Decent walk around / video lens

Started Oct 8, 2012 | User reviews
sbszine
sbszine Contributing Member • Posts: 547
Decent walk around / video lens
2

This is a kit lens that is bundled with the OM-D E-M5. As part of the kit is it costs $100 more than the body alone, but if purchased separately it retails for about $500 (as at Oct 2012). I think it's great value at the kit price but too expensive for the stand alone price.

The appeal of this lens is that it brings the familiar functions of a compact camera zoom to M43. It's a 4x zoom, it's powered, and there's a macro setting. So if you're upgrading from a compact to an OM-D kit, you can just carry on shooting stills, macro, and video as normal. Coming from a Fuji F30, this felt very intuitive, and made the transition to M43 easier for me.

Image Quality

The range of focal lengths is very handy going from 12mm for landscape, through 17mm and 25mm for street, up to the 50mm for portrait and close by wildlife. The macro is fixed at 43mm / F6. In good light with a still subject it performs well, but if you're shooting bees buzzing around or flowers waving in a breeze, it's too dark to use a fast enough shutter unless you fire the flash. For non-macro stills I found it to be fast enough at the wide end (12-17mm) to meet my needs.

Optically the lens is just OK. It's prone to flare and a little soft right across the frame, and it also tends to produce muted colours. When I compare the results with a cheap Panasonic 14 / 2.5, the difference is very noticeable. It's normally a little unfair to compare a kit zoom to a prime, but this is a $500 kit zoom! Some forum users have reported that the E-M5 firmware 1.5 improves the sharpness of this lens on that body.

Construction

Build-wise the 12-50 is pretty good. The casing is plastic but feels very solid and believable, the zoom ring feels great and is a large 3-speed jog, and the buttons are big and easy to use. The LFn button in particular is a lifesaver, and makes an excellent substitute for the tiny Fn1 button on the E-M5. Olympus suggests assigning focus hold to LFn for use with C-AF video shooting, but I prefer to use it for AEL (which cures the video pumping the E-M5 is prone to).

The only downside in terms of construction is the focus ring, which is loose and doesn't have much damping. Again, macro is where this is going to be problematic.

Autofocus is exceptionally fast, which is great for kids and animals or sports photography.

Conclusion

This is a good walk around lens, particularly suited for video enthusiasts or people upgrading from a compact camera. People interested in it as a macro or a wide landscape lens would be better off spending the money on a prime. Bundled with a kit, it's a steal, but if you already have a kit zoom, it's not very good value.

Pros:
- Widest and longest M43 kit lens
- Fast autofocus
- Good video performance
- Macro function
- Weather sealed
- 3 speed power zoom
- Manual zoom mode
- Assignable function button for OM-D users

Cons
- Soft
- Dark, esp. in macro mode
- Prone to flare
- No lens hood included
- Loose, inaccurate focus ring
- Relatively large
- Expensive unless bought as part of a kit

 sbszine's gear list:sbszine's gear list
Olympus Tough TG-2 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus PEN E-PM2 Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II R +5 more
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ
Zoom lens • Micro Four Thirds • V314040BU000
Announced: Dec 14, 2011
sbszine's score
3.5
Average community score
4.2
Olympus OM-D E-M5
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