Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

Image © Panasonic


Background

The rage as of late has been with the super fast aperture prime lenses.  Olympus has the 25mm f/1.2 that came out a while ago and they just announced that late 2017 and Spring 2018 will give us the birth of the 17mm f/1.2 as well as the 45mm f/1.2

While I do have a fast aperture lens in the Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95, I'm not really in the market for any more.  So what is wrong with the f/1.7 or f/1.8 prime lenses?   Well, not a whole lot really.  They tend to be compact and lightweight and cost as little as they weight, relatively.

While it would be great to have the extra stop of light, the weather sealing of the f/1.2 lenses...I just don't see me needing that large aperture in those prime lenses.  Others that specialize in portraiture with their Micro Four Thirds kits will definitely love to see them...and listening to them, it has been a long time coming.

For this review, though - we are going to look at a bargain of a lens, the Panasonic 25mm f/1.7.

This little guy was bought brand new from Midwest Photo Exchange on sale for $150USD.  We'll look at it from handling, image quality and focusing on it's own as well as how I feel about it versus the stellar Olympus 25mm f/1.8.  I used to own the Olympus and really loved it.


Handling/Size/Weight

The field of view (FOV) on this lens is similar to a 50mm on a 135 size sensor camera.  It is not a pancake lens, but it is not large either.

It feels very light and is made from plastics, but the build quality feels very robust.

The focus ring is dampened and feels good when you turn it.

When compared to the Olympus, the Panasonic lens is a bit bigger.    When looking at the spec sheets, the Panasonic comes in lighter, by like 10 grams...not something most people would notice.

Both front elements are 46mm, so would use the same size lens caps and filters.

Panasonic does supply a lens hood with the lens, but it is a little odd to use because you must first remove a ring on the front of the lens. 

Image Quality

This thing is very sharp and at the price you can find them, it makes a whole lot of sense to get this lens if you wanted a 50mm FOV lens. 

I want to say that the Olympus might be a hair sharper in similar situations, but as sharp as both of them are, it's really splitting hairs at this point.

As I like to do, let us leave the proof show through in the images presented here.

1/60, f/1.7, ISO 800

1/125, f/1.7, ISO 200

1/60, f/2.8, ISO 800 (shot through some pretty dirty glass)

1/60, f/1.7, ISO 250

Focusing

As with all contrast detect cameras, when the lens locks in, it is dead on.

I did notice that on the EM5.2 that there were times when the Panasonic would hunt for focus or not lock in properly.  I'll keep an eye on it, but I do notice that this happens every now and again with new lenses.  I think a good lens contact cleaning would benefit here.

Bottom Line

Did I really need another 25mm prime lens?  No, not really.  However, for the price, how can you pass it up?  The Mitakon 25mm performs well, but it is a manual focus lens and that point may not be for everyone.    I love using it and will in the future.  The Panasonic 25/1.7 is a pleasure to use, produces great images, has excellent sharpness and focus' fast.   If maximum performance is desired in an f/1.7 or f/1.8 prime lens and you shoot Olympus bodies - get the Olympus 25mm.  If all things are equal and price is a sticking point - get the Panasonic on sale or used for around $150 - you won't be disappointed!

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