Quick Shots: Olympus E-P2 w/20 1.7 and Leica M9 w/35 Summarit 2.5


Was out today in the bitter cold and stopped by my Mother’s house to see how she was doing. I had my M9 with one of Leicas most affordable lenses, theย 35 Summarit 2.5 lens attached. This little lens may not be as fast as a 35 Summilux, or as perfect as a 35 Summicron but it has some special qualities and I have seen them in the few shots I snapped today with it. It is as sharp as you could want wide open and the size is tiny. With it’s metal screw in hood (like the 24 summilux style) it makes for a perfect all around lens for the M9 if cost is a concern. About $1600 this is the lowest priced NEW 35 you can get from Leica for your M. From what I have seen it is well worth it. I’ll have a review in a few weeks. BTW, I got this one from Ken Hansen.

My wife was with me today and she had her Olympus E-P2 with the new Panasonic 20 1.7 attached so I took a shot of my Mother with each one just to see how the $399 Panny would look next to the Leica. Wow, the Panny is a great lens for the money as well. For $400 you get a fast 1.7 20mm which translates to a 40mm on the Micro 4/3 cameras. So, between a 35 and 50 the 40 focal length is quite useful as an everyday lens. I think this lens will stay on her E-P2 as a lens cap. I will also have a review of this lens in a few weeks! I bought the Panasonic and it came from B&H Photo.

The photos? Oh yea, here they are. First the Leica M9/35 Summarit shot wide open at 2.5, NO PP:

Click Image For 1400 Pixel Wide Version or Click HERE to download full size OOC Image


and here is the Olympus E-P2 with the 20 1.7, wide open at 1.7, NO PP:

Click Image for 1400 Pixel Wide Version or CLICK HERE to download the full size OOC image


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One thing I noticed is that the depth of field is shallower with the 35 Summarit at 2.5 on the M9 vs the Oly E-P2 at 1.7. This is due to the smaller M4/3 sensor. But, having a 1.7 lens of this size on a M4/3 camera is awesome. So, what do you think? Me, I prefer my M9 with the 35 Summarit as in other shots I have taken (will be in the review) I see the qualities that I love about Leica glass. Color, detail, smooth bokeh and a 3D pop when you have some good light.

On the other hand, the 20 1.7 seems to be a fabulous lens and while the m4/3 sensors do not have the dynamic range or detail capabilities of the M9, for the money it they are a force to be reckoned with. BTW, I think the 20 1.7 is a MUST OWN if you have a M4/3 camera.

I am still waiting for an adapter so I can shoot these Leica lenses on the E-P2. When that arrives I’ll post samples!


  1. Considering the price point of both cameras and lenses, all I can say is “The 20/1.7 ain’t too shabby.” By my standards, that’s a compliment. That’s why I just got one and welded it onto an Oly E-PL1 body. Waaaay good enough for any amateur use, no?

  2. To get a more details from E-p2 picture I did a 5sec adjustment in photoshop CS3 and brought back over exposed details from the jacket. You can try it for yourself and see how datails are brought back and can now be seen just as in Leica image.
    Go to Image-Adjustments-Exposure drag slider to the left. Of course there are many other ways to do it.

  3. My M9 should be back on Monday (was at Leica getting an RF tune up) and it would be interesting to do a portrait comparison.I can shoot the 50 cron at F2 with the M9 and the 20 1.7 at F2 on the E-P2. Same ISO, same WB setting. Might be fun.

  4. seems to be a difference in white balance, when i compare it in lightroom side by side i can see a more greenish tint of the skin – when i change the tone of the whitebalance to red it goes away… /Mark

  5. Jonathan

    when you talk about your LX3 at 50mm, 50mm is not the real focal length it’s the equivalent focal length in the 24×36 35mm system.

    if you put a lens of 20mm at f1.7 on a GF1 or on a M9 with a subject at the same distance the DOF will be exactly the same !!! …. the framing will change…
    for a same framing you have to get away from the subject with a small sensor so the DOF is much wider.

    it’s the reason why that saying that the dof is related to the sensor size is very very false and misleading.

  6. Ugly Bokeh?!?


    It is just the other way around! The small white circles are on the Summarit-shot, not the Pana. Please, at least make sure you look at the right files before hyping your own system because it just has to be superior…

  7. “joshlty says:
    January 8, 2010 at 9:22 am
    actually, i am curious .. would a gf-1 combi with the panny handle this shot better than the ep-2 combi with the panny lens?”

    The answer is yes, at least technically. The GF1 effectively eliminates all chromatic aberration in camera software, though uncorrected (as it will be on the Olympus or any other non-panasonic 4/3) its still very good. As steve suggests, the low pass filter on the GF1 isn’t as strong which should produce greater sharpness, but at the risk of moire.

    In the real world I’m guessing you’ll be hard pressed to distinguish on to which camera the lens is mounted.

  8. “Pete,
    The 35 Summarit I have is sharper than my past 35 Luxโ€™s at 2.5 and I can say that the quality of this lens is up there with the better Leica designs throughout its aperture range when used for taking photos. The 20 1.7 is nice but lets not get carried away here. Its not up there with Leica glass and the M4/3 sensor is not up there with the Leica M8 or M9 sensor. Still, I find it a must own lens for any M4/3 user. Itโ€™s worth the $400 easily.”

    We’ll differ gently.
    Leica glass is fantastic on Leica. It’s main problem (feature?) is high angle of light incidence at wider angles which does not matter to film , or is allieviated by the offset microlenses on the dated (early 2000s) Kodak CCD sensor.
    Don’t bother putting this 21mm Elmarit on 4/3 (I did), you’ll get real nasties off center. From 35mm it’s getting better, but at what cost? The “digital” purpose built telecentric 4/3 glass gets to the quality level at a fraction of the cost. And the 400$ 20mm Panny IS as good on 4/3 as Leica. If a blind supervised challenge was ever offered, 99% of the people could not tell the difference. IMHO– but let everybody nurse his preconceptions.
    When it comes to sensor quality, http://www.dxomark.com shows us LeicaM8 sensor in mid-ranges together with G1 and EP1. One might have many objections to their methodology, but at least they try to use scientific and not “me-like” methods. M9 , if measureed by dxo, would most likely show better ISO (1 stop) performance, but not necessarily dynamic range. It’s the same old Kodak wafer (pixel pitch) but bigger. I won’t switch to M9 from my M8 until they become available second hand. Thank you for your samples, it is always nice to chat about the technicalities of our hobby, even if full agreement cannot be reached.

  9. Unlikely as they use the same sensor do they not? The M4/3 sensor is limited in its DR by nature. Only difference you would see between a GF1 and E-P2 is sharpness sue to the AA filter on the E-P2 and color.

  10. actually, i am curious .. would a gf-1 combi with the panny handle this shot better than the ep-2 combi with the panny lens?

  11. Hey guys…..

    Due to the interest in this post I am going to put up another interesting comparison today. This one was done just for fun (hey, I put it in the “just for fun” category) as I wanted to see the output from BOTH cameras as they would be used in an everyday situation. This was not meant to be a Camera A is Better than Camera B. Nope, just two images of the same subject with two cameras at close to the same settings ๐Ÿ™‚

    BTW, the M9 was at ISO 80 which robs it of some Dynamic Range. In any case, this is the output of each camera on A mode. Lifted, focused, snapped.

    SteveK, in this shot, no you will not see a $7000 difference but you wouldn’t see a $20,000 difference if one of these was shot with the Leica S2. The $7k difference can not really be seen in a JPEG on screen in a shot like this. In everyday use though, i see that difference in my M9. Low light especially. Also color, DR, tonality and overall quality of the DNG file.

    I enjoyed using a 35 Lux on the E-P1 but what bugged me was my 35 became a 70. Too long for everyday use for me. If I wanted a 40mm equiv, I would have to shell out $4000+ for a Leica 21 Elmarit and then it would only be a 42mm 2.8 on an E-P2/GF1. The 20 1.7 gives a nice balance of cost, weight and speed for these cameras.

    The 35 Summarit I have is sharper than my past 35 Lux’s at 2.5 and I can say that the quality of this lens is up there with the better Leica designs throughout its aperture range when used for taking photos. The 20 1.7 is nice but lets not get carried away here. Its not up there with Leica glass and the M4/3 sensor is not up there with the Leica M8 or M9 sensor. Still, I find it a must own lens for any M4/3 user. It’s worth the $400 easily.

    Francis, the E-P2 also uses the M adapter. The GF1 and E-P1 and E-P2 all use the same exact mount. I chose the E-P2 as its my wife’s camera and she preferred it to the GF1 for its style, build, feel and VF.

    Jonathan, the E-P2 shot was not overexposed and if it was the E-P2 metering is to blame. If I lower the exposure the face becomes too dark and guess what? The sky does not show any more details. It is still blown.

    Anyway, thanks guys for the discussion here. I posted these for fun as I love both of these camera systems. I’ll post another today just for fun using a tripod and base ISO of each camera as well as the same aperture. Just to satisfy those who asked for it through e-mail. Maybe I will throw the Nikon D3s into the mix as well as I am curious on that one myself.

    Should be fun. Thanks!


  12. Steve, I’d be very curious about the performance of the EP2 with non M43 glass on it. The 17mm looks fine for the platform but I don’t think there is a single all star lens in the micro four thirds line up. The 7-14mm and 20mm are close, but I really wonder if we don’t get worked up about them simply because we don’t have anything to compare them to. For the past couple weeks I’ve been trying a lot of my Nikkors on the E-P1 and really having a lot of fun with them. It would really stoke my curiousity to see some of your M glass on the EP2.

  13. Thanks for clarifying pete, that’s what I was trying to say by “magnitude of bokeh” ๐Ÿ™‚ Interesting points re max aperture!

    I actually used to own the GF1+20/1.7 combo and loved it every second I had it, but ended up returning it for a full refund because I realised m43 is still in its infancy, and I really wanted a zoom (and no fast zoom was out yet.) I really want it back though!!

  14. Jonathan,
    I am not sure what you mean by “magnitude of bokeh”–depth of field perhaps?
    If so, the author actually writes that DOF on the summarit is “shallower” than on the panny. To an extent he is right: at 2.5 and 1.7 from 3 meters DOF is 1.14 and 1,17 m respectively (3 cm or ca 1 inch difference). From 5 meters it’s 3.38 and 3.48- 10 cm/4 inch difference. More or less 3% difference, really sharp eyes needed to see that. (www.dofmaster.com)
    My point was however, the wider the maximum aperture on a lens, the more difficult it is to maintain picture quality at that opening. That’s why and only why summilux 35/1.4 costs 3x what summarit 35/2.5. And the Panny is 1/4 of the summarit’s price. Now my linked comparisons suggest that the Panny+EP1 don’t lose much to Lux+M8. The system price difference is 10:1.

  15. pixelmixture: it depends very much on sensor size. My LX3 at 50mm F/2.0 is going to render the same scene very differently to an M8 50mm F/2.0. The confusion arises when you have a lens built to work wide open on a larger sensor, and use it on a smaller sensor.

    pete: I think 2.5 on the summarit renders bokeh to about the same magnitude as the 1.7 on the panny? Steve’s photos make it easy to compare that. I think if there was a shot of the panny at 2.5, the DOF would appear to be significantly larger and the background much less blurred.

  16. my 2 cents: it’s always misleading to say that the dof is dependent of the sensor size …. the dof only depends of the subject distance …

  17. Hi
    Sweet sample shots you got There. I just don’t understand the choice of the ep-2 since the Pany has the Leica adaptor and seems superior in many aspects (af speed being one or maybe the only one). Thanks for sharing.

  18. As Jonathan states above, it’s obvious the Olympus shot received more light than the Leica… Also I think your mother stepped forward into more light, and otherwise it’s pretty close. Comparisons like this a always difficult to match fairly. I wonder what the Olympus shot would look like if you took it down half a stop in Post processing, not the same as getting it the same first in the camera, but would bring out more detail in the jacket for example.
    The snow would look slightly better too, but I imagine snow landscapes create a challenge for m4/3 cameras regarding dynamic range. (Personally yet to shoot many with my GF-1).
    An interesting comparison for sure. Thanks Steve.

  19. I can’t help but think that the Oly shot was simply over-exposed. And regarding the bokeh – aren’t those ugly white circles clearly in the Summarit shot, not the Panny shot?

  20. Scott. The 75 Summarit is a flat out amazing lens. I have a 75 Summicron here to test but honestly, it’s not really any better than the Summarit in the IQ dept., just the build, slight speed and closer focus ability.

    I know many will not even look at the summarits due to the cheaper price (funny huh?) as they think they are not as great as the summicrons. The 35 seems to render in a gentler way than the cron ASPH but still provides plenty of deatil and it is also a warmer lens. I’m really liking it and its almost half the price of a Summicron.

    It’s tough to find a Leica lens that is a stinker ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Bruce, I agree. After going through more DNG files today with the summarit I am blown away by this little lens. Also, in these images the M9 produces an image with more DR and tones, like you said.

    Dan, yep. Good call on the bokeh.

    Akram, I have been shooting a D3s for two weeks and have to say I much prefer my M9 to the NIkon. To be 100% honest, I have not been that impressed with anything but the high ISO of the D3s.

    Yes the m4/3 format has the drawbacks of the crop and limited DR. I have some shots in the snow where the M9 retained all of the detail with no blown out highlights. The E-P2 blew out the snow a bit.

  22. Always enjoy comparisons like this, even with a side of apples and oranges. The Summarit 35 and 75 lenses are stellar performers, though the new Summarit series is sometimes slighted since they aren’t expensive enough (it would seem). Good post.

  23. That’s the biggest problem with the m4/3 format – the sensor crop. An f/1.7 lens still collects light as an f/1.7, but it’ll render those out-of-focus areas as an f/3.4. I think for the money and size though, it’s a great camera and lens to have!

  24. Steve,
    personally can see a significant difference but believe it is related to the frame size of the Leica. Not sure if this is a lens effect or just visual effect of much better dynamic range. How would you expect a D 700 or 5 D compare if we forget the compactness of both the M 9 & EP 2. Thanks for advising, regards,Akram

  25. Also look at the ugly bokeh in the trees (well, branches) right behind the subject with the panny, very distracting small white circles. Compare that to the summarit which looks like butter… IMO the panny has a much less refined look, but not bad at all for the price point!

  26. i think the summarit beats the panny lens hands down. the background has so much more detail. the tree in the background is blown out, the jacket is a bit flat as well. where the leica shows so much more detail and tones. overall, the olympus with lens looks like there’s a lot of white. i like the m9 / summarit combo.

    but, the summarit alone cost more than the olympus and the lens together?

  27. Hey Nazmi,

    Thx for the comment. What I meant was, you can get shallower DOF with the M9 with slower lenses due to it being full frame. The E-P2, even with a 1.7 lens acts more like a 2.8 lens on a FF camera, as far as DOF goes.


  28. Honestly, i don’t really think that the dof differences is significant enough to be called a difference. It might be negligible between these two photos.

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