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

Started Apr 17, 2014 | Questions
photofan1986
photofan1986 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,022
Re: Is the Panasonic 14-45 the best "kit" zoom?
1

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. 

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.

Regards

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MFiftysomething Contributing Member • Posts: 790
Re: There's only one lens...
1

Seeing as Pana now starting to incorporate IBIS on some models maybe Oly will start offering lenses with OIS built in.  They would sell more lenses I think.  The 12-40 is not an option for me as I need the OIS particularly for video so I go with 12-35 as best kit lens, as it is equal to the 12-40 image quality but has OIS and is a bit smaller.

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G1Shooter Contributing Member • Posts: 684
Re: There's only one lens...
1

Guy Parsons wrote: The one lens to buy is the Oly 12-40/2.8,.........................

I've gotta agree with Guy. When I switched fron GH2's to and EM-1, I sold all of my Panasonic lenses, including primes, and went with the 12-40. I don't miss the primes at all.

If you have a Panasonic body, it probably makes more sense to go with the 12-35 for the OIS.

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Sigurdur Stefan Jonsson Regular Member • Posts: 118
Re: There's only one lens...
1

What about the compact Panasonic Lumix 14-42 X Power Zoom lens?

It gets a pretty good writeup in a review on the slrgear website. Comparing it to the previous Panny 14-42 kit zoom they say:

"The new 14-42mm 'X' version is much sharper than the previous version; it's also much more resistant to chromatic aberration, shows less corner shading, and has a better profile for distortion. Optically it's a better lens, but if you're partial to a zoom and focus ring, this version of the 14-42mm has those."

Comparing it to the original 14-45 kit zoom they say:

"The original G1 kit lens, the 14-45mm actually tested a bit better than the version that replaced it (the 14-42mm above), but it's not as good as the 14-42mm X."

Sounds pretty good. This lens did get a bad rap though for blurring at certain shutter speeds. Maybe this was just shutter shock and may be a non-issue when used on recent Olympus cameras with recent anti-shock firmware updates.

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Ziggie

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berni29 Senior Member • Posts: 2,971
Re: There's only one lens...
1

Hi

Unless you already have a 12mm prime then the 12-32mm. I am selling my 14-45.

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Berni29
EM-5, GM1 + Pana 12-32mm, 35-100mm f2.8, 20mm, 14-45mm Oly 45mm, 50mm F2 macro, (prev GH1, E30, E510, E1, E300, LX3)

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OP fevan Regular Member • Posts: 124
Re: Is the Panasonic 14-45 the best "kit" zoom?
1

Re: 12-40/2.8 - if I'm using this primarily outdoor on sunny days (meaning likely not shooting at 2.8) is it worth it?

Paul De Bra
Paul De Bra Forum Pro • Posts: 12,397
Yes the 12-40 is definitely worth it. It's the best kit zoom.
1

The 12-40 is the kit zoom for the E-M1 but I use it on the E-M5 and I'm sure it works just as well on the E-M10. The purpose of a kit zoom is to be general purpose, a devil-do-all. The 12-40 certainly fits the bill. You will of course notice less difference with cheaper kit lenses when the light is good and you can stop down to f/5.6 (and with the cheaper kits even more at the long end, which isn't needed with the 12-40 unless you hit the max shutter speed).

When I travel light or am just going to work I do not carry my camera with the large and heavy 12-40 but have the Panasonic 12-42X on it and that lens is actually pretty good.

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Public pictures at http://debra.zenfolio.com/.

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eques Senior Member • Posts: 2,689
Some Sort of Comparison.
2

fevan wrote:

Is the consensus that the Pany 14-45 is the best optically?

I don't know, but I compared it to the Panasonic 1,7/20 at 20mm:

14-45 at 20mm; 1600x1200 crop from the centre

20mm, 1600x1200 crop near the centre

You can see, the 20mm is a little sharper, but not much.
However, things are different at 45mm. I compared the 14-45 at 45 and F5,6 to a Minolta MC 1,4/50mm at F4, which is the nearest FL I have.

14-45 at 45mm, centre crop 1600x1200px

Minolta 50mm. centre crop 1600x1200px

In spite of the changed lighting (clouds came when I got the Minolta) you can clearly see, the 40 year old Minolta is much sharper.

You can also see, that the 14-45 has a yellowish tinge, even compared to the 1,7/20.

I hope, this helps.

Peter

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captura Forum Pro • Posts: 23,887
Re: Yes the 12-40 is definitely worth it. It's the best kit zoom.

Some of them were breaking in half, early on. Have they fixed that?

sigala1 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,818
Re: There's only one lens...
1

Sigurdur Stefan Jonsson wrote:

What about the compact Panasonic Lumix 14-42 X Power Zoom lens?

It gets a pretty good writeup in a review on the slrgear website. Comparing it to the previous Panny 14-42 kit zoom they say:

"The new 14-42mm 'X' version is much sharper than the previous version; it's also much more resistant to chromatic aberration, shows less corner shading, and has a better profile for distortion. Optically it's a better lens, but if you're partial to a zoom and focus ring, this version of the 14-42mm has those."

Comparing it to the original 14-45 kit zoom they say:

"The original G1 kit lens, the 14-45mm actually tested a bit better than the version that replaced it (the 14-42mm above), but it's not as good as the 14-42mm X."

Sounds pretty good. This lens did get a bad rap though for blurring at certain shutter speeds. Maybe this was just shutter shock and may be a non-issue when used on recent Olympus cameras with recent anti-shock firmware updates.

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Ziggie

My 14-42 PZ sucks. Massive purple fringing when used on Olympus cameras. Blurry corners. No thanks.  (Although it's on my to-do list to try it on a camera with an e-shutter to see if the blurry corners were caused by shutter shock.)

Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 27,996
Breakages.

captura wrote:

Some of them were breaking in half, early on. Have they fixed that?

It seems that only two idiots dropped their lenses and they broke, other idiots who managed to drop their lenses didn't break.

If you don't drop it then there's no chance of breaking.

Regards... Guy

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LMNCT Veteran Member • Posts: 4,819
Re: There's only one lens...it’s the panny 12-35! :)

Another vote for the 12-35 on my GX7.  It feels good, works well and does most of what I want without contortions and lens switching.  Between that and the 35-100 life is good.

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jalywol
jalywol Veteran Member • Posts: 8,910
Well, it depends....
1

fevan wrote:

I'm getting the EM10 body only and a couple of good primes.

But i will want a small zoom occasionally.

Is the consensus that the Pany 14-45 is the best optically?

I had a 14-45mm. I rarely used it as I disliked its color signature rather a lot.  Yes, it was a sharp lens, but I just did not care for its output.

I have both the Oly 12-40mm and the Panasonic 12-32mm (from the GM1) now, and like both of them.  The 12-40mm is in a different league than the 12-32mm, but I really like many, many things about the 12-32mm.  It has very good color rendition, very good center sharpness, and overall produces quite nice images.  If you plan to take shots wide open at 12mm, and you need very sharp corners with little barrel distortion, then you would be better off with either the 12-40mm, 12-35mm, or the 12mm Oly prime.  However, if absolute outer edge sharpness is not your main goal, the 12-32mm is quite a nice little lens (I prefer it to all of the other kit zooms, from both Oly and Panasonic, that I have tried so far).

YMMV, as always....

-J

photofan1986
photofan1986 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,022
Re: Well, it depends....

jalywol wrote:

fevan wrote:

I'm getting the EM10 body only and a couple of good primes.

But i will want a small zoom occasionally.

Is the consensus that the Pany 14-45 is the best optically?

I had a 14-45mm. I rarely used it as I disliked its color signature rather a lot. Yes, it was a sharp lens, but I just did not care for its output.

I have both the Oly 12-40mm and the Panasonic 12-32mm (from the GM1) now, and like both of them. The 12-40mm is in a different league than the 12-32mm, but I really like many, many things about the 12-32mm. It has very good color rendition, very good center sharpness, and overall produces quite nice images. If you plan to take shots wide open at 12mm, and you need very sharp corners with little barrel distortion, then you would be better off with either the 12-40mm, 12-35mm, or the 12mm Oly prime. However, if absolute outer edge sharpness is not your main goal, the 12-32mm is quite a nice little lens (I prefer it to all of the other kit zooms, from both Oly and Panasonic, that I have tried so far).

YMMV, as always....

-J

The observation about the colour balance of the 14-45 is interesting. I recently compared my new 12-32 to the 14-45 on the same camera, and could not tell any difference regarding colour balance. What are the things you noticed?

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Agius FOTO
Agius FOTO Senior Member • Posts: 2,186
Re: Breakages.

captura wrote:

Some of them were breaking in half, early on. Have they fixed that?

It seems that only two idiots dropped their lenses and they broke, other idiots who managed to drop their lenses didn't break.

If you don't drop it then there's no chance of breaking.

Regards... Guy

not true. a simple google search will show many instances, with some who had it break in its camera bag!!!

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jalywol
jalywol Veteran Member • Posts: 8,910
Re: Well, it depends....

photofan1986 wrote:

The observation about the colour balance of the 14-45 is interesting. I recently compared my new 12-32 to the 14-45 on the same camera, and could not tell any difference regarding colour balance. What are the things you noticed?

You can actually see it in some of the test shots on some camera test sites, if you dig a bit.  The 14-45mm has a blue/cool tendency to the overall image.  If you look at foliage taken with it vs from even the not so wonderful regular Panasonic 14-42mm (a lens that I also do not like, but that is mostly because every copy of it that I have tried has had ghastly corner distortion and not great contrast...but the color rendition was pretty neutral), the foliage looks almost blue-green rather than green.  It was very consistent that way (and, as I said, I could see it in test shots from other than my copy).  It also did this on both the Panasonic and Oly cameras, with all different sensors, so it was not a particular camera/lens interaction.

Try it yourself when you get some nice full dark green summer foliage.  It's not a particularly subtle characteristic.

The 12-32mm seems to render overall colors very nicely, no complaints yet in my own images.

-J

jalywol
jalywol Veteran Member • Posts: 8,910
Re: Breakages.
1

superstar905 wrote:

captura wrote:

Some of them were breaking in half, early on. Have they fixed that?

It seems that only two idiots dropped their lenses and they broke, other idiots who managed to drop their lenses didn't break.

If you don't drop it then there's no chance of breaking.

Regards... Guy

not true. a simple google search will show many instances, with some who had it break in its camera bag!!!

After the first three or four people were done hopping up and down about the problem (and at least half of them had dropped the lens...) There don't seem to be any recent failures....

Not a problem, actually, or you would have continued to hear about it...

Also, Roger Cicala of Lens Rentals did a thorough analysis of the lens, and they had had no breakage problems, either.....and they certainly should see a problem if there was one.

Nothing like a little FUD from a couple of users who posted on every single photo bulletin board they could find about it...and then watched as it went viral.

Sometimes the Internet is a pain in the rear end.

-J

captura Forum Pro • Posts: 23,887
Re: Breakages.

Guy Parsons wrote:

captura wrote:

Some of them were breaking in half, early on. Have they fixed that?

It seems that only two idiots dropped their lenses and they broke, other idiots who managed to drop their lenses didn't break.

If you don't drop it then there's no chance of breaking.

Regards... Guy

Always a pleasure, Guy. You're the PEN guru, fer sure!
 I guess that if you dropped any lens that has a metal mount, such as the 14-45, it would never break in half, idiots or not.

captura Forum Pro • Posts: 23,887
Re: Breakages.

jalywol wrote:

superstar905 wrote:

captura wrote:

Some of them were breaking in half, early on. Have they fixed that?

It seems that only two idiots dropped their lenses and they broke, other idiots who managed to drop their lenses didn't break.

If you don't drop it then there's no chance of breaking.

Regards... Guy

not true. a simple google search will show many instances, with some who had it break in its camera bag!!!

After the first three or four people were done hopping up and down about the problem (and at least half of them had dropped the lens...) There don't seem to be any recent failures....

Not a problem, actually, or you would have continued to hear about it...

Also, Roger Cicala of Lens Rentals did a thorough analysis of the lens, and they had had no breakage problems, either.....and they certainly should see a problem if there was one.

Nothing like a little FUD from a couple of users who posted on every single photo bulletin board they could find about it...and then watched as it went viral.

Sometimes the Internet is a pain in the rear end.

-J

Naaah, it was probably due to some defective QC in the factory because these were early examples from the production cycle. Wise buyers will wait at least a few months before buying a new product; be it a camera or a lens.

captura Forum Pro • Posts: 23,887
Re: Well, it depends....

jalywol wrote:

fevan wrote:

I'm getting the EM10 body only and a couple of good primes.

But i will want a small zoom occasionally.

Is the consensus that the Pany 14-45 is the best optically?

I had a 14-45mm. I rarely used it as I disliked its color signature rather a lot. Yes, it was a sharp lens, but I just did not care for its output.

I have both the Oly 12-40mm and the Panasonic 12-32mm (from the GM1) now, and like both of them. The 12-40mm is in a different league than the 12-32mm, but I really like many, many things about the 12-32mm. It has very good color rendition, very good center sharpness, and overall produces quite nice images. If you plan to take shots wide open at 12mm, and you need very sharp corners with little barrel distortion, then you would be better off with either the 12-40mm, 12-35mm, or the 12mm Oly prime. However, if absolute outer edge sharpness is not your main goal, the 12-32mm is quite a nice little lens (I prefer it to all of the other kit zooms, from both Oly and Panasonic, that I have tried so far).

YMMV, as always....

-J

For occasional use as the OP states, the 14-45 is a remarkable bargain.

Then he can put his money into his choice of 2 primes.

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