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Wednesday, 24 September 2014


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I bought this lens to go with my then-new GH2 as a general purpose small personal camera back when I was putting together a large m4/3 system. My wife also had a Panasonic body, with the standard slowish zoom, and one day I offered her the 12-35/2.8 for a project. I never got it back. :)

I really liked the little lens for the short time that I had it. She simply loves it.

It's funny how in a globally connected world, stuff like this still happens. In the mean time we're lousy with these lenses here and no one's buying them because the Olympus version is cheaper still.

Oh, and to answer the question:

I've been using this, and it's quite good, though a little weak at 12mm f/2.8. I quite like it, and the OIS works great. In video just remember not to zoom as it's not quite a true zoom and the OIS occasionally has a brain fart.

Dear Mike,

I'm not sure why you neglected to include the link to the Photozone review –– personally, I find them to be among the most useful reviews of actual lens performance. Plus, they include full resolution photographs that are actually pretty good test photographs! Unlike almost all the other reviews which just show us pretty pictures. Anyway, here it is:


They also have a review up of the Olympus 12-40 mm lens.

(I should probably mention that one of the other reasons I like their review is that their results most closely agree with mine, which indicates a certain subject bias on my part. But since I'm always right [VBG]…)

Once I dig out from under **MY** house-cash crunch, I'm considering one or the other of these lenses. I'm not sure it would even cost me too much money or space in my camera bag. If either of these is as good as the Olympus 12mm (which readers will recall I am not terribly enamored of) for both visible and IR photography, then I can dispense with that lens. That's probably the make-or-break for me. If they're worse, that's a no-sale. If they're comparable, well, then, I know they'll outperform my current kit zoom and very probably the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7. In which case, three lenses I can sell used and three lenses worth of space cleared out of my camera bag.

All subject to testing and available cash, of course, so maybe not any time soon.

Not-so-in-passing, yes, I'll be losing one stop on the 12mm and 1.5 stops on the 20mm, but my experience with the Olympus EM-5 is that I don't really need anything faster than f/2.8. The picture quality at ISO 800 and the image stabilization are good enough that I'm just not finding myself using larger apertures. Except when I'm photographing roller derby, and then I'm working 45 mm and longer.

So… maybe… one lens that replaces three? It is tempting.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Mike, I've used both the Panasonic 12-35 and Olympus 12-40 for over a year. I've settled for the Olympus because a) it allows the focusing ring to directly shift from autofocus to manual focus, b) it focuses substantially (that is a subjective statement) closer so I no longer carry a macro lens and, c) it has a bit more reach at the long end. I find them optically indistinguishable.

Since I have been 'glued' to my E-M1, I don't need in-lens-image-stabilization. Panasonic camera users may find this particular feature a priority, however.

I could be very happy with either of these wonderfully designed and performing pieces of glass.

I originally gave up on the idea to get a Panasonic 12-35 since the wide end wasn't good enough for me, esp. considering the price of the lens.

I recently tried a friend's Olympus 12-40 and found that one could get by with just that lens. The only real weaknesses was that at the long end, the maximum aperture is soft and with the lens I begun to notice the weight of my E-M5, something I didn't do with primes.

If I was using the lens on an olympus body I go with the olympus 12-40 because it doesn't have any floaty stabilising mechanisms...
i just imagine a lens with all its glass well cemented in place will have a better chance of long term performance. I have no evidence that this is true but its something I'd be thinking about!

Aaron L.

I have had the Panasonic 12-35 for two years along with the 35-100. They are used on my EM-5 as the Oly lenses were not available at that time – I haven't been disappointed. I see from my Lightroom stats that the 12-35 is my most used lens by quite a margin since digital began. (Which means that it is almost certainly my most used lens since I began taking photographs about 50 years ago.)

I wouldn't class the lens as anything spectacular, and it is probably not in the same league as some of my other lenses, but it is simply very versatile and never gets in the way.

Incidentally, a "good hump day" sounds like something you would need an "X" lens to shoot ;)

I got the 12-35 when it came out, and in general have been very happy with it. Then, when I decided to get the EM-1, I got a very good deal on the kit with the 12-40 and so now have had both lenses for about6 months.

As a comparison: The Olympus lens is slightly but noticeably larger and heavier, but feels better made. The Olympus lens focuses a lot closer, which I really appreciate. The pull-to-focus-manually ring is annoying, as I sometimes pull it accidentally, and then can't figure out for a second or two why it won't autofocus. No problem of course if I intend to fous manually. The Panasonic's lens hood falls off easily, and they're expensive (I know). The Olympus' lens hood has a decent lock.

Overall, the Olympus lens is somewhat better optically, but we're talking about a very high bar here. Wide open at 12mm is the only condition that sometimes bothers me with the Panasonic. Overall, for people I would prefer the Panasonic; for architecture or landscapes the Olympus.

As I still have a Panasonic camera, I'm likely to keep the 12-35 for the OIS, but generally reach for the Olympus.

Having used the current 24-70/2.8 Canon, I would give optical first place to the Olympus, with the Canon and the Panasonic in a second place tie. My primes in this range do no better, and that includes current M lenses on adapters as well as Panasonic and Olympus primes.

re Albert Erickson's "I just believe that the Olympus lenses are made for the Olympus sensors and Panasonic lenses are made for their own sensors."

Thinking about this, perhaps it is actually: Olympus knows their own lenses and, to optimize the image file, even in raw, they can adjust for lens aberrations in software before the camera even writes the file to the card. Same for Panasonic. And neither of them have the motivation to optimize for a competitor's product. So, you are right in a way, but maybe not for the reasons you think.

That's my conjecture, anyway.

I also have the Panasonic 12-35/2.8 and it is on my Olympus E-M1 (previously E-M5) 99% of the time. It is, IMHO, a spectacularly good lens; as good as any prime I've ever used. It also focuses very quickly and has excellent build quality. This is my go-to lens for this camera system, and if I presently didn't have one, I'd be buying it.

Here's a pic I took with the Panny in the Grand Tetons last year:

If Wednesday is hump day, then think of it as the top of a beautiful bell curve of a digital photograph. Thus, how about "Bell-Curve day" for photographers.

"Sixteen by twenty prints beat Hasselblad cameras with prime lenses from my analog darkroom days."

I find this to be true for a wide variety of MFT lenses (except that my point of analog comparison is Mamiya). It's the reason I switched from full format to MFT: medium format film quality is enough for me. What's interesting is that the quality of that size prints made from my new Sony rx100 iii isn't very far behind.

The Panasonic 12-35 is indeed a wonderful lens which I used extensively until I acquired an EM-1 with the Olympus 12-40. My comparisons showed a small advantage to the 12-40 at the wide end and to the 12-35 at the long end. The 12-35 was sold which I guess sums up my final conclusion.

Not only can you not meet everyone who wants to meet-up while traveling (2 L's define that I'm English) but you can't always meet those that you want to meet. As one who does not live in his country of origin, when you talk with others of the same ilk, we all agree that it is difficult to return home as the demands on our time, could completely overwhelm our plans. Just walking down the road or popping into the pub you meet people and end up in long conversations. It's nice but not always what you planned.

Jeff Grant,
That photo rocks. Literally and artistically.
Jim A.

Most likely my next lens. A 24-70 equivalent. I'll have all the lenses I need for a while for m4/3. And they'll all be good lenses too.

Wave to me as you pass Rochester and the remains of Kodak, Mike.

There's something to this idea that lens/camera combination matters. The Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 is generally highly regarded and yet on my Olympus cameras it exhibits an ugly purple blob when shot into the light. It's enough of a problem that I have to severely limit how I shoot with that lens. I don't see similar problems with other Panasonic lenses on the same cameras, so it seems logical to assume this is unique to this camera/lens pairing. One to the advantages of Micro Four Thirds is the availability a wide range of lenses, but it's important to read up on (or test) your intended gear to avoid unpleasant surprises.

As a heavy user of the 12-35 and 35-100, I can only say get them if you can.

They are excellent at any aperture across the frame. Both of these lenses are total workhorses, delivering sharp images with wonderfully robust tonality in any light. They take a daily beating, I shoot on average 500 assignments per year, and they still work flawlessly.

The only lenses that are better are the Leica primes that Panasonic makes. They are in a league of their own.

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