Category Archives: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO

2605 – Think About It

Remember, I recently bought the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera with its kit lens, the new 12-40/2.8 PRO, a lens that costs 990€ separately. As part of the kit it cost me 700€, thus I could easily sell it on, maybe even with a profit. Should I?

I admit, I think about it. Not for the profit, but more so because it is big and heavy (compared to my primes), overlaps with three of my lenses, the 12/2.0, 17/1.8 and at least partially with the 9-18/4, and although it is an excellent lens, it is not better than any of these primes.

It also overlaps with the Panasonic Leica 25/1.4. Yes, I’ve had that lens and sold it, but guess what, I miss the Panaleica and consider buying it again.

It is weather-sealed. OK, I didn’t miss that in my primes.

It focuses very near, nearer than any of my primes. I like that and I may miss it.

It is extremely well built, definitely the most solid lens that I’ve ever had.

It is beautiful.

The Song of the Day is “Think About It”, an outtake from the 1977 Fleetwood Mac album “Rumours”. Hear it on YouTube.

2604 – It’s A Fire II

Remember my failure to take images of a gorgeous sunset? Well, I may be stupid, but I’m not stupid all the time 🙂

On the next day the evening sky before sunset was looking exactly like the day before, only this time I was prepared – and so was my camera. The OM-D E-M1 has a dedicated button for switching to HDR mode. In that mode the camera takes a fast, bracketed burst and then automatically merges the images. As a result you get just one JPEG and one RAW, that’s it.

I’m not exactly sure whether the RAW file is really the result of a merge, or if that is only true for the JPEG, but I suppose it is. Sure, the E-M1 has plenty of dynamic range, but even after applying an extreme curve I can get good detail out of the darkest shadow, much better than from any other camera so far. Thus, yes, I think the RAW is merged as well. It looks a bit different from the JPEG, but that seems to be mostly due to the defaults of Lightroom.

OK: it’s not. The manual says: “In the case of HDR1 and HDR2, the HDR-processed image will be saved as a JPEG file. When the image quality mode is set to [RAW], the image is recorded in RAW+JPEG. The only image recorded in RAW is the image with suitable exposure.“. Seems like dynamic range is that good 🙂

The Song of the Day is again “It’s A Fire” from the 1994 Portishead album “Dummy”. Hear it on YouTube.

2603 – It’s A Fire I

We had a pretty sunny week in Carinthia, and morning after morning I was annoyed by my failure to rise early and go down to take a few sunrise images.

One day I managed to get out early enough, only to find a completely blank sky. Isn’t that stupid, I thought? All those days with great morning skies, and then, when finally I’m ready, the sky is not.

Anticipating a boring and colorless sunrise from behind the mountains, I decided to at least see how the landscape around Faaker See, one of the nearest lakes, looks in morning light.

So I stood there on a hill, looking over the lake, seeing mists rise from cool water into icy air, and I found the view boring. OK, from somewhere behind the mountains the sun would come out, but I had the feeling that there was not much to be expected.

And I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong!

Of course I could have looked up on my phone where exactly the sun would rise, but because I was in a hurry to get to work, I had not. I did not have much choice regarding my vista anyway. I stood in the one place that was near enough and where I could stop the car. Regardless of where the sun would come out, I’d have to accept it.

When it happened, I was surprised. I had not expected the sun to rise exactly behind the lake and the mist, and of course this made all the difference in the world.

By the way, some of the images that I made were taken at 1/8000 s. The OM-D E-M5 only went to 1/4000 s, so that’s one of the goodies of my new camera.

The Song of the Day is “It’s A Fire” from the 1994 Portishead album “Dummy”. Hear it on YouTube.

2602 – New Star In The Sky

I’ve taken this image after the sun had vanished behind the mountains, and then, without thinking, I just went home.

Hmm … clear, cold day, these clouds, I mean, every idiot would have recognized that we were in for a spectacular sundown. And so it was. I arrived at home, was busy for a few minutes with one of the computers, and when I looked up, the sky was in flames like I’ve not yet seen this year.

You see, always running around with a camera is a good idea, but without using your brain it all comes to nothing. Oh well, sunsets are overrated anyway 😀

The Song of the Day is “New Star In The Sky” from the 1998 Air album “Moon Safari”. Hear it on YouTube.

2600 – Draw Me Nearer

The 12-40/2.8 is not a fast lens. For instance the Panasonic 25/1.4 was faster by two stops, but a wide aperture is only one part of the recipe to gorgeous bokeh. The other part is focus distance, or to be precise, the relation between focus distance and distance to the out-of-focus background. The nearer you get, the easier it is to throw the background out of focus. Ever wondered why you have so much trouble getting usable DOF while shooting macro? Well, that’s why.

Normally non-macro lenses are either good or they focus near. Traditional lens design tends to always trade near focus for lack of distortion, but this lens is an exception. It focuses almost down to the front element, and it does so in all focal lengths. Thus it is easy to get deliciously creamy bokeh even at 12 mm. I’ve always liked that in my Sigma 20/1.8 and 28/1.8 for Nikon, and I am certain to like it here.

The Song of the Day is “Draw Me Nearer” by Nina Simone. Hear it on YouTube.

2599 – House Of The Gods

From now on and at least for the foreseeable future all images on this blog will be from the OM-D E-M1, and at least for the next weeks I’ll use the 12-40/2.8 exclusively. I want to find out if that zoom is for me or if I want to sell it.

The battery grip for the E-M5 is already gone. I’ve obviously sold it too cheap, but on the other hand, the rubber on the “landscape” grip, the only part that I’ve ever used, was beginning to seriously peel away. Easy to fix but taking away from resell value.

The Olympus 60/2.8 macro lens is gone as well. It is a stellar lens, but I hardly used it at all. I threw in the Macro Arm Light MAL-1, because I doubt I ever had an even less used accessory.

An ad for the OM-D E-M5 has already been placed, and I guess although the price for the Nikon D300 is very low now, I’ll sell it next.

I may also decide to pass the 12-40/2.8 on, because for Micro Four Thirds this is a big and heavy lens. But then, today I picked up the D300 with the Tamron 17-50/2.8, and compared to that, my new camera feels small and light.

Whatever I’ll finally do, for the time being I’ll keep the lens. I’ve even bought a cheap Samsonite camera bag with space for just the E-M1 and possibly two other lenses. Together with 9-18 and 40-150 I’d have a light travel kit that covers all focal lengths and is even moderately fast where I need it most.

The Image of the Day is of a window of a small church on a hill over Villach. I was there yesterday, enjoying the bright sun and being annoyed by the icy wind. Well, you can’t have it all at this time of the year, I guess 🙂

The Song of the Day is “House Of The Gods” from the 1990 Pogues album “Hell’s Ditch”. Hear it on YouTube.

2598 – Change Of Heart

Remember my pragmatic statement regarding the OM-D E-M1 in “2530 – Right Now“? The elegant and succinct conclusion that “I won’t buy it”?

Well, John D. Linn had his doubts, so should I have had. Ladies and Gentlemen, here’s the first Image of the Day taken with the OM-D E-M1 and its kit lens, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO 😛

Now you may ask, what the hell made him change his mind? And not only the camera, also the big and heavy kit lens!

The problem is, I held it in my hands. The camera, I mean. I saw it in a local store of a big electronics chain. It was locked behind glass and it had the other, the cheaper kit lens mounted, the slow 12-50, that has been released along with the OM-D E-M5.

I liked the look of the camera, but the long and narrow lens looked ugly on it. I was already turning around when the devil tempted me, disguised as a pretty, young woman who asked me if I wanted to try it. Sure, I thought. Let’s get over with this. I turned the camera on, looked through the viewfinder and … was shocked. Utterly shocked. Shattered.

I simply had not been ready for the size and quality of the viewfinder image, and now I knew I had a problem. I wouldn’t be able to get that view out of my head. And not only that. The E-M1 just feels like a precision tool. You know, I am an engineer. I write computer programs, but in school I have learned all kinds of metal works and mechanical engineering. Not that I was ever good at it, but at least once I have cut a screw and filed a piece of iron for an exact fit. I know mechanical quality when I see it. And now I saw it.

To my defense I can proudly say that I didn’t give in for another day or two, but checking my bank account didn’t reveal any solid obstacle, and it was also clear that the craving would not go away.

I was not interested in the kit with the 12-50, as I don’t need it, and I am sure that lens does not sell well either. Too much has the market been flooded with kit lenses from E-M5 kits. Now I could just order online, wait until next week when I’m back to Vienna, or drive to the nearest dealer who has it in stock.

Waiting was out of the question, the delay of ordering online and waiting for the delivery sounded like torture as well, thus I drove the 150 kilometers to Graz. A dealer there had it, and now there was the next question: body only or the kit with 12-40/2.8?

Actually I don’t need the lens, but then, it has a stellar reputation, reviews tell only superlatives, and in a way it would be cool to have a weather-sealed fast pro zoom as an option for travel or just for rainy days. And finally, as part of the kit, the lens is so much cheaper, that I could easily sell it with profit, and when I keep it for a while, I can at least sell it without loss after a year. Here you have it, that’s how it happened 😀

The Song of the Day is “Change Of Heart” from Willy DeVille’s 2004 album “Crow Jane Alley”. Hear it on YouTube.