*Panaleica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH, I couldn’t help myself.

It’s a hard thing to admit to myself really.  Being that I’ve been in love with the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens for so long, I never really thought about acquiring a lens for the Micro 4/3 format that provided such a similar angle of view.  Now that I have, I must make a decision, which do I keep…

If you know anything about my feelings on the Micro 4/3 system, you know I’ve tended to prize size first.  If you know anything about my photographic style, you may know that I prize lens speed over most other factors.  Is the Leica branded 25mm f/1.4 lens that much better that it can justify the cost over the killer Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancake?  Well, I needed to figure that out for myself.

  1. First, speed.  I use this term two fold.  Firstly, the aperture or lens speed.  The 25mm is a half stop faster.  This provides a faster shutter speed in the same light as well as the ability to decrease the depth of field at the same focus distance (albeit at a tighter framing angle).  This is what it is.  Secondly, the  25mm is a faster focuser, much faster.  I’ve never really had a problem with the focus speed of the 20mm f/1.7, but after shooting with the Panaleica lens, the pancake is noticeably slower.
  2. Second, optical qualities.  The 20mm pancake is wonderfully sharp wide open assuming you can get your technique to compliment the desired outcome when working with such shallow depth of field at close focusing distances.  It’s a great lens period, and for the price, I still feel it is a must have lens for anyone looking to the system, unless of course they feel the 25mm will provide enough of an argument to dethrone it.  While, even in controlled situations, wide open the Panaleica 25 isn’t quite as tack sharp as the 20mm pancake is wide open, it is a half stop faster and certainly has more of a signature look to it’s rendering of images.  I feel it is capable of being as sharp as any practical purpose would require, the only real challenge is again in the photographer’s technique or ability to work within a shallow DOF.  (I’d guess more often than not, someone saying “this lens is soft” isn’t down to the lens itself…)
  3. Third, size and weight.  The pancake makes a small micro 4/3 body nearly pocketable, and certainly discrete (see the size comparisons above and below).  It is light weight and low profile.  Two wonderful attributes, especially when you factor in the IQ it produces.  The 25mm lens pushes any of the compatible bodies outside of this “pocketable” designation, although I can still fit the OM-D E-M5 into a larger coat pocket with the 25mm lens attached, so it still remains relatively small.  While heavier than the 20mm pancake, it is, to me, still feather weight by comparison to an APS-C or Full Frame equivalent lens.  The focus ring on the Panaleica 25mm is buttery smooth and lens body feels every inch a quality build.  While not a heavy duty metal lens body, it feels solid.
  4. Okay, finally, and potentially the largest deciding factor for many when weighing all the pros and cons is the price.  The 20mm pancake (ranges between $340-400usd) is normally about $140-200usd cheaper than the current going rate for the 25mm lens ($540usd).  That is a chunk of change, and one I feel isn’t entirely justified in the price of the 25mm.  The pancake is a wonderful lens period.  It’s worth every penny and really the only major criticism I feel could justifiably miff someone is the below average auto focus speed.  Again, it has never been a huge issue for me, but I could see it being for someone else.  The 25mm’s cost may have something to do with the other “L” word printed on the lens.  While not a “Leica” lens, it is a Leica designed Panasonic Lumix lens, and whichever name they choose to print on this lens, it is a beautiful optical tool.  Whether it is worth the extra coin is up for any perspective buyer to decide.  If one can live with the slower AF, and half a stop slower aperture, all while enjoying a slightly wider angle of view should be more than happy with the 20mm pancake.  Speed isn’t cheap, and to get faster, one will end up paying a bit more for that, and while larger and slightly heavier, the 25mm lens is faster (as well as a faster focuser). Did I mention that Panasonic includes a lens hood with the 25mm f/1.4 Summilux?  They do, and it’s great.  It’s a molded nylon (plastic) which I vastly prefer as it won’t dent but is very durable, nor is it anywhere near as heavy as even aluminum.  Olympus could learn a thing or two.

The 20mm pancake on the OMD EM5 from above

The 25mm Summilux on the OMD EM5 from above

The 20mm pancake on the OMD EM5

The 25mm Summilux on the OMD EM5

Okay, brass tacks.  To me, the 20mm pancake provides a wonderful, reportage style lens.  Because of the focal length, and subsequent angle of view, it provides a slightly wider than normal angle which I love.  You don’t need to be on top of your subject to become intimate, but it allows a versatile approach in that you can if you want to with its minuscule minimum focus distance.  It is wonderful for daily documentation whether that be of family, street, or just general shooting and its low profile makes for a wonderfully compact, high quality package.  The 25mm f/1.4 has a different panache.  It may be the tighter angle, or slightly larger max aperture, but I’d guess the optical formulation is the real hero here.  It has a different look to my eye, and one that I have to admit, I prefer.  Here are a few shots using the 25mm f/1.4 Summilux.

Comparing the two lenses side by side, here are some examples of angle of view while shooting from the same location, as well as shooting at either of the lenses minimum focusing distance (approx 8″ and 12″ for the 20mm f/1.7 and the 25mm f/1.4 respectively) to show both how they’d frame at min focusing distance as well as how the DOF is affected.  All of these shots were taken with the lenses wide open to see both sharpness as well as provide a bit of bokeh for comparison sake.

First, from the same location, both lenses shot wide open.

*The 20mm from a fixed distance, wide open showing the difference in angle of view and depth of field. (shot on the G3)

*The 25mm from the same location as the shot above, wide open showing the difference in angle of view and depth of field. (shot on the OMD EM5)

Now a couple shot at each of the lenses respective minimum focusing distances, both focused on the near corner of the block.  Notice here that the 20mm actually produces a higher magnification and shallower DOF, albeit with more distortion.

*The 20mm f/1.7 focused to the MFD (8″) and shot wide open at its MFD. (shot on the G3)

*The 25mm f/1.4 focused to the MFD (12″) and shot wide open to show the coparitive DOF at its MFD. (shot on the OMD EM5)

The 20mm, shot wide open at f/1.7 and focused at its minimum focusing distance (8″) is capable of a shallower DOF than the 25mm shot wide open at f/1.4 and focused to its minimum focusing distance (12″) with the area in acceptable focus being .18″ for the 20mm and .23″ for the 25mm all while more or less equaling the framing, but altering the perspective.  For extreme close ups, using a razor thin DOF, the 20mm will provide one with the ability to further narrow the area in focus creating a more defocused fore and background, in this particular situation anyway, but not by much.

While I am normally a fan of the angle of view through a 35mm lens (the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens exhibits about a 40mm angle of view, which technically is closer to “standard” for the format believe it or not) as opposed to a more traditionally “standard” 50mm lens’ angle of view, I must admit, this Panaleica lens has won me over.  In summation, if I may say, the Panaleica 25mm f/1.4 lens isn’t “better” than the 20mm f/1.7 pancake, or at least not in all ways, it is just different and produces a different signature.  Whether that signature is better or worse will come down to a personal decision as well as a balancing of size, speed, price and performance as well as the difference in angle of view for any given person.

I’m not sure how long it will take me to become comfortable with selling off the 20mm f/1.7 pancake, but I feel it is time that I said goodbye to this wonderful little legend of a lens.  Thank you old friend, you’ve helped me watch my kids grow, you have travelled to half a dozen countries and you’ve been on most every walk with me over the last few years, you’ve been wonderful and I will most certainly miss you.

Thanks for the read and happy shooting,

Tyson

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53 thoughts on “*Panaleica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH, I couldn’t help myself.

  1. Great read. And a nice shot of a hotel I pass almost every morning.
    When I first bought the (for me) toy EM-5 I didn’t (yet) unwrap the kit zoom and just bought the 12, 20, 25 and 45. One Oly which I leave on the body at all times and the 3 bulky and not nearly as snazzy Panasonic lenses. Two are the goofy Leica badged versions. Since I use the 24, oops, 12mm f:2 as my normal the others are seldom used but they all appear wonderfully sharp.
    Your over the top review just reinforces that thought.
    10-4

    • Thanks Jim,

      While I’d love the 12mm Oly, I can’t bring myself to spend that kind of coin on my walk around system quite yet, although this 25mm isn’t far off. Personally, I’d probably buy the 75/1.8 first as I seem to really want a short tele for this system. I’ve never been a huge fan of a 24mm lens though either as I tend to prefer either an UWA or a 35mm fov. The fact that the system does have such an abundance of quality optical choices though just further solidifies my thoughts on it being such a cool system. I doubt many other mirrorless systems could be having a debate on wonderful 24mm e-fov, (even 28mm, or 34mm) 40mm, 50mm or 90mm (of which there are two very good choices, not to mention the new 120macro or 150mm) prime lenses. All within less than 5 years, it is a system that has really had some weight thrown behind it.

      Cheers,

      Tyson

  2. I have both and couldn’t bring myself to sell the 20 but admit I shoot mostly with the 25 now. I think I want the 12/2 to go with my 25 and 45/2.8 but haven’t done it yet. The 12 because I’m finding myself at the wide end of the 12-50 quite a lot–surprise to me. I have the ZD9-18 and rarely carry it and haven’t upgraded to mZD9-18 or 7-14 but the 25 is still my ‘star’ lens.

    • Hi Diane!

      Thanks for the comment. I have really been on the fence with holding onto the 20mm. Part of me feels that because it is such a solid little lens, and one that is as sharp wide open as any other lens for any other system I’ve ever owned or tried, I might want to hold onto it as I think it could really end up being a bit of a legend. While that may sound a bit dramatic, I think of certain lens/camera combos that do go down as wonderful mates (the contax G series with just about any of those lenses, the Rollei 35s with the integrated sonnar 40/2.8, both of which I am lucky enough to have adopted from my father in law, a Leica M4 and 35mm f/2 Summicron etc.) I can see the GF1 and 20mm becoming a cult collectors combo. All this aside, I have found it hard to take the 25/1.4 off the OMD since I got it. :)

      All my best,
      t

      • Like Diane I have both. I use the 25 more these days and carry it with the Panny 14 and 45. but when I want to slip one camera one lens in a jacket pocket I put the 20 on the gx1. The 20 f1.7 has never let me down.

        Curiously I keep thinking I should sell the GF1 but it’s a camera I’ve enjoyed using more than any dSLR and I think it’ll stay in the bag and come out to play now and then.

  3. Hi Tyson,
    thanks for this interesting post. Coincidentally i took the plunge just this afternoon (after a looooong while of contemplating) and ordered the Panaleica. I’m afraid i’ll have to let the 20mm go but maybe i’ll just do it like Diane ;)
    Best Regards,
    Peter

  4. Interesting and great to see the M4/3 format being supported by more and more lenses. I shoot more outdoor and natures stuff, some scenic’s but more flowers and arthropods. I can’t do without a macro and finally Leica put out the 45mm f2.8. I simply love this lens. I’m not tempted by a bit of extra speed – I’ve got the 20mm but am probably (this is really heretical) going to take the 14-42 power zoom (love that feature) to Vietnam this Nov.

    The 14-42mm PZ has gotten a bad rap on Amazon now – I tested it and couldn’t see significant difference to the 20mm pancake. There may be bad copies of it or the early firmware wasn’t great. Works for me and offers a bit of extra flexibility to fill the frame with what I want, walking on a trail in the middle of nowhere.

    So the Vietnam kit is going to be: Panasonic GH1 (not gonna spring for the G5 yet), 14-42PZ, 14-140 (maybe or maybe not) and the 45mm. All this has to fit into a small waist pack to include batteries, filters, etc.

    Here are a couple shots from the 45mm Macro: http://www.flickr.com/photos/35742767@N04/7594003378/in/set-72157630628317418/
    and

    2012 08 18_PV-1_2909_edited-1.JPG

    Ciao! And thanks as always for the interesting read.

    • I’d love to visit SE Asia. You’ll have to make sure and update me with pics.

      At like apertures in good light, I’d imagine for most shooting the PZ14-42 and 20mm would be comparable, but in low light, that 20mm is such a handy little bugger to have around. When traveling, I’d always had my GF1+20mm as my “go out” camera. It would be around for dinners or evening wanderings. Low profile, great wide open, etc.

      I’d bring it along if for no other reason than the potential need for a fast lens in low light. It’s so small and light, You wouldn’t even notice it in your bag Terry :)

      I’ll have a gander at the 45mm macros too!

      Thanks Terry as always,
      t

  5. Tyson,
    Another outstanding blog posting! It’s amazing to read through the article and comments and see that everyone (including me) seems to have the same torn feelings about letting go of an old friend. I think if I eventually spring for the 25, I will have to keep the 20. I still haven’t sold my GF1 – just love that camera and especially love it with the 20 attached. If I get the 25, my guess is that it would end up on my E-M5 and the 20 would be reunited with the GF1 – permamently. You are so right about them being a go out combo – it’s exactly how I’ve used them – they have been to more parties and dinners than any camera/lens combo I’ve ever owned.
    Cheers,
    Bill

    • Bill,

      As always, thank you. When they got the 20mm so right, it’s a huge testament to Panasonic and the system in general, to see the appreciation that is nearly universal for this little lens, and every bit of it entirely justified in my opinion. Aside from that little extra bump in speed, I really didn’t need anything else that I didn’t (or don’t still) get from the 20. I may track down my GF1 (currently living with my father in law), bribe him to give it back to me, and then do just as you’ve described.

      Cheers,

      t

      • I agree with Bill.
        I have used Pan 20 1.7 with Olym e pl3.
        On the camera nearly all the time.
        Eventually will probably get OM D & thought of PanL 25 1.4 but would never part with present combo. Too versatile, unless suffering severe penuary.
        All the best.
        Donald

      • Thanks Donald.

        If it were not for the 20mm pancake, I’d probably not be a micro 4/3 user. That lens, along with the GF1 convinced me to ditch the high end compacts and go with the MILC type setup as my travel/pocket system. I’ve now moved away (a little bit) from looking to the system purely for size reduction and have found the quality that some of these lenses are capable of, while still being remarkably compact by comparison, offer an amazing alternative to larger systems.

  6. It was tough as hell to get rid of my 20, loved it but eventually returned it for the 25 for faster focusing and more dept of field speed. I bought the sigma 19 to hold me over until the olympus 17 comes out.

    • I too am very interested in the Oly 17. If its priced like the 12mm though, I’ll probably pass. I understand a higher build quality being enticing, but just look at the 20mm f/1.7 (priced as low as $340usd) to see what I expect from this system. It can cut size and keep price realistic all while building fast lenses that are remarkably sharp wide open, and I’ve never felt it was in anyway not solidly built. I don’t need much more than that, but of course, I ended up getting the 25mm anyway… ;)

  7. Interesting comparison. I also sold the 20mm as soon I got my 25mm. The next lens I sold was 12mm, it was great, but I somehow couldn’t find much use for it. The 25mm is attached to my OM-D at all times (except when I’m doing some portraits – then I replace it with 45mm or, since a week – 75mm). On Monday I expect the 15 mm lens “cap” to be delivered and hope it will be the ultimate minimalistic (in more than one sense) street gear.
    Thanks for your posts, as always.
    Valerij

    • Personally, I agree regarding the 12mm lens. While I would love to have one because it is a beautiful optical tool, I won’t spend that kind of money on a 24mm efov lens. I’ve just never been a huge fan of it (the focal length/angle of view). I prefer an UWA rectalinear (14mm to 16mm FF fov) and then a 35mm focal length for my standard wide. The rumored Oly 17mm should be interesting and provide that little extra gap between itself and the 25mm (vs the 20mm) and I think if priced reasonably, it could be a huge winner for Oly. After that, I want a 7 or 8mm prime :)

      Thank you Valerij,

      tyson

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  9. Pingback: A new review on Panaleica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH lens - Micro Four Thirds Camera Blog

  10. Tyson,

    I have the 25 now as well… but I think I’m going to let the 20 go. Since I got the 25, I haven’t put the 20 on the camera. Yes, the 25 is certainly much bigger — but it is still light and doesn’t look out of place on my E-M5. I like the idea of a pancake, but I can live without one. The 25’s faster autofocus, especially in challenging light, clinches it pretty much. The 20mm is going on the block as is my 14mm f/2.5 (the 12mm f/2.0 replaces it, even though it’s larger also).

    I am TOTALLY blown away with the 25 wide open and when you stop down it’s very Leica-ish I think. I’ve been shooting tests around the steel mill where I work when I have to be there at night and it is amazing (yes, I still have a “day job” — photography doesn’t pay the bills, lol).

    I’m not sure what your linking policy is, so delete as needed, but here are links to a couple of the night shots with the 25mm. The first one is at f/2, and the second at f/1.4 — both on the E-M5.

    Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 Test: Teeming Aisle by Night

    Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 Test: Ladle 8 for Refit

    This lens seems to do a better job in the lighting in industrial situations a little better than the 20mm and the extra 1/2 stop does help — or at least that’s my perception and the way it works for me.

    My “primary” (bad pun) lenses are the primes: 12mm f/2.0, 25mm f/1.4, 45mm f/1.8 and the 75mm f/1.8. The major “supplements” to that are the excellent (for me) 9-18mm f/4-5.6 and the usable 40-150mm f/4-5.6 lenses.

    Regards,
    John Griggs

    • Link on John, link on.

      I’m all for communal networking as long as it’s relevant. Your current lens lineup is pretty much exactly what I hope to acquire (and somewhat recreate from my full frame system more or less). The more time I spend with the system, the more I feel it gets close to replacing my ff setup. I’m not there yet, and prefer certain aspects of my other cameras and lenses, but where I originally saw the micro 4/3 system solely as a quality compact system (more a replacement for my compact/pocket cams) I’m now gaining more and more appreciation for it’s quality as a system period.

      I’d really like a 7 or 8mm, reasonably priced, fairly compact/pancakeish prime that doesn’t compromise optical quality. Something like a 7mm f/3.5 or even an f/4 lens should certainly be a reasonable project. I know the engineering is different for this format, but if companies like Rokinon can create an optically equal 14mm f/2.8 lens for FF systems as the $2400 EF14/2.8 (as an example) at under $400 (albeit a manual focus lens) it shows me there is some serious wiggle room in the margins, currency fluctuations be damned, for optical manufacturing. Remove a ton of the actual, physical materials needing to be used and… Well, I think the m4/3 system can become even more competitive (and arguably should get more aggressive). But, losing weight and size always costs money :)

      Thanks for the comment,

      tyson

  11. Great review, thanks. I have used the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 and the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 myself. The 25mm optically is the better lens of the two and it focusses faster too. It’s very responsive. The 20mm is the smallest, especially when you use the big lens hood on the 25mm. The field of view is very different and that made me think very long and hard about what lens to keep. In the end I decided to keep the 25mm. Although the field of view is a little restrictive sometimes, the AF speed, optical quality and the extra half stop of light makes this the best lens for me. With the 20mm I often found myself taking some steps towards the subject anyway (and thus introducing distortion) so the 25mm is a more versatile focal length for me. Also, the 25mm renders the image differently. The image from the 20mm looks a little harsher, less life like. I don’t know what it is exactly. It just draws different then the 25mm. I like the look from the 25mm better. More ‘classic’ I think. The 25mm is more expensive, but you get what you pay for.

  12. Great review and comparison. Nice to see there are other devoted fans of the Pany 20mm/1.7. My use and criteria for a lens are a bit different, as I only use it for digiscoping, always wide open, and always in MF, focusing only the spotting scope. On my scope the 20mm gives me a whopping 1200mm equvialent focal length, and in this case shorter is better.
    I’ll be testing the 20mm on both the EM5 and GH3 next week as I am looking for a camera with similar functionality to the GX1 but with better ISO handling capability. Loved your video comparison of the firmware update and how the IS is affected. I’m not sure if I should turn the IS on if the camera is mounted on a tripod, but I look foward to comparing the 3 cameras.

    • Thanks Tara,

      Digiscoping eh?! What type of work do you do with that? Regardless, it sounds fascinating.

      As for the IBIS (or OIS) on a tripod, common belief has it that we should disable it when on a tripod as the IS looks for movement and in certain situations if there isn’t any, I’ve seen it create a jitter effect, but I’ve also forgotten to disable it on a tripod without any ill effects. If you’re using a panning head though, I have used the panning modes while on tripods which seem to do okay.

      I’m curious to see if Panasonic actually has done better in the high ISO/noise performance category with the GH3. I feel the OMD has about a stop better noise performance vs the G3/5, GX1 generation sensor, it also has some digital artifacting that I didn’t see on the G3 which seems to cause problems for me in post sharpening, but that really gets into pixel peeping territory. Print wise, they both seem to do pretty well.

      Thanks for the comment and good luck with the testing. If you think about it, give us a link if you post anything, I’d love to see/read your results.

      Cheers,
      t

      • Tyson,

        The EM5 and GH3 arrived from lensrentals.com Tuesday. It took me a few minutes to get the GH3 configured for digiscoping, and I shot some test shots with it and the GX1. Not being familiar with the EM5 menus (what’s up with those menus!) it took me a couple of hours to get the cam set up just to take some test shots. I’d thought that there was a highlight function like the one on the G-series cams that shows you any over-exposed areas flashing on the image that displays right after you take the photo, but I only found it on the histogram view in review mode.

        I found the ISO handling to be a HUGE improvement in the GH3 over the GX1, and the 9fps and corresponding fast write speeds are a signifiant improvment for me when I’m photographing running, feeding birds. I processed the test shots from the 3 cams identically, and I do see what you mean about the noise with the EM5. My Colormancer BNR was able to completely eliminate the noise in the dark background of the EM5 at 800 ISO, but in the detailed feather areas where I applied only minimal NR, sharpening did produce some strange and unattractive textures.

        The really big shock I had was the IQ of the EM5 compared to the GH3 and GX1 with the 20/1.7. I have test shots that I took and processed identically, but I don’t have a good place to upload them for your viewing. If I could send them to you or upload them somehwere, please let me know. Like they say, a picture’s worth a 1000 words. I did the test shots at home the day the cameras arrived, and after seeing the difference in the IQ, I only took the GH3 out in the field with me for further testing. I ordered one today.

        Tara Tanaka

        http://flickr.com/photos/focused-on-birds

      • Hi Tara,

        I totally hear you on the Oly menus. I still get fed up with them when needing to modify the camera and I think that the insane amount of customization ends up being a serious flaw for this cam. This is my first Oly camera, but I’ve never ever had the challenges with a camera’s user interface the way I have with the OMD. My first Panny was a GF1, and I never had to crack the manual once, had it set up to shoot the way I wanted within a couple minutes and I’ve had the same experience with first cameras from Pentax, Canon and even the Sony NEX, while not without its own crazy issues with the UI, was more intuitive for crucial operational function setup.

        I’d love to see what you’re getting test wise between the OMD, GX1 and GH3. I’d really like to get hold of a GH3 and may have to sometime soon. Looks like a great camera. You can email me at photosbytyson at gmail.com

        Good luck with it all and I’d love to see some digiscoping results, that sounds crazy!

        All the best,
        Tyson

  13. Thanks for the comparison! I have the 20mm, but have lusted after the 25mm for a while. The only thing holding me back is the size.

    Interesting to see the color difference between the G3 and E-M5 on the red(?) block in the final comparison. Which one is closer to your eye?

    • Hey Graham,

      Yeah, the size (and perhaps price) was certainly the biggest hurdle for me to get over, but I’ve really enjoyed the PL25 and haven’t felt the extra bulk has hindered me. It is still pretty tiny by comparison to other standard optics.

      As for the color, I think it is also due to the fact that I shot the two lenses on different cameras (my bad). The OMD’s (as well as the PL25’s) colors seem to be more saturated and contrasty in general. The G3’s sensor has a more muted palate straight out of the camera, but I feel handles post tweaking a bit better. The blocks, to my eye kind of fell between the two, but seemed to be more closely represented by the OMD+PL25.

      Honestly, both lenses are wonderful, and as long as the physical differences as well as the performance differences are taken into account, anyone should be pretty happy with either.

      Cheers,
      t

  14. Pingback: *Olympus 75mm f/1.8, all it’s cracked up to be? | Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

  15. I have to laugh…whenever I read one of your reviews it is like it is the review I would write…and as usual your photos are well-composed and actually illustrate very well what you are talking about in the text! Well done.
    I have owned the 25mm f/1.4 for quite a while now and have been torn about selling off my 20mm f/1.7. (I also have the Pany 14mm which is a lens I think you like as well)…. I am putting my 20mm up on eBay tonight at long last..but I am doing it with the sneaking suspicion that I will be picking up the over-price Oly 17mm f/1.8 sometime soon…. still on the fence about that …but alas I am letting the 20mm go…I just do not use it much now and mainly because of the slow focusing speed….the sharpness and lens size are incredible on the 20mm ..and if it were just a little wider is would fill out my lens-perspective quiver quite a bit better. The 14mm is so tiny that when I need everything really small and fast I am grabbing that with my GX1 (I have an OMD as well)..not the 20mm.
    …so…you need to post a review on the Oly 17mm f/1.8 so that I can get a better understanding from someone who has photographic sensibilities like myself. I know that the focusing speed is fast on that lens… but, at almost $600 with the OVERPRICED aux. shade…I need a little more input. LOL!

    • Thanks Bob.

      While the way to a man’s heart may be through his stomach, the way to a photographer’s is definitely through personal compliment :) Thank you. Luckily for me, I was able to sell my 20mm to my father in law, so it’s still in the family at least. I may some day re-buy the pancake just to have it glued to a compact body for an everywhere cam setup, but for the time being, I feel the 25 is just a better lens for me. While larger, it is still very compact and deceivingly lightweight.

      I want to play around with the Oly 17, but can’t quite get myself really overly excited about it. I am a huge fan of the 35mm angle of view, more so than a standard or more traditional 50mm, but I really wish that they’d either dropped the price, or made it a faster lens. I know its splitting hairs to an extent, but it’s just too close in both AOV and speed to the 20 to separate itself in my opinion. I like the idea of zone focusing, but really, on this system in any situation I’d be zone focusing, I’d probably be at f/8 or so and at that point on a micro 4/3 camera most everything will be within acceptable focus anyway, so that it offers this in the push pull AF/MF seems a bit more kitschy than functional. It’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but it seems to be unnecessary when taking into consideration the obvious cost increase it creates, and competition with the already stellar 20mm. Had it been an f/1.4 lens, gaining that 2/3 of a stop, (and at the same price) then I think it might have turned my head a bit more, but as is, I think I’d probably go with the 20 personally as I know how great, sharp, contrasty, lightweight, compact, etc, it is.

      t

      • That is interesting how we all split hairs.. I like the idea of the 17mm because it is a classic perspective and fits right in between my 25mm and the 14. Perfect for environmental portraits. The fast focus is the other thing..that makes me want it…but yeah you are right …good thinking…Oly should have skipped the “snap-manual-focus” and made that lens a crystal-clear f/1.4…They could keep the price where it is and I wouldn;t even mind paying for the hood if they had designed the lens that way!!!!
        You just explained to me my waffling indecision as to why I have not purchased the lens…I may anyway.. LOL!!!!!!
        I also like the form and function of you web page…it has class my man..

  16. Hi. I recently got myself a PL25 and an OM-D, with firmware updated to the latest one as of today. Do you have the rattlesnake sound when the PL25 is mounted on OM-D?? The clicking sounds when the aperture changing is so annoying.

  17. -I’m on the fence re which to purchase for my OM-D. I spotted a blog comment elsewhere advising Aperture mode to silence noisy iris chatter of the PL 25. Sounds like it would work but I’m new at this (or re-new) 40+ years after convincing parents to allow conversion of their unused basement wet bar into a darkroom.

    -Emerging on the far side of education, family and career choices with renewed interest in photography, I find the gear is amazing. I once felt inordinate pride shooting in low light with Tri-X pan and thought of 400 ASA as supersonic imaging speed. -Something akin to Moore’s law in the interim-and still a lot of fun!

    Best,
    Brian O.

    • Hi Brian,

      I cannot say that aperture priority will silence the aperture chatter, but just know that it is not solely an issue with the PL25. I just (and have continually) had the same chatter issue this morning with the Oly 75mm on the OMD. I think it is more to do with the camera than the lenses, or at least the combo of certain cameras with certain lenses and my best guess would be that it is attempting to regulate light to maintain a constant live view image while also “protecting” the sensor from too much light hitting the sensor for too long a period of time. Really only an issue in bright, high contrast situations from my experience.

      If that is your only concern, I would not worry at all. The PL25 is about as perfect a lens for the system as I’ve seen. I’d count it as one of the top two lenses I’ve used along with the also chatty 75. Both are optically wonderful and as long as the focal lengths suit what you’re going for, they’re comparably as good as most anything I’ve ever used.

      Btw, I’ve got some tri-x in my fridge, love shooting it :)

      Thanks for the comment.

      All the best,

      Tyson

  18. Both are great lenses I think, but neither is perfect for me. The 25mm is big, the corners are soft, the FOV is too tight and I realy hate the aperture chatter. The 20mm focusses very sloooooooow and the image rendering is harsh and cool. I have bought and sold both lenses three or four times in the past three years (am I mentally ill or what). I’ll guess I’ll just keep both now. Just can’t make up my mind about them.

    • Hey Spencer,

      Thanks for the comment. I too tend to gravitate toward a slightly wider than “standard” angle of view, and have always really loved the 35mm FOV. I have a Lumix 20mm version 2 on its way and I fully plan to pit it, the original and the PL25 against each other to see which may prevail. I’ve never been overly bothered by the rattlesnake chatter on the PL25, or Oly75 (which also exhibits gratuitous aperture chatter), nor have I felt that the 20mm is that slow, AF-wise, in my daily shooting scenarios, but one thing that I think Panasonic needs to address is the current price of the 20mm f/1.7 lens. While I feel it is more or less worth the price, being as close to the PL25mm (about a hundred dollars difference) it seems to me to be too expensive when I feel that at these prices, the PL25 is the better lens in every way with the sole exception being physical size, and is well worth the hundred dollar premium (to me anyway). Sure, wide open the corners are noticeably softer, but every other optic I own that is as fast or faster (even a few that are a stop or two slower) has the same problem wide open and when stopped down that pretty quickly disappears, or at least my copy sharpens up substantially by about f/2. I kind of like the dreamy corners wide open because it suits what I like to shoot, when shooting wide open for the shallow DOF and normally in lower light scenarios providing almost a defocused vignette to an extent.

      I know what you mean though. Not only did I originally get rid of my 20mm after buying the 25, but now I’ve re-acquired the 20mm v.1, AND I have the v.2 on it’s way in a kit with the GX7… I’m sure I’ll get rid of at least one of them…maybe. :)

      Thanks again,

      Tyson

      • Interesting comments from Spencer & Tyson.
        Hope this is not outside thread.
        I bought pan 20mm1.7 some years ago because of poor reviews of oly 17 2.8.
        Alyays liked 35mm equiv.
        That was widest lens I could afford in 1970s with my Nikon F.
        Just purchased oly 17mm 1.8 after much procrastination & reading every review, technical & otherwise.
        The 17mm 1.8 may not be as sharp as pan 20 but I do like the image.
        I have always been concerned with sharpness but oly is sharp enough and Quite pleasing image I find.

        Always enjoy your blog Tyson..
        Thankyou.
        Donald.

      • Re: the two Panasonic lenses. I have had both since buying the OMD last year and while they’re both sharp enough they just don’t “seem” as ergonomically pleasing as the 12 and the 75 Oly lenses.
        What I’m really stoked about is the October release of the Oly 12-40 f:2.8 zoom. Looks awesome and if the feel is as good as the two other Oly lenses I actually like to use it will be stunk on the my also preordered E M-1 permanently.
        Sadly Oly has no decent 7-14 lens yet.

      • Hey Jim! How are ya?

        I do like me the Oly75, but I find the PL25 to fit and feel very nicely with the OMD EM5, especially now that I’ve had the RRS grip added. The OMD and the 20mm pancake never played well together unfortunately, but I’m curious to see if I can get the 20mm v.2 to shoot on the OMD at ISO6400 without the horrendous banding. I’ve heard rumblings of a possible UWA Oly f/2.8 zoom, so you may not have to wait too long… :)

      • Thanks Donald,

        I have certainly been interested in Oly’s 17mm lens. For me, it came down to the (very) slight failing in comparative performance vs the 20, and the price. If either one of those factors were reversed, I would probably grab one in lieu of the 20mm, although the pancake is wonderfully compact… Isn’t it cool to have as many quality choices in a system?

        t

      • Tyson,
        I can’t wait to see your GX7 review. As others have said on here, you usually write what we are thinking. Hopefully Panasonic can actually deliver a product before they announce it’s replacement =). By the way I have an update…sold my GF1 and the 20 about 3 months ago and totally regret it…might be shopping on Craigslist soon.
        Cheers,
        Bill

      • Thanks Bill!

        I can’t wait to play around with, and review the GX7 ;) It’s funny, I traded my EOS-M + 22mm to my Father in Law, to get my old GF1 + 20mm back. I’ve really enjoyed it, but sadly it may end up on the auction block, along with the OMD EM5 if all goes as I think it will regarding the GX7. I’d probably be selling the GF1 with the 20mm and EVF if you’re interested…?

  19. Pingback: *Another set of this guy’s opinions, or Mirrorless Lens buying guide! | Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

  20. Tyson,

    Great review. I share your sentiments on the 20mm f/1.7. I used to own it, didn’t quite love it yet didn’t hate it. I loved the size, the sharpness, the pleasing bokeh and the general field of view. I hated the loud gears during autofocus, the distortion of anything within three feet away, and the vignetting.

    I later sold it, have no intention of purchasing it again, yet it was a bit painful to let it go even though I was using the M.Zuiko 45mm 1.8 more often. I personally like the Lumix 25mm f/1.4 better now, however I still dislike the occasional “onion” layers in the bokeh the 25mm f/1.4 in some photos. Great post. Thank you.

    • Thanks TAJ,

      I appreciate you taking the time to both comment and share your experience.

      I’m going to be picking up the Oly 45 in the next couple days myself and I’m also awaiting delivery of the Lumix/Leica 15mm which I’m excited to see if I can employ it to replace my 14 and 20mm pancakes, essentially leaving me with the 15, 25, 45 and 75mm lenses (along with a fisheye and 100-300) as my m4/3 kit.

      Cheers,
      t

  21. I have read many reviews on the Panasonic Leica 25mm having significant vignetting. TheAverageJoe made the comment that this vignetting, and along with other reasons, made him give up on this lens. I worry about the vignetting, can anyone tell me if it is an issue for them and it is noticeable? It does not make sense to buy an f/1.4 and need to use it at f/2.0 or f/2.8 for it to be usable. I want this lens, the pictures look so great. Can anyone help me get over my worry?

    • Hi Pat,

      Firstly, there are very few lenses this fast (and many slower) that don’t exhibit vignetting wide open. Secondly, it is very easy to correct for it in most any post software or digital asset management software in the situations where one is bothered by it.

      For me, I’ve never really noticed the vignetting from this lens in any substantial manner, certainly not to an extent where I’ve felt the need to correct for it, even wide open. That said, for me it is largely because of what, and how I tend to shoot. If I were trying to stitch shots together where I had large areas of continuous color (like a sky, or the like) then it might be a bit more frustrating, but normally if doing that, I wouldn’t be shooting wide open anyway.

      I am not worried by this lens at all, and feel that if vignetting is a major concern, any fast lens for any system is going to cause someone fits.

      There is also the Oly 25 which is smaller and a little cheaper, but it is 2/3 of a stop slower and probably still vignettes wide open at f/1.8 itself.

      To me this is a non issue, but I’m not personally over concerned with vignetting on really fast lenses knowing that it is pretty easy to avoid, correct for, or live with personally for me.

      It is a great lens.

      t

    • Hi Pat,

      Let me share my experience before you make a purchase. I hope what I can be of some help. My old Panny 20mm f/1.7 had some vignetting but really any lens faster than 2.0 will have some vignetting in my humble experience My old Panny 20mm f/1.7’s vignetting was still impressively well controlled. In fact I feel the 14mm 2.8 pancake had worse vignetting then the 20mm f/1.7. Don’t asks me why this is the case, it’s just that the 20mm is a very impressive lens.

      Now I sold my 20mm 1.7 last year and bought the Panny/Leica 25mm f/1.4 and I would say the vignetting is also just as well controlled. It’s so marginal that unless you are a photographer you really can’t see it. In Aperture 3 it literally takes one click to rid any vignetting in the frame. But I personally never remove the tiny bit of vignetting, I actually like it. I’m probably weird about that.

      If I had to choose between the 20mm and the 25mm I would choose the Panny/Leica 25mm, but that’s just my preference. For a comparison between the two lenses Tyson’s post pretty much sums up all my feelings and gives loads of examples to boot.

      Hope that helps. Happy shooting!

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