Direct comparison Oly 12-40mmF2.8 with Oly 12-50mmF3.5-6.3?

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
Sierra Dave
Regular MemberPosts: 447Gear list
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Optically, there's a big difference
In reply to RoelHendrickx, 6 months ago

RoelHendrickx wrote:

If so (as one would expect and as should be the case, with the price difference), are these differences then most present :

* when the lenses are used wide open,

* or also at comparable apertures (12-40 stopped down to match the 12-50)

* or also when both lenses are stopped down to where they each are sharpest?

I am interested in any info and samples.

Maybe DXO tested both lenses and there are graphs available, but I am not aware (and also not very good at reading such graphs - I am more into real-life experiences).

Lenstip and photozone have both tested those 2 lenses. In both cases, the 12-40/2.8 is significantly sharper, particularly off center. The 12-40/2.8 also has lower CA and slightly lower distortion (before correction), but higher vignetting at the 12mm end.

I shot a few landscapes side-by-side and there really is no comparison if you view at 100%. The 12-50 is quite soft at 12mm wide open outside the center, and while it sharpens a bit by f/5.6, it never really gets sharp. The 12-40 is sharp from f/2.8 to f/8 - there's really no advantage to stopping down other than DoF. At 25 and 40mm, the 12-40 is a bit softer overall than at 12mm, and is sharpest at f/4.0. The 12-50 is softer than at 12mm in the center but a bit better at the edges. Again, the edges sharpen with stopping down, but the 12-40 is still noticeably better at all apertures.

Bottom line is that the 12-50 performs like a $200 kit lens (which is what Olympus sells it as on their refurb. store) and the 12-40 like a pro zoom. Personally I think for anything more significant than snapshots, the 12-40 is well worth the extra $600 (after rebate) even if you rarely shoot wider than f/5.6.

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