The Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 produces images with good sharpness at most working apertures, including at f/1.7. For shooting shots of people or closer subjects, you’ll find the lens can render high levels of resolution, though it falls a bit short of the very best optics here. For the majority of shooting situations, however, I think you’ll be pleased with wide open performance.
It’s a good thing that sharpness is pretty good at f/1.7 because it doesn’t seem to improve too much upon stopping down. A slight increase in sharpness can be seen at f/2.8 and f/4 and this yields predominantly even sharpness across the frame, with some minor softening in the corners. While there are certainly sharper lenses around, the 25mm f/1.7 is going to give you plenty of resolution in most any situation. For the modest price, the 25mm f/1.7 puts in a good performance here…just don’t expect to be blown away.
A lot of cheap optics tend to cut corners when it comes to bokeh, but Panasonic appears to have put an emphasis on pleasing bokeh with the design of this lens. It’s not a cream machine, but specular highlights are generally evenly illuminated and backgrounds have a nice fall off that adds depth to images. You’ll notice in the shot below that highlight lose their round shape towards the edge of the frame, but thankfully there is only very minor edge outlining. Many less expensive optics show rather harsh bright ring outlines, and thankfully the 25mm f/1.7 avoids those pitfalls. The background retains fairly high contrast and you may notice that the high contrast background can contribute to some busier bokeh in some outdoor situations in some of the sample images at the end of the review, but on the whole I’m quite pleased with the 25/1.7 in terms of bokeh.
Color, Contrast and Chromatic Aberration
The Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 produces images with nice contrast that will neither blow you away nor disappoint. Colors are evenly saturated without being too bold. The drawing style lends itself well to wide aperture work, though some may actually prefer slightly less contrast for an even softer profile, but I think the lens strikes a nice balance.
The 25mm f/1.7 surprisingly shows very little lateral chromatic aberration in real world use. In fact, going through my images, it’s hard for me to find any that is visible, even at 100% enlargement. Pretty impressive. While not completely invisible, it also controls longitudinal CA fairly well. A bit of mild magenta and green fringe can be seen on out of focus bright edges, but it’s not strong.
Distortion, Flare and Vignetting
Panasonic and Olympus have relied on digital distortion correction for many Micro 4/3 lenses, and that tradition continues with the Panasonic 25mm f/1.7. RAW files and JPEG files have built-in distortion correction profiles, so you won’t see any distortion unless you specifically turn it off. If you use a program such as Capture One Pro, which can disable the built-in corrections, you’ll see that the lens natively exhibits pronounced barrel distortion, though it’s not as bad as some other Micro 4/3 lenses I’ve reviewed.
Vignetting seems very well controlled to me, even when digital correction is turned off. Some slight darkening is visible at f/1.7, but is negligible stopped down a bit.
One are where the lens does falter is in flare control. Panasonic has never had amazing lens coatings, and they didn’t bring out their best for this inexpensive lens. Shooting into the sun produces multicolored ghosting, while any other bright lights in the frame often display what can best be described as flare orbs surrounding them. In some instances, purple flare can radiate from bright light sources, as can be seen around the candles in the image above. When shooting into bright light, keep the hood on and watch the viewfinder to help mitigate ghosting by altering camera position.
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”?