View Full Version : OM-D and the 12-50mm

18th July 2013, 02:21 AM

I've just introduced myself as a 'new user' on Forum, and would like to ask for some help and opinions on my initial experience with the OM-D and lenses.
I have with the OM-D, the 12-50 kit lens and the Pan 14mm 2.8, and have made some initial observations about both of these lenses.
As with my Nikon D7000, I typically use A priority and have sharpening and noise reduction both on 0.
Most reviews I've seen appear to indicate that the 12-50 lens is a reasonably good lens and at it's best at the wide end at about f5.6- 6.3, but that is definately not the case with this one, up to f5.6 it's disappointingly soft, especially at the left hand side, and it has to be stopped down to at least f6.3 before reaching it's best at about f7-8.
The 14mm Panasonic images show a slight improvement, but not as much as I expected, additionally the CA is much worse than the 12-50, and the images appear 'harsher' with a slightly over sharpened appearance to them.
Obviously both the sharpness of the 12-50, and CA of the 14mm can be improved in PS, but, I have to confess to being a tad disappointed in the images generally, especially as I've seen numerous reports and reviews stating that the images from this camera rival those from the D7000.
Unfortunately from my perspective even in comparison with the cheap 200 Nikon 18-105 kit zoom they definately don't, and even my daughters Nikon D3100 with 18-55 kit zoom, (total cost about 320 inc lens) is easily giving this OM-D 12-50 combi a real run for it's money.
Has anyone else been somewhat underwhelmed by the OM-D's images after the abundance of reports extolling it's virtues?
Anyway, as I see it now, my only option is to sell both of these lenses and start again, but therein lies another problem, what to replace them with that is going to offer better image quality but won't break the bank!
Any thoughts, opinions or suggestions would be welcome.
Thank you

Bikie John
18th July 2013, 08:08 AM
First up, welcome to the forum. There are lots of helpful people here who are a great source of advice and info.

As for the 12-50 lens on the OM-D - some people love it, some people are less impressed. I am quite happy using mine as a walkabout lens and have got sharp results, but for a lot of the more critical stuff that I do (shooting sport, or musicians in badly lit venues) it is either too short or too slow so I don't push it as hard as I might. It's very hard to say whether it is "good" or not as we all have different opinions and expectations. However, since you say the softness is worse on one side than the other it sounds as though there is a problem with your copy. Where did you buy it? Could you exchange for another copy?

The Panasonic lens could be a slightly different matter. In theory, all micro-4/3 lenses should be compatible with all bodies. However, this is only true up to a point. I'm sure I've read somewhere that the Panny bodies automagically do some post-processing to correct CA which they know some of their lenses have, but the Oly bodies don't. I haven't used the Panny 14mm, but I have the lovely 20mm f/1.7. It produces beautifully sharp images on the E-M5 but does some rather strange things at high ISO, which I think is down to a similar problem. Having said that, many people here mix & match Oly and Panny both ways round without reporting problems.

Hope this helps - even if only a little bit!

Ciao ... John

18th July 2013, 10:39 AM
Oly endeavour to fix lateral CA in the lenses, Panny don't and fix it via firmware in the body (in the JPegs only). Apparently fixing lateral CA by software is a lossless process. It's a simple thing to correct in Lightroom.

I have the Panny 14mm/OMD and don't have any problems with the combo, but I don't usually use the OOC jpegs.

It does sound like your 12-50 is a duff copy. It's not the sharpest tool in the box, but my copy holds its own with any kit lenses I've had before.

18th July 2013, 02:52 PM
Hi I don't have a problem with the 12mm 50mm lens

Here is a macro image of a fly taken a couple weeks ago


Do Veiw at full original size

hope this link works as not done it this way before.


18th July 2013, 07:44 PM
Hi to all who have offered some opinion on my problem.

Bikie John, I think part of my problem is due to the 'expected' quality, perhaps taken too much notice of reviews from over exuberant owners, who have just ditched their DSLRs and feel they need to justify the action by trying to convince themselves and others that their new purchase is every bit as good as the heavier bulkier equipment they have just binned.
If my expectations for this camera and lens hadn't been elevated to the level of expecting close to the quality of the D7000, I would probably still have purchased it anyway, because I like the retro style, small size, viewfinder, control, etc, and would have easily accepted a slight reduction in image quality in exchange for the other benefits.
My gripe is that this camera and lens costing almost 1000 has been touted to give comparable image quality to a DSLR, but I just don't see it, and as I mentioned previously, a lowly Nikon D3100 costing about 320, with it's kit lens is easily as good.
But after saying all that I still like the camera, it's got character, I carry it with me and use it, which is what I've missed since moving on from 35mm to heavy bulky black DSLR bodies!
So I'm keeping the camera and am going to work through this.
Anyway, back to the lens, after doing a few more tests today, I'm convinced that there is a problem with the optics of this lens, it's more obvious at the wider apertures, and extends in from the left hand side to almost a quarter way into the frame, and is worse in the top half.
To be honest if the whole frame was as good as the good part, then I probably would be quite happy with the camera/lens combo, but this blurring has just soured it a tad for me.
It's definitely the lens because the Pan 14mm does not exhibit this problem.
As far as returning it is concerned, because it was purchased as a kit I believe I have to send the camera back as well, but I don't want to do that.
So I don't know, maybe I should hang on to the lens, and just use it within it's boundaries, stopping down to at least f6.3 reduces the blurring, at f8 it's almost acceptable, and as you so aptly pointed out Daveart with your 'fly' it does have a useful macro capability!
I think I might look out for a secondhand black 17mm 1.8, I like the fact it's more trad with distance scale, and metal body, and after checking my exif data, I think it's a lens I could leave on 75% of the time.
But I have read that perhaps the image quality is not quite up to scratch, don't know if any of you guys could give me some feedback on that issue and alay my concerns over that as well!
Anyway, apologies if you feel I had a bit of a rant, but hey ho, it's good to talk!

Thanks again

18th July 2013, 08:24 PM
I'm pretty sure that if you're certain it's the lens you can just send that in. Photocopy the receipt as proof of purchase and fill in the form. Web page here (http://www.olympus.co.uk/site/en/c/cameras_support/repair_service/repair_handling/index.html)

If you're in doubt ring them on 00800 67 10 84 00 first, they are very helpful and I've never had to wait in a queue.

18th July 2013, 08:33 PM
This is a journey I have made myself. My initial disappointment has passed and little by little I am getting more and more out of my OMD and 12-50 combo. I am really happy with it and I generally agree that the IQ is as good as a mid range DSLRS

I do have the 14mm and this has always been good. Best results so far are from my panasoinic 20mm, 25mm and the Oly 45 mm.

As far as comparisons go, I have stopped making them because it takes you down a culdesac where you doubt your gear and there is no way out because every product refresh leaves you further and further behind. I don't listen to the sycophants or the trolls. I just enjoy my photography.

Kind regards

18th July 2013, 09:49 PM
Hello Glee

Very wise words, I know you are absolutely spot on with your advice, and I agree with everything you say.
Unfortunately I'm somewhat of a perfectionist in most thing I do, it gets me into trouble, costs me too much time, and leads me down frustrating, unending paths.
The stupid thing is when I look back at what I thought was good 30yrs ago, today's digital images are streets ahead, even the slightly dodgy ones!
So to a degree I've learned to accept things a bit more now, and as I said I don't mind too much that the m4thirds images don't quite come up to the standard of my D7000, in a way it would be remarkable if they did.
I'm quite sure if this 12-50 was up to scratch, I could live with it quite easily, so I might do what jdal suggests and attempt a return, nothing to lose anyway.
For the time being, I've still got the Nikon if needed anyway, but the idea was to hopefully at some point move away from the heavy kit, we'll see!
Have you had experience with the Oly 17mm 1.8, I want a good fast lens as a general walkabout, the 14mm I find a tad on the wide side, but the 17mm is pretty close to the 35mm lenses I used years ago! so should be spot on for what I want, but have heard mixed reports.

Thanks again

18th July 2013, 10:10 PM
Hi , not with the 17mm 1:8, I have been sorely tempted to buy this lens but I have the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 and in my option is it every bit as good if not better than the 17mm with the exception of autofocus speed.

I also have the 17mm 2:8, and as far as I am concerned its a good copy and great for street work. You must have guessed that my having so many lenses I really get the perfection thing. My inspiration is the folk on this site and some terrific images that defy popular misconceptions about 4/3 and m4/3. My personal challenge for me is to become a photographer irrespective of the quality of my gear. I have a long way to go but I think I have learnt more about photography since I stopped worrying about my gear. Personally this has been liberating and rewarding.

I would take a punt on changing the 12-50mm, you can always part x it for a good prime.
Best wishes

19th July 2013, 10:18 AM
I don't have the 17m/F1.8 but I think a lot of people were expecting more for their money when comparing it to the 45mm/F1.8 and this gave it a slightly tarnished press. Glee's comparison with the Pany 20mm/F1.7 seems spot on with other observations I heard as well but don't forget there can be a banding issue at very high ISO.

19th July 2013, 11:06 AM
The kit lens is acknowledged to be a bit variable in quality, but is generally well regarded





are some of the reviewers I trust and who (in my view) do a thorough evaluation of the kit they test.

My own experience has been very positive, but that's 's just a statistical sample of one :D

It isn't as sharp as lenses such as the 45 f1.8 or the panny 35-100 (but I wouldn't expect it to be) but in the Studio, for instance, the results hold up well against my 5Dmk2 + 24-104 LIS (judged by others in my studio group in addition to me, much to some chagrin of some of them :) )

I would support the others who say, if you are unhappy with it, send it back for an exchange, if still unhappy, go the, selective, prime route

19th July 2013, 08:51 PM
Thanks for your comments and advice, I've got a few things going on over the next few days, but I'm going to try to send the 12-50 back, so I'll get to that at the beginning of the week.
I'm quite keen to try the Oly 17mm 1.8 as well, so if I get a chance next week I'll take a nip along the road to Cambrian, and see if they have one I can try, before buying.
If I decide to get one I'll let you know how it compares to the Pan 14mm.


21st July 2013, 07:34 AM
I know you've had lots of replies, but I thought I'd just add this:

- The IQ out of the OMD really is extremely good. I moved from a Canon 5dii and whilst the Oly can't match it in low light, in most other respects it gets very, very close. I'm very fussy about IQ too, so don't give up the candle yet!

- The 12-50 is not a great lens, even when it's not decentered as yours seems to be. It might suit those who are less fussy, but given your self-declared perfectionism, do yourself a favour and dump it! If you want a walk around zoom, replace it with the Panasonic 14-45 or if you don't mind paying the price, the 12-35. These are both much better lenses.

- The 14/2.5 is a nice lens, but does suffer from CA. I eventually sold mine for that reason and the fact that the FL was neither feast nor fowl - neither UWA nor 'normal'.

- The Oly 17/1.8 is a nice lens in many ways, but needs a slight lift in PP sharpness to bring out its best. I like mine.

Hope this adds to your thinking!

Pierre L
21st July 2013, 07:52 AM
- The 12-50 is not a great lens, even when it's not decentered as yours seems to be. It might suit those who are less fussy, but given your self-declared perfectionism, do yourself a favour and dump it!...

Hope this adds to your thinking!
May I add that if the 12-50 is faulty and still under warranty, you should get it replaced/repaired -- if you still don't like it when it's working properly then you can sell it

21st July 2013, 07:59 AM
Just to throw my 2p into the ring as well, Paul really hit's the nail on the head. The OM-D is a great M4/3 body with an amazing sensor but it can't compete with equally amazing full frame or APS-C sensors in all areas - tracking fast moving subjects is my main gripe with it.

Having said that, the kit lens won't get the best out of it, neither will the cheap and sub-optimal Panny 14mm f/2.5 - I have both but they are not the best lenses in my bag. Any of the Oly primes will give you amazing images, as will the Panny Summilux 25mm f/1.4. After that the pro-spec Panny f/2.8 zooms - especially the longer 35-100mm - are stellar (but so is the price) - the longer / walkabout zooms are good - better than the kit lens - but not Nikon / Canon pro-spec yet.

Hope you find something that works for you, it's a really good camera - pair it with a really good lens and a really good scene and take some really good pictures.


21st July 2013, 08:45 AM
Really interested in your comments about the Panasonic 14-45mm. I worry that getting the full benefits of this lens requires a Panasonic body as there appear to be some subtle differences in lens corrections etc. I would be grateful for any views on this.

Many criticise the 14mm but this is a case in point where it suffers less one a panasonic body, but one click in light room does the trick what CA?

Best wishes

21st July 2013, 09:07 AM
As James has stated, you really need top quality lenses to get the best out of this amazing wee sensor, and the top auto-focus lenses are the mZuiko primes. The 17mm f1.8 is excellent, as is the 12mm, but for real sharpness look at the bargain 45mm and the exquisite 75mm.

If you want to stick to a zoom walkabout lens, then the Panasonic 12-35 fits the bill. Only downside is the relatively limited long end of 35mm (be more versatile if it were longer), but that deliberate limitation probably contributes to its overall quality.

21st July 2013, 09:44 AM
A few have mentioned the 12-35. I picked one up recently and I must say it's an absolutely wonderful piece of kit. Really nice build quality, top-class IQ (certainly up with the 24-70/2.8 offerings from Canon and Nikon), comparatively small and light, weather sealed and with IS (no better than the OM-D's IBIS, but better than the 2-axis Oly offerings).

Then, when you look at the size difference, it's clear why so many of us are using u43:


21st July 2013, 09:55 AM
I agree about the primes, I have the oly 45mm and its terrific, but I am not likely to buy the 12-35mm as too costly even though worthy. I might replace my 12-50mm for a better mid price zoom, maybe sigma will save the day and make one. If their primes are anything to go by, it should be excellent.

21st July 2013, 01:49 PM
Another vote for the 12 -35, 35 - 100 and 75 -300 as well.
With the first two you have pretty much prime performance from a flexible zoom, plus weather sealing into the bargain.
All my primes have now gone to help fund some other kit but these three zooms would be very difficult to part with.

21st July 2013, 04:02 PM
If you are happy to manage without ultra-speedy AF, why not consider getting a MMF3 adapter and a good second-hand Olympus 12-60 4/3 lens? This combo is dust & splash-proof and delivers superb IQ on the OM-D.

You could hire this kit from Ian to try it out before committing yourself.

21st July 2013, 04:57 PM
If you are happy to manage without ultra-speedy AF, why not consider getting a MMF3 adapter and a good second-hand Olympus 12-60 4/3 lens? This combo is dust & splash-proof and delivers superb IQ on the OM-D.

You could hire this kit from Ian to try it out before committing yourself.

Or the 14-54 MkII for that matter, smaller, pretty much as sharp and faster at the long end, plus the bonus of respectable AF speed on the E-M5.
Both are relatively big lenses for m4/3rds though which kind of defeats one of the big attractions of the format.