Feb 252014
 

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The Olympus 25 1.8 Lens Review on the E-M1

By Steve Huff

Hello once again to all of you camera crazy readers! Today I am going to talk about the new-ish Olympus 25 1.8 lens as it has recently shipped and is really the only Auto Focus competition to the now legendary Panasonic 25 1.4 lens, which has been known as one of the finest lenses for  the Micro 4/3 system. That lens, on SOME cameras, has been known to have slower focus and a “rattlesnake” sound when just attached to the lens with the camera being powered on. (On the E-M1 I do not hear this effect though). The new Olympus is smaller, sleeker, focuses faster, much shorter with hood attached and comes in at $129 less than the Panasonic counterpart.

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But how does it stack up to the Panasonic? Well, I will tell you right off the bat that while it is not as sharp as the Panasonic, it gets about 99.5% there. It does not have the Micro Contrast of the Panasonic, but gets us about 90% of the way there. It vignettes slightly when wide open where the Panasonic does not but it does focus slightly faster and like I said, it is quite a bit smaller as you will see below in the size comparison.

On the Las Vegas strip at f/2.5 with the Olympus 25 1.8. If you click this image you can see a larger size that is much sharper. In fact, it will show you just how sharp the lens is. I converted this one to B&W. 

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Over the years I have grown fond of certain lenses for the Micro 4/3 system. The Panasonic 25 1.4 is one of them while others like the Olympus 45 1.8, 75 1.8 and even 17 1.8 are up there as well with me. The 60 Macro is astonishing and the 12mm f/2 is one I really enjoy. The new 12-40 Zoom seems pretty versatile and incredible as well. I’d say my #1 most used lens on my E-M1 is the 17 1.8. For me, it has the sharpness, the detail, the color, and the “feel”. I love it but I also have been enjoying the 35mm (equiv) focal length more lately.

Shot at f/1.8 this is close focused and right out of camera. Bold bright color and sharp with a pleasant Bokeh. Click it for larger/sharper!

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The Micro 4/3 Version of a 50mm explained

I go in phases between the 35mm and 50mm being my #1 fave to shoot with and these days it is 35 all the way, so when out shooting with this 25 (50mm equiv) I was once again having to get used to shooting this focal length. After a solid few days of shooting with it daily I remember what it is that makes it my #2 favorite focal length! It has the perfect mix of sharpness and shallow DOF possibilities. While this is indeed a true 25mm lens, and we will get 25mm DOF from the lens, the focal length appears as a 50mm. So imagine the Olympus 25mm as a 50mm with 25mm Depth of Field and “Bokeh”. Due to the shorter focal length we will not get subject isolation as we will get on a real 50mm. It will give us 25mm DOF and isolation and yes, f 1.8 is a true f/1.8. Just on a 25mm lens.

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At the end of the day though, a 25mm acts like a 50mm for focal length/magnification so this is what you are going to see when looking through your viewfinder. It will not be like when you put a 24mm on your full frame camera, but like when you put a 50mm on your full frame camera except for the Depth of Field control. Basically, on Micro 4/3 we are magnifying that 25mm to give us a 50mm field of view.

Other 25mm lenses include the Panasonic 25 1.4, which is one of the highest rated 25mm lenses for Micro 4/3. We also have the amazingly good, and one of my all time manual focus faves, the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 which allows you to focus close, get almost full frame quality Depth of Field and Bokeh, and is built like the Voigtlander lenses for the Leica system.

One of our workshop attendees taking a break in the middle of the desert with his Starbucks and Leica M :)

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As always, speed costs and in Micro 4/3 is no exception. The Olympus 25 1.8 costs $399, the Panasonic is $529 and the Voigtlander will run you a cool grand.

You can see my Panasonic review HERE and some Voigtlander shots are HERE.

At the Valley of Fire with Todd Hatakeyama (Master Organizer – foreground) and Pro Photographer Extraordinaire Jay Bartlett (Background)

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Just as with my other Micro 4/3 lens reviews, there is not much to say about the lens. I mean, when a lens is sharp, focuses fast and is small, light and beautiful in design what can you say? It really has no faults so all I can do is write about what I feel when it is compared to the Panasonic 25 1.4, the lens who reigns supreme in this focal length for this format. I already did ONE quick comparison while out on the road (which is why it was quick) so let me go into more detail about this lens VS the mighty Panasonic.

This is an OOC JPEG from the E-m1 and 25 1.8 shot at 2.5

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The Olympus 25 1.8 vs the Panasonic 25 1.4

  • Cost. The Panasonic can be bought HERE for $529. The Olympus can be bought here for $399. So, the Olympus is $129 less expensive than the Panasonic. Makes sense because the Olympus is an f/1.8 lens vs an f/1.4 of the Panasonic. So for cost, and bang for the buck, the Olympus wins.
  • SIZE. The Panasonic is quite a bit larger than the Olympus when the hoods are attached (see below) but the Panasonic is still a very small lens. Only when viewed next to the Olympus does it look large. The Olympus is super small and light where the Panasonic is wider, taller and has more bulk. The Olympus almost appears to be half the size when looking at the image below. So if small size if your thing, the Olympus wins. 

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  • Sharpness. BOTH of these lenses can render a super sharp image. BOTH have slightly different color and contrast signatures though. I would say that the Olympus is just as sharp as the Panasonic..well, 99.5% as sharp when both lenses are shot at 1.8. I’d say the Panasonic has a little bit better Micro Contrast though as when looking at some real world street shooting files on my 27″ display I see it. This is a sign of a very good lens, and is one area where Leica excels with their uber expensive lenses. For example, the Leica 50 Summicron f/2 has amazing micro contrast and one of my all time favorite Leica lenses for the M system (or Sony A7). The Panasonic 25 1.4 is a Leica/Panasonic collaboration so it shares some of that Leica magic. I used to think it did not but it does indeed though not to the level of true Leica glass. The difference is not huge between the Panasonic and Olympus  by any means but you can see it when pixel peeping. So because of this, For overall performance and sharpness, the Panasonic wins.

See the full size files below from each lens at apertures from 1.4 to 1.8 to 5.6..the Panasonic does not appear to be any sharper than the Olympus here:

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Now the Panasonic wide open at 1.4, which the Olympus can not do..

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and both stopped down to f/5.6

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  • AF Speed. When out on the street shooting these lenses I though for sure that the Olympus would smoke the Panasonic with Auto Focus, and that was not the case! Both lenses focused fast on my E-M1, and to be 100% honest, I saw no difference in speed when out in the street at night using both. The Olympus may have a slight edge overall, but it is not a night and day, and for some will not even be noticeable. Remember  though, this is on the E-M1 which may be helping the lenses to focus fast. So I give this one a Tie with a SLIGHT edge going to the Olympus.
  • Bokeh. Well, if Bokeh is what you are after (and many Micro 4/3 shooters are indeed after this) then you will want the Panasonic as it is an f/1.4 lens. While not much of a difference at all, there is indeed a mental difference going on in that head of yours and if speed is what you need then you will not be happy with the f/1.8 of the Olympus. Nope, go for the Panasonic! If speed is not of great concern and you realize that f/1.4 is not a huge step up from f/1.8 then the Olympus may be just the ticket. In reality, when the Panasonic is shot at f/1.4 you will not see much more background blur than the 1.8 of the Olympus. It exists but will you see it? Maybe, maybe not. Both lenses rock this.  Panasonic wins here as it has the ability to create MORE shallow DOF and Bokeh. 

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  • Distortion and CA. The Panasonic has more CA (Purple Fringing) than the Olympus, which is clear and evident. So for this the Olympus wins. See the crop below from each lens. 

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So at the end of the day BOTH of these lenses will deliver the goods. Me, I prefer the Olympus as I am not losing much at all over the Panasonic but I am gaining the small size, the nice price and the overall look that matches my other Olympus primes AS WELL as almost no CA issues. I could live with EITHER lens long-term. It comes down to if you want small size, slightly faster AF, and f 1.8 or if you want larger, faster aperture at 1.4 and slightly slower AF while paying $129 more.

If you own the Panasonic, keep it. If you do not own either, you can save money and be 100% happy with the Olympus. If you want the Olympus you can sell your Panasonic for as much as it costs to buy the new Olympus. In other words, there is no wrong choice here. Both lenses are fantastic. Those who are putting down the Olympus (and I have already seen it on forums and right here on the comments of this website) are just those who own the Panasonic, never tried the Olympus and are sticking up for their brand. BOTH lenses are wonderful and both will give you the tool you need to express your photographic vision. I have to hand it to Olympus for constantly releasing new amazing lenses. This is another one they can add to the premium list of primes that help make the Micro 4/3 system so enjoyable! Keep ‘em coming Olympus AND Panasonic! PLEASE!

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WHERE TO BUY?

You can order the Olympus 25 1.8 at Amazon HERE or at B&H Photo HERE.

PopFlash also sells the lens here.

This lens has a 46mm filter thread so using my favorite ND filter is possible with this one!

A few more shots with the Olympus 25 1.8 Lens 

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PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 5 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple. 

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

Feb 132014
 

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The Leica 90 Summarit f/2.5 M Lens Review

By Steve Huff

Welcome to yet another Leica M lens review! It has been a while since I have posted a Leica lens review mainly because I have already reviewed nearly all of them over the past few years. But!!! There are a couple that I have not reviewed and one of them is this 90mm Summarit that I just received from Ken Hansen (Thanks Ken) Yep, the “lower end range” of the Leica line! The 90 Summarit may be lower in price when compared to the mega buck 90 f/2 Summicron but I’ll be damned if I do not like it BETTER than that megabuck 90 cron on the 240, and that is no lie or exaggeration!

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I guess that comes as no surprise as I preferred the old f/2.8 90 Elmarit to the 90 Summicron as well, mainly due to size and weight and of course, COST.

One from the 90 at 2.5, converted to B&W on the M 240

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Always, always click on the images to see the better and larger and sharper versions that are not down sampled like what you see embedded below!

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Many of you have seen my review of that older 90 Elmarit 2.8 lens and 4+ years ago when I wrote that review it was indeed my favorite 90 for the Leica M system. It all came down to size, performance and the fact that I had zero focus issues with that lens which is always nice when it comes to Leica.

I’ll just go ahead and spoil it now but I like the 90 Summarit just as much as the Elmarit and now that I have been shooting with it for a while I realized how much I enjoy this focal length on the Leica M 240. It is a joy to shoot with, a joy to focus and the results coming from this lens with the M 240 ROCK & ROLL non stop all day long. Results are rich, sharp and have nice sharpness and texture. Colors can pop and Bokeh is quite nice.

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In the past, with the M9 and M8 I was not a huge fan of the 90mm focal length because it seemed that no matter what 90mm lens I picked up there was a slight to massive focus problem (Until that old Elmarit). With the M 240 this 90 Summarit is extremely easy to focus and spot on when using the rangefinder, and what a relief that is. There is nothing I hate more than a mis-focusing Leica M camera and on a few occasions it has frustrated me so much that I almost gave up on the M all together. But since the new 240 I have not had any issues with focus (except when I dropped my 1st M, almost off of a cliff during the last Palouse workshop) and it has been smooth sailing ever since its release.

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These days I enjoy the M with a Voigtlander 15, Voigtlander 35, Leica 50 and this Leica 90. I am close to pulling the trigger on the 21 Super Elmar to finish it off and maybe in the next year I will save up for a classic Noctilux F/1. Maybe. But one thing keeps nagging at my brain and that is the fact that these lower cost Summarit lenses are just OH SO GOOD on the M 240. It really is all one needs. A 35 Summarit with a 90 Summarit would be a superb combo and add in a 50 Lux for those times you want that Lux look and you would be all set. A nice mix.

Click the image to see a larger 1800 pixel wide version. Plenty of sharpness with fantastic color pop.

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The size and performance of the Summarit line is perfect and they are just as good in the IQ department, if not better, than their more expensive brothers and sisters (Summicron and Summilux). Yes, just as good in the sharpness, detail and color. They will offer a different “look” in the Bokeh and rendering but this does not make them lesser than the more expensive lenses. What it comes down to is SPEED, and SPEED costs big fat money in Leica land.

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Yes Sir! The Summarit Line is SUPERB but seems to get the least attention…

This is a true statement. I have used all four of the more affordable “Summarit” lenses including the 35 f/2.5, the 50 f/2.5, 75 2.5 and now the 90 f/2.5. All three lenses share the same semi-fast aperture speed, the same build quality and the same price range. They all come with a protective carrying bag instead of a leather case but all are Leica in build, feel and use as well as the most important..IMAGE QUALITY. But for some reason many Leica fanatics disregard these lenses because they feel that if they are less expensive they must be compromised in some way. This is not really true.

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The only compromises that come with the Summarit line is that the aperture is not f/2 or f/1.4, it is f/2.5. So it is all about speed. The focus rings are quite nice and I prefer them to some of the more expensive models. Focus distance is also a tad longer at 0.8 meters instead of 0.7 for the 35, 50 and 0.9 for the 75. The 90 has a 1m minimum focus distance.

All in all, the entire summarit line is quite amazing because they give us a mix of classic and modern rendering. Actually, the 35 Summarit has some of the best Bokeh to be found in a Leica lens and is also smaller than the cron or lux!

Just take a look at the image below of a bird I too a very quick shot with using the 90mm at f/2.5 on the M 240. This is a full size file so RIGHT CLICK it to open in a new window to see it in its full size form.

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If you viewed the entire full size image above in a separate window (right-click the image, then open in a new tab or window) you will see that the Summarit 90 is sharp even when used wide open at f/2.5. The Bokeh melts into a creamy classical blur that resembles a painting with rich color and nice medium to high contrast. In fact, this lens makes my M 240 render somewhat like an M9 but with extended Dynamic Range and better color, and yes, I 100% feel that the M 240 has MUCH better color performance than the M9. Perfect? No, but no digital camera is. NONE. The M 240 offers better color, better dynamic range, better noise performance, better battery life, better LCD, nicer feeling and sounding shutter, better RF experience with the light up frame lines, live view if wanted and so far, no focus issues. After one year with the M240 I still prefer it in every way to the M9. Every way, IQ included.

Like to keep your distance? The 90mm focal length will help you do just that :) 

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So to be clear, the Summarit line of lenses is 100% Leica all the way giving Leica results. The funny thing is that I have shot with them all and NONE of these Summarit line of lenses have ever given me any focus issues (besides an early 75 Summarit that had a loose element inside). The 35, 50, 75 and 90 always focused spot on. I can not say the same for the 90 Summicron..at all. Not only is it large, heavy and very expensive..two of the three that I have had in my possession were a bit off in the focus. That is why I gave up on the 90 cron quite a while ago. Don’t get me wrong, the 90 Summicron is very special and magical when it is “on” but when something is special most of the time and frustrating some of the time I tend to drop it after some time. After four 90 Summicrons over the past 5 years I decided to stick with a slower 90 for my Leica, if I have any 90mm at all.

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One thing to note…Many who own the 90 Summicron and have focus issues feel like it is them who is making the focus errors. I have spoken with quite a few 90 Cron owners who were having issues and two of them I met in person during a meet up. I tested out the lenses on their camera and mine and I was able to verify exactly what I told them it was, which was a mis-focusing lens that needed an adjustment.

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When any Leica lens is adjusted and focusing properly it is EASY to nail focus. This goes for the Noctilux 0.95, 90 Summicron, 50 Summilux, etc. Focusing a 50 0.95 at 0.95 is just as easy as focusing a 28 Elmarit at 2.8. When that focus patch lines up you are in focus. If your image shows you otherwise something is out of whack.

The 90 Summarit is never frustrating. It just seems to deliver the goods no matter what I decide to aim my M at and not one shot was out of focus during this review period.

Click the image below to see my dog in all her sharp glory :) The 90 at f/2.5..no problem-o!

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Compared to the classic and legendary 90 Elmarit f/2.8

As already mentioned, back in 2010 I reviewed the now discontinued Leica 90 2.8 Elmarit. I LOVED and still do LOVE that lens. I no longer own it but do remember when I reviewed it that I enjoyed it immensely. That lens along with the M9 created eye-popping quality and sharpness. I am not sure why Leica discontinued the lens but they did, and its replacement is this lens here, the Summarit. They did downgrade the hood as the 90 Elmarit 2.8 had a built-in slide out hood where the Summarit has a screw in hood. (sold separately) I much prefer the slide out hood but you can’t always get what you want. Some prefer a screw in hood. Leica wanted to create the Summarit line of lenses as sort of a classic styled lens. They give a classic metal lens cap with the Leica logo and hoods are screw in.

Whatever the reason, I remember when I used this 90 Summarit on the M9 I found it to be a little more clinical than the Elmarit. When shooting the Elmarit the results seemed organic and very rich. When shooting the Summarit back then on the M9 it seems al title “colder” and not as rich or warm.

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Now with the M 240 being the hot M I decided to give the Summarit another shot and I am glad I did as it gives me much of what I enjoyed with the Elmarit on the M9 – contrast, pop, color depth and sharpness. There is a very evident color difference with the new M 240 over the M9 (warmth vs cool) , and I prefer the M 240 100%. I feel it is much more natural though there may indeed be a pinkish hue going on with the M 240 but then again, it could be the off color hue of the M9 images making the M 240 look off because I now see a green/yellowish hue to the M9 images that I shot back then.

One thing I learned is that when editing images I just go with what looks good to MY EYE instead of worrying and stressing over calibrated displays, etc. I have sold images for thousands of dollars without stressing about any of that. I just enjoy shooting and eyeball the color. With the new M it seems easier to get a rich warm color I like. The M9 with this Summarit was cooler in the output. Take a look below…

First the 90 Summarit on the M240 here in 2014

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…and now the 90 Elmarit on the M9 in 2010

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This is the least expensive NEW 90mm Leica lens for your M! 

When the Summarit line was launched (BEFORE the M9 was launched during the end of the M8 days) the 90 came in at $1600 or so. Today it is $2150 because Leica lenses go up in price every single year. This means if you bought a Summarit back then and wanted to sell it today you could probably get about what you paid for it.

This is the good thing about Leica. If you buy a lens and keep it for a long time you will not lose money. The Leica lenses are legendary and due to the fact that they have the balls to raise prices every year means that a Leica lens is indeed and can be an “investment” if you keep them long-term.

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At $2150 the 90mm Summarit is NOT cheap..no way, no how. BUT, it is a REAL Leica German optic and a REAL Leica lens! Anyone who says differently has no idea what they are talking about. It feels, shoots and gives the IQ of a pure Leica lens and like I said, the value does not drop like a rock after a few years, instead, it holds value. You also get the warranty when buying new so that is always a good thing. The 90 is on the higher contrast side when looking at out of camera images (most of what you see here) but of course with the extended DR of the M 240 you can make  them much loess contrasty if you wish.

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Detail..is this lens sharp?

Yes, this lens is sharp. Take a look below and click on the image to see the 100% crop embedded inside.

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My conclusion on the Leica 90 Summarit Lens

My lens reviews always seem to be short, especially when a lens is fantastic and has no real weakness. The 90 Summarit is one of those lenses. It is small, light, high quality in build and feel and performs exceptionally well. The rendering is a mix of modern and classic and can be as sharp as a tac. The colors are rich, saturated and lovely, especially on the new M 240. (See my M 240 review here). While I have not traditionally been a 90mm shooter I am starting to enjoy it more and more and understand why so many love this focal length.

An all summarit kit would be killer for those wanting the true 100% Leica experience without going bankrupt buying the Summilux and Summicron models. All you lose is some speed (which may not really even be needed), a slightly longer minimum focus distance and the Leica leather case (instead you get a nice felt style cloth bag).

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If you are not 100% committed to the 90mm focal length I suggest giving the 90 Summarit a try. It may not be as exotic as the Summicron but for me it was more enjoyable to shoot due to weight and no focus issues with the Summarit. Highly recommended for those wanting a 90mm solution for their Leica M!

Mine came from the legendary Ken Hansen who is a TOP Leica dealer with amazing service that has to be experienced. Ken is the man. He has this lens in stock and if you mention me, who knows..he may cut you a deal. (Don’t hold me to that though..I have no idea if he can or not). :)

You can e-mail Ken at [email protected]

I will leave you with a few more snaps that I shot around town from the 90 Summarit on the Leica M 240!

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**PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!**

Hello to all! For the past 5 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple. 

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

Aug 282013
 

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The Voigtlander 42.5 f/0.95  Micro 4/3 Lens Review

By Steve Huff

Thanks to Camera Quest for sending me this lens one day before it was even released so I could review it. 

Ahhhh, super fast 0.95 aperture glass. You gotta love them even if they are built like a tank and heavier than you really want to go with a mirrorless system that is supposed to be all about high quality in a compact package. Yep, Voigtlander has done it again completing a trio of uber fast 0.95 aperture lenses with this new 42.5mm f/0.95 lens. It is large. It is heavy. It is beautiful. Lenses with a fast aperture of f/0.95 used to be unheard of until Leica designed and released their masterpiece Noctilux f/0.95 a few years ago. Ever since there have been a slew of fast f/0.95 and faster lenses released by other manufacturers showing that yes, it can be done and yes, it can be done for less. They may not be 100% of a Leica lens but they are at least 80%, and that right there is a great feat of engineering by these companies.

Voigtlander is one of these who boldly went for it after seeing there was a market for ultra fast glass, especially in the Micro 4/3 format. With the depth of field of a Micro 4/3 sensor being greater than what we get on a full frame sensor, one way to combat that is by using ultra fast aperture lenses. This way, if you like that smooth and creamy “background blown out of focus” look, or “Subject Isolation”, then this lens, and a few others can easily give it to you while still giving you superb quality all the way around.

But today I am speaking of the 42.5mm f/0.95 Micro 4/3 lens from Voigtlander and this lens is not for the faint hearted due to the size, weight and $999 price tag that comes with it.

When I say it is large and heavy, I mean it is large and heavy in comparison to normal Micro 4/3 prime lenses. Lenses like the Olympus 12mm f/2 or 45 1.8. Lenses like the Panasonic 20 1.7II or the 25 1.4 .Yes Ladies and Gentleman, Voigtlander lenses are built-in the style of good old-fashioned Leica Rangefinder lenses. In my book, this is a good thing. No, a GREAT thing. Why? Well, this means you will have a serious thrill when you open that box and see the quality of the build, the feel of the focus ring and solid click of the aperture dial. It is like you went back in time to the 1950’s..a time when lens construction was top-notch. Quality all the way.

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So as a warning to anyone who is thinking of this lens, or the 17.5 f/0.95 or the 25 f/0.95..just know you are getting a seriously built lens for your money :)

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The Image Quality

With that out-of-the-way, how is the image quality of this lens? Many would think at f/0.95, which is wide open, that the lens may be soft at such a wide open aperture. All I know is that my 1st tests with the lens on an Olympus E-P5 shooting at f/0.95 yielded incredibly sharp results at my focus point.

Speaking of focusing, the E-P5 with the focus peaking and VF-4 made it EASY to focus this beast of a lens and speaking of beasts…my 1st test shots were of the local cows :) All wide open at 0.95. Keep in mind I shoot every day, 5-6 days a week reviewing cameras. So to me, finding a bunch of cows who posed for me was exciting..different. Lol. Moooooooo!

YOU MUST click them to see the larger size and to see how sharp this lens can be at the widest aperture. Quite amazing for Micro 4/3.

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If you noticed any noise or grain in the images above it is because I ran them through a VSCO Agfa Scala filter, which added some fine grain. AGFA Scala is a B&W slide film. Even so, if you click on the image above you will see how sharp this lens is when used with the E-P5. Not far off from the LOOK I GET with the Leica M 240 with a Voigtlander 50 1.5 Nokton even though that is a full frame camera.

The reality is that the cameras made for enthusiasts today are quite exceptional and offer amazing IQ possibilities depending on the lens used. We have DSLR’s, we have small mirrorless solutions like Micro 4/3, we have amazing cameras like the Sony RX1 and many other options (many reviews can be found on these in my “Mirrorless Central” section). It can boggle the brain if you sit and try to figure out what to buy and why to buy and when to buy. Ten years ago the pickings were slim if you wanted amazing quality and when you found it, you had to pay dearly for it. Today, a camera like the $999 Olympus E-P5 performs better than a camera I paid $10,000 for with a couple of lenses back in 2003, the Canon 1Ds (1st version). A camera that was considered a “Holy Grail” by so many back then..yet today..the $999 Olympus E-P5 beats it when used with lenses like these from Voigtlander. The little Olympus beats it in high ISO, speed, and of course, weight. Makes me wonder what we will have in 10 more years. Will it all be phones with high tec cameras and artificial depth of field? Will it be cameras like the Lytro? No one knows but I think some brands will die out and there will still be some around supplying the latest and greatest to the enthusiasts and pros.

Cameras like the Nikon D800E, RX1R, Canon 5D series..are all exceptional when it comes to image quality. They compete head to head with mid scale medium format backs so where do we go from here? Only time will tell but today in August of 2013 what we have to choose from is pretty damn nice.

Wide open, f/0.95 – click it for larger. 

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Walking the Line

As for today..for now..and for right here and right now I am sitting here looking at snapshots I took with this $999 lens and $999 camera body. A $2000 combo and I have to say it is walking a line that used to be reserved for megabuck systems.

The image below was e-mailed to 8 people I know well who are enthusiasts like you and me. The version I emailed had the EXIF stripped and I asked my camera buddies..“what camera took this snapshot? Take a guess”.

Walking the Line – 42.5 at 0.95 – E-P5

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6 of the 8 said “Leica M 240″.  One said “Leica M9″ and one said “OM-D and 45 1.8″

SIX thought I took this image, this basic snapshot of a stray cat walking across a fence with a $7000 Leica body. In the past, even as early as 2009 there was a clearer line between such cameras..today the line is getting rubbed out a bit. Kind of crazy when you think about it because I could spend $4500 on an E-P5 (or new GX7) along with these three amazing super speed Voigtlander lenses:

The 17.5 f/0.95 – This will give you a 35mm equivalent field of view, the preference of many street shooters. The lens is built to a high standard, well above most lenses made for Micro 4/3 or any system besides Leica M. It is heavy, but even at 0.95 it is pretty sharp. Great bokeh, a great look and feel and above all works fantastic on the newer bodies with focus peaking. Just beware of the weight as this will make your Micro 4/3 system larger and heavier. The Olympus 17 1.8 is good but will not give you the same look as this lens so all depends on what you like. I have samples with this lens in my OM-D E-M5 Review.

25 f/0.95 – A classic 50mm field of view. While it will not give you the same depth of field as a 50mm 0.95 on full frame, it will give you the DOF of a 25mm f/0.95 lens because that is exactly what it is. Most importantly you will get that light sucking ability that only a fast 0.95 lens can give you. This one is smaller than the 17.5 and feels pretty nice on the OM-D series or E-P series. Easy to focus with the new VF-4. This is probably my fave of the three due to the 50mm focal length, which is where I am most comfortable. Again, samples can be seen in my original OM-D E-M5 review. 

42.5 f/0.95 – This is the lens that every image on this page was shot with and it will give you the classic 85mm focal length and even more shallow DOF because this is close to a 50mm lens so you will get closer to a 50mm 0.95 Bokeh effect (can anyone say Noctilux)? Beautiful build and feel and for $999, it is a great buy if you like shooting at 85mm/90mm. But it is especially for  those who like BOKEH..and lots of it.

So if you buy or own a Micro 4/3 camera and want lenses that will give your images this effect..in other words,  results that give a “Leica Like” vibe (though it will be a CLASSIC Leica Vibe),  then this is as close as you can get on Micro 4/3.

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Of course I know that just by saying you can get close to the “look and feel” of a Leica M 240 using an E-P5 and these Voigtlander lenses I will probably suffer an attack or two by hardcore Leica users who will mistake what I said for something else. I did not say this was better than any Leica setup with Leica glass. I said you can get close to the look and feel (though some will say equal it and others will say beat it) of a Leica M 240 and certain lenses. :) In fact, these Voigtlander lenses perform much like older classic Leica lenses and is one reason they work so well for B&W.

The Lens comes complete with metal lens hood

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In fact, in the past year alone I have test and used just about EVERY major camera that has been released. The Sony’s, the Fuji’s, the Samsung’s, the Nikon’s, the Ricoh, the Pentax’s, etc. I am in a position to where I get to try it all, and the cool thing is I  tell the truth even when it upsets some readers. I just tell it how it is..MY own experience. I compare cameras and know what I like and what I do not. Contrary to what some believe, no manufacturer “pays me off” to say anything. Camera makers pay no one-off in the blogging/review world because if they did it could hurt them. I pride myself on always telling MY OWN TRUE FEELINGS. That is all. Take it or leave it :)

What I can say is that the newest crop of Micro 4/3 cameras and lenses have been extraordinary. Superb. As good as most will ever need for everything but super fast focus tracking (which some of us need, and some us will never use). So depending on your needs, this system is rocking in 2013. When you add these lenses it takes it up a notch.

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Let us see what happens when we have a Micro 4/3 image, a Leica M 240 image and a Fuji X-E1 and Zeiss image. This is NOT in any way, shape or form anything scientific. In fact, these images were taken on different days, months apart. Same subject. What I want to show here is not sharpness, not detail, not much of anything besides depth of field and color and “pleasing to the eye” results. Of the three, which one suits YOUR tastes the most when it comes to how this scene was rendered? Of course the Olympus has a 2X crop sensor, the Leica is full frame and the Fuji is APS-C, so 1.5 crop.

The Voigtlander 42.5 f/0.95 – wide open.

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The Leica M 240 – 50 Voigtlander Nokton at 1.5

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The Fuji X-E1 with Zeiss Touit 32 1.8 – wide open

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Now of course we have the difference of focal length. With the E-P5 we have the Bokeh of a 42.5mm lens at 0.95 but the field of view of an 85mm lens. With the Leica we have the Bokeh of a 50mm 1.5 lens as it is full frame and what you see is what you get. With the Fuji and Zeiss, we have the Bokeh of a 32mm 1.8 lens and the field of view of around 50mm. To my eyes the most pleasing result was with the Leica and Olympus. I love the Leica as it gives me that 50mm FOV I love. If I had the Voigtlander 25 0.95 it would have been a better comparison but you can not fault that Voigtlander. Smooth, rich and creamy all the way with great out of focus background. The Fuji and Zeiss have a pretty busy background and it really shows what a 0.95 aperture can do for you (with the 2X crop of the E-P5). Yep, Micro 4/3 is no longer crippled by that crop factor.

Subject Separation, 3 Dimensional, Bokeh, Background Blur, Depth of Field…

It’s all about subject separation. Something many Micro 4/3 naysayers used to say was not possible but it is indeed possible with these Voigtlander lenses (and many others) and I am very happy that these options are here for those of us who love these little powerhouse cameras.

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There is a downside though. While you can get a nice 3D feel and subject separation with these lenses on a Micro 4/3body, as I stated earlier they are HEAVY and LARGE. Over time they can get cumbersome and remember, these lenses are manual focus only. No blazing auto focus here :)

If you want small, light and fast AF I highly suggest other lenses like the Panasonic 25 1.4 or the Olympus 45 1.8 or 75 1.8. All fantastic pieces of glass that will give you sharp results and the conveniences of the system. So not everyone will enjoy a lens like this 42.5 0.95.

So who will like this lens? Who will not?

If you come from a Leica background you will love this lens. If you enjoy finely crafted lenses, you will adore this lens. If you love that 0.95 look and want it for your Micro 4/3 system..you will  love this lens and appreciate it. If  you are “old school” you may enjoy this lens. If you like ultra modern crisp renderings with huge depth of field, you will NOT like this lens. If you hate heavy and large, you will NOT like this lens. If you hate manual focus, you will NOT like this lens. If you expect a lens like this to be $300, you are not meant for this lens :)

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The Bottom Line

At the end of the day this lens is a firecracker. Extreme build, heavy weight and able to suck in enough light to your sensor while giving you that 3D feel that many of us crave. It’s sharp wide open and sharp throughout the aperture range. It is a lens that will deliver a different look and if it is what you seek, you will not be disappointed with this lovely lens.

That is about all I can say. These days when I review a lens it is tough because most lenses today are superb. That is why I talk mostly about the character and talk about comparisons with gear that is sometimes much more costly. The truth is that we have never had such a choice and selection in cameras and lenses. I am talking QUALITY choices. The upside is that it seems to be gaining more and more steam, so I expect much more to come.

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Where to Buy the Voigtlander 42.5 f/0.95

Since CameraQuest sent this out to me before it was even released so I could review it, at no cost to me AND they are the main USA distributor for Voigtlander I would say GO CHECK THEM OUT and if you want this lens, show them some love. Stephen Gandy runs it and he ships FAST. YHe has full stock of this lens and the other Nokton lenses for Micro 4/3.

You can see or buy all of the Micro 4/3 choices HERE. 

Specs of the 42.5:

  • f/.095 to f16 aperture range
  • 11 lens elements in 8 optical groups
  • 10 aperture blades
  • Filter size 58mm
  • Close focus .23 meter
  • Size: length 74.6mm, diameter 64.3mm
  • Lens hood included with lens

HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

PLEASE Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site (and the cost these days to keep it going is pretty damn high), so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at Amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :) More info is here on how you can help! If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter, my facebook fan page and now GOOGLE +

Aug 232013
 

The Panasonic 20 1.7 II Lens on the Olympus E-P5

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Hello to everyone out there in camera land! Today I am talking a little bit about a new version of a legendary lens and one that helped to propel Micro 4/3 to huge sales back when it was launched almost four years ago. The lens that when attached to an old E-P2 beat out a Nikon D3s with Nikon 50 1.8 in all areas back in Jan of 2010 right here on this very blog. Yes, I am talking about THAT lens, the Panasonic 20 1.7 but in its new updated version, which is called “VII”. This will be a shorter than normal post/review as this lens is basically the same exact lens as the version I that I have written so much about with a few tweaks. If you missed the original reviews you can see them at the links below:

When this lens was announced many of us thought “YES! Finally an improved version of the 20 1.7, but HOW can Panasonic improve on what is already a killer lens”? At least that is what I asked myself because I am a huge fan of the original, even though it has been beaten out in IQ from the newer and larger Panasonic/Leica 25 1.4. But for size and cost, the 20 1.7 and now 20 1.7 II is a force to be reckoned with and I know MANY who use this as their one and only lens for their Micro 4/3 camera. Yea, it is that good. So the question is..if you already own the original, is this one worth upgrading to? Well, read on and find out what I think about that :)

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So what is really new with the lens?

The lens is small, looks great, has a metal barrel and mount and gives you a 40mm equivalent on Micro 4/3. The older version, which is still a capable and amazing lens, did NOT have a metal barrel, it was made of plastic. So right off the bat, this guy is made of metal even though it is still feather light and feels like plastic. The lens looks slicker and nicer. I always found the original a little on the ugly side with the grey and black so in all black it looks great. So far, a metal barrel is all that is new. But there HAS to be something else…right?

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According to Panasonic, the only other change is that it supposedly has an improvement in the FLARE department but I found that claim to be off. My old 20 1.7 flared every now and again and I have seen flare in the new one within the 1st 5 shots I snapped. Is this just a fluke, shooting into the sunlight and seeing flare? Well, maybe but the Oly 17 1.8 does not do what this lens does with flare (in my experience/real use). So the 20 1.7 II lens still can exhibit flare. In regards to flare, I feel the Olympus 17 1.8 does better. Then again, if you are shooting on a Panasonic body I 100% recommend this lens over the Olympus.

The Flare is There! But the contrast, sharpness and color are rocking it wide open!

As always, click on ANY image to see the correct and larger version!

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CONTRAST BABY!

Panasonic has also stated that this lens will give a better contrast to your images, and I believe it. The results are crisp, have great color and look very good in the contrast department. That 20 1.7 look is there :)

Tasty color and contrast wide open. At 1.7 this lens beats the Olympus 17 1.8

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Auto Focus

This has NOT been improved so the AF is still on the slower side for Micro 4/3 but guess what? It runs circles around the Fuji X-M1 and Zeiss 32 Touit I have here for AF – both speed and accuracy :) But do not expect any improvement in auto focus speed over the old version. With that said, I never had an AF miss or issue. It locked on without fail in all situations. I shot it on an E-P5 the entire time. (which is a camera that has grown on me quite a bit..that EVF-4 is amazing).

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This will equal a 40mm field of view with light gathering of a 1.7 Aperture lens. Sweet!

Yep, a 40mm field of view, which to be honest is a little oddball when you hear it but when you shoot, it feels natural. It’s in between the 35 and 50mm focal lengths and to me, this is a great in between to have. Just enough reach to get some nice shallow DOF and still wide enough to get quite a but in your frame.

A fast 1.7 aperture is why this 20mm lens is one of the original legendary choices for ANY Micro 4/3 system camera. You can use it in low light, bright light or any light. It is easy to hand hold and on the Olympus OMD or E-P5 the 5-Axis IS is INCREDIBLE with this lens. Superb!

Also, FYI,  I have been shooting it alongside the Olympus 17 1.8 and to be honest, this lens is giving me the better looking images even though I see more CA and flare with it over the Oly. With the 20 I am getting crisper results, as in “sharper” and cleaner with better contrast. The Oly is just a tad soft wide open and while I prefer the design of the Oly with the snap manual focus feature, for size, cost and IQ, this one is tough to beat. Also, the AF of the Olympus is faster.

You can read my Olympus 17 1.8 lens review HERE

Wide open at 1.7 but converted with VSCO to B&W using the AGFA SCALA 200 preset

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So should I upgrade if I own the old one… and is Micro 4/3 the real deal?

Well, I would not do it because by the time you sell your original and pay for the new one you will be out about $200. Not worth it for a metal barrel and a contrast boost. But, if you LOVE the new slick look and want that extra bite to your images with the lens, then go for it. The truth is simple: Micro 4/3 is fantastic and those who call it rubbish, or no good, or a toy system or anything other than what it is are fooling only themselves. At the end of the day Micro 4/3, and especially cameras like the E-P5, OM-D and whatever is coming up from Panasonic and Olympus, are fantastic image taking machines. Some of my favorite images of the past 4 years were taken with an OM-D or Nikon V1, two systems many scoff at and call “garbage”.

This one was shot at f/2 where the lens gets really sharp while giving a nice smooth Bokeh – rich with plenty of depth.

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Micro 4/3 vs the APS-C or Full Frame

Last week I made a post in my Facebook page for this website (you can see it or like it here) and I said that I was enjoying the new Fuji X-M1 more than the X-E1 or X-Pro 1 due to its tiny size and cool swivel screen. It is the size of an X20 but has a huge APS-C sensor inside, pretty incredible. At the same time I wondered if “that was enough” from Fuji due to the competition as the X-M1 is $700 for a pretty tiny and basic body that feels almost too light and airy (feels “cheap”..sorry, but my true opinion) and when the large Fuji X lenses are on the body it feels unbalanced. Someone replied “what competition, and I do not consider Micro 4/3 competition”. All I can say to that is in my experience, and that experience is pretty vast, I much prefer a camera like the OM-D, E-P5 or even my V1 and 18.5 and 32 1.2 to any of the Fuji X bodies. I even did a slew of personal comparisons, WANTING to enjoy the X-M1 more than these other cameras but it did not even come close. Not because of image quality, which can be gorgeous from the Fuji X..but in all areas that I look at when evaluating a camera.

To the naysayers of Micro 4/3 – this format is here to stay and the reason is simple. This system has the best lenses, and makes the least compromises while delivering stellar IQ and capabilities. Micro 4/3 today is miles better than it was 4 years ago and it gets better every year. Today, the files I get from an Olympus E-P5 and a lens like the 20 1.7 or 45 1.8 or 75 1.8 or 12 f/2 are as good as anyone needs. I know many pros shooting Micro 4/3, some of who dumped their large full frame DSLR’s to do so. Are they happy? YES, of course. The only thing a full frame camera will do over a Micro 4/3 camera is give a more shallow DOF, a richer file and better extreme high ISO performance (12k, 25k)  – in other words, ISO’s no one ever uses in reality.

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Full Frame cameras like the Sony RX1R, Leica M and Nikon D800 are superior to the Micro 4/3 format, of course. But you also lose out on things like weight, size, cost, speed while gaining an adavantage in low light and shallow DOF. These days, cameras like the OM-D or E-P5 deliver superb performance and anyone who has researched this will agree, because they have to, the proof is there.

If you want the “best” and have a healthy budget – buy a full frame camera and be done with it (Leica M or RX1R). They can be BEAUTIFUL and usually are but they will cost you. They are superior in the IQ abilities, hands down. But if you want a slight compromise and want to save some money and do not need all of that insane power, this format is, IMO, the best there is in the mirrorless world. Yes, I prefer it to APS-C systems for three reasons. The three S’s.

  1. Size
  2. Speed
  3. (Lens) Selection

Micro 4/3 is smaller, faster, and has superior lenses and many more of them to choose from than any other mirrorless system.

The E-P5 and 20 1.7II next to the Fuji X-M1 and Zeiss Touit 32 1.8 I much prefer the Olympus/Panasonic setup that comes in at a few hundred less than the Fuji combo pictured.

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For me, it takes four things for a camera to stick to me..to motivate me and to make me WANT to go out and shoot at the crack of dawn.

  1. It must be made nice/built well with good control and it must feel good in my hand. Solid, giving me confidence in its ability. Not too large nor too small. 
  2. It must have fantastic usability. Accurate AF matters more than speed and it has to be able to be controlled easily. Issue free while out in the field in all areas.
  3. Image quality has to be good. I am not talking about “Bokeh” – but image quality in general. 
  4. Lens selection and quality has to be there. This is most important.

If I get all four of these things in a camera body then I am thrilled. Cameras that do this for me? Olympus OM-D E-M5, Olympus E-P5, Fuji X100s, Nikon V1 or V2, Sony NEX and Leica M series. Cameras that fail this test for me? Leica X-Vario, Fuji X-Pro 1 and X-E1, X-M1, Samsung NX300, and a few others. But this is ME, my opinions for how I like to shoot. Also, those cameras on the “did not do it for me list” were all amazing in IQ but failed me in other areas such as usability, design, AF, or something similar.

The 20 1.7II at 1.7

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As for Fuji, the images from the Fuji give me different color and slightly more shallow DOF but I can achieve images that are just as nice, or powerful with a Micro 4/3 camera or even Nikon 1 camera. Same goes for my Sony or Leica cameras. The moral of the story is that ALL cameras are fantastic these days and I use and recommend what I enjoy using. Micro 4/3 has come a long way since the early days of the E-P1 and GF1 and the Fuji X system cam provide jaw dropping results.

But Micro 4/3..In the mirrorless world they have the fastest focus, the best image stabilisation, the best prime lenses available, the best made/built bodies, superb usability, fantastic viewfinders and astonishing versatility. I am mainly talking about the Olympus E-P5 and OM-D series due to what they offer. 

So Micro 4/3 is here and here to stay. They do not need, nor will they ever have larger sensors. If that were the case, it would no longer be micro 4/3. The newest bodies supply the tools needed for amazing output and if the photographer is up to the task, can squeeze out special images just as easily as one can using a full frame camera.

I have used and tested them all my friends and Micro 4/3 is no joke. 

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Pros and Cons of the new 20 1.7 II Lens

Pros

  • It is small and flat, a pancake lens
  • It is sharp even wide open with great contrast and color
  • Looks great in the all new slick black or silver colors
  • Metal Barrel
  • Works great on Olympus or Panasonic bodies!

Cons

  • Same IQ and AF speed of the original
  • Can flare in some circumstances
  • Does exhibit CA wide open in some situations
  • No real improvement over the old version

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THREE SHOTS

Three shots, one with the E-P5,  and 20 1.7 II ($1450 combo), one with the Nikon V1 and 18.5 1.8 ($430 combo) and one with the Fuji X-M1 and 32 1.8 Zeiss ($1600 combo). It is easy squeezy to spot the Fuji as it does have that signature Fuji color and a more shallow DOF and a biting sharpness. With that said, of all three cameras I enjoy shooting the E-P5 the most with the V1 just behind it. TheHad a frustrating day with it today and out of 12 shots taken of the cows with the Fuji, 7 were in focus. The E-P5 and Nikon had zero missed AF shots. The images below are all looking good IMO and my fave came from the Nikon 1 and 18.5. :)

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With that rant out of the way, this new Panasonic 20 1.7 II is a joy to use and gives stupendous output and should do very well on the new Panasonic GX7 or any of the Micro 4/3 bodies available today.

WHERE TO BUY?

If you own a Micro 4/3 camera and DO NOT own this lens or the Panasonic 25 1.4, I HIGHLY recommend this lens, without a shred of doubt! It sells for $429 and can be purchased at the links below from my recommended shops:

Buy the 20 1.7 II in black at Amazon or B&H Photo

Buy the 20 1.7 II in Silver at Amazon of B&H Photo

You can buy the Olympus E-P5 at PopFlash.com, B&H Photo or Amazon

 

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HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

PLEASE Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site (and the cost these days to keep it going is pretty damn high), so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at Amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :) More info is here on how you can help! If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter, my facebook fan page and now GOOGLE +

May 132013
 

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The Voigtlander 21 1.8 Lens Review by Steve Huff

Thanks to new site sponsor CameraQuest for loaning me this lens and viewfinder for review.

Hello to all who lurk here on stevehuffphoto.com! It is once again “review day ” and what I have to talk to you about today is a real GEM of a lens for any and all Leica M shooters, the Voigtlander 21 1.8 M lens. I have already posted many of my thoughts on this lens in my 1st look of it HERE, so if you missed that go take a look if you like.  Wether you shoot an old or new film rangefinder or use one of the digital versions like the M8, M9, M9-P, M-E, MM or M this lens delivers. While I have not shot it on the new M yet, it does well on the M9/ME and is gorgeous on the MM as well. In fact, it does so well I would PERSONALLY take this lens over the Leica equivalent (The Leica 21 Lux) any day of the week, not because it is superior but because it is almost its equal and I would save myself $6000 in cold hard cash, yes…$6000 separates these lenses and the Voigtlander is really good. I’d rather take the 5-10% less build and performance and pocket over $6k to take an amazing vacation/photo trip to really use the lens. If I were a rich man, I’d take the Leica but when it comes to saving money you can do so with this lens and trust me, your photos will not take the quality hit. Hmmm. Did I just finish the whole review? Well, not really, read on…

While not small in size, it is smaller than the Leica 21 Summilux 1.4 and about 90% of the performance..and then some.

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These days, Voigtlander is really rocking it with some of their newest glass and this 21 1.8 is no exception. Compared to the Leica 21 Lux, it has less distortion, is only a teeny bit slower at 1.8 vs 1.4 and is also lighter and smaller. It is just as sharp if not sharper and gives no magenta edges on the M9/M-E, even without coding the lens. It also focuses close at .5 meters though you will lose the RF focusing at .7. I was able to shoot a few at .5 meters by guessing and it works quite well.  Compared to what I remember from the Leica 21 1.4, this Voigtlander has a little bit less micro-contrast and is also a little less contrasty in general and the Leica will win in overall heft and build, but that is about where it ends. When it comes to quality, the Voigtlander and the Leica has it, but this one will cost you MUCH less.

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At $1249 for a fast quality wide angle lens, it is a steal of a deal. Even this little rescue dog thought so :)

The Voigtlander 21 1.8 Lens on the Leica MM, at 1.8

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While this shot is nothing special, the Bokeh quality from this lens is smooth and silky. 

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Shooting WIDE. It can indeed be a challenge. 

I am not really a wide angle shooter, at all. My go to focal lengths have always been 28mm, 35mm and 50mm with rare use of the 28. So shooting a 21, for me, was a challenge when trying to create interesting review snaps. My goal for review images though is to create a mix of interesting shots while showing what the lens can do on a given camera. I look for nice colors if shooting color, I look for shots that will present interesting Bokeh opportunities and I look for detail shots to see what the lens can do with sharpness and detail. I also like to see what the lens can do with B&W photography using the Leica Monochrom, so what you see in this review will helpfully help you to understand what the lens can do on the Leica MM and M9/M-E.

Product shots with the Sony RX1

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Ever since selling off my Leica M 240 to be able to keep the MM (which I already miss… of course) I wondered what this lens would do on a color M. Any color M. I was able to get a hold of a Leica M-E for a few days and took it out with the 21mm. It performed much better than I expected in all areas. Sharpness, color, bokeh, etc. I kept thinking to myself “man, if Voigtlander did this well with a 21mm lens, I can not wait to get my hands on that sweet new 50 Nokton 1.5 that is set to hit in June. While shooting the Leica M-E I was reminded of the M9 color and signature, which is indeed different than what comes from the new M 240. After shooting the M-E again I can easily state that yes, I still and do prefer the new M 240. I hope to have one again within 9-12 months.

When I do get one again I will try out this 21 on it and add to this review.

The Voigtlander 21 at f/4 on the Leica M-E – AWB

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Nature Trail in full AZ sun, mid day. The 21 1.8 at f/4 

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While a challenge to those of us who are “wide angle challenged” the 21mm focal length can be very cool to use sometimes. While not an every day lens, in some situations it can help you capture “more” of the scene. I took the MM and 21 to a local immigration reform March here in Phx (that only had about 100 people show up) and shot some with the 21. It worked out well and using the external viewfinder was a MUST to frame the shots, and man what a nice VF it is. The version II VF from Voigtlander is all metal, hefty but small and just has overall amazing quality. I can HIGHLY recommend the Voigtlander 21mm VF for any 21mm lens you may use. It is large, bright and easy to frame with. One of those products that is a joy to use and at $209, it will not break the bank. If you are using the new Leica M and have the EVF, then you will not need the optical VF of course but this little guy is so clear, bright and well made…in addition to being sexy to look at. (more on the VF later on).

The next three shots ranged from f/2.8-f/4

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The viewfinder… it feels just as high quality (if not more so) than any Leica or Zeiss finder I have tried over the years. It is metal, solid, and feels like it will last a lifetime. Focusing using the rangefinder and then framing with the external is a pain in the ass but if you want to frame correctly, it is needed for this lens and any lens wider than 28mm.

Shooting the lens in B&W on the Monochrom was a pleasant experience as the lens just seemed to be quite amazing for B&W. Just the right amount of contrast and sharpness with pleasant Bokeh makes for a classic yet modern-ish rendering. Shooting at 1.8 also shows that this lens can suck in some light with the best of them. The self portrait shot below (3rd shot) was taken wide open in my kitchen which was actually a bit dim. The lens made it appear brighter than it really was. Great fast lenses do this but not all of them do. For example, the classic Nikkor 3.5cm 1.8 shot in dim lighting results in a duller and darker rendering. Lenses that do suck in the light? Noctilux, Summilux, Canon 85L, Nikon 85 1.4, etc. So this lens is in good company.

This is a crop of an image shot at f/1.8…

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…and this shot was at .5 meters with me guessing the focus by bringing the camera down to the dogs level and moving it in to what I felt was .5 meters…

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…and a self portrait at .5 meters wide open. The Leica 21 Lux focuses to .7 meters while this one gets a little closer :)

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Some smooth bokeh in color – an OOC JPEG at 1.8 on the M-E

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Crop crop till you drop

Using the Leica MM and the 21 1.8 I often found the lens to be too wide for my tastes but at the same time, when viewing that full 21mm frame I kept thinking that I could really grow to love this focal length. To show how wide it is check out the shot below that I snapped in a restaurant. I will first show the original, then a crop and then an almost 100% crop. Click them to see larger and better looking sizes. They look VERY nice on my iMac 27″ display.

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The Monochrom is a gorgeous camera that for me, easily replaces any film camera. It can indeed meet and exceed the quality of any B&W film. Outside of the window in the above scene was the full harsh Phoenix AZ sunshine. The camera and Voigtlander 21 1.8 captured it all, inside and out. This 21 1.8 has a little less contrast than the Leica 21 Summilux so when shooting on a camera such as the Monochrom, it will be easier to avoid blowing highlights as the lens will not render in a harsh way, unless of course you like that look. Then you can just process the photo to give you a higher contrast look like below where I purposely blew out the background to make the image pop more:

This lens has a very pleasing way of rendering on the Leica MM – I blew out the background on purpose to create more pop.

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How sharp is the Voigtlander 21 1.8?

This lens is sharp as any lens I have ever tested, has minimal distortion and during my 2 weeks of use I found no issues with the lens that would deter me from buying one. In fact, if I were more of a 21mm shooter this would indeed be in my kit. I may pick up the luttle brother to this lens, the 21 f/4 as it is much cheaper and smaller and for the amount I use 21mm, it could be just the trick. Then again, if I went that route I would lose the look of the 21 1.8 due to no longer having any shallow DOF capabilities. I love the way this lens renders and it reminds me a bit of classic mixed with modern and somehow they managed to get it all together in the perfect way.

But let’s get back  to sharpness. This lens is as sharp as you can ask for and on the MM and M-E, without any coding at all I did not have any color or vignetting issues, which is quite incredible for a wide angle lens such as this. The lens does vignette wide open at 1.8 a bit but nothing objectionable. Check out the image below which is a 100% full size file from the Leica M-E via RAW conversion. Click it to see the full size detail.

click the images below to see the 21 1.8 in full size on the Leica M-E

1st one at f/4 – focus is one the top of the metal rail, closest to me. Still some shallow DOF here at f/4. Corners are sharp, the ones in focus. The trees in the upper left are not in focus as that is not the focus point, so those are blurred due to shallow DOF.

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This image was shot at f/2.8

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So for me, this lens gives plenty of sharpness and detail, no question. No one would need more.

Below you can see the same shot at various apertures. This lens is sharp at 1.8 and stays that way as you stop down. You can see the slight Vignetting at 1.8 which is all gone by 2.8. Click each image for larger with 100% crop embedded.

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Sharp corner to corner…

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The Voigtlander Viewfinders

Looking through the excellent 21/25mm Viewfinder – All metal construction – $209 

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When shooting a lens wider than 28mm on a Leica M you will need an external viewfinder to frame your subject. You will still use the standard viewfinder/ramgefinder window of your camera to focus, but to frame it all up you will need the external viewfinder with 21mm framelines. This way you can see what you will get on your final image. External viewfinders can look really cool but in reality, for me, they are a pain in the rear. Having to use one VF to focus and another to frame kills any “decisive moment” shots unless you are zone focusing (which is easy to do with a 21mm) but I was able to try out a couple of cool Voigtlander viewfinders. One of them is the 21/25mm all metal designed version 2 viewfinder which is the latest and greatest Voigtlander 21/25mm finder. It is solid, small but has some heft due to its rock solid metal construction. THIS is the VF I would buy with the lens at just over $200.

Comes with a nice little velvety blue bag for storage :)

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There is also the Voigtlander monster of a VF, the 15-35 which will give you 15-35 frame lines. So if you have the excellent 15mm f/4.5 you can use this one for both lenses, all the way up to 35mm. It’s large and bulky but versatile. You can choose between 15, 18, 21, 25 or 35. Also excellent but for those with multiple wide angle lenses.

It’s large and in charge…for those who want one viewfinder that will take on all wide angle lenses. Still smaller than the Leica “Frankenfinder”

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What about the .5 meter close focus? How can you focus this close on an M9/MM/ME?

Here is a quick tip! It may not be the most practical thing to do but as most of you know a Leica M8, M9, MM, ME, etc can not focus closer than .7 meters, even if the lens you are using focuses as close as .5 meters. Old classic lenses usually had a 1 meter limitation. Newer lenses from Leica all focus to .7 meters (most of them) and some other lenses can focus as close as .5 meters, which is about 1.6 feet. Once you turn the lens past .7 meters to go to .5 you lose rangefinder focusing. You can just move in a little closer and guess but it can be hit or miss. If you want to focus close on a regular basis here is a way you can do so and all you need is a string (I used a cable for my example photo so you could see it clearly), a measuring tape and some scissors.

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Simple and effective. You could even tape a piece of light string to your camera body when shooting with a close focusing lens.

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The cons of the Voigtlander 21 1.8. What is wrong with it? My final thoughts. 

In the world of 21mm lenses, this is a jewel of a lens for more reason that the quality it gives us in our photos. The reason it is so special is that it has the look as well as the build and feel of an old classic while giving performance that is nearing the $7250 Leica 21 Summilux. When I tell myself that this lens is $6000 less than the Leica 21 Lux, it boggles my mind. The Leica is larger, heavier, uses more expensive filters, has more distortion and is much more expensive. The Voigtlander has a llittle bit less micro contrast, which Leica is very good at but other than that…well, what can I say?

The Voigtlander is still on the large side for a rangefinder lens and the Voigtlander also has less overall contrast than the Leica equivalent. But without any question of a doubt I would not hesitate one moment to buy this lens if I were a wide angle shooter and wanted a fast aperture wide. It offers incredible performance for the price and gives superb quality build to boot.

So there really is nothing wrong with this lens, and for the cost it is a home run it. There is also a Zeiss 21 2.8 lens but the Zeiss is slower at 2.8, not as hefty in the build and more expensive. When you look for a fast 21 mm lens for your M mount camera, be sure to NOT look past this Voigtlander. They are making some superb quality glass these days and buying an all Voigtlander setup could help save you a ton of cash and possibly your marriage :) This lens is HIGHLY recommended if you are in search of a fast 21mm.

If you have the mega-bucks, just go for the Leica and call it a day knowing  you have the ultimate but remember, you can get just about as good for much less :)

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Below: At f/8 this lens is insanely sharp and again, sharpness across the frame which is impressive for such a wide angle lens. 

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Where to buy this lens? 

This lens was sent to me for review by Stephen Gandy at CameraQuest.com. They are also a site sponsor and sell the 21 1.8 lens for $1249 with FREE fast shipping. You can go direct to their 21 1.8 page HERE.

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LENS SPECIFICATIONS:

Mount Type VM for M-mount Cameras

Focal Length 21mm

Aperture Range f/1.8-22

Angle of View 91º

Minimum Focus Distance 19.7″ (0.5 m)

Focus Range 27.6″ – infinity (0.5 m – infinity)

Lens Construction 13 Elements in 11 Groups

Number of Aperture Blades 10

Filter Size 58mm

Dimensions (Diam. x L) 2.7 x 3.6″ (69 x 92 mm) including lens hood

Weight 14.5 oz (412 g)

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HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

PLEASE Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site (and the cost these days to keep it going is pretty damn high), so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at Amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :) More info is here on how you can help even if you are NOT in the USA as I have Amazon links to GermanyUnited Kingdom and Canada as well!

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter, my facebook fan page and now GOOGLE +!

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Jan 272013
 

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The Olympus 17 1.8 Lens Review by Steve Huff

Another home run for Olympus with their 35mm equivalent lens

Hello again to all! It is time once again for me to sit down and write for a few hours as I tell you all about my experience with the Olympus 17 1.8 Lens for the Micro 4/3 system. Once the news hit about this lens I knew I had to try it as this gives us a 35mm equivalent when shooting our beloved Micro 4/3 cameras and let me tell you…it is a PERFECT everyday mate for  the OM-D E-M5.

I have been shooting with the OM-D and 17 along with the Fuji X-E1 and Sony RX1 and getting out and taking photos, not test charts which reminds me of a time about 4 years ago now when I started this site. When I wrote my very 1st review on the Leica M8 I called it a “Real World” review because at that time there were ZERO websites reviewing cameras in a real world way, meaning, using them for what they were designed for..taking photos. Other sites did massive pixel peeping tests and other tests which never meant squat to anyone who really used the camera for what they were designed for. So when I started writing reviews based on the shooting experience, the feeling and real image quality results I was ridiculed and laughed at by many. But here we are in 2013 and the majority of review sites have gone “real world” which I think is FANTASTIC as it tells more about a camera or lens than any scientific tests do.

As for me, I still do things the way I always have and when I use a new camera, a new lens or a new photographic product I actually use it and if I have an issue with it I say so. If it is amazing I say so. I also show the results to back up what I say and I try my best to let you guys know how it is to use the product. I use it just as you would. I unbox it, charge the battery and get out and shoot.

This new Olympus lens is a beauty and when I say it is a perfect mate on the E-M5, I mean it. If you love the 35mm field of view then you will ADORE this lens on your E-M5. Trust me.

The OM-D E-M5 with the 17 1.8 at f/1.8 – WIDE OPEN – Click image for larger 1800 pixel wide version to see the real deal

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Olympus has been the only company that has TRULY been ROCKING IT non stop in the mirrorless world with one solid release after another. The E-M5 is my runner-up for camera of the year 2012 and it is still one hell of a camera that can give you beautiful results and when paired with this new 17 1.8 the AF is just about instant. It focused about twice as fast as the Fuji X-E1 and 35 1.4 (this is fact) and just like my RX1, nailed it every time.

Olympus, IMO, makes the best Micro 4/3 lenses available. The 12 f/2 is beautiful, the 17 1.8 is gorgeous, the 45 1.8 is magical and the 75 1.8 is a masterpiece for mirrorless. I also can not forget the 60 Macro, which is the best Macro lens I have ever shot with. With that setup there is nothing else you would need for most photography and the beauty of it all is that this whole system is very compact while delivering top results.

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The Lens Arrives

When the 17 1.8 arrived I took it out of the box and smiled. It is SMALL, light, and at the same time, very well made. It reminds me most of the 12 f/2 with its snap manual focus feature where you pull back the focus ring to automatically turn on manual focus. This is a great feature and I love it with the 12mm.

I have to admit, I have not read even one review of this lens because I wanted it to be new and fresh and I wanted to experience it for myself without influence from others. I have had e-mails asking me if I had issues with the lens as others reported but I can happily say I have had NONE. This lens has been phenomenal on the OM-D E-M5 in my use with it but then again I do not critically pixel peep and look at every pixel of the photo at 100%. I look at the photo and if it is pleasing to my eye and if what was captured was what I envisioned then I am happy. I also love character in a lens and this lens has a beautiful character. Not to critically sharp and not overly smooth. It really does provide very pleasing results and reminds me a bit of the Leica 35 Summarit in the way it renders.

UPDATE October 2013: This lens is even better on the new E-M1 and E-P5!

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The lens is Sharp, has super fast AF, gives you beautiful Bokeh and a very nice “MOJO FILLED” character. Wide open and at f/2 the bokeh it produces is lovely and smooth. In that regard it almost reminds me of the “Bokeh King” Leica 35mm Summicron V4 which in reality does not have the smoothest bokeh wide open, but more so stopped down. The Olympus has pretty damn smooth Bokeh though, even when wide open.

Wide open Bokeh – click for larger

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Build, feel, speed – this baby is built for it all when used on the E-M5

When you buy a new lens, especially one coming in at $499 like this one you expect it to be solid, perform well and focus fast and accurately. Well have no worries here because this lens is pretty slick and feels much like the 12mm f/2, focuses lightening fast and is accurate 99% of the time. I only use the center focus point on the E-M5 and it never seems to fail me.

The feel is nice. It is small, and the manual focus ring is smooth. Again, if you have tried out the 12mm f/2 then this is the same. For me, the $499 price is about right for a lens of this quality.

The next two these shots were taken WIDE OPEN at f/1.8 – click for larger views

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Is the Olympus E-M5 still a wise choice in 2013? What about the Fuji X-E1?

I get this question quite often. I see so many people who are buying a new camera and they are stuck between the E-M5, Fuji X-E1 and a NEX-6 or 7. Well, those are all good choices and any will give you nice results but I look at the lenses as the future of any system and I also look at “usability” as that is also very important. Look at Leica, they are known worldwide for  their amazing glass and it is those lenses  that make the magic with their cameras which happen to be the king of amazing “usability”.

To me, Micro 4/3 has some of the best glass in the whole mirrorless world, and the E-M5 is slick as hell in the usability dept. Sony is also kicking some serious tail but they are lacking with good glass for the NEX system and to date they really only have ONE super fantastic offering for the NEX system, the Zeiss 24 1.8. The others are good but not “special”. The premium Olympus primes are all pretty special IMO.

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Fuji X has a couple of good lenses and their 35 1.4 can be spectacular, in good light and when it focuses correctly. I took the X-E1 with the 35 1.4 to the same event and again the Fuji left me frustrated and I missed so many shots due to the AF missing the focus point. When the Fuji is indoor in lower light or funky light the results are not usually very pleasing as the AF is slow and the AWB is not up there with the best. It throws out funky color casts if you are in some indoor low lighting. I am hoping and have faith that the X100s delivers on speed and accuracy (and I think it will) and improved AWB. I feel the X bodies are more like beta models being tested by those who buy them. No offense to whoever owns them and loves them, and MANY of you do, it is just not working for me as they are much to quirky and for my tastes, there are better options out there right now in my opinion.

I can say the X-E1 and 35 1.4 taken out in good light or sunlight or studio light will reward you with a super nice image that draws you in to it with nice depth and colors. But side by side indoors low light other cameras do much better. I know, I shot them all.

So for me, I would take the E-M5 and 17 1.8 or 25 1.4 over the X-E1 and 35 1.4. I just do not get along with the Fuji X bodies. The images I get from the E-M5 are more to my liking, and the best part is, I do not miss shots due to slow or dodgy AF. I would also choose it over a NEX right now just due to the masterpiece lenses available for the Micro 4/3 system. The 12mm, the 45 1.8, the 75 1.8 and the 25 1.4 from Panasonic.

Again, I just write what I feel from MY experience and I am always 100% honest about my experiences. The OM-D E-M5 can give you back very rich and glassy images :)

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The BIG question: This lens or the Panasonic 20 1.7/25 1.4?

Anyone who has shot Micro 4/3 is very aware of the superb 20 1.7 lens from Panasonic, which I have always loved. It has always been the go to lens for many M4/3 shooters and for good reason. It is priced well and delivered the IQ every time. It was the 1st fast prime lens for M4/3 and was a HUGE seller back a few years ago. Today we have so many more choices and even the newer Panasonic 25 1.4 which I LOVE. But if you do not own either of these and you are looking for a fast lens for your E-M5 I would not hesitate to recommend the 17 1.8 or 25 1.4 (if you want a 50mm equivalent). For me, it is the perfect fit for the E-M5. The build, feel, manual focus and AF speed beat out the other two. AF speed especially. The two Panasonic’s will not AF as fast as this Olympus if shot on an OM-D.

As for IQ..the Panasonic 20 1.7 will give you a cooler color cast and the Olympus a warmer one. The Olympus is a little more “organic” in its rendering (this is good) and the Panasonic a little teeny bit “flatter”. Both are pin sharp and my version of the Olympus is VERY sharp just like the other Olympus premium offerings but the Panasonic 20 may be a tad sharper if clinical is more to your liking. The 25 1.4 is superb and the best of the lot in IQ but is larger and slower in operation and is a 50mm equivalent not a 35.

The 17 1.8 lens is very good when it comes to CA. As for vignetting, when wide open it is mild but not an issue to me. If I am shooting a landscape I would stop it down. By f/2 you do not really see any vignetting (see the shot below of the statue which was shot at f/2)

The 17 1.8 is $499 at Amazon or B&H Photo. The 20 1.7 is $349 at Amazon and the Panasonic 25 1.4 is  at $499.

For a 35mm equivalent my money would go to the Olympus 17 1.8 as I just adore all of these Olympus premium offerings and on the OM-D they work extremely well. With that said, the 20 1.7 and 25 1.4 are also super and you can not go wrong with any of them. It all comes down to what works FOR YOU. Hell, I even like the old 17 2.8 from Olympus even though it’s somewhat “soft”. I feel it has a pleasing rendering.

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A quick generic JPEG DOF comparison – Olympus vs Sony RX1

Just a quick JPEG comparison to show the difference between the OM-D with 17 1.8 at f/2 vs the RX1 at f/2 – both 35mm FOV but there will be a difference in DOF. You must click the images to see the larger and better versions of each. The Sony has a full frame sensor, the Olympus a Micro 4/3 sensor which is smaller than full frame or APS-C.

1st shot is with the E-M5 and 17 1.8 at  f/2. Very sharp but pleasing.

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The same shot taken with my main shooter, the full frame Sony RX1. The little Olympus has DOF differences but not bad at all! 

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While I prefer the RX1 version of this image the OM-D did not do too bad in comparison. I also shot this with the X-E1 using the manual focus SLR Magic 35 1.4 but it was not in focus due to my focusing error (or is it the lens)?

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Detail/Sharpness

While this lens is not as razor-sharp when wide open as the 75 1.8 or even the Panasonic 20 1.7, it is still sharp. You can click the image below for a full size from RAW image. Focus was on the statue.

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and one more snapshot at 1.8

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What I do not like about the 17 1.8 lens

I sat here and thought about it and at the end of the day this lens gave me no issues, was plenty sharp enough, was very good for portraits or available light scenes and was a very well made and performing lens. I am aware some think that this lens is not as good as the other Olympus offerings but in my experience, it absolutely is. It may not be a perfect as the 75 1.8 but it is damn good, and would be my pick for this focal length on the OM-D E-M5. But there is one thing I wish Olympus would do, and that is to include a lens hood in the box. Instead it is a $80 accessory and this is kind of ridiculous (as is the Sony $180 lens hood for  the RX1).

That is really my only complaint about the 17 1.8 lens. That and it should be weather sealed since the E-M5 is.

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My final conclusion on the Olympus 17 1.8 Lens

This one is easy. This lens has the build, the speed, the feel, the looks, the design and the performance in IQ that makes it a no brainer for your Olympus Micro 4/3 camera (especially the E-M5). If you shoot a Panasonic camera I can not say how the lens does as I did not test it on a Panasonic body but on the E-M5 it rocks just as much as their other premium lenses.

You will get less “pop” when compared to an APS-C or full frame sensor when it comes to shallow DOF but there is plenty of shallow DOF to be had with this guy. I can not imagine anyone being disappointed with the lens. Some may crave more shallow DOF because with this lens you are getting the Depth of Field of a 17mm lens, as that is what it is. The wider angle the lens the more DOF you will get (less shallow) so you are not going to get the blurred backgrounds of a true 35 f.2 lens like one would get on the Sony RX1. Even so, for Micro 4/3 this lens is pretty damn sweet. I love it.

It may not be critically sharp corner to corner but it doesn’t need to be as it is sharp enough for any photo you may need to take and it has the character that will please you when you actually use it for photo taking :)

Another bravo to Olympus. Just makes me wonder what is to come next from them.

You can buy this lens at Amazon HERE or B&H Photo.

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UPDATE: OK, so I read a review or two after I finished writing my own and came across one that sort of trashed the lens but then again, it was from a site that is more scientific and technical, which really does not tell you much about using it for real photos in the correct way. If I did not own the RX1 I would buy this lens in a nanosecond for the E-M5 and that is a fact but the RX1 is taking care of my 35mm needs just fine :)

Again, compared to the 20 1.7 this lens is faster to AF, has better build, warmer color compared to cool color and has features such as the pull back MF implementation and all of the correction on the Olympus bodies. For $150 more than the Panasonic you get this plus a little more “mojo”. If it is just sharpness you are after get the Panasonic as it is a little sharper of a lens.

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HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

PLEASE Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site (and the cost these days to keep it going is pretty damn high), so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at Amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :) More info is here on how you can help!

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Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader!

Sep 262012
 

The $199 Sigma 30 f/2.8 Lens Review on the Sony NEX-7! Bang for the Buck of the year!

So here I am all back home and rested for a couple of days after the week long photo cruise across the East coast. I shot quite a bit on that trip with the Fuji X-Pro 1 to see how firmware Version 2 would fare but I also had the Sony NEX-7 and 30 2.8 lens. You know, that $199 Sigma lens that gives us a 45mm equivalent on the NEX system? The one that Sigma also makes for Micro 4/3? At $199 you would think this lens would be mediocre but maybe you will be pleasantly surprised with one. After all, the buzz on the photo sites are saying it is excellent. I even had a quick guest post here a while back about this lens.

These days $199 is quite cheap when it comes to purchasing a lens for your favorite interchangeable lens camera so when you see something at this price you wonder…“Is it any good”? Well I am here to tell you my thoughts on this little Sigma lens. 

Sigma has officially entered the mirrorless market in an affordable way with this lens as well as their 19 2.8 lens which is also coming in at a lower priced $199. The 19mm would give NEX users a 28mm equivalent so I am also excited to see how that one stacks up because a $199 28mm 2.8 lens is hard to come by :)

As always with my reviews you can click any image for a larger and much better looking version! f/3.2 – iso 125 – 1/60s with the 30mm on the NEX-7

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Lenses Lenses Everywhere, but which ones to buy?

There are so many great lenses for ALL systems out there today but most are either expensive (most Nikon/Canon), or hard to find in stock (Olympus 75 1.8) or BOTH expensive and hard to find (Leica). Fuji X lenses run about $600 and up. The better Olympus lenses for their Micro 4/3 system run anywhere between $400 and $1300 for the good glass. We all know where Nikon and Canon stand. So how does this under $200 Sigma do in the grand scheme of things? I mean $199 just sounds so cheap for a known brand name  2.8 prime lens! Sure we have the cheap 50 1.8’s from Canon and Nikon – the Plastic Fantastics..but the Bokeh is mind numbing and they are soft wide open and have funky corners. So will the little “Sigma that could” really be THAT good? I was soon to find out!

I bought this lens after getting so many e-mails telling me “you HAVE to try this lens Steve”! So I dipped into my camera buying website work fund and bought it from Amazon. For $199 and free shipping. (Love Amazon Prime)! 

Shot this from a tour bus in NYC while heading to the airport – f/2.8 and 1/60s – Sony NEX-7 ISO 200

When the lens arrived I opened it and was surprised to see that it came with a nice lens case..wow. This lens is also quite small and light and when I picked it up I heard a rattle sound and thought it was broken. When I moved it I heard the lens element shift inside. Did not sound good at all but as soon as I attached it to my NEX-7 and powered it up the lens was 100% solid and did not shift. I later found out this was normal so my lens was NOT broken. You can see what this sounds like in this quick video overview of the lens I put up on YouTube:

So far so good. The lens was cheap, small, light and even came with a nice case AND METAL MOUNT. But I wondered…what about the IQ?  The image quality has to be soft right? With an aperture starting at f/2.8 I figured I would be getting soft performance wide open and decent performance by f/5.6. When I started snapping I saw the auto focus speed on my NEX-7 was mediocre but not bad at all. It was fast but not lightning quick. Very acceptable and for the price I was quite happy.

So to sum up the build this 30mm 2.8 lens has 7 elements in 5 groups with a plastic build and feel. It is not fancy but rather quite plain jane looking on the NEX cameras. It is all black and looks like..well..a cheap lens.

But no worries, the lens is a strong performer!

Wide Open this lens is SHARP at the focus point. Click the image below for a larger view to see the sharpness and some smooth Bokeh. F/2.8 – 1/60s – ISO 400

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Nope! This is not your normal “Budget Lens”

Nope this is NOT your normal budget lens. In fact it is sharper than just about ANY Sony lens I have shot with on my NEX-7! In fact, when shooting this lens it was almost like my Sony NEX-7 had a veil removed! No joke. I saw a crispness I never saw in the 18-55, 16mm or dare I say…even the Zeiss 24 1.8. I am not saying this is a better lens than the Zeiss as the Zeiss is better made, has better color reproduction, is much faster at 1.8 and is a premium lens for the NEX but I am saying this Sigma is pretty damn crisp and beats out my Zeiss 24 in that regard. Crispness :)

The Sigma 30 at f/5.6 – click this image to see a larger view and full 100% crop. Damn. BTW, THIS SHOT IS FROM RAW, FROM CAMERA

The shot above will show you what this lens is capable of. It is sharp, has great contrast and color and I can not believe a lens this cheap can be so good. It has been glued to my NEX for weeks now. From daily snapshots to shooting street scenes from a tour bus it has never caused me to miss a shot and it has never given me an out of focus shot. It’s been ALL good. $199 folks..at this price it is hard to beat.

Check out the next few shots..

Haunted Dolly – f/2.8 – 1/60s – ISO 200

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From the bus – f/2.8 – ISO 100 – 1/100s

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Street scene  – can see some of the barrel distortion here with the sign. f/2.8 – 1/60s – ISO 160

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So what is wrong with the Sigma 30 2.8 lens? Distortion & AF no go for video!

If I had to complain about something with this lens I would say that the AF speed is a bit slow and the build is on the light/cheap feeling side. It also has some slight barrel distortion (as in straight lines can be a bit bent at times). Nothing that is not fixable in Lightroom but keep in mind this is not a technically perfect lens at all. No way it could be at this price. Also when shooting video you will hear the creaks and noises of the lens as it struggles to AF, especially in low light. This is not a speedy video lens. This is a BASIC lens with great IQ. That is all.

Remember this is a $199 lens and for that $199 you get a hell of a bang for your buck for image quality.  Next three shots are all wide open at f/2.8

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My time with this lens…

I tried to shoot a wide variety of things with this lens. I never ever shoot action like sports or running kids and if I had to guess I would say this is not a lens for those situations as it is not a speedy focusing lens. I have read in other reviews that this lens has flare issues but I failed to shoot one shot with any kind of lens flare so if it is there it never showed its head in my images. Then again, I never really shot in to the sun.

I believe taking a lens out and shooting it for a few weeks..getting to know it..testing it in many situations…thats the way to do it. This lens never disappointed me but instead it kept surprising me. I am used to shooting mega buck Leica lenses and while this lens can not compete with the world’s best it can kick, stomp and destroy just about any other $199 lens made for the NEX system :)

Sigma decided to test the mirrorless lens market with some cheapies but this cheapie is a performer. If you are into the 45mm focal length, if f/2.8 is fast enough for you and you do not want to spend the bucks on the fancier pieces of glass then this lens could be your solution. This and the Sigma 19 could be the combo to beat and for under $400 for BOTH..well..that is unheard of these days.

I have not yet tested the 19 2.8 but if it is as good as this 30 2.8 I would be thrilled.

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Flare Test  – VS – Leica 35 Summilux FLE

It seems that some has been written about the flare of the Sigma 30mm but I found it quite tame and when shot directly into the sun without a hood the flare was minimal. Less than the Fuji X100 lens and less than even the $5000 Leica 35 Summilux ASPH FLE that was USING A HOOD! So the Sigma is great in regards to flare. See for yourself by clicking the images below. One from the Sigma and f/2.8 and one from the Leica at f/2.8 – Both on the NEX-7.

 

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The Pros and Cons of the Sigma 30 2.8

Pros

  1. Cheap at $199
  2. Comes with a nice lens case
  3. Sharp performance even at f/2.8 wide open
  4. light

Cons

  • Cheap (build)
  • Some slight barrel distortion
  • Tad slow with AF/Video creaking noise

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So would I buy this lens to keep? My final word…

Even though there are better lenses to get for NEX and one in particular coming down the pike SOON (the new Sony 35 1.8) this lens is cheap at $199 but has the image quality of a $350 – $400 lens. As you can see in the title of this review I am calling it the “Bang for the buck of the year”! It may not be for everyone but if you are tight on funds and want a new lens that will beat your kit lens then this little guy will only bring smiles to your face. I can not image anyone being disappointed with this lens at this price.

I bought it and kept it. Kind of a no brainer.

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Where To Buy the Sigma 30 2.8 for NEX?

I always buy from B&H Photo or Amazon for most of my gear. Great service, great reputation, great return policies. PERIOD.

$199 at Amazon

$199 AT B&H Photo

Lady and her smiling dog – NYC – f/2.8

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Wide open again at 2.8

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from street meat to mean street machine!

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ALL I ASK! HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page and Google +  page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader!

Oct 012011
 

The Olympus 45 1.8 Micro 4/3 Lens Review by Steve Huff

Do you desire an almost perfect fast portrait lens for your Micro 4/3 camera? 

My guess is that many of you here pre-ordered this lens and you have been waiting for it…patiently. Well, if you do not want to be driven crazy while waiting then you may want to click off of  this page right now for the obvious reasons. I pre-ordered my 45 1.8 a few weeks ago, I think close to 8 weeks ago (or so it seems) and it arrived a few days ago in all of its glory from B&H Photo. I already posted a 1st look a few days ago with a video overview and some quick samples that my son took when I 1st mounted the lens but today I will go into it a little bit more with some real world samples!

Out of the Box

When I took the lens out of the box I immediately felt that this lens was quality. I was worried about this one because the Olympus 12mm f/2 is $799 and has a nice solid build. That is a GREAT lens. This 45 1.8 is $399 so I was worried it would feel all plasticky and cheap but I was wrong. To clear that up, the lens feels GREAT in it’s build and is pretty slim and small compared to most micro 4/3 lenses. For example, the Panasonic 20 1.7 looks a little fat next to this 45 1.8 yet the 45 obviously  has more glass inside. You can see them both side by side below…

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Shooting with the Lens

The E-P3 with the 45 1.8 – From RAW, converted to B&W – ISO 640 – click image for larger

When I snapped some shots at the local aquarium near my house I was kind of floored by the quality as it seemed to up the quality of the E-P3 sensor! It didn’t of course but it seemed like it because it was giving me DAMN GOOD results. When I reviewed the 12mm f/2 I declared it the best micro 4/3 lens made to date. A BOLD statement but I meant that from every aspect. Build, size, function and IQ. After using this 45 1.8 for a few days I can say that this lens is equally as delicious. Yes, I said delicious! The IQ from this lens on the E-P3 is nothing short of astounding for the micro 4/3 format. Some of the best quality I have seen from any M4/3 camera/lens combo.

Update Oct 2013 – On the E-P5

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AF Speed and Image Quality on the E-P3

The focus is fast, the lens is sharp even when wide open, and the color and contrast is top notch. Bokeh (out of focus area quality) is good as well. Not amazingly crazy like some Leica glass but still, for a $399 Micro 4/3 lens I WILL TAKE IT. Olympus has FINALLY DELIVERED with this and the 12mm. I mentioned it in the 1st look video but if you want a “Holy Trinity” for micro 4/3 you will want to buy the 12mm f/2, either the Panasonic 20 1.7 or new 25 1.4 and this 45 1.8. You will then have a 24/40-50/90. A perfect set of primes and all fast quality glass – sort of Leica like in the execution of lenses I must say.

Yes my friends, Micro 4/3 has finally matured. The cameras are getting better, the lenses are getting better, and in reality, it is getting to the point that this kind of quality is good enough for 93% of us who shoot and post to the web (which admit it, this is what mostly all of us do with our photos ultimately). Seriously. A camera like the E-P3 has some of the fastest AF in the world and when you add on lenses like these what you get back is spectacular. It is hard to complain about it and if you do not have the funds for something like a Leica M9 and a Summilux lens then you can be happy with something like this as you will be getting way more bang for the buck.

If you click on the image below you can see a 100% crop of the image which was shot wide open at 1.8

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Another image shot at f/1.8. I focused on the surface of the water in a Koi Pond 

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Stopped down a teeny bit to f/2 it’s as sharp as can be…

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This new lens feels VERY good on the camera. Sleek, silver, and solid but not heavy. I feel the $399 price is WELL worth it so if you see it in stock anywhere and have a Micro 4/3 camera then I would snag it up. It is just one of  those lenses that comes around every few years that gets it all “right”.

Smaller cameras and lenses are the future

That makes me remember the review I wrote for the Panasonic 20 1.7 a while ago where I put it up against the big monster Nikon D3s. The E-P2 and 20mm won that shootout but that was because I was shooting the D3s with the el-cheapo Nikon 50 1.8. Add that lens to a full frame camera like the D3s and you will get soft images and softer corners. These little cameras like the E-P3 and even the new TINY Panasonic GF3 will always give you pretty sharp corners and there are some fantastic strengths in this smaller sensor with that being one of them. The other strength and the most important one..is SIZE. I see it MORE AND MORE these days…people are dumping their DSLR’s for small cameras like the NEX system, or Micro 4/3 cameras. One reason why Nikon and Canon sales are DOWN this year and I predicted this over the last two years.

The fact is that Nikon and Canon have not made any kind of real effort just yet to get into this market because they probably do not want to destroy their SLR sales which in turn would make  their lens sales drop. They had a good thing going for a while (and still do of course) but these little cameras have certainly put a dent into the big bulky SLR market.

If Nikon or Canon would release a REAL DEAL digital Rangefinder style camera with an EVF instead of an old RF it would be great but for some reason they are holding back while companies like Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and even Ricoh with their GXR modular system are now gaining more and more followers. I know Leica have a couple of things planned for 2012 and I expect one of their announcements to make a pretty big splash. Should be fun.

When I took this snap I was listening to Prince’s “Sexy M.F.”

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So back to the 45. Is it perfect? What are its flaws? 

Now I am not sitting here writing to you and telling you that this lens will beat a Leica lens or is the best lens in the world right now as I am writing this review in a Micro 4/3 state of mind, not a Leica state of mind. In the M4/3 world it really doesn’t get much better than this, if at all. If I had to note a flaw I would say that it should come with a lens hood and maybe it doesn’t have the best quality Bokeh ever (this is not Leica ro Zeiss here) but it’s damn good. Olympus makes the hood an option but does not include one, BOO.

But that is about it as I find the lens sharp at every aperture, fast to AF, and the color rendition is very good as well. I mean, I just sat here and said it was part of the “Holy Trinity” of Micro 4/3 glass, so not many complaints that I have found.

Wide open at f/1.8 and from a distance. This shot was also taken with the Ricoh GXR and Leica 50 Summitar HERE.

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ISO 1600 – from RAW with a little bit of Noise Reduction and a B&W conversion – f/1.8

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f/1.8 with a bit of contrast boost…

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Aperture and Sharpness

This lens opens up to 1.8 allowing you to not only get great low light shots but also get shallow depth of field and up until this lens, it was tough to get this look with Micro 4/3. Opening up to 1.8 and shooting this focal length will give you super shallow DOF. This is a BIG DEAL of us who shoot with these cameras. How sharp is it? The following photo was shot wide open at f/1.8 and is the full size out of camera file:

Click image for full size file!

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and another…

So there it is!

So there you have it. Short, sweet and to the point. This lens rocks. Period. It also focuses pretty damn close at 0.5 meters which allows for some creative uses. While many say this is a portrait lens, you can see from the images I shot above that it is much more than that. A 90mm equivalent focal length can be useful for many things. I usually stayed away from this focal length on my Leica due to the fact that almost every 90 I shot with had focus issues. Now I will use this setup for my 90mm needs unless I decided to invest in the Ricoh GXR M module where focus issues will also be a thing of the past, WITH Leica glass. The Ricoh is a pretty sweet system with an even larger sensor.

As of this writing I own the 12mm, 20mm and 45 for the E-P3 and enjoy them all. This lens gets my highest recommendation if you are a Micro 4/3 owner. Anyone who knocks this lens (don’t think there will be any) has never tried it or had a defect :) You can buy it at AMAZON and B&H Photo. 

I will now leave you with a few more images from this lens. Enjoy!

More Koi pond imagery – f/1.8

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Using the spot meter of the E-P3 I metered off of the leaves where the sun was hitting. This will give you the best exposure for a scene like this. f/1.8

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My kindergarden class picture. Can you spot me? HINT: I had hair then! ISO 1600, 1.8

I shot this at f/1.8 at 1/15th second – remember this is a 90mm equivilant! ISO 1600.

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F/1.8 inside the Apple store..

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and more images…click any for larger – exif is intact in all

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Below..ISO 1600 at night outside with one light bulb above his head. f/1.8

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HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

PLEASE Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site (and the cost these days to keep it going is pretty damn high), so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at Amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :) More info is here on how you can help!

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter, my facebook fan page and now GOOGLE +!

Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader!

Aug 222011
 

The SLR Magic 28 2.8 “E” Mount Lens Review using the Sony NEX-5 and Sony NEX-C3

Yet another lens real world use review using an SLR Magic lens! This is a company that in the last year has brought out some interesting lenses for Micro 4/3 and Sony “E” or NEX mount. I reviewed their fun Toy Lens for M4/3 and their equally fun “SLR MAGIC” lens for the Sony NEX and the reason I enjoyed those lenses so much was due to the fact that they were tiny, light and CHEAP! Plus the results were pretty cool and unique. Recently they sent me their new more serious lens for the Sony NEX mount. A 28mm f/2.8 lens made of metal. This is a manual focus lens and has aperture click stops from 2.8 up to f/22.

I had this lens a while and did not get to use it much but did manage to get a few shots in here and there. I finally have shot this lens enough to give it a fair review so here we go! Keep in mind that this is a real world review. The same type I have done for 2 1/2 years. The images you see here are all snapshots. Images I captured during my use with the lens to test the output and character of the glass. Nothing more, nothing less :)

The SLR Magic 28 2.8 equals about a 42mm on the NEX. A not so fast 2.8 aperture would make this lens seem good for landscape or maybe even portraits but this lens has a unique character just like most SLR Magic offerings. No, this lens will not give you funky swirl or crazy bokeh but it will give you a rendering that is a bit soft when wide open and with softer corners. It is a lower contrast lens as well when shot at 2.8 but when you stop it down, watch out! It sharpens up and the contrast gets a little higher as well. Also, tweaking the image in Photoshop or Lightroom easily fixes and lower contrast issues that may arise.

One unique thing about this lens is that it has a new “Revolver Style” aperture ring which gives you circular bokeh at every aperture. It also helps to cut down on size. SLR Magic also sent me the image below that helps explain the best aperture to use for certain situations.

The Build, The Look, and Feel

This lens is pretty solid. It comes in a box with a metal screw in lens cap and a rear cap. The lens is made of metal and has a good feel about it. It does not seem as “polished” as something that would come from Nikon, Canon or Leica but look at the price. A measley $169 on their E-Bay page. For that price, I can not complain about the build at all, only praise it.

I shot with this lens on a Sony NEX-5 and a Sony NEX-C3. The lens is small enough that it felt good on both cameras. It’s not long and it’s not to heavy. When manually focusing the new peaking feature worked GREAT. I was able to shoot without using the magnification, and 95% of the time the focus was spot on. This is a manual lens folks, so that means no auto focus and no turning the dial on the back to choose aperture.

NEX-5 and the 28 2.8 wide open

The Character of the 28

This lens is NOT going to be a lens that gives you perfect corner to corner sharpness. This lens has a but of unique character and even a little bit of a classic draw. I found it good for people and if you stop it down to f/8, good for landscapes when the lens does sharpen up considerably. I love lenses with character though this lens was not so easy to use when I first started shooting with it on the NEX-5. I had many out of focus shots due to the complications of shooting manual lenses on the NEX system. Once Sony did the focus peaking update, the lens became SO MUCH better and easier to use for me.

On the NEX-5 with the new firmware. Messing with the new color effects…

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Using the NEX-C3 with the 28.28  at ISO 1000 – rich color wide open here but I adjusted contrast in Photoshop. Shot in Vivid mode on the C3.

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Shot during a gloomy “funny” day in Amsterdam on the NEX-5 – 2.8

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CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW FOR A FULL SIZE FILE FROM THE NEX-5 and 28 2.8  – This is wide open and shows the softer corners.

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Low light portrait…wide open

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This shows a hint of the slight dreaminess you can get from this lens…

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…and by f/8 it sharpens up considerably. The next two are JPEGs from the NEX-C3,  f/8

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ISO 1600, NEX-C3 – JPEG – f/2.8

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below, f/8 in the full Las Vegas sun

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Wide open at f/2.8 indoors – NEX-C3

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The tree below was shot on the NEX-5 with the 28

The corners are soft when shot at 2.8 but the lens is sharp in the center wide open…see the sample below with 100% crop at 2.8 – MUST click image to see 100% crop


Full Size Samples from wide open to f/11

Some of you may want to see full size samples wide open and stopped down. The following images are all right out of camera JPEGS, saved as a “9” quality in Photoshop. Click on each image to see the full size version.

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So, What do I think of the SLR Magic 28 2.8?

This lens is cheap at $169 (plus shipping). For your cash you get an all metal manual lens made for your SONY NEX camera. Shipping from SLR Magic is quick, and they are a great company when it comes to customer service. I have had several lenses shipped to me from SLR Magic and never had one issue. Well, that is not true. One time they sent me a lens and it never arrived. They sent me a replacement and then right after the original came. They told me to just keep both and give one away. Pretty cool.

This 28 2.8 lens is somewhat classic in its rendering when shot wide open and when you stop it down to f/8, forget about it! It sharpens up and gives really great results. When shooting on the NEX-C3 the color seemed better to me over the NEX-5 which seemed duller but that could have been the color mode I shot in as the NEX-5 shots were RAW and the C3 shots are JPEGS.

I had a love/hate with this lens from the get go though. For the first month of shooting I disliked it as I found it a chore to use on the NEX (but I found ALL manual lenses slow and cumbersome on the NEX). I did enjoy the SLR Magic 35 1.7 on the NEX-5 but that lens was made to be imperfect, like a toy lens so missing focus wasn’t such a big deal. But when you use a lens like this, which is a bit more serious, you want your shots IN focus. Not until Sony released the focus peaking feature did I really start to appreciate this lens, and again, at $169 there is NOTHING here to complain about.

My Pros and Cons? Simple really:

PROSPrice of $169, well made, manual aperture ring, rounded aperture, sharp center

CONSA but dull in the color right out of the camera, lower contrast and soft corners until stopped down a bit. 

They even sell a version of it with a Macro adapter on their E-Bay page for $100 more. (which I have but have not used yet. I will update this review with MACRO pics as soon as I get something decent with it)

After spending $899 for an E-P3 and $799 for the 12mm f/2 lens, paying $169 for a lens like this seems like a steal. BUT!!! You must remember what this lens is and is not. It is an ALL MANUAL lens. This means you have to manually focus it. You have to set the Aperture on the lens. These two things are very “Leica Like” but the quality of the lens, and it’s rendering is somewhat classic wide open. It’s one of those dual personality lenses…wide open you get a softer glow at times and stopped down you get plenty of contrast and sharpness. I like it but it is what it is. A great lens for $169. if you like the look of the photos above and do not mind a manual lens, you will probably really enjoy the SLR Magic 28 2.8. At the asking price, it’s worth it! You can buy the SLR Magic 28 2.8 direct at their E-Bay page HERE.

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Jan 262011
 

The Leica 50 Summarit Lens Real World Use Review

By Steve Huff


So here I am, nearing the end of January 2011. I cant believe that next month will be the two year mark since I posted my 1st article over at the old site. While a lot has happened in those two years, the time has seriously flown by. My son is growing up and when I look back at the old reviews it makes me sad, but also happy to know that here I am, still at my desk every morning writing these reviews! It also makes me smile when I see so many new sites that have popped up providing “real world” reviews now. When I started my site with these “real world” reviews and write ups I was laughed at by many, scolded by a few online website pros, and was told repeatedly how dumb my site was (again, by a select few). Little did I know that two years later (UPDATE: Now 5 Years later)! I would still be doing this AND I had no idea I would inspire so many others to create “real world” blogs. I say this because I have had emails from some of these new blogs thanking me for inspiring them!

I’m happy that is the case because many of us were getting tired of the same old tech reviews with the same old tired looking 90s web site designs and the same old stiff talk. I know I was!

Let’s Get It Started!

Let’s get this party started with a slew of B&W images! All were shot with the Leica M9 and the 50 Summarit at 2.5 – converted to B&W with Alien Skin Exposure 3 – I always love how it just seems easy to capture emotion with a Leica M camera.

So here I am…getting ready  to write yet another review for a lens I have surprisingly not written about yet. Oddly enough,  it is my favorite focal length, 50mm. The lens I will be writing about today is the Leica 50 Summarit f/2.5 and just like the other two Summarits I have tried and owned, the 35 and 75, this 50 is a fantastic lens and the cheapest “NEW” Leica lens you can buy at $1,395. I want to thank Ken Hansen for letting me use this lens to shoot with for the past few weeks. Ken has been an awesome friend and Leica dealer and he has these lenses on hand and usually ALWAYs in stock. (E-mail him at [email protected]) So THANKS KEN!

Getting To The Point

This lens is a typical Leica lens. Small, gorgeous, and of very high optical quality. Leica makes some killer 50’s and in all honesty they do not make a bad lens. In the Leica world of 50mm lenses we have the classic and one of my all time favorites, the 50 Summicron (see my review here). I LOVE the 50 Cron! Period! If I had one lens to buy for my M9 and wanted the best all around lens for speed, size, weight, cost and performance it would be the 50 Summicron. Sure there is a more exotic lens like the 50 Summilux ASPH but it is much larger, heavier and costs much more. You can read about the 50 Lux HERE. Now, for those who can afford it and want the best of the best in the 50mm department then the Leica 50 Noctilux f/0.95 is the one to get. It’s a masterpiece. Beautiful. Heavy. LARGE. BUT DAMN, its GORGEOUS and unlike any other lens made today for 35mm. I have written a review for the 50 Noctilux as well (can see it here). Leica also makes a 50 Elmar 2.8 that collapses into the body. I have not yet reviewed it but I have used it and loved it.

The two photos below were shot with a Leica M8 and 50 Summarit at 2.5

So here I am with the smallest, lightest and cheapest Leica 50 yet and I have to say that Leica has yet another winner on their hands. The rendering of the 50 Summarit is a mix of modern and classic. It is modern because it is super sharp and contrasty, even wide open. It is classic in the way it renders the out of focus areas (Bokeh) and its a tad soft in the corners when wide open, even on the M8. It does retains that contrasty look and feel. To me, the 50 Summicron leans more to the classic side and the 50 Summilux more to the modern side. This little guy is in between the two and what a good mix it is.

After using it on the M8 and M9 I noticed that this guy performs wonderful on BOTH cameras though as mentioned, just a little bit soft at the edges but it sharpens up as it gets to the center of the frame. Of course on the M8 you will need the IR/UV filter and the lens becomes more like a 67mm due to the 1.3 crop sensor but it is still a wonderful lens. On the M9 we see more of a creamy file with more shallow depth of field (because we see the full frame which uses all of the lens). I am supplying sample photos from both camera bodies for this review because I know there are many M8 shooters still around. Besides, the Summarit line was introduced shortly after the M8 so of course they will be superb on that camera as well! Also, the M8 still rocks :)

Leica M9 and 50 Summarit

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Leica M8 and the 50 Summarit

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The Build and Feel


To me and also many others I know, the build of a quality lens is important. If you are going to spend big money on a lens, it better feel like you spent good money on it! Leica is known for not only their optical qualities but also their build. This summarit lens is not as substantial as the 50 Summicron or the 50 Summilux but it does feel better made than the Zeiss 50 Planar. It’s looks like a Leica and feels like a Leica. The aperture ring is solid and the lens come supplied with a soft pouch instead of a leather case. Also, this lens does not come with a lens hood. If you want a hood you have to buy it separate and the hood alone will run you $139 or so. So seeing that this is the least expensive Leica lens at $1395 the build and feel is just fine. One cool plus about the summarit is that it is small but it does pack a punch! Overall, the build could be better but I have seen worse. NOt up there with the big money Leicas but it is better than the Zeiss ZM lenses in build.

The next three images were all with the Leica M8 and 50 Summarit wide open at 2.5

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Is It Sharp?

I already mentioned that this lens is sharp, contrasty and has a mix of modern and classic renderings all mixed into one. Below you can download TWO full size shots so you can see an out of camera image. One from the M8 and one from the M9. Notice the corners are a tad soft but IMO, nothing to fret about. To me, this just adds some of that classic look to your photos.

This is from the M8 with the 50 at 2.5 – click the image to view the full out of camera file from RAW.

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one more from the M8 – click the image to see a resized file with a 100% crop inside. This lens is plenty sharp where it matters!

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OK, here is a test between the M8 and M9 to see how the lens performs on each camera

First up, the Leica M9 with the 50 at 2.5 – click image for full size file – You can see some vignetting here.

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Now the M9 at F4

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and at f5.6 – again, click image for full size

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Now the lens at 2.5 on the Leica M8

Even on the M8 there is some slight vignetting in the corners but overall the lens performs well in real world photos. I never take images of brick walls but many of you like to see a little but of testing when it comes to lenses.

M8 vs M9? Summarit VS ?

So after seeing full size files from each camera, the Leica M8 and the Leica M9…which camera does this lens perform the best on? Well, you are looking at the images here so what do you think? Me, I think the 50 looks its best on the M9 as I see more of the “M9 look” which I love. To me, the M8 puts out a slightly “harder” file which is also fantastic. Basically, no matter which camera you own this lens will perform well for you and on the M9 I would be content with this being my only lens. BUT there are other 50’s to choose from that are actually LESS expensive than this one that do their job very well. Lenses like the Ziess 50 Planar which is a great little lens. Very contrasty, great Bokeh and the color just POPS with a warmth and glow. I reviewed that lens a while ago and it can be seen here. There is also the Zeiss 50 Sonnar that comes in at about $1100. This lens will give you a VERY classic look when wide open  at it’s 1.5 aperture and it get sharp as any lens by f5.6. You can see my old review of that lens HERE. SO many 50’s out there and I have not even talked about the used market yet.

These days, if you are lucky, you can find a used Leica 50 Summicron for under $1000. If its the latest model with the slide out hood expect to pay about $1200-$1400 used. Me, I would take the Summicron over the Summarit BUT then again, with the Summarit you are getting a new lens, with warranty. To be honest, the 50 Summarit is a GREAT lens. A little slower than the Summicron at 2.5 but probably more snappy than the cron as well. Still…the 50 cron is a legend though many complain about its Bokeh. To me, the cron = classic Leica.

BUT, if you want a NEW smallish lens with great color, contrast and a somewhat classic feel then the Summarit should be on your short list. Especially if you want a Leica lens to go with your Leica M. Let’s face it. Nothing looks as sweet as something like an M8 or M9 with a nice piece of Leica glass on it :) I can say that in comparison, the Zeiss lenses seem like they are not built as well, especially the Planar but IQ wise the Ziess are just as good as the Summarit but much warmer in the color rendition.

Next two shots: Leica M8 and 50 Summarit at 2.5

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Bottom Line Conclusion

I won’t drag this review out any longer because all that needed to be said has been said AND shown. What else can I say about this little guy? It’s small, it’s Leicas least expensive lens (when bought new) and it’s a classic focal length that I love. When buying something like a Leica M9 it is sometimes hard to find extra money for lenses let along just one lens. The Summarit line makes it a little bit easier for us to own a real Leica lens without spending $3000+ for it. It’s a great performer if not a little soft in the edges and corners but stop it down and it will clean up nicely. The lens performs well on the M8 and the M9 and makes for a rather small and compact kit. I liked this lens. If I were buying NEW and I had a budget of under $1500 I would either buy this lens of try to find a deal on a 50 Summicron or even a Zeiss 50 Sonnar. I know I will get asked about this lens vs the voigtlanders like the 50 1.1 but IMO, this little Summarit will give you more snap, more contrast and better color than the Voigtlander 1.1. It’s not as fast and even more expensive but it’s got the Leica name and the Leica performance behind it.

I give Leica credit for releasing this line of lenses for those of us that can not afford the big guns. Is it still overpriced? Sure, it’s Leica! But if we want the best, we have to pay for it. Leica has always been Leica and for those who love them we seem to be willing to pay just about anything to own one.

This lens was sent to me by Ken Hansen who sells the entire Summarit line. He also usually has the crons and summilux lenses on hand as well as used lenses. You can email him for availability at his email, [email protected]. Great guy who has been a Leica dealer for MANY years.

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Feb 102010
 

The Leica 75 Summicron ASPH Lens Review

By Steve Huff

Geez, what a rough job I have :) Here I am again with a beautiful Leica lens. I really do not know how they do it, but Leica can sure make a MEAN piece of glass (as in KICK ASS). The Leica 75 Summicron ASPH F2 on the full-frame M9 is one hell of a performer and yet another lens I would own if I had the funds to do so. *BUT* it’s a 75… A focal length that I admit is not my favorite on the M9. I kind of prefer the 90mm focal length, but this 75 Summicron does have one cool thing going for it and that is the close focusing abilities in comparison to other M lenses.

The Leica 75 Summicron focuses down to .7 meters, the same as the 50 Summilux ASPH and closer than the 0.9 of the 90 Summicron. What is cool about this is that you can focus closer than the 90 and fill your frame more with the 75 when shooting close-up subjects. This makes me think that this 75 is probably a better lens to own than the 90 Elmarit I currently own, but at $2,000 more, I cannot justify it for my needs. Also, I happen to absolutely ADORE my 90 Elmarit.

The 75 Summicron was sort of designed in the same way as the magical, already legendary 50 Summilux ASPH with a floating element design with Aspherical glass. The 75 Summicron APO is a masterpiece, according to many, and for a few years now I have heard the praises of this lens in the Leica circles. I wanted to see for myself what all of the fuss was about and as luck would have it, Leica dealer Ken Hansen offered to send me one to try out. Of course, I had to say Yeeeessssss!

The 75mm Choices for your M camera

I am not a complete stranger to the 75mm focal length. I used to own the Leica 75 Summarit, which is also a FANTASTIC little lens. It’s small, light, and for Leica, kind of affordable at only $1,695! I shot that 75 summicron like crazy on the M8 and was able to achieve some pretty stellar results. I always wondered how the Summicron could be any better. Faster, yes…but is it $1700 better? There are quite a few choices when it comes to buying a 75mm for the Leica M series, but which one is for you?

  • The classic Leica 75 Summilux 1.4 – This lens is a monster, but a beautiful one. It gives you a fast 1.4 aperture and the look that reminds me quite a bit of the original Noctilux F1 lens. This lens is no longer made new by Leica. So, if you want one, be prepared to pay a dear price for a used copy.
  • The 75 Summarit – This lens is the latest 75mm design by Leica and is also the most affordable. Coming in $1,695.00, this is a stellar lens and a less painful way to come into the Leica world. It does not come with a lens hood or leather case. Instead, it comes with a fabric pouch and the lens hood is an extra accessory. This lens has a maximum aperture of 2.5. My review of this lens is at my old site here.
  • The 75 Summicron – The one I am writing about in this review. The 75 Cron comes in at $3395.00 and is not cheap, but it is pretty much a perfect 75. No distortion that I have seen, superb color, ASPHERICAL lens elements, a floating element for accurate close focusing ability, and the build and feel that will last a lifetime.
  • Voigtlander 75 Heliar 2.5 - This is a budget 75, but many swear by this lens. It has a 2.5 maximum aperture much like the Leica 75 Summarit and its price is a low $339! But you will need this ADAPTER to use it on your M. Many say this is pretty close to the Summarit in performance but I find that hard to believe as the Summarit is pretty impressive.

The 75 Summicron Arrives

As already stated, the 75 Summicron ASPH F2 is a lens that comes in at $3,395.00, so I was curious to see how it stood up to the little Summarit. When the lens arrived, I tested it out on my Leica M9 and my first thoughts were, “Hmmm, this kind of has that 50 Summilux ASPH look.” It was obvious that Leica used what they learned from the 50 into this 75. It had a different feel (image quality wise) than the Summarit and had smoother Bokeh as well. The build of the 75 Summicron is top-notch Leica and a little bit better than the Summarit. As far as size goes, think of a longer and wider 50 Summilux ASPH.

Leica M9 and 75 Summicron at F2 – B&W Conversion with Silver Efex Pro

I couldnt wait to get out of my house and shoot this lens, but the weather was NOT cooperating with me. It was grey, cold, snowy, and on some days, just plain NASTY! I used to live in Arizona and this winter has really got me missing my old house in sunny Phoenix. I kept waiting and waiting for some sunshine or better weather and eventually I had to ask Ken if I could hold on to the lens for a while longer because before I reviewed it, I wanted to really shoot with it for a few weeks. Ken was cool and said, “Take your time! I have plenty here in stock.” What a great guy, huh?

So while I waited for the weather to improve, I decided to see how much the lens weighs on the handy-dandy HUFF-O-MATIC scale. The lens comes in at a nice 16 ounces.

Also, quite a few of you asked me to show how much of the viewfinder is blocked by the lens. Ask and you shall receive! Here is an image through the M9 RF and is what you will see if you have this lens attached. It doesn’t really even protrude into the 75mm frame lines (the inner dashes are the frame lines for a 75mm lens).

Yep, more snow…Leica M9 and 75 Summicron at F2 – straight from camera, no PP

As the days went on, I realized that I was not really going to get any decent weather, so I said, “SCREW IT!” I just headed out every day to see what I could find with the 75. As I shot with this lens, the one thing that really struck me was it’s quality wide open. It has a way of really making your subject pop, if that is what you want. For example, if you want to shoot a portrait at F2, your subject will stand out from a creamy, smooth background. This is one of the many strengths of the 75 Summicron. Since it is a longer focal length than the 50, you will get more shallow depth of field when wide open at F2.

This was shot at F2 and shows the smooth background rendering of this lens. It was cold and grey so the lighting was not ideal. Leica M9 at F2, No PP.

The rendering of this lens is modern, meaning it can be razor sharp at your focus point and the background blur, or “bokeh” is usually velvety smooth. The color is also superb like most modern Leica designs (when you have good light) but I guess it should be for $3300! The more I shot with the lens, the more it was growing on me, but I must admit that I still preferred my 90 Elmarit, as the 75 focal length seemed a little odd to me. It is sort of in an oddball area. A bit longer than a 50 and a bit shorter than a 90, but it was growing on me due to its color, sharpness, and out-of-focus rendering. So I continued to bring it out with me wherever I went.

The Bird House – Leica 75 Summicron at F2.8 – ISO 80

The Video

As usual, I made a youtube video of the lens so be sure to watch it if you have 5 minutes and 30 seconds to spare :)

Sharpness and Detail

When I owned the 75 Summarit, I thought that it was one of the sharpest lenses I have ever shot with. The 75 Summicron is right up there with the Summarit, but seems to draw in a bit of a different way. The images have a “rounder” feel compared to a “harder” feel from the summarit, if you know what I mean. So, how sharp is the Summicron wide open? Let’s take a look at an untouched out of camera image followed by a 100% crop. Remember, this image was shot at F2 and has no sharpening applied.

This is at F2, so the lens is wide open! This is what I just love about Leica glass. The performance is SECOND TO NONE. With a modern (and even a few classics) Leica lens, you can shoot wide open with no worries or concerns. The only thing you have to worry about is depth of field, so pick your aperture and shoot! The 75 Summicron is a contrasty lens, but not super contrasty. I found the Summarit to be a bit more on the contrasty side than the cron and this is a good thing. Sometimes a lens can have too much contrast, but this lens delivered the images in a way that felt “just right”.

Comnpared to the Zeiss 85 Sonnar

I have been lucky enough to have a Zeiss ZM 85 Sonnar F2 on hand for the last 3 weeks and it is also a gorgeous lens. I would say that if portraits are your thing, then the Zeiss 85 would be my preferred choice over this 75 Summicron. Why? Mainly due to the much gentler rendering of the Zeiss, as well as the color. For people shots, the Zeiss is magic IMO. Here is a quick comparison:

Leica M9 and 75 Summicron at F2 – No PP here. Colors are straight from camera.

and now the Zeiss 85 Sonnar at F2, straight from camera color

To my eyes, the Zeiss renders in a more forgiving way and also seems to produce the typical Zeiss warm color tone and 3D pop. The 75 Cron seems like it is a bit flatter here. Both of these lenses come in at the same price point and both are made in Germany. I think the Summicron is a little bit better built, but both are excellent in this area. So for people shots, I prefer the Zeiss. For everything else, I prefer the Summicron.

Bokeh

The bokeh of the 75 Summicron is fine in my book. It is somewhat smoother than the Leica 50 Summicron in most cases, and is closer to that of the 50 Summilux. Here are some examples:

All three images below are with the Leica M9  &  75 Summicron at F2 – No PP but #3 was converted to B&W.

As you can see, my wife participated in quite a few of these test shots. She had a few days off, so she went out with me to shoot. I thought it was great because it gave me a chance to shoot some portraits with the 75.

The 75 Summicron on the Olympus E-P2 with Adapter

I also took a few shots on the Olympus E-P2 with the 75 Summicron and adapter and found it to do very well. The only issue with me is the lens becomes a 150mm equivalent in focal length, and for me that is a bit on the long end for what I shoot. Still, I had to test it :) The title image at the top of the review was shot with this lens and the E-P2, with the “Grainy Film” filter enabled. Here are a couple more…

Olympus E-P2 with the 75 Summicron at F2. I had some decent light on this day :)

Olympus E-P2 with 75 Summicron at F2. Just testing focus, bokeh, etc.

It seemed to perform well on the little E-P2, but again, it is just a bit on the long side for my tastes. I could see where this may come in handy when you need some tele, though. A 150mm “equivalent” focal length with an F2 aperture can make for a pretty nice setup in some situations. I still say the E-P2 sensor is not up to the task of fully taking advantage of the Leica glass though.

Pros and Cons

PROS:

  • The nicest 75mm lens I have ever shot with. It’s an APO ASPH lens, about as good as it gets :)
  • The slide out hood is nice to have. Just lift up and twist to lock.
  • The build is pure Leica.
  • Nice bokeh at F2.
  • The lens has excellent vibrant color.
  • Floating element for superb up close performance.
  • Compact size for a fast 75.
  • Focuses to .7 meters making it the closest focusing fast lens in the Leica lineup with more magnification than the 90 cron up close.
  • Nice leather pouch included.

CONS:

  • Price is steep at $3300, but in the Leica neighborhood that is average.
  • Slide out hood can be a bit stiff to pull out at times.

I really can not think of any “real” cons. Damn. Besides the price, there really are no faults with this lens. It was pretty much flawless in its performance, it is sharp starting at F2 with only minimal improvement at 2.8, has no noticeable distortion, and the color is very nice. This is a fantastic lens. Think of it as a longer F2 version of the 50 Lux. That is what it reminds me of.

The Bottom Line Conclusion

I had this lens for a few weeks and really enjoyed seeing what the lens could do on a Leica M9. It’s compact, it’s built to last, it has some of the best glass that you can pack into a lens barrel, it is sharp, contrasty, and delivers great all-around performance. You can shoot this lens wide open without any worries and it will always deliver with pure performance. The question you have to ask yourself is the same one I asked myself, “Do I like the 75mm focal length?” If yes, then the 75 summicron may be the best 75mm available new for any 35mm format.

The 75 Summicron is versatile. It does great for just about any application and while I liked the Zeiss 85 Sonnar better for portraits/people, I preferred the Summicron for just about everything else. I decided to stick with my 90 Elmarit for my long end and since I love my 50 Summicron so much, I realized that I did not need a 75. If I did, I would no doubt choose the 75 Summicron. I found ZERO faults with it. None. Nada. Zip. If I had loads of cash I would buy one just to have one. It is of the same pedigree as the 50 Lux ASPH, just in a longer focal length and somewhat slower F2. This is an easy recommend if you are in the market for a 75, but if you are not to keen on spending this kind of cash, the 75 Summarit is also a FANTASTIC little lens and just a tad slower at F2.5.

Either way, you really cannot lose, no matter what 75 you pick… A used 75 Summilux, a new 75 Summicron, a new 75 Summarit, or even a new Voigtlander 75 Heliar. But, if you want the best and are prepared to pay for it, then the 75 Summicron is technically the best there is in the 75mm arena for Leica.

Buying The Lens

If you want to buy one for yourself I can recommend a few places to get one. You can buy one from the guy that loaned me this one for the review, Mr. Ken Hansen. Ken is a great Leica dealer who has been around for MANY years. Great guy with old-school customer service (this is a good thing).

You can also shop at B&H Photo or Amazon for your 75 Cron. If you do decide to buy one, let me know how you like it and feel free to submit your images to my Daily Inspiration or if you have an M9, the Leica M9 Image Database! Thanks for reading. I hope you have enjoyed this real-world use report/review! Here are a few more images from my time with the Leica 75 Summicron and most these have all had some slight PP in one way or another. Usually it is vignette, color tweaks, and dodge/burn. The same tools used in the old, wet darkrooms. Enjoy :)

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