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PL25mm f/1.4 or Oly 12-40mm f/2.8?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by mesmerized, May 9, 2016.

  1. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Hello there,

    Yet one more thread asking for your opinion. Which of the two would you go after? The PL25mm or Oly 12-40mm? What are the advantages of one over the other in terms of image quality? Naturally, one is a prime while the other is a zoom, but the price of Oly forces me to ask these questions.

    Cheers
     
  2. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    one covers a range of focal lengths from 12mm to 40mm the other only does 25mm

    one has perhaps more DoF in specific situations (you won't know it when photographing something 10 meters away or more)

    myself, neither. I'm happy with the 25f1.8 and the 14-45 ... what are you thinking that it will bring to your photographic table? Or is it not about photography and about the need for buying gear?

    If you are practical, why not get the 25f1.7 or 1.8 and the 12-40 used from KEH and have basically both for less?

    when its all said and done, there is a lot of King Wang about the difference between f1.4 and 1.7 and aside from oooohing and ahhhhhing at the start I doubt most photographers really make much use of it (aside from the obvious shots of their Super Mario Brothers toys on their keyboard.

    They say "give a man a fish and he eats for a meal, teach a man to fish and he feeds himself for life"

    Full-size sample photos from Panasonic 25mm F/1.4

    Full-size sample photos from Olympus 12-40mm F/2.8
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2016
  3. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    I simply need a lens that will be as sharp as possible.

    Also, I thought the 25mm could be a good solution for portraits (?)
     
  4. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I have both, and would more than likely grab the 12-40 if I wanted sharp and if I was taking a portrait. The 25 is supposed to have a lot of "character", but as I often grab it when I need fast glass (i.e. in bad lighting), I will not comment on its sharpness since it is not a fair comparison. Having said that, I did use it a number of years ago on a G3 body, and the printed image at 20x30 looked great. Still, the 12-40 is my normal goto lens.

    --Ken
     
  5. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Thanks Ken. What do you mean by "character" if I may ask? And... why would it be unfair to compare the two in terms of sharpness? Can it function as a portrait lens? And is it actually a real "Lecia" quality lens?
     
  6. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    well unless you stop down the 25mm f1.4 is certainly not "as sharp as possible" ... its often the 'obsession' of newly started photographers to obsess over which lens is as sharp as possible, when the reality is that the photogrpaher and choice of light makes a bigger difference.

    Have you done *any* research?

    Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 ASPH LEICA DG SUMMILUX Review

    1blur-t.

    Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro M.Zuiko Digital ED Review
    1blur-t.

    So the 12-40 is actually competitive ...

    Also, in my opinion 25mm is not a good solution for portraits ... its just not quite tele enough.

    I'm sure you'll find that the 40mm end of the 12-40 will do better renderings of portraits. Being a little further away renders facial features more 'naturally'

    Eg

    whyTelePortrait.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2016
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  7. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Thanks.

    Well, I've read reviews of PL25mm, but I haven't seen technical graphs like the ones you've posted.

    And... I assumed that a product from Leica will be of superb quality...
     
  8. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    fish through those images in those two links of sample images in my first post and see if you see much difference in 'sharpness'

    for sure the Oly will be a versatile lens, if I didn't have the 14-45 I wouldn't want to have just the 25
     
  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    You can have the sharpest lens money can buy... but if all your other photographic chops are not up to scratch.. then its a waste of time.
    If you can't take sharp pics with the lens you have....make sure you are fully confident that you are getting the best out of it by taking care to understand the need for sufficient light, suitable shutter speed for the image you want to capture (static objects tolerate slower shutter speeds more than moving ones) and stability of the camera while shooting.

    reading charts is a pretty pointless exercise when applied to the real world

    This was taken with the oly 17/1.7, which was derided as not being 'sharp'

    11076001295_a4f9f6da69_b. PB250019 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    is that what you mean by sharp?

    K
     
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  10. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Naturally, I am aware of all of those factors. What I simply meant was... the best optical quality on the level of hardware.
     
  11. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Character is one of those terms usually used by fans of certain lenses. In this case, there are folks who find the 25 to have a common Leica character, which has sometimes been described as having a certain type of microcontrast. It is a topic that is askin to Coke vs Pepsi or Ford vs Chevy, and I would encourage you to look at samples on the thread for this lens so you can make you own conclusion.

    The reason I mentioned that it was unfair to compare sharpness is that I was using the lenses in totally different situations, and the conditions were as far from a controlled environment as you could get. My 25 usually gets mounted when I cannot use flash and the lighting is poor. Not a nice way to see the potential quality of any lens.

    Any lens can function as a "portrait" lens depending on how you define a portrait. If you do environmental portraits, then a wider lens can work fine. If you are talking about a more traditional head and shoulders portrait, then I would either not use the 25, or I would use it but not fill the frame so I can get the distance I need for a more flattering perspective (and then crop in processing).

    Regarding Leica quality, it is a Lens that has the Leica name on it, but it is manufactured by Panasonic, as are the other Leica co-branded lenses. While I do tend to believe that Leica does not design or approve bad designs, I am not really sure that the name alone on a lens means much these days. If having the name on the lens floats your boat, then you will probably be happy. But, I tend to pick my glass for specific uses, and I am not that brand loyal.

    If I was in your situation, I would want to know what lens paired well with my camera body, as both are not small. The 12-40, the larger of the two, is a bit large for smaller bodies, and handling is an important criteria for me, more so than that last ounce of "sharpness". Also, while I appreciate primes, I love the versatility of a f/2.8 zoom. If I had to pick just one lens for general photography, the 12-40 would probably be it. Of course, YMMV.

    Perhaps if you give a bit more of a description of the shooting conditions that you are considering, then we might be able to provide you with a more specific recommendation.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
  12. sriracha

    sriracha ballistic photons

    68
    Jan 22, 2011
    if your main objective is pure sharpness then get the 12-40. assuming you are shooting portraits, both can do in pinch with the Oly bringing more sharpness and the Panny bringing more depth of field.

    that being said, the better options would be the Panny 42.5 f1.2 or f1.7, Oly 45, Oly 75, Panny 35-100, or Oly 40-150. all of these bring sharpness and depth of field control spanning multiple price points.
     
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  13. TassieFig

    TassieFig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    533
    Oct 28, 2013
    Tasmania, Australia
    Just to avoid confusion...I'm sure you mean less dof here.
     
  14. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Thank you all.

    I'll go after 12-40... and then wait for what Fuji has to offer with the new X-T2. I might just as well have two systems since I still have the XF56mm.
     
  15. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    This is a non sense request in a lot of different ways.

    The sharpest lens is probably the Oly 300/4. Or the 150/2, just get one of those. You get what I mean? Focal length is not a small detail.
    If you need a portrait lens get the Nocticron or the Oly 75/1.8 depending on indoor/outdoor and full body vs headshots requirements.

    Then aperture is not a small detail: one lens can perform better at f/4 the other at f/5.6 but if you shoot both wide open you should ask a completely different question. And if you want a nice smooth background blur you are going to shoot wide open even if that same lens is less sharp at that aperture. And if you want a nice smooth background you also need a longish focal length and a few more things.

    Then if you talk about zoom the things are even more confusing: the 12-40 at 12mm is probably sharper then the P25 but there is probably no difference around 25mm and the P25 may regain the title at 40mm. But all of this is nonsense because I did non specify the apertures and most of all focal lengths so different will give extremely different pictures.

    Then you have center and corner sharpness differences.

    So there is simply no reasonable answer to this specific question. I'm writing this not to be rude but because you may end up getting the best tool for the wrong job.
     
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  16. specialagenttuna

    specialagenttuna Mu-43 Regular

    34
    Apr 19, 2013
    They're both great lenses. The 25mm obviously has better bokeh and can absolutely be used for portraits, the 12-40mm has a very useful range and is very sharp, just not as shallow a depth of field. Don't worry about stupid charts and DxO mark scores, that's such a waste of time and effort. I had both at one point and had use for both of them so you can't go wrong with either.

    Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
     
  17. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    What in hell is "the best optical quality on the level of hardware"? There are a lot of factors which play a role in optical quality and every lens presents a compromise solution. Obviously price figures in the choices that are made but then there are lots of other choices like the various distortions and how they are corrected and then there are the "character" thinks like bokeh and contrast rendering, and then there's sharpness. Portrait photographers look for different things to landscape photographers, and macro photographers look for another set of things, street photographers for yet something else, and then there's people like architectural and interior photographers who look for something else again. Everyone is looking for the best optical quality for the job but the problem is that the best possible lens for one job isn't the best possible lens for every job Every lens is a compromise and you pick the one that ticks the boxes you are most interested in. You can get the best optical quality for you but it won't be the best for everyone, and sometimes the best optical quality for the job can be something like one of the Olympus body cap lenses which objectively don't have good optical quality on any parameter at all.

    You ask what you should buy, the PL 25mm or the Oly 12-40. I've got both, plus the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 and other lenses covering other focal lengths. So, out of those particular 3 lenses I mentioned, which would I buy if I had none of them? I don't know how to answer that because the things I look for in a lens now aren't the things I looked for when I bought first the PL 25, then the Olympus 25 mm f/1.8 which I prefer to the PL 25mm, and then the 12-40 which was the first zoom lens I ever fell for in a big way and which is now the one that spends more time on my camera but that's not quite what I expected to happen when I bought it. I thought I'd continue to use my primes including the Olympus 25mm a lot more than I have found myself using them.

    You buy a lens for some set of reasons and you start using it and you find over time that you're either using it more than you expected or less than you expected, and possibly that you're using it in different ways to what you expected. I expected to really like the PL 25 when I bought it and initially I was very happy with it but over time I started to go cold on it. The Olympus 25mm never got reviews that were as favourable as those the PL 25 gets but I prefer it to the PL 25. Compared to the Olympus 25mm, the 12-40 is bigger, heavier, and is over a stop slower which can be a problem at time but I like the quality of the images I get from it and I like the flexibility that the zoom range gives me, and I've discovered that when the light starts to fall and I find myself wishing for a bit faster lens I can get by with f/2.8 and I get a bit more depth of field than I'd get if I were shooting at f/1.8 or f/1.4 and that is an advantage, but that isn't what I expected to find myself doing.

    So, which do I think you should buy? Buy whichever one you prefer. They both deliver very good image quality but they do produce images with a slightly different look to my eyes. I prefer the 12-40 but you may prefer the PL 25. You're going to use it for your photographs so buy the one you think will best suit your photographs and how you want to shoot. Buy the one you want to buy because it's the one that presses your buttons but don't waste any time trying to convince yourself that it's got the "best optical quality" or even that it's better than some other lens optically. Just worry about picking the one that is going to help you make photographs that you're happy you made. Look at the image threads here for both lenses and see whether the looks of the photos from one of the lenses appeal to you more than the look of the photos from the other lens. Try both of them on your camera in a shop and see how you feel about how the lens feels on your camera and whether you're comfortable with it. Think about whether you want or need f/1.4 or if f/2.8 is good enough, and whether you want just the 25mm focal length or if you want the zoom range from 12-40 mm. The answer is in there somewhere and it's your answer, and what other people including me think has got nothing really to do with what the best choice for you is. At the end of the day, if you find yourself not enjoying using the lens in 6 or 12 months time, then maybe you made the wrong choice but you will have learnt something about your photography in the process and that's worth something, and you'll probably go out and buy another lens but it may not be the one you passed over on this choice. What you learnt in the process may point you towards a different lens that you're not thinking about now.
     
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  18. DWS

    DWS Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Jun 6, 2014
    I own both, and barring a need for low light capability, I recommend the 12-40. It is an excellent lens, and I have never been disappointed with its IQ and versatility.
     
  19. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    I bought a 12-40 today. It cost me about 720USD here.
     
  20. DeoreDX

    DeoreDX Mu-43 Veteran

    208
    Mar 13, 2013
    Alabama
    It depends on the situation. Bright outdoor light? 12-40 might win. Poor lighting situation? You get two whole stops of light gathering with the 1.4 v 2.8. Shooting handheld that two stops can make a big difference. ISO1600 v. ISO6400. Or 1/50s v. 1/12s. Maybe the MTF chart doesn't show the lens being sharper at 25mm f1.4 on the PL25 v. the 1240 at 25? I don't know I haven't looked at the charts in that much detail. But two extra stops of light gathering mean other setting can be used which will give you more detailed images. There is a time and place for every lens which is why there are so many options. Personally for me a 12-40 with a tilt/swivel flash will give me a wider range of situations I can capture images v. two extra stops of a 1.4 lens.