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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

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Certainly looks like an attractive lens. Adorama has it on pre-roder for $599: much less than I anticipated. This makes it much tougher to resist.

Hmm. 0.3m shortest focus distance as opposed to 0.45m or more for the classic 50s I've seen.

I am deep into m4/3, and will buy this lens when it comes out. I would have to say, though, that I would have preferred a 45mm of the same spec, and hope we get one soon. I'm curious about one thing, however, and maybe one of you lens gurus can help me out. I wonder why the full 4/3 lens is so much bigger, when the sensor size was the same? I know the 4/3 mount is somewhat larger, but does the lens have to be that much bigger for some reason? And if it has to be bigger overall because of the mount, I wonder why they didn't make the mount smaller to begin with?

It's amazing to consider how few cameramakers have provided a digital-specific "fast 50" equivalent"

A humble canon 50mm f/1.4 here, used it on my 20D for for years. Best 80mm I've had

sigh

Bravo indeed.

The best thing about it is that it will work (and be stabilised) on a PEN EP2 which I am seriously considering as my next purchase, along with Panasonic's excellent 14mm and the Leica built 45.

That would be quite a juicy combination for a portable camera, though I would imaging the 25 being the lens of choice most of the time.

Delish!!
I think I will have to pre-order this one when BH starts accepting.

It's amazing to consider how few cameramakers have provided a digital-specific "fast 50" equivalent.

It's not from lack of clamouring on the photographers' behalf. On just about every brand forum there have been people requesting an affordable, fastish normal prime for years (and I mean 'years' literally). The first sign that Samsung "got it" when they announced their mirrorless NX system was that their first prime was a 30mm (45mm-e) f/2 pancake lens. Both Canon and Pentax have still to release such a lens for the APS-C sensor format.

The lens hood for the regular four thirds version is similarly ludicrous.

While I can’t help but be pleased that the lineages of this spectacular lens lives on (I love original version), it does make me sad that this is yet another rattle in the death-knell of regular four thirds. Alas poor E-Series, I knew thee well.

I suppose it’s almost time to welcome out mirrorless overlords with something approaching excitement, if the lens selection is going to be this good (including the pending Zuiko 12 2.0).

"I'm curious about one thing, however, and maybe one of you lens gurus can help me out. I wonder why the full 4/3 lens is so much bigger, when the sensor size was the same?"

John,
Flange distance. Micro 4/3 doesn't need to leave room for the reflex mirror.

Mike

This lens further validates my investment in MFT, and my dedication since it's my only digital camera: I sold my entire APS-C kit a month ago. There are several new lenses being rumored later this month from Olympus, and later this year from Panasonic. Other manufacturers might also make new dedicated lenses, including Nokton and Zeiss.

We are just two primes short of a full system (for my needs): an UWA prime and very fast portrait lens. When those are out I can get rid of my zooms - although the 9-18mm Panasonic is a gem of a lens.

From the samples I've seen online (and maybe this is the Fuji X100's excellent lens having spoiled me) there is a lot of purple fringing and chromatic aberration at 1.4 for a lens that costs over a grand.

I know it's silly to judge a lens from online jpgs but... those are very nice jpgs. Now if only there was Micro-4/3s body nice enough to hang it on.

My 20mm 1.7 just got a new friend. I've been shooting the 20mm and a legacy 50mm 1.8 lately. When the focus is right the 50mm works really well for portraits. Images from the 20mm 1.7 always seems to be right on.

I wish there was a really good fast 50 in Nikon mount. So far I have tried quite a few from Nikon, Sigma and Zeiss, but so far none of them have truly convinced me. But then, maybe I'm a victim of the metaphysical doubt you describe here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/columns/sm-02-09-22.shtml

Someone left out the distance scale and the infinity mark, not to mention DOF markings. If it's supposed to be in the expensive realm of top prime lenses, this is a significant omission.

This helps ease my biggest issue with crop-sensor formats: missing prime equivalents. I'd love to have a 28mm-E, reasonably fast prime for my 1.6X Canons, but I'm left with zooms. I feel a tad left out by companies that started down the EF-S/DX/etc. trail by proclaiming that they would be able to make lenses lighter, smaller and more cheaply. I guess I missed the word "zoom" in all their posturing.

I happen to own the little Leica's older sibling, the 4/3 D Summilux. Assuming that both lenses share the same characteristics, it will be a real treat for m4/3 users. However, it will not be the best fast normal in the system. That title belongs, in my humble opinion, to the Voigtländer Nokton 25/0.95 which is already a classic. Never seen a more appealing rendering at f/1.4.

"Images from the 20mm 1.7 always seems to be right on."

Ken,
Agreed. I *love* that little lens. Ample reason to shoot Micro 4/3 in my opinion. It's my own choice for the format, no question. I won't need the 25/1.4 DG myself--I'm happy with the 20mm. But I'm really glad the new lens will exist, for those people who will "bond" with it and do great work with it.

Mike

While it seems appealing in very many ways, I'm just not sure I can see myself dropping $700 to get a lens that's half a stop faster and 25% longer than my beloved 20 mm. Neither change is unwelcome, but I haven't been longing for it, either.

I know a lot of people love the 50 mm-e focal length, though, and I'm glad to see excellent lenses made for my chosen system. Now if Oly could finally get that 50 mm f/2 they've been promising out the door at similar quality...

Wouldn't be without my 50 Summilux asph on the M. It, and the 28 Summicron asph to a similar degree, are among the modern Leica lenses that, while some consider clinical, still have something special without being harsh IMO. Those and a 35 and I'm good to go.

Is it really common wisdom that the first-version 60's Leica 50mm Summilux ain't so great? Man, that's my absolute favorite lens to use on the M9 - ridiculously beautiful shots (when I get outta the way, of course.) Vintage lens seem to work better on the M9 anyway, looks less digital to my eyes.

I will also add to the love for the Leica/Lumix/Panasonic/whatever 4/3rds Summilux D 25mm - that is such a sweet lens, that it still aggravates me that Leica pulled the plug on their 4/3rds stuff. That lens on the Digilux 3 was magic. I'm starting to tear up just thinking about it.

COOP,
I never used it on digital. My comments are limited to Tri-X. And lens performance is nothing if not subjective, at least when we're talking about pictures primarily.

Mike

Dear David,

It's not a mechanically-focusing lens, so DoF and distance scales are simply not a possible option ('cept possibly in the camera software UI for the camera-back display... which is an interesting thought).

~~~~~

Dear JC,

Maybe I'm misremembering, but I thought you had the 20mm f/1.7 Panasonic lens. If so, how would a mere 5mm added focal length and a half-stop added aperture (your hypothetical 45mm f/1.4) make much of a difference? Just curious.

pax / Ctein

>the wacky but delightful Summarit ƒ/1.5 >that Johnny Deadman used to such great >effect

Johnny Deadman mostly used a pre-ASPH Summilux 35 - I think you're remembering Stephen Holloway, whose site deepturtle.ch is now gone, but which featured some incredibly good work done with the f1.5 Summarit.

Voltz

This lens is a welcome addition to m43 arsenal, and I believe it is a statement from Panasonic. They are saying "look this is a serious system" - as serious as to have a leica branded flagship normal prime. If you ask me, that says a lot.

As others have mentioned, one of the main m43 attractives is the availability of small, quality primes (with more to come if we are to believe the rumors)...something APS-C camera makers have failed to offer so far (apart from Pentax with their limited primes).

m43 may well become the street/travel system for the 21st century, unobtrusive, light, smart, smaller and unafraid of departing from the established mainstream - if we think of it, this is the story of the barnack all over again. This is why i find it so exciting.

:)

Is it just me, or is anyone else amused that the first photo taken *with* the new lens on that Chinese site is of the photographer's cat? And it's a very nice portrait of the cat. I can has new prime lens....

I've got a dozen or so unprocessed rolls of Tri-X 400 shot w/the 50mm on an M6 body - i'll let you know how those turn out.

"primes are now the province of purists" that gave me a jolt. Could you not say that "now zooms are for photographers with no time for photography". I would guess that most still fast primes are now sold to people using DSLR to shoot video and are intensely interested in the look of the image whereas most photographers now concentrate on getting the shot.

As for primes being a niche - I recently read an article that showed statistics in which Canon's 50mm1.8 was the best sold lens in Japan. Second came the 100mm Macro. So I'm not sure it's really a niche.

There is some "cold, dead fingers" quote in regards to my pre-asph 50mm'lux. That thing absolutely sings with portra loaded in my M6. I've seen shots taken with the asph version: If clinical is your thing, Leica will be happy to take your money.

@John Camp @Mike:

To elaborate a little bit, the regular 4/3 used an unusually long register distance relative to the size of the sensor. Some of that may have been because Olympus assumed that digital would require near telecentric lenses, but it also allowed them to use a Poro mirror finder in the E-300 series. In any case, the long register distance meant the 25/1.4 for 4/3 couldn't use a classic Planar design. It had to be retrofocus, more like a fast wide design than a fast normal. You can see that by looking at the block diagram.

To my eyes, 4/3 sensors (and APS-C for that matter) don't seem to render DOF transitions as gracefully as full format 35mm, which in addition doesn't render it as nicely as medium format. Just my own taste in images probably, but I don't think I'll find my fast 50mm replacement in these formats.

Here's another gallery of - quite obviously rushed - images taken with this lens:

http://www.photographyblog.com/previews/panasonic_25mm_lens_photos/

The poster himself notes in a comment that he had very little time to "play" with the lens, and it shows. Most of these samples look like snapshots compared to the Chinese guy's work, but at least they are full-res and many of them were shot at f/1.4 according to the exposure data provided below the thumbnails.

What I see here is that the lens is very sharp wide open and bokeh is pretty nice even when the subject was obviously several feet away from the camera - but there's a ton of chromatic aberrations. I mean look at the biker pic: I see lots of blue and purple fringing there. (It would take a pretty big print for these CAs to show though.) Some of the other pics exhibit these aberrations quite well, too.

Other manufacturers might also make new dedicated lenses, including Nokton and Zeiss.

If the rumors are to be believed, there is a Zeiss 24mm f/1.7 (36mm-e) coming along with the Sony NEX-7 when it's released.

Having an investment in Sony/Minolta glass means I can't get into MFT. Even if I fall in love with the mirror-less format, I can't see myself totally divesting all of my dSLR gear. There's still a place for having it around.

I wish that sony / Zeiss would get their act together and make a 28mm or 30mm f/1.5 Sonnar for the E mount.

"lens manufacture (is) essentially a solved problem."

Lenses still have different characters, for example, a Zeiss ZM and a Leica Summarit-M. Old and often cheap lenses offer interpretations not available in modern lenses. And too many modern computer-designed lenses produce sharp but thin images.

Not forget Cosina/Voigtlanders new 25mm for M4/3

I don't think Panasonic gets enough credit for their lens design. All four of the Panasonic-designed primes for Micro 4/3 are sharp with attention paid to bokeh character, and that's not something you can say about very many manufacturers in any format.

Have a look at these crop comparisons of the Pana 14/2.5 and Pentax 21/3.2. These are two crops from the same photo, and in each case the Panasonic is on the left. Both were taken with the respective lenses wide open.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/attachments/f41/1240d1303675772-panasonic-lumix-g-14mm-f-2-5-pentax-da-21mm-f-3-2-informal-easter-shootout-5650210659_647f8645e8_o-png

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/attachments/f41/1241d1303675798-panasonic-lumix-g-14mm-f-2-5-pentax-da-21mm-f-3-2-informal-easter-shootout-5650775050_1182fecb8c_o-png

Good news no doubt for the m43 crowd but still, the current crop of M43 cameras mostly requires one to hold the camera at arm's length, peering at some low resolution LCD screen which one will be lucky to see in direct sunlight.....

they can now try to shoot at f1.4 in this manner! When will there ever be an optical finder for these cameras??!

I will be very interested to see how this compares with the Voitlander 25mm.....

The nasty spherochromatism I see in the pictures at http://www.photographyblog.com/previews/panasonic_25mm_lens_photos/ would kill the whole deal for me. It seems that given the fact that transverse chromatic aberrations and distortion can be fixed in software, I'd like more work done to fix the longitudinal chromatic aberration.

"When will there ever be an optical finder for these cameras??!"
There are optical and LCD accessory finders for some of the cameras. But the odds you'll ever see an SLR style optical finder is essentially zero. The entire philosophy the camera format is built on is that you can get rid of the mirror in order to shrink the lens-to-sensor distance and shrink the lenses and body. Without the mirror, you have no SLR style optical finder.

Hugh,
In my experience, color anomalies in digital are the product not just of the lens but of the lens plus the sensor. So really it's a system artifact, not (necessarily) an inherent property of the lens, and any evaluation of color problems would have to be in the context of the specific model of camera (and possibly also the RAW converter) you plan to use.

Mike

David Teo Boon Hwee : "the current crop of M43 cameras mostly requires one to hold the camera at arm's length".

The GH2 and G3 have built-in electronic viewfinders which are pretty decent, and the Olympus Pens (except the EP-1) have an add-on EVF that is also quite nice. The Panasonic GF1 and GF2 have an add-on EVF, too, which is--well, they have an add-on EVF, anyway.

And who knows, maybe they'll figure out that they can sell an X100-style body with a m4/3 mount for an X100-style price (and a huge margin, because no built-in lens).

David Bostedo: "Without the mirror, you have no SLR style optical finder."

It seems to me that they could do a Fuji-type hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder: overlay frame lines in the OVF based on focal length for some range (say, 14-45mm on m4/3) and then switch automatically to EVF outside that range (as the X100 does for macro mode, if I understand rightly). Is there a reason that couldn't work?

I've been shooting at f/1.4 on Micro Four Thirds for some time -- with an adapted C-mount lens. 150mm-e, manual focus. Works pretty well really (yes, handheld).

Yeah, the LCD screen is imperfect in bright sunlight. On the other hand, it's a considerable advantage over nasty dim reflex viewfinders in low light. It's all a matter of where you shoot.

It's easier to use on a tripod than cameras you have to put your eye right up to.

And in fact, with suitable techniques in both cases, I seem to be able to hand-hold slower than with a camera I have to bring to my face. The techniques are different, naturally.

For my Olympus E-PL2, I could buy the EVF attachment if I felt that would help me a lot.

Hmmm....

Just looked at some samples over at OMUser and the bokeh just might make me eat my words. Impressive.

I will never use one of these optical viewfinder less new-fangled monstrosities even if you gave me one. Never! Do you hear?!
Unless its a view camera, heh heh...

[exits with cheesy grin]

I am glad someone likes the old Summarit 1.5. I use it extensively on my 111f and M3 and am delighted with it. The one real problem is bad flare in backlighted situations, but one adjusts.

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