1. Reminder: Please user our affiliate links to get to your favorite stores for holiday shopping!

Olympus 25mm f/1.8 and Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 Sharpness Comparison

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Amin Sabet, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    In this post, I'll be showing 100% crops of converted RAW files from the new Olympus 25mm f/1.8 and the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4.

    Technical notes:
    -All crops shown were converted from RAW in Lightroom 5.3
    -In all crop comparisons presented, the Olympus lens crop is on the left, and the Panasonic Leica lens crop is on the right.

    The first set of images was shot on an E-M1, both lenses at f/4, and the tripod was moved forward for the Olympus lens in order to match the slightly tighter angle of view of the Panasonic lens. As you can see, center crop sharpness is similar for the two lenses:

    12752475694_76ccd3b598_o.


    An interesting finding in the left edge crop from the same image (shown below) is that more distant subjects are sharper in the Panasonic crop (right), while closer subjects are sharper in the Olympus crop (left). This turns out to be a recurring theme:

    12752475404_2f7080646a_o.

    Here are the RAW files from this comparison:
    -P2220004.orf: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2220004.orf
    -P2220008.orf: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2220008.orf


    The second set of images was shot on an GX7, both lenses set to f/2.8, and the tripod was moved forward for the Olympus lens in order to match the slightly tighter angle of view of the Panasonic lens. First we again have the center crops:

    12752165043_1f199a8fc9_o.

    Next the edge (some flare present in the Olympus shot, neither lens using a hood or filter for these):

    12752033655_2734291303_o.

    And a move slightly towards the foreground:

    12752162953_ed875c47c2_o.

    It is obvious, looking at that last set of crops, that the Olympus is pulling out much more detail in the foreground (look at the ice).

    RAW files from this comparison:
    -P1090489.rw2: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P1090489.rw2
    -P1090490.rw2: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P1090490.rw2


    The third set of images was shot on an E-M1, both lenses set to f/1.8. Unlike the other two sets, I did not move the tripod this time, hence the slightly tighter angle of view in the Panasonic lens crops. Again we start with the center crop:

    12752268193_b1dbaf54d7_o.

    Next the edge (Panasonic lens much sharper here):

    12752268663_02e2419c32_o.

    And a move slightly towards the foreground (Olympus lens much sharper here):

    12752269303_6533dc401c_o.

    RAW files from this comparison:
    -P2240012.orf: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240012.orf
    -P2240018.orf: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240018.orf

    With this last test scene, I shot a full aperture series for each lens. You can download the RAW files below:
    -Olympus f/1.8: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240012.orf
    -Olympus f/2: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240013.orf
    -Olympus f/2.8: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240014.orf
    -Olympus f/4: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240015.orf
    -Olympus f/5.6: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240016.orf
    -Panasonic Leica f/1.4: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240017.orf
    -Panasonic Leica f/1.8: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240018.orf
    -Panasonic Leica f/2: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240019.orf
    -Panasonic Leica f/2.8: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240020.orf
    -Panasonic Leica f/4: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240021.orf
    -Panasonic Leica f/5.6: https://s3.amazonaws.com/mu43rawfiles/olypana25sharpness/P2240022.orf


    Before I get to the bottom line, let me say that sharpness testing is difficult. Lenses perform differently with far vs near targets, flat vs curved targets. Sometimes front/backfocus or decentering come into play, though having examined all the RAW files carefully here, I don't believe either of those issues played a significant role here.

    Overall what I observed is that the field of acceptably sharp image extends proximally into the foreground for the Olympus lens such that for most images, the Olympus strikes a better balance of sharpness throughout the frame. Some of this may be explained by field curvature with the Olympus. The Panasonic lens seems to have a slight advantage in ultimate edge sharpness with distant subjects, and if you are trying to get a blurred foreground, it will be much easier to achieve with the Panasonic lens.

    I didn't mention color fringing here, but if you look through these samples I think you'll see that regardless of body used, both lenses exhibit a small degree of both lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberration, with the Panasonic lens suffering slightly more from both types of color fringing as compared with the Olympus lens.

    Two things to note:
    1) Lightroom's default sharpening is very laid back. All of the crops above would look much sharper with default processing in Capture One, for example.
    2) The Panasonic lens files have barrel distortion correction applied, which robs some of the edge/corner sharpness, but it seemed "unfair" to leave the barrel distortion uncorrected for the Panasonic since detail-robbing distortion correction is part of the intended design of this lens. That said, it is possible to get considerably better edge sharpness from the Panasonic than I have shown here if you are willing to leave the distortion uncorrected. Note that only some RAW conversion apps will allow this, and Lightroom isn't one of them. Lightroom allows you to turn the setting for distortion correction off, but it continues to apply the correction regardless. Amongst the RAW converters which allow you to leave distortion uncorrected, I recommend Capture One.

    Lastly, if you want to see sharpness samples with closer subjects, download and examine the RAW files from the bokeh comparison I posted yesterday: Gear Tests - Supplemental Bokeh Comparison Between Olympus 25mm f/1.8 and Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 at Matched A
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
    • Like Like x 35
  2. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    A tour de force - merci.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  3. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Unless you know what the camera focused on (the distance), then there is no way to distinguish between effects of the lens and focus. There are two uncontrolled variables and there can only be one to draw valid conclusions. The vast difference in sharpness between the lenses for foreground objects strongly suggest different focus points.

    Real lens tests are difficult to do. Roger Cicala made two relevant blog post recently on this:
    Setting Up an Optical Testing Station

    Examples Using an Optical Testing Station

    Rationalizing the sample photos by saying, for example, I'm not doing lab tests. These are just real world samples. Well, real world examples would need a sample size of hundreds of images, not a hand full. In spite of the controlled methodology this post doesn't offer any more substance than Robin Wong's, and we know how that wound up.
     
  4. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Are you commenting on my post? Because I never said anything akin to those bolded statements.

    As for my tests, I know the point where the camera indicated it focused in each frame, and I was not able to get any sharper focus at that indicated point via careful manual focus bracketing than I got with autofocus, so I don't think the Olympus lens was frontfocusing relative to the Panasonic. It also seems very unlikely to me that the Olympus would frontfocus relative to the Panasonic in all of my sharpness tests and at the same time not exhibit greater background blur in any of my bokeh tests. But I will ask Roger Cicala to have a look at this test and give an opinion.
     
    • Like Like x 8
  5. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Thanks Amin for posting this. Very thorough. My take-home message is that there is actually very little practical difference in IQ between the two lenses. Maybe the Panasonic would serve landscape shooters better, with the Oly working better for portrait or street shooters. However, I wonder if any particular photographer with only one of these lenses would actually see the difference. Seems like the deciding factor will be whether we need f1.4 or f1.8 and whether the size difference matters.
     
  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    My take home from the sharpness testing is that Olympus is sharper most of the time in most of the frame, but I am perfectly content with the PL25 sharpness, so it wouldn't be a factor in my decision. If I were shooting landscapes, though, I would choose the Olympus lens.
     
  7. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    There is no way of knowing what the camera focused on. The only way to know what the AF system focused on is to have a clear white on black, or black on white bar on a flat surface. CDAF AF systems generally don't front or back focus when presented with a clear target. Contrary to what you wish to believe, your photographs are not lens tests.
     
  8. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I'm rather curious as to why these two lenses have generated what almost appears as a Hatfield–McCoy feud, or my dad is better than your dad battle. I'm at a bit of a loss here as to why this is so important.
     
    • Like Like x 7
  9. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    Mostly because it's an online forum and it's been a long winter for many.:smile:
     
    • Like Like x 2
  10. FlyPenFly

    FlyPenFly Mu-43 Veteran

    448
    Feb 15, 2011
    As far as the CA goes, is it possible that the oly body is applying more correction for an Oly lens?

    It's not surprising that an f1.8 lens can do better than an f1.4. Just look at the new Nikon 50mm G lenses, the new F1.8 is sharper in most cases than the F1.4G, only exception is when you try to shoot at f1.4, the f1.8 shoots blanks.
     
  11. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    Meh, I don't think anybody really thinks this is a particularly dire issue. The comparisons are being made simply because many people, newcomers in particular, will probably be confused about which lens to ultimately go for, and having more data will help them make an educated choice. Most arguments seem to be over testing methodology, to which people will always find problems(perhaps this fued is what you were referring too?). It's fine though, happens with actual science all the time too =P

    The general takeaway from every single comparison I've read, including my own, is that both lenses are excellent and you can't go wrong with either!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  12. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I'm not sure about that; there being four separate threads dissecting every aspect of these two lenses. That's why I'm curious.
     
  13. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    Because that's how some people are. And they'd rather attack and smear instead of adding meaningful comments. And/or they are just exiles from that other website.

    All things being said (or written), it's great to have another great lens option for the m4/3 cameras. I already have the PL25, so I won't be adding the Oly anytime soon.

    Thanks for the tests and samples Amin. Your work, including this forum, is VERY much appreciated.
     
    • Like Like x 6
  14. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I trust that you're not implying that I'm 'attacking and smearing' any one or any thing, simply because I asked a question about something that perplexes me?
     
  15. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    Not at all OzRay. My apologies if it came out that way. I am in total agreement with your post. Note the "thanks." :) I am also perplexed, annoyed and sometimes amused by the angst bubbling over from these comparison reviews/tests.
     
  17. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    OK, no worries. I believe that both lenses will take excellent photographs and make great prints; the differences are really nothing to sweat about. I've always believed that you judge the quality of a lens by making a print, big or small, not what you see on a computer screen. Everything changes when you make a print. Unfortunately prints seem to be losing favour in this electronic age.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Jay86

    Jay86 Mu-43 Veteran

    477
    Dec 26, 2012
  19. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    715
    Jul 23, 2010
    I have heard artists wax lyrical over this or that paint brush and some argue with each other over makes type of bristle etc. Although these were first year BA students, tended to see it different by the time they graduate though. Oddly the only one on the BA who made comments about this or that camera, so he just got ignored most just used what felt good in their hands or did what they want.