12-50mm compared to 14-42 mkI (on Lenstip review)

Started Mar 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Bilgy_no1 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,880
12-50mm compared to 14-42 mkI (on Lenstip review)

Lenstip reviewed the 12-50mm and does not seem very enthousiastic about it. Their conclusion:

"I like writing the summaries of Olympus optics because usually I can praise the tested lenses. Olympus has always produced good lenses. Unfortunately the summary of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12–50 mm f/3.5–6.3 ED EZ will be an exception because it won’t feature a lot of praise."


In their conclusion they specifically talk about lens resolution: "That diffraction ... makes the lens’s resolution performance rather average" .

In the review, they mention the excellent performance of the Leica 45mm f/2.8 and 20mm f/1.7. But I think this lens should be compared with kit lenses, and specifically the 14-42mm which is the other kit lens option with the E-M5 or other Olympus cameras. About the 14-42mm they wrote:

"Taking into account the fact that we deal here with a „kit” lens (but the device doesn’t belong to the cheapest when you buy it separately) the overall assessment in this category can be only very good. Many “Sunday shutterbugs” who buy a Micro 4/3 camera with this kit lens won’t feel the need to change it for something better because the image quality will be satisfactory for sure. More ambitious photography enthusiasts will miss not a better image quality but better fastness."

So, I took a look at the Lenstip test of the 14-42mm and compared specifically for sharpness. Lenstip say that for them, 42 is the minimum level for 'decent' results (YMMV). Here goes...

14-42 Centre:

"The performance in the 14-28 mm range is difficult to flaw. Even at the maximum relative aperture the image quality is so good that you can’t improve it significantly even by stopping down."

12-50mm centre. Note the scale is different (now goes up to 70 instead of 50):

"It would be difficult to go into raptures here. The Olympus 12-50 mm has problems to pull level with the “pancakes” which are already a kind of compromise between a high image quality and small dimensions. Maximum results of less than 60 lpmm are certainly not impressive."

The new lens gets better results than the 14-42 by quite a margin, but the comparison with the primes makes it look bad.

14-42 Edge:

"The results are distinctly worse than in the frame centre even though on a small sensor the frame edge is situated not far from the lens’s optical axis. However it doesn’t change the fact that the frame edge image quality is good."

12-50 Edge:

"That compromise can be noticed when you check the MTFs on the edge, which are average at most."

Looking at the charts, it seems that the 12-50 performs better at almost every focal length and aperture, specifically in the centre. At the edge, the difference is small, but the max. fl performs much 'less worse'. What's more, its maximum sharpness levels are quite a bit higher than the those of the 14-42. Does it show in pictures? I think so (Note that the 14-42 samples were taken with the E-P1, the 12-50 samples with E-PL1):



My conclusion:
The 12-50mm seems like an excellent kit lens.

Olympus PEN E-P1 Olympus PEN E-PL1
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