Is the Panasonic 14-45 the best "kit" zoom?

Started Apr 17, 2014 | Questions thread
Anders W Forum Pro • Posts: 21,466
Re: Is the Panasonic 14-45 the best "kit" zoom?

photofan1986 wrote:

I used Oly's 14-42II kit lens, and was not happy with the meh performance at some focal lengths. So I bought the Panasonic 14-42II, and while it's very nice (nice build quality, good feel to it and very small), IQ was somewhat disappointing also, but not for the same reasons. I think my copy of the lens is a dud, i.e. it's decentered. Also, I got some focusing issues at the tele end with my E-M5. So I finally bought a second hand 14-45, and man I have to say that's what I was looking for in a kit lens. Sharpness is excellent throughout the range AND the image field, and while it's quite bigger than the 14-42II, and it extends further, I don't really mind as it still remains a small lens on the E-M5.

I recently acquired the GM1 with kit lens, and I made some comparisons...
Well, the tiny lens is incredibly sharp in the center, maybe less so in the corners at wide angle. Obviously, you don't get the longer end (33 to 45mm), but that's up to you wether it matters.

However, none of the kit lenses I tried (and I tried quite some) had the CONSISTENCY of the 14-45, which is optically good in all circumstances. It's somewhat bizarre, but the 12-32 is excellent when doing test shots against a wall, but sometimes in the field, sharpness in the corners becomes dodgy. Maybe it's focusing issues, I don't know. The 14-45 behaves always as expected. As a prime lens I'd say. I don't know if what I mean is clear though.

Unlike you, I haven't really used any other standard zoom than the 14-45 with my MFT gear. But I share your experience with it. Very good and consistent performance. About the worst I can say about it is that it has a bit too much PF at the short end wide open (but most of it disappears already at f/4) and a bit too much vignetting at the long end (but that too disappears if you stop down just a little bit).

I have a 12-40/2.8 on order and hope to get it in about a week. I doubt that I will part with the 14-45, however, although I expect to use the 12-40 most of the time. It feels like a trusted old friend by now and you never know when a bit less bulk and weight comes in handy.

If you're on a budget and want excellent IQ in a "standard package", get the 14-45 (for a good price).
If you want the 12 mm end, and want to go really tiny, get the 12-32. It's so small, yet very good.

And finally, if budget and bulk are no issue, get the (almost perfect?) 12-40 2.8. It's a hell of a lens, from what I've read.


 Anders W's gear list:Anders W's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH +28 more
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