Just a few thoughts on my 12-50

Started Nov 7, 2013 | User reviews
mring1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,404
Just a few thoughts on my 12-50

Quick review that probably won't tell anyone anything shockingly new.  First off:  I have a very good copy.  Required user understandings:  this is a kit lens, despite its WR capabilities and published (and too high) price.  Like any kit lens, it needs to be stopped down, and the 12-50 is not exception.

I have three ranges of use for this lens:  12-25, 25-40 and 40-50.  In the first range, results are excellent if you stop down 1/2 stop.  In the second range, results are good stopped down 1/2 - 1 stop.  Beyond 40 mm, it's "f/8 and be there", and accept some loss in sharpness and contrast.  That's why the essential companion to this lens is the 40-150 zoom.  The 40-150, by itself, is one of the best buys across the entire Olympus zoom range, and it's even more valuable since it takes over from the 12-50 right when the new zoom starts to fall off.

The pseudo-macro capability of the lens is surprisingly good.  I'd never done any macro work before, and this lens makes it really simple to get up close and personal. Add the 12 mm wide end, and it's a great day-hiking lens.  The WR capability makes it a lens I won't hesitate to use in the rain.

That said, the lens that currently on my E-M5 90% of the time is my old and trusted 14-54 Mk I.  It's not fair to compare a corner-to-corner, sharp-wide-open HG lens with a kit lens. I view them as complementary.

If you can find the 12-50 for about $250 (and you will as soon as the 12-40 becomes widely available), it's worth it for it's "one size fits all and does most things" approach.  Also, if you really want to cut size and weight - and accept the compromises - it's a good addition to your kit.

Primes are great, but on the trail, changing lens can be risky.  The 12-50 works best in that setting, as long as you accept the compromises built into a lens that was really designed, first and foremost, as a video and macro lens.  Notice:  I didn't comment about its video capabilites because I so seldom use video that I can't speak to it.

 mring1's gear list:mring1's gear list
Fujifilm X100T Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Olympus E-M5 III Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F4-5.6 OIS Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F2.8 OIS +3 more
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ
Zoom lens • Micro Four Thirds • V314040BU000
Announced: Dec 14, 2011
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northcoastgreg Regular Member • Posts: 139
Re: Just a few thoughts on my 12-50

I was initally scared off of this lens by all the negative criticism. I got the Panny 14-45 instead. But then I began to notice something: images I would see taken from the 12-50 looked better than what I was getting with the 14-45. Indeed, I found I did not care for the output of the 14-45. The lens is sharp, but the color rendition leaves something to be desired, leading to images with a flat, not entirely pleasing color profile. I ended up picking up a refurbished 12-50 for about $250. I must have gotten a "good" copy, because I have not found the resolution problems other users and the review sites have complained about. It's every bit as sharp as the 14-45, with slightly better contrast and significantly better color rendition. I rank it slightly better than the Oly 40-150 (it's slightly more contrasty) and just a hair behind the Oly 9-18. Honestly, I can't see any resolution differences in any of these lenses. They're all plenty sharp.

I suspect that part of the problem with the 12-50 is that it's optimized to work with the OM-D bodies. Most of the review sites tested it on Panny and Pen bodies. It did not fare well in those tests. But Roger Cicala tested it on the EM-5, and it did just as well as the 9-18 and Panny 14-45.

 northcoastgreg's gear list:northcoastgreg's gear list
Pentax K200D Olympus PEN E-PL1 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Pentax K-5 IIs Pentax smc DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited +28 more
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