- Extremely compact lens with excellent collapsing mechanism
- Relatively well-built for a kit lens
- Excellent sharpness across the frame throughout the focal range
- Good color and contrast
- Very fast, accurate and silent autofocus
- Low chromatic aberration and good control of distortion
- No manual focus ring
- Bokeh is underwhelming
- Only available in the US as part of the GM1 kit
If you’ve read my review of the Panasonic GM1, you’ll know I quite liked that tiny little camera. However, as much a I liked the camera, I feel the real gem of that kit is this outstanding tiny zoom. This little lens is not only exceptionally small, but one of the best kit zooms around. It’s sharp throughout the focal range right from wide open and has minimal aberrations. While the rendering is a little clinical, it gives you an outstanding base from which to create beautiful images. Its slow speed means that you’re not going to be blurring the background out much, but for an all-purpose travel or street lens, it is exceptionally useful. I had a blast shooting with this lens.
The only real downsides are less than stunning bokeh, and the fact that you can’t buy it in the US by itself. While the lack of a manual focus ring is a little annoying, a lens like this is rarely manually focused anyway, so I don’t view that as a major compromise. Panasonic has seemingly bent the laws of physics and created a zoom that is versatile, excellent optically and extremely small. Highly recommended.
15 thoughts on “Review: Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS”
Great little lens indeed! I’ve had it for over a month now (along with the GM1) and I have captured lots of nice pictures with this combo so far. Unnoticeable in your handbag until you see a photographic opportunity in front of you and, guess what?, you suddenly remember you have a very good camera at hand!
Nice review! I really like the lens but don’t want a GM1. I have a G5. This lens would be great on the G5, which is fairly small itself. I look forward to the 12-32 becoming available on it’s own and to a firmware update for the G5 to allow it to focus this lens manually. (Panasonic, that’s a hint!) In the meantime I will stick with the 14-45 which is, as you say, a very good lens. But I really would like the slightly wider capability of the 12-32 and the smaller size.
Does this lens work on the gf-1?
The 12-32 is prone to shutter-shock at longer focal lengths therefore I doubt it would be a good match for the G5.
I tried it on the GH1 and lots of images had visible blur while the ones from GM1 were perfectly sharp.
Good to know. The shutter of the G5 does create a vibration (perhaps better described as a thud) that can be very easily felt through the camera body. The electronic shutter would not cause a problem of course, and would be more suited to the kind of photography that a small lens and camera might be used for, being a lot quieter, although not totally silent. About the only time I use the standard shutter is when panning, or when I expect a lot of motion, in which case the shutter shock might not be at all obvious. But still, something too consider. Thanks!
I have this lens on my GX1 and have no problems with the shutter. But I am not sure the IOS works well with this cam and there is a need for a firmware update to be able to focus manually.
Prone to shutter shock, that’s a shame. It seems to be such a nice little lens with great image quality. Maybe there’s no shutter shock effect if I use the electronic shutter on my GX7.
Looks like there is now an update for the G6 to allow it to manually focus this lens.
Interesting review! I have a GX1 and have been considering this little lens for a while (really miss the “24mm” field of view I had with the LX5!). The only thing that puts me off is the concern that this lens might suffer from shutter-shock blur on a GX1 body, as the 14-42 PZ does at certain shutter speeds. I have the PZ and have lost a number of otherwise fine photos due to shock-induced blur. Do you still happen happen to have the GX1 around? If so, how does the 12-32 perform on it?
Hi. I have this lens 12-32mm on my GX1 most of the time and have never been disappointed. No problems with the shutter shock. I used to have the PZ 14-42 and sold it very quickly as I did not find it good at all. My old 14-45 that came with the G1 is great but not better than this tiny wonder. Glad I bought it.
I found the time today to do a direct comparison of the little 12-32mm with my Olympus 12mm f/2 prime. I used a GM1 with the eshutter and a sturdy tripod to avoid any shutter or motion blur. At least in terms of resolution and contrast, it seems the kit zoom at its wide end beats the $800 prime lens across the board, but especially in the mid-field and corners. I suspect my Olympus may not be the best example of its kind, exhibiting a bit of field curvature and decentering, but I was still fairly surprised.
Obviously the prime lens is faster, but on the GM1 at least, the kit zoom’s IS negates that advantage for static subjects. I am not really looking for shallow DOF in a m43 wide angle lens either…
Has anyone else gotten these results with these two lenses? Or is my Olympus a lemon? Either way, looks like I may be selling it soon!
Your 12mm is definitely a lemon since it took me to obtain 3 different samples to get a good lens.
Either it was decentered or it was suffering from a huge field curvature.
The last one is OK but still a little bit decentered (once stopped down to 5.6 it’s sharp corner to corner).
I got this lens with a GM1. I sold the camera but kept the lens it was so good, I now use it on my GF7 and find it a great little lens for street shooting. It is a bit more prone to flare than the 14-45mm so it’s best to get some kinda hood for it. I’m a big fan of the 20mm F1.7 pancake also but this lens stays on my camera unless I’m shooting in low light or need a bit more bokeh. Fantastic value for money IMO.