Standard-zoom kit lenses for most Micro Four Thirds cameras have typically been 14-42mm (28-84mm equivalent) or 12-50mm (24-100mm). Both Panasonic and Olympus offer some cheap longer zooms as well, but there are tradeoffs: the broader the zoom range you pack into a lens, the slower and softer it tends to get.
Panasonic's new 12-60mm f3.5-5.6 sounds like a great compromise: with its 24-120mm range it covers most of the territory you need for everyday shooting, and at $500 (there are no prices as yet for the UK or Australia, but that converts directly to about £360, AU$695), it's priced well as a slightly better alternative to a kit lens.
It incorporates all the features you'd want for general-purpose use: a stepper motor for quiet focus during video shooting; Panasonic's hybrid OIS, which works in conjunction with the sensor-shift stabilization in the company's most recent cameras or as optical alone with the older models; and splash-and-dustproof construction. The seven-blade aperture won't deliver the smoothest out-of-focus areas, but it's typical for this class of lens.
It's slated to ship in May.
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