Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?

Started 6 months ago | Questions
rickreyn
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Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?
6 months ago

I really don't like changing lenses (a bit clumsy with these kinds of things in the heat of battle), because that also means I need a bag, and using a sling and the grip, I've got two batteries, and I don't seem to feel the tension that I need a brighter lens, or longer lens hardly at all, unless I'm going to shoot sports, etc. Further, the entire kit is weather-proof. I know prime lenses will be better in low light and sharper (perhaps?), but I am really thrilled with the 12-40mm, and I don't really know what I'm missing. Frankly, I've not owned a better lens, and the coveted ranges of 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 80mm are covered. So, outside of what little additional range the 45mm will give me, or what the Sigma 60mm or 75mm will give me, I seem to be well covered, knowing that I have the 40-150mm lens in my hip pocket, while not as fast, appears to be a pretty good lens. So, all my endless contemplation re: what one prime do I get to wow people or myself, I'm now not so sure it's necessary, mainly because this time I didn't scrimp and got the really good all-in-one never-take-it-off-the-camera "pro quality" constant aperature lens.

My question--or maybe my observation is this. Is the 12-40mm lens good enough to forego primes, and is the 40-150mm good enough to cover the rest?

Ergo am I'm done...at least for now! Sages weigh in. Thanks.

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lambert4
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It all comes down to size and purpose....
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

I sold off my 25, and 45 since they were so close to the 12-40 and nearly my 17mm but then I looked at my lowlight stuff and group social images and realized the f/1.8 and 17mm were the perfect performance pair for my uses.  I kept the 17/1.8.  If size and speed are less important the 12-40 can easily accommodate it but I find in social settings the look of the 12-40 on my EM5 gets attention where the prime mounted goes largely ignored By subjects.

IQ wise the 12-40 bests the 17/1.8 in my eyes but cannot keep up in low light with the two stop gain in aperture.

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MatsP
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Re: Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

I think so. I have it. I have sold my 45/1,8. I'm going to keep my 40-150 but sell everything else, well maybe I'll keep my 9-18. But the 12-40 is so good at 12 mm that I don't know if I'll use the 9-18 any more, although it's a very good lens it can't match the 12-40 from 12-18. I'll miss 9-11 of course. When you use a lens as good as the 12-40 you feel that all other lenses are worse than you thought before. That can be a problem. But a pleasant one.

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Fotoloco
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Re: Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

If you already have the 12-40 and love it - which you should cause it is great - then before you even consider the 25 and 45, you should think about the mid tele zoom you mentioned and/or the 75.  The zoom will be more versatile, but the 75 still gets you good reach, is super sharp, and can be used as a thin dof portrait lens outside (and inside if u have enough space). I often take just the body with the 12-40 attached only. If I want more reach I add the 75, but some would prefer the zoom. Only add the the two shorter primes if you really feell the need for thinner dof. If you do not, then don't. I have the 25, 45, and 75. I use them all a fair amount, but truth be told wide wide open is often a bit of an overkill and too much blur for environmental portraits. You can typically achieve a little background blur by shooting the 12-40 wide open at 2.8 (you get a little subject separation, if you have multiplin people in shot they are all in focus, and you still can recognize they are at playground/standing in front of church/whatever) which is often desirable vs squashing the whole background to nothing. It is certainly good enough for upping your game over camera phones and the P&S cams. It is a decision you have to make for yourself, but my opinion is you agent a lot when you add the zoom or 75, then it becomes diminishing returns. 8 did add them, but could live without them if I had to.

One  thing  - you do not need the grip just because you have a lot of lenses? Not sure why you think that, or maybe I misread or did not understand.

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RaymondR
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Re: Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

only you can answer this question.  if you are happy with what you are getting from the 12-40 and don't like changing lenses, it sounds like the perfect situation for you.  me, I cannot imagine a set of circumstances under which I would give up my fast primes (especially the 20 and 45), even if I had the 12-40 (which is very attactive zoom range).  I havent used my 14-42 standard zoom in ages, though I am considering the 12-32 from Panny just to get to 12 without having to spring for the Oly 12 prime.

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honeyiscool
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Re: Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

For me, I have a 12-35mm, which is pretty much the same, and at no point have I ever felt the need to ditch the 17mm, 25mm (PL), or 45mm primes. The 17mm is a wonderful lens to leave on your camera for various social settings and just not worry about whether it's going to work or not. The 25mm makes amazing pictures. The 45mm takes wonderful portraits and medium close-up shots. At f/2.8, the zoom pretty much works for everything and has no real deficiency, but it makes shooting just kind of less fun and creative. Plus, the very best that it can look wide open is nothing like what the f/1.8 and f/1.4 lenses can look like wide open.

That said, 12mm, I ditched once I got the zoom. There's no need for that lens, IMO, once you have a zoom that covers it well enough at f/2.8.

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Ulfric M Douglas
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Re: Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

rickreyn wrote:

... Frankly, I've not owned a better lens, and the coveted ranges of 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 80mm are covered. So, outside of what little additional range the 45mm will give me, ...

At 45mm focal length, 5mm and about a stop are vital for narrowing that darn DOF, I say the 45mm is the prime that adds to the kit, not exlipsed by that there expensive zoom, no way siree.

All the others : yeah, mostly.

Two of my primes are pancakes though ... meaning they are pocketable on the right body, whereas your big expensive zoom is not.

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dv312
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yes but ....
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

If I only have 1 lens, that'd be the lens I carry with me all the time, it's good enough for all purposes and IQ is quite acceptable

However, there're situations where I want to carry light and pocketable gear, I'd leave the 17mm f1.8 on my EPL5 all the time

I may even get the 25mm f1.8 for such a purpose

So the 12-40mm stays on the EM10 and the 17mm on the EPL5 for now

the 45mm is rarely used now that I have the 12-40mm, I may even sell it

I don't need the rest of the primes

Saving money for the upcoming pro zooms

Cheers

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rickreyn
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Re: Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?
In reply to Fotoloco, 6 months ago

The grip is for a better grip and to carry two batteries on board, meaning I can be out for a couple of hours with only a cloth and an extra SD card in my pocket and no bag. Now if I will need the 40-150mm I'll go with a single LowePro lens bag. What I wrote was confusing and too long a sentence! Thanks for weighing in!
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Pixnat2
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For optical qualities, yes.
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

The 12-40 is as sharp as one can dream about. It's equal or better than the primes you reffered regrading sharpness, CA control, AF speed, etc. It's a "bag full of primes" So, if you don't need faster apertures to shoot in low light, you can't be better covered

Now, if you want to add one prime to your arsenal, may I suggest two that will open new horizons?

  1. the 75mm f/1.8, an ultra fast telephoto that will let you take pictures that you can't with your two zooms.
  2. the 60mm f2.8 macro, that will open the doors for you of the Small World

Those two lenses will let you get the wow factor.

The 45mm is nice, but the 12-40 is good enough to take protraits at 40mm. The 12, 17 and 25 will only add the low light benefit.

Hope it'll help!

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Frederic
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rickreyn
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Re: yes but ....
In reply to dv312, 6 months ago

You have a point, as do others. I do agree about the primes being less obtrusive. The 12-40 is a substantial lens for a MFT camera. I'd would like a more stealthy system in some cases. The other thing is when the 40-150mm pro comes out, I can see having that lens and then be done. --
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rickreyn
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Re: For optical qualities, yes.
In reply to Pixnat2, 6 months ago

I plan to rent the 75mm lens on my vacation in May or sooner. It's so darn expensive and not weather sealed. Otherwise I really like the concept.
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azoele
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Re: Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

Yes regarding the 17 and 45 1.8s (can't comment on others, as I don't own them). Optically, it is an amazing lens, plus autofocus is very fast and even does pseudo-macro: a jewel.

Point is: at 2.8 you have basically zero background blur (unless you are really shooting something close), and only you can decide if it's ok with you. To me, that makes the zoom almost pointless.

I can't get past how tough it is to gain little DOF with m4/3s. I really need, for my kind of shooting, a 12-14-17 f1, to get the look I get with full frame with fast primes (24/35 1.4): a nice blurring, subject popping, and yet recognizable background.
I debate selling E-M1, but haven't yet, in hope of faster primes (the 42.5 1.2 is a step in the right direction). Truth is, the E-M1 is revolutionary. I never liked the E-M5 (sold it very quickly), but the E-M1 is so fast, so nice and so ergonomic I prefer it to my D4, which, in comparison looks like a camera from a different age altogether.

So, love the lens, but beware how limiting it'll become to throw anything even mildly out of focus...

Lory

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rickreyn
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Re: Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?
In reply to azoele, 6 months ago

I have yet to be too distracted by it but I do step back as much as possible to improve the blur, but it is an issue. Thing is there is a lot of functionality with this particular zoom, and I think having the pro 40-150 and using it like a 70-200mm in a portrait situation might work.
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darrellc
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Not for me. Get at least one (maybe PL 25/1.4).
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

I have the 12-35/2.8, and would never get rid of my primes.

Minimal kit - throw the 17/1.8 on the EM1 and you have a lightweight, unobtrusive, jacket pocketable camera w/o compromise for when photography is a secondary concern

Low light - though the IBIS is great, I often find myself missing f/1.4-f/2.8 when I bring the 12-35 along. Very tough to get a decent portrait at 1/15, very possible at 1/60.

DoF - you can get some decent background separation at 35-40mm and f/2.8, but nothing like what you'll get with the PL 25 @ 1.4. It is nice to have that option.

I'd recommend the PL 25/1.4 if 50mm fov works for you - I think it is the best lens in the native m4/3 lens world, and the only lens (other than the 75/1.8 which I shoot rarely) that delivers results on the EM1 that come close to my FF kit when using good glass (e.g. RX1 or A7 with FE 55). The micro contrast on that lens delivers some "magic".

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baxters
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Re: Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?
In reply to honeyiscool, 6 months ago

OP hates changing lenses. Nothing more to say. He's done with buying lenses.

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Skeeterbytes
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Re: For optical qualities, yes.
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

rickreyn wrote:

I plan to rent the 75mm lens on my vacation in May or sooner. It's so darn expensive and not weather sealed. Otherwise I really like the concept.
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The 75 is really something, definitely a "wow" lens as you mention in the first post. Got a refurb at an excellent price, so the price pain was reduced to a mild ache. No regrets, other than it really needs a hood and I'll go aftermarket on that.

Cheers,

Rick

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El Chubasco
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Re: Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?
In reply to rickreyn, 6 months ago

Yes, I think the 12-40 is good enough to replace the primes if IQ is your concern. One reason to keep the primes is size. The primes are very discreet, I visited a 16th century church in Mexico and they were charging a small fee for photographing inside the building. The fee varied according to the size of the camera, being DSLR the most expensive. When they saw my OMD with the 12mm mounted they charged me the point-and-shot fee. I'm not saying that you save money, I just could see how people perceive the small lens on small camera, prime lenses are less intimidating.

On the other hand, one reason to have the 12-40 mounted all the time is weather sealing. Two days ago I went for a boat ride with my wife and friends. I was seating on the front of the boat, camera on my hands. A heavy boat passed by and we got a huge wake that ended up splashing the entire front of our boat. The wave splashed right on my camera. Everyone looked at me after the incident expecting me to cry for my soaking wet camera, well, if I had a prime lens mounted I would be crying the loss of my camera but since I had the 12-40 mounted I just dried it out with a towel and kept taking photographs normally.

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rickreyn
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Re: Is the 12-40mm good enough to forego 12mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes?
In reply to baxters, 6 months ago

I don't like it but I will do it. I just like the speed of being able to zoom. Once I get my other lens out, the shot or my wife are gone!:-D

Given plenty of time, I could do it!

So not end of story!

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DonTom
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Re: For optical qualities, yes.
In reply to Pixnat2, 6 months ago

Pixnat2 wrote:

The 12-40 is as sharp as one can dream about. It's equal or better than the primes you reffered regrading sharpness, CA control, AF speed, etc. It's a "bag full of primes" So, if you don't need faster apertures to shoot in low light, you can't be better covered

Now, if you want to add one prime to your arsenal, may I suggest two that will open new horizons?

  1. the 75mm f/1.8, an ultra fast telephoto that will let you take pictures that you can't with your two zooms.
  2. the 60mm f2.8 macro, that will open the doors for you of the Small World

Those two lenses will let you get the wow factor.

The 45mm is nice, but the 12-40 is good enough to take protraits at 40mm. The 12, 17 and 25 will only add the low light benefit.

Hope it'll help!

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Cheers,
Frederic
http://azurphoto.com/

I would agree with the 60/2.8 macro. It will serve as a portrait lens as well as the macro, and is weatherproofed as well. If you later get the 40-150.2.8 Pro, you can sell it again if you don't need the macro capability.

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