A quick question to the VSL braintrust: Tell me your experiences with the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0.

I'm thinking I might buy one... Figured I'd slow down until I heard back some good or bad reports. Hit the comments below please!

Thanks, Kirk


  1. It's a remarkable lens -- sharp even wide open, at all focal lengths. On the original E-M1, the IS is also impressive, and apparently it's even better on the E-M1.2. The manual focus clutch is great. But if that full focal range isn't needed in a single package, the Panasonic 12-35 and 35-100 f2.8 handle much better and (of course) are faster.

  2. Check the Panasonic Leica 12-60mm also. It is smaller and almost as versatile

  3. Awesome lens Kirk. I stuck it on the EM-1 during three weeks in Wyoming at the parks. It covered nearly all the focal lengths I needed, shooting landscapes generally at f4 to f8. It has great closeup capabilities, able to fill the frame with a 3" subject (example flowers) at all focal lengths. 10% of my shots were with the Panasonic 100-300 because of wildlife in Yellowstone, but otherwise 12-100 was all I needed. It's as sharp as you need. I have the 12-40 as well and the 12-100 is of equivalent quality at the common focal lengths an F- stops. I love the clutch focus ring when combined with focus peaking and sometimes magnification are awesome features. BTW i think it will work nicely with focus peaking and focus assist on your GH models, as that is the case with the GX80/85 which I also own. And to think this one lens takes the place of a 24-70 and 70-200 on full frame, though obviously with a sensor much smaller.

  4. I bought the 12-100 when I got the OMD EM-1 Mk2 about six months ago. It is an amazing lens, especially with regard to the image stabilization when paired with the MK2. Effectively sharp at any aperture and focal length (I'm not a pixel peeper or a landscaper who cares much about the corners) and quick to focus. However, it's really big and heavy for a M43 lens. I frequently prefer to carry the Panasonic 35-100/2.8, which is smaller, lighter, and faster, even if you throw in a 14mm for the wide end.
    I shoot a lot of field sports, and two bodies, one with the Panasonic 100-400 and the other with the 12-100 is an amazing range to have at hand. I still find it cumbersome as a walk around lens, even with the range.
    My other set up for available light, musicians in clubs, and events, is two Sonys (6300 and a7sii) with 28/2, 55/1.8, 85/1.8, and 125/2. That's for what the Olympus won't do: thin depth of field and much lower noise when things are really dim.

  5. Mark, it was running into you at Barton Springs Pool that started this particular line of inquiry. I keep thinking about how much fun it might be just to have that one camera and one lens with which to do everything. I know I'd soon meander off the path but I'm currently mostly riveted to the idea. I like the GH5, it just needs the perfect lens on the front.....

    1. Consider the great Pana/Leica 12-60. Very high IQ, excellent image stabilization, light weight, weather sealed, versatile focal length range and so on. I love it on my GH5.

  6. Kirk, I agree with the comments above. My testing shows it is an excellent lens at all focal lengths to f/8 and loses just a tad at f/11. A nice addition is it's close up capabilities and when attached to the Olympus E-M1 Mak II, I have handheld it for over full second and consistently made sharp images. I have no complaints about this lens nor nits to pick.

  7. Kirk
    I love this lens except it is just too large. I would have liked Olympus to craft a smaller model with the same quality..
    Dan Walker

  8. This is probably the best lens I have used over the past 50 years. Better even than the 12-40. I wish it were smaller/lighter, but absolutely top notch. Glad I bought it!


  9. What everyone else said. It covers all I need for the work I do when a zoom is called for. Sharp everywhere, truly top notch pro caliber performance. This lens with 3 fast primes (15, 30, 75) do 90% of my commercial work.

  10. I dont own it, but have been looking and comparing the Leica 12-60mm, the 12-100mm and the Olympus 12-40mm. Owning a Panasonic body will mean that the IS in the 12-100mm will not work with the in body IS of Panasonic, it will only work with an Olympus body. Just as the IS in the Leica 12-60, will only work with the Panasonic. So you can ask your self, do you need a constant f2.8 lens, then the Olympus 12-40mm seem best. Are you really going to ue the 60-100mm range alot? If not think of the Leica 12-60 as an f4 lens as it drops off to f4 fast, which has been the only major complaint I have read about it. The Leica is cheaper than 12-100, little sharper and works better with Panasonic.
    If you are going to use the 60-100 range a lot, the 35-100 f2.8, may even be a better choice, or not you did own it in the past and would know better than me.
    For me I am still thinking of the following lens pairs
    The 12-100mm with panasonic 100-300, both similar size and weight
    Or the 12-40mm with panasonic 45-200mm
    Or wait for a cheap GH5 deal with the Leica 12-60, and then get the 45-200mm.
    Since I have no money now, I can wait.

  11. Terrific "pro" lens. Better than ANY 24-120 legacy D-SLR zoom I ever owned. It's a perfect match to the EM-1 Mk2 with a battery grip attached. Even more perfect using the camera/lens combo by using a Peak wide across the chest strap.

  12. Kirk

    Thom Hogan at sansmirror.com recently evaluated this lens. His overall conclusion was it's a excellent lens. About the only thing that wasn't perfect were the linear distortion figures. I don't know the capabilities of your video editing software to correct distortion. He did say that the distortion was simple to correct; no moustache.


  13. A good review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Tfno8xhLEc


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