Late in the fall, Panasonic released what was a bit of a surprise to many: a slower 50mm equivalent lens in the 25mm f/1.7. This space is occupied already with the faster Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4, and competes directly with the Olympus 25mm f/1.8. The Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 has a suggested retail price of $249…half the cost of its faster sibling and $150 less than the Olympus 25mm. To kickstart the introduction, however, Panasonic sold the lens for $99 for a short time, leading to a huge number of sales and a backorder log stretching to March! I was lucky enough to snag one of these for the $99 special and I’ve been putting it through its paces for the past few weeks.
If you’re not familiar with my reviews, I review from a real world shooting perspective. You won’t find lens charts or resolution numbers here. There are plenty of other sites that cover those. I review products on how they act for me as a photographic tool in real-world shooting.
Construction and Handling
The Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 is an inexpensive lens, and as such, it doesn’t rival the top end lenses in the Micro 4/3 lineup, but it has a solid construction considering the price. The lens body is a matte black plastic that is well assembled and shows no flimsiness or creaking. The plastic exterior ends in a metal lens mount. Focus is internal, so the length of the lens won’t change during focusing. The 25mm f/1.7 comes with a nice plastic lens hood that snaps solidly in place once the decorative ring is removed from the hood bayonet mount. It doesn’t have the heft that many users associate with ‘solid build quality’, but otherwise there’s nothing to complain about here.
The lens handles well on any camera body due to the lightweight nature of the lens and the relatively slim profile. It’s not quite as compact as the Olympus 25mm, but I doubt many will complain about the size unless they are looking for a combination to slip into a jacket pocket. The only external control is the broad ribbed focus ring that moves fairly smoothly and has a decent resistance but lacks the heavy feel of true damping.
The Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 features a fast and fairly quiet lens motor, and can focus as close as 0.25m. Focus is acquired nearly instantly using the Panasonic GX8 and though it’s slightly slower on my OM-D E-M10 II, it’s still a very fast focuser, even in lower light. The lens is rather quiet when focusing, but it isn’t completely silent. Soft clicking sounds can be heard from the lens, which may be audible on video if shooting in quiet rooms, but otherwise will not be a distraction.
However, this is one of the only lenses for a mirrorless system where I had issues with focus accuracy. At closer focus distances, the lens typically focused just fine; hitting critical focus for portraits and closer objects. However, for further subjects, the lens would often miss focus, always to the front, causing some shots near infinity to appear soft, even when stopped down. This was the case much more often in dim light, but still would happen occasionally even in good light, so I found that care had to be taken when shooting with this lens for landscape use when using autofocus. Strangely, I found the lens to miss focus more often using the Panasonic GX8 than I did on the Olympus E-M10 II.
16 thoughts on “Review: Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7”
Since there are already several 25mm lens, it would have been better to make this in the 28mm to 34mm range for those of us who prefer a slightly longer standard lens.
Another great review. I can pretty much confirm almost everything you wrote, as I have a very similar experience with this lens on my E-M10. I have not noticed focusing errors, but maybe I was lucky or did not pay enough attention to notice. But there is something to this, as several users complained about this on dpr forum. It even looks like some samples of that lens exhibit consistent front-focusing behavior (to me, that would indicate a faulty lens than needs to be sent back, to be honest).
As for flare control, it’s great that it comes with a lens hood, that’s an essential accessory. However, the type of purplish, four petal cross flare as seen on your photo with candles, might actually not be the lens’ fault. Like you, I’ve noticed it with this Panasonic lens, as it is pretty easy to spot. But when I checked with my other lenses (including Olympus), I saw the exact same thing, only a bit more muted (so harder to spot and might only pop up with stronger light sources). Coincidentally, someone started a “flare issue” thread on DPR, and guess what? Yep, the same kind of flare. With an Olympus 7-14/2.8. My suspicion is that this has more to do with sensor stack than the lens itself. I have a feeling you might not see this kind of flare on a Panasonic body. But that’s just speculation at this point, as I have no Panasonic body to verify this.
Overall, I like the fact that I don’t have to worry about which aperture to use to get a sharp photo. It’s already good wide open and by f/2.5, you get very even performance across the frame with minimal vignetting. It’s a bit of a bummer that it never really gets super sharp, like most other primes. Not a big deal at $99, but for $250? Not to mention in Europe, it was never available at such a low price (still over 100 EUR cheaper than Olympus, even after cashback).
But what I really like about it, is the bokeh, which I found surprising as I never really cared about this aspect. I think Panasonic did strike a nice balance here. In some situations, it slightly reminds me of some of my legacy manual lenses. It’s not all smooth and buttery, some will probably describe it as “nervous”. But I love it. It works so well for close up shots like this or this. I wish it could focus a bit closer. But it has already become my go-to lens for this type of photography.
One other thing that’s great about it, is how well it handles both coma and chromatic aberration. It does really well when pointed at stars, like seen here, here or here. The only problem is that on long exposures, really bright stars suffer from serious purple fringing, at least on Olympus body. Fortunately, unlike with some other Panasonic lenses on Oly bodies, this does not seem to pop up in normal, day-time photography (at least not in normal conditions).
LOL, just noticed the description under the candle photo. It was shot with GX8, so the Panasonic vs Olympus sensor stack difference is most likely not a cause here, unless something changed for Panasonic with the new 20mp sensor. My bad 🙂
This is the first lens I’ve found that doesn’t always report itself in Phase One Capture One Pro 8.
I had some trouble using it at the skate park with the GX8, even while getting a still shot. It seems like it wants to be a snap shot lens. It worked better with the E-M1, but still seems to need a firmware–the GX8 probably needs an update also.
Tried it in tourist mode in San Francisco and it seemed fine.
My copy purchased when the original special appeared is apparently on deep-backorder (March?!?!) so I guess I have time to get up to speed on the DPR threads discussing the focus issue. I”ll be shooting with it on a GX-7 and EM5-MKII so maybe it will work without issue on standard contrast-detect bodies that are not trying to do DFD like the GX-8.
“some shots near infinity to appear soft”
I have this problem with my omd-1 too, have tried to compense manually with the focus peaking at f/5,6:
same result 🙁
I didn’t find the thread on DPR, so please it will be great if somebody could share the link, thank you 🙂
Hi, do you recommend buying this one (panasonic 25mm 1.7) or the olympus 25mm f1.8 (I have a panasonic lumix g7 camera).
I just purchased this lens. What is the mystery to getting the hood to go on? I have tried everything and it looks like the wrong fit. Any ideas?
Did you take off the cosmetic ring first? Unscrew the little plastic ring off the front to reveal the bayonet mount for the hood.
Thank you. I was afraid I was going to break something. I am use to Nikon lens hoods.I got it.
I recently purchased this lens for my (new) Olympus OMD-E-M10 camera, but when I attached it was unable to focus it: everything was blurred and that could not be changed. I have returned the lens to the seller (Ritz), and they will send me a new one, but I wonder if anyone else has had this experience. Thanks.
Used this lens recently on a boudoir shoot wide open. Corner sharpness not an issue obviously. Otherwise very pleased with results. Nice and contrasty especially in B&W.
Got it at the $99.00 introductory price as well.
This lens focusing very well, if you experience some “front focus” issue, you should enable “constant preview” feature on your camera.
These focusing errors caused by spherical aberration (“focus shift”), this is a common problem in fast prime lenses and it’s not a fault, it’s just lens design thing. When you focusing stopped down to the range of f/2.8 to f/4 the issue can be more visible. The camera always open the aperture to wide open to focus and then goes back to your original aperture. The issue is here: Spherical aberration can shift the plane of focus and your image will be soft or misfocused.
Enable the “constant preview” to prevent this behaviour and your camera will focusing with the aperture that you set. And thats it!
While I appreciate the attempt to explain this phenomenon with this lens, unfortunately, this is not the issue I experienced with the lens.
I am quite familiar with focus shift. Focus shift due to spherical aberration causes a shift away from the camera upon stopping down, and as a result would cause back focus, not front focus.
Also, at the apertures and focus distances where these errors occur with the 25/1.7, depth of field would more than make up for any focus shift errors due to spherical aberration. Remember that the errors I have with this lens happen when focusing far away, not close up where focus shift can generally be a problem.
Using this lens with Olympus OM-D EM5 and EM10 Mark II.
Tested this lens against an old Exakta 24mm f2.8 (COSINA). I was a bit confused that the old one (about 40 years) was much better in details. P.E. Forest 500m distance or a bookshelf fittet with books 10m. Both lenses same settings: one shot f2.8 and one f4. In both cases the Exakta was very much better than Panasonic 25mm f1.7 (at same settings – this includes all settings like ISO aso.). Zoom in picture one will see the big difference.
My question: Is this a very single problem or is this lense that “bad”?