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Why buy "cheap" primes if you have a 12-50mm kit?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by majordude, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. majordude

    majordude Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 28, 2012
    Okay, we all know that the Oly 12mm, Pan 25mm, and the Oly 45mm are premium lenes.

    But Oly and Pan also have some "so-so" primes such as the 14mm, 15mm body lens cap, 17mm and 20mm.

    If the kit lens is adequate, why buy a less than primo prime? :confused: 
  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    They're all compact, and they're all significantly faster than the 12-50mm. :)  Almost all of them are also sharper.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. arentol

    arentol Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2012
    You answered your own question. The 12-50 is merely adequate. If you want something special you need to use a better lens, such as the 14, 17 f/1.8, or 20.

    They are all MUCH MUCH faster, they are all sharper, they are smaller, they are lighter, they are just overall way better lenses.

    Also, the 15mm is a BODY CAP, that is is also a lens. It is not intended to be treated primarily as a lens and doesn't fit with anything in your question.
  4. broncophil

    broncophil Mu-43 Veteran

    May 23, 2010
    i would hardly say the 14, 17, 20 are "so-so"..

    14 is good, 20 is great .. have not used the 17, but reviews and real life pics look pretty good.
  5. Adubo

    Adubo SithLord Subscribing Member

    Nov 4, 2010
    Because not everyone can afford the premium (primes)... And i like the extra challenge :cool: 

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 App
  6. LegacyLens

    LegacyLens Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 25, 2012
    I would say the 15mm body cap is "so-so" though xD. I'm sorry I contributed absolutely nothing to this thread.
  7. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez

    The 14mm is a good prime at the very least. Corners are a bit soft wide open, but it's also absolutely tiny and has good contrast. Certainly better performance than any of the kit lenses, methinks.

    The 17mm f2.8 I haven't really used so I won't say much other than that it's a really old lens for the system.

    The 20mm f1.7 though... where in the world did you get it was "so-so"?!? Up until the 75mm f1.8 came out, it produced the sharpest test results of any lens in the system, with not much CA and little flare. I'd argue it's actually the best overall lens in the system, particularly should they release an MKII version with quicker AF. I now have the 25mm f1.4, but basically the only thing keeping me with the leica is that I prefer more contrasty images and that it AFs better. Not the lens for everyone, but certainly not so-so.

    To answer your question, though, there's the speed issue, for one. Then there's the size issue. Also, some people buy body only. Others just prefer to compose with primes. And all of these lenses except for maybeee the 17mm(f2.8, not the new f1.8), should provide you noticeably better performance than the kit.

    In any case, I wouldn't say the 12-50 is so so for a kit lens. It's not the sharpest lens out there, but it certainly seems to render better than the f3.5+ kit lenses of basically any other brand... while also being weather sealed. So far it's been enough to keep me from getting the 12mm prime.
  8. harry_s

    harry_s Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    I personally prefer primes, it makes me think a lot more about composition.

    The 14mm (my personal favourite) is much faster, smaller and has superb contrast.
  9. homerusan

    homerusan Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 25, 2012
    izmir, TURKEY
    they are sharper, lighter, smaller...etc but the biggest thing for me is that they imprevoe photographic skills, i think
  10. littleMT

    littleMT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 8, 2012
    Lucille Sanchez
    I find the 14mm to be amongst the best of my lenses, folks say soft wideopen, not my images.

    I own the 12-50 zoom, the p20mm, pl25mm, o45mm, I would give all these up before I let go of the GEM of a lens, the little 14mm jewel..

    yes, I said it, I would ditch my Panny Leica 25mm f/1.4 before I get rid of my 14mm...

    my focus was the grill.....very sharp..

    "very uplifting"

    E-pl1, 14mm f/2.5, ISO200, 1/25 sec
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    This image, is as sharp as anything I have ever shot, with any of my cameras, which includes my Canon t2i/t4i, my Sony A65, Rx100, ect...

    the 14mm is a fabulous lens...which btw, for me atleast, simply kicks the 12-50 lens to the curb...

    E-pl1, 14mm f/2.5, ISO200, 1/20 sec
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    • Like Like x 8
  11. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    :biggrin: calling the 14 and 20 "less than primo" is grounds for a ban on this forum
    • Like Like x 1
  12. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    The 12-50 is phenomenal, under the right conditions. However, it struggles at other times. Faster lenses give you more creative options as well as increase the times you can take photos.
  13. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    It's all about the light gathering capabilities of faster aperture ratings on the primes.
  14. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    We buy them because they are smaller, faster, and often sharper. The 12-50 is like carrying a giant swiss army knife, the ones that come with a spoon. It's too large for me, just to have all that focal length. With the exception of the body cap, which is a toy, the 14mm, 20mm and Sigma 19mm & 30mm fit the smaller, faster, sharper criteria. The 17mm may not be sharper, but it makes great pictures and is still smaller and faster.

    Yes, you have contributed. I rate it worse than so-so, just a novelty item. If you would like to go back to the days of the Instamatic, this will take you back to the 70's.
  15. juangrande

    juangrande Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 2, 2012
    Although slower, in good light, the 14-45 panny can go head to head w/the 14mm prime. At f8 it is very near the Oly 45mm in rendering. So for outdoor walk around, you won't miss anything except portrait "separation" @ larger apertures w/ 45mm. I'm sure many will disagree...

    There is a thread here called " From where I live" (I think) that is all 14-45mm panny and it is stunning.
  16. feilb

    feilb Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 4, 2012
    Speed. Size. Sharpness.

    If the 12-50 meets all of your needs, then there is obviously no reason to go elsewhere. Many of us prefer primes for the reasons above, and the 12-50 won't get you there.
  17. pcnyc

    pcnyc Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 15, 2010
    "so-so" or not (and mostly not), the "cheap" primes you listed are all pancakes so there's a definite advantage on portability. in fact, 12-50 is about the same size as the 14mm, 15mm, 17mm, and 20mm" COMBINED :) 
  18. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    Yeah, where is that MKII? Such a great lens other than the snail-paced (and loud) AF motor. Compared to the newest lenses, it's laughably slow. When I show people my GX1, it often has the 20mm on it. I make sure to point out that it's one of the oldest lenses, so the AF is slow, but it's such a good performer that I still use it.

  19. dcassat

    dcassat Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 16, 2011
    Subjectively, we can state anything as fact.

    The closest thing we have to fact is testing and if you put the 14mm up against the 12mm, you will see a very slight difference in sharpness between them at their sweet spot (f5.6), you can check this statement for yourself at slrgear.com. That doesn't address the focal length issue but does give us some idea of just how good the 14mm is.

    I shot with the 14mm and 20mm just the other day. They were shots along a stream and when I compared the shots carefully, they could have come from the same lens (except for field of view, of course). The sharpness from both is exceptional.

    With regard to the 12-50mm it is exceptional in utility and it stands up well in testing too. While not as sharp as the primes, compare it to Nikon and Canon kit lenses and you'll see it's a great value at $250, (not $500).
  20. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Heck, Harry - on an OM-D EM-5 with the screen raised it can take you back to the Brownie Hawkeye in the 50's :biggrin:.

    I quite like the 15mm, and agree that it can be considered a 'novelty' - although the thread with images from the 15mm has some pretty good photos:


    (admittedly taken by better photographers than I :wink::wink:).

    Of course as a child I really did own and operate a Brownie Hawkeye...which may have something to do with my liking of the 15mm.

    Back to 'dude's question, as others have stated the 14 and 20 are faster and lighter and sharper than the kit zoom. And some, like me, simply prefer prime lenses. I have the kit zoom primarily because it was discounted when I bought the EM-5 and because it offers weatherproofing, something the primes do not - but it is rarely used. The primes are so small and so light that one can keep one mounted on the camera and another one or two in one's pocket without undue effort.

    However, if one gets the results one requires out of the kit lens there is certainly no harm in using it - I believe in going with whatever works.


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