Friday, 28 March 2014

Comparison @ 30mm

The launch of the Lumix GM1 compact M4/3 camera also brought the collapsible wide zoom lens, the Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Mega O.I.S. It is seen below to the left in the extended position, together with the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN and the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8:


The Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 is designed with a form factor to fit the new Lumix GM1 compact camera. It has a clean, smooth look, and is one of the few lenses which is small enough to go flush with the very low GM1 camera body.

The Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN is a slightly long normal lens. It's not very impressive in terms of the maximum aperture, but it has a consistently very good image quality, and a noiseless, quick autofocus.

On the 30mm lens, I have used a 46mm to 28mm step down ring as a hood. It does a good job of keeping the front lens elements safe from accidents, in my opinion, while also keeping out some stray light. If you want to use it, you also need a 28mm front lens cap.

The Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 is Panasonic's answer to the classic standard pro zoom lens. It is very compact for a lens of this class, and performs excellent. It is probably the best lens I have ever used.



LensLumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DNLumix X 12-35mm f/2.8
Lens elements/groups8/77/514/9
Aperture diaphragm blades777
Minimum focus0.2m0.30m0.25m
Diameter56mm61mm68mm
Length24mm (not extended)39mm74mm
Filter thread37mm46mm58mm
Weight70g135g305g
Hood includedNoYesYes, well designed
Optical image stabilisationYesNoYes
Price$350$200$840

The new 12-32mm lens is remarkably compact. The addition of a compact, light and affordable wide angle zoom lens is good news. It is what I have been waiting for a long time. But how does it fare, quality wise, in the longer end, at 30mm? Here is a comparison at 30mm with the three lenses.

I took the images using the Lumix GM1 on a tripod, at ISO 200. The focus was done with autofocus:


Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN
Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 @ 30mm f/2.8

To better compare the images, I have compiled 100% crops from the centre of the images at various apertures:


We see that all the lenses do quite well here. Both the f/2.8 lenses are a bit duller wide open, and sharpen up slightly more at f/4. But the difference is very small. Both lenses are very good wide open in the centre.

The Lumix G 12-32mm also does well here. The sharpness is perfectly fine wide open in the centre.

And here are 100% crops from the top right hand of the images:


Lenses typically do worse in the corners. The crops from the top right corner shows that all these lenses are very good. The Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 is performing superbly wide open, for a f/2.8 lens. The Sigma 30mm is a tad bit duller, but it is still very usable.

Conclusion


Considering that the Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 is a compact kit zoom lens, I think it does very well here. It is certainly quite sharp wide open, even in the corner.

All these three lenses are very good, and which one you choose would depend on your needs. If you want a small and flexible lens, go for the Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6. If you want the best lens, at a higher cost, get the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8.

The Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN is a very good lens at a reasonable price.

Further reading


In this article, I have compared the two zoom lenses at 12mm. The conclusion is mostly the same: The Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 has a stellar performance, while the Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 is very good for a small kit zoom lens.

If you are interested in the bokeh performance, I have compared the two f/2.8 lenses here. I find that the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN has the most smooth bokeh, but the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 is certainly very adequate.


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