Size does matter, especially for lenses.

If you are looking for the best or the fastest glass, chances are you will end up with lenses that are large and heavy. If like me you came to the M4/3 system for a small and lightweight kit, then you will probably want to stay away from such lenses. Either way, size matters.  

In the new Olympus Passion Magazine, Tony Ventouris wrote a review directly comparing the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.8 with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO lens

Although I have not personally tried the f/1.2 lens, after looking at reviews, image samples and specifications, I had come to the same conclusion as Tony. The PRO lens appears to be excellent in nearly all performance aspects, but it is literally 3x the price, 3x the size and 3x the weight of the f/1.8. When you think about the fact that the f/1.8 is really a superb lens in its own right and the difference in optical performance between the two is in the 10-20% range, is the PRO lens worth the extra expense, size and weight? 

Other than the slightly better optical performance, the PRO lens has the following advantages:

  • Weather Sealing,
  • 1 stop shallower DOF,
  • Slightly more light transmission.

If weather sealing and the 1 stop of shallower Depth of Field are important to you, then this lens may be worth it. But if you are looking for better low-light performance you may be disappointed. According to DXO-Mark, the PRO lens has an actual light transmission of T/1.8 whereas the f/1.8 lens comes in at T/2.0, so you only get about 1/3 of a stop of extra light. All that glass is not only heavy, but it also cuts down on light transmission. 

Since in my case the size and weight of my overall photo kit were the primary reasons why I chose the M4/3 system over the Fuji X or the Sony system, this new PRO lens doesn’t really fit my needs at all. I would certainly like to have a weather-sealed walk-around lens for my street photography, but the extra size, weight and expense combined with the marginal improvement in performance, DOF control and light transmission mean that I will stick with my f/1.8. 

The f/1.8 provides much better value for money and a much better performance to weight ratio. It is a lens that is completely in keeping with the philosophy behind the creation of the M4/3 system. The PRO lens is not. I would rather spend that money on a second body (I’m eyeing the Pen F). 

You might also want to take a look at the Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH which is half the size and price of the M.Zuiko PRO and offers the same light transmission (T/1.8) and very similar optical performance.  You can buy any of these three lenses from our sponsors and we get a small commission at no cost to you. 

5 Comments

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  1. 1
    Michael Gent

    I concur which is why i went for the Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f0.95. Less lens elements than either the Oly lenses which promotes micro contrast and pop. Never mind the light gathering and SDOF. I have the oly 17 and 45, the Mitakon gives more pleasing render and Bokeh.

  2. 2
    Ernest

    No man , you need to try the 25mm f1.2 , it’s not that heavy if you compared to OTHER PRO LENSES , but the optical result is incredible !!!
    Not to see reviews from web pages like DOX MARK , try it & you will see 💪💪

    • 3
      sduford

      I understand that it is a great lens, but from all the sample images I’ve seen, it isn’t really all that much better than the f/1.8, at least not enough to make it easy to identify which images came from the f/1.2.

      I stick to my decision: great lens, but I prefer sticking with small and light, that’s why my Nikon stays at home.

  3. 4
    The Candid Flaneur (@alexzafer)

    I couldn’t agree more. Yes, the pro line is amazing… I have the 12-40 Pro, which is spectacular, but the 17mm 1.8 prime is on my Olympus body most of the time as my go-to for street photography. It’s well-built, small and unobtrusive, with great results. Size and weight were the #1 reasons I moved from Canon DSLR to M4/3. I do however appreciate all the incredible choices in glass that is available for the micro 4/3 mounts. The more the merrier, as there is something of good quality for all purposes, to suit most photographic needs.

  4. 5
    Vivan Greco

    I haven’t had a chance to try the 25 1.2, but I have the Panasonic/Leica 25 1.4, and it’s an absolutely amazing lens. Beautiful bokeh, sharp focus withing the narrow zone of DOF. Smooth, creamy, almost magical. I also have an old FD 55 1.2 manual focus lens with an adapter, and, while it’s more finicky, and slower to focus, really makes some spectacular images. Awesome portrait lens.

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