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

Started Mar 13, 2014 | Questions thread
Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 29,166
Using the 12-40mm

Anders W wrote:

In some cases, like the one exemplified below (nice shot BTW), you can make do with f/2.8 or f/4 from a DoF point of view, although f/5.6 or f/8 may sometimes be needed.

Being a lazy type I use an A mode MySet on A spot of the dial and as I turn on I have my default aperture to suit the usual scenery, street and random scenes that I do. On the Pana 14-45mm I left it at f/6.3 as a good "do everything" aperture, until I did need to temporarily change away for low light or changed DOF reasons. That worked, no complaints.

Move forward to the 12-40/2.8 and I thought I'd be clever and make more use of the sweet spot by leaving it at a default f/4.0. Oh dear, like back in 35mm film days, needing more often to move to a smaller aperture to get the DOF I needed. So moved my default 12-40mm aperture to f/5.6 and that seems to work fine for me. Still need to change of course for some shots for lower light or increased DOF, but f/5.6 has now proved to be most useful for me.

The slip ring AF/MF works so well that I can use the Merklinger focus method for scenes more easily. I AF on the most distant feature that I need in the scene, then slip to MF and 14x to check and fine tune on that distant detail (funny how AF can often not land exactly) and it's easy to MF check as the live view is so good at f/2.8, then recompose and take the shot, and slip back to AF. Following Merklinger the f/5.6 aperture at 12mm represents  about 2mm and at 40mm about 7mm, so sometimes I need to vary that aperture to suit the foreground (3mm to 5mm aperture size being the "normal" to aim for).

As the test data shows then at 12mm there is no problem with using f/2.8 and that would be about 4mm aperture and generally no problem for most situations for the Merklinger method.

Naturally I don't do that on every shot, sometimes I do need to AF on the subject itself and not worry about background etc.

So to me fussing with the 12-40mm is much better than fussing with a bunch of primes and always finding I had the wrong lens on for something that was going to disappear in two seconds. Been there, done that in film days, don't want to go there again. And now that the 12-40mm is proving to be as good or better than the primes  then I am an extremely happy bunny.

Regards.... Guy

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