OK guys, I have been messing around with my Leica M to m4/3 adapter and I have to be honest. I’m not 100% in love with shooting M glass on the Olympus E-P2. Can it give good results? Sure. Can it give better results than a Panasonic lens on the E-P2? Well, in some cases it can but not always. The main improvements I see with shooting Leica or Zeiss M glass on the E-P2 (via the adapter) is in the color and bokeh. As far as sharpness goes, the Panasonic lenses do a great job with that already and let us not forget that we are limited by the m4/3 sensor. It can only do so much, so in reality the only things you will see improve with this expensive M glass is color and quality of the bokeh.
I have shot with the Zeiss 35 Biogon, Zeiss 85 Sonnar, the Leica 35 Summarit, 50 summicron, 75 summicron and 90 Elmarit. The only Leica lenses that I really enjoyed using on the E-P2 were the 50 and 75 Summicron. Really, those seemed to be the nicest in regards to quality and feel. The 35’s were OK but I felt I was able to get better results with the Panasonic 20 1.7. The 75 cron is gorgeous and on the M9 it’s simply incredible.
I have not done any “real” side by sides yet as it has been too cold outside, but I have shot some frames with these lenses and decided to show what I have so far. Nothing serious, just a bunch of randomness 🙂 In the coming days I will try to get out with a tripod and do a real bonafide side by side with the panasonic 20 1.7 and the Leica 35. But, I think that it will be a draw.
Being a Leica M owner I do not think I would choose to take the E-P2 with a Leica lens over taking my M9. As a matter of fact, I know I wouldn’t. If I want to shoot an M lens, it will be with the M9. So that leads to the question of “is it worth it to buy Leica or Zeiss glass if you only own a m4/3 camera?” Well, I would say no. I think the Panasonic glass is the best choice for m4/3 right now. The 7-14, 20 1.7, 45 macro and 14-140 are fantastic lenses and work well with the m4/3 bodies. Still, if you already own some M mount lenses it may be worth getting an adapter to give it a shot. As for me, the jury is still out. While I like the results I just feel that the sensor in the m4/3 cams can not take full advantage of these beautiful lenses. It’s quite a bit of fun though 🙂
So, on to some samples. The following examples can be clicked on for the larger version and you will see which lens took the shot. They were all converted from RAW in ACR 5.6 and have had the exposure, color and contrast tweaked in most cases.
Went in to my local camera store today, thinking of replacing my e-p2 with either an X1 or the forth coming X100, I was advised to also consider an M mount adaptor with a Leica Lens.
Been reading all of the comments above along with Steve’s review but it’s very inconclusive.
One idea of owning Leica glass now is to make it easier in the future to make the switch to an ‘M’ body.
Any advise would be appreciated.
BTW – Did Steve ever do the follow up review promised?
Try the Leica summircron 40mm -C F:2 and focus in the 5x mode. I think you will see a amazing difference! Also Cmt>m4/3 rds is a much better way to go! I use a Kodak Ektar 40mm F:1.6 and it blows the doors off modern lenses! Even a 60 year old cmt. lenses is sharper than a modern lens, and has 12 blade aperatures. I think you need to expand your thinking. Angenieux 25mm F:0.95 one of the sharpest lenses I ever tested. many older 1960 SLR lenses are very good, but Cmt. lenses are the best!
Just for the record, I cancelled the Summilux as there was one in London available for a lot less money. I took the train up yesterday and tried it out, gorgeous lens! I ended up however, buying a new Nokton 35mm 1.2 and a used Leica 75mm Summcron APO-ASPH. The Nockton is not as good as the 35 lux wide open but its almost as good and gives me 1/2 a stop extra if I need it. The 75mm is simply astounding! Its one of the best optics I have ever used and feels so right on an EP2. Here are a few pics below of my testing day!:
first the 35mm Summilux wide open
next I tried a used 75mm Summilux @ f1.4, nice lens but quite heavy.
next one was the Voigtlander 35mm Nokton @ f1.2
and then the 75mm Summicron wide open
and again on the train home @ f2
and reflection in the window of the train with the same lens
Yeah, you are correct about the resale value. I have over time been looking at Leica lenses, and it does seem that if you can keep one for at least three years and preferrably five, a period of time the end of which most consumer goods are considered an economic right-off, if you then sell the lens you are actually being paid for having it given that the rate of depreciation is virtually non-existent by that time i.e it stops depreciating. Now that’s cool, isn’t it?!!! 🙂
In the case of very rare or hard to get hold of lenses I guess you can buy and sell within a few months and loose little or nothing.
And which of the mFT-to-M adaptors are you getting? In my view the only two worth having are the offical Panny one or the Voigtlandder one as they have the anti-stray light baffle at the rear of the adaptor (some may argue as to whether it is needed or not, but for me it’s a mark of quality and attention to detail so the makers deserve my money; that’s how I see it anyway. I have the Panny one btw)
You’re probably right in some respects, but softness around the edges should not be a problem for the kind of shots I want to take with this lens, if anything it would only add to the perception of sharpness of the main subject. Additionally I have had softness in the corners of virtually all of my wide L primes and L zooms on several full frame Canon bodies and it hasn’t bothered me to date so I think I could live with that
I also reckon, being such a classic and being so generally hard to get a hold of, it would be a very easy re-sell with little loss should I need to do that. As I type, the lens has still not actually been despatched, so I could theoretically go up to the store in London and try it out on Monday and if it didn’t work out try something else or get a refund. Only thing is I don’t have my M-43s adapter yet!
I wish you well with that lens.
But really, you ought to have tested the lens on your EP-2. There is a WEALTH of evidence that shows that because M lenses are designed for fillm, and no digital sensors other than those on Leica M cameras have the clever off-set micro lenses around the borders of the sensor, there will often be image quality problems with lenses under 50mm on ordinary digital sensors; it is also felt that 35mm is the absolute widest you should try on an ordinary digital sensor with M glass.
Sean Reid over at Reid Reviews as done some investigation on this subject. Also see here: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=33770065
I have to firstly thank you for an excellent website which I only recently discovered and which has furnished me with a wealth of information regarding Leica M mount lenses in particular. I have been using the 4/3’s system for a while and am in the process of selling much of my Canon ‘L’ glass to re-invest in the 4/3’s system. The quality is quite sufficient for my purposes and I now take my gear everywhere – because I can!
I have purchased today a Summilux M 35mm and an m43 adaptor to use on my EP2. I can understand where your comments (re M lenses of 50mm & upwards being more suitable on a m43) are coming from, when you yourself are using an M9 every other day but I am hopeful that this lens will produce the sort of look I am looking for on the EP2. I have seen samples of other 35mm’s used on the EP2 and I like the look they give. I cannot imagine, being as this is one of the best 35mm’s ever made, it will be a dissapointment.
I can appreciate that I may not be getting the most out of an expensive lens (as I could be with an M9) but I still think it will be the best 35mm option available for my EP2 for sometime to come.
Hi everyone, First I’d like to thank Steve for this great website. I had been feeling detached from photography for a while (sick of carrying SLR gear), and since being introduced to MFT as an option to get back into it, I discovered your site. Great job, and keep it up!
My GF1 with 20mm is arriving next week, and I’m seriously excited. My thought was to start with this, get back to shooting everyday, and maybe pick up a Leica 35mm with an eye on getting a used M(whatever) in a few years at a good price.
Are there any comments about why the 35mm isn’t so effective? It sounds like the 50mm options perform better, but I even disliked the crop factor on APS sensors… I imagine I’d have to stand on the other side of the street with a MFT+50mm setup.
Thanks Francesco, that fits with what I’ve read elsewhere also.
Eric, I also took shots with Nokton 35/1.2, Summicron 28 and SW Heliar 12.
Here my very brief impressions for each lens on G1 (shot at full aperture).
Nokton: some reasonable vignetting, perhaps just a little bit less than Summilux 50. Unfortunately, I see damned annoying chromatic aberration in those pictures.. I find this lens amazing on M8.2: not so on G1..
Summicron 28: not important vignetting, but at the same time not as beautiful as I’d been expected (I use Summicron 28 as first lens on M8.2 and I think it’s gorgeous)..
SW Heliar 12: slightly vignetting and – all about considered – not so bad as we could expect because of M4/3 sensors lacking microlens feature..
In conclusion, I think – as Steve does, I believe – that we can get best results with M-system normal or medio-tele on M4/3 bodies..
thanks for the update. any experience with wider M glass and vignetting?
the vignetting you – rightly – see on 50mm shots has been added in pp.
The out of camera 50 Summicron shots are virtually vignetting free even at f/2.
The out of camera 50 Lux shots have about 1-2 stop of vignetting at full aperture.
there’s vignetting on Francesco’s 50mm shots. is this also your experience with m glass on m4/3?
nicely done steve, again.
i got the e-p2 to do video with my leica lens.
this is my video of a hummingbird ( e-p2 leica 35mm summilux ) film at f1.4
Thanks again Steve. Always very enlightning this foruns. I’m thinking about buying a samll camera for fun, like the Pan GF1 or the Oly EP-2, and those advices about the lenses to use with them is very interesting. I just still have this question in my mind, wich one to choose? Oly or Pany? Or maybe there’s not an answer for that? I understood GF1 was better in many aspects then the EP1, what about the EP2?
I am using the GF1 exclusively with Voigtlander M lenses and – after messing around with big Canons / Nikons, film rangefinders and the M8 in the last two years – I´m returning to actually HAVING FUN taking pictures again instead of worrying about my gear.
Yes, the M43 sensor is smaller than “full frame” but so are the cameras. As for the sensor not being up to the glass, maybe, I dont see it, but really, who cares? The glass stays forever. We´ll see improved digital cameras every six months or so. Maybe I´ll stick my Voigtlanders on the next great Oly, or the next great Panasonic or I might jump for a used M9 when the M10 is out.
So do I.
As may it concerne, I totally agree with Steve’s last thoughts..
Hanzo, of course the Zeiss Zf 25 is better than the 20 1.7, but not so much so on the m4/3 bodies. That is my point. I am not saying the panny lenses are better than Leica! I am saying the m4/3 sensor has limitations and does not really show the potential of these lenses.
Also, I already stated that you will get better color and bokeh with the Leica glass, but not by much (again, its the sensor). I also disagree on the AF. The AF on the GF1 is pretty fast, just as fast as some mid range DSLR’s. The AF on the E-P2 is perfectly acceptable. Pathetic is a strong word and not true. Also, it is MUCH quicker to AF with an E-P2 or GF1 than MF. It’s not like a rangefinder and it takes time to make sure its accurate due to the EVF/LCD.
I have been shooting the E-P2 with all of these lenses for the past few days and some of the best results I have been getting are with the panasonic 20 1.7.
It’s not the lenses, they are beautiful. If and when a more powerful m4/3 sensor comes along then things will get interesting. Or when someone makes an APS-C that can take M glass. That will be amazing.
Well, I don’t think so, the 25mm Zeiss is better than the 20mm, the 45mm is not a good as the Olympus 50mm (and the Summicron is even better than the Olympus which is an outstanding lens), etc. The look, the bokeh, the colors, the performance wide open, the sharpness too. Even the 50mm f/1.1 is great, but it has purple fringing once in a while.
Panasonic ? The 20mm has pale colors compared to the Olympus 17mm, sharpness is not everything as Bresson used to say. Only good Panasonic really is the 7-14mm. 20mm is ok, but with the pancake weaknesses. You wouldn’t want a pancake design on a Leica (like the Voigtlanders).
Anyway, just ranting … one good thing is that all these M lenses are investments for future Leica owners :-). And the AF on E-P2 and GF1 are PATHETIC, best to shoot manually and practice for future use in Leica cameras *lol*
Keep up the good work, I particularly liked your tutorials on Nik software and RAW, very good 🙂
Roger, you have a very valid point there! When you look at it like that, a 75 F2 is a 150 F2. How much would a 150 F2 cost in DSLR world, and how large would it be. So fast tele primes is a good positive.
seeing that there aren’t any fast long primes for Micro 4/3. The only way to go are leica M mount lenses. (sharp and small) And maybe when leica camera’s become cheaper in 20 years you can use those lenses on that body 😛
The E-P2’s EVF is high res enough to focus and that is how I focused all of these shots here. No need to magnify. BUT, with my M I get 99.8% in focus, with the E-P2 I get maybe 80% in focus. The E-P2 EVF is great, but still no replacement for the M’s RF IMO.
One thing that is interesting is you see the depth of field in real time, in the EVF. This shows you exactly what you are going to get for your final image. So with the 75 cron and that shot of the rusty nail on the wooden fence, I knew how shallow the DOF would be. That was cool.
Randy, both G1 and GF1 let you magnify focus point on LCD monitor and in EVF too.
In spite of that, I think is not too easy focusing by monitor in front of my face.
On the other way, I have very much more feeling with focusing by G1’s EVF. In this last way, I think the probability to get exact focus shoots at maximum aperture with fast lenses improves compared to M8.2 or M9 rangefinder use..
Elaine, yea the results are not bad and like I said, I see an improvement in color but its been really hit/miss with the MF. The EVF is great and much better than trying to use the low res LCD but in many cases you get some bad CA, excessive noise, etc etc. Also, Id rather be shooting these on my M, but for example, lets say my M had to go in for service. I would then happily shoot the little E-P2 with my M lenses, but I would keep it at 50mm and up.
Which leads me to my other issues. Most of the time, the lenses become to long for everyday use. A 75 cron becomes a 150 cron, though a 150F2 is pretty cool. A 50 becomes 100, etc etc. Lenses under 50 do not perform as good as the 20 1.7, so you are limited to shooting long with M glass IMO.
I plan on a big article soon about all of this. Thanks!
I actually like the results you got, Steve. Too bad the sensor is small though.
When you get into it a little further, I’d love to hear some commentary on what it’s like to be able to actually see what’s in focus or not when you shooting with glass you normally use with a rangefinder. How does the EVF work with that? Does that take away some of the frustration of “Is my Nokton sharp?, Did I get the shot?” That feeling is almost always with me when I shoot with my M’s
I apologise for wrong pictures submission (too big!) I did this morning and so I do it again.
At the same time, I take the chance to add some shots taken with TeleElmarit 90 (the 2nd version, in Italy so called “nano”)…
Summicron 50 again..
..and TeleElmarit 90
thanks Steve, for non users of digital Leicas, the lens mounts is a good introduction to a digital solution and the combination with he M lenses is very handy. Agree it might be a worthless investment with DSLR lenses as handling might be a real issue.
Thanks Steve for your real world review. So wouldn t the only advantage to use m glass be to have faster Lens other than at 17 or 20 mm already proposed in the kit ?
thx for your post. I really have the same experience with Nikon lenses mounted at the Lumix GF1. It works, but to be honest, the 20 mm Pancake is better.
Thanks Steve and Francesco;both of you are doing a stellar job of explaining the pros and cons of using Leica and Zeiss glass on the GF1 and EP2.
I myself am holding back on buying the 20mm 1.7 for my GF1 till I read Steve’s comparo of it with a Leica or Zeiss lens on the EP2/GF1.
Steve, those pictures are beautiful. I love particulary #5&6. Good job ! :o)
I’ve get many shoots with M lens on G1 and GF1 and I have had best results from Summicron 50 (so called “wetzlar”), Summilux 50 and CV 75/2.5.
I’ve read your conclusions and it seems not by chance that those focals work better than others (I’ve also tried Summicron 28, Nokton 35/1.2 and TeleElmarit 90: no one gave me better results than Pana 20/1.7).
Thanks for your work!