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Who says we have no choice, 12-40 2.8 or 12-60 SWD (4/3) for the extra reach

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by AussiePhil, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    774
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    Help me decide please... sorry for the upfront ramble but context is good.
    Faster weather sealed zoom than the 12-50 kit lens

    I'm largely a zoom user and have been from film days. My film camera was a Canon T70 with Tokina 70-210 F4 essentially glued on, I kept a 28mm F2.8 for the rare times i wanted to shoot a wide scene.

    Fast forward to digital and the Olympus E300, bought the dual lens kit with 14-45 and 40-150 and whilst the F5.6 slow ends were a little down on the F4 the ability to shoot 800 iso that looked better than the 400 or higher film I often used offset the slower lenses. So I did what I was used to sucked it up and if I didn't get the shot I tried to learn how to get it next time without getting faster glass as it was outside of financial good sense. At some time I added the 70-300 to the bag.

    Fast forward to a couple months ago and finally a $700 saving on a OMD-EM1 12-50 kit made it too good not to upgrade. Since then I have spent more than I care to add up on bits and pieces. At the same time my very kind nephew gifted me an E3 body in good condition.
    Now the idea of full weathersealing is great and will be of use on travel trips it's not a big deal most of the year, however it has sparked an interest in a faster lens.

    Now I didn't buy the EM1 for it's small size but more for how it felt in the hand, though even then it felt not quite tall enough (larger hands) so I have added the battery grip and like it.

    Bearing all the above in mind as in I'm used to bigger, longer, larger lens and the following analysis of focal lengths.
    All numbers approximate as I don;t have the actuals in front of me now
    30% at 14mm
    25% at 45mm
    so 55% shot with 14-45 and at each extreme

    15% at 150mm
    12% at 300mm

    everything else was a mix covering most of the focal lengths.

    I keep eyeing off the 12-40 2.8 Pro but I'm concerned that I will constantly looking for that little bit extra on the long end, so that brings the 4/3 12-60 SWD into the equation. Yes not a constant F but still better than anything i've owned and gives me a touch more walk around reach.
    I also just picked up the Sigma 60mm 2.8, the O 17mm 1.8 is planned. Used the O 45 1.8 on the weekend but I found the the S 60 was not a lot different, sort of two paces further back and i'm happy to go up in ISO.
    Razor thin dof is not something i've chased though I understand why it's good at times.

    anyway as a general walk around weathersealed zoom..... (weight not important)
    12-40 2.8
    or
    12-60 2.8-4

    Thanks for any thoughts
     
  2. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Since you have the E-M1, the 12-60mm could be a good option. It's always been rated as a very good lens and, with the SWD motor, will focus fast. It's a lens I'd have no problem owning and I think it would balance very well on the E-M1.
     
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  3. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    774
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    Thanks Ray,
    it's certainly the way I'm leaning and would mean I could drop the 40-150 out of the bag completely with just a small gap to the 70-300.

    Cheers
    Phil
     
  4. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I'm pretty certain that you'd find the 12-60mm to be an almost perfect range.
     
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  5. Howi

    Howi Mu-43 Veteran

    208
    Feb 23, 2011
    Sheffield
    Howard
    I have both the 12-60 and 75-300 43 lenses + the 14mm and 20mm m43 pancakes + kit zoom with G5 and GF1 bodies. The extra length on both ends make the 12-60 the lens to go for most occations. The 20 goes on if I need the 1.7 aperture, the 14 goes on (usually the GF1) if I need something unobtrusive and pocketable.
    The 12-60 is a superb lens in every respect, I will not be parting with mine for some time to come.
     
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  6. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Also note a 12-50 f2.8-4 is supposedly in the works from Olympus.
    Not sure if it'll be sealed.

    I have both the 12-40 and 12-60 (with mmf-3)... The 12-60 is a bit heavy for my tastes, and won't fit mounted into my ThinkTank mm10 bag, but I have hiked around with it a bit.
    I wasn't very happy with its AF performance, esp. in low light, but I haven't tried it with the em-1 1.4 firmware which supposedly makes a dramatic difference.

    Barry


    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
     
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  7. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    774
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    Thanks Howi and Barry,

    Barry i'd be interested for more info once you update the firmware as you have both. One question what's your thoughts on the IQ between the two?

    Cheers
    Phil
     
  8. BeyondTheLines

    BeyondTheLines Mu-43 Veteran

    262
    Sep 23, 2012
    Spain/USA
    Patrick
    Have you considered the 14-54 II? It still has a nice range and is faster throughout comparable ranges to the 12-60 and cheaper. Of course you lose out on 12mm which might be a deal breaker for you.
     
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  9. kenez

    kenez Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Apr 18, 2012
    I just struggled with this same dilemma but finally went with a refurb 12-40mm. I already own the ZD 14-54 Mk II and the m4/3 12-50mm so I already had most of the focal length covered of the 12-60mm. I mainly wanted faster focus in low light and F2.8 at 40mm. The 14-54 Mk II, even after the latest EM-1 firmware upgrade, still struggles to lock focus especially in lower light. If I were convinced the ZD 12-60 would have been noticeably better in that department I might have given it a shot since they can also be found for less money than the 12-40mm but in the end I went with the native lens. So far I am pleased but I do miss that extra reach. I suppose in a pinch I can always move into 2X crop mode but I know I can do this almost as easily in post processing. The 12-40mm does have a nice manual focus ring and is somewhat smaller than the 12-60mm, especially with the MMF3 attached. I don't think there is a clear cut answer here but that was my thought process.
     
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  10. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    774
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    Thanks - yep looked seriously at the 14-54 II but having now experienced having 12mm with the 12-50 I'd be sorry to loss the extra couple mm
     
  11. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    774
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    Certainly not clear cut and I appreciate your thoughts, The size as I said is not an issue. afaik refurb is not an option in Aus.

    Having to buy a real mmf-3 to maintain weather sealing does shift the $$$ equation a little bit however i'm keeping in mind that the E3 will be the spare camera for a while
     
  12. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    Long post follows -

    I am going to put this in as a separate thread but with luck it will help here too:

    Zooms - a contrarian view:

    I have had the pleasure of owning all 4 of the "pro" walk around zooms for m43. The Olympus 12-40 f2.8, 14-54II f2.8-3.5 and 12-60 SWD f2.8-4 (2 of these!), and the Panasonic 12-35 f2.8. They all share some common charateristics, the IQ is excellent, they are all weather sealed, and they are all in the useful range of 24-120. So why choose one over another? Why not own them all! Heck I did so this seems like the simple answer. If you don't want to buy and sell a bunch of lenses here is my take on these four lenses:

    I own 100% Olympus bodies, Pen: E-PM1, OM-D: E-M5 and E-M1. All these bodies have some level of Olympus IBIS (sensor stabalization).

    Size: This is really interesting. All these lenses are proportionately the same size given the amount of reach each lens has. For the 4/3 lenses this includes the m43/43 adapter!

    attachment.php?attachmentid=24939&stc=1&d=1384123788.

    P5200003.

    Macro: All three of the Olympus lenses have a pretty good closeup magnification (0.25x to 0.30x), this is not true Macro, but it will certainly work for most people shooting Macro casually. The Panasonic close up function is limited to 0.17x. To put this in perspective the Macro mode of the Olympus 12-50 kit lens is 0.36x and both Olympus and Panasonic Macro lenses are 1.0x.

    Stabalization: Only the Panasonic 12-35 has in lens stabalization. So if you need it this is a huge benefit.

    Build: Both of the modern m43 lenses have a jewel like feel. The older 43 lenses are well built but they have a more industrial feel.

    Test Images: Are you kidding? There are lots of pixel peeping reviews on these lenses. They are all excellent. The 12-40 and 12-35 are likely somewhat absolutely sharper than the 14-54II and 12-60 SWD but I can't belive anyone could tell the difference in real shooting. Don't believe me? Have a look at this comparison - http://fourthirds-user.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12808 - IQ appears to be a wash.


    1. Olympus 12-40 f2.8. $1000 (retail) 382g 62mm filter

    This lens seems like the "no-brainer" choice if you have an Olympus body. Sharp, fast, beautifully made and at retail the second cheapest option! I kept this lens for a week. There is nothing wrong with it but for me it was neither fish nor fowl. Analogies are great but what does this mean:
    a. This lense is very sharp at the wide end. I don't shoot wide a lot, it is nice to have but normally I would shoot at the tele end of these lenses and the 12-40 is not as sharp at 40.
    b. This is the second lightest lense, but it doesn't feel that way on the camera body. The front element is heavy and this make the lens feel heavier when mounted than the weight suggests. A camera with a grip is a good idea for this lens.

    Pros: Great IQ, beatiful build, excellent AF on all m43 bodies. Good value. Nice lens hood. Sharpest at the wide end.

    Cons: Sharpest at the wide end. Feels heavier than it is when mounted on the body. Price.

    Issues: There have been reports of some mount breakage but I strongly suspect this is mostly bad luck.

    Recommendation: If you don't have an Olympus E-M1, and the weight/size is not an issue then this is a great choice, if price is not the deciding factor. If you have an E-M1 the 12-60 would be my choice over this lens if total size is not an issue. These two lenses handle pretty similarly.


    2. Olympus 14-54II f2.8-3.5. $630 (retail) + m43/43 adapter $180 (retail) 440g 67mm filter

    The bargain choice and no question the best value in these four lenses, especially at current used prices. A great mix of reach, weight and IQ. It feels lighter on a body than the 12-40. One of the things that may not be obvious with this lens if you haven't used it is that it hits its maximum aperture of f3.5 later than the 12-60. It also does not have the mustache distortion of the 12-60 at wide end.

    Pros: Great IQ, solid build, large range and fast variable aperture. Great value. Price.

    Cons: The least sharp in this set of amazing lenses. AF speed on m43 bodies is OK, but not as fast as the native choices. AF speed on the E-M1 is disappointing.

    Issues: None that I know of.

    Recommendations: The value winner in this group by pretty much any measure. The only body I would not bother using it on is the E-M1 (the 12-60 SWD focuses so much faster).


    3. Olympus 12-60 f2.8-4 SWD. $1050 (retail) + m43/43 adapter $180 (retail) 575g 72 mm filter

    For most 4/3 shooters this was the go to lens in this category if weight and cost did not matter. Fast focusing through the SWD mechanism, great IQ and lots of range (24-120). This lens is an OK performer on m43 bodies but AF is only acceptable. The 14-54II while much slower to focus than the 12-60SWD on the E-M1 is faster on CDAF m43 bodies than the 12-60.

    This is a big heavy lens so a body with a grip is a good idea. Ironically the 12-40 feels very similar when mounted on the body and it appears that they share a similar heavy front element design.

    This lens is very fast to focus on the E-M1 with the 1.4 firmware. In low light it is on par or faster than the 12-40. The on chip PDAF coupled with the SWD motor is very effective.

    This lens does reach its maximum aperture faster than the 14-54, in other words it is proportionaly slower as the zoom range increases.

    Pros: Great IQ, very solid, super wide range, and a fast aperture on the wide end. Great value used.

    Cons: New this is an expensive lens. Heavy and large. Slower maximum aperture. AF speed on CDAF m43 bodies not great. Mustache distortion at 12mm.

    Issues: SWD motors appear to have issues and this seems to be made worse by use on CDAF bodies. The lens hood can bind over time causing the front element to come out if the user is too vigorous in removing the hood.

    Recommendations: If you are using the E-M1 and you value reach over weight and size this is the clear winner. Fast to focus and really versatlle. If you have a CDAF only m43 body I would avoid this lens.


    4. Panasonic 12-35 f2.8. $1000 (retail) 305g 58mm filter

    This was the first high end general purpose zoom for m43. Like the new Olympus 12-40 this is a really well built lens. It is not metal like the Oly zoom but the plastics are very nigh quality and the overall feel is excellent. This is the only lens in the group with lens based stabalization, so if you have a Panasonic body without stability this is a good choice.

    This lens is not as sharp as the 12-40 at the wide end but sharper at the long end. It is not mugh lighter than the 12-40 but feels a lot lighter on the camera. IQ is fantastic, AF is fast and it is a great lens. But, it has the shortest reach of all the choices.

    Pros: Great IQ, well built, compact and light.

    Cons: Less reach. Price is high. (Not really a con - zoom function is opposite to the Oly lenses. This has taken me a while to get used to.)

    Issues: There have been reports of poor weather sealing and bits of dust or other debris inside the rear elements of the lens.

    Recommendations: If you want a compact high quality zoom this lens is a winner. It is not out of place on the smaller m43 bodies.




    Conclusion:

    If you have an:

    E-M1 (on chip PDAF):

    If want a lot of reach, get the 12-60 SWD. The 12-40 feels nearly as big on the camera and you lose 20 mm of reach. If performance at 12 mm is the absolute priority get the 12-40.

    If you want a compact zoom, get the 12-35.


    M43 CDAF only body:

    If you have a CDAF body and you want a lot of reach get the 14-54II unless AF speed is the absolute priority then the 12-40 gets the nod (or if you value wide over long).

    If you want a compact zoom, get the 12-35.

    If you have to have stabalization in the lens your only choice is the 12-35.


    What do I have? Today I have a 14-54II and a 12-35. Tomorrow is another day.
     
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  13. kenez

    kenez Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Apr 18, 2012
    I would second almost everything Larry said and would also add that if video is a consideration the native choices may have an edge due to near silent focusing. On the other hand, if you have an EC14 or EC20 teleconverter they are compatible with 4/3 lenses but not m4/3. Finally, there is a 12-60mm "Buy it Now" on eBay for $399.99 which was very tempting but as I said in my previous post, I went with a 12-40mm refurb directly from Olympus.
     
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  14. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    These are good points! I really don't shoot much video with m43 but the 4/3 lenses are not silent to focus. The ability to use the 4/3 teleconverters is a big win for sure. I would not use the EC20 with the 14-54 or 12-60, but I have used the EC14 to good effect.

    Because I wanted smaller and lighter I now travel with the P12-35 and O75, these are roughly the same weight with less bulk than the 12-60 with more reach and a faster aperture. The downside is convenience and no weather sealing with the O75.
     
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  15. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Having owned a number of the 4/3 HG lenses and currently owning four of the SHG lenses, I can confidently say that they are all outstanding. All of the lenses I've owned have had a pretty hard life over the six years that I worked for a newspaper and all the bush travels that they have endured, yet they are still are as good as new (they were built for taking it and coming back for more). Whether the lens has the SWD or not, they all focus as fast with my E-M1 as they did with my E-3/E-5, and usually with more speed and accuracy in low light conditions, where the 4/3 cameras often struggled. If you can pick up a good 4/3 lens that suits your focal length needs, then I wouldn't hesitate to support the purchase.
     
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  16. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    774
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    Thanks for the long great write up, hope it also benefits others as well. I'm not a video person much but do take some ad hoc video's on trips but generally overlay audio anyway. for times when i will plan for video use then i'll just use a native lens as it is planned in advance.
    The tele convertors are not really in mind as i already use a 85-300 F4.5 Canon lens with a tele if needed for the really long shots though if i can pick up an EC-20 and 50-200 for a reasonable price then that can change
     
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  17. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Avoid the EC20, it's only really suitable for the likes of the 150mm and 300mm, but is usable with the 14-35mm and 35-100mm. The EC14 is a much better option, as you don't lose on quality as far as I've ever noticed, regardless of lens.
     
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  18. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    The EC-14 with the 50-200 SWD is a really excellent combo. Worked fantastically well on the E-M1 on safari. Smaller, lighter, more reach and better quality than my old canon 100-400 (which was no slouch at all).
     
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  19. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    774
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    The scary thing is that as I really start to experience some of the razor sharp images my expectations keep going up. Putting an ec-20 behind even the 70-300 is something I would do in a heartbeat if it lets me get a photo and then accept that the quality would be a little less, however all the current pixel peeping at razor sharp images is making me question that.
    But.... (yes there is a but)
    Ultimately I take photos for the memories they provide and to print them for display, as i have many printed images that I am very happy with even now I really need to fire the A2 printer up and print some newer photos, to me that is the ultimate test for acceptable IQ. Now i just wish the new rolls would turn up so i can profile the new paper :)
     
  20. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Printing is the ultimate end product for me as well, all the pixel peeping in the world means squat until you see the shot in print. I used to use roll paper, but after doing some calculations, it was much cheaper to buy in sheets, especially as you didn't waste any paper at the end, which always curled too much and made the last piece unusable. I get/used to get my paper from here: http://www.imagescience.com.au/index.php.
     
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