Olympus 25mm f/1.2 PRO bokeh compared with Fuji 35mm f/1.4 XF R

Amin Sabet

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I took the Olympus Pen F and 25mm f/1.2 PRO out with the Fuji X-Pro 2 and 35mm f/1.4 XF R today to see how they compared in terms of rendering.

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The Fuji 35/1.4 is regarded by most as having fairly smooth bokeh. For example, in direct comparison I found it to have much smoother bokeh than the Zeiss 32. Note that I am not saying "better" bokeh, as this is purely subjective. But smoother, no doubt.

Smooth bokeh is one of the most notable characteristics of the new Oly 25/1.2, so I was curious to see how they'd compare.

Here's the first shot I took with the Oly 25 @f/1.2, followed by the Fuji 35 @ f/1.4:

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As you can see, the Fuji has a tighter angle of view and more shallow depth of field (DOF). The more shallow DOF is both a consequence of the larger format as well as the fact that it is somewhat longer (either the Fuji is longer than 50mm equivalent or the Oly is wider than 50mm equiv). But the rendering of the Olympus lens is notably smoother.

Next I stopped down the Fuji to f/1.8 to more closely match DOF with the Olympus. Here is the Olympus at f/1.2:

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Fuji at f/1.8 from the same position / distance:

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As a general rule, stopping down improves bokeh smoothness, but even at f/1.8, the Fuji bokeh is not nearly as smooth as the Olympus bokeh wide open at f/1.2.
 
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Amin Sabet

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Next I tried to match framing a bit better to account for the Fuji being longer. In other words, I moved the tripod back a bit for the Fuji images.

Here's the Olympus at f/1.2, f/1.4, f/2, and f/2.8:

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Followed by the Fuji at f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2, f/2.8, and f/4:

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Amin Sabet

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This comparison confirmed what I already knew to be the case. The Olympus 25/1.2 PRO has exceptionally smooth bokeh for a normal lens.

Again, tastes vary. Sometimes I like a little "harshness" to keep things interesting. For my tastes, the touch of swirl which the Olympus imparts adds some nice character, and I very much enjoy the way the Olympus renders overall.
 
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ijm5012

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Good stuff Amin. I agree that the Olympus appears to have smoother bokeh. Of course, the Fuji lens costs half that of the Olympus, and is a whopping 7+ years old. If Fuji were to remake it today, I'm sure there are a number of "improvements" that would be made to it.

Having said that though, they're both exceptional lenses. I was surprised to see that the Olympus has smoother bokeh than the PL25, a lens I owned and used fairly often. I was always pleased with how that lens rendered, and the Olympus definitely takes that up a notch.

Thanks for your effort in doing this, as I'm sure the comparison will inevitably come up if it hasn't already, so this is a good place to point people to. Plus, it gave you an "excuse" to get out of the house and go shoot some.
 

Amin Sabet

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Fwiw, I love both lenses, and they have a lot of other nice things about them and ways in which they differ besides bokeh. The much newer Fuji 35/2 WR renders quite a bit like the older Fuji 35/1.4 I used here (link), so I don't think there is much reason to think that different bokeh is one of the improvements Fuji would necessarily aim to achieve in a re-design of the Fuji 35/1.4.
 
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wimg

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Hi Amin,

Thank you for the comparison!

I'd suggest you also look at the rendering of OOF areas in front of the in focus field with the Oly 25 F/1.2. You'll find it is equally smooth, and that is truly exceptional. From a lens design perspective, you normally can only have either smooth rendering for the background OOf areas, and not for the foreground, or vice versa. In order to get both, is an optical tour de force, a masterpiece, and I think it is one of the reasons why this lens has such a large number of elements.

There are really only very few lenses out there which are capable of this feat.

kind regards, Wim
 
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pdk42

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Thanks Amin. Bokeh is, as you say, highly subjective - but I do agree that the Oly does have a nicer look to it. That's quite a compliment really since the Fuji 35/1.4 is a really great short portrait lens.
 

Amin Sabet

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No normal lens I have ever owned* has had bokeh this smooth.

*Partial list: Pana Leica 25/1.4, Pana 25/1.7, Leica M Summilux ASPH 50/1.4, Zeiss ZM Planar 50/2, Konica M-Hexanon 50/2, Minolta 58/1.2, Pentax 50/1.2K, Pentax DA 35/2.4, Samsung 30/2, Zeiss ZF Makro 50/2, Olympus OM 50/1.2, Olympus OM 55/1.2, Nikon 50/1.2 AIS, Nikon 35/1.8 (DX), Canon 50/0.95 LTM, Canon 50/1.2 LTM, Nikon 50/1.8G, Nikon 50/1.4G, Canon EF 50/1.8 II, Canon EF 50/1.4, Canon EF 50/1.2L, Sigma ART 50/1.4, Sigma 30/1.4, Sony Zeiss FE 55/1.8, Olympus OM 40/2, Voigtlander 50/1.5 (M), Voigtlander 50/1.5 (LTM), Mitakon 50/0.95, Mitakon 25/0.95, Voigtlander 25/0.95, Olympus 25/2.8 (4/3), Pana 20/1.7, Fuji 35/1.4...
 
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bigboysdad

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No normal lens I have ever owned* has had bokeh this smooth.

*Partial list: Pana Leica 25/1.4, Pana 25/1.7, Leica M Summilux ASPH 50/1.4, Zeiss ZM Planar 50/2, Konica M-Hexanon 50/2, Minolta 58/1.2, Pentax 50/1.2K, Pentax DA 35/2.4, Samsung 30/2, Zeiss ZF Makro 50/2, Olympus OM 50/1.2, Olympus OM 55/1.2, Nikon 50/1.2 AIS, Canon 50/0.95 LTM, Canon 50/1.2 LTM, Nikon 50/1.8G, Nikon 50/1.4G, Canon EF 50/1.8 II, Canon EF 50/1.4, Canon EF 50/1.2L, Sigma ART 50/1.4, Sigma 30/1.4, Sony Zeiss FE 55/1.8, Olympus OM 40/2, Voigtlander 50/1.5 II, Olympus 25/2.8, Pana 20/1.7, Fuji 35/1.4...
I fear you might have to keep going with that partial list Amin.
 

bigboysdad

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I'll update it as I think of more, but I doubt I'll remember them all!
Well don't forget the Nikkor 105mm F2 D (Defocus), Zeiss Planar 85mm F1.4, hell, even the Noctlilux 50mm F0.95 (I once got toasted years ago on this forum by a Leica owner for enquiring as to that last lens v the Oly 75, lol).
Regards,
 

Amin Sabet

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Well don't forget the Nikkor 105mm F2 D (Defocus), Zeiss Planar 85mm F1.4, hell, even the Noctlilux 50mm F0.95 (I once got toasted years ago on this forum by a Leica owner for enquiring as to that last lens v the Oly 75, lol).
Regards,
I was only talking about normal lenses (~40-50mm-ish equivalent). And I only listed the ones I've owned. I have used my brother's Noctilux 50/0.95 ASPH, however, and that lens doesn't come close to the smoothness of the Olympus 25 PRO bokeh. In fact, its bokeh is less smooth than the Mitakon 50/0.95.
 
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tomO2013

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I really really wish I had never seen this thread.

This put me over the edge and I'm now the owner of an Oly 25 1.2.

If you want to have a lot of pop in your images but with some context to the background, I tend to agree that I cannot think of any lens available on any other platform that will allow you to get the same buttery smooth background blur with the same level of DOF context. Sure you could stop down a noctilux or FE 50 1.4 to F2/f2.8 to get similar DOF context to the Oly 25 1.2 lens, but looking at some of my past images taken with such lenses they simply cannot achieve that buttery level of smoothness at F2.8. I very much agree with Amin here, this lens has some of the smoothest looking bokeh I've seen outside of specific APD glass.
I'm interested in comparing the Oly 45 1.2 and Fuji 56 APD 1.2 (I have the fuji).
This is quite the achievement by Olympus and I tend to agree with another poster, an education in good lens design.
 
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