Quick Comparison: Olympus 25 1.8 vs Panasonic 25 1.4

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Quick Comparison: Olympus 25 1.8 vs Panasonic 25 1.4

So here is the much asked for comparison of the $399 Olympus 25 1.8 vs the $129 more expensive 25 1.4 for Micro 4/3. Besides the slight speed increase of 1.4 vs 1.8, what does the Panasonic offer you for the extra $129..or should I say what DOESNT it offer?

I have shot with them side by side for a few days and found that they are VERY close in regards to image quality/sharpness. So close in fact that if I were buying new today I would buy the Olympus if I was using an Olympus Micro 4/3 camera. It seems to be just as good, it focuses fast, is smaller, and has no issues on the Olympus bodies. Below are a few quick comparison shots so you can judge for yourself.

The test images below.. you can right-click and open them in a new tab or window to see the full size file.

1st, Olympus 25 1.8 with the E-M1 at 1.8, wide open

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Now the Panasonic 25 1.4 at 1.8 on the E-M1

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and the crops..

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The Panasonic is slightly sharper here but not by much at all. To me, the benefits of the Olympus ($129 less, smaller, faster AF, silent focus, more neutral color) beat out that small miniscule sharpness difference.

and speaking of sharpness, here is a full size shot from the E-M1 and 25 1.8 – right-click and open in a new window to see the full size image (from RAW). This was shot at f/2.5.

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65 thoughts on “Quick Comparison: Olympus 25 1.8 vs Panasonic 25 1.4

  1. It is very apparent to me, that looking at the two shots, the Panaleica shot is considerably brighter.
    Just look at the basket weaving near the apples!
    Both excellent…but the pana is definitely getting more light on the subject.

  2. Take a look at the corners on the still life pear images, the Olympus beats the Panasonic for edge to edge sharpness no doubt, both are at the same aperture so it’s not that, the Panasonic goes blurry towards the corners especially at the bottom sides, while the olymous is still sharp

  3. What’s difference a monitor makes! On my MacBook Pro Retina, the Panasonic Leica still-life image of the pears and apples looks very noticeably better than the Oly 25. When I look at the same image on my IPad Mini Retina display I honestly can’t see any difference at all between both images either in terms of sharpness or brightness/exposure levels. Without checking specs, I am guessing the MBP Retina has much higher resolution than iPad Mini Retina so that possibly explains the difference. Before now I could understand how some readers could see a big difference and others saw marginal differences or none at all.

  4. Maybe it’s my monitor or maybe it’s an unconscious bias, but the reason to own the PL/1.4 over the new Oly/1.8 just jumps out of the two apple images quite clearly to me. I’m not sure it could be quantified, but the quality of the drawing of the PL is just a lot more attractive. That’s not to say the Oly is no good, only to suggest that to favor that lens over the PL is really a conclusion that “for the money” the 25/1.8 is “good enough”, because its image quality sure isn’t (by a long measure for me, anyway) the better of these two lenses.

    1. No he is not, he is looking through the rangefinder to compose and take the shot. He was part of our workshop and I snapped a shot of him while he was taking a photo. Staged? Why would I stage a shot of a man taking a photo?

      1. I have the EVF attached and there are many instances when I use the rangefinder, finding it much quicker to lock focus. The EVF IMO is more accurate under some circumstances, but also slower.

      2. perhaps the shot’s not staged but to my eye he definitely seems to be in a costume of sorts and based on his surroundings decidedly over dressed . . . . the word “affectation” comes to mind . . . .

        1. The Gentleman is hip. Plain and simple. He uses a Leica and he’s lucky to own one. You don’t know what a rangefinder is. Read about Leica history-fascinating. Machined to within microns. Really, they are. If you’ve followed SHP you’d have seen this man and that’s how he dresses. Refreshing. Staged? Who cares? Steve Huff Photo is a solid and very informative website. Maybe you should follow it because you’ll learn lots and be better informed and not have to waste your time making subjective comments like the one above.
          Pick a topic and submit it-just don’t stage it or dress cool…

          1. Forgot to mention the fact that this man has been featured in at least one previous article on SHP-same look-“affectation”-I call it hip and cool for an older man-you call it whatever you think

          2. He is also a friend of mine and has over 100 patents to his name. He is one of the coolest, smartest and awesome guys I know and he is in his 70’s. He’s invented some amazing things, and this was doing my Southwest Work Shop when we did the Las Vegas portion – not a staged shot, he was taking a picture.

  5. I will have my Oly 25mm tomorow and I’m really excited about it. Still can’t understand why PanaLeica users needs to trash Oly (not only here). I’m long user of Pana 20mm (first version) and I can honestly say I love the way it renders, some of my favourite shots were shot with it. But fortunately it’s main reason why I never invested in PanaLeica 25mm. Although it’s tempting for specific Leica rendering and I love 50mm FOV also is fact that Pana 20mm is sloooow to focus on E-M5 especialy in low light. I know that PanaLeica is faster focusing than 20mm but still in my mind it keeps ringing that Oly will be much much faster on Oly body. Thats why this Oly is my personal choice.

    1. Lenny,
      I use an EM-1 Body and previously had the EM-5. Currently, I use the Panasonic Leica 25mm 1.4 and for a while I also had the Panasonic 20mm 1.7. I also have a number of Oly lenses 12 2.0, 17 1.8, 45 1.8, 75 1.8 and 12-40 2.8. I don’t think anyone here is trashing Oly. Fortunately we can choose the best for our needs from both lens and body manufacturers. For a while, I held off buying the Panasonic Leica 25mm 1.4 based on views of Ming Thein who tested both and I trust his judgement.

      Whilst the 20mm 1.7 is a great lens it’s far from perfect. It is very slow – if you are taking shots of moving objects like your kids the Panasonic Leica wins hands down in terms of speed. I also found the rendering of the 20 1.7 not especially to my liking. It is very sharp but quite harsh and gritty. The colours on the Panasonic Leica “pop” so much more. I am primarily a portrait photographer. Ming Thein is primarily a “street photographer”.

      The 20 1.7 is super small and discrete and it’s gritty rendering is perfect for street photography. If you lean more towards portraiture where skin tones really matter, the Panasonic Leica wins hands down over the 20 1.7. For portraiture, the Oly 75mm and 45mm are also very good choices. Personally, I don’t find the 17mm sharp enough but the Oly 25mm is said to be based on the Oly 45mm so it will doubtless be a very high quality lens. Personally, I will be keeping the Panny Leica 25mm and will likely sell my Oly 12mm, 17mm and 75mm to fund the Panasonic Leica 42.5 1.4. After I sold my EM-5 in favour of the EM-1, my micro 4/3 system is not so pocketable anymore but I realise for portraiture I really want the best available (and am happy to make some compromise on size) given that’s what I mainly spend my time shooting.

      I still want something pocketable for landscapes so have also just bought a Ricoh GR and 21mm adapter which will cover me at the wide end i.e. 21mm, and 28mm (as well as 35mm in crop mode). I recently came back from a skiing holiday where I had the EM-1 with 12-40 zoom attached in my backpack. In situations like that I would have taken far more shots if i’d had the tiny Ricoh GR in my jacket pocket. The Ricoh GR is said to have better EQ than the Oly 12mm. My thinking is that my walkabout lens choices will be either EM-1 with Panny Leica 25 1.4 plus the Ricoh GR for the wide end or just the the EM-1 with 12-40 if I will be only in outdoor spaces and don’t necessarily need to shoot at 1.4. For low light photography, I haven’t yet found anything that trumps the Panny Leica 25 1.4. I only wish I had bought it sooner as I get so many keepers when shooting with this lens.

      I am sure you will enjoy using the Oly 25 1.8 and certainly don’t want to take away your enjoyment of that lens. I am posting this because I wish I had known what I know now about a year ago and realised why there is so much difference of opinion between the Panny 20 1.7 and Panny Leica 25 1.4 and soon the Oly 25 1.8. Our individual styles of photography and preferences shape what’s best for us and one size definitely does not fit all here. I’d suggest given the smaller size, the Oly 25 1.8 will be the best choice for most users, but if portraiture and low light photography are your thing then the Panny 25 1.4 and soon the Panny Leica 42.5 1.2 will be the standout choices in spite of their larger size.

      1. Thanks for reply Paolo. Well “trashing” was little bit harsh to say, but I sensed more of a fanboyism here a there, which I don’t like.

        Ricoh GR is wonderful camera, I considered buying older GRD brothers couple of years ago. I would like to have it someday. For my fixed lens camera needs I have X100s and it suits me really well and enjoying it. It’s kind of different approach from E-M5 which is sometimes feels too “tech” and those are times when I switch to X100s and it’s pure controls just to shoot photos. I’m looking forward how Fuji will make that 50mm FOV convertor, if they nail it, it will be huge.

        I’m fan of Oly 45mm and also enjoying tiny Pana 14mm. Still PanaLeica was slipping from me when I was considering another lens and now Oly came and has me. We’ll see, definitely both lenses do great job and it’s nice to have options to choose. I will test new Oly this weekend where I have little event to document, which is what I do most of the time.

  6. A couple of points:
    To compare sharpness one should stop the PL to 1.8 to be on par with the oly where it is also noticeably sharper – another advantage of a lens to open wider
    Secondly the important characteristic is the bokeh which we cannot compare from these shots

  7. Great quick comparison Steve!

    There’s no doubt in my mind that the Olympus is the better buy. IMO.

    The Panasonic was the first, in terms of a fast prime utilizing the 50mm focal length, it’s a sharp lens and bright enough for low light work. But the Oly is the younger, sleeker piece of glass. It’s just as sharp if not sharper, better designed, fast to focus and silent in operation. And it looks incredible on the Olymlus bodies. It’s almost a no brainier..!

    Check my walk around review here if you’d like!

    http://mirrorlessreview.com/2014/02/walk-around-review-of-the-olympus-25mm-1-8-photo-samples/

    Thanks again for the quick review my man. Love your site!!

  8. The Leica 25mm is a superior lens in its own right and much better than this Oly.
    The Leica has personality and the Oly is just kinda dead.

    I am really interested in the new Leica 42.5mm F1.2, now that is a monster of perfection!

    1. Very useful comment, based on objective facts.
      Thank You.

      Now, back to the matter:
      “Microcontrast” is, in fact, micro. Totally non-influent in real word performance and medium-size (up to 20″) printing. The two lenses performance is, a Steve said, practically identical – no reason for a PanaLeica owner to switch. I was saving for the Panasonic and now I’ll buy the Oly lens.

  9. Thanks for the quick comparisons.. I’m sure it’s been one of the top requests by MFT users who already have or been thinking of getting a fast 25mm (50mm equivalent) lens.

    The Oly 25mm is very new and I don’t have one to try just yet, but I did have the Pany 25mm. Based on what I remember and all these cross comparisons, you can’t go wrong with either, both are great, just personal preference.

    I’ve been contemplating getting another fast 25mm prime and it would have been between the Oly, Pany & CV.

    Should I get the Pany again?… Based on what I’ve seen so far, probably not.. I think for less $$, the Oly does just as well with negligible differences.. and I think I like the build on the Oly more as it matches my E-M1 better and I actually prefer not to have a rubber grip on the focus ring.. it would grip better if rubber, but I don’t care for the fact it also tends to attract and stick dust and lint more… again, personal preference.

    I’d opt to go with the new CV 25mm Version 2 that has the click/clickless aperture ring feature, and it’s the fastest of all 3 25mm primes, but it’s about double the cost of either Oly or Pany and probably needs the most CA correction.. not a big deal, but a workflow thing to consider.. though, I really like the heft all metal build of the CV.

    Anyways, I’d probably lean towards the Oly 25mm at this point.. if anybody has a Pany 25mm, stick with it, it’s a damn fine lens and not worth the trade unless you have specific qualities in a lens that the 25mm maybe doesn’t quite offer you as opposed to the Oly or another 25mm MFT lens.

  10. Personally, I think the size and autofocus advantages of the Olympus lens are negligible. I’d go for the quite obvious IQ/rendering superiority of the Summilux and the increased speed/DOF.

    The only thing I DON’T like about the Panny-Leica lens is the chattering sound it makes on the E-M1 body. It’s annoying.

  11. My Panny Leica 25mm is my favourite M43 lens. It just has a beautiful drawing style, especially wide open for portraits. As to background separation, it’s not just the amount of blur but the quality, which is just right to my eyes. I don’t see any reason to change. It’s great to have choice though, and this new Oly 25mm looks like a great lens too.

  12. Only $129 more for a faster and sharper lens?
    Sounds like a deal to me.

    I would pay the extra $129 just for the greater subject separation. The shot with the 1.8 of the man in sunglasses shows why many want full frame. Just for the ability to really separate the subject from the background when needed.

    The huge plus for the Oly lens is the size.

  13. I think the focus point is a tad further forward on the OLY shot. Just looking at the left and right apples and basket weave. Not sure we can generalise sharpness with this one shot.

  14. How does the PanLeica 25/1.4 Four-Thirds lens compare to these two?

    I own it, and would consider selling it for a micro four-thirds version of either of these two tested.

  15. I never thought I would consider dropping my PL 25 however the more I use my MFT system the more I adore its light-weight compact format. A reason why I would trade for this lens. Even beyond the lens-to-lens comparison an afternoon out with the Oly 17, 25 and 45 is pretty exciting because it gives me my favorite focal lengths, all at the fast 1.8 speed, and my carry weight & size v.s. the quality potential of my kit is just fantastic. Good stuff.

    I too, hope a more “in-depth” review is coming 😉 Thanks Steve!

  16. It appears that both of these images were taken using spot metering, so I don’t think the exposure difference is due to the lens. The Oly was taken at 1/125thsec and the PL at 1/100th. If you look at both of these images in LR and brighten the Oly shot about 1/3 stop I find the colors, contrast and pop to be better. I am not an Oly fanboy. I owned the PL 25 for almost two years and it was my go to lens. I almost found it to be too sharp though. It is sharp in a technical way where as I find the new Oly lenses to be sharp, but in a more natural way. Just my two cents.

  17. The PL is brighter (even at 1.8), sharper and has better color. I don’t think it’s all that close, I’d take the PL in a heartbeat.

  18. Approaching the comparison purely on an objective level, the two lenses are indeed close. That said, a significant reason why the PL25 has garnered such a great reputation is due to it’s incredible ability to render scenes in such a refined manor. I realize this is purely subjective preference, but to my eyes, the PL25 remains the most significant lens in the entire m43 lineup.

    That said, despite my preference to the Panasonic, I’m still happy to see Olympus bringing their own offering to the table. For some, the lower price and smaller size will be reason enough.

  19. Long time stalker, first time poster here.

    Questions:
    Mid image, LHS next to the apple, the Oly looks almost blurred and bad compared to the Pana. So at the very least there is a difference in the exact focal depth right?

    Then bottom LHS the Oly looks much better. Is this more focal length discrepancy, or the Oly camera doing some corner magic to one lens and not the other?

    So I’m thinking I can’t say too much about sharpness at the pixel peaking level right? Either way, without owning either, I have it in my head that the PL has a look to its images that is more important that any one pixel. If Oly can muster up the same, or maybe its own uniqueness then I’ll take either as soon as I can justify spending more on this wallet lightening habit.

  20. I also prefer the image from the Panasocic Leica. I have this lens and would gladly have traded it for the Oly to have a smaller more pocketable lens if the IQ were comparable. I have many lenses for micro 4/3s and nothing tops the Panasonic Leica. In the images above there is slightly more sharpneness and micro contrast with the Panny. Part of the reason the Panny image looks more pleasing is because the central pear is much brighter than on the Oly version which suggests the Oly slightly underexposes. On a facial portrait that will give a less flattering look as it will enhance shadows and dark areas (such as bags under eyes etc.). Of course this can be adjusted in PS but personally I prefer a lens which renders images that require limited editing in post.

  21. IMVHO and experience, I can´t see the difference in pure optics in 4/3 systems. There is so much electronics involved. I have come from FF, but need/want to downsize. So I got the OM-D M1, and find it amazing in every aspect. But one. I find the images it produces more elaborated and processed than from Fuji X-Trans II, not to mention FF on Canikon.

    Oly is frequently sharper, with more “pop” than the bigger sensor competition. But there is also a sense that the image is a more processed in the camera. Call it IQ, or something almost unmeasurable.

    So the small difference here between Oly and Pana lenses might me visible to the pixel peeper, but is it really the optics? The camera certainly treats the lenses differently in its postprocessing.

    The old gentleman with the Leica is exquisitely sharp, with pop an everything (and a very nice picture contentwise!). But looking at his skin tones, I see much more electronics than skin. Even if the image itself is tack sharp. So what is optics and lens, and what is processing?

    Just my 2c..

    1. Funny, I have been thinking this way as well. I’ve been looking into M4/3 myself for a smaller system. I just don’t know what it is. Click on the full size image and look at the mans hand. Is there a point where an image can be so sharp it loses its….not sure what word to use….organic quality??seems almost too clinical. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, just a different thing.

    2. So you think the images from a Micro Four Thirds system look processed? Take a good look at the RAW files from the beloved Fuji X-Trans sensor. Man, those image are cooked for sure. The Fuji noise reduction destroys much of the fine detail. I think it looks nasty.

      There’s hardly any difference between APSC and MFT. For a real step up, you need to buy a full frame camera or better. Also, the images you are looking at on this website are edited and compressed for the web. Maybe Steve loves super sharp and contrasty images. Your editing will yield different results.

    3. It’s the result that counts. If you test two lenses on the same camera body, and one of them is better, who cares if it is electronics or not?

  22. To me it looks pretty much the same. If I had the panny I’d keep t, if I was in the market for a 25mm I’d get the Olympus. The minuscule difference between them is not really clearly visible at full size. They are both GREAT options, so congrats to both for doing a very good job in putting out quality lenses for the System!

  23. could a more “in depth” comparison be around the corner ? i’ve had the panasonic for a couple of years, what i’d be interested in would be a comparison of the out of focus areas in a selection of images . . . even a comparison of the “vintage” ray ban guy shot would have been interesting to me . . . . the oly is a tad smaller which is nice ( i’ve used the panny for some time without needing a shade which makes it look bigger in comparison than it is ) . . .. if someone is really thrown by the weight difference then they’ve got bigger problems to deal with . . .. you mention faster focusing, any observations regarding focusing speed/ability in “low” light ? this being the home of the “real world” reviews i’d be interested in hearing about whether there’s a real world difference between the two . . . “money” is real world so there’s that . . . i don’t know about pixel peeping or fruit in a basket . . . a real difference in focus speed, observations about the character of the bokeh, low light focusability . . . . i’d like to hear about those things . . . . things that can’t be shifted by a nano second of post processing . . . .

    1. The Olympus is more accurate in high contrast situations and also a little bit faster. The out of focus areas of the Olympus are creamy and almost the same as the Panasonic lens. But I prefer the Olympus simply because it’s a more compact design. With the money I save, I can buy a decent UV filter.

  24. This is an honestly naieve question, as I don’t yet have a 4/3 system, but am seriously looking to help lower my system weight. Not to sound like a Leica fan-boy, but doesn’t the difference in these lenses amount to what is called “micro-contrast”, a positive feature of the Panasonic/Leica lens? I clearly see more detail & contrast in the Pana lens. Would that not be an important benefit given the smaller chip size of these cameras versus fframe, especially when making large reproductions or cropping an original file?

    1. yes of course you are right, but they need to sell the new lens now, so please don’t tell anything good about the panaleica for the next 3 months at least.

      disclaimer I own the panaleica, I would buy it again versus this olympus unless they start selling the olympus lens at half the price of the panaleica.

    2. I agree the Panasonic has just a bit more micro-contrast and maybe an ity-bity bit more sharpness… but frankly not all that much of either over the Olympus…. frankly, given the quality, price and size the Olympus sounds like a no brainer in the 25mm (50mm eqiv.) focal length….

      1. Hi,
        Just wondering. If say cost is not an issue, which lens would you choose? I own an omd em10 and leaning towards the panasonic because its a bit more faster and better bokeh i guess. I will be using it more for portrait and street.

    3. The extra micro contrast is especially designed for pixel peepers. The rest of us prefer the Olympus. It’s smaller, lighter and it doesn’t have rattling aperture blades.

  25. Panasonic seems a bit sharper in the center but corners are sharper on the olympus (and that’s wide open). Otherwise, perfomance seems close enough for me. I’ve been pondering over the PL 25mm for a while but this new oly might win me over given the lower cost, the smaller size and less CA on olympus bodies (which I have). Sweet deal. Thanks for the quick sample Steve.

  26. competition is nice. and it seems a good lens

    Currently 24/2/14 Amazon in the UK are selling the Panasonic for £399 and the best price for the Olympus in the UK is around £365

  27. I like the Panasonic image better as well.

    One other advantage of the PL is a little over half a stop, and the narrower depth of field that goes along with it.

    If I were using M4/3, which I am not, I would have a tough choice. The IQ is worth (to me) the extra $129, but I also like my lenses small and light which favors the Olympus.

    1. About half of that extra light is lost in transmission. The Panasonic has about one third of a stop worse light transmission.

  28. I think the Pany certainly has a better IQ. The Pear is sharper (as you say), but also more sensuous, and has more presence, and believable.

  29. Forget about sunglasses I can shoot with eyes closed and often without a camera. It’s all in the right pons. I’m the totally vintage subject of Steve’s artistry.

  30. If I hadn’t already bought the Panasonic/Leica 25mm 1.4 for my Oly E-M5, I’d probably go for the Olympus 25mm 1.8 since there’s not much difference IQ wise.

  31. Awesome, quick comparison. i just want to let you know there is a typo on the price you put up for the panasonic. I wish it was 129 hehe

  32. I don’t see any readon to dump my PL25 for this new lens. But it’s good to have a more affordable choice in this focal lenght.
    Having said so, I wonder how people can take pictures wearing sunglasses (your last cool photo) 🙂

    1. + 1, maybe even buying new, but I’m keeping my pl25. It’s already a small and light lens, maybe not as small as the new oly25, but I’m definitely not breaking a sweat carrying it!!

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