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First Olympus 12-50mm tests.


Robin Wong (Click here) had the chance to play the new weather sealed Olympus 12-50mm lens: “For a standard zoom lens, the sharpness that this lens produces is very remarkable.

Pekka Potka (Click here) likes the lens and says his only flaws are on the very wide end when it shows visible distortion and chromatic aberration.

Also Pen&Tell (Click here) noticed the same flaws and says that the distortion goes away between 20-40mm and comes back as “pincushion” at the long end.

First stores are now accepting preorders on the lens. Check these search links to see if it’s available: Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay.

  • juanko

    Horrible RAWs at 12mm, very very bad.
    For macro not bad.

  • Agent00soul

    Doesn’t it use distortion correction, like the other m4/3 lenses?

    • wonderer

      I don’t get those ‘distortion’ comments…

      does it not (the distortion) get corrected by RAW software like DXO Optics/Lightroom very easily (when I select proper camera/lens combination) so it won’t become an issue once properly corrected?

      So why I should worry? The only thing coming to mind is JPG correction but I am never using those – I have P&S for that.

  • Mar

    I don’t know why some people have to constantly mention uncorrected RAW files…
    It’s not important – unless you’re using RAW converter which doesn’t support automatic correction.

    m43 lenses are like that – it’s a sacrifice one has to pay to get smaller optics, and this is especially noticable on wide angle lenses (7-14mm, 9-18mm, 12mm and 14mm).

    • Indeed! I’ve never understood the purist non-sense of no corrections via software.

    • Raist

      Because optical corrections give you full resolution and image quality. Particularly coming from 4/3rds lenses, it’s a bit of a “give up” to accept this.

      • Jim

        what ever makes a good pic – dont matter the method or the spek!

        • Raist

          yea, the point is the method of software correction doesn’t give as good a pic :-) But looking at the barrel distortion I saw in the review, I think it’s really a non issue.

      • agent00soul

        This is a myth. Optical correction creates it’s own set of drawbacks. Usually it reduces corner sharpness.

      • Atle

        All types of design-choices have their drawbacks and their upsides, be it optical or software.Not using the tools available too you on principle is poor design.

    • pf

      The 14mm is so amazingly good and small that any kind of distortion and vignette or ca is excusable. But even then, all the bad things combined is not nearly as much as this 12-50 while having 8 times the size.

      I don’t have anything against software correction if it means smaller lens. But this lens is anything but small.

  • OMG its gigantic!

  • Lez

    12-60 with adapter doesn’t seem too big in comparision with 12-50 :) Counting the IQ (and especially max aperture), 12-60 still is better choise for PEN.

    • Mftfan

      No, the AF is too slow with the 12-60, and even with 14-54 II.

  • I know the m43 lenses are supposed to carry the correction data in their firmware, but that barrel distortion of the out of camera jpeg makes me wonder if the camera is using it. Maybe a firmware update is needed.

  • Raist

    Seems like Olympus came out with a “premium kit lens”, not really a better type lens. Considering the range I guess that’s to be expected. Again, I don’t see the need for a lens like this more so with those issues because m4/3rds needs faster lenses more than slow ones.

  • Raist

    Upate: Looking at some of the distortion, I really think it’s a no biggie. I think it’s quite reasonable for the range it has. I still think Olympus should have gone for a faster lens with a more restricted focal length but that’s just me and several others.

  • Jim

    This looks like a shit hot kit lens….

    Personaly I think I like the smaller 14-42 as a run around lens – but this is the most versitile kit lens I’ve seen to date! – looks like it performs well to in all areas!

    Note: it focuses on moving/dancing rock band very very quickly and accuratly in light that the E-5 with F2 lenses struggled!

    nice work oly! – ok so its not F0.95 all the way but it is very versitile and small enough to realy make a diffrence over a DSLR…

    • Kevin

      this lens ain’t small or kit priced….for the same dimensions you might as well get the oly 14-150mm. easier close-ups due to more working distance, and a whole lot more reach.

      I still don’t get the purpose of this lens. it’s twice the size of any kit lens & falls short on being anything else.

      • pf

        The macro is total bulshit too. Yes, it is a 0.76 IF YOU TRANSLATE IT TO 35mm! Otherwise it is a 0.38 which for me shouldn’t count as macro. It doesn’t have much difference to Zeiss 24mm 1.8 that has 0.25 magnification. This is to me, is very misleading.

        Sharpness wise, it’s so bad for a macro lens. It’s not soft by all means, but macro lens is supposed to be the sharpest of all lens. Buy a $300 “real” macro lens and you’ll get it.

        So, it doesn’t have the range of 14-150 and even slower, doesn’t zoom at all at macro mode making it a 43mm prime, doesn’t have the slightest character of macro lens and still have the normal drawbacks of “normally small” m43 lens while 3-4 times as big.

        • Ab

          you know I love how some people dont want to translate some numbers into the 35mm equivalent but do want to translate other numbers.

          0.38 – 0.25 is a big difference for a zoom, and it is HUGE when you factor in the sensor crop.

          I love the way you say it is “so bad” but then say it isnt soft by all means. It looked pretty good for a kit lens to me.

          When you get the “real macro lens” you lose the zoom, which you seem to suggest it should retain (do you know a true 1:1 macro that zooms?), you lose the weather sealing, you lose the power zoom, you lose a great deal.

          The macro is a bonus, get a grip.

          • pf

            “you lose the weather sealing”
            Yea..because every camera body is weather sealed…right?

            I don’t have anything against translating the specs. BUT, if you write all the spec untranslated, then add this one tiny big spec translated, you might ask some questions there. And all the blogs just repost the spec without adding any notice that this one tiny big spec is translated. All I see is misleading attempt. Why don’t they just write 24-100mm lens?

            I said “so bad” is like saying, “this mountain’s altitude is so bad and by all means not low.” Which part is hard to understand?

            I kinda puzzled about how you guys define kit lens. My definition of kit lens is a good old 14-42 or 14-45 that is cost almost nothing, weightless and relatively small. If your definition is anything that comes with a body, does that means 20mm, 14mm, and even 14-150mm is a kit lens too? Okay I get it. That makes chromed Leica 35mm summilux is just another kit lens.

  • JF Gilbert

    Software correction is not a miracle cure. Where the image needs to be compressed, pixels are lost; when it needs to be stretched, pixels are invented. This is not good for resolution, it is not good for sharpness, and it can create artifacts.
    In summary, this lens is not cheap, it is not small, it is not fast, and now apparently not a very good optical design. What was the point?

  • I see nothing to lure me away from the 14-45mm, which has never let me down.

    • Gabi


  • TheEye

    This may not be a fair but a very subjective, based on my needs criticism, but the 12-50 is optically compromised at the wide end despite in-camera correction, while, due to a small maximum aperture, being useless at the long end for anything but close-up pictures and deep DOF long(ish) shots. So for me, who uses zooms 99% of the time at either end of the focal range, the 12-50 is completely uninteresting, but it may be great for others based on their needs.

    In terms of build, the 12-50 with its internal zoom mechanism looks actually like a better design than the 12-60.

    • Anonymous

      Some would say that the 12-60 despite being an excellent lens is also compromised at it’s widest focal length.
      I own it and I can tell you that while it gives spectacular results for seascapes and general photography, it’s distortion at 12mm for architecture is anything but perfect.
      The 12-50’s aperture range is a dissapointment though and if I was to consider this lens I would need to supplement it with the 12 f2 and all I really wanted was an equivalent to my 12-60.
      I’ll wait for proper objective review sites to submit their findings.

  • narutogrey

    Despite all the complaining, this might be the best kit zoom lens available today. Also, how many other zoom lens can cover 24mm at the wide end and also have near macro magnification? Not many. Now add on the fact that the lens is weather sealed, and you have yourself a one of a kind lens. That’s not even including internal zooming and power zoom because not many people value those features. Real life samples show this lens as being quite sharp. Is faster better? Of course, but that’s what Panasonic is coming out with, and those lens will most likely be at least 2-3x as much.

  • Fish

    Fortunately for my wallet, this one is not speaking to me. I still admire Olympus for trying though… they sure fit a lot of different features into a kit lens.

    While I would never buy it separately, I imagine that I could end up with a copy of this lens if it comes attached to the mythical pro-pen body.

    • TheEye

      If I have to buy that lens to get the Pro Pen, I’ll pass.

  • Gman

    I think “Jack of all trades, master of none” applies quite nicely here. This lens should be a great walk-around lens during the day. Wider and longer than the standard kit, with a built-in macro option, and power zoom for video. Only low-light and extreme telephoto/wide focal lengths are its main limitations. It’s bigger than most of the other zooms, but only the pancake X lens is small enough to make a m4/3 fit in my jacket anyways. Nice addition to the roster, in my opinion.

  • fgl42

    Instead of creating yet another zoom I wish Olympus would redesign the 17mm. Make it a little faster, at least 2.5, and a lot quieter. And then start offering it as an option instead of the zoom with the EPM-1.

  • fgl42

    The strength of micro four thirds for me is in the small and fast primes. I’d much rather buy a camera like the EPM-1 with the 17mm and then add the 14mm and 45mm. I’d really love the 12mm instead of the 14mm but it’s too expensive. Oh well, it’s just dreaming anyway as the EPM-1 isn’t offered with the 17mm. This lens is just so slow, and seeing as high ISO is not a strength of micro four thirds, you really need the lenses to be as fast as possible.

  • lone.samurai

    Some would say that the 12-60 despite being an excellent lens is also compromised at it’s widest focal length.
    I own it and I can tell you that while it gives spectacular results for seascapes and general photography, it’s distortion at 12mm for architecture is anything but perfect.
    The 12-50’s aperture range is a dissapointment though and if I was to consider this lens I would need to supplement it with the 12 f2 and all I really wanted was an equivalent to my 12-60.
    I’ll wait for proper objective review sites to submit their findings.

    • TheEye

      Well, for architecture you really ought to be using a PC less. ;-)

      The 12-60 does have noticeable distortion at the wide end, but at least it’s not a software corrected lens. Although, the shading compensation must be done in software. And there’s quite some corner shading with the 12-60.

  • marilyn

    a greal all around lens… i hope to see a 2.5 lens like this

  • Robbie

    Some compare the size of 14-150mm to this.
    What a joke.
    Yes they are basically the same length but the 14-150mm’s tube will extend when you get to the tele end, NOT the 12-50mm.

    With the exception of the aperture at the tele-end, this lens is not bad at all for a KIT ZOOMS lens. Where can you get this range, Macro and weather-sealed?

    • Esa Tuunanen

      Extended lens size doesn’t matter for carrying and storing, it’s the size with lens retracted which decides that so it’s quite fair to compare size.

      Only slow tele-end aperture?
      Did you even check Pekka Potka’s blog?
      It’s F4 already by 15mm and keeps going downhill fast from that.
      I bet this faster than even “super/ultra” zoom loss of aperture is consequence of non-extending internal zoom design.

      So this is just that weather sealed video kit zoom.

      • Robbie

        Yeah, I know that.
        But if you want it bright peep will start carping about the massive size again. If they make it small, peep will start talking about digital correction blah blah.

  • Peegee

    why make a weather-sealed lens when you don’t have a weather-sealed body?

    • Robbie

      Fail again.
      This would imply a weather-sealed body coming, one doesn’t need a high IQ to realize this.

  • Oitszek

    Embarrassing olympus went from excellence in lens design, to the digital in body correction sheme just like the consumer panasonics

    • Mr. Reeee

      Is this proof that the 12mm, 45mm and 9-18 mm lenses were aberrations in terms of quality? Although Robin Wong’s macro shots were pretty impressive.

      Let’s see a few more tests before condemning this lens. It IS a zoom lens and only a $500 one, so there were bound to be compromises. Zooms in themselves are made up of a series of compromises.

      Let’s see what the upcoming Panasonic 12-35mm and 35-100mm deliver.

      • Boooo!

        The 12mm is possibly the worst lens Olympus ever made in terms of IQ, and the 45mm is very good, but still not on the level of the 50mm.

        • Mr. Reeee

          That sounds a bit extreme. All the reviews and user comments I’ve come across seem to love the Oly 12mm. While it’s image quality seems very good to me, I still find it too clinical for my taste and prefer the SLR Magic 12mm… if we’re talking 12mm primes, that is.

          The thing that I don’t understand is that as far as their M4/3 lenses are concerned, Olympus seems to be coasting on the reputation of the old Zuiko lenses and producing very few top quality or even desirable lenses, aside from the three I mentioned earlier. It’s kind of a let-down to the M4/3 system, really.

          • Boooo!

            It sounds a bit extreme, but that 12mm has the biggest distortion of all lenses Olympus made so far, and vignettes by a stop and a half wide open, unlike any other lens.

            I think they’re unable to make really, really good lenses and have them “work” properly on their cameras. The lenses can’t be big because m4/3 is all about small size, and they can’t be extremely expensive, because m4/3 is usually someone’s “don’t want to carry my DSLR today” camera. I mean, if Olympus makes a $1500 lens, who is going to buy it and why?

            We’ll have to see about the new camera concept, as well as the E-5 successor.

    • Peegee

      @robbie are you sure? IQ blah blah blah!!!!

      • Robbie

        Wanna bet for a weather-sealed body coming soon?

    • Borbarad

      Yep! This is thing I really cannot understand. They went from excellent ( 4/3 HG and SHG lenses) to software corrected consumer toys.

      I – being a E-X 4/3 user – have currently zero interest in m4/3. This could maybe change once there are some lenses available worthy to wear the Zuiko Digital label.


  • Miroslav

    I guess we’ll be able to see the complete picture when the other part of the kit comes out – the high end body for this lens.

    • Whether Olympus release a new high end body or not, I am not exactly willing right away to qualify this lens as high end. Could be a good value for the money, tho.

  • This camera is very basic, and does not cost a great deal. The selling point is the 24mm equivalent lens. For those of us that have been shooting pictures for 4 or 5 decades, the wide angle lens is one of the most forgotten items in new cameras, and maybe it is because, as one reviewer said, it is basic and I’m not interested in learning anything beyond that (I paraphrase). A 24mm equivalent which is about 86 degree angle of view will give the user one more option for creativity. At the price, I would buy this camera if it only had that lens and nothing else. As far as the review stating that the higher ISO rating (800, I think) is bad, it usually is for most digital cameras, and when that rating was applied to film, it didn’t produce great results either. I’m rating this camera at 5 stars because I believe the rating should be tempered to the product. One cannot expect miracles at that price. When this camera is used as a camera, and used with a low ISO rating, which I do most all the time, it produces excellent results. Olympus does not put out, as one reviewer stated, pardon my language, CRAP. They also stand behind their products, and always have.

  • will the function button work on pannasonic body’s (like GH2)?

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