PL25 1.4 Experience Diary (traded from a 45/1.8)

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by WT21, Oct 27, 2011.

  1. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    I purchased the 45 1.8 with great expectations, and it is a great lens, but my 45 and my EPL2 did not get along. Far too much focus misses. Not just catching the background, but the whole image out of focus, and refusing to come into focus without intervention (focusing on my hand, etc.). So, I re-bought a Takumar 50/1.4 and might also try an FD50 or OM50 (or maybe even a PL45) for my moderate telephoto. If I'm going to work that hard at focusing, it might as well be for 60, instead of 400, dollars! If Oly releases a FW update that helps, I might buy back in later down the road.

    In the meantime, I've finally sprung for the lens I've wanted to try since it was announced. The PL25. I am really a normal view shooter, with my favorite two combos of all time being the Canon 35/2 on my old XTi (my first DSLR) and later my all-time favorite -- the 50/1.8 on a 5D. I am hoping this 25 will get me closer to what I want than what the 20/1.7 has given me.

    Don't get me wrong -- I may not be selling the 20. Time will tell. That pancake form factor is great! But I find the lens lacks a little contrast, and the 2/3 stop doesn't hurt with the PL25 either. I've read the reviews, and the rendering looks lovely. I also read the reviews about the dreaded rattlesnake issues, and so it was with some apprehension that I made the purchase from Unique Photo ($599, shipping was free and no sales tax).

    It's a lousy day today (cold and rainy), so I don't have any opportunity for sample shots, but here's some initial impressions:

    1) Build Quality: The lens is what you would expect if you've handled the PL45. They are clearly related. It's not a great build quality, and there's always the "this cost $600 dollars???" question, but it's not bad. What I'm really after is the rendering, so time will tell. I do like that this lens is black (instead of the gray of the 20/1.7)

    2) Focus Ring. I think someone on this board once described the 20/1.7 focus ring as turning a dead frog around a tube of grease (or something like that). Not sure what that exactly meant, but the PL25 is buttery smooth. It feels like my Takumar's ring, which is gorgeous. Having said that -- guess what? No AF focus misses so far (of course, no field testing yet). So, we'll see how much MF I actually need, but if I need it, it's smooth as silk.

    3) Rattlesnake Issue. This is not just an issue in people's heads. I've seen the videos people have posted. It's real. But, for whatever reason, it happens a LOT less on my EPL2 than my EP1 (where it happnes quite a bit).

    4) unboxing. It was just nice to open a box and get both a pouch and a hood. Having tried the Oly 12, 17 and 45, it's nice to be pampered with this lens. Not sure why, but in general, I seem to be favoring the Panny primes over the Olys, with my only Oly lenses being the 14-150 and EPL2 kit lens. The native primes I like are the Panny 14, 20 and PL25. I also like the PL45, and given that I sold my 50 OM macro, I might get a PL45/2.8.

    5) vs. the 20mm I'll have to post some photos when I get time to do side-by-side. So far, I've just been shooting with either/or. My initial reaction, though, is that the 20mm 1.7 is a sharper lens, but almost clinically sharp. The 25/1.4 has slightly better tonal gradients. Overall, I think because of the combination of +10mm and + 2/3 stop, the 25/1.4 gets me much more "3D" rendering than the 20/1.7. This is what I am after, so that makes me very happy, but because on balance they are DIFFERENT lenses, and not really one better than the other, it's hard to let go of one.

    I'll update this post with more impressions as they come in, but for now, here are a couple of pictures: my current camera trio -- EPL2, EP1 and Canonent. Then the EP1 and EPL2 comparing the PL25 to the Takumar (sorry for the cell phone photos).

    20111027-EP1_EPL2_Canonet.

    20111027-Compare_vs_Takumar.

    Here's a pic I just took tonight (random shots around the house -- only the very front tip of the boat is in focus). This was shot in RAW, and just run through LR defaults (I think I did auto WB, but that was it). I'll need to test it against my 20/1.7 tomorrow, but this is about the best color I've seen out of an m43 lens without adjustment. And the OOF rendering is really smooth. I hope this is the norm for this lens. If so, it'll be money well spent.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. TeeHeeHaw

    TeeHeeHaw Mu-43 Rookie

    11
    Aug 31, 2011
    Central Ohio
    I really like this lens a lot. Since my first E-P3 was replaced by Olympus, I've noticed the "rattlesnake" noise is considerably less on my replacement E-P3. It's very loud on my E-PL1.
     
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  3. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Hi TeeHeeHaw,

    I notice you have both the 20/1.7 still, and also the FD50. I like the look of those FD lenses. I'm going to have to try one!

    Are you keeping the 20/1.7, or are you still deciding?
     
  4. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    Massachusetts
    Herbert
    I'm interested in your take on this lens, so please keep us posted. On the very few times I've used the 45mm, I also encountered this focusing issue. I thought it was initially because I got used to the 20mm POV and I was too near, but even when I wasn't very near, there were some missed shots, and found that sometimes I have to manually focus, too.

    I'm not yet at the point where I'm thinking of selling and just use my FD 50mm f/1.4 (yes, I have that one too! One of my favorite lenses ever). However, I just want to keep my options open, and in case I decide to let the 45mm go, if indeed the 25 is the way to go.
     
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  5. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Congratulations on the new lens and thanks for the initial impressions. I am looking forward to seeing some images!

    +1 Rattlesnake still on my E-P3, but nothing/nada/zippo on my E-P2. Nothing obvious on settings differences between the two, the latest firmware loaded on both. I'm waiting for the mu-43 brain trust to come up with a solution! :biggrin:
     
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  6. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    I had the rattlesnake on both the EP2 and EP3. So I ended up returning the EP3, and getting an used GF2. When aimed at bright daylight source, the PL25 still makes considerable noise, but only when focusing.

    Was struggling on whether or not to keep the PL25, because it's twice the 20/1.7's price, and twice the size. IQ is comparable IMO. I'm leaning towards keeping it now, because in low light situations, it makes a big difference shooting at ISO 800-1100 in the GF2 vs. 1600.
     
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  7. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe

    If you don't mind I'd just like to add.

    1. Build quality feels fine. Plastic body-metal mount....certainly doesn't feel cheap at all, although an all metal body would have been cool.

    2. The pancake lenses do have poor focus rings, the Oly 45 on the other hand feels quite nice and smooth. I also have the latest takumar 50 1.4 variant...the SMC and its focus ring was literally miles ahead of any other legacy lens I've tried...Carl zeiss flektogon, MD rokkor, Pentax-a.....the SMC Tak leaves em dead.

    The focus ring on the PL summilux 25 though....is, well....stunning !!!! Like nothing I've tried before and an absolute joy to use.

    3. Rattlesnake ?? Mounted on my GF1 I can only hear it ever so faintly when I'm in the house and all TV, radio or cooking noise is off. I have timber floors and high ceilings and only in a totally silent house can I barely hear it. Outside ?? Nothing...the gentle hum of background noise blocks any rattlesnake out completely. For video it may be audible though.

    4. Pouch and hood in box.....nice :)
    Why the hell didn't Oly do the same for their $450 45 ?????????


    Regarding AF....even on the old mu43 veteran the GF1 AF is lightning fast, it is about as close to instantaneous as I could imagine...I wonder what sort of blistering AF speeds could be achieved on a gen2 or gen3 body !! And yes....not a single missed/confused focus !!

    Got mine 2 weeks ago and this weekend will get a chance to really have a go...got a 4 day long weekend away and hope to get a lot of shooting in.
     
  8. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    I agree.

    On #1 -- the one thing is, having plastic keeps it light. I tried the Voigtlander 25/0.95, and that thing was a brick. I like this weight better, and if that requires plastic, then so be it, I guess.

    2. I was not shopping the focus ring, but I agree with you. I am blown away by it. Dead silent to (though I haven't done a movie with it yet).

    3. The Rattlesnake is on Oly bodies only, it seems. It constantly adjusts aperture, even when just sitting still. At least, it's doing that on my EP1.

    Please do share any pictures from the weekend!
     
  9. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    It wasn't an easy decision to lump the hefty $$$ for this lens, thing is though, barely an hour into shooting with it (very informally around the house) any doubt was gone and I knew my 20/1.7 was going to find its way back onto the forum marketplace or eBay. I have the 14/2.5 pancake for compact-go anywhere shooting and slightly wider FOV stuff.

    Absolutely will post shots from the weekend away. It's a dads and sons fishing trip into Victorian Alpine country about 5 hours outside of Melbourne. Unfortunately though, we are expecting heavy rains, heavy cloud cover and generally awful weather. Should make both fishing and photography tricky !
     
  10. Linh

    Linh Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 14, 2009
    Maryland, US
    I need to stay away from the forums. I want to buy this now, haha. I should just rent it and get it out of my system.. hopefully. definitely would like to hear folks who have the 20 and got the PL25 as well.
     
  11. MrDoug

    MrDoug Mu-43 Top Veteran

    985
    Sep 5, 2011
    Boise, Idaho
    Yes.. I need to stay away from this/these forums as well.. GAS is back.. I thought I had it under control.. GAS-X at Walgreens was ineffective... LOL.. but I just ordered the PL 25/1.4.. PLEASE HELP me.. any advice?
    I'm a very SICK man.. plus I may now have to sell 20/1.7.. Shessh :smile:
     
  12. MrDoug

    MrDoug Mu-43 Top Veteran

    985
    Sep 5, 2011
    Boise, Idaho
    Quik Question?

    what is the hook-up/engagement with Panasonic and Leica? I'm curious as why Leica would allow Panasonic to use their name.. is it a real Leica lens?
     
  13. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    As I understand it, it's Leica specs and maybe some oversight, but it's Panasonic crafted. The combo has produced good lenses before (PL45 and the original four thirds 25mm), so there seems to be something there.
     
  14. Linh

    Linh Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 14, 2009
    Maryland, US
    From what I understand, it's Leica "approved" so I'm guessing it follows whatever guidelines they set. Given it AF's, I doubt leica actually made it, heh.
     
  15. MrDoug

    MrDoug Mu-43 Top Veteran

    985
    Sep 5, 2011
    Boise, Idaho
    It must me good if affiliated and in bed with Leica. and Leica has their stamp on it.. good money for both companies.. :smile:
     
  16. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    This is kind of where I am also. I got past worrying about the rattlesnake (though I hope we can figure out a solution), but the size is a bit of a bummer compared to the 20/1.7. I just can't take the PL25 anywhere, like I felt I could with the 20 on my E-P3. I am thinking the PL25 will still be worth keeping as an indoors, low light and part-time portraiture specialist lens.
     
  17. MrDoug

    MrDoug Mu-43 Top Veteran

    985
    Sep 5, 2011
    Boise, Idaho
    It's (25/1.4) not a Pancake.. but kinda a small Bear Claw or Tiny Glazed Donut size in comparison by the Pics I have seen and Specs .. .. LOL.. it's not that much larger.. get a bigger coat with larger pockets..:smile:
     
  18. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Now you're making me hungry!

    I don't think they make coats big enough to pocket the E-P3/PL25! :eek: I know it's not a pancake, but it feels big after using the Oly 12 and 45.
     
  19. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I wonder if there are some bad copies of this lens, or whether it's a matter of compatibility with the body, because my Oly 45/1.8 focuses very well on both the E-P3 and E-PM1. I recently shot in low light at the circus, and the lens nailed focus over and over again.
     
  20. MrDoug

    MrDoug Mu-43 Top Veteran

    985
    Sep 5, 2011
    Boise, Idaho
    Yes.. I'm anxious to get it and see.. all fun stuff and good stuff..!! I will send you some pics when I get it.. It has to be good.. size?