Micro 4/3 The Pergear 25mm f/1.8 - cheap fun


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Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Real Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
A week or so ago, I bought a lightly-used Olympus E-P3 on a whim - I'd always wanted one - and the gentleman who sold it to me included a very inexpensive lens which he said he had no need for, but claimed was rather decent. The lens is made by Pergear - a Chinese company I know nothing about - and in terms of both looks and construction, it seems very close to two other bargain-basement manual-focus only 25mm Chinese lenses, the 7Artisans and the Meike - both of which have 7 elements in 5 groups, whereas the Pergear has, apparently, 5 elements in 3 groups. The part I liked was that it has a relatively fast aperture - f/1.8 - and for a long time I've been thinking about buying one of the many excellent Panasonic or Olympus 25mm lenses - or even possibly one of the f/0.95 club, the Mitakon or the Voigtlander. But somehow I never got around to really committing - and now, lo and behold, I find myself the owner of what at least seems to be a nominally fast lens.

Since it's manual focus only (with no electronic contacts, either) - in a way, trying to use this lens, for me, is like a blast from the past: I spent literally decades manualy focusing a series of Takumar lenses for various Pentaxes, so I'm not exactly a stranger to the process. But not having done it, for years, and then trying to, on the fly, is....well, it's weird. The other complication is that most of my old analog Pentax SLR's had excellent OVF's so focusing was always done with my eye literally pressed to the viewfinder; but trying to do fine focusing on the E-P3's relatively smallish screen is....well, let's just say it's interesting. Olympus has an excellent focus-magnification tool - with even a dedicated button to enlarge the selected focus area for fine tuning - but for me, the whole process is still a little on the....strange side. The short version is: it helps to not be in a hurry.

Having said all that, I'm fascinated by the lens: though not a pancake, it's smallish, made of metal, and feels surprisingly well built for a lens whose list price is (don't laugh) $69 USD. (I'm pretty certain the 7Artisans and the Meike are right in the same low ball park, too by the way.) There's even a nice depth-of-field scale on the lens, which you can see in this photo--


- although the aperture ring itself is 'clickless', something apparently preferred by videographers, but not having the 'clicks' is a minus in my book. As I said, it's not as tiny as some of the great mu4/3 pancakes (notably the 20mm or the 14mm), but the lens is compact enough in both size and dimensions, and it 'feels' well proportioned to a small body like the E-P3.


My 'testing' per se is the opposite of scientific or rigorous: I was and am curious how the lens will perform at different apertures. So, I took a series of photographs of my 'test subject' - which happens to be my old and very small analog camera, my Rollei 35. The photogaphs were taken on my front porch in the late afternoon, with both extreme light and some deep shadows. Like many Olympuses, the E-P3 has a number of built-in 'Art Filters', and the one I've been using lately is what Oly calls 'Grainy Film' - it's an extremely high-contrast black & white image with a noticeable grain effect. My test was as follows: with my E-P3 in the same position, I took 3 successive photos at different apertures - f/2.8 - f/4 - and f/5.6. Since I was shooting in RAW + jpeg, that gives me a total of 6 images --- 3 in the B&W Grainy Film SOOC jpeg\s - and 3 others with the RAW negative very lightly processed in Color Efex, merely adjusting the contrast on each of them.

Here are the results.
First, Grainy Film at f/2.8 --


Then the Color version of the same f/2.8 photo (with the contrast lightly tweaked) --


Next, Grainy Film at f/4 ---


And the Colour version of the same f/4 photograph ---


Finally, Grainy Film at f/5.6 ---


And the Color version of the same f/5.6 capture ---


As most of us know from experience, inexpensive lenses (and some pricey ones too, on occasion) tend to be sharper in the center and fall off near the edges. Some lenses suffer from flare, some from fringing. But, honestly, I'm still pretty clueless about how this lens will hold up - or perform - in different lighting conditions, and at different apertures. I'm curious about its wide-open (f/1.8) performance - and also how it will do at f/8 - and I'm sorry but I just haven't had the time to play around enough....to see.

But I've got to say, for a free (for me at least) and almost dirt-cheap inexpensive (for anyone else who might buy it) little manual-focus only lens....these pictures don't look half bad.
Here's another, closer look at the lens---


Or, the short version: so far...so good.

When I get more photos - with a wider range of f-stops and lighting and all the rest of it - I'll do my best to post a few more.
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Zemun, Serbia
Yup, that Pergear has a solid reputation among small and cheap (Chinese) manual lenses; I'm into them and have researched a fair bit and downloaded numerous examples.

Here's an interesting video-review, if you haven't seen it already:

I also recommend Alik Griffin's site for reviews of many of those lenses (as well as other more expensive ones):

I would love to see more of your photos with that little Pergear.

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