Olympus 12-40mm vs Panasonic 12-35mm - TheWackyDuo.com - Singapore Lifestyle Portal

Olympus 12-40mm vs Panasonic 12-35mm

Olympus 12-40mm vs Panasonic 12-35mm
Last week, I have heralded the arrival of the OM-D EM-1 into the abode. 

With it came a highly regarded beauty- the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8. As of now, the only way you can get your hands on the lens is by getting a package or succumbing to the high resale prices quotes by those who had their hands on this set.

The lens by itself was scheduled to be arriving next year, thus it is a rarity on its own.

Who is taller? The Oly or the Panny
Prior to the arrival, I have on hand the Olympus 12-50 kit lens and the Panasonic 12-35mm f 2.8. As you can see for the photo comparison, the new lens is a monster amongst the three. It towers above at a height of 84mm with the largest diameter at 69.9mm and weighs in at a hefty 382g. In comparison the Panny is 73.8mm tall and 67.6mm thick, weighing at a mere 305g.

As the Olympus 12-40mm is pitch as a direct competitor to the Panasonic 12-35mm, I will be comparing the pros and cons of both. As both have similar focal length and an f 2.8 aperture, it will be a toss up when choosing this essential daily zoom lens for the micro 4/3 system.

There are many micro 4/3 users already thinking of the switch. As an amateur photographer, I will leave the technical issues such as IQ to the experts. Rather the focus will be on the pros and cons of both lens in day to day use. So don't shoot me for what it is worth.
For those looking for sample pictures, look out for it at the end of the post.

The zoom trinity
Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8


  • The extra 5 mm - having a longer reach means a little more flexible in this case. Think portrait.
  • Professional level zoom lens with all-weather design, touted as dust proof, freeze proof and drip proof.
  • Minimum focus distance of 20cm allows interesting Macro use.
  • Clutch system to toggle between manual and autofocus without going through the camera. Great for a quick focus fix.
  • Lens hood provided has a lock function.
  • The shorter focus distance also almost guaranteed a better bokeh picture
  • Cheaper brand new compared to the Panasonic.
OMD EM1 wtih Olympus 12-40mm

  • 62mm threaded filters mean additional cost for new filters.
  • No IS on the lens, so use on-camera models without IS is a challenge.
  • May be too long and heavy if paired with smaller bodies ( eg PEN models).
Old horse, new shoes
Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f2.8


  • Lightweight and compact lens that give a natural feel to the when held.
  • Power O.I.S means suitable for camera bodies without build in IS system.
  • Splash proof and dust proof
  • Uses the more common 58mm filter , so cheaper compared to 62mm
  • Retails at about SGD 400 cheaper than the Olympus for used sets! A real steal for good glass.
OMD EM1 with Panasonic 12-35mm

  • Lens hood provided has no lock leading to a possibility of a drop if knock ( happened to me!)
  • Plastic material tends to scratch
  • Longer focus distance of 25cm
  • Retails at SGD 300 more than the Olympus 12-40 for brand new!! 
New horse , old shoes

It really depends on the system and the use you envision for zoom lens. If you have a camera body with In built IS or a smaller body dimension, the Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 would be a better choice.

Close range test - Olympus by a mile on the left

If you desire the longer reach and the very useful shorter focal length for a pseudo marco capabilities , the Olympus will be the genuine contender for the best all rounder... that is if your camera body comes with IS. It is safe to say the Olympus is constructed with specifically the OMD in mind.
As for me, I will bid adieu to the Panasonic 12-35mm. It is rather pointless to have 2 similar lens on hand, so one will go to fund the other.

How about you? What's your choice?

Sample Shots from Olympus 12-40mm

Bokeh @ 40 mm f2.8
12mm f4
Same distance @ 40 mm f4
Hungry @ 16 mm f2.8
Or thirsty @ 25 mm f2.8
Just because @28 mm f2.8


  1. I said goodbye to my purplish Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm after I got my hands on the big black Olympus 12-40mm. Yes the Olympus is slightly bigger and heavier, but I find the output more consistent. It's sharper in the corners at the wide end, it has less distortion and CA, it can zoom in further and the small minimal focus distance is great to have. It's an allround lens that's excellent as a walk around or reportage lens. Image quality is really good. Low distortion and CA, sharp wide open en tack sharp stopped down to f/4. I think this lens is even better then the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 for full frame. I do have three Olympus primes and they are smaller, lighter, faster and sharper, but this zoom is much more convenient. No need to swap lenses. So only if I absolutely need the speed or the sharpness or if I want to travel light/inconspicuous with one or two small lenses, I reach for the primes. In real world photography, I don't think anyone but a pixelpeeper will spot the difference. It's that good.

    1. I think the 12-40 rocks. Am getting better bokeh shots from it. The extra 5mm and the semi macro close up are added bonus. A tad heavy after sometime compared to the 12-35, but I am reaching less for the 25 1.4 when the 12-40 is on. Still loving it,

  2. It's amazing how close you can come to your subject with this zoom lens without having to switch to a macro mode. I love the fact that it's sharpest wide open at the wide end rather then on the long end like the Panasonic. It's a zoom so it's a compromise, but a very good one!

  3. 12-35 is streets ahead for filmmaking because of the better build and OIS.

    1. I can't really compare as I hardly use it for videos. In terms of photography. From personal use, I got more keepers wih the 12-40 tham 12-35 . For video I would somewhat prefer 12-50 as it probably has the best zoom function sans the jerkiness of both 12-40 and 12-35 .

    2. It's a moot argument. The 12-35mm is better for filmmaking, because the GH3 is a much better camera for it, than the Olympus is. If the EM-5 or E-M1 would have the same video specs as the GH3 does, the OIS on the 12-35mm becomes irrelevant. On a Panasonic body, using the 12-35mm makes much more sense, because the Panas don't have built in OIS like the Olys have. That being said, the OIS of the Olympus bodies outshine the lens ois by far.


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