Not convinced

Started Apr 12, 2012 | User reviews
Alan Ernst Regular Member • Posts: 115
Not convinced
2

I anxiously awaited the Olympus 12-50 in the hope of finally having a quality all-round lens for my GH1/2 and GX1. On paper, the specs looked very promising (with exception of the slow aperture at the long end, which I could live with, as I use the tripod a lot). I finally managed to get the lens two weeks ago and test it extensively in the field. The results are a mixed bag: stellar performance in some areas, marred by some serious deficiencies... Clearly not what I had hoped for, based on my experience with the Zuiko 12-60mm 4/3 lens, which has become my preferred but unfortunately very chunky standard zoom as its optical performance (and speed) are excellent.
I tested the 12-50mm lens on my GH1 and GX1, on tripod, using self-timer or cable release.
The pro’s as I see them:
- a much more useful zoom range than the existing Lumix / Olympus standard zooms, which would make it an ideal all-round lens
- good build quality and ergonomics and fairly compact (albeit 4x larger than the new retractable Lumix PZ X 14-42 and about 1/3 larger than the older Lumix 14-45, it is still reasonably small and light)
- excellent close focusing ability (very close and very sharp) in its macro setting, with minimal distortion and surprisingly good corner sharpness. Could almost back up as a macro lens.
- weather proofing
- smooth power zoom (but noisy!)
- good center sharpness throughout the aperture and zoom range
- finally a wide angle zoom which does not vignette when using filters at the wide end – GREAT
- internal focusing with non-rotating front element
- minimal light fall-off in the corners compared to the Lumix PZ X 14-42
Unfortunately, the lens does not meet my expectations, although it performs very well in some areas, especially close-up. Considering it is a fairly slow lens, I was hoping for something much better. Compared to the Lumix 14-140 megazoom, results were comparable with slightly less distortion but more fuzzy corners (being a mega zoom, the 14-140 is no stellar performer, although at the wide end it is quite acceptable. It focuses nowhere near as close but has a much longer zoom range). Compared to the old Lumix 14-45 standard zoom, performance of the Olympus 12-50 is poor, especially towards the corners and at wider angles.
Why is it, I ask once again, that m4/3 lenses simply cannot match the optical performance of high quality APS or full frame lenses by the major manufacturers???? As long as Panasonic and Olympus don’t put a serious effort into the optical quality of their lenses, their systems will never win over more serious photographers. I'd rather pay more for a top notch lens than keep buying mediocre performers...

Problems:

On the downside (some of these issues may be less pronounced when using Olympus’ bodies, but as we have all come to know, compatibility of the m4/3 products from different manufacturers is more or less limited to the lens mount only...):
- a little slow (I would have preferred a slightly larger / heavier lens in the f 3.2-f4.5 range)
- significant barrel distortion at the wide setting
- noticeable chromatic aberration in the corners at wider angles
- no lens hood is provided with the unit so it has to be purchased extra as an accessory (SHAME on you OLYMPUS!!)
- when shooting jpeg on Lumix cameras, images have a distinct magenta cast (no problem if you shoot RAW or happen to like pink snow)
- no image stabilisation available when used with Lumix cameras
- AF is fast but appears even less accurate than with Lumix lenses. Need to use manual focus for best results.
- length of the lens results in incomplete flash coverage at wider angles
- significant loss of sharpness towards the edges and corners. Less pronounced at shorter distances and longer focal lengths, but otherwise marring the performance of what could have been a great lens throughout the entire aperture and zoom range, including what would normally be considered the sweet spot of a lens. This is the killer for me, as it means the lens simply cannot be used for serious architecture, landscape or industrial photography, enlargements greater than 16x20, where reasonable sharpness / resolution is needed corner to corner. I was allowed to try out another unit to see if my lens was a lemon, however the results were very much the same, so it is clearly a design issue.

 Alan Ernst's gear list:Alan Ernst's gear list
Panasonic ZS100 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Panasonic GX850 Nikon D7500 Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 +19 more
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ
Zoom lens • Micro Four Thirds • V314040BU000
Announced: Dec 14, 2011
Alan Ernst's score
3.0
Average community score
4.2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads