A better-than-kit Normal Zoom?

Started Dec 18, 2013 | Discussions thread
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aliasfox Contributing Member • Posts: 999
A better-than-kit Normal Zoom?

Hello everyone. Still new to the forum, but happy to be here. I figure I’d throw in a quick introduction to the gear I have access to before I get into my question.

I have access to two bodies, a Panasonic GF3 (hers) and a shiny new Olympus E-PM2 (his). Between us, we currently have these lenses:

- Panasonic 14-42 / 3.5-5.6(original version)

- Panasonic 14/2.5 pancake

- Olympus 45/1.8

- Olympus 40-150 / 4.0-5.6 (R model)

She does a lot of shooting with the 14-42 mounted, but we’ve both noticed that the images are fairly soft, especially at the long end. Not entirely sure if this is the lens or the jpg engine, but considering we see it more on the 14-42 than on the pancake, I’m leaning more towards it being a lens issue. A bit of research corroborates the thought that this lens just isn’t especially sharp.

I plan on shooting mostly with primes (waiting on news of the Leica 15/1.7 and the Oly 25/1.8), but I also figure that a decent normal zoom would be very practical to have as a companion for the 40-150 as well as for travel/vacation. The E-PM2 originally came with the 14-42 RII lens, which I sold for a variety of reasons – neither of us liked the all plastic build, and it didn’t seem to offer much more than the Panasonic 14-42.

Given that we both could use a nice zoom, I’ve been looking at all of the options out there, and ruled out most of them for one reason or another:

- Breaks the budget

o Oly 12-40

o Panny 12-35

o Panny 14-140 (also prolly too big?)

- Image quality

o Panny 14-42 PZ

- Build Quality

o Oly 14-42 RII

Which I think leaves me with these options:

- Oly 12-50 (versatile, but slow and soft)

- Panny 14-45 (sharp + IS, but slow)

- Panny 12-32 (tiny, but short reach)

- Panny 14-42 v2 (?)

The Oly 12-50 and Panny 14-45 can be found on ebay for not a whole lot of money, I would probably have to wait until later in the winter or spring to be able to find the other two. Given these options, what would be the best? Would the Oly 12-50 be less sharp than the kit Panny 14-42? Is the 14-45 worth it as a ‘step up’ option?

Would be nice if there were a 12-50 / f2.8-4 option in the $4-500 range, but it doesn’t sound like that’ll be happening anytime soon.

Thanks for any opinions you might have!

 aliasfox's gear list:aliasfox's gear list
Olympus XZ-1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Olympus PEN E-PM2 Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 +13 more
Nikon 1 V2 Olympus PEN E-PM2
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