OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 review - Part 9 - Is the 12-50mm zoom any good?


The OM-D E-M5 is selling as a kit with the weather-sealed 12-50mm zoom. I bought one a while ago and reviewed it here:- http://soundimageplus.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Olympus%2012-50mm%20zoom%20lens%20review

I did a comparison with the lens on the OM-D and compared it with the 12mm f/2 and 45mm f/1.8 prime lenses. 

12-50mm and 12mm f/2 prime lens on Olympus OM-D E-M5  - f3.5

Mixed results for the 12mm f/2 prime. The lens is obviously faster, and at the aperture that the zoom begins - f/3.5 the prime is certainly sharper. However its not so clear cut, stopped down to f/8 and f/16. See below.

12-50mm and 12mm f/2 prime lens on Olympus OM-D E-M5  - f8

12-50mm and 12mm f/2 prime lens on Olympus OM-D E-M5  - f16

The comparison with the 45mm f/1.8 shows the prime again significantly sharper at the zooms starting point, a miserable f/6 only. However neither are especially good stopped right down at f/16 and f/22. 

12-50mm and 45mm f/1.8 prime lens on Olympus OM-D E-M5 - f3.5

12-50mm and 45mm f/1.8 prime lens on Olympus OM-D E-M5 - f16

12-50mm and 45mm f/1.8 prime lens on Olympus OM-D E-M5 - f22

For larger images click on pictures above > flickr > Actions > View all sizes > Original

The speed advantages and the better performance at wide apertures make the primes the obvious quality option. However the zoom is a very useful set of focal lengths, though somewhat slow.

It would have been nice if the new Olympus had a quality, fast lens to go with it, and the fact that the 12-50mm is the only Olympus zoom to feature weather-sealing to match the OM-D body is also somewhat of a disappointment. Its a decent lens but if you don't require your gear to work in a downpour, I'd be inclined to recommend the 14-42mm zoom as a cheaper, smaller and lighter option. Of course if you can afford the primes then they are the preferred option. They are certainly mine and they given me excellent results whenever I've used them.

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