Positive Thread: Pancake 12-32mm could be great.

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honeyiscool
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Positive Thread: Pancake 12-32mm could be great.
9 months ago

A lot of people are, predictably, already complaining about a lens that hasn't been released, but I think it's an absolutely useful addition to the M43 lineup. And yes, I know that I'm talking about an unreleased lens, so I won't pretend that it's great already, but let's go with what we know.

First of all, let's look at the market. What lenses even cover the 12mm focal length?

We've got the following kit zoom (new prices from B&H):

  • Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 - $499 new

We have the expensive prime:

  • Olympus 12mm f/2.0 - $799 new

We have the professional normal zooms:

  • Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS - $1,298 new
  • Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 - $999 new (announced)

Finally, we have the two pricey (for normal people) wide angle zooms:

  • Olympus 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 - $699 new
  • Panasonic 7-14mm f/4.0 - $968 new

Now, we have:

  • Panasonic 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS

I think a lot of people would agree that 12mm is a very useful focal length. And 32mm at f/5.6 is a rather unimpressive "tele" end, I agree about that. But let's not forget something here: M43 is absolutely overflowing with primes from 14mm to 75mm that are f/2.8 or faster. We've got, by my count, 13 native AF lenses, of various quality and price:

  • Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 - $323 new
  • Leica 15mm f/1.7 - unknown
  • Olympus 17mm f/1.8 - $499 new
  • Olympus 17mm f/2.8 - $299 new
  • Sigma 19mm f/2.8 - $199 new
  • Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 - $428 new
  • Leica 25mm f/1.4 - $529 new
  • Sigma 30mm f/2.8 - $199 new
  • Olympus 45mm f/1.8 - $399 new
  • Leica 45mm f/2.8 OIS Macro - $719 new
  • Sigma 60mm f/2.8 - $239 new
  • Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro - $499 new
  • Olympus 75mm f/1.8 - $899 new

Phew! What I'm getting at is the fact that whatever your shooting habits are, if you really need a particular focal length from 14mm to 75mm, need f/2.8 or better, you can pretty much get close enough to it at a reasonable price. But not at at 12mm. Your only option is been rather pricey zoom lenses or the very expensive prime, and even the kit 12-50mm zoom is big and expensive enough to make you think about it. So to me, the point of the 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 is that it features a true wide angle at 12mm, and it's so small that it's smaller than your average lens hood, so it can always be with you.

But f/3.5 is horrible, you say?

Wide angle lenses are usually used outside. This is why the only two wide angle zoom lenses are f/4.0 or worse, and nobody complains about those lenses. And let's say it like it is. For M43, f/2.8 is hardly a revelation. In fact, I would say that it is barely fast enough to use in the dark. And in any situation where f/2.8 is acceptable, is f/3.5 that far off? I say no. So no, this pancake zoom is not useful for night time shooting, but in situations where the wide end would struggle, so would any f/2.8 zoom for the M43.

So that's how it is for me. To me, there's only one wide angle lens for M43 that can be used comfortably indoors, and that's the 12mm f/2.0. And that single lens costs more than the entire GM1 kit.

Let's see what this pancake zoom can do and see if it renders a good picture. If it does, it will no doubt become a lens that many M43 owners enjoy.

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