Lumix 12-35mm vs Olympus 12-40mm

Lumix 12-35mm vs Olympus 12-40mm
Olympus finally released a fast wide zoom, something I’ve been waiting a while for. Lumix has had the 12-35mm available since Spring, 2012. I sold all my DSLR gear when I got the Olympus OMD and couldn’t wait for Olympus to come out with a set of fast zooms so I went with the pair of Lumix zooms and have been very happy with them. So why did I decide to get the Olympus version? I read some great reviews and it was just too hard to resist. Especially when the price of the Olympus is a bit cheaper than the Lumix so I was able to sell the Lumix for close to the price of the Olympus.

Before I sold the Lumix I took a couple of comparison shots to see how they compared. These test shots are straight out of camera (Olympus OMD EM-5) jpg’s imported into Lightroom which is how I begin processing all of my photos. Doing the same tests on a Lumix camera body may provide different results so keep that in mind.

Lumix 12-35mm vs Olympus 12-40mm

This is a crop of the original, taken on a tripod in a light tent, lit with a Metz off camera flash. Both were taken with same Olympus OMD EM5 settings: 14mm, 1/60, F10, ISO 200. The one on the right is slightly brighter and a tiny bit sharper and is also the Olympus.

out of focus comparison

A tight crop of an out of focus area of a low light photo. Both were taken with same Olympus OMD EM5 settings: 30mm, 1/160, F2.8, ISO 800. The one on the top is the Olympus and it has a smoother blur than the Lumix.

On an Olympus OMD EM5 body the Olympus 12-40mm has slightly better results than the Lumix though it’s not that significant. Below are some pros and cons of each lens.

Olympus 12-40mm

Pros:

  • Closer focusing distance 20cm vs 25cm
  • 5mm longer focal length
  • Fn1 button (can be programmed to 1 of 20 different functions)
  • First Olympus m43 lens to come with a lens hood and it has a locking mechanism
  • manual/auto focus clutch mechanism
  • $100 cheaper than Lumix
  • may have better weather sealing (dust proof, splash proof, freeze proof)

Cons:

  • heavier (382g)
  • bigger (84mm, maximum diameter 69.9mm)
  • 62mm filter size (uncommon size)

Lumix 12-35mm

Pros:

  • Image Stabilization switch (not needed for Olympus bodies)
  • Smaller (73.8mm, maximum diameter 67.6mm)
  • Lighter (305g)
  • 58mm filter size

Cons:

  • $100 more expensive than Olympus

In conclusion, my recommendation is if you shoot with a Lumix body or even both Lumix and Olympus bodies I would go with the Lumix zoom for the Image Stabilization. If you shoot with an Olympus body, you might want to consider switching to the Olympus lens but it’s more for the functionality and longer focal length than anything else. There is not much of a difference in quality unless you’re a pixel peeper. If the Olympus had been priced higher or even the same as the Lumix I probably would not have bought it. The lower price and longer focal length is what makes it the most appealing.

Doing a bit of shopping? Check the prices for both the Olympus 12-40/2.8 and Lumix 12-35/2.8 on Amazon.

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About Paula Thomas

Paula is a food stock photographer and blogger based in Seattle, WA. You can find her on , Facebook and Twitter

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13 Responses to Lumix 12-35mm vs Olympus 12-40mm

  1. GFF January 21, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    “May have better weather sealing”? Speculation as a “pro” for the Olympus lens kind of makes your whole article seem like biased brand boosterism, AKA fanboy behavior

    • Paula Thomas January 21, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

      Olympus is who describes the lens as a pro model lens. I have not heard Panasonic refer to theirs as a pro lens though they are both of the same high quality. Olympus also claims theirs is freeze, splash and dust proof which Lumix does not claim to be which leads me to believe the weather sealing may be better on the Olympus. I was simply reporting how the two lenses work on my OMD. If I had a Lumix body to try them both on I would have but you may find the Lumix lens works better on a Lumix body. I would definitely get the Lumix version if you use Lumix bodies. I just prefer Olympus bodies because of the image stabilization.

    • Eric January 23, 2014 at 7:45 am #

      @GFF — Actually, if you look at the seal diagrams that both Olympus and Panasonic have published, you can see objectively that the Olympus lens has *more* seals than does the Panasonic. The Panasonic has one seal up front (where the front element telescopes) and one in back (at the mounting flange). The Olympus has (working from memory here) upwards of ten in various places.

      Of course, in the absence of some objective measurement of sealing effectiveness, this really can just give you a qualitative comparison (more is not necessarily the same as better).

      • GFF February 1, 2014 at 7:56 am #

        The guy who runs Lens Rentals actually commented on weather sealing when talking about the Olympus. His comment was that the term weather sealed is almost meaningless and people would be surprised at the few pieces of adhesive tape and a rubber ring or two that constitute “weather sealed”, so in the absence of links to the seal diagrams (which I have never seen from ANY manufacturer), I’m assuming that’s just more internet smoke and vapor.

        And Paula, doesn’t Panasonic have a special name for their high end zooms? Is it “X” series? Either way, I get that you aren’t a journalist, but speculation about a new lens having better weather sealing than one with a proven track record of pro use seems like pure bias, regardless of what the Olympus marketing team has named the lens. Especially when the Olympus has had some quality control issues with the lens. You could make a much stronger cases hat the Panasonic “May have greater durability” in light of the multiple reports of a fragile and broken lens mounts. The article I referenced above also commented on the meaninglessness of calling a lens “Pro”. The guy who runs lens rentals, and disassembles lenses daily feels that it (like “weather sealed”) is little more than marketing.

        • Jorge April 29, 2014 at 11:53 am #

          It appears to me that the blurry photos were shot handheld. They appear to be out of focus, and be suffering from varying degrees of motion blur. If so, those photos are not fair comparisons since you can never replicate handheld motion.

          I’m a Panasonic guy, but if I had Olympus bodies, of course I’d get Oly lenses. Why pay for OIS (Lumix), when you already have IS built into the body?

          Just a heads-up, the phrase is “smoke and MIRRORS”, not “smoke and vapor”.

        • fri13 April 29, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

          Actually olympus has released seals diagrams for their pro line.

        • NZ July 2, 2014 at 3:03 am #

          GFF: I think you’re getting your knickers in a twist about nothing, mate. The reviewer based his assumption on the manufacturers’ published claims and quite rightly placed a question mark next to it. No need to throw a wobbly and accuse her of “biased brand boosterism”.

  2. Geoff January 21, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    Well, I already bought the Lumix 12-35 a year ago for my Oly OM-D E-M5. I have to admit I like the slightly longer focal range of the 12-40. Not sure if it’s worth the hassle of selling the Lumix for the Oly though. Decisions, decisions.

  3. Jess Demant January 23, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    I have both of the Lumix (12-35mm., And 35-100mm.) to my OM-D E-M5, and do not intend to replace them, because I am very happy with them. I have used them in the rain and cold without any problem, and I will also not spend money on a shift when Olympus comes with the 40-150mm. It will be too big for my taste on my OMD, but that’s just me.
    In any case, a good review Paula …..
    Greetings from Denmark

  4. Eric January 23, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    Excellent comparison, Paula! It also served to get me off my tail to finish up an outdoor comparison of these two lenses and the Olympus (4/3 System) 12-60mm lens to boot — http://wp.me/p1feV0-jK

  5. T N Args August 12, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    Unscrew the lens mount plate from both lenses and you will suddenly see which is the real ‘pro’ build. Not Oly.

    Also, the out-of-focus comparison photo looks more like blur than focus. Correct?

    Also, an update on these 2 lenses, the Lumix is the only one to pick for 4k video at present, due to its IS. Perhaps worth mentioning on a website dedicated to *hybrid* photography.

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