Panasonic Lumix G X 12-35mm vs 14-42mm Comparison Review

May 21, 2012

Panasonic Lumix G X 14-42mm vs 12-35mm lenses

In this post I want to talk about the newly announced Panasonic Lumix G X 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH Power OIS lens and compare it to the 14-42mm lens. I assume that you already have a Micro Four Thirds camera, like one of the Panasonic Lumix or Olympus PEN / OM-D ones. Panasonic makes high-quality interchangeable lenses for the Micro Four Thirds. and of course every lens is also compatible with any MFT camera on the market, including Olympus PEN cameras and the new OM-D E-M5.

Lumix X’ lens brand denotes to high-end performance lenses, you can look at it like the Canon L-Lenses, but in the Micro Four Thirds context. Those type of lenses are are more expensive  than the other non-X lenses. As for the time of writing this article, Panasonic has three of those Lumix X lenses, including the G X Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4.0-5.6 ASPH., X Vario PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 APSH. Power O.I.S. and now also the G X 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPG Power OIS.

The first thing you must notice is that the 12-35mm range is very close to the 14-42mm lens, but a bit wider but cuts more on the tele-end (7mm). One of the key differences between the 12-35mm and the other X lenses is that the 12-35mm doesn’t utilize powerzoom technology. Instead of powerzoom, the 12-35 lens have a ring zoom, which is a conventional mechanism that you can find on almost all interchangeable lenses.

The G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 is a relatively very compact lens, partially constructed with metal and its also weather-sealed against dist and water. The lens is equipped with Panasonic’s Power OIS image stabilization system, near-silent AF mechanism and utilizes Nano surface coating, Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion (UED) and Ultra High Refractive (UHR) to reduce glare and reflections, those enhancing image quality under various shooting conditions.

The lens diaphragm is constructed with 7 rounded blades for smooth out-of-focus background blur. This is a fast f/2.8 lens that all in all, it really redefines the quality when it comes to Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lenses.

The 12-35mm lens is equivalent to 24-70mm in 35mm terms. This is a very popular range, and you quickly resembles the relation between this lens and Canon and Nikon own 24-70mm lenses.


12-35mm vs 14-42mm

The first thing that you might ask yourself when buying this high quality lens is “What is the main differences between the 12-35mm and the 14-42mm lenses?“.  Let’s start with a side by side comparison table and continue talking more about the differences after that.

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Popular Zoom Range – First thing to now that the 4mm (35mm equiv) can make a big difference for certain shots. The fact that it resembles to the 24-70 mm popular range will certainly help this lens sell more. Many enthusiast photographers are already familiar working with this range. Both of those lenses will compliment the Lumix G Vario 7-14 mm f/4 lens if you are searching to shoot ultra-wide angle shots too.


Retractable-type Power Zoom – The Lumix X 12-35 mm lens doesn’t feature a Power Zoom (PZ) mechanism. Power Zoom lenses have a switch at the side of the lens. By moving this switch from side to side you zoom in and out, opposed to standard zoom ring that you need to rotate it in order to zoom in and out. Power Zoom makes zooming smoother and it certainly helps to minimize the possibility of camera shake when shooting videos. If you shot with a conventional P&S camera, you are already familiar with electric-powered zoom operation.

Here is a video that demonstrates the Power Zoom in action (shot with the GX1 + 14-42mm lens – via dpreview)

You can see how smooth the zooming works. If you shot with a mechanical zoom-ring mechanism and without a tripod, you know that it cause the video to become shakey.  Stills photographers prefer the ring-zoom and not the power-zoom.  The “HD Video Support” is applicable for both lenses and it actually means ‘silent zooming‘, which is critical when shooting videos when you don’t want the mic to capture the AF motor sound.


Size and Weight – The 12-35 mm is the world’s smallest and lightest (only 305g) 24-70mm lens. This can only be done with cameras with a smaller sensor like the one used in the Micro Four Thirds, and in fact, this is one of the advantages of Micro Four Thirds cameras over APS-C based ones (ie. Sony NEX). However, you just can’t compete against the 14-42mm compactness. This lens just amazed me every time I look at it, unbelievably compact lens for its zoom range. As compact as this lens is, it features a wide range of technologies including Power O.I.S., Power Zoom, and ultra fast AF.

The 12-35mm is not a very compact lens, not at all, at least if you compare it to the 14-42 mm, you just can’t beat that compactness of the 14-42 mm.

No doubt that due to its compact size, many people will consider buying it over the 12-35mm, but I personally wouldn’t base my decision on the size and weight alone.


Manual Focus – Ring vs Lever – The Lumix X 14-42m mm manual focus is also controlled by a lever which works the same way the power-zoom does.  It’s either that you like it or not. I am personally prefer the ring-type manual focus, although it’s not a macro lens. The Lumix X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 has a manual focus ring. Manual focus is great when shooting videos, because it makes a smooth transition when changing focus from one subject to another.

f2.8 – The Lumix 12-35mm features a ƒ/2.8 aperture across all the zoom range. This makes this lens suitable for low-light shooting (ie. indoors, indoor sports, night shots, candle light, etc.). Furthermore, given the same focal length and distance from the subject, this lens will produce shallower depth-of-field / background blur compared to the 14-42 lens which has aperture ƒ/3.5-5.6.  I just can tell you how important it is. With aperture range of ƒ/3.5-5.6 it’s very hard to shoot at the afternoon, and in places where there isn’t enough light. That’s why many enthusiast and pros are after fast lenses, which has at least f/2.8 aperture, preferably constant one.


Who is the 12-35 mm lens for?

The Lumix G X Vario 12-35 mm certainly covers a wide range of usage, including landscape, family photos and even portraits considering the the 70 mm tele-end and fast g/2.8 aperture. It’s for photographers who need the fast aperture all across the zoom range, want great optics, high durability and weather sealing,  prefer manual AF ring and don’t mind carrying a relatively larger less.


Who is the 14-42 mm lens for?

The Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42 mm f3.5-5.6 ASPH. Power O.I.S. is suited for those who search for high quality lenses for both still and especially for video shooting. Photographers who want to travel light, can take advantage of the motor zoom mechanism. This lens is suitable for various type of shooting (a general purpose lens), but not the perfect one for wide angle shots because it more close to normal with its 28mm. Landscape shooters will probably prefer the 12-25mm, but if you are really serious about landscape shooting, you probably already thought about buying the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 lens.

Video Shooting

If you bought on of Panasonic’s MFT cameras, I am sure that you won’t skip the video feature. All Lumix X lenses are great for video clip recording.

Here’s a sample video shot with the Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S. lens:

You can see that the 12-35mm (24-70mm equiv.) is a great lens for landscape shots and great for serving as a travel lens. Image quality is amazing as you can see, so sharp it hurts.


Now let’s take a look at a video sample shot with the Lumix G X Vario 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 Power O.I.S. lens:

beautiful, isn’t it?

Video image quality is just superb!, no doubt about it. By just looking at the videos I assume that most of the scenes were shot at the widest possible angle, so it can give you an idea how it is shooting with both cameras in their widest focal length and observe the image quality.


Which One Should I Buy?

I hope that short comparison helped you understand and see the differences between those two amazing lenses. If I had to choose a lens for video, I would probably get the 14-42 mm because it’s very compact and lightweight (easy to hold while shooting videos), it has nearly-silent AF and of course the powered AF and Manual focusing. The 12-35mm is a great general-purpose lens, covering the very popular 24-70 mm range. It has a fast f/2.8 aperture for low-light shooting and it covers a wide angle than the 14-42mm, which all in all makes it a great travel lens, even though it’s not as compact as the 12-35mm lens.

Both lenses designate the very best of optics and technology from Panasonic and the Micro Four Thirds standard.  I know that people preferred DSLR cameras the large lens selection and the optical quality. But let’s be honest, with such a wide range of lenses in the MFT and with excellent lenses like the 12-35mm and thee 14-42mm, it’s not an excuse choosing a DSLR camera due to lens selection. If you already own a MFT camera, whether Panasonic or Olympus, you ought to have of those amazing lenses that will turn every shot into a memory that will last a lifetime.

Click here to find more about Mirrorless System Lenses on B&H Photo




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