|West Coast Batches. Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII with Zuiko 12-50mm EZ lens. 1/100th @ f5.6 ISO 200|
I'm a manual zoom kind of guy and prefer to use it in this mode, although while turning the lens barrel to zoom it does make a slight 'gritty' noise. I presume this is 'normal', and if you shoot video a lot, then switching to the electronic zoom makes this gritty noise go away. But then, of course, the zooming is now done electronically (and therefore silently).
|Zuiko 12-50mm at 20mm. 1/100th @ f5.6 ISO 200|
Of course the front lens element doesn't rotate either, so using a polarising filter is straight forward. The lens has a decent heft without being heavy - and uses a metal lens mount for extra strength and rigidity. The rest of the construction is plastic, although it looks (and even feels) a lot like metal. It's dust and splash proof (another reason to match it with the E-M5 MkII), and uses 2 aspherical lenses, 1 ED lens, 1 HR lens and 1 DSA lens in its construction.
|Starfish. Zuiko 12-50mm. 1/80th @ f5.6 ISO 640|
|Tidal Pool. Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII and Zuiko 12-50mm EZ lens shot at 15mm. 1/125th @ f5.6 ISO 200|
|12-50mm shot at 13mm. 1/100th @ f5.6 ISO 200|
When I got home and looked at the images on the computer, the muted colours lent themselves perfectly to a black and white conversion - which I tend to do in Photoshop rather than Lightroom. I do like Lightroom (having previously been an Aperture user), but have used Photoshop since version 2, and am just more 'at home' using it for most tasks.
I also tend to prefer a dark and moody black and white treatment for my landscapes, although this will depend on the image. But from my darkroom film days, I had it beaten in to me (not literally) by several teachers that a black and white image must have a full range from white whites to black blacks. Too many black and white image conversions I see on the interweb are very flat and lack any contrast. The DNG RAW files that I'm getting out of the E-M5 MkII have bucket loads of data and detail in them, and are manipulating in Photoshop beautifully. I'm very pleased with the RAW output from the E-M5 MkII, and for me, 16MP is more than enough data.
|Low tide. Olympus E-M5 MkII and Zuiko 12-50mm EZ shot at 12mm. 1/125th @ f5.6 ISO 200|
Another feature I really like about the 12-50mm EZ is its extra function button placed on the lens. This can be programmed to do almost anything you want (of course it can), and I've got it set up to initiate the autofocus selection screen. I've also got the function button next to the shutter release programmed to re-set the autofocus point to the centre, so with the click of two very conveniently placed buttons I have complete finger-tip control over autofocus selection. Brilliant. And it's little touches like this that ender you to the Olympus system and make you realise that it was designed by photographers, for photographers.
|Rockface. 1/13th @ f6.3 ISO 1600|
This image (and a series of others), is perfectly sharp, but was shot at just 1/13th of a second, while I was balancing precariously on a rock, zoomed right out at 50mm, at f6.3. Generally not a recipe for successful image making. But the 5-axis stabilisation nailed it!
So am I happy with the Olympus Zuiko 12-50mm EZ f3.5/6.3 lens as my walk-around and serious landscape lens? Absolutely.
The f6.3 aperture at 50mm may have put me off initially, but when I'm shooting landscapes around the 12-15mm range, then an aperture of f5.6 (which is opened up two stops) is where I want to be anyway, and is giving me good sharpness and great files. Micro four thirds sensors have more depth-of-field due to their smaller size, so f5.6 is about f11 in DSLR terms. That's perfect landscape territory, so I'm very happy with the 12-50mm for my landscape work. Maybe if I was printing 40" prints I'd find that I was reaching the limit of the lens/sensor combination? Maybe. But I'm not. So for the blog, the web, and for 8x12" prints, I'm a happy camper and the 12-50mm will remain on my camera for 80% of what I shoot.
Of course, if you can afford the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens, then by all means, get that instead. It will be a 'better' (eg. sharper and faster) lens in all respects. BUT, it will also be a heavier (much heavier) lens to carry around, and then you really will have to consider the body that you pair it up with.
For the well healed/pro photographer the 12-40mm f2.8 Pro is a must. For everyone else (us mere mortals), the Olympus Zuiko 12-50mm EZ f3.5/6.3 is a perfect image making tool. Can't ask for anything more - especially in a 'kit' lens.