To evaluate bokeh, I took 600×600 pixel crops that contain the top of the decanter (located about 2 feet behind the target book) and the chair in the background, which is about 10-12 feet behind the focus point.
Again, click on the image to enlarge and then click on the green arrow at the bottom of the screen to view full size:
As I mentioned earlier, there is a noticeable difference in the amount of background blur between the two lenses when wide open. While this difference will probably not make or break a shot, it is worth noting that the Panasonic will provide greater subject separation for a given shot when both lenses are wide open. If you’re after the most subject separation, this may be important. You can also see that even with both lenses at f/1.8, the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 still provides slightly more blur due to its slightly longer true focal length.
As far as the bokeh itself goes, both lenses have relatively pleasing renderings here, but neither are perfect. Both lenses show a green ring from longitudinal CA around the specular highlights, with the Olympus showing it a bit more prominently. The Panasonic also has a gentler transition of tones, leading to a slightly creamier appearance.
As the lenses are stopped down, both lenses start to correct that green fringing. The Panasonic maintains a little smoother tonal transition in the background, but as the apertures get smaller, the Olympus shows slightly rounder specular highlights.
As I see it, this is a (very slight) win for the Panasonic Leica. However, evaluation of bokeh is an extremely subjective measure, so don’t take my word for it and simply evaluate the images yourself.
The Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 has been a mainstay of the Micro 4/3 system for some time. This excellent lens has been on the must-have list for serious photographers shooting Micro 4/3 since it came out. The new Olympus 25mm f/1.8 challenges this lens and matches up very, very well. While I find the extra 2/3 stop and slightly better bokeh of the Panasonic Leica more important for my own shooting, the Olympus 25mm is going to be the better choice if cross-frame sharpness is critical at wide apertures, or simply if size is of utmost importance. The Olympus is a significantly smaller lens that only gives up a little speed to its more expensive brother, and that makes it a great lens to have in the system.
22 thoughts on “Olympus 25mm f/1.8 vs. Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4”
A very thought provoking post.
If you were to move the panasonic lens further back from the subject, so that the compositions are then equal, then the panasonic would pick up some more DOF. Then, perhaps at equal F-stops the background blur might be similar…. basically because the slightly greater magnification of the Pany lens would offset by the reduction of magnification realized when moving further away from the subject.
Of course, as far as selective focus, DOF, blur and bokah, there is still the Pany advantage of F1.4 being its widest aperture.
Yes, it would be equalized somewhat, and DOF would be identical at identical f stops, but the Panny would still have a little more blur due to the longer focal length. It’s a slight advantage, though (and the framing difference here isn’t huge either), but was worth noting. The lenses really boil down to whether you prefer size or the faster aperture, in my opinion.
I don’t yet have either! So, it was good to read your assessment.
I wonder how both of these lenses match up to the Four-Thirds version of the Leica/Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 that was meant for the Leica bodies way back when.
To me, it seems practically perfect but there are always some sort of flaws, and with a 62mm filter size, it’s rather big compared to these two.
Reading another such comparison between the micro Four-Thirds lenses, it seemed that they didn’t match up in maximum aperture–the Panasonic/Leica either being smaller or the Olympus being larger.
You’d think engineers would be better at measuring, wouldn’t you?
A comparison of these lenses vs. the Voigtländer 25mm f0.95 would be very interesting!
Do you still have that lens?
The Voigtländer 25mm, to my eye, is the M4/3 the gold standard for this focal length and the first native 25mm lens to be released for M4/3. So, comparing with to the Oly and Panasonic would be a no-brainer.
Why does it have to be a lens “battle” ?
Very nice test. One thing I prefer the Olympus for is the minimum focus distance. It does’t sound a lot of a difference, but when looking at the pictures taken by Robin Wong when comparing those lenses it is a big difference for close-ups of flowers or pets. Keep up the nice work!
Thanks for taking the time to review and compare these two nifty 50s.
I have the Panasonic on my EM5 and can concur it is an awesome lens
Nice write up…like you, I value the bokeh and the extra light gathering of my Panasonic so I will be keeping it…but the small size of the Oly is appealing. Another property of the Oly that is appealing is the significantly closer focusing distance when compared to the Panny…that is REALLY a plus for the smaller lens. Alas it seems we just can’t have it ALL, LOL!
Thanks for an interesting and thorough research!
Would have liked to see the Pana 20/1,7 in there too, though.
Anyway, very informative read!
Interesting, but not complete. So my EUR 0.02 😉
Last week I did a short (10 min) and not very scientific test in shop in Amsterdam with these two lenses on two my Panasonic cameras (G3+GF3) at f/1.8. Panasonic was a latest revision of H-X025E with special “nano-coating”, but still FW revision 1.0.
The results for me were:
= Olympus lens is much better balanced on both my cameras. Panasonic Leica almost requires a second hand to support lens.
= Panasonic seems to be more contrasty or sharp comparing to Olympus at f/1.8.
= Olympus lens is much faster to focus on both my [Panasonic!] cameras. On G3 I even had several focusing attempts with Panasonic lens, which is pretty unusual. On GF3, strangely enough, the same issue was not reproducible.
So I bought …. Panasonic Leica, because like to use it more for art works and I like its f/1.4 a lot. My only hope that they would fix this focusing issue in a new version FW.
I would be curious if you had an opinion about color. I’ve done some testing lately just to compare how the major MFT lenses produce color and I’ve found I tend to prefer the color of the Panasonic Leica branded lenses.
The PL 25mm f1.4 and the PL 45mm f2.8 both produced what I felt were more saturated, higher contrast images. I know color rendition is subjective but it’s also very real. In my testing I took lots of shots of the same subject in the same light and got very different results. I’m surprised this isn’t commented on more or examined in comparison reviews.
I still like my Olympus primes because they perform well in other regards but I’m looking forward to getting the new PL lenses because I’m expecting similar color performance with the new PL 15mm f1.7 and PL 42.5mm f1.2.
I’ve found the same thing regarding contrast and color. I find the rendering on some Olympus lenses to be too pale.
The PL25mm and the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 seem to share similar contrast and color rendering properties. I strongly prefer photos taken with these lenses over photos taken with my Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8, 25mm f/1.8 and 45mm f/1.8. My suspicion is that it has to do with the different types of coatings they use.
I do find the Oly 60mm f/2.8 renders quite beautifully. I’m also a fan of the Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fish-eye.
Just got mine PanaLeica. Did a long research on the net and with looking at photo’s. The Olympus is very good, lighter and more close in focussing, but for my eyes the PanaLeica pictures are just ( a little) more beautiful. The difference is small, the price difference between a demo PanaLeica and a brand new Olympus was zere, so I bought the PanaLeica. And now I’m happy.
Great site you have. Living with the opinion there are very little real life comparison sites of same range camera’s and comparable lenses, your site seams to be able to contribute to this.
Although it seems you are a little bit into mirrorless 4/3 en fuiji yourself, that doesn’t withhold me from searching for a …objectively :] opinion and to see for myself. (Although in this review it seems like you left out the bokeh picture itself.)
I came on your site searching for opinions about the Leica 25mm 1.4 m4/3 lens, but yesterday, and I spent a lot of time searching for the right camera before that, I was very much into the thought that there were no good sites comparing the outcome! of comparable bodies and lenses.
Thought sharing this with you. Good luck from where ever you are 🙂
From a hanging on gh2 user… business concepter, marketing consultant.
Keep the joy!
Hmm. I have the PL 25 sitting on an OMD EM5 and even though the lens is beautiful (and big M43 speaking), what I cannot stand is the rattlesnake noise that is constant when using this lens. Its annoyance is such that I rarely use the lens and I am now seriously considering the Oly 25 and just trashing the PL 25.
I don’t know if the rattlesnake exits on Pany bodies but it does surprise me that not much is written about this issue.
Keep up the good work!
If you try to turn off (or choose the 50/60 HZ, sorry I forgot) the “Flicker Reduction” setting on your camera, you most likely wont hear the rattlesnake noise anymore. I’ve tried it on my E-PL5 and from what I read on other forum, it works for EM5 too.
The only thing I don’t like about the Panasonic 25mm are the CA in high contrast scenes. Particularly when shooting wide open.
Hey Riza, thanks for the tip, the rattlesnake noise by the pana25mm is so frustrating, I was just thinking today how annoying it was as I used this lens for the first time in ages. Read your comment and changed flicker reduction to off and it’s like a whole new lens, quiet as……
Btw I find the panda Leica 25mm seems to render black and white images better than color… Just my own opinion I use it on an em1 with it set on monotone and low key lighting cheers j
Such a nice lens, partly ruined by the non reversible hood. Plus it looks a bit dated compared to the build quality of the newer Leica branded lenes
I wished my Olympus 25mm f1.8 was this sharp in the corners like yours.
It’s a blurry mess and on the left border there is significant softness as well 🙁