Direct comparison Oly 12-40mmF2.8 with Oly 12-50mmF3.5-6.3?

Started Feb 2, 2014 | Discussions thread
OP RoelHendrickx Forum Pro • Posts: 26,106
Re: Just done my own first quick test - observations

richarddd wrote:

Thank you. Very helpful

RoelHendrickx wrote:

The Oly 12-40 F2.8 arrived this morning.

Very good look and feel on the camera. Everything works smoothly. Caps, hood etc are well designed, with special mention for the manual focus ring (pull backwards).

For my personal preferences in weight, size and balance, it feels like a better match on the E-M5 (with first part of the grip attached) than the 12-50mm : no more falling forward of the camera-lens combo: the lens and camera now sit horizontally on a table. Almost no difference in length (at its shortest setting which is not 12mm but near 16mm: good news for the camera bag.

I've already done some quick first sharpness comparisons, and not just with only the MFT 12-50 but with all the lenses I have over that range, including the ZD12-60 with adapter.

I've shot tripod-mounted shots (ISO 200) of my bookshelves at 12mm, 20mm and 40mm with the MFT 12-50, the MFT 12-40, the ZD 12-60, the MFT 20mmF1.7, the MFT 45mmF1.8 (not same focal length but close enough) and MFT 40-150 at 40mm only. And for the heck of it, I included also the Nokton 17.5mm.

Shots at corresponding focal lengths were done wide open and then progressively at F2 (where available), F2.8 (where available), F4 (where available), F5.6, F8 and F11. That yields a few less shots with some lenses than others. The Nokton was shot at F0.95, F1.4, F2, F2.8, F4, F5.6, F8 and F11.

Something that was remarked in another thread can be confirmed: the view of the MFT 12-40 is indeed slightly less wide (on a whole bookshelf at 12mm there is difference of 2 books) than both MFT 12-50 and ZD 12-60. Probably distortion correction.

Would you please post comparative pictures to show the difference in angle of view between the 12-50 and 12-40 at 12? Without knowing how wide your bookshelf and books are, it's a bit difficult to visualize.

Will try to think of that tomorrow.

But the MFT 12-40 is considerably sharper near the edges than the MFT 12-50 (BIG difference, especially at 12mm, where also the center shows a real difference) and even sharper than the ZD 12-60 (center is roughly equal, but edges are better). This is a comparison wide open and at corresponding apertures. Stopping down the 12-50 helps, but in my room that resulted in shutter speeds that are not handholdable, while the MFT 12-40 seems to be already quite sharp (and not just in the center) at a very handholdable F2.8.

Am I reading correctly that the 12-40 is considerably sharper than the 12-50 at the edges and somewhat less sharper in the center, although in all cases the difference in easily visible? Again, it would be great if you could post comparative photos.

Mostly at 12mm and in the edges the difference is clearest.  Less so in the center and also a bit less at longer focal lengths.  Of course there is also the speed difference (which I cancelled out by using a tripod but which makes a huge difference in my normal shooting routine (all handheld).

Comparative photos that would give you useful information are hard : my webhosting service downscales all images for public viewing and embedding.

One nice thing about the 12-50 is its macro mode. How's the 12-40 for close focusing? A large part of my close-focusing photography is of flowers.

It focuses pretty close but I am also pretty sure the 12-50 gets closer.  Its macro abilities is one of the very nice and well implemented bonus features of that lens (if you are into macro which I am not often).

Thanks again.

(All of the above was manual focus on tripod. I will still have to test AF speed and accuracy.)

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Roel Hendrickx
lots of images:
my E-3 user field report from Tunisian Sahara:

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Roel Hendrickx
lots of images:
my E-3 user field report from Tunisian Sahara:

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