Gave up on 12-45

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AlmostDoctor Contributing Member • Posts: 537
Gave up on 12-45

First I want to preface this by saying that this only applies to my personal experience and I do not speak for the copies that anyone else received. It is quite possible that other people may have received a much better copy than the ones I did.

I originally ordered 12-45 to compliment my 12-35 F2.8II. I always felt that 12-35 was a bit too short, and I found the lack of close focusing very limiting.

I basically ended up trying out 3 copies of 12-45 lens.

The first copy was great on the short end. It was just as sharp or sharper than the 12-35 I own at F4. However, it had major problem on the long end so it went back.

While I waited for the return to process, I heard the news about Olympus. I waited for awhile to see what to do, but I thought that if the long end of a new copy is as good as the resolution I was getting from the short end, that would be a great landscape lens that I'd rather have in my bag before all the 12-45 is sold out so I placed another order.

The second copy, the long end was good...but on the short end, focusing on one corner made the other side quite blurry. I also generally got the feel that the right side was slightly softer in general than the left side. I ultimately decided to send it back.

The third copy I received today was essentially the same as the second copy, but seemed slightly worse overall.

I forgot to keep track of the Serial number of the first copy, but I did keep track of the second copy. The second and third copy was only 2 numbers apart, so it was likely put together by the same production line/person. So it does make sense that they are very similar.

Anyway at this point, I just don't think it's worth the full retail price. It's too much of a game of chance, and I don't even know if a perfect copy actually exists.

The main take away here, is that the sharpness at the edges of 12-45 at F4/12mm never seemed to quite match my 12-35 at F4/12mm. It seemed to me that the design of 12-45 at 12mm is resulting in a loss of resolution at 12mm in the four corners possibly due to strong software correction.

Since wider end sharpness is more important to me, I just couldn't justify spending $650 on a lens that has softer corners than what I already own.

Now would you notice the difference viewing the image on full screen? Probably not. And I do think that 12-45 does have nice rendering and what not, and less CA/purple fringing than 12-35. But again, at full retail price of $600+Tax, it's just not worth it for me. The loss of resolution in the corners compared to the center at F4 was quite noticeable. To me, it was just below the threshold for being good enough as a "pro" lens costing $650 new with tax. If I had received a more flawless copy of 12-45, I may think it's worth the price and a great addition. I just don't know if I'd be lucky enough to get one, after trying three copies and the best of the three being almost meeting the expectations.

I'm planning on posting some photos later (mostly of the second copy (the best of the three I tried) and the third.

So, where does this bring me, especially in light of what's going with Olympus?

I honestly don't know. On one hand, I might just go with Lumix 12-60F3.6-5.6. It is smaller, still weather sealed, and has not quite but similar enough edge sharpness (and sharper center) @ F5.6&12mm compared to 12-45, according to review. It can be had for less than half of the price 12-45 in the used market in excellent condition.

But at this point, after getting used to 12-35 and primes, I don't think I have it in me to settle for a lot less in terms of resolution/IQ. I sold my 12-32, mostly because the IQ just wasn't quite cutting it for me. I want the image quality from a dedicated camera to be a few steps better than cell phone pics, and 12-32 just wasn't a big enough leap for me.

So given that, I am actually leaning more towards Olympus 12-40. It seems to have better corner sharpness than 12-35, it'll focus much closer and it'll work with all the Oly exclusive features so that will address a lot of the frustrations I have with 12-35.  After all, many Olympus shooters use 12-40 professionally so it can't be a bad choice. Additional bulk is something I'd rather not deal with, but if 12-40 is better than 12-35, then it might be worth the trade off.

Or I might just hang on to 12-35 and not do anything else. We'll see.

 AlmostDoctor's gear list:AlmostDoctor's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Olympus E-M5 III Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 ASPH Mega OIS Panasonic 20mm F1.7 II Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm F1.7 ASPH +6 more
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