The OLYMPUS m.ZUIKO 25mm f/1.8 LENS - FIELD TEST

Olympus OM-S E-M10 m.ZUIKO 25mm f/1.8

Olympus OM-S E-M10 m.ZUIKO 25mm f/1.8

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Image © David-Taylor-Hughes / Soundimageplus     FULL-SIZE SAMPLE 1 - CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD FULL SIZE SAMPLE FROM GOOGLE DRIVE    Image was processed from raw in Photoshop CS6. There is slight sharpening added using Smart Sharpen in Photoshop.     

Image © David-Taylor-Hughes / Soundimageplus

FULL-SIZE SAMPLE 1 - CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD FULL SIZE SAMPLE FROM GOOGLE DRIVE

Image was processed from raw in Photoshop CS6. There is slight sharpening added using Smart Sharpen in Photoshop. 

 

Image © David-Taylor-Hughes / Soundimageplus    FULL-SIZE SAMPLE 2 - CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD FULL SIZE SAMPLE FROM GOOGLE DRIVE     Image was processed from raw in Photoshop CS6. There is slight sharpening added using Smart Sharpen in Photoshop. 

Image © David-Taylor-Hughes / Soundimageplus

FULL-SIZE SAMPLE 2 - CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD FULL SIZE SAMPLE FROM GOOGLE DRIVE

Image was processed from raw in Photoshop CS6. There is slight sharpening added using Smart Sharpen in Photoshop. 

The m.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8 'standard' lens is the latest addition to the Olympus set of fast primes. This comprises the 12mm f/2, 17mm f/1.8, 25mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8 and 75mm f/1.8. The 25mm filled in the gap in the range. These are all small, nicely designed lenses that will work well on the smaller Pen type cameras as well as the OM-D series, including the 'pro-spec' E-M1. 

Yesterday I was able to take it out for a decent field test at the Botanical gardens in Birmingham. The light was not great, so a lot of the pictures ended up being taken wide open at at quite high ISO's. So a good test to see how it performed under 'difficult' circumstances.

And while it never scaled the heights of the 45 and 75mm lenses, it's certainly a very capable lens. It reminded me very much of the 17mm f/1.8, both in terms of looks, handling and image quality. The files it produces are nice and sharp with excellent colour. As I've indicated it doesn't quite have the 'bite' in terms of perceived sharpness as the 75mm in particular, but then few lenses do. 

The bokeh is nice and not over 'creamy' which I actually prefer. The AF with the OM-D E-M10 is nice and slick and seems to be very accurate. It doesn't focus particularly close, but many fast lenses don't. Yesterdays comparison with my Nikon Df / Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART combination gives some indication of how it compares in terms of depth of field with a 'full-frame' capture and in many cases I personally would find this a more useful option. 

I think f/1.8 is right for a lens like this. It fits very nicely into the primes set that Olympus have put together and going for a wider aperture would have made it bigger. It is of course very reminiscent of those small, optically excellent 50mm f/1.7 and f/1.8 standard primes that film manufacturers used to bundle with their DSLR's, in the days before zooms become the new standard lens. And I always liked those.

Is it as good as the Panasonic / Leica 25mm f/1.4? Well after processing a few of yesterdays shots I opened up a few of the shots I took with that lens when I had one a couple of years ago. My answer, while obviously not comparing like with like, would be no, though it is very close. The Pan Leica has a marginal extra crispness at the point of focus, but that's not to talk down the Olympus. These are small margins here and nothing a smidgeon of sharpening can't sort out.

I'm happy to report that Olympus have decided to include a lens hood with the lens. This has always been one of my frustrations with Olympus, who do charge a premium for these small primes and then have the cheek to make us pay extra for a hood. Panasonic don't and Sigma don't and to make a lens hood an accessory is just profiteering. However, that is not the case here.

Finally, aesthetically, it's a very nice fit with the OM-D E-M10. I've gone for the 'retro-chic' silver as you can see. It looks good on the camera and makes a very nice, small and light combination. If you like small primes for your m4/3 cameras then this is for you if you don't have the budget for the Panasonic / Leica 25mm. I must say I'm very tempted to get both the 12mm f/2 and 17mm f/1.8 again to complete my 'set'. That would make a very 'Leicaesque' outfit and of course make for a range of options without either breaking the bank or breaking my back !!

And again I have to say that this to me is the essence of m4/3. Mathieu at Mirrorlessons has just done a piece entitled Should M4/3s lenses always be small? and with the Panasonic and Olympus 'pro-spec' zooms there is certainly an increase in bulk with those lenses which is moving away from might be thought of as the original appeal of the m4/3 system. But there is now a very real choice. You can go for an E-M1 or GH4 and the larger zooms, or work with a GX7 or the E-M10 for a more rangefinder type handling experience. Which, for me, is a great way to proceed. 

Certainly, an E-M10 / small prime outfit is someway smaller than a Sony or Fuji APS-C sensor outfit and while those larger sensor combinations are still some way short of that DSLR 'bulk' the smaller m4/3 combinations certainly have a bijou elegance that some of the latest, more enthusiast / pro orientated gear doesn't. And the 25mm m.Zuiko f/1.8 fits right in with that aesthetic. Nice lens. 


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