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

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3

The first thing to say here, is that optically this is a superb lens. I have no hesitation in saying this is the best lens I've used on a m4/3 camera. That includes all Panasonic and Olympus lenses, adapted lenses and yes, Leica M lenses. A bold statement? Well yes, but in this 3-part review I will demonstrate why I think that.

f/1.4

With lenses of this speed the first thing we all want to know is how good is it wide open? This is what justifies its price after all.

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3 @ f/1.4

The answer is that its very good indeed. I've always thought that the 20mm f/1.7 was a great performer wide open, and when I used it indoors I just used to set it at its maximum aperture, confident in the knowledge that it would produce sharp results. The 25mm is the same.

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-PL1
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-PL1

There is some distortion as can be seen above.

Bokeh

Really very nice indeed.

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-PL1
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-PL1

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3

Sharpness
Really very impressive. Its sharp at f/1.4 and it just gets better the more you stop it down. I'll be providing some test shots on this in the next part, but in the meantime here are some images with enlarged sections.

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3
 Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3
 Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3
 Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3

In the field

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3

 Handling

There is the problem of the "rattlesnake" effect on Olympus cameras. This is the noise of the aperture blades opening and closing in bright light when live view or the EVF are on. If you are wondering whether this may affect you - I started a thread on it at Dpreview - I have no idea of how widespread it is but my experiences aren't isolated.

Apart from that I like the handling and feel of the lens. The lens hood is quite big, but then I like that too. Its relatively light, which I like, but its not a pancake. It is however vastly lighter and smaller than the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 four thirds lens.

Personally I'm much more concerned about weight rather than size, but others may may think the size is important.

Is it worth the money?

I guess that all depends on how much use you have for a fast standard prime. In my opinion it IS better than the 20mm f/1.7 and its attraction for me is not just the speed and large aperture. It is a stunningly sharp lens. I was looking at images I shot with it on the G3 yesterday and I gasped several times. I opened up files, using the same raw settings I had used for the 25mm, from my NEX-C3 and my Nikons and it was sharper than anything I've been using on both of those. The results were VERY close to what I get with my Leica M9 and Zeiss 50mm.

Samples

Here are three jpg. samples straight out of three different cameras. As usual click through to flickr Actions > View all sizes to see the full size high resolution images.

P8231121
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-PL1

_8231095
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-P3

P1010035
Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Lumix G3

I've also made three raw samples available. (Please note these are © images and may only be used for your own evaluation. They MUST not be shared or used in any other way whatsoever) These are .dng files.


Click on the links here. 


These should work with all recent versions of Photoshop or Lightroom. I cannot say whether they will open in other software.

Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 Micro Four Thirds lens review