Robin Wong comparison of Oly and Panasonic 25mm lenses

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Just this guy...
Apr 18, 2011
Massachusetts USA
Real Name
Ulfric is right, Wong said, at the same aperture the Olympus lens seems a bit brighter. That would indicate a lower level of transmission loss through the lens.



Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Jan 29, 2010
South Gippsland, Australia
Real Name
Ray, not Oz
See? This is what I'm talking about. This is what's being sold by Wong but when the testers get at it it's not true.
case in point? 12-40. The supposedly better corrected and optically superior lens was afterwards tested by slr gear and what was found? It isn't any sharper than the 12-35 (the pana is sharper in the center, softer in the corners) and has more than TWICE the chromatic aberrations the pana had.
I found these observations of the Olympus 12-40mm:

DXO Mark:

The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO is a good lens, very good in fact, easily challenging the optical performance of the rival, and slightly dearer Panasonic model as well as high-grade APS-C lenses. But, at a whisker under $1000, quality like this doesn’t come cheap.

SLR Gear:

The Olympus 12-40mm ƒ/2.8 Zuiko PRO represents a new category for Micro Four Thirds lenses, and as such, there arenot many direct competitors that can be seen as alternatives. Nevertheless, there are options out there.

The new Olympus 12-40mm ƒ/2.8 Zuiko PRO is a powerhouse of a lens with excellent optical performance: sharp images, great CA control, hardly any distortion and low vignetting.

On the Panasonic 12-35mm:

There's not much to add to this review that the numbers don't already show - the pre-production version of the Panasonic 12-35mm ƒ/2.8 that we tested showed excellent performance across the board.

Photozone (maybe Robin had a say in the review?):

That said, we also have the obligation to rate lenses are neutral as possible and after all the hype around the Panasonic Lumix G X 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH Power OIS we are simply a bit disappointed. The lens is, undoubtedly, a good one but not stellar. It is chili-sharp in the image center but the border region isn't quite on this level in the lower focal length range. At 35mm it is more impressive with very sharp results across the image field. While distortions are nothing to worry about from a user perspective, Panasonic relies on a very heavy auto-corrections at 12mm. The amount of vignetting is about average for a lens in this class with weak spots at the extreme ends of the range at fully open aperture. Panasonic cameras also care about the correction of lateral CAs but Olympus user will experience some higher than expected color shadows in their images. Due to the rather limited depth-of-field potential we didn't really look deeper into the quality of the bokeh. However, we pushed it a couple of times in our real world sample images (by taking close-ups at 35mm) and the bokeh looked very nice indeed and better than average for such a lens.

And a graphic to illustrate I'm not sure what in this apples vs oranges comparison:



Mu-43 Top Veteran
Sep 27, 2013
Orfeo he did not say that. (First line of your post 116)
I won't quote you since that'd just repeat the lie and I'd like it to disappear.
Please hear me out.

May I just quote Robin :


While testing the two lenses, I found two VERY interesting differences between the lenses.

1) Difference Field of View: Olympus 25mm is slightly wider

The 25mm on the Panasonic lens is not equivalent to the 25mm on the Olympus lens. The Olympus lens is slightly wider than the Panasonic, and the difference is quite evident. This statement is not saying which lens is better than the other, and I had no way to find out which lens was closer to the real 50mm perspective. This may not be a big issue, but I think it is worth a mention. I always find myself having tighter composition with the Panasonic lens, as I try to match back as closely as I can to the original Olympus composition.

2) The Olympus lens is slightly brighter than the Panasonic lens

We know how an ISO200 on one camera is possibly different from an ISO200 from another camera, and with high possibilities both cameras are not accurate. Same thing with lenses, the F4 opening on the Panasonic may not necessarily be the same with the F4 opening on the Olympus lens. You will notice from the image samples in this blog entry, especially those taken toward the final comparison series of general sharpness where I set both lenses to have similar F-number. Shooting at Aperture Priority, the Olympus 25mm chooses faster shutter speed (about 1/3 of an EV stop) than the Panasonic 25mm. For example, similar scene with similar camera settings and same aperture controlled, the Olympus may get the shutter speed of 1/100sec, while the Panasonic will get 1/80sec, and as I inspect both images, the exposure balance came out very similar."

Looking at his sample, to me it just seem his Oly camera is behaving differently. Exposure at both f1.8 and ISO200 show exact same exposure. Photos with Oly having a shorter exposure shows just that darker exposure. Robin is high on Oly.

And Wong to conclude with this "not conclusive" summary statement :

2) The Olympus lens is *possibly 1/3 EV brighter than Panasonic lens (not conclusive, based on just quick observation on EXIF data)
3) There is not much difference in shallow depth of field rendering between F1.8 and F1.4 lenses (if point number 2 is true, the gap is bridged due to either the Olympus lens being 1/3 EV brighter than F1.8 or the Panasonic lens being 1/3 EV darker than F1.4. This is just my observation, not a conclusive statement)


Mu-43 Veteran
Feb 20, 2010
Look at his comments on CA: "you can see from the crop above that the Olympus has better control of CA. I think this statement is open for challenge because the Olympus camera may not necessarily correct CA from Panasonic lenses very efficiently. Perhaps the Panasonic lens exhibits less CA when used with Panasonic Micro Four Thirds bodies. However, for Olympus shooters, this is the real result that you will get when using both lenses. And no, I will not use a Panasonic body to do comparisons. "

I added bold to sections that he must know to be true (if I know it and he doesn't, then I am better qualified to do the comparison than he is -- and that is not a good idea!) and Wong is being disingenuous by writing in vague and uncertain terms.

OK, so he is openly saying nobody should pay any attention to his review except Olympus body users, because he refuses to compare like with like. At least now we know.
I'm not counting on him or expecting him to do a detailed objective review and/or comparison, but I didn't particularly like this either. It's been basically common knowledge for anyone experienced with Micro 4/3 how in-body CA correction works or doesn't work with different bodies and lenses. As others have pointed out, the bokeh comparison of the background guy on the grill is misleading as well.

Whatever, it's not a big deal to me. I wouldn't buy a lens based on a Steve Huff review either, way too subjective (I'm not complaining at all, it's his prerogative to write whatever reviews he would like.) I do think any of this discussion in this thread is fair game, things are different than they were 20 years ago and probably etiquette and reasonable expectations will take a while to get hashed out. I personally don't question Robin's integrity, but I can see why people are complaining about his 'inconclusive' conclusions about lens brightness. It kinda feels like he's trying to give himself wiggle room to say "well I said it wasn't a conclusive statement", yet still sell the Oly 25 against the Pana 25 at the same time. I'm not saying he is consciously doing this, but I'm not sure how he didn't expect some mixed feedback on that one. But hopefully this is a good learning experience for any reviewer.

The Oly lens looks great though to me.
Jan 28, 2011
Real Name
I enjoyed the review and find no problem with his style. For those who just want to confirm that the lens takes great photos, they have the photos to ponder. For those who want something quantitative to measure against the PL25, this review is not going to get you there. He did us a service by providing the photos for use to view and he is known not to dabble in quantitative measures such as MTF or others. I am willing to take his writing at face value given that none of it is very conclusive anyway. This is the kind of quick review some here might do. Well worth the look.
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