Just for Fun! Side by side: Leica M10 and 50 Summilux and EM1 MKII with 25 f/1.2

Just for Fun! Side by side: Leica M10 and 50 Summilux and EM1 MKII with 25 f/1.2

Someone asked if I could do this between the EM1 MKII and 25 f/1.2 vs the Leica M10 and 50 Summilux f/1.4 to see what the DOF, color and character looked like.

Click them to see a larger version but to me the Olympus is looking great here with the expected larger DOF due to  the format. The Leica is a little richer in color for the yellow but the reds are less vibrant than the Olympus.The Leica has some of that Leica feel as well.

But this is a great example and a test ONLY to show the DOF difference between Micro 4/3 and Full Frame when using an equivalent fast prime lens, wide open on M 4/3 and full frame. I will say that the Olympus 25 f/1.2 is my favorite lens for Micro 4/3, hands down. Being a 50mm guy, it is one of the best 50mm “equivalent” lenses I have used. The Leica 50 Summilux ASPH is a legendary and favorite lens of many Leica shooters.

As most of you here know, the Olympus is using a 25mm but the effect will be that of a 50mm and the Leica, well, a 50 is a 50. The Leica has more of a 3 dimensional feel here but that is to be expected. I will have more of these just for fun comparisons next week and will add in some other cameras as well.

I will also be testing some other lenses with the Leica M10 for those interested. Leave your requests in the comments below!




  1. Hi Steve,
    What this says to me is that today, with computers, there’s precious little difference optically except for physics, and a manufacturer chooses that, and the build. When I was a student the class had to independently mix and produce the same shade – a neutral gray not using black or white. most were easy to differentiate but a few caused a great debate. We concluded it was differential vision of the class members and I think that plays a part. We need to remember that we all don’t see colour the same way, and if our viewing monitors aren’t of the same quality and calibration then we’re limited in our ability to judge and compare which is why DOF is easier to discuss, that being a matter of preference. Content matters most, in my opinion.

  2. I didn’t read all the comments but the few I did read seemed a little on the negative side. I feel compelled to remind everyone that the title reads ‘Just for Fun’! Isn’t that why most of us take pictures!

    • Sadly, today, many people do not read or understand what a real world “just for fun” test is. They are too wrapped up in scientific BS that has nothing to do with photography, at all. But my tests like this ALWAYS bring them out and have for 8 years 😉 I love it. But this is the way to show what you can expect from each system, M 4/3 and full frame, period using the same (equivalent) FOV using two fast prime lenses, both wide open (the fastest Oly makes vs the Legendary Leica). That is what the test is for, and that is what it shows.

  3. Having read through all the comments and bearing in mind the simple intention of the comparison I would like to add a few thoughts on Blur/Bokeh which I think sometimes gets overlooked and has some relevance in these types of comparisons.

    There’s no doubt that Steve does a great job with the site and it’ terrific that he regularly makes this fun little comparisons available to us, but I am sure that he would be the first to concede we should read too much into the results and the results need to be considered as part of a much greater whole, like the joy many feel in using the Leica system.

    Consider the following and I know this may sound a little counterintuitive.

    All of these comparison on DOF and all of the ones you see on the web are just that…..on the web. Now that is actually a big deal. You see in a small web image the degree of blur and the speed of the fall off into blur need to be fairly high to give the impression of clear subject/background differentiation. This means that for web use, larger formats with wider apertures (hence more shallow DOF) will give a more immediately easily read image in terms of sensing separation between background and subject. Of course this approach is often preferable, especially if the background is potentially busy, it has the effect of simplifying the image and making it more direct.

    But…when enlarged to a reasonable size in print or for large scale screen use the high level of blur does not appear any softer of course but the DOF on the actual subject is more often than not insufficient for satisfactory detail rendering where you actually need it.

    In print or on a larger scale the image with the less shallow DOF usually renders the better result as the detail on the subject is both more finely shown but also the fade off into the final background blur is more gradual and this renders the image with a more layered effect….which on a larger scale actually make the image look more 3D. In a way it is as if you can walk through the planes of decreasing clarity into the distance.

    With smaller formats such as m4/3 the total level of blur will not be as high as a larger format but in large scale presentation (so long as you have shot at low iso and not created a noisy mess) the actual look for a great many images is preferable and a much closer parallel to the human vision experience.

    The above being the case the rendering of the Oly file in terms of DOF is probably the most useful for print (in fact I would say it is an excellent compromise) and the Leica is best for low res web where the casual viewer is simply looking for that immediate obvious variation.

    To a great degree I think the use of the web as the main sharing/viewing tool has driven many photographers down the path of fast glass and wide apertures, but the print results have often been a disappointing lottery.

    My gut feeling is the Oly combo with its high level of on subject clarity and more 3d fal-loff of clarity is the more useful real world option, at least for me anyway. It also presents one little benefit no-one has mentioned, because its performance is very high wide open and DOF usefully adequate you really can shoot at ether a faster shutter speed or lower ISO, which goes some way towards addressing the expected lower noise level of the FF Leica. Basically for the same look the Leica would be shooting at f2.8 which might /will whittle away some of its low light level prowess, and that’s of course without taking into account the exceptional IS of the Oly.

    If you have the time you may like to read this article on my blog about ISO, DOF and other such issues. https://braddlesphotoblurb.blogspot.com.au/search?q=getting+real+about+iso. PS: Steve I hope you don’t mind me adding the link but you are welcome to delete this paragraph if it is an issue.

    • You miss the basic and simple point. No need to get all scientific as that has nothing to do with taking photos. It is what it is. This is showing what one can expect with DOF using Oly’s fastest prime (made by Oly) and Leicas Legendary f/1.4 50. Both give the FOV of a 50 even though the Oly is a 25mm. One gives the DOF of a 25mm and one of a 50mm (if we think in full frame terms). This was just to show what one can get from each system using fast primes, 50 FOV from M 4/3 and full frame. Nothing more or less. No need to use equivalent apertures on the Leica as that is not what this was to show. Also, when going out with my Leica I do not say “Oh, I just shoot at f/2.8 because I have a Micro 4/3 at home that really would be giving me f/2.8”. No, I shoot at 1.4 for many reasons. Light gathering, plus the unique look which we all know is NOT accurate to real life, but that is not always (rarely is) the goal when shooting a system like this. So again, for the 8th time in the comments here…this is a test to show what one can expect DOF wise from each system using equivalent lenses wide open. Nothing more, nothing less. For this, it is a perfect test and shows what it aims to show. Thank you.

  4. I compared the 25/1.2 on the EMI vs the 35/1.4TL on a T and allready in this comparison there was a difference, your example is even clearer.

    m43 seems to show great resolution and detail, but not the 3-dimesnionality in these comparisons.

  5. After reading your preface I must say I am seriously disappointed to find only 1 picture and that of a yellow hydrant at that. Did I miss another set somewhere?
    Leica lovers will always talk up their gear. I would too if I’d paid that much. But I can’t afford one
    I own two Olympic m43 cameras and several lens and have shot with all the primes 75mm down.
    16 x20 for $300 or less is of course very true. I used to print in my darkroom. 35mm to 4 x 5 wood cameras.

  6. You erased my last comment, and that’s what is 100% wtong.
    There is no 3D effect, that’s illusory from your side. The background is differently in focus due to different lens/sensor combo.

  7. Steve,
    Were you using the 50mm black chrome? You mentioned in your review of this lens that you see slight difference than the regular 50mm Summilux. The reason I ask is the I am in discussions with our friend in New York for an M 50mm lens to use with my SL and your review showed the black chrome on the SL. I am trying to save money by not going after the Noctilux or APO. The would complement the SL zoom and provide a M 50mm if I return to the M series cameras later.

  8. I’ve never been overly attached to the Leica M digital system… probably because of price/performance relative to other cameras… I do however have a CLE and quite a few Minolta and Voigtlander M-mount lenses. … I shoot them on the CLE and my Sony and Fuji digital bodies…. love the classic rendering and frankly the feel if using them…. and some like the Voigtlander 35mm F1.7 Ultra and 50mm F1.5 Ultra are pretty darn sharp too… so…. all of a sudden….I’m jonesing for the M10… But what do you think… Is it worth shooting the Leica with Minolta and Voigtlander lenses?

  9. First up Steve has presented a single image which is downsized, so we can only make some rough estimations of the difference, but I was somewhat interested in checking this out as I do intend to purchase the em1 mk2 and the 25mm f1.2 lens. Being honest I would never purchase the Leica, I am just not an RF person and its limitations would make it unsuited to much of the type of work I do….but isn’t she lovely.

    Anyhow here is my take after loading the files and placing them in the same doc in photoshop so I could make some direct comparisons, using pickers, histograms etc.

    The Olympus file is very very slightly blue biased and the Leica very slightly yellow biased, nothing significant either way and of course easily adjusted to neutral.

    The Leica file has less dynamic range than the Olympus, the Olympus has some additional headroom and although the actual blacks look blacker, (meaning the lens probably is less flare prone at this aperture) the tonal slope into the blacks is smoother according to the histograms.

    In practice the increased dynamic range of the Oly file can be seen in the rendering of the clouds and the sky, there is simply more differentiation between the tones and colours, they obviously have quite different tone curves applied in processing but to my eye I find the Leica sky somewhat muddy. This is despite the fact that the Oly sets the gamma somewhat lighter.

    The Olympus file as was already mentioned by someone else has less distortion, it looks more technically correct, which I like as this gives a more flexible file but the difference is not really of significance.

    There is no doubt the Leica combo has significantly more out of focus blur, something would be wildly wrong if it didn’t, however again as someone else pointed out there is a little more double edging to the larger out of focus details.

    Cross frame exposure on the Leica is less even with far more vignetting, the Olympus vignettes as well but at a much more benign level. Personally neither would bother me I often add vignetting anyway.

    Clarity wise the Olympus is just a tad sharper on the” focus point” and quite a bit sharper around the sides of the hydrant and on the top, much of this is due to the DOF being deeper with the shorter focal length. In practice to get the same look detail wise on the subject you would need to stop the Leica down to probably f2, which would then probably make the background blur quite similar to the Oly combo. (I know this was not Steves’ intention but just saying in practice that’s how you would need to treat it if the subject were to be rendered the same.)

    Now what is the most striking difference to me and one that would certainly factor into my usage, colour tonality. Sorry to many here and I know this might cause some flames but the Oly is better, let me explain.

    Yellow is a very difficult colour to render well, it really tests systems and will often break up or slightly posterize. Now I am talking about subtle issueshere but this is what I can see. Look at the yellow on the left side of the hydrant on the body just near the cap. The tone changes here show some rough colour tonality on the Leica with a more abrupt colour change compared to the Oly, the Leica actually slightly greens up in the lighter transition area, if you look at the top cap you will see a more abrupt colour tonality as well, with the left side shifted in colour compared to the right. Like I say Yellow is a very hard colour to get right but it’s reproduction speaks volumes about the flexibility of the files. To my eyes the Leica renders yellow in a very similar way to my old Sony NEX 5n, I’ve put up with it and worked around it but sometimes it catches me out.

    I took the time to also neutralise both files to perfect grey and even then the yellow and blue on the Oly are better. The reds, (which someone mentioned) end up looking identical, the greens on the Leica remain more yellow than the Oly.

    Ok so thats my take. and based on these pics for real world use I would take the Oly, hope I don’t get banned from the site now.

    • Thanks for this. Knowing the difference in DoF, I prefer the Oly rendering. But hate to say that here. Sure want to see the M10 with the 50 APO in this comparison. I have a preconceived idea about it. But would love to see the differences.

  10. I have been looking at some of your other ff reviews and photos. The difference in dof is obvious. But the out of focus areas do not seem as smooth and pleasant to me as some other lens you have shown on other cameras and with other lens. Is this the lens, the camera, or just me seeing it wrong?

    • I perhaps did not explain this well. When I look at this photo the specular highlights are irritating. I hate using big words. The reflections in the back ground are not smooth and draw my eye where I would prefer the background to fade away not draw attention to the subject. It is not really busy, but still has too many edges for me. In my opinion, I like the 50 APO handling of the background. I also like the Sony Zeiss 50 1.4 and even the T 35 1.4 for the way they handle the background. Even though the dof is less, I like the way the Oly handles the background in this. What am I missing?

      • I agree with you Wayne I also find the Leica OOF area almost too much, it just seems exaggerated. I have gone back and looked at the images several times and the Leica background looks like bad 3D. Just my 2 cents worth. As Steve says it’s just for fun!

  11. It looks as if I can acquire an M10 and 35mm Summicron lens for about $9,000.

    I look at four cameras from my humble collection: two 6×6 (Minolta Autocorrect and Zeiss Ikonta) and two 35mms (Zeiss Contessa and Canon AE-1.). Each of these will produce up to 16×20 inch enlargements with fine detail and great contrast, although the 6x6s obviously have an easier time.

    Each of the above cost me $300 or less. Gentle question: will the M10 give me photographs that are 30 times better than what I can currently achieve?

    • As myself and many have written 1000X – using a Leica M RF is MUCH MUCH more than just the IQ. It brings me motivation and makes me get up and out to shoot. It is enjoyable to shoot, much more so than any other camera I have owned. It’s much more versatile than ANY film camera (the M10) but less versatile than any DSLR or most Mirrorless (no close focus, no video, etc) yet its simplicity, small size, jewel like lenses and unique manual experience make it a joy to use and shoot, which to me is just as important as the output, of which with the M10 is superb. So…. it all depends on you. But I never ever look at a camera or think of purchasing one due to IQ or how large I can print. IQ comes 2nd (all cameras today are fantastic with IQ) but what comes 1st is joy of use, and what it can do for my photography in other ways.

    • And a accura nsx will do as well as a Lamborghini at much much less. But some just want one. Why else buy Leica anything?

  12. Just ordered my first digital Leica (M10). Trying to decide on my 50mm. Cron, lux, or apo cron? I’ve never seen you compare the 3. Reviews really like the lux, but rave on the cron. The apo seems in an an entirely different league. But I can’t find anywhere that compares all 3

    • I did a video once with all three I believe. On my Youtube. I even threw in the Noctilux I believe. The APO cron is the most perfect 50mm I have ever come across but honestly do not feel it is worth the cost these days. The Lux is all about character over perfection, though it was once considered the best 50 ever made (around 6-8 years ago) – The original cron is beautiful but many do not like the bokeh it produces (can be harsh) and it has a cool color temp to it, so it is not a warm lens. If you want a deal in a 50, try the Zeiss 50 Planar – $800 or so, warm colors, 3D pop and will not kill your wallet. Will not be built to the Leica standard but it’s a great lens. The APO…will offer you the best color and all around perfection in a 50mm but at $7k for a 50f/2…it should. 😉

  13. The Olympus shot of the hydrant is somewhat sharper. Also, the left side of the hydrant in the Leica picture has pink areas. False colour? The Olympus image looks better overall.

    • I prefer the overall look of the Leica because it has more pop, but the Oly is doing a good job here.

      I also see a faint reddish glow on the hydrant in the Leica shot. But without seeing the full setup for myself, it’s impossible to know which color is correct. I wouldn’t assume it’s a false color. It could be a reflection from a segment of red curb that is out of the photo, or maybe a red car that was passing by.

    • The lens is a 25mm, not 33 and the image is just moved to the right a tad with the Olympus image. The FOV is identical here. It’s basically a 25mm shot cropped to 50mm. If I took a 25mm lens on the M and cropped it, then we would have a similar FOV as the Oly with the same DOF and all. So what we see here with the Oly is the DOF of a 25mm lens and the magnification of a 50mm.

  14. The oly result is flat. The object in focus becomes flat, the backgroud feels not distant.
    Bad picture result for most shots as it does not produce
    Iifelike photos.

    The leica result produces more depth. The object in focus is rounded and pop. The background feels like a distant. More lifelike.

    • Without meaning to sound contrary, surely the more the distance is out of focus, the less lifelike it is – the human eye and brain combo only allows us to ‘see’ what is in focus….as in, we can focus on a subject and keep it in focus while our eyes look around at the out of focus parts of the scene we are viewing?
      The reason I mention it is that I went to be tested for some contact lenses this morning and they fit a close distance to one eye and a far one to the other (dominant eye I think) and then the brain quickly adapts and renders everything in focus again – theoretically that is.

      Perhaps 3-dimensional would explain the view more – I’m all for it having said that; one of my all time fave lenses being the Canon 50mm f1.2. But I did use that(and the 85 1.2) to render things more dreamy…or less lifelike….:)

    • not sure I agree with the comment ref the Olympus shot being flat. The oof areas in the background seem to contain less separation in the Leica shot than the Olympus shot. In the Olympus shot I can tell that the trees on the right are in front of the distant trees and behind the car and the wall. In the Leica shot I cant

    • What is “lifelike”? Do you see bokeh in real life?
      So according to you, Leica will not give “lifelike” photos at f5.6 because background blur will be less.
      So to take “lifelike” photos one must have a full frame camera and an f1.4 lens?

      • You’re absolutely right; human perception and visual cortex hardly see, measure or percieve ‘bokeh’; this is an enterily photography oriented term, and in its full right there, absolutely:)

  15. We need Some M9 vs M10 at base ISO and same lens comparison, with auto WB and graycard calibrated, JPG and RAW ooc. Please do that, your comparisons are always interesting and unbiased.

  16. Hi Steve. Thanks for this great webpage!!!!
    I would love to see a test with the Voigtländer Ultron 35 1,7 paired with the M10.
    Best regards

  17. The Leica is MUCH better – in every sense. Especially in the out of focus areas. Look at the street!
    Olympus – good
    Leica – excellent

  18. In my opinion the white balance on the olympus is just on the cooler side, you can see this in the green of the trees and the blue of the sky. Maybe the leica is leaning a little bit too far on the warm side? You always had to keep an eye on the white balance of the M cameras since the M8.
    What surprises me is the tonality and the dynamic range of the olympus, i expected a more harsh transition from light to shadows.
    In this picture you cannot see my biggest hitch with M43. At iso 800 it starts to be grainy in the shadows (film-like or not ist less important to me). That limits the post-production for example in color-efex pro because of the amplification of the grain when increasing the contrast/color contrast (i.e. with the detail extractor).
    M43 has come a long way and the 1.2/25 seems to be a very special kind of a lens to play with. It just doesn’t fit the needs of many pros because they tend to go to the extremes. The olympus is durable of course but using it in weather extremes often means switching to high iso and fast glass like an 2.8/70-200 on ff or an 1.4/35-100 on M43 which would help to overcome the restricted high iso capabilities and hand have a comparable dof.
    Coming back to the article, maybe it would be nice to develop both pictures to the same white balance (i think the olympus is more neutral here) so we can compare the image quality and the dynamic range directly? And more since i´ve seen your great b/w from your last post could you both develop in the same way to b/w to compare them? That would be cool and i think the olympus pic deserves that. Not many people may have the ability to compare those two very different systems that could actually complement each other, thanks a lot, Steve.

    • Olympus combo is around $3300, the Leica around $10k. 😉 Leica is all manual, uses a rangefinder, and has no bells and whistles. Olympus is AF, EVF has blazing AF and every feature under the sun. Both could not be ore opposite. Both are built very well but the Oly is built to stand up to extremes. The Leica is more than the IQ, it’s about the mojo of it as well. You either LOVE to shoot and use an RF or you prefer a standard EVF camera. If you love shooting a RF, Leica is the only digital game in town.

      • However your recent comment about having the need to cover the RED dot up before going out shooting is also telling. I don’t want a camera that I have to think twice about taking out with me. Sure you need to pay attention to your surroundings, but unless you plan to only use it indoors or be worried about your surroundings the LEICA would concern me. Kind of like those people who buy the ROLEX Yacht Master watches. I am an avid sailor/racer and I can tell you that I’ve NEVER seen a ROLEX on the wrist of someone racing….maybe post race. Same is true with Leica, it’s a niche product…either love it, hate it or can’t afford it. If I was to get a Leica it would have to be the M3, still the best ever made..

        • I do not cover the red dot? If you are speaking to me, I did that in my review as the camera was still a secret and I could not talk about it. If stopped on the street I would have to avoid speaking about it, so I covered the dot for that reason. I have never covered the red dot on my Leica’s when shooting, even when shooting on Skid Row a few years back 😉

  19. Vignetting extreme on the Leica but this is to be expected its F1.4 (m43 equivalent of F0.7).

    But wouldn’t it make more sense to stop the leica down to F2.4 to match the Oly? – as an additional comparison?

    • The Leica definitely has better Dynamic range and tone – the hyrdant shows delicate highlights and shadows which the olympus does not, but this could be a property of the sensor limits of M4/3 rather than the lens itself or perhaps a result of different Post processing,

    • However the Leica shows a bit more distortion, which may actually pronounce the 3D effect, it works with these types of images, where as the Oly exhibits clinical straightness, possibly due to an extremely complex optical formula with added digital correction less pleasing for this shot, but optically desired in other situations.

    • As I said above, this was to show what you can get shallow DOF wise from each camera using a 50mm (or equiv) as well as out of camera color. Stopping down the Leica would make this simple quick test invalid as it was meant to show you the DOF differences.

      • While it’s certainly nice to see it demonstrated side by sie, I think we’ve all known that the DOF of a FF 50/1.4 is a lot shallower than that of a µFT 25/1.2. However an additional shot with the Summilux stopped down to 2.4 would allow a side by side comparison of the image quality with equal DOF.

    • Fine, this will show it isn’t just for expensive mirrorless and cameras that others can afford. I’m left in the dark, just reading this and just imagining – I have not touch any of this cameras. Keep shooting

  20. It’s hard to split them. Micro 4/3 is definitely good enough to replace bigger sensors, at least for press work. It won’t be long until 1″ sensors can reach that level.

    Still, the Leica is a very different type of camera to the Olympus, so I don’t think you can replace one with the other.

  21. The Oly does a great job keeping up with the Leica. Interesting – the Oly shot is wider-angle than the Leica despite the math telling us otherwise. Also, the red curb in the background seems more pink in the Oly shot and the yellow hydrant more saturated in the Leica shot.

    Thanks a lot for taking these!

    • I don’t believe the lens on the Oly is wider, rater it is pointed more clockwise. Note the poles sticking up out of the top of the hydrant and you’ll see that the Oly is pointing towards the right more, as judged by the blurred poles sticking up from the top of the hydrant. Beyond that the subleties are lost to me looking at a computer monitor. Need to see prints, or at least DNG files to compare meanfully.

    • Actually I disagree, the Leica is much shallower due to the wider aperture, so you would expect more Blurring and less DOF, but I cant say it is any creamier (aesthetically). To me the Olympus looks creamier, look at the curb double ghosting on the Leica. Of course this is only a a subjective estimation, as the OLY cannot go up to F0.7 so the Leica should close down to F2.4 to see a better comparison.

      • This is a comparison of what you can get from each camera DOF wise using a 50 or equiv. This 25 f/1.2 is the fastest Oly makes so shows the most shallow DOF one can get at this focal length. This was not meant to match DOF, but show the differences.

        • “..This 25 f/1.2 is the fastest Oly makes so shows the most shallow DOF one can get at this focal length..”

          Oh? What about the Voigtländer 25 f0.95 mft (sitting in my cupboard)? (That’s approximately equal to a Leica 50 at f1.8.)

          I’m not suggesting that the Cosina/Voigt has anywhere near the contrast, the fine detail, the lack of distortion of the Leica ..but just that its out-of-focus blur – its shallow depth-of-field – is greater than that of the Oly 25mm f1.2 ..just in case you’d forgotten about it!

    • Of course it is…25mm are more wider than 50mm…crop sensors fool people, optics doesn’t 😉

        • 25mm is a wide angle by scheme…for this reason out of focus (I hate bokeh…sorry) is different…magnification is the same but OOF rendering differs…I was answering Doug about creamier OOF

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