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View Full Version : First impressions of the 25mm f1.8


pdk42
2nd March 2014, 08:00 PM
I've been looking for a 50mm equiv for a while now. Before I bought in to u43, the Canon 50/1.4 was probably the most used lens on my 5dii; the field of view, compact size and bright glass made it a good everyday choice. So, why didn't I buy the Panasonic 25/1.4? Well, I got into u43 (with an E-PL5) as a small, go-anywhere camera for travel or when dragging a Lowepro Slingshot with several kilos of gear just didn't appeal. The 25/1.4 was just too big for that task, so I picked up a 17/1.8 as a compromise wide-angle/normal lens.

I quickly realised of course that the best camera to have is the one you've got with you and that the IQ of the 16Mp u43 sensor was actually within a gnat's privates of the the Canon's - or at least for what I used it for. Two months later, the Canon gear was gone and I was hooked on u43!

Fast forward a year and the allure of the 50mm FOV was still there. I'd looked at a couple of used 25/1.4s but somehow never consummated the deal - don't know why, but I think the size of the thing was a factor. So, when the Oly came along, I decided to just do it; and I'm not disappointed.

The build is very much like the 45 - in fact, they are very similar in size and appearance. It's a plastic barrel of course, but that's OK with me. I've not had any issues with plastic barrelled lenses before - even some much bigger than the 25/1.8. I bought a black-finished version and the overall aesthetic is very nice. The only concern I have is that the ribbing on the focus ring looks like it will probably be susceptible to scuffing by a hard object. The mount is metal.

Optically it's also pretty much a mirror of the 45 as well. I did the obligatory sharpness tests (in my case by photographing some bookshelves!) and found it to be extremely sharp wide open in the centre and even well into the corners. I'd have no hesitation using it wide open. By f4, sharpness is excellent all over the frame. I haven't done any sharpness tests at infinity focus (e.g. for landscape use), but I'd be surprised if it's an issue. Contrast and colours are excellent too. I really have no complaints about IQ at all.

AF is fast and silent. Superb.

So, overall, am I a happy customer? Well, yes and no. The lens has delivered exactly what I wanted in terms of size, build, IQ and performance in general. So, where's my reservation? Simple - the price! This is a standard 50mm equiv f1.8 lens - the sort that shipped with OMs of old. It shouldn't cost £369! To underline this point, a friend recently bought a Nikon 35/1.8 for his D3200 and it's a very similar lens. Similar FOV, similar construction, similar IQ, similar performance - but it cost him just £130. Even at £200, Oly would sell a ton of these, but at £369, it's just madness.

Anyhow, here are some images of it and from it:


http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7295/12874206194_d14f6ba070_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_kaye/12874206194/)
Girl on a train (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_kaye/12874206194/) by Paul Kaye (http://www.flickr.com/people/paul_kaye/), on Flickr

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3702/12875788413_0cdcbe8f79_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_kaye/12875788413/)
Chinese Writing (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_kaye/12875788413/) by Paul Kaye (http://www.flickr.com/people/paul_kaye/), on Flickr

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2859/12887020773_65b441fba6_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_kaye/12887020773/)
Olympus E-M5 + 25mm f1.8 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_kaye/12887020773/) by Paul Kaye (http://www.flickr.com/people/paul_kaye/), on Flickr

StephenL
2nd March 2014, 08:05 PM
Thanks for that raisin d'etre, and great pics to boot!

benvendetta
2nd March 2014, 08:15 PM
Thanks for that 'review'. I am very tempted to get one at the NEC tomorrow (£250, although expensive for what it is, is a great deal less then £369), or maybe the 45mm although I tend to think the 25mm will get more use. The 45mm is a great portrait FL but I have my ZD 50mm f2 for that and it too is very sharp so I won't be parting with that anytime soon.

pdk42
2nd March 2014, 08:44 PM
I went to the NEC yesterday. It's definitely worth the visit (but for me it was a 15min train ride!). Both the 25 and 45 are great, but holding the two of them side by side and comparing the IQ between them, I can't see any justification for the difference in price.

As to which to buy - I agree that the 25 is a more versatile focal length. The 50/2 is a superb lens isn't it though? - except for size, that plus an adapter on the E-M1 should have you covered in that range.

StephenL
2nd March 2014, 08:52 PM
I can't just remember - does the 25mm have that sliding collar to convert to manual focus?

pdk42
2nd March 2014, 08:58 PM
No Stephen - it doesn't. AFAIK, only the 12, 17 and 12-40 have that feature.

benvendetta
2nd March 2014, 08:59 PM
I think that I am right in saying that the 25mm has an included lens hood. Can someone confirm this.

pdk42
2nd March 2014, 09:13 PM
Yes - lens hood included.

Oh - a small point, but some may think it's significant. Unlike most of the smaller Oly u43 lenses, this one's made in Japan - not China. This isn't a factor for me (in fact, my 45 is made in China), but thought I'd mention it.

PS - maybe this is why it's 1.5x the price of 45 !

benvendetta
2nd March 2014, 10:20 PM
Yes - lens hood included.

Oh - a small point, but some may think it's significant. Unlike most of the smaller Oly u43 lenses, this one's made in Japan - not China. This isn't a factor for me (in fact, my 45 is made in China), but thought I'd mention it.

PS - maybe this is why it's 1.5x the price of 45 !

Maybe. Although there is unlikely to be any difference, I think many people would rather see Made in Japan on a lens rather than Made in China, like the old days.
I suppose not having a buy a hood makes the price a little more bareable. I wouldn't pay 369 for it but 250 is quite a percentage off.

pvasc
2nd March 2014, 10:32 PM
I think the hood fits the 45 too.

pdk42
2nd March 2014, 10:42 PM
No, it doesn't - the 25 hood has a larger diameter than the 45.

pvasc
2nd March 2014, 10:46 PM
Thanks now I don't have to dig my 45 out to try. You're right the 25 is bigger than the 45, I forgot. Perhaps I need to get the 45 out for a bit.

Did you find the 25mm tight to go on?

pdk42
2nd March 2014, 10:50 PM
Yes, it is tight - but not anywhere near as tight as the bayonet covering ring is to remove in the first place. TBH, I thought at first that I had it wrong since I was concerned the amount of force was excessive.

pvasc
2nd March 2014, 11:00 PM
I can't get the bayonet ring off either, is seems like it will break.

bilbo
3rd March 2014, 09:09 AM
Looks like a winner Paul. Thanks for the review. :)

inkyblue
3rd March 2014, 12:21 PM
Great pics there Paul, but I wish you hadn't posted them. I now want want one!! *yes
Did you get rid of the 20mm?? I know you said that the AF speed wasn't what you'd hoped for with that. Nice shot of the Chinese writing, was this shot wide open?

OM USer
3rd March 2014, 12:42 PM
#1 is a great shot, just what the lens was made for. But as you say, a bit pricey in comparison to the 45mm.

Ian
3rd March 2014, 02:44 PM
I believe the 25mm f/1.8 is being sold for £250 here at the Photography Show this week.

Ian

pdk42
3rd March 2014, 06:39 PM
I believe the 25mm f/1.8 is being sold for £250 here at the Photography Show this week.

Ian

At that price I think it's excellent value.

StephenL
3rd March 2014, 06:43 PM
I believe the 25mm f/1.8 is being sold for £250 here at the Photography Show this week.

Ian

Hope they've none left tomorrow. :o

Greytop
3rd March 2014, 07:12 PM
Looking very good, thanks for taking the time to put that together Paul.

Zuiko
3rd March 2014, 07:38 PM
Yes - lens hood included.

Oh - a small point, but some may think it's significant. Unlike most of the smaller Oly u43 lenses, this one's made in Japan - not China. This isn't a factor for me (in fact, my 45 is made in China), but thought I'd mention it.

PS - maybe this is why it's 1.5x the price of 45 !

Nah, the high price is all down to the lens hood - they are making sure you buy one of these ridiculously prices accessories instead of getting a much cheaper 3rd party alternative! :D

On the plus side your initial report is very encouraging and if your two pictures are anything to go by it's an absolute bargain - although of course you must take a little of the credit. :D

brianvickers
3rd March 2014, 08:24 PM
Bought one today ...that ring is tight but came off at the second go. I will try some comparison shots against my Pana 25 before I put it on eBay tomorrow. Thanks for the review above.

benvendetta
3rd March 2014, 09:16 PM
Hope they've none left tomorrow. :o

They certainly had some left on both the Cameraworld and LCE stands as I left. I am sure that it will be a good lens and is not something I have had (in focal length and speed terms) since my OM film days. If you see it Stephen, you will get it! I will have to look for subjects to which it is suited.

brianvickers
3rd March 2014, 09:51 PM
I've just done a simple comparison test and the Panasonic appears to be a bit sharper in the centre until you stop down to f2.8 when they look pretty similar - at the edge the Panasonic is better until f5.6……….this is the set up
http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/25_test_3.jpg (http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=70521)

In this test i've used a tripod, set aperture priority, ISO100 and used the label inside the guitar sound hole as the centre and the Taylor label at the top of the guitar at edge…as I say a simple test.

Just my initial observations…I don't think this will matter in practical situations…I'm pixel peeping here (100% on the screen)…there is really not much difference from f2.8 onwards….at 50% on the screen (so the image is poster size - 16" wide as measured on my iMac 27" screen) you can't see much difference if any at all at f1.8. Contrast and colour look similar.
In conclusion - the Panasonic will be on ebay tomorrow!

brianvickers
4th March 2014, 11:34 AM
No sharpening applied...
Panasonic at f1.8
http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/pan.jpg (http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=70532)
Olympus at f1.8
http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/oly2.jpg (http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=70531)
theres nothing in it!

Simon Bee
4th March 2014, 01:04 PM
No sharpening applied...
Panasonic at f1.8
http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/pan.jpg (http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=70532)
Olympus at f1.8
http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/oly2.jpg (http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=70531)
theres nothing in it!


They're "close" indeed, but to 'my eye' the image taken with the Pana/Leica is a tad sharper.

If one owns neither but wants a 25mm the Olympus is admittedly both smaller and cheaper however if one already owns the Pana/Leica I see little benefit in changing it for the Olympus unless the physical size is the reason. Why lose money an an already extremely good lens when it's replacement appears to be "just as good but no better".

As much as I like my Olympus lenses I see no point in 'switching' in this case, but that's just me.

Kind regards

Simon

Zuiko
4th March 2014, 01:11 PM
They're "close" indeed, but to 'my eye' the image taken with the Pana/Leica is a tad sharper.

If one owns neither but wants a 25mm the Olympus is admittedly both smaller and cheaper however if one already owns the Pana/Leica I see little benefit in changing it for the Olympus unless the physical size is the reason. Why lose money an an already extremely good lens when it's replacement appears to be "just as good but no better".

As much as I like my Olympus lenses I see no point in 'switching' in this case, but that's just me.

Kind regards

Simon

I very much agree with this, the only other issue may be focus speed but I doubt it. I'd be chuffed to have either.

brianvickers
4th March 2014, 01:23 PM
I prefer the Olympus on the E-M5 and E-PL5…looks better and feels better…..its a good job because I've just sold my panasonic on ebay for £280!