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Micro 4/3 Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 micro four thirds review

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103


I've just completed a three part review of the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 micro four thirds lens at:- Soundimageplus: Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 m4/3 lens review

It includes full size samples, comparison tests with Nikon and Zeiss lenses, video and some raw samples.

Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 Micro Four Thirds lens review - Part 1 - Pictures, Quality & In use
Soundimageplus: Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 Micro Four Thirds lens review - Part 1 - Pictures, Quality & In use

Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 Micro Four Thirds lens review - Part 2 - Just HOW good is the 25mm f/1.4

Soundimageplus: Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 Micro Four Thirds lens review - Part 2 - Just HOW good is the 25mm f/1.4

Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 Micro Four Thirds lens review - Part 3 - Video and conclusion
Soundimageplus: Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 Micro Four Thirds lens review - Part 3 - Video and Conclusion
 

vincechu

Veteran
Sep 14, 2010
68
Thanks for sharing :) I'm really suprised you rate it as high as the Zeiss on the m9! But then I guess I shouldnt be so suprised when you consider panny has been bringing out very good glass - e.g. 20mm, 7-14mm and the PL 45mm.

Exciting times for m4/3, I guess I'm just waiting for the fast zooms to come out before I make my return to the system

btw what case is that on the G3 in the photo above? it makes the combo look very sexy indeed ;-)
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
I'm really suprised you rate it as high as the Zeiss on the m9!
btw what case is that on the G3 in the photo above? it makes the combo look very sexy indeed ;-)
If you look at the large comparison file you can see how it compares. As I said the m4/3 lens does have greater DOF which makes a difference, but when you consider that the Leica M9 has no AA filter, its a very impressive result from the 25mm.

The case is a heavily modified Leica M8/9 case. I've cut bits off it and drilled a hole in the bottom so I can fit it into the tripod fitting. It fits my E-P3 too.
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
Any sense of the PL25 vs the 20/1.7?
I believe that it is sharper, and has less distortion, though there is still some present. I wondered about whether it would be as good as the 20mm wide open and again I believe it is actually sharper. It is of course somewhat larger and heavier.

I've always liked the 20mm and I've only just got rid of mine, but the 25mm is something special with regards to sharpness. I'd rate the best m4/3 lenses in the following order now.

1- 25mm f/1.4
2- 12mm f/2
3- 20mm f/1.7
4- 45mm f/2.8

All I think give excellent performance, but the first two, are to my mind, top rate lenses that stand comparison with any other brand. Hopefully the 45mm f/1.8 from Olympus will complete a trio of top of the range primes.
 

vincechu

Veteran
Sep 14, 2010
68
Thanks for the half-case info, i might try and source a ready made one from italy,japan or korea though - i'm not as creative in modifying things ;-).

I'd rate the best m4/3 lenses in the following order now.

1- 25mm f/1.4
2- 12mm f/2
3- 20mm f/1.7
4- 45mm f/2.8

All I think give excellent performance, but the first two, are to my mind, top rate lenses that stand comparison with any other brand. Hopefully the 45mm f/1.8 from Olympus will complete a trio of top of the range primes.
I have to agree with you, the m4/3 primes are brilliant - I think sony could certainly learn a few things from Oly and Panny. It seems samsung isn't too far off, they have a macro and a 16mm f/2.4 out and I think a portrait lens as well as a rumored NX200. I think the competition from sony and samsung have certainly made Panny and Oly up their game with premium lenses. Hopefully more premium bodies and better sensors will follow soon.
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
I think sony could certainly learn a few things from Oly and Panny.
Hopefully more premium bodies and better sensors will follow soon. .
Too true! I have a NEX-C3 currently and the difference between the Sony lenses (18-55mm and 16mm) and the M-mount and Nikon lenses I use on it is obvious.

Unless you are wanting to use high ISO's, the G3 + the primes we're discussing are, as far as I'm concerned, producing sharper results for me than anything I can out of my NEX. Even at high ISO's, once you use some NR software and "soften" the results so that they look more like the Sony files, there's less difference that I can make out than is often stated.

How m4/3 copes with the 24MP APS-C sensor, remains to be seen. I've looked at some raw A77 samples and they are very good up to ISO 6400. Though it has to be said they are somewhat less sharp than what I'm used to with m4/3. Whether Panasonic can push the m4/3 sensor beyond what it is at the moment remains to be seen, but then many said the new Sony 24MP was either not possible or a step too far, and it seems its neither.

However, the point you make about lenses is a good one. Of all the CSC's at the moment, I believe that m4/3 has the best lenses and I'm happy to use a better lens with a smaller MP count at the moment. I did interpolate a G3 file with the 25mm up to the size of one of the Sony A77 files I was looking at and they looked remarkably similar to me in terms of sharpness etc.

So "Its not what you do, its the way that you do it" still seems to hold true.
 

Pelao

All-Pro
Jul 11, 2010
123
Ontario, Canada
Too true! I have a NEX-C3 currently and the difference between the Sony lenses (18-55mm and 16mm) and the M-mount and Nikon lenses I use on it is obvious.

Unless you are wanting to use high ISO's, the G3 + the primes we're discussing are, as far as I'm concerned, producing sharper results for me than anything I can out of my NEX. Even at high ISO's, once you use some NR software and "soften" the results so that they look more like the Sony files, there's less difference that I can make out than is often stated.

How m4/3 copes with the 24MP APS-C sensor, remains to be seen. I've looked at some raw A77 samples and they are very good up to ISO 6400. Though it has to be said they are somewhat less sharp than what I'm used to with m4/3. Whether Panasonic can push the m4/3 sensor beyond what it is at the moment remains to be seen, but then many said the new Sony 24MP was either not possible or a step too far, and it seems its neither.

However, the point you make about lenses is a good one. Of all the CSC's at the moment, I believe that m4/3 has the best lenses and I'm happy to use a better lens with a smaller MP count at the moment. I did interpolate a G3 file with the 25mm up to the size of one of the Sony A77 files I was looking at and they looked remarkably similar to me in terms of sharpness etc.

So "Its not what you do, its the way that you do it" still seems to hold true.
Very interesting thoughts.

Performance at very high ISO is not important to my photography. I need M4/3 to be as good at lower ISOs - say up to 800, maybe 1600. The G3 and GH2 sensors are very good at these levels. An improvement at lower ISOs would be appreciated.

Most of all, I really like the M4/3 prime choices. I know the 20 is highly regarded, and lately I have been pushing it hard, trying new things. It really is a marvelous lens for it's size and price.

I have to admit, the 25 is looking very special indeed. With the fast focusing G3 it looks like a very versatile package.
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
I have to admit, the 25 is looking very special indeed. With the fast focusing G3 it looks like a very versatile package.
I must admit I'm surprised at how good the G3 and the 25mm is. I've been a great fan of m4/3 since its introduction, but I really didn't think it would (could) get to this level. I did some testing yesterday as the weather was dull, and I tried all my m-mount and Nikon prime lenses on the G3 and I just couldn't better the results from the 25mm.

I know that cameras like the G3 and E-P3 have weaker AA filters than the NEX system cameras and that the really spectacular results I'm getting are at low ISO's mainly, but when you take into account that its such a fast lens and that being a 25mm it will have more DOF, there's an advantage here.

The fastest current NEX e-mount lens is F/2.8 and thats a wide-angle. At a "standard lens" focal length there's probably a 2-3 stop advantage over anything that Sony can offer, with fast AF. (Though you can of course use A-Mount lenses via an adapter) So, in many cases, when you have to use ISO 3200 on a NEX you can use ISO 800 or even ISO 400 on a m4/3 camera, with the 25mm. That not only levels the playing field, it tips the balance towards the m4/3 cameras.

Even with the 12mm f/2 you have a one-stop advantage plus when you add in the in-body IS on Olympus cameras (assuming you don't need a fast shutter speed) you have another one or two stops to play with. Also, I put forward the idea in my previous post that m4/3 images tend to be sharper (because of the weaker AA filter) so when you apply some NR to a m4/3 shot, the difference in the noise levels becomes less obvious.

So as far as I'm concerned the high ISO "advantages" of the NEX system are somewhat undermined. I did some of the test shots for my review in the darkest church I know, and I was surprised at the ISO speeds I was using with the 25mm f/1.4. I.E. they were much lower than I would have expected. Consequently I wasn't getting particularly noisy images.

Plus when I was shooting weddings, I would have "fast" Nikon and Canon lenses. f/1.8 and even f/1.2. However I would often be reluctant to use those lenses wide open because the quality took a drop. So often I ended up using them at f/2 or f/2.8. The 25mm PanLeica lens is so good at its maximum aperture (as indeed is the 20mm f/1.7) that I would have no qualms about using it permanently set to f/1.4. And at the same time probably getting the same DOF as I'm getting with the APS-C lenses at f/2.8. Once you move up to full-frame, you have the disadvantage (and I do see it as a disadvantage) of having very limited depth of field. Its difficult enough to get something in focus with a fast lens wide open when you have time, its close to impossible when things (and people) are moving quickly.

These, to me, are the great advantages of "fast" lenses on m4/3 cameras, and only when we get "like for like" and Sony come out with some fast NEX lenses (such as the Zeiss 24mm) will we see if the NEX system moves ahead. But then how big and how heavy will these lenses have to be to cover the APS-C sensor?

I believe that there is a lot of mileage left in m4/3 yet, and a lot more possibilities. The reported 12-35mm and 35-100mm "pro-spec" zooms show just what is possible. Lets assume they are both f/2.8 throughout. The 12-35mm is only slightly bigger than the 14-45mm kit lens (the old one) apparently. Now imagine what that would be like on an APS-C sensor camera. Anyone who has used the zooms on the Samsung NX system will know what I mean.

Also I know Pentax have some small light prime APS-C lenses, but none of them are particularly fast. The fast (35mm) limited lenses are bigger and heavier.

If we want a small, light and high performance system, m4/3 may well continue to be a real alternative to APS-C. Having said that, I have a NEX-7 on order, but then I am planning to use my M-Mount lenses on it!!
 

Pelao

All-Pro
Jul 11, 2010
123
Ontario, Canada
If we want a small, light and high performance system, m4/3 may well continue to be a real alternative to APS-C. Having said that, I have a NEX-7 on order, but then I am planning to use my M-Mount lenses on it!!
Thanks for your thoughtful summary. I agree with your points. I also find the Nex & intriguing because of it's features - and if I had a bunch of M lenses I might consider it.

Currently I am just waiting the see what the rumoured new GF is like before considering an upgrade to my GF1. When shooting RAW, with reasonable or better technique, my GF1 produces files that have superb detail, so I am in no rush.
 

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
This lens is enticing - if I had my PEN or any other Mu43 camera, it would have to be mine!

But Armando, you are too much "So many quality lenses coming out now ... exciting times for credit card companies!"!:rofl:
 

flash

Veteran
May 6, 2011
103
Plus when I was shooting weddings, I would have "fast" Nikon and Canon lenses. f/1.8 and even f/1.2. However I would often be reluctant to use those lenses wide open because the quality took a drop. So often I ended up using them at f/2 or f/2.8. The 25mm PanLeica lens is so good at its maximum aperture (as indeed is the 20mm f/1.7) that I would have no qualms about using it permanently set to f/1.4. And at the same time probably getting the same DOF as I'm getting with the APS-C lenses at f/2.8. Once you move up to full-frame, you have the disadvantage (and I do see it as a disadvantage) of having very limited depth of field. Its difficult enough to get something in focus with a fast lens wide open when you have time, its close to impossible when things (and people) are moving quickly.
Actually I think you'll find it's about 1 stop more DOF to APSC (0.7x for Canon) and 2 stops for FF. So your 25mm 1.4 is giving the same DOF as an f2 lens on APSC and f2.8 on full frame. With the advantages of the higher shutter speeds/lower ISO thrown in.

Gordon
 

Armanius

Bring Jack back!
Jan 11, 2011
123
Houston, Texas
David-

I know you typically don't put any "people" or "portrait" photos in your blog, but do you have any that you can share using the m4/3 PL 25/1.4? Thanks!
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
Actually I think you'll find it's about 1 stop more DOF to APSC (0.7x for Canon) and 2 stops for FF. So your 25mm 1.4 is giving the same DOF as an f2 lens on APSC and f2.8 on full frame. With the advantages of the higher shutter speeds/lower ISO thrown in.
Gordon
You may well be right.

I've never actually done the measurements and since DOF is to a certain extent a "perception" its always "felt" like between 1 & 2 stops to me on APS-C and 2-3 stops on FF, depending on where you focus and the aperture selected of course.

David-
I know you typically don't put any "people" or "portrait" photos in your blog, but do you have any that you can share using the m4/3 PL 25/1.4? Thanks!
Unfortunately not, but there are some available in other artices on the lens. Though the top links portraits are of a statue!!
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and Leica DG SUMMILUX 25 mm f/1.4 - sample images - Lenstip.com

Panasonic 25mm Lens Photos | PhotographyBLOG
 

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