12-35 Panny on Oly body - first impressions

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NZ Scott
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12-35 Panny on Oly body - first impressions
9 months ago

Hey kids,

Since Oly introduced the 12-40, the price of the Panasonic 12-35 has been dropping. Last week it at last reached a price I was willing to pay, and I bought one off a Japanese ebay merchant, new, for $848.

I chose the 12-35 over the similarly-priced Olympus 12-40 because of the size and weight advantage of the Panasonic.

During the weekend we had friends staying and I took it out for a spin, mounted on my venerable E-P3 (upgraded with a VF-4 viewfinder and MCG-2 grip).

Please note that I have already posted some of these shots in the "my best photos this week" thread, so apologies if you've already seen them there.

My first impression of the 12-35 mounted on a PEN was that it was just a touch too front-heavy (so I'm especially glad I didn't buy the 12-40). I had previously tried the 12-35 in a shop and thought it felt pretty good. Note that I'm using the optional MCG-2 grip, so if you're using a PEN that doesn't take a large grip (for example, the E-P5), then I would definitely recommend trying the lens in person before buying online.

No complaints about build quality, which is excellent. It is better than any of my Olympus lenses, including the 12/2.0 and 17/1.8, because the weather sealing has resulted in very tight tolerances.

Anyhow, we went out and photographed a few cave temples and some rock art. When I arrived home, I was shocked to find THIS:

Dirty, filthy, horrible purple fringing! Note that the above image is a cropped detail from the following shot (yes, I know it's a rubbish photo - I'm only posting it to make a point) in which the PF is visible at normal viewing sizes:

Of course, massive contrast differences like this are a worst-case scenario, but I've never seen anything as bad as the above in any of my Olympus lenses. The 12/2.0 and 17/1.8 would have done much better.

In another shot (which unfortunately I did not keep), the PF was so bad I could not remove it in Photoshop CS6. The software removed about half of the PF, closest to the highlight edge, and would not move "further in".

After the PF shocks, I opened the rest of my RAW photos with some trepidation. However, I was mostly pleased:

I was happy with the sharpness of the lens and the convenience of not having to carry a bag of primes around with me all day. Seriously - lately I've been carrying more krap than I ever did when shooting Nikon APS-C.

And so, first impressions?

I did not think that the lens rendered as nicely as the Olympus primes - particularly the 17/1.8 - but it is hard to say why because this is a subjective impression.

And then there's the godawful PF.

However, despite those caveats I think this lens is a keeper. Compared with kit zooms, the extra light-gathering ability, the improved sharpness and the image stabilisation all proved to be useful. The PEN cameras (apart from the E-P5) have poor IBIS, and being able to shoot inside a cave with decent image stabilisation was really nice.

Questions and comments welcome.

S

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My Flickr stream:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/scottkmacleod/
My kit: E-P3, 12/2.0, 17/1.8, 45/1.8, 60/2.8 Macro, 7.5 Fisheye, 14-42 IIR, 40-150 ED, 75-300 II

 NZ Scott's gear list:NZ Scott's gear list
Olympus PEN E-P3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G II Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 +11 more
Olympus PEN E-P3 Olympus PEN E-P5 Pentax K-r
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