a very happy 12-40 f2.8 lens owner and when I was much younger I was also into cycling. The 12-40 zoom might be a little heavy and also a little bulky for cycling, that will be up to you. Performance wise I sold my Oly 9-18 zoom and P/L 25 f1.4 to help pay for the 12-40 and am not disappointed in IQ. I also don't miss the 25mm that much as the modern sensor's ISO's can be pushed up without much noise (E-M5) and I was never that wild about supper shallow depth of field.
    Good luck in whatever you decide after all it's not what pleases us but what pleases you.
  19. egb

    egb Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 22, 2011
    west coast, canada
    I had the opportunity this week to handle and test a bunch of Olympus primes. The 12mm is wonderful. Small and light, and I enjoyed the 24mm focal length very much. But in the end, I decided on the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8. And It's beautiful.

    Although its much larger and heavier then any m43 lens I've ever owned, it is still much lighter then my full-frame lenses. It handles wonderfully and comfortably. I am also a huge fan of the manual focus clutch on these Olympus lenses. I’m often switching between AF and manual when I shoot and am use to having a physical switch on the camera body for this purpose. The focus clutch works even better and feels very natural.

    The next lens is likely going to be the Oly 75 1.8. Well, once I sell some more gear.
  20. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    My go to kit is the E-M5 with the 12-40, 12, 17 & 45. It is a great combo, if I had to lose a lens it would be the 45.