(New review link added on 4/22/2014)
M43 system has many options if your highest priority is portability. We already have models such as Olympus E-PM2 / E-PL5 and Panasonic GF6 that perform well and in case of Olympus models, they produce IQ as good as any M43 bodies (they use the E-M5 sensor). But with the introduction of Panasonic GM1, portability became even more serious. We now have a body that is SMALLER than the compact Sony RX100!
So how small is it?
On the lens side, we also have many compact (pancake) options:
- Panasonic 14mm f/2.5
- Olympus 17mm f/2.8
- Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 (both version 1 and 2)
- Panasonic 14-42mm X f/3.5-5.6
- Olympus 15mm f/8 Lens Cap
Now, we have yet a another option for those who seek as much portability as they can – Panasonic 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6. Currently, the smallest and the lightest lens is the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 (I won’t count the Olympus lens cap). Although still comes in a pancake form, the Panasonic 14-42mm X lens is still quite a bit bigger and heavier.
Here’s how they compare when mounted on the Olympus E-PM2:
Here’s couple more:
The Panasonic 12-32mm is smaller than the 14-42mm X lens but more significantly, it offers the 12mm view which to some (including myself) is more important than 33-42mm focal lengths.
Although it doesn’t sound much, there is a BIG difference between 24mm view and 28mm view. This is especially true if you are looking for a wide angle view with few subjects close by to magnify that 3D effect even further which is often done on landscape shots. Just about all standard kit lenses offer 28mm as its widest view while few starts at 24mm. Within M43 system, Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3, Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 and Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 all starts at 24mm view.
Also important to remember is the image quality. Although Panasonic claimed their “X” series lens will feature higher IQ compare to their standard zoom lens, that was not the case in reality. Other than the premium (read – expensive) standard zoom lenses – Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 and Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8, the best option is the Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6. Panasonic is once again promising that this new pancake zoom lens will feature high level of IQ. If they can deliver at the level of 14-45mm, I will be very happy!
I don’t think they needed to go as far as f/22 as at those apertures, diffraction make images look pretty ugly. But at more reasonable f/3.5 to f/11, the Panasonic performs better. 12mm at corners, they are not even close! I will admit that the Olympus kit lens isn’t the best performer when wide open, but the difference is still much bigger than what I was expecting. At the center, the differences are much smaller. Looks like we now have a nice landscape option on a compact body.
Although more reviews are needed before making any conclusions, things look quite for the new baby zoom lens. This, along with the Panasonic 20mm, will make a great portable lens solution for those who wants the ultimate portability.
According to CameraStuffReview, the IQ of Panasonic 12-35mm is decent, easily matching those of low-end kits lenses offered by other manufacturers. Apparently, its resolution at the center is quite decent but it is a bit soft in corners. This is typical of most pancake zoom lenses sold by other manufacturers as well. Its bokeh quality is also no worse than other kit zoom lenses.
Once again, confirmed by SLRGear, this lens is very sharp at the center throughout its aperture ranges but it i soft at the edges even when stepped down. This is no surprise given that the lens is in a pancake format. Something had to give.
Here are the links to the reviews:
- Added on 4/22/2014: http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews/panasonic_lumix_g_x_vario_12_32mm_f3_5_5_6_asph_review/
- Added on 3/28/2014: http://tysonrobichaudphotography.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/panasonic-lumix-g-vario-12-32mm-f3-5-5-6-lens-tested/
- Added on 3/5/2014: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2453785,00.asp
- Added on 1/20/2014: http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1661/cat/69
- Added on 12/19/2013: http://www.camerastuffreview.com/panasonic-lens-review/panasonic-12-32mm-review
- Added on 11/8/2013: http://www.m43.eu/obiektywy/test-panasonic-lumix-g-12-32-mm/
Source: Various sites