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New Micro Four Thirds lens roundup (12-50mm tested by DxO).


It’s time for a new Micro Four Thirds lens review roundup. As you can see from the screenshot on top DxOmark (Click here) tested the new Olympus 12-50mm weather sealed zoom. I have to say that I expected a better result form a lens that is 10 times longer than one of my favorite lenses, the Panasonic 14-42mm X lens (which costs less too!). Of course if you need a weather sealed lens an a superior economy and control than the Olympus lens is the better choice.

And here are five more m43 lens tests or image samples:
Panasonic 7-14mm Review (ePhotozine). Price check at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay.
Olympus 12-50mm Photos (Photographyblog). Price check at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay.
Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 Review (ePhotozine). Price check at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay.
Sigma 30mm image samples at ePhotozine.
SLR Magic 26mm Toy Lens Review at Talkingtree (Click here). The lens is available on eBay (Click here).

  • Bob B.

    Two Mr. Softees.

    • Mr. Reeee

      … in August. ;-)

      • Bob B.

        With low-chroma sprinkles.

    • Brod1er

      And pokey! BIG difference between the quotes f stop and the measures t stop. I was shocked by the actual t5.3 vs the nominal f3.5. Well over a stop darker.

      • Atle

        That is not the case if you read the test details, the difference is about 0.1-0.2

      • I just see t3.8 vs. f3.5 for the 12-50 in the DXO measurements.

      • Beomagi

        It’s a zoom. T-stops also have a range. they’re not quoting the fastest, but one point in the zoom range.

  • Ouch! Auch! that’s a good thrashing from DxO! So sorry, Panasonic, but for that transmission..

  • Mr. Reeee

    DxO does have a hair across it’s ass as far as anything M4/3 goes, so a really low score doesn’t surprise me.

    Yeah, I’ve played with the 14-42mmX. Yep, it’s small and that’s about all there is to recommend it. Hate the zoom and focus levers.

    The Oly 12-50mm seems more interested in being a Sony NEX lens than M4/3. Meaning: oversized and mediocre. Oly should just stick to making primes.

    • Petty

      The zoom lever on the 45-175mm is fantastic for video.

    • the first line of this comment is gross and not very intelligent either. It is always easier to question the objectivity of a site when the conclusions are not the ones you would want

      • wonderer

        the panasonic 14-42X ‘softness issue’ is a problem of IS of the lens, particularly between 1/60-1/200 shutter speed settings. dpreview forum is full of it (big threads) and this happen even with updated firmware. I wonder if DXO Labs investigated the issue, or had powerIS turned off (not that it helps much).

        also, you can have bad model in a hand, they should at least test 3 lenses of same type. That’s the problem with 43 – quality control is really weak (particularly in pana land). Check Amazon or other comments – you can buy real trash, or can be lucky with a good model.
        Doesn’t happen with Canon L lenses for example, or Leica for that matter.

  • pete

    Does it mean that I should go for a NEX-7 because the 18-55mm kit lens isn’t that much worse?

    How is the contrast on the 12-50mm? I care more about that than resolution.

    • bilgy_no1

      seems a bit silly to buy the NEX 7 and only use the kit lens. Same with OM-D, but you have more options. Also, we don’t know how the Sony lens scores on this scale.

      • pete

        I thought so too… I really rather spend more on lenses than on electronics, relatively speaking.

        I am now slightly biased towards a GX1 + 14mm + 25mm + 45-175mm kit. It can be trench-coat-pocketable with one of the pancakes. (My K-7 + 17-50mm f/2.8 zoom will not fit inside ANY pocket)

    • George

      @ pete
      I don’t own a nex7 but i had it for 2 weeks.

      It is the most enjoyable camera i have ever used. Remember the first time you shoot with GF or EP. But with nex7 it is also image quality which is amazing.

      Though there is still no good pancakes. If you want to use pancakes i’d say stick with m4/3, but if you are going to buy a zoom lens for a m4/3, don’t waste your money and go buy a nex

      • pete

        Another reason I may want a NEX-7: it has 3 dials! One for shutter, one for exposure compensation, and one for ISO. It is much better than a modal interface that requires the user to know what the dial currently controls.

        I am getting the camera for my wife, who loves zooms. However, I am going to “commandeer” it occasionally so the availability of good pancakes is highly desirable. :-)

  • Maximum aperture and sensor characteristics seem to play a significant role in DXO’s method of testing lenses. Actually, their scores refer to the camera/lens combo rather than to the lens alone, so cross-system comparisons make sense.
    Anyway, those slow zooms are most useful in daylight (especially at their respective long ends). At 85-95 lpmm (you have to double the stated resolution to assess its real value) they are not too bad optically.

  • bilgy_no1

    The 12-50 is like the 14-42, with the UWA and macro convertor lenses built in. And weather sealed to boot. Really OK for a kit.

  • Daemonius

    You cant expect much from 12-50 range in this price range. Considering its 24-100mm zoom, its pretty good. Im quite sure that other APS-C zooms in this range are not that good. Ofc, theres 12-60mm f2.8-4 which is good (or even great), but since DxO never tested it, its hard to say if its better. And if it is, then in same time its bit more expensive than OM-D kit lens..

  • That much difference with the primes.

  • Charlie

    Man, that Panasonic lens sucks.

  • robin

    Sad with the result… but im still getting it for all weather thing

  • thethirdcoast

    This is the type of review that makes me glad to stick with my Panasonic 14-45!

    • robin

      the 14-45 havent been tasted yet with DxOmark i guess the 12-50 is still my best lens with a kit hehe

    • Gabi

      +10000! I will wait for the Panasonic fast zoom lenses that are announced, and then I might go for either the 14-54 II with weather sealed adapter or the Pana fast zoom.

  • safaridon

    I am surprised at the above comments. Don’t just look at the overall score but rather look at the individual scores like resolution where the Pany Xlens scores good with 47 compared to Oly 43. Any slow lens will score low on DXO because of much lower light transmisability compared to a faster prime or zoom lens.

    • bilgy_no1

      Yes, and let’s not forget the recent scores for m43 primes like the 25mm and 12mm. 17 or 18 was considered a really good result by DXO. The Nikon 10mm f/2.8 prime scored 10 as well, just like these kit lenses.

  • Slrgear

    There are too many idiots in the world who doesn’t even know what the number is. Just like my mom keep saying that my tv volume at “24” is loud enough.

  • JimD

    This just goes to show what a load of absolute rubbish these tests are. If its not fast it won’t rate. Have these people got any idea of “fit for purpose” ratings should be given by class if they have to rate anything at all, using a scale that is made for $10,000 + lenses is totally stupid when rating a kit lens. Its a wonder they don’t get negative numbers on their methodology with slow lenses.
    These results are comparable to a plastic bottle bottom. They are so very out of kilter with the evidence of results obtained. Cameras and lenses are not subjects for micro measurement they are tools to make photographs. The foolishness of studying DoX reports is shown buy the use of art filters and many other post processing methods used by many where DoX results are completely invalid. Even LOMO addicts are laughing at the DoX addicts. It is about time people like DoX found a real job.

    • robin

      plus 2

    • Digifan

      Yeah, what I’ve been saying all along. It’s a commercial site aiming to SELL THEIR OWN SOFTWARE, these test’s are no free lunch.
      I don’t trust their results.

    • Gabriel

      The problem is that for the same lenses, there is huge difference depending on the camera. The Samyang 35mm F1.4 score 33 on Nikon D3X and 19 on D90.

    • JF

      I don’t agree with what you are saying. I think it is interesting to have a test that shows the absolute performances of lens+camera. Yes it is a very scientific and strict protocol that is not here to replace a human judgment. You must be clever enough to judge these results and numbers considering all the parameters as price, size, weight, versatility, etc…Other tests exist to show the real life using of these lenses and to add a human judgment. I just think this is not the purpose of the dxo measurements…

      • JimD

        None of these tests do a picture make. There is confusion all around at DoX they cannot even get reports correct, what hope for their tests.

  • Yun

    Not my type of zoom lenses !
    Image quality is everything to me . Of course , one might argue go for APS Cmos or FF but this really depend on the individual taste .
    If I’m with M4/3 , I’ll definitely get the best from the system & this lens not fulfilling my criteria .
    Better save for the incoming 75mm F1.8 .

  • Guy McLoughlin

    Let’s see how this lens stacks up against the Canon equivalent…

    Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM VS. Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ

    Both are low cost kit lenses that sell for about $500 US by themselves, and both perform about the same. The only real difference is that the Olympus is weather-sealed. The Olympus is a little wider, and the Canon is a little longer.

    • Jon

      Good comparison. I love the Canon 17-85mm. I had it with my 30d and took some really impressive shots with it. I take all DxO tests and results with a grain of salt. I’ll decide the quality after I see some actual examples, not mere lab tests.

      • JimD

        Jon, as I mentioned earlier here, forget the grain of salt, forget DoX. Look at the results. If they are what you want and what you expect for the money paid that’s all you need. Consumer and eenthusiast. cameras do not need DoX they contribute nothing.

      • ag

        I have no idea why Canon still sells the EF-S 17-85 when the EF-S 15-85 is much better with superior USM and IS. The only difference between that and the EF 24-105 L is corner sharpness.

        I do lament the poor showing on this new 12-50mm since this is an area m4/3 should have addressed earlier. Oly should have made the tele-end longer and faster.

        The NEX lenses are a complete disaster: however the new A-mount 16-50 f/2.8 is as good as the Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IMO

        • JimD

          Just ignore DoX and you will find happiness in life and your purchases. Also a reason to look at real photos.

        • Longer + faster = bigger. And more expensive.

    • flash

      I like your comparison. Now the question for me is the 12-50 worth getting bundled with a camera. The other question how good is the EM-5 with legacy lens. The m43 cameras have been rated to be better then the 43 cameras with respect for legacy lens, but with the new sensor I wonder.

      • JimD

        Yes flash, I am interested in how my collection of older “other” brand lenses will fare on the E-M5 particularly my old Tamron 19AH and its brothers (or, is it sisters) being lenses I have kept in case I ever return to FF which now seems less likley with the likes of the E-30 and 12-60 and the E-P2 with my 43 9-18mm and my soon to be E-m5.

      • Gabi

        I preordered the bundle, since the kit lens 12-50mm is only about 200 €. It is worth this price. I would not have bought this lens for >400 €. Nonetheless, I hope for better weather sealed zoom lenses in the near future. Until then, my good old Pana 14-45, my fast primes and my other zoom lenses will do a good enough job. And I don’t care about DxO or other tests. I am interested in real life shots.

  • GeorgeR

    SLR Gear gave a very good review of Nikon 1-10-100 with blur index similar or better to Lumix 25/1.4. DSO gave Nikon 1 10-100 # 10 rating and # 20 to Lumix 25/1.4. Something was not measured right or analysis of one of these companies doesn’t reflect reality.

    • You must be joking!
      The Nikon zoom starts at F4.5, while the blur diagram for Panasonic lens is traced for F1.4. Cannot compare oranges to apples!

      By the way, Panasonic on F4.5 and Nikon on F4.5 aren’t even in the same ballpark.

  • The scores are only useful when comparing m43 lenses to each other on the same camera. Since all DxO lens figures are measured on a camera, they must all come from the same camera if you want the figures to be fair. These scores tell me that the Panasonic 14-42 is sharper than the Olympus 12-50, at least in the middle, has less chromatic aberration but more vignetting. We can all see these two lenses are not very bright (low transmission), hence the low overall score.

  • ALL standard zoom lenses have such a bad transmission, Pana 14–42 PZ is even among the best ones.

    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II USM : T4.9 (same as Pana 14–42)
    Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR: T5.0 (slightly worse)
    Nikon 1 NIKKOR VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6: T5.1 (worse)

    So you shouldn’t worry, zoom lenses inherently need more glasses.
    Olympus result is a bit too high, though.

  • George

    to be honest i didn’t expect such disaster results.

    This is a huge disappointing results for me.

    • Please, please, please!


      You better compare these standard zooms to their counterparts fom other systems. In the light of that the results aren’t disaster at all.

  • Braun

    I no longer rely my decision upon on their test. My direct experiences from my own lens never match with their opinions.

  • SLR gear are better than DXO, but neither of them are worth too much attention. With lenses you cannot rey only on measurements. The way a lens draws the subject and colors has to be evaluated by analyses of real world photos. (Micro contrast that gives the 3D feel for instance)
    For instance, to me, the Pana 25/1.4 and Oly 12/2 are better than what measurements say. The Oly 45/1.8 is to me more the same as measured results. Meaning that here the strong side is measurable sharpness.
    (Kit) zoom lenses in m43 are in general acceptable to very good is my experience. Often sharp in ideal conditions. – But that nice microcontrast just isn’t there. Results look flat and less interesting compared to the primes.
    Oh – there is also the Pana WA zoom that is great.

  • Mizu

    As soon as Panasonic reacts (and hopefuly solves) this issue with this lens, I will consider buying a GX1:

    “As has been reported by Panasonic owners in our user forums, the Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm kit lens produces noticeably blurrier images at its long end than it does at wide and medium focal lengths. Interestingly, this issue appears only at shutter speeds between 1/60 sec to 1/200 sec, which suggests a vibration-induced issue rather than a problem of focus. We see only marginally different results with IS active versus disabled. Yet, to the extent that we do find differences, leaving IS on actually produces slightly more blur at these shutter speeds. ”

    But no answer from Panasonic to its customers so far…

    • Pedro del Río

      Have you considered buying the GX1 with the other 14-42 zoom, the manual one, which is also cheaper? Or body only with additional purchase of the 20mm, f/1.7, pancake?

  • It does not seem that DXO gives us results at the other focal lengths or does it ?
    It would be interesting to have more than one focal length result?

    In any case , it shows that Olympus needs to up its offer as long are m4/3rds zooms are concerned

    maybe an improved version of the 4/3rds 11-22mm would be easier to achieve and more useful to many ? as a walk around lens


  • wonderer

    can someone explain to me why is the distortion so important, when one can:

    – fix it in most RAW converters, panasonic RAWs even contain distortions data so not much more is needed that to load RAW in Lightroom for autocorection

    – you can load RAW in DXO Lab and there are hundreds of lens profiles with possibility to correct it in a way it become a non issue.

    Or should I take it that distortion is never corected in JPGs? Because, I really don’t care about the distortion, nor vignetting (easily corrected in LR once you know your lens, like Pana25, is doing it wide open).

    The weight of a review should be on other parameters (I agree with resolution…) than distortion/vignetting and so on (unless they’re extreme), and slrgear rated 14-42X very high – as a best kit zoom lens, better than japanese 14-45 for exaple (famous for its quality from GF1 era).

    • E-PL

      I have Panasonic 14-45 and Olympus 14-42 II MSC lenses. My G3 came with 14-42 lens. I made ISO Resolution test shots with all these lenses and found Panasonic 14-42 considerably blurrier than the Olympus 14-42 II MSC lens.

      Having read about the outstanding sharpness of the Panasonic 14-45 lens I sold the Panasonic kit lens and bought the 14-45 lens. It proved to be even sharper than the praised Olympus 14-42 II MSC lens. See:

      Panasonic 14-45 lens was declared (at the time it came out) by DPReview as:

      “…the lens is also unusually sharp for its class. Compared to the Micro Four Thirds Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 ED, the Panasonic does better in almost every regard; it even out-performs the best of the kit zooms for conventional DSLRs, the Olympus Zuiko Digital F3.5-5.6 ED.”


      Having read about the Oly 12-50 test I know that won’t give up my Oly 14-42 MSC lens when I get my OM-D E-M5. My E-PL2 has to go, though…

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