Which 25mm Lens Should I Buy? Olympus or Panasonic Leica?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Amin Sabet, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    This is going to be a recurring question, so I'll post my take home summary here, having used the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 (PL25) and Olympus 25mm f/1.8 (O25) these past couple weeks. Napier also posted his take.

    In favor of the O25:
    -Smaller (especially if you include hoods; also, only the O25 hood reverses for storage)
    -Lower price
    -Closer minimum focus distance
    -Less color fringing in general including bokeh color fringing (though keep in mind that Pana bodies will effectively eliminate lateral CA on the PL lens)
    -More evenly sharp across the frame, in large part because there is less optical distortion needing software correction
    -Doesn't ever "rattlesnake" (PL25 can have an aperture blade chattering sound occasionally on Oly bodies, though to me this is rare)
    -Slightly faster focusing (both focus quickly)

    In favor of the PL25:
    -2/3 stop faster
    -Noticeably more shallow DOF with close subjects and distant backgrounds
    -Better flare resistance
    -Slightly smoother bokeh at matched f-stops
    -Build feels more robust (to me)

    Other differences:
    -O25 is a bit wider but the difference in angle of view is negligible with distant subjects (the difference with close subjects seems to be largely a result of focus breathing)

    Bottom line (for me):
    -Both are great normal lenses. The size/weight difference is only significant to me when using the smallest MFT cameras (eg, E-PM2, GM1). I was thinking I'd sell one or the other, but it looks like I'll be keeping both for now.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  2. BobbyTan

    BobbyTan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 26, 2013
    Long Beach, CA
    The one thing that I don't like about the PL25 is the aperture or "rattle-snaking" noise that it makes. Drives me nuts sometimes.
  3. briloop

    briloop Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2012
    Mount Juliet, TN
    Don't forget the O25 has price in its favor.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I727 using Mu-43 mobile app
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  4. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Doh. Added.

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Mu-43 mobile app
  5. Dramaturg

    Dramaturg Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2013
    Oly 25 is a good lens, but from what I see PL 25 is a special lens. I think that if a system offers you a reasonobly affordable 1.4 lens - then get it, don't bother with slower ones. I am a bokeh fan and really like to shoot portraits. Therefore for me the issue is settled - I am looking for a used PL25 :). Weight is not an issue for me as I use EM-5 with the grip anyway.
  6. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    …… worms here …….. get your can of fresh packed worms ……..
  7. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    If I hadn't already sold my pl25, I'd want both.
  8. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Oly worms or Panny worms?
  9. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Oly worms are better - they have in-body stabilisation.
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  10. Galengwath

    Galengwath Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 11, 2013
    I rented the Panny for about a month last December, and it's definately a great lens, but more recently I bought the Olly 25mm and I'm perfectly satisfied with it. They both take fantastic pictures, but for me the lower cost and size made the Olly a much more attractive lens,
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  11. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Unless you buy secondhand!
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  12. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Soon there will be used Oly 25s for $320ish.

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Mu-43 mobile app
  13. curtisls87

    curtisls87 Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jan 7, 2010
    Los Gatos, CA, USA
    Curt Schimmels
    First to qualify the experience, I'm using an OMD E-M1. I own the PL25, but this last weekend, borrowed the Oly from a friend. I fell in love with it for its portability, its edge-to-edge sharpness, and I also think it focuses a bit faster than the PL25. I've been contemplating selling the PL to finance the purchase of the Oly, but then, I love the added narrow DOF from its 1.4 aperture. What a dilemma!
  14. aukirk

    aukirk Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2012
    Oh man... I definitely think the smaller size of the Oly outweighs any benefits listed so far for the Pany... Unfortunate, I already own the Pany and not sure if it is worth the headache of trying to sell (I hate the process of selling lenses)
  15. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Typically the purpose in buying a slightly faster lens is for : better low light capability, higher shutter speed, decreased ISO setting, better focusing ability, less depth of field, more bokeh, and typically better construction. Also larger aperture lenses generally have a level of softness when shooting wide open but gain acuity when closing down. Many people buy wide aperture lenses because of their softness when shot wide open.

    While any one of those traits in itself may not be better or a significant, combined they can make a large enough difference; especially for those that want their images to stand apart to nth degree from other shooters.

    This seems to hold true for every brand with comparisons like a 24mm f/1.4 and 2.8: 35mm f/1.4, f/1.8, and f/2.0: 50mm f/1.2, 1.4, f/1.8: 85mm f/1.2, f1.4, and f1.8: 105/135mm f/2.0 and f/2.8: and new we add the 25mm f/1.8 and f/1.4.

    The gain(s) in these traits comes at cost, size, weight and sometimes as significant as three times the cost of the less expensive lens. It is often why f/1.8 compared to f/1.4 lenses are often touted as good enough!

    Is the more expensive lens worth the combined differences? That is something each individual has to decide for themselves. And becasue we will choose differently, manufacturers will provide more options if the opportunity for sales are there and why "there is not a best".

    Lens advice given to me long ago - buy the best you can afford!
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  16. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    The Oly seems like a fantastic lens. I think the major difference is in the way they render. The PL is a brighter lens. I don't mean faster (although it is that also), but you seem to get a wider luminance range (not sure if thats the same as dynamic range) and more contrast. The brights are brighter and the darks are darker.

    You can see it pretty well in the first photos here
    Or with matched f-stop here (check the 2nd to last set of images, both the diagonal branch and the backgrounds illustrate this well. In the background the PL has brighter snow below, and darker trees above)

    Some of these shots have slightly different WB, which can effect perceived luminance, so also check out Steve Huffs example shots here (his copy of the PL seems to be sharper than most):
  17. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    So you mean it has less of a luminance range. If your blacks are "blacker" that means your contrast is higher and the blacks are being crushed. That's lower dynamic range, not higher. It's certainly not wider luminance range. If your "whites" are brighter, than perhaps the lens comes with a little bit of meter compensation for the camera coming from the lens firmware.

    If it had more dynamic range, your blacks would stay grey a lot longer and your whites would be paler longer along the brightness scale. Your contrast would be lower. It sounds like the PL might have slightly higher overall contrast.
  18. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    The PL has a wider range light to dark. Lights are brighter. Black is black on both, but shadows are darker (maybe richer?) on the PL. The Oly has a narrower range. Brights are dimmer, shadows lighter.

    I may have the technical language wrong. Its certainly possible that I'm not describing what I see with technical accuracy, but I provided links, so instead of parsing my language you can go ahead and look at the photos, and if I have phrased it incorrectly, please feel free to correct my wording.

    Look at the second to the last set here. The diagonal branch has more contrast and "pop" on the PL (pretty sure I got that language correct :smile:) below the branch, the background is brighter on the PL, above the branch it is darker on the PL.


    There is a slight WB difference in the shots linked, so also look at Steve Huffs review where he has indoor shots with 100% crops. The greater brightness of the PL is pretty evident there. Look at the shadow cast by the apples on the left side of the frame. Better definition of the shadows and highlights inside the shadows with the PL. The Oly actually looks kind of flat in comparison. The crops seem to show greater dynamic range on the PL as well, although his crops are different sized and not exactly the same area, so its hard to be sure. To the Olys credit, it has obviously better sharpness in the corners, visible without crops (compare lower left).

  19. orfeo

    orfeo Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 27, 2013
    It's an easy choice because each has their charateristics. It comes down to your wallet and your willingness. I stay with PL, thank you.
  20. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    I often think about things a bit differently than some people. So, we already know of the advantages of the O25 over the P25. The Panasonic's advantage is speed. But the Olympus pretty much wins in size and price. So, if you're buying this Panasonic lens for $500 when you can get the Olympus for $300, then you're spending $200 for a half of stop. All I have to say about that is that Voiglander makes a 25mm f0.95. Ebay has one mint for $800. So now, do you want to spend $300 dollars for an extra TWO stops over the Panasonic, with even more of an increase in size/weight?

    I'm surprised this Voigtlander lens isn't more popular on this forum considering the knowledge and photographic talent here is very high and we generally cater towards primes (it's not the price because the $1000 workhorse f2.8 zooms sell well).

    Again, I personally think about things differently. It has never been O25 vs P25 because I have neither. I like the P20 and have a very sharp vintage 28/2. With this lineup, I'd take the Voigtlander and skip both the P and the O!
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