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Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH Lens Review

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH Micro Four Thirds Lens by Panasonic.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Panasonic DG Summilux f/1.4 25mm ASPH.
Price : £375
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
leica-25mm-on-g3-angle

Priced at around £540 pounds and bearing Leica branding, this 25mm lens has a bright f/1.4 maximum aperture, internal focusing, Nano Surface lens coatings to reduce ghosting and flare and it offers the same field of view that a standard 50mm lens would do on a 35mm camera.

Alternatives for the Micro Four Thirds system include Panasonic's 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens, which costs around £290 and offers a more compact alternative, with a slightly less bright maximum aperture.

Olympus also offer a pancake lens, but with a focal length of 17mm. This lens has a much smaller maximum aperture of f/2.8, but only costs £215.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux f/1.4 ASPH Handling and Features

Those expecting the solid brass workmanship of Leica lenses for their own cameras may be a little misguided. Saying that the build quality is good, with high quality plastics used for much of the lens barrel and a metal lens mount to provide durability through many lens changes. The satin black finish looks very smart and in keeping with the Leica branding, this lens has an orange '25' decal placed on top of the lens barrel.



Leica DG Summilux 1:1.4/25 ASPH
Leica DG Summilux 1:1.4/25 ASPH with Hood
Leica DG Summilux 1:1.4/25 ASPH Leica DG Summilux 1:1.4/25 ASPH Rear

The advantage of the materials that have been used is that this optic only weighs 200g, which is very lightweight indeed. As a result the lens balances extremely well on the Panasonic G3 body used for testing. The lens accepts 46mm filters via the thread on the front of the lens. The filter thread does not rotate during focusing, which makes this lens ideal of ruse with graduated or polarising filters.

Autofocus is very fast, although care needs to be taken to ensure accurate focusing with a wide aperture lens such as this. Selecting a smaller focusing area can help with this as if too wide a focus area is used, the camera can miss the intended target. The manual focus ring has a pleasant amount of resistance to it, making fine adjustments easy to make.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux f/1.4 ASPH Performance

As far as image sharpness is concerned, this lens puts in a very fine performance, worthy of the Leica name tag. Sharpness in the centre of the image area is already approaching excellent levels at maximum aperture and stopping the lens down a little improves this optic's performance further. Peak sharpness across the frame is achieved by f/4, where the clarity in the centre is outstanding, and excellent towards the edges of the frame. Diffraction starts to take a bite out of the sharpness at smaller apertures, but the lens still performs excellently down to f/11.

Panasonic25mm_MTF

How to read our charts


The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G3 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled. At f/1.4 fringing can cover just over half a pixel width towards the edge of the frame. This level will be difficult to spot, even in large prints and harsh crops from near the edge of the frame and it also the worst you will see from this lens.

Panasonic25mm_CA

How to read our charts


Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G3 using Imatest.

For a wide aperture lens, falloff of illumination towards the corners is well controlled. At f/1.4 the corners are 1.8 stops darker than the image centre and illumination across the frame is visually uniform by at f/2.8.

Imatest could only detect a minimal level of 0.548% barrel distortion, which should pose no issues for most photographic applications. However if you're super-critical about absolutely straight lines, you'll be glad to know the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make any necessary corrections easy enough to apply.

The deep rectangular hood, which comes supplied does a sterling job of keeping extraneous light from causing any flare or loss of contrast. Light sources within the frame rarely cause any loss of contrast, except for extreme lighting conditions.

Leica DG Summilux f/1.4 25mm ASPH. Sample Photos


Panasonic Leica DG Summilux f/1.4 ASPH Verdict

Micro Four Thirds camera owners after the classic field of view offered by a standard lens will not be disappointed by the optical performance of this lens. It is a very sharp, contrasty optic, worthy of the Leica branding applied.

Saying that, £540 still seems a little steep for a standard prime, whether it be Leica branded or not. The excellent optical performance probably deserves slight premium price though, so the value of this lens may be relative to the user.
The Panasonic Leica DG Summilux f/1.4 ASPH is a very sharp, contrasty optic, worthy of the Leica branding applied.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux f/1.4 ASPH Pros

Excellent sharpness from maximum aperture
Low Chromatic Aberration
Good build quality
Fast focusing

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux f/1.4 ASPH Cons

Premium price

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Leica DG Summilux f/1.4 25mm ASPH. Specifications

ManufacturerLeica
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length25mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/1.4 - f/16
Min Aperturef/1.4 - f/16
Filter Size46mm
35mm equivalent50mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus30cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades7
Elements9
Groups7
Box Contents
Box ContentsFront and rear caps, Storage bag, Lens hood.
Dimensions
Weight200g
Height54.5mm

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Comments


21 Sep 2011 9:47PM
It's odd you failed to mention the REAL native M4/3 "alternative" to the Leica 25mm f1.4 lens, namely the Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f0.95. It's an exceptional, beautifully made, all metal and glass, fully manual lens very much in the tradition of 35mm film lenses.

While it's not cheap, it's low-light shooting abilities are amazing.

http://voigtlander.de/cms/voigtlaender/voigtlaender_cms.nsf/id/pa_mft_lenses.html

There numerous reviews and video samples on YouTube and elsewhere.

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theorderingone 10 2.4k United Kingdom
22 Sep 2011 10:15AM
I didn't mention The Voitglander partially because to me it is a much more specialised lens, due to the price and lack of autofocus.

I also didn't mention it because I had already mentioned two alternatives, and can't possibly mention every lens of a similar focal length. A couple of closely matched alternatives is normally enough, I find.
23 Apr 2012 3:35PM
Maybe a silly question, but is that hood included when buying the lens?
StrayCat e2
10 14.7k 2 Canada
22 Jun 2013 8:47PM
I think the hood is included, and it isn't a silly question to me, especially since Olympus can't see fit to include hoods with their lenses, and charge an arm and a leg for them.

Gary, most other reviews I've read about this lens have mentioned the character of the lens, comparing it to the IQ of Leica lenses, with a bit of 3D showing, which is usually not present in images from M4/3 lenses. I'd be interested in any comments you might have on this.

Thanks,
Denny
joshwa e2
3 600 United Kingdom
24 Jun 2013 9:40AM
The hood is included. Cheers, Josh

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