Just for Fun: Olympus PEN-F with 25 1.2 vs Leica SL with 50 1.4 Summilux ASPH

Just for Fun: Olympus PEN-F with 25 1.2 vs Leica SL with 50 1.4 Summilux ASPH

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Happy Saturday everyone! I slept in and woke up so energized I decided to do something a few have asked me to do for a couple of weeks now. Pit the new fantastic Olympus 25 f/1.2 against the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH. Now, as always, I am not doing the nonsense like changing the aperture to match DOF, etc.

Since light gathering is just about the same (a little more with the Oly due to f/1.2 aperture  vs f/1.4) I let the camera choose exposure, and ISO and as expected, they both are exposed the same with slightly higher ISO with the SL due to being f/1.4 vs f/1.2. Exposure is slight different as well (1/80 vs 1/100) due to the slightly different aperture.

I basically wanted to see and show how each lens would render, and each system in regards to DOF and Bokeh quality. We all know that DOF on M4/3 is not the same as full frame. So f/1.2 on an Olympus is around f/2.4 on full frame for DOF. But here, I want to show just what you get with each wide open. Truth be told, they are pretty close with the Leica edging it out for me due to the way the Lux renders. The Olympus is more of a modern perfection lens, the Lux a little more dreamy.

The differences between thee two cameras in real life use is HUGE though.

The Leica SL is pure pro and I am not aware of any digital camera that feels this overbuilt. It’s sleek, smooth, weather sealed, has dual SD slots, and the whole nine years. It also feels like a solid hunk of camera. SOLID. The EVF is amazing, the shutter is beautiful, the menu system is simple, and the controls intuitive once you use it for more than 10 minutes. I could never ever understand anyone who thought using an SL was difficult. To me, it’s the easiest of all digitals to use next to an M. It’s beautiful, and expensive but if you have the cash, it’s damn nice. I love the rich color it puts out above any other camera I own.

Leica SL – 50 1.4 at 1.4

kt

The PEN is fun, snappy, quick and well, FUN. It’s lightweight, and not a pro camera but it’s pretty damn nice as it is. These two cameras here, along with my Sony A7RII are my fave cameras. The Sony has been since it’s release for all that it can do..VERSATILE. The SL is more exotic of course and the PEN is just lovely. This PEN-F is my fave PEN ever, and that includes the old film classic PEN. It’s an IQ machine as well, with features that are all Olympus.

PEN-F with the 25 1.2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When it comes to IQ, the differences are not huge here though. You see the DOF difference for sure. But what do you think of the images below?

AGAIN, to those who did not read the above text, this is not a test to match DOF or whatever. It’s a test to show what each system and lens does wide open, when letting the camera meter the scene and choose ISO (Auto). 

CLICK EM!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

sl1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

leica2

I feel that today, cameras and especially LENSES are getting so incredible. Look at what Sony is doing with its G Master line, what Olympus is doing with its PRO line and the upcoming primes Leica has set for the SL (Summilux and Summicron) have new technology that they have been hyping like mad. I expect those new SL lenses to set a benchmark. But how much better can they get? I thought we peaked years ago but these lenses keep getting better and better, but also larger and more expensive. Either way, today, as I have said many times, we have so many choices, and 95% of those choices are excellent. Comes down to personal preference today and how much you want to invest into your camera hobby, addiction or business.

Have a great weekend guys!

MORE…

See my PEN-F Review HERE

See my Leica SL Review HERE, Gallery HERE

Leica 50 Summilux Limited Edition Review HERE

Olympus 25 f/1.2 Lens Review

 

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53 Comments

  1. Since there are only (2) f1.2 AF lenses in the M43 lineup, it seems logical to me to want to make comparisons and 40MM is easily walked off 😉 Once again focal lengths not withstanding (this means without being opposed), the Nocticron has better micro-contrast and as such better 3D POP especially for subjects 1 meter or further (only the 75 1.8 is better). Both are very sharp wide open and any perceived sharpness advantages of one, over the other would come down to shot discipline, camera settings and/or post processing tastes, IMO. Each has its own unique rendering style. I prefer the Oly myself as you indicated, it seems organic … I agree.
    For fun, I threw in an A7RII + Zeiss 50MM f1.4 ZA just for some full frame/M43 comparisons. All I can say is the Oly held its own very nicely especially at close focus distances where the Zeiss is weak – Oly bokeh is sublime – Sony Zeiss 50ZA bokeh balls (odd shaped and show blade lines even wide open) not appealing to me, at all. One off topic conclusion glaringly apparent is that the Zeiss 50 f1.4 ZA is BIG and HEAVY, unusable for any length of time without the battery grip. Sony has completely destroyed their original mirrorless mantra of small and light, with this combination. The A9 had better address ergonomics and have a fat grip to manage these new FE lenses

    • So I own the EM1, the pro zoom 12-40mm f2.8, the Pan/Leica 25mm f1.4 and two kit lens one for $99 and the other $150. I don’t shoot action, video or in very low bad light – the improvement areas offered by the MKII body and two new lens. Since we are talking more than adequate IQ – not to discount the improvements with the MKII, the f1.2 lens and the pro zoom 12-100mm f4, there isn’t any real reason to upgrade unless one needs at least one of the improvements – action, video and higher ISO is there?
      The reviews on the Pan/Leica lens 25mm f1.4 are not just good they are outstanding – the same can be said for the 12-40 pro zoom. If one is contemplating selling Leica gear and replacing it with new Oly gear (Like Neil Grant Buchan) – then I agree the upgrades become essential. But to replace the existing Oly gear – not necessary for 95% of our work. That’s why working pro wedding photographers are using the same gear I own plus the other two pro zooms. The IQ is testimony to quality as they sell what they shoot or go out of business. A true test of IQ.

  2. Always interesting to make such comparisons! No doubt that Olympus has added an important first-in-a-series [?] prime to the lens lineup. It’s not possible to return empty handed from an outing with such faculties at the finger tips and sensor plane. Nevertheless, there’s something left on the table by pairing a compact camera with relatively massive optics.

    As a user of vintage manual focus lenses on both the PEN E-P5 [fantastic unobtrusive classy tool especially with the articulated viewfinder] and SONY A7 [I like the smaller size/grip and better controls viz next gen], the new PEN series seems to me in desperate need of a dedicated manual lens lineup harking back to the compact but excellently built and inspiring [that’s key!] creations of yore.

    Amateur photography optics separate from smartphones need all the mojo they can muster [also immediate editing & posting to instagram], and the allure of vinyl has shown there’s a path forward for retro lenses with character, assisted by automated exposure and image stabilization.

    Uploaded some pics mostly shot with the truly tiny and basic Pen-F 38mm 1.8 that still handles admiringly well after fifty years. One made with the rare 60mm 1.5 and with the more questionable 25mm 2.8.

    These lenses purposely built for the half-format are versatile and deliver a real sense of photographical involvement when combined with modern Pen series cameras – there must be an enthusiast market ready made for m4/3rds out there waiting to be captured by a new edition of fully manual optics with some improvements in coatings and formulation made like the tiny tanks of yore.

    Some examples: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/with/31237110141/

    Thanks for keeping the interesting reviews coming!

  3. They are both more than good systems. The only thing that makes the Oly a winner is price point. Other than that the images from both systems are more than adequate.

  4. As an owner of both of the above lenses, both are very nice pieces of glass. The main difference people see above is in depth of field, nothing more. The Olympus renders exceptionally well for portraits and has lovely transitions between in and out of focus. It isn’t for everyone but it gives you more options within the system.

  5. i’m fun of m43, but FF is smaller even with 1.4 and image looks better- additionally we have possibility of shorter DOF. I know price tag is different here, but staying lowbudget and lightweight, we can find Leica or Sony FF and use small 1.8 lenses with huge DOF possibility or Olympus 1.8 lenses with 3.6 DOF (partially acceptable). Going brighter with m43 cause lenses to be much bigger, heavier and extremely expensive, with FF we do not need go brighter than 1.8 as we already have enough DOF possibility and bigger sensor with 1-2stops advantage (similar to have extremely expensive, too big m43 lens of 0,95 or less even).

  6. This is a great comparison and you can see the difference, personally like PEN photos more. But, as you said, Leica is a pro camera and it really does take great photos, so if you can afford it, why not.

      • Nope you wrong there buster.

        Plent trees, plenty leaves forest floor :
        are you expecting them to magically disappeared ?

        Painterly rendering of trees, leaves on forest floor makes this m42 F2 50mm magical.

    • Sir, that is the bokeh of a Jupiter 8 lens which retails for $50 and it sure looks that way. Don’t get me wrong it’s a fun lens but doesn’t render the high end feel in images like the Olympus.

  7. I think I prefer the blues of the Leica but the skin tones of the Oly…….selling all my sony and zeiss glass to switch to the new EM1 mk ii but going to wait for them to make a pro 17mm lens before I get the “pro” prime lens and will use the 1.8 in the mean time – EXCITING times ahead!!!!

  8. I shoot EM1 NO ACTION OR VIDEO so not interested in EM1 MKII. SHOOT 12-40mm f2.8 pro and Pan/Leica f1.4. Don’t shoot in lo lkight or rain. What would be your advice on trading EM1 FOR pen-F?
    I’ve shot most of Oly primes and ended up with pro zoom and 25mm f1.4.
    Bob in Chicago
    Love your idea of this review. It seems you love PenF (even over EM1)

  9. Amazing comparison Steve. The Bokeh from the Sumilux is more dreamy, whereas the bokeh from the 25mm f1.2 seems a bit more clinical and sharp.

  10. I cant explain why but to me m43 images from good lenses always look very sharp but in some way too sharp. There is a certain “smoothness” in tones and detail in images from larger sensors which I believe to see. The same seems valid for contrast, M43 images often being quite contrasty, I miss the midtones.
    m43 images pop but sometimes I miss the “smoothness”

          • The second hand is half the size. The field of view and focus distances do not match at all.

            The first image is a better comparison. Based on this I would initially say the $10k Leica premium isn’t worth it, but then if you compare the lens sizes, one could argue the shockingly smaller size for an impressive bump in aperture (f/2.4 eq. vs. f/1.4) might be worth $10k to those who can afford it. It is an engineering miracle how small the Leica lens is.

        • The hand picture is a terrible use for even a ‘crazy comparison’ – sorry Steve. The hand is disproportionately sized in the Oly vs. SL picture. As Kinson said above, the DOF is going to much less on the SL & 50mm @ f1.4, as compared to the Oly 50mm @f2.4 (FF eq.). That is shown in the top comparison pictures.

          BUT, one way to fake (in this case wrong) a shallower DOF is to move the focal point (then hand) closer to the camera. The closer to focal point, the more out of focus you can blur the background, which is what Steve did in the hand picture. The difference, the hand isn’t the same size in both pictures.

          Your 2nd comment above about the detail in the hand is evidence enough – the closer the hand, the more detail it is bound to capture. Plus, @ f2.4 vs. f1.4, you’re more likely to retain more detail irrespective of focal distance from the camera.

          If you want to do this right, at least use a tripod or make the hand the same comparative/relative size in the frame.

  11. The impressive thing for me is how similar in size are these two cameras with those two lenses. IQ wise, Leica rules.

    • Because Steve chose to use the Oly with the optional grip. Without it, it will be a lot smaller. Same goes for every other 25mm lens (like the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4).

      • The grip adds maybe 3/4 inch to the base. That is a JB wood grip. The sizes are not really that far off. SL is taller. Both are thin, sleek and close to the same in length. The Oly is lighter and shorter.

  12. Yeah VERY curious re: SL Leica glass How about Leica with Nano tech for lens coating any new Photokina Grapevine Demo 3D projection with out 3d glasses does this translate to Next gen of optics for Consumer market. Info provided by INSIDE R/D in US Film Industry.
    SKG animation FYI.
    Bang for my Buck Sold on PanaLeica with RF SLR Primes Yeah!
    Keep up the FAB site steve.
    Still Love Leica RF classic My Beloved Crom f.2 works well on Fuji X Pro 1
    Will Leica Ever have the Red Cert on the 4K PanaLeica Just wondering?

  13. Focal lengths not withstanding, I would like to see this same comparison with the Nocticron thrown in, which is, IMO quite a bit sharper wide open than the Oly Pro f1.2 and is more impressive with regard to the focus transition areas…in other words, more POP wide open. The 50mm Zeiss Plannar FE f1.4 would have given the Leica a run for it’s money in the glass cleaner shot whereas the Oly Pro f1.2 was unimpressive to me. Very informative post … thank you.

    • Nope, the Nocticron is not as sharp as the Olympus 25 1.2, even wide open. Plus, the Nocticron is an 85mm, this is a 50mm equiv of course), so much different lenses here. One is a daily driver (50) the other is a portrait or mild telephoto. Different looks, style and renderings from each. To me, the 25 1.2 and 12-100 are the best two M 4/3 lenses ever made. I LOVE the Nocticron but this lens is a step above in Bokeh and Color as well, with a more useable daily focal length.

      • Since there are only (2) f1.2 AF lenses in the M43 lineup, it seems logical to me to want to make
        comparisons and 40MM is easily walked off 😉 Once again focal lengths not withstanding (this means
        without being opposed), the Nocticron has better micro-contrast and as such better 3D POP especially
        for subjects 1 meter or further (only the 75 1.8 is better). Both are very sharp wide open and any
        perceived sharpness advantages of one, over the other would come down to shot discipline and post
        processing tastes, IMO. Each has its own unique rendering style. I prefer the Oly myself as you
        indicated, it seems organic … I agree.
        Just for fun, I threw in an A7RII + Zeiss 50MM f1.4 ZA just for some full frame/M43 comparisons. All I
        can say is the Oly held its own very nicely especially at close focus distances where the Zeiss is weak –
        Oly bokeh is sublime – Sony Zeiss 50ZA not appealing to me, at all. One off topic conclusion glaringly
        apparent is that the Zeiss 50 f1.4 ZA is BIG and HEAVY, unusable for any length of time without the
        battery grip. Sony has completely destroyed their original mirrorless mantra of small and light, with this
        combination. The A9 had better address ergonomics and have a fat grip to manage these new FE lenses.

      • Since there are only (2) f1.2 AF lenses in the M43 lineup, it seems logical to me to want to make comparisons and 40MM is easily walked off 😉 Once again focal lengths not withstanding (this means without being opposed), the Nocticron has better micro-contrast and as such better 3D POP especially for subjects 1 meter or further (only the 75 1.8 is better). Both are very sharp wide open and any perceived sharpness advantages of one, over the other would come down to shot discipline, camera settings and/or post processing tastes, IMO. Each has its own unique rendering style. I prefer the Oly myself as you indicated, it seems organic … I agree.
        For fun, I threw in an A7RII + Zeiss 50MM f1.4 ZA just for some full frame/M43 comparisons. All I can say is the Oly held its own very nicely especially at close focus distances where the Zeiss is weak – Oly bokeh is sublime – Sony Zeiss 50ZA bokeh balls (odd shaped and show blade lines even wide open) not appealing to me, at all. One off topic conclusion glaringly apparent is that the Zeiss 50 f1.4 ZA is BIG and HEAVY, unusable for any length of time without the battery grip. Sony has completely destroyed their original mirrorless mantra of small and light, with this combination. The A9 had better address ergonomics and have a fat grip to manage these new FE lenses.

      • Since there are only (2) f1.2 AF lenses in the M43 lineup, it seems logical to me to want to make comparisons and 40MM is easily walked off 😉 Once again focal lengths not withstanding (this means without being opposed), the Nocticron has better micro-contrast and as such better 3D POP especially for subjects 1 meter or further (only the 75 1.8 is better). Both are very sharp wide open and any perceived sharpness advantages of one, over the other would come down to shot discipline, camera settings and/or post processing tastes, IMO. Each has its own unique rendering style. I prefer the Oly myself as you indicated, it seems organic … I agree.

      • Since there are only (2) f1.2 AF lenses in the M43 lineup, it seems logical to me to want to make comparisons and 40MM is easily walked off 😉 Once again focal lengths not withstanding (this means without being opposed), the Nocticron has better micro-contrast and as such better 3D POP especially for subjects 1 meter or further (only the 75 1.8 is better). Both are very sharp wide open and any perceived sharpness advantages of one, over the other would come down to shot discipline, camera settings and/or post processing tastes, IMO. Each has its own unique rendering style. I prefer the Oly myself as you indicated, it seems organic … I agree.
        For fun, I threw in an A7RII + Zeiss 50MM f1.4 ZA just for some full frame/M43 comparisons. All I can say is the Oly held its own very nicely especially at close focus distances where the Zeiss is weak – Oly bokeh is sublime – Sony Zeiss 50ZA bokeh balls (odd shaped and show blade lines even wide open) not appealing to me, at all. One off topic conclusion glaringly apparent is that the Zeiss 50 f1.4 ZA is BIG and HEAVY, unusable for any length of time without the battery grip. Sony has completely destroyed their original mirrorless mantra of small and light, with this combination. The A9 had better address ergonomics and have a fat grip to manage these new FE lenses

        • No usable is based on years of shooting Steve has. I also have shot for 60 plus years and bought the 75mm f1.8. Well after you keep backing up you realize as I did it wasn’t very usable so I traded it on the ultra usable 13-40mm f2.0 pro zoom. 12mm to 100mm is of course a catch all travel anywhete zoom.

  14. “Since light gathering is just about the same”

    If light gathering is about the same, then why is the Olympus image more noisy?

    • I fail to see purpose of m43 sensors when lenses then get so bulky and pricy to get to only f2,4 equiv. aperture. Light gathering is similar (I guess 0,5 EV for Oly) per square mm of chip but taking into consideration FF is almost 4x bigger it is not so close. Very nice comparisson though.

  15. I’d really like to see more of this comparison with different lighting, more challenging and varied subjects and some color cards (and no PP)!

  16. Simplified and quick response: I just see more (richer) color in the SL comparison shots, more “grey-ish” in the Olympus. Is it a matter of noise? I guess so. Also: the Oly looks really big for a 4/3, next to the SL.

  17. Perhaps my 20/20 vision is failing me, but I fail to see a $10,000 difference between the Olympus and Leica shots. Of course the Leica would allow a better blow up to see the individual pores of the hands. But whose interested in pores? I’d also hate to carry that Leica around with me all day with the kind of weight it lays on. We all know the shortcomings of half over full frame. But Olympus, with its pro cameras and lenses and its light weight has rapidly diminished the differences.

  18. Hi Steve, good afternoon.
    Light gathering is not the same because sensor and cone of light.
    The amount of light is different.
    Congrats from Brazil.

  19. Hi Steve
    Much appreciated comparison.
    I would love to see a picture of a person taken with each lens under the same light and the same aperture and f stop…say F2 for the Leitz and wide open for the Olympus, under flattering light…..just asking.:)
    Great site as always Steve. Thanks

    • Thats’ due to the PP I did to that shot. Personal pref. The comparison shots are OOC, and more representative of what to expect from each. You can clearly see there is no over saturation in those shots.

  20. well done and to your point, where there MIGHT (?) be differences though, but is there the image quality difference to justify the cost? to my eyes, tough justification….. Thanks Steve as always- Happy belated Thanksgiving

  21. Not only the lenses but the sensors and the image processors inside the cameras show signifiant improvement from one generation to the next (i.e. with each successive new model). When paired with excellent glass, one gets a terrific photographic tool.

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