Second time's a charm!

Started Feb 5, 2013 | Discussions
daddyo
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Second time's a charm!
Feb 5, 2013

A couple weeks back I ordered and received from B&H, a Panasonic 12-35mm for my E-M5.

From the get-go it did not seem that sharp a lens to me and I was, needless to say, very disappointed. After a couple days, I took the time to do some comparison shots between the Pany, my Oly 12-60mm, and the 12-50mm E-M5 kit lens -- all at 35mm and all at f4.5.

The 12-60 of course was extremely sharp -- much more so than the Pany which really surprised me; but what really took me by surprise was that the 12-50mm was also clearly sharper than the 12-35mm!

I knew that could not be right, so I called B&H and was promptly sent an RMA number to return the lens for exchange.

Well I got the replacement lens this evening, and while I haven't had time to do comparison test shots, I can tell from the few test shots I've done with it that this lens is a different animal -- extremely sharp.

I knew from reviews I had read that the lens had to perform much better than the first copy I received -- and I certainly wasn't about to pay almost $1,200 for a lens that couldn't blow my kit lens away!

So I am a happy camper -- and thanks to B&H for great customer service.

I plan to use this lens a lot to shoot corporate events, and I can tell I'm going to love it!

God Bless,

Greg

www.imagismphotos.com

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Olympus 12-40mm F2.8
Hen3ry
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Re: Second time's a charm!
In reply to daddyo, Feb 5, 2013

Excellent. I'll be buying one soon (I hope!) but I do hope the initial purchase works out!

Cheers, geoff

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FrankS009
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Re: Second time's a charm!
In reply to daddyo, Feb 5, 2013

I must say that I find the constant references to sample variation in almost every m43 (or perhaps any variety of) lens inhibiting. As someone who lives outside the United States, it has an impact on where one buys a lens, and that also means an impact on price. I also fear that I do not have the expertise to detect when a lens is a good one or not.

F.

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BingoCharlie
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Re: Second time's a charm!
In reply to FrankS009, Feb 5, 2013

FrankS009 wrote:

I must say that I find the constant references to sample variation in almost every m43 (or perhaps any variety of) lens inhibiting. As someone who lives outside the United States, it has an impact on where one buys a lens, and that also means an impact on price. I also fear that I do not have the expertise to detect when a lens is not a good one or not.

Agreed. This kind of sample variation is especially pitiful in $1,000+ lenses.

I purchased a used lens from LensRentals recently, where they provide you with a serial number for the lens your're buying along with actual test results from that lens. They had another copy of the same lens for sale at the same time. One resolved to 20mm, the other only to 16mm. Needless to say, the sharper copy was more expensive and that's the one I bought.

For expensive lenses, I see no reason (except cost) why manufacturers cannot include a card that shows test results for your specific copy.

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Paul De Bra
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Sadly it's universal, not just for m43 lenses.
In reply to FrankS009, Feb 5, 2013

Sample variation is a very common problem with lenses. And it's not just variation but also clear defects like decentered lens elements. This happens with all brands and with expensive lenses as well. There simply isn't enough quality control in the production process to ensure that only perfectly good copies go through. The lenses would also become more expensive, not just because of the labor involved in quality control but also in the large number of lenses that would be rejected and that are now being sold to unsuspecting customers who may not notice the problems.

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daddyo
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My thoughts...
In reply to FrankS009, Feb 5, 2013

I normally do not test lenses extensively. If I do a few test shots and the contrast and detail looks good when zoomed in, I'm happy.

Why there are obvious sub-standard lenses within a costly line of lenses, I have no idea. Perhaps some are simply treated way to harshly in the shipping process and something gets knocked out of alignment.

I sometimes think that 'soft' lenses stay in the supply chain because they are returned in new condition -- such as my first 12-35mm -- then they are quickly tested on a camera, found to be functioning 'properly', and are returned to stock rather than to the manufacturer. I'm not suggesting B&H does this, but I'm fairly sure it happens.

It took a second Sigma 50-500mm from a local dealer for me to get a sharp copy of that lens. My initial shots with the first lens just didn't look that good to me. I had noticed that the tripod collar foot had some slight scuff marks on it, and believe it had been returned by some previous customer. The second copy is tack sharp.

Often, without very carefully testing with comparison shots, etc. a lens may seem to be OK, and I'm sure many dealers assume the return was from an overly critical customer. So if the lens seems good in quick testing and looks 'new', it may very well simply be placed back in stock.

There are number of decent reviews of the Panasonic 12-35mm and 35-100mm there verify the quality of those lenses -- I doubt very seriously that Pany has a systemic QC problem with either lens.

All I know is the copy I have now is outstanding from what I'm seeing initially, and all is right with the world!:-)

God Bless,

Greg

www.imagismphotos.com

www.mccroskery.zenfolio.com

www.pbase.com/daddyo

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Savas Kyprianides
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Re: Second time's a charm!
In reply to daddyo, Feb 5, 2013

I had to go round two on my 12-35mm as well. I also had a dud 35-100 that went back and I wan't in the mood for ongoing tests, so I remain without one for the time being. This especially so, because the 35-100 encounter followed my purchase of a good 75mm, which possess killer image quality. The 75, also, has sample variation from ones I have shot with.

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Pikme
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Re: Sadly it's universal, not just for m43 lenses.
In reply to Paul De Bra, Feb 5, 2013

Paul De Bra wrote:

Sample variation is a very common problem with lenses.

The 'problem' is that it was not at all common with 4/3 lenses.

Early on, Olympus had a video that showed the extensive control they took to prevent problems and variations with their lenses and they tried (half heartedly) to use their processes as a marketing point.  No one was interested, partially because non Olympus users did not believe it and Olympus users took it for granted.

Now we definitely have a problem with poor QA with m4/3 lenses, which is sad and worse, it has taken many of us a long time to realize that we now have to check each and every lens.  There are many former (or current) 4/3 users with bad lenses because it never occurred to us initially that we had to check, so we waited too long for returns.  It does leave a bad taste in the mouth, particularly for expensive lenses.

IMO, this is much worse than the often complained of 'no lens hood' issue.  In addition to the hassle and disappointment of getting a bad lens, it leaves so much uncertainty all the time - do I have a bad lens?  Is the 'hype' over good lenses just 'hype'?  Why so much variation in opinions on any particular lens?  Is this amount of corner softness 'normal' or should I return it?  Do I send it in for repair or just try another sample?  It makes for a loss of confidence overall, so might help Olympus bottom line in the short term but hurts reputation in the long term.

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Roberto M.

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Shirozina
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Re: Second time's a charm!
In reply to daddyo, Feb 5, 2013

My 12-35 is going back - at wide settings at infinity the frame edges and not up to acceptable standard for this class of lens. This has been reported in a few reviews so it may be a 'character' of the lens but as it stands I'm not convinced as I've seen sample pictures not showing this. If it comes back with 'within manufacturers tolerances ' I 'll sell it on an try another and another until I get one I'm happy with. Everything else about this lens is very good and I'm not going to give up just because of sample variation.

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BingoCharlie
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Re: Second time's a charm!
In reply to Shirozina, Feb 5, 2013

Shirozina wrote:

My 12-35 is going back - at wide settings at infinity the frame edges and not up to acceptable standard for this class of lens. This has been reported in a few reviews so it may be a 'character' of the lens but as it stands I'm not convinced as I've seen sample pictures not showing this. If it comes back with 'within manufacturers tolerances ' I 'll sell it on an try another and another until I get one I'm happy with. Everything else about this lens is very good and I'm not going to give up just because of sample variation.

Sounds right.  My 14-150 is tack sharp in the center, so that's obviously not very hard to pull off.  I would expect the 12-35 to be sharp all over.  If it's not, why bother with the higher cost?  The increased aperture alone doesn't justify it.  The lens should be excellent by all measures for $1,100.

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