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Sunday, 04 March 2012


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Good shots and a great review, but i still feel that in this world of fast lenses and great ISO's that an off camera flash would have made those images really sing.

There are too many wonderful cameras and lenses now, it's an embarrassment of lenses. Uh, riches. And a tsunami of choices.

I have like four different *systems* I can hardly choose between, they are too good. (Pentax, Panasonic, Canon, Olympus. And I even have Nikon bodies and lenses I haven't used in years. And a Fuji X10 which could replace most of it on its own, to the shame of all.)

"I 'instructed' the camera to focus on the closest eye."

Suddenly, a sentence that made me perk up. Looking up the specs of the E-P3, I found that it has "eye detect AF": Near side eye priority mode, right side eye priority mode and left side eye priority mode.

Does this work fairly reliably? If yes, I'm sold...

"I 'instructed' the camera to focus on the closest eye."

It would never have occurred to me that a camera manual would contain any useful information, or all those buttons and dials would conceal such a gem of a feature. In fact, I used my new cameras almost the way I used my old mechanical ones.

As ever, another really interesting post Kirk, and some very attractive portraits.

It seems to me that we have now entered a new era in picture taking, in that most of the technology now works together and allows us to trust the camera to do what we want it to do. In current mirrorless cameras, the face recognition works so fast and so reliably, that we cannot really do better by ourselves. We have lenses like the Summilux that can be used wide open, very clean high resolution sensors that mean that you might just as well use auto-ISO as set it yourself, and matrix-meters that get the exposure nailed pretty much every time. Coupled with that articulated viewfinders and good EVFs, we now have all the parts of the jigsaw fitting together.

I got this lens a couple of weeks ago and has been on my EP3 since then. As Kirk says, the lens is very sharp wide open and images look more 3D than with other lenses. The Olympus 45 f1.8 is a great sharp lens too. The 25 completed the lens set I want with me all the time (12 f2, 25 f1.4 and 45 f1.8). The 12 f2 is a little behind of the other two, but it's also a great lens. It is better than the Olympus and Panasonic 7-14 both set at 12, and better than my Olympus ZD 11-22 set at 12.
Great review Kirk.

Kirk: Do you use an EVF on your E-P3?

What I've seen so far from this lens looks great. However, comparing it to the Zeiss 50/1.4 doesn't tell your readers a lot. I had the ZF version of the Zeiss for two years and found it to be among the weaker 50s I know.
I wish there was a 50mm lens with Nikon mount in the same league as Leica's 50/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH.

Roland. Yes, it is very reliable. It's changed the way I shoot portraits.

I don't get it. Not to take anything away from this review/system/lens, but why couldn't you have done any of this with your 5DII and Zeiss?

The review implies that you wouldn't even have tried it, preferring to bring along lights, cables and stands. I would think that shooting 'loose and free' like you did with the G3 would only favour the larger system, would it not?

I have the FourThirds SLR version of this lens too. It remains the lens in that kit which does most of the work. Even though I've mostly abandoned SLRs, replaced them with mirrorless and RF cameras, that lens on the Oly E-1 or Panasonic L1 has a presence to rival them all.

Next time, please make pictures of a good looking waitress!

I opted for the 20mm 1.7. Not much slower and more in the 'spirit' of m43. Excellent quality too.

Leica do it again, time after time. Their reputation is based on it, its probably better to group all the bad Leica lens in a review than review 'another good one' so we all know which ones not to buy!

Great review and that lens really sings to me. Shall i trade in the nikon..... hmmm tough question

Ha, it's Emmett! My Mom goes to Asti all the time!

Great appraisal, Kirk, and fantastic images. Lens choice really is one of the best things about m43 these days.

You mean it also offers "closest fork priority" ?? Genuinely stunned.


Just a personal question.....I'm wondering how do you convince clients that Kirk + G3 = kick ass photographer. Or better phrased, how do you convice a client that Kirk + G3 = kick ass photographer instead of Kirk + D3x/5D3/D700/D800/M9 etc. Eh, a client Kirk not me, I'm convinced (both of you and the G3).

Greetings, Ed

As usual, Kirk forces those of us wedded to our dSLRs to think differently. I admire him for that. His work makes the best case for considering a smaller-format system.

Great assessment Mr. Tuck. It's inspiring to see someone - a working professional - successfully using Micro-4/3 gear commercially. And the lens is indeed fantastic, I'm very happy with my copy as well, it's one of my favorite lenses. The chattering noises don't bother me, and outdoors or in a busy cafe you don't notice it anyway.

Great photos, great review, great lens. I must be happy today or something. Cheers!

So many lenses, so little time! I'm another one with multiple systems: My Pentax APS-C DSLR kit and my micro four-thirds kit with both Panasonic and Olympus bodies and lenses.

Because I am curious by nature, I have been considering trying Sony's NEX system. Perhaps a 5N body and the two new Sigma primes for NEX to keep costs down. But Kirk's review of the 25mm Summilux has me ready to toss that plan out the window.

I thought I'd been getting by fine with the Panny 14mm and 20mm but it looks like I'm missing out on something good.

Can you reveal some trade secrets of environmental portraiture? In the image with a background of a lovely patron entering the store - was that a remarkable "decisive moment" or was that planned with a model appropriately positioned?

Photography is 1% talent and 99% moving furniture. -Arnold Newman

"I don't get it. Not to take anything away from this review/system/lens, but why couldn't you have done any of this with your 5DII and Zeiss? The review implies that you wouldn't even have tried it"

No, I think you're misreading. The review explains that Kirk normally would have "brought along lights, stands and high-dollar cameras and lenses"...that, in fact, he had done so on previous occasions...but that this time he wanted to "go in light. Very, very light" despite the prevailing conventional wisdom that smaller sensors aren't as good for professional work.


"Next time, please make pictures of a good looking waitress!"

Nobody was paying for that.


Marc asked, "Kirk: Do you use an EVF on your E-P3?" Yes. Always. I've hot glued it on so that no one will ever see me treat my camera to the "stinky diaper baby hold."

@ Ken...

Are you sure that 24 Summilux, and the camera you're using it on, are calibrated correctly for focus? No reason those pics shouldn't be really sharp.

While I don't have the same max aperture with my Pentax primes, I find the K5 with the DA15, DA35 Macro and the FA 77 offers a fairly small and light travel kit with exceptional performance in a similar fashion to what you describe here.

Carsten Bockermann writes:
"I wish there was a 50mm lens with Nikon mount in the same league as Leica's 50/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH."

I suspect Carsten knows pretty well there is currently no 50mm lens quite in the same league as the Summilux. Certainly nowhere near full aperture.

However, whether in ZF-mount or ZE-mount, there is an exceptionally competent lens, and a suprisingly good one.
The Zeiss Makro-Planar 50mm f/2 is certainly outstanding. It takes the other-worldly performance (and price!) of the Summilux to dwarf it.

The Voigtländer Nokton SLII 58mm f/1.4 is surprisingly good for the going price (1/12 of the Summilux). I had the opportunity of comparing it at length with the Zeiss Planar ZF 50mm f/1.4, and found the Zeiss, much against all my expectations, the weaker contender.

Much as I'd like this lens, I'll make do with the panny 20mm, which I'm really enjoying, when I can find the time to get out and use it.

@ Jeff: The Leica 24mm Summilux is entirely manual. (In Leica's world AF is for ... soccer moms .) There's no such thing as calibration to the E-P3. Wide open it's not even sharp on a Leica. It would sharpen dramatically by f/2.8. But the baby 'Lux is not too bad, even open. I'm sure the camera's firmware does some doin's on it, as it does detect it.

I agree with the idea that it is the available lenses that makes this system. My use of MFT cameras is based on the availability of fast primes that can be used wide open. Sure Nikon, Canon and others have a bigger selection, but MFT seems to be keeping up in the core focal lengths I use, and at more affordable prices - nifty-fifty excepted... Even better, one can access some of the primes in kits!

The chattering of this gorgeous lens on the EP3 is a result of the full time autofocus that can be switched on or off in the detailed menu.

Kirk - kudos to your review - i REALLY look forward to a possible review of the EM-5 and the 45mm f1.8.


Thanks for the a good review of the new Leica lens. Sounds like a need to put this lens on my list to get. I was also curious about your use of the G3 and the EP-3, seems like you prefer the G3, but perhaps I am reading too much into it. Which camera do you prefer to shoot with and why? Thanks again for the review JEFF

Back @ Ken...

Thanks. Yep, I forgot you were shooting with the lens on the E-P3 rather than a Leica. I know full well about manual Leica lenses; I was referring to the calibration that Leica Service Dept. now routinely does on lenses and digital M cameras. Tolerances are tight and even some of the best lenses, e.g., the 50 Summilux asph I own, needed to be re-calibrated to a standard, while at the same time my camera was calibrated to its standard. This helps address back or front focus issues, if any.

But, you're right, it's not the sharpest wide open in comparison to many other lenses in the Leica array.

re FF and 4/3 comparisons - remember the DOF difference. Not trying to teach anyone to suck eggs, but it seems that with an example like Kirks building you would have to stop down the Zeiss more just for DOF reasons

>>The Zeiss Makro-Planar 50mm f/2 is certainly outstanding.

Yes, Chris, and fortunately I have one :-)

I have a question, I googled for the lens and it turned out there are two 25 Summiluxes: one is bigger.
May I please ask which was used by Kirk?
Many thanks in Advance.

Hi Alfredo,
The larger one is for the 4/3 system; the smaller, later one is for the Micro 4/3 system, and that's the one Kirk used. It fits on all Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 cameras.


This review comes at a great time, I am just in the process of selling up my DSLR kit. Since using film cameras for my project work I've hardly lifted the DSLRs up. In fact last time I used them in anger was probably June last year.

While I'd love the new Fuji I am seriously looking at the Micro 4/3s system because of the wider choice of cameras and lenses and lower cost.

This 25mm the olympus 45mm, now I just need my 28/35mm equivalent and I'm set.

(Sigh) I wish it fitted my Pentax! Makes me want to take up portrait photography.

Unlike you, Kirk, I prefer the wider lenses. 16mm suits me very well. My 12-24mm lens would be better if it were just slightly more wide angle....
Quite a few of my people shots are taken around the 16-18mm mark, but with lots of environment around the edges. I don't fill the frame with the face. Well, not usually.... http://www.flickr.com/photos/41506914@N04/6956068837/in/photostream
: ]

I use this lens extensively on my GH2 and love it. Wonderful. Worth every penny I paid for it. I have done a review as well:


Alan, you show in your review that the three dimensional rendering works with cat's faces as well.

Nice out of focus rendering there too. (He said, avoiding the 'b' word) : ]

Being a 20mm 1.7 user, I wonder if it would be worth it to buy this lens.

I'm really happy with the colors and low light capability that the 20mm provides, and pretty happy with the sharpness. I'm not particularly happy with focusing speed and the smoothness of the out-of-focus bits leaves a bit to be desired. Probably most importantly, I've found that I prefer a narrower angle of view than the ~57 degrees than the 20mm provides.

Anyone have experience with both? Insights appreciated.

@ RT: I've both the 20 mm and the 25mm lenses. Honestly, if you're most comfortable with a smaller lens save your money. The lenses have different optical designs and, at least in my opinion, the 25mm is a noticeably superior optic. They render slightly differently. But all that is chaff if you're just going to be more comfortable using the 20mm. The better lens is the one you learn and use often.

£900 in the UK. For a lens with a plastic body and "focus by wire".

How much better does the optical performance of a lens have to be to put up with these cons?

@RT: It comes down to what focal length you prefer. I shoot mostly travel and the 40mm equivalent of the 20/1.7 works better for me because it is significantly wider than the 50mm equivalent of the 25. For that reason I ended up selling my 25. But that's just me.

If I want to move in closer, the Oly 45/1.8 fills that need...or the 14-42 zoom if I don't need a shallow dof.

While the 25 may perform better than the 20, I think many here are overlooking that it is a different focal length. You must answer the focal length question first. And, in reality, the performance between the two is different, but both are beyond excellent.

Roger, for Pentax you have a choice of at least two great portrait lenses, the 70mm and the 77mm. The latter is a bit expensive. The former (F:2.4) is astoundingly compact.
But even the 50mm 1.4 is a good portrait lens on Pentax (which is not full-frame, so it's like a 75mm lens).

Amazon UK is currently selling this lens for £450, so far as I can see, not £900. If it's the one cosily called "Panasonic H-X025E LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm Digital Interchangeable Lens"...

Adorama apparently has the 25mm M43 Summilux f1.4 back in stock. I just got an Email that my back-ordered lens was shipped on Thursday evening.

When m43 was announced, my vision of it was a small camera and two or three good small primes... looks like we're there.
With a macro on the way, just need a good, small tele to complete the kit. (and the cash to buy it all!)

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