Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO Lens Review

Important Notes:
1. I am an Olympus Malaysia employee. 
2. This is a user experience based review, based on my personal opinion which can be subjective.
3. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 3. 
4. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
5. Minimal post-processing applied to the images, with slight brightness/contrast balance tweak. All images were almost as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

Today Olympus has announced quite a number of new products in Photokina, one which excited me the most was the Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens, which is the first ever F1.2 digital lens from Olympus! Panasonic was the first to introduce an F1.2 lens, the 42.5mm F1.2 Nocticron about 2 years ago, and now we have another F1.2 lens option for the Micro Four Thirds standard with the new 25mm F1.2 Olympus addition.

Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO on PEN-F





WHY F1.2?

The equivalence argument will see no end, so I will just mention this right away before I dive deeper into my review: Micro Four Thirds will never achieve as shallow depth of field as larger image sensor-sized systems, that is a fact, and we can just stop comparing right there. There really is no point to go on further, if you do need as much blur of a background you can get, and rendering shallow depth of field is your utmost priority in photography, then by all means, please get yourself full frame camera and lenses. Having an F1.2 lens on Micro Four Thirds is not a magic bullet that will miraculously compete head on with larger formats.

Nevertheless, having a true F1.2 lens still brings many desirable benefits to overall photography applications. The biggest advantage is the ability to gather more light into the camera with significantly larger aperture opening, thus aiding in low light photography by allowing the use of one or two stops of lower ISO setting. While the shallow depth of field is in no competition with larger format systems (which we have established earlier), for Micro Four Thirds, F1.2 lens will render noticeably shallower depth of field in comparison to F1.8, and this can enhance subject isolation if needed. Furthermore, looking at the collection of Micro Four Thirds lenses (Olympus and Panasonic mostly), most of the other lenses are already available: fisheye, macro, ultra wide angle, super telephoto, zoom lenses for varying range of use, etc. Now, I believe both companies will focus their efforts in releasing lenses with larger wide open aperture, eg F1.2.




The Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO vs 25mm F1.8

The 25mm F1.2 PRO in my not so large hand

ABOUT THE OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO 25MM F1.2 PRO

The following are the highlights of the new 25mm F1.2 PRO lens:

1) It is designed to achieve the highest resolution possible. 
Considering the tradition of Olympus M.Zuiko lenses I have been using up to now, I am expecting extremely high image quality from the optics, and I also expect the lens to perform well even at widest aperture F1.2. The lens is constructed of 19 elements in 14 groups, which is quite impressive, including the use of 1 Super ED lens, 2 ED lenses, 3 HR Lenses, 1 E-HR lens and 1 Aspherical lens. We will find out more about how this lens performs in real world shooting. 

2) F1.2 delivers beautiful bokeh
Nothing much to be said here really, seeing is believing and I have plenty of samples to show with abundant bokeh in my shots. Certainly, having F1.2 as an option is a welcome, and it does make a huge difference over the F1.8 lens. 

3) Fast Autofocus
We expect the AF performance to be similar to all the current M.Zuiko lenses, which is super fast and accurate, and works efficiently. The 25mm F1.2 PRO utilizes inner focusing mechanism, and MSC compliant focusing for quick and silent operation. 

4) Minimum focusing distance of 19.5cm (from lens to subject)
While this is no macro lens, the closest focusing distance of 19.5cm is quite respectable, resulting in maximum magnification of about 0.22x real life (equivalent to 35mm format). 

5) Fully Weather-Sealed 
Like all PRO lenses, this 25mm F1.2 PRO is also fully sealed against splash, dust and freezing down to minus 10 degrees Celsius. 

6) Other Features
The lens is coated with Z-Nano Coating, which is claimed to be highly effective in resisting flare and ghosting. Also, there is a lens function button that can be customized for any functions within the camera settings menu. There is also a manual focus clutch function, with depth of field scale built onto the lens itself. The lens comes with a supplied bowl-shaped hood for further resistance against flare. The lens diameter is 62mm, weighs about 400g and is approximately 87mm long.

For full specification, please do visit the official Olympus website here (click). 

I have spent in total 2 days of shooting time, to obtain sufficient photographs for this blog review. I have shot along the streets in various locations, and even arranged a portrait shooting session with a friend, Carmen. After all, this lens is most likely going to be used as a portrait lens, so I wanted to test it out on an actual portrait shoot.

Let's dive into some sample photographs, and the first item in discussion is image quality!

ALL IMAGES WERE TAKEN WITH 
OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO 25MM F1.2 PRO LENS ON AN OLYMPUS PEN-F 

1/2500sec, F5.6, ISO200
The Autofocus was so incredible I could freeze a bird in mid flight. 
Ok I was kidding. This shot was placed here because I like it a lot. Though honestly it does not show anything about the lens' capabilities. 

1/500sec, F1.2, ISO200
Portrait of a stranger 1. 
And by now, you should know what is coming. The eye pixel-peeping crop. 

100% crop from previous image. 
Shot at widest F1,2, the lens is already razor sharp!

1/1250sec, F1.2, ISO200
Portrait of a Stranger 2. 
Alright, one sample is not enough, I know I know. Here is another one. In fact, there will be many more to satisfy all our pixel-peeing needs. Pixel-peeing is ok, I am not against it. 

Crop from previous image. Yeap, another one at F1,2

1/12800sec, F1.2, ISO Low (electronic shutter used)
I purposely shot this scene at F1.2 widest, to smoke out all technical flaws of the lens. I was anticipating plenty of chromatic aberration and corner softness. However, I was quite pleased to find out I was wrong. The image came out sharp! And almost completely flaw-free. Which is quite impressive. 

Crop of Previous Image, taken at F1.2. 

1/16000, F1.2, ISO Low (electronic shutter used)
I could not believe that the F1,2 was already so good, so I took another test, and this time, I also captured a similar frame with F5.6, using ISO200 and the normal shutter. 

F5.6 on the left and F1.2 on the right. 
The F5.6 image (on the left) had much better clarity and dynamic range, because it was taken at ISO200, the base ISO. F1.2 image (on the right) suffers lack of dynamic range due to the pushed ISO Low, hence it was not really a fair comparison. Nonetheless, you just have to admit the result of the F1.2 was nothing to be scoffed at, completely no trace of chromatic aberration and quite frankly, already sharp enough at widest aperture. 

1/30sec, F7.1, ISO200

Crop from previous image

1/20sec, F4, ISO200

Crop from previous image

1/20sec, F4.5, ISO200

Crop from previous image

1/30sec, F1.2, ISO200

1/3200sec, F1.2, ISO200

1/1600, F16, ISO200


IMAGE QUALITY

The sharpness that the 25mm F1.2 PRO lens delivers is impressive. It is already showing excellent sharpness, even shooting at the wide open aperture of F1.2. Stopping down to F2 and smaller apertures yield sharper results, but you do need to pixel peep to tell the difference. 

Looking at the crop images of Portraits of Strangers, zooming into the eye area revealed very high level of clarity, not only good sharpness, but good contrast as well. I do find the images to exhibit very good depth, resulting in pleasing, 3-D feel, and this can only be accomplished with the presence of sufficient lens contrast and sharpness. Taking advantage of the fact that the newer Micro Four Thirds cameras from both Olympus and Panasonic have electronic shutter option that allows faster shutter speed (typically capped at 1/16000sec), F1.2 wide open aperture can actually be used in broad daylight. I found no issue shooting at F1,2 wide open under harsh, tropical Malaysian sun. Using electronic shutter and extended ISO Low will generally result in softer looking images and reduced dynamic range, but the compromise is not too significant and can be safely neglected (unless you are a chronic pixel-peeper, then we shall have a separate discussion). 

Not only is the 25mm F1.2 PRO lens incredibly sharp, it is also technically well controlled against lens optical flaws. I notice no signs of barrel distortion in any of my shots. Chromatic abberation is effectively suppressed, and I only noticed very minimal traces of purple fringing in extreme contrast conditions when shooting at F1.2, but not enough to be intrusive to the image, and can be easily corrected in post-processing. Flare control is very good, and I did not notice any flare or ghosting throughout my shoot. 


LENS HANDLING

The 25mm F1.2 PRO is not a small lens. It is similar in size or perhaps a little smaller than the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens, In comparison to the older M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens, the new 25mm F1.2 lens is noticeably larger and heavier, and by no means having a compact form factor. 

I have used the 25mm F1.2 PRO on a PEN-F all the time, and I find the handling on PEN-F to be quite good. It is as if I was holding a 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens, hence I was feeling right at home, and shooting with the lens was comfortable throughout all sessions with no issues. It should handle well with any OM-D cameras with no issue. 

I understand that many would appreciate the usual compact form factor of Olympus prime lenses, such as 12mm F2, 17mm F1.8, 25mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8. However, please also do understand that this is not an F1.8 lens. The aperture opening is F1.2, and it is just physically impossible to make it small, no matter what voodoo or magic applied. Aperture, measured in F-number simply refers to the opening size of the lens, hence the larger the aperture, the larger diameter lens is needed. That is just how it works!

Next, we shall look at the reason why people would buy an F1.2 lens, the BOKEH!!!

1/100sec, F1.2, ISO640
Green Arrow vs Bokeh

So we know that F1.2 does better shallow depth of field shots than, say F2.8, or even F1.8. But how much difference does an F1,2 make? The following shots are done to illustrate the difference of depth of field, from F4 to F1.2. I do apologize for the inconsistent framing, as the shot was taken inside an Indian temple. It would be rude to set up a tripod in front of the holy statues and spend 10 minutes shooting the images. Hence I did everything hand-held and as quickly as I can. The results are good enough to demonstrate my point. 

1/80sec, F4, ISO800

1/160sec, F2.8, ISO800

1/400sec, F1.8, ISO800

1/800sec, F1.2, ISO800

I wanted to label the F-number used on the shots, but I figured it would be quite obvious which shots were F4, F2.8, F1.8 and F1.2. 
Ok I admit it, I got lazy. Do cut me some slack, putting all this together is a lot of work!

1/200sec, F1.2, ISO200
A cup of Flat White is more delicious with creamy bokeh

1/1250sec, F1.2, ISO200
I really love how the background just melts into creaminess! If this is not a beautiful bokeh, I don't know what is!

1/200sec, F2, ISO200
For people shots, you can achieve very good isolation at F1,2, shooting half-body framing. For full body shots, you may need a to go for either the Panasonic 42.5mm F1.2 lens, or the Olympus 75mm F1.8 lens. 

1/1250sec, F1.2, ISO200


BOKEH BOKEH BOKEH

Alright, so how good is the F1,2 in terms of shallow depth of field rendering? After all, if you are getting this lens, I am sure this will be your most important criterion, to get deliciously beautiful bokeh!

It fares significantly better than what the older 25mm F1.8 can do, and that is evidently shown in golden statue comparisons done above. While the F1.2 can render shallow depth of field, I find that it works best at half body length portraits, as shown in the white mannequin shot above. For full body portraits, it is still not sufficient to successfully isolate the subject. 

The bokeh quality, was something else entirely! The creaminess, buttery smoothness was intoxicating. I almost wanted to just use the 25mm F1.2 PRO lens and shoot wide open all the time to generate as much beautiful bokeh as I can in my shots! There is no noticeable harshness in the out of focus area, and I do not find the bokeh to be distracting even shooting against harsh light (there are several examples down below too). The high level of sharpness achieved at F1,2, with the heavy background blurring created this surreal result which is realistic at the same time! 


AUTOFOCUS PERFORMANCE
The focusing speed and accuracy of the 25mm F1.2 PRO lens is on par, and similar in performance with all the PRO lenses, eg 12-40mm F2.8 PRO and 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. The focusing speed is blazing fast, and I nailed my focus almost instantaneously without facing any issue at all. 

One important thing to note about the focusing, even at F1.2, I have rarely missed focus. Even if I did, it was not the camera or lens' fault, it was my own. I highly recommend that you set the focusing point to the exact area you want to be in focus when shooting wide open F1,2, and do not use the focus-lock and recompose method, especially when you are shooting close up images. Chances of focus inaccuracy is higher with the focus-lock and recompose method. 


CLOSE UP SHOOTING PERFORMANCE
Though this is not a macro lens, the 25mm F1.2 PRO can do very decent close up shooting. Getting in close at 19.5cm from the front of the lens minimum focusing distance, produces a maximum magnification of about 0.22x (in 35mm format equivalent). 

It is always an advantage when the lens can get closer to the subject, creating more dramatic composition with the ability to reveal even more details on the shot. 

1/13sec, F6.3, ISO200
Having decent close up shooting makes this lens the perfect use for food photography!

1/800sec, F1.2, ISO800

1/640sec, F2.5, ISO200

Crop from previous image

1/2500sec, F3.5, ISO200
This is the closest I can get to, and the largest magnification that can be achieved with the 25mm F1.2 PRO lens. 

Crop from previous image

1/320sec, F1.2, ISO100

I think I have covered everything that needs to be covered for the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens review. Before I wrap things up, let me show a series of portrait photos that I have taken just two days ago!

Carmen Hong, a beautiful Malaysian blogger, who also passionately shoots with Olympus (she owns E-PL7 and plethora of Olympus prime lenses) has volunteered to be my victim for this blog review purpose. As you all know, I am not a good portrait photographer, and I rarely do shoot arranged model sessions. Nonetheless, knowing that a majority of people who will purchase this 25mm F1.2 PRO lens will use it to shoot portraits, I thought it would be a good idea to demonstrate what this lens can do, shooting portraits!  Carmen was gracious enough to spend her precious Sunday with me, and I just could not thank her enough for that. 

Carmen Hong can be found here:
Instagram: @itscarmenhong

How was my portrait shooting experience, you asked?
The incredible lens sharpness even at F1.2, is further emphasized in this series of photographs! It is just impossible not to be blown away by how sharp this lens is, each and every time I review the images I have shot. The ability to isolate the subject from the background was much appreciated, and the smooth, creamy bokeh added that desirable quality to the photographs. All images were presented almost straight out of camera, with very minor contrast and white balance adjustments. 


1/320sec, F1.2, ISO200

1/160sec, F1.2, ISO200

Crop from previous image

1/250sec, F1.2, ISO200

1/160sec, F1.2, ISO200

1/250sec, F1.2, ISO200

1/100sec, F1.8, ISO200

1/250sec, F1.2, ISO200

1/500sec, F1.2, ISO400

1/400sec, F1.2, ISO400

1/1250sec, F1.2, ISO200

1/1000sec, F1.2, ISO200

1/160sec. F1.2, ISO200

1/250sec, F1.2, ISO200

1/250sec, F1.2, ISO200

1/1000sec, F1.2, ISO200


As usual, I provide full resolution sample images for your further pixel-peeping pleasures, if the crop samples shown in this blog is not enough to satisfy your needs. 

You may view and download the 

REVIEW CONCLUSIONS
What I like about the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO Lens?
1) It is incredibly sharp, even at F1.2
2) Beautiful, pleasing bokeh
3) Very minimal lens flaw observed, good distortion, chromatic aberration and flare control

What I dislike about the lens?
None at this moment. 


The Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens is an incredibly high performing lens, delivering high level of contrast and sharpness even shooting at wide open F1.2. The bokeh is smooth and creamy, rendering images with great depth and 3D look. Lens technical flaws are well suppressed and controlled, exhibiting almost no trace of distortion, chromatic aberration or flare issues. Having a minimum focusing distance of 19.5cm from the front of the lens can create some dramatic close up shots. 

I foresee size and weight to be a popular complain, but honestly, it is almost impossible to create a compact-sized F1.2 lens that is super sharp at F1.2 with superbly fast autofocus. Also, price will be an issue, and this is a subjective comment which I will avoid. 

I hope you have enjoyed the blog review of Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1,2 PRO lens. Please do comment if you have further questions, I will try my best to answer them.

Please support me by liking my Facebook Page here (click)

145 comments :

  1. Hi Robin, I can observe that bokeh is more pronounced in larger size sensor like the full frames. Is it true that the equivalent of this lens in full frame is 50mm f2.4 in terms of bokeh.

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    Replies
    1. I have mentioned in one full opening paragraph that I will not discuss about any equivalence topics. If we compare the arguments will never end. I am putting a stop to such discussions. I hope you understand.

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    2. Read: https://www.dpreview.com/articles/2666934640/what-is-equivalence-and-why-should-i-care ... the quality of bokeh is much more then the depth of field

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    3. And the Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO has extremely beautiful bokeh rendering quality. Hence we do not need to talk about depth of field. Thanks for pointing out.

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    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    5. I have issued my warning. ALL equivalence discussion now will be deleted.

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    6. Robin, you are so right. Like a system with it's pro's en cons or switch to something else. I Love my EM1 and the fabulous 12-40 pro. I gave this 25mm f/1.2 a try at a Olympus event with my EM1 and the new EM1 mkII. The lens is a monster in every good way possible! The f/1.2 is very usable and so sharp. The EM1 mkII is an improvement to the EM1 too.

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  2. Robin, great review and wonderful photos, as usual.
    And this 25mm really looks like an absolute winner from Olympus!
    Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words! To me it is a winner.

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  3. Thanks for the review and images!

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  4. Wide open shots are so sharp. Wow.

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  5. It is indeed a very sharp and creamy bokeh lenses . I have the 25mm f1.8. Honestly I can't tell the difference

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    Replies
    1. You will be able to tell the difference after you try the lens yourself!

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    3. Hi Robin,
      Thanks for the review. Just wondering if you have taken a shot with both the 25mm f1.2 and the 25mm f1.8 ? Let's say shot at f1.8 so we can have a side by side comparison to see the differences between the 2 lenses ? Thanks.

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    4. I have learned from previous experience this will be trouble. I will not do any more comparisons

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    5. Thanks. Fair enough. I will have to go into my local camera store with my 25mm f1.8 to do that when the 1.2 is available to my local shop.

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  6. Hey Robin, I'm using Olympus 45mm f1.8 for portraits. Which one would you prefer more? Greetings from Germany, Roman

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    Replies
    1. I would still prefer the perspective of 45mm generally for my shooting uses.

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  7. Oh oh oh, really great quality (and nice pics, btw).
    Maybe I better buy this lens instead of the E-M1 Mk II...

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    Replies
    1. Lens is always a better investment!

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  8. I may consider this to replace my f1.8 someday. Maybe on a sale in the future.

    What might've tempted me more would be be a 17mm pro prime. I prefer the 35mm equivalent FOV and tried the existing f1.8 and didn't like it enough to buy. A weather sealed f1.2 17mm as sharp as this 25mm would be amazing.

    Thanks for the nice info and images, Robin.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words. I am sure in the near future, either Panasonic or Olympus will release an equivalent 35mm F1.2 lens. Soon, very soon, only a matter of time.

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    2. I'm also waiting for 17mm f/1.2 PRO with the same quality.

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    3. It will come surely. I am sure.

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  9. Great review as always buddy, and looks like a stellar lens!

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  10. Great review as usual Robin, any thoughts on how it compares to the Panasonic 25mm f1.4?

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    Replies
    1. I have long avoided comparison reviews. Too much unnecessary bloodshed

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    2. That's fine - I can understands that.

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  11. I haven't been to your blog for a while, until the new announcements from Olympus. Glad to see you're still alive and shooting!

    Do you plan to review the new 12-100mm? I'm already sold on the 25/1.2 as a possible replacement/alternative to my Voigtlander 25/0.95, but I'd like to see how the 12-100 performs in your hands, too.

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    Replies
    1. Yes I'm alive and I'm shooting, always! I won't be reviewing the 12-100mm lens soon. It requires firmware update on camera bodies to work with the lens IS.

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    2. Robin, you state that you are an Olympus employee. I hope that they are paying you rather well as your review on this lens it's hands down on what other photographers have been able do demonstrate with their sample. The variety of shots that you show and most of them at f1.2 (I guess that is what this lens is all about) really does Olympus a great favour. I am sure you will inspire and convince a few to actually purchase this lens. You don't always impress me with your post, but let me tell you: you have here. Admittedly having Carmen as a model did help a lot with the portraits too :-)
      Congratulations on a very inspiring post and thank you for staying out of the stupid and pointless equivalence discussion.

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    3. Thanks for the kind words Gnarlydog, appreciate you commenting and I will make sure Carmen sees this.

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  12. This seems to be one wonderful lens. The perfectly smooth focus fall off and the super creamy bokeh are nothing else than stunning. In the past, creamy bokeh wasn't exactly Olympus' forte. I wonder whether Sony might have helped a bit? (thinking "G master")

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    1. Olympus prides itself as a leader in optical technology and manufacturing! Sony is nowhere close when it comes to lens making expertise.

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  13. Wonderful collection of images and excellent hands-on review, Robin. If I didn't already have Panasonic's 25mm F1.4, I'd be quite tempted!

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    1. Thanks Derek! This 25mm F1.2 PRO lens is in an entirely different category.

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  14. Perhaps there is plans for a 45mm 1.2 :)
    My favorite focal length

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  15. Wow.. I just bought a M.Zuiko 25mm f1.8 Now olympus come out with a pro 25mm f1.2 :) cool!

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    Replies
    1. nice! how do you like the 25mm F1.8 lens?

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  16. Thank you for a good review and terrific samples. The lens produces amazing results!

    Two questions please:
    1. Have you used a tripod in any of the pics?
    2. The banner "GEOPANCAR" that is hung in front of the green silos at the construction site pic shows the red-letters bleeding heavily onto the white fabric. In your full-res pics it is even more pronounced. Could you please comment on this?

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    1. Hey Jacob, thanks for the kind words.

      Nope, no tripod was used. everything was shot hand-held.

      I looked at the images again, I do not udnerstand what you meant by bleeding heavily. The letters looked fine to me.

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    2. Getting such a sharpness while hand holding at a low shutter speed is just unbelievable.

      Regarding the letters bleed: The banner is a white canvas/fabric with red letters on it - "GEOPANCAR". If I look closely at the canvas, it shows a reddish tint close to the letters that kind of dissipate as you go further away from the letters. Since I assume that the actual banner has a very sharp demarcation region between the letters imprint and the canvas, the red tint on the canvas is what I call "color bleed".
      However, this may not necessarily be a characteristic of the lens, but rather of a flawed JPEG compression (especially when one looks at the full resolution pic you posted, where in addition to the color bleed one can see some other compression artifacts that distort that said region).

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    3. Jacob, good observation. However, that fabric is exposed to harsh sun and plenty of rain (we get a lot of heavy rain in this tropical country). Could it simply be just that? Actual color bleeding on the canvas? I do not think this has anything to do with lens.

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    4. I carefully looked at it again and at other regions. I tend to agree with you that this is not due to the lens.
      Although I doubt that this is due to the sun (which just make red colors fade) or the rain (the bleed is uniform all around the letters - top to bottom), it may be due to either bad jpeg'ing at such a high contrast region (need to look at a raw shot to compare) or actual physical letters bleed due to a not-so-perfect banner print job (spray application?).

      OK, I will stop pixel peeping for now...

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    5. No worries Jacob! It is good to be critical of the image samples. Well, I worked in construction site before (was an engineer before I worked for Olympus). I doubt they use high quality print or paint for the temporary canvas sign.

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  17. Wonderful lens, thanks for the review. I hope for a 45mm f1.2 as Robert above and for a 17mm f1.2, even though I have the Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95, however precise autofocus at f1.2 is almost a necessity

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    1. Yes, AF is extremely important! I am sure more F1.2 or wider aperture AF lenses will come sooner or later.

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    2. Panasonic makes a 42.5mm f1.2 if you don't mind Panasonic lenses. It's quite a nice lens.

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  18. The images literally pop out of the screen. Amazing sharpness. I'm following your reviews you do a very good job.

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  19. I guess "bokeh" is the new "megapixel"

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    Replies
    1. Not true. Bokeh is a quality of the lens, it is difficult to measure. However, F1.2 brings a lot more advantages than just bokeh quality. Having a lens capable of shooting super sharp images at wide open F1.2 opens a lot of possibilities and flexibility in photography.

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  20. Hi, Robin
    The Oly 25mm f1.2 is undoubtedly a great lens. I'm a pixel peeper, I took a close look at your photo samples, I found them pretty sharp.
    Olympus has done a great job. I love Olympus.
    By the way, could you do a detailed review on the Oly 12-100mm f4? I'm considering to get it for myself, I think it will serve me well.
    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Hey David,
      I do want to review the 12-100mm PRO lens but it is not ready for review yet. The firmware on the current OM-D bodies need to be updated for the 5-Axis Sync IS to work properly. Currently the non updated firmware cameras have issues with AF and stabilization.

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    2. I hope you will review the OMD EM1 Mark II soon.

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    3. David, if you have not noticed, the announcement made yesterday at Photokina was the "under development" of the E-M1 Mark II. It will be a while before a review sample is ready!

      Delete
  21. Oly 75mm f1.8 produces better bokeh quality than the 25mm f1.2, I think.

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    1. Not true. In terms of bokeh quality alone, the 25mm f1.2 wins in terms of smooth rendering. however, the 75mm F1.8 can produce shallower depth of field

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    2. I wish Olympus would make 45mm f1.2 some days . I need the 45mm focal length for my portraiture. You know, I ended up buying the pana Leica 42.5mm f1.2.

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    3. I think the Panasonic Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 is quite an amazing lens!

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  22. Robin, great photos! This 25mm really looks amazing!
    It would be interesting to compare with Oly 25mm f/1.8 (i know you don't want to compare them, but you already did it taking the forth picture of this review) :-)

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    Replies
    1. I am sure someone else will do the comparison. there are other lenses to review too! 30mm Macro and 12-100mm F4 PRO are pending!

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  24. Beautiful lense, but for the same price, I would prefer to buy the Pana Leica Nocticron 42.5mm. What a shame for me !
    I would like an Olympus 25mm F1.4 Pro : weather sealed, fast autofocus, lighter and cheaper.

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    1. The difference between an F1.4 and F1.8 is not so much, and Olympus has already made a great, compact, light 25mm F1.8, which I love too. It only makes sense to aim for a much higher grade F1.2 lens, which does create a huge gap between this and the older F1.8 version.
      I agree, that Panasonic Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 lens is quite a great lens.

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    2. Pro award winning photographer Neil Bob. GRANT IS SELLING his Leica sumilux 50mm 1.4 lens because this lens with auto focus out performs Leica outfit. See his review on Steve huff blog.

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    3. Pro award winning photographer Neil Bob. GRANT IS SELLING his Leica sumilux 50mm 1.4 lens because this lens with auto focus out performs Leica outfit. See his review on Steve huff blog.

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    4. Yah I have read that. The 25mm F1.2 PRO is that good!

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  25. Great shots Robin! While this looks like a great lens, the credit going to it for the images is kinda like saying the really great cake you baked is thanks to the quality of your oven. Your compositions bring out wide range of what the lens is capable of. I particularly appreciate the different environments you put Carmen in with various foreground/subject/background distances. Love where MFT is heading. Problem being a non-pro, is I have to afford all this stuff to enjoy it!

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    1. Hey Kevin,
      Thanks for the kind words. I agree that this lens is not in the accessible category for most consumers, myself included! I am only thankful I work for Olympus and I can use this lens for the time being.

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  26. Great review from you, as usual! Will you be reviewing the E-M1 Mk II soon? The AF speed and accuracy looks very promising and I think it will be a perfect match for the 300/4 PRO lens i.e. great for wildlife and bird photographers.

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    1. E-M1 Mark II has just been announced as "under development" yesterday! I do not think the camera will be ready for review any time soon. When it is, I will surely do my best.

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  27. Must be the lens of the year! Obviously everybody is raving about the creamy bokeh, but stopped down with all things in focus it is great as well. Pure magic.
    And not a bad photographer either.

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    1. Well, you must be selling more lenses for Olympus than many some photo-stores. I am going to buy this one, even if I don't use this focal length a lot. As soon as the price comes down a bit and I have sold my Panasonic 1.4. and the last few FF pro lenses that I kept in my reserve fleet, just in case my brand comes up with an irresistible DSLR. By now, after fifteen years, I am sure it will never happen. At least not during my life.
      The shallower depth of field is not the reason. Nice to start your review stating that m43 will never have the same shallow depth of field than larger sensors. Sensor size is one thing, but aperture, focal length and the hyperfocal distance also have their influence. Changing the distance is by far more effective than the other three and it turns the subject of comparison with APS-C or full-frame almost into a non-issue. They are not that much larger. Shallow DOF is of course not by definition a guarantee for high quality either.
      Talking about shallow DOF: forty years ago I made my first photos with a 4 x 5 inch Plaubel that took glass plates. I still adore such large formats. 15 times as large as full-frame. Now, that is a difference!

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  28. It seems a fine replacement for my Four-Thirds Leica/Panasonic 25mm f/1.4. It may even be a big bigger, but with weather-sealing, it's obviously more useful. It's rare that I take my lens out and I got the inexpensive Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 for US$99.00 and tend to use it, rather than risk ruining the other one that cost US$1100.00 more.

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    1. The Panasonic 25mm F1.7 is that cheap? Wow, I think that lens is selling for almost 4 times the price you paid for in Malaysia!

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    2. I suspect that someone at Panasonic discounted it by US$150 instead of US$50. It caused a lot of sudden sales. Many people didn't get theirs, though.

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    3. That explains! What a huge discount. Things like this never happens here

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    4. Panasonic USA has been making a lot of mistakes in the past 3 or 4 years. As far as I know, you cannot buy a Panasonic TV now. They wanted to charge the distributors and dealers so much that they just stopped carrying them.

      The repair facility is horrible. I sent a lens to be repaired and I couldn't contact the facility to see whether they received it or not. When they got my message, they apparently just said that it was "normal" and that it had fingerprints all over it, re-packaged it, and returned it to me. I'm envious of the people living in Singapore as they have repair facilities practically at their doorstep.

      I'm looking forward to seeing how the Olympus 12-100mm f/4.0 lens is and also the Panasonic/Leica 50-200mm f/2.8-4.0. It seems an interesting time for upscale equipment.

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    5. I did not know Panasonic has been that problematic in the US. I thought they would pay more attention to such a large market there. They are not doing too hot here in Malaysia either. I won't go into details, since I am currently in the industry, but I'd say they could have done a lot better in servicing their customers.

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  29. Great review as always, Robin! Your pictures make me want to own the lens :-)
    Hopefully I can try it at Germanys largest photography fair on Thursday.
    The distance in bokeh and night cabability between the nice 1,8 25 and the 1,2 25 makes the "want to have" feeling.
    I already preordered it on Amazon Germany.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Armin! Go try the lens for yourself if you can, it is surely a different experience using it and inspecting the images on your own computer!

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  30. I think you just convinced me that 25/1.2 is too shallow for good portrait work.

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    1. Hah, there are cheaper options then.

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  31. I know and my comment was only halfways serious. What I wanted to say is: The strength of Olympus' lenses has always been their sharpness across the frame, but the bokeh has been on the harsh side, at least in my opinion. Now the bokeh of this new lens is a completely different story. It's one of the creamiest bokehs I have ever seen, and the smooth transition is just stunning – judging from those very few pictures I have seen so far. So Olympus must have made some major changes to their lens calculations.

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    1. Hey John,
      Using 19 elements inside a 25mm surely changed a lot of things! I am sure the creamy smooth bokeh transition was in the consideration when the lens was designed.

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  32. This lens is amazing. It belongs to the same class as the Nocticron that I use and cherish. I will, however, wait for the 17.5 mm f1.2.
    Very nice review Robin. Thanks for all the hard work you put into this.

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    1. No worries, Nguyen it was my pleasure reviewing the lens. I am also anticipating an equivalent 35mm wide aperture lens from either Panasonic or Olympus.

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  33. I think Olympus image quality is truly the best. The only reason I'm shooting mostly Fuji is I just love their camera bodies and the image quality is the next best thing. The large grip of the E-M1 mark II may bring me back, especially paired with this 25/1.2 beast. Add in the 12-100 lens and that would make a pretty complete kit for my needs. Robin, are you going to review the 12-100?

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    1. I think Olympus is onto something huge with the release of the current products. I will eventually get to the 12-100mm F4 lens but not at this moment. I am still waiting for the firmware update for camera bodies to fully utilise the 5-Axis Sync IS.

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    2. Maybe wait till you can pair it with the E-M1 mark II? :)

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  34. Great review and sample images, Robin, but I was wearing my editorial glasses when I read it, so I stumbled a bit on your caption below "Portrait of a Stranger 2". Kind of apropos of pixel-level criticisms anyway, so maybe you can leave it as is :-)

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    1. Thanks for the kind words! And I am sure the Portrait of a Stranger 2 was exactly what it was.

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  35. The only lens that i have wanted before the release date in 30 years of photography.

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    1. I am sure the 25mm F1.2 PRO won't disappoint!

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  36. Forget the lens..... that model at the end is absolutely stunning.

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    1. Haha special thanks to Carmen for helping out!

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  37. Lenses like this make me regret trading my E-M5 long ago for the Nikon Df and the older Nikkor manual focus lenses I have collected. The good thing with mirrorless is you can always buy an adapter for that old glass if only they would make a focal length equivalent adapter that didn't cost the earth.
    Thank you for sharing this Robin, I'm now looking at Olympus cameras again, sigh :o)

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. I think mirror less system is getting more and more interesting! And of course you should know by now Olympus makes amazing lenses.

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  39. Hello Robin,

    Again, as per your usual excellent style, we have a true users perspective of a new lens. Thank you for this honest write-up.

    One thing you said in the review is no longer true though (at the introduction of Carmen); “As you all know, I am not a good portrait photographer, and I rarely do shoot arranged model sessions”. Let me tell you this, as a photog who does shoot models, you are an excellent portrait photographer. Many of your photos in your various reviews are of street workers and this too is portrait photography. And most times, those are the best shots in the review. So IMHO, you can no longer claim you are not a portrait photographer. Your portrait work is right up there with your other types of photography.

    One thing specific to portrait photography though and the 25mm (50mmFF) lens. You need to be careful in close-up shots with regards to facial distortion. You can see it the 2nd shot of Carmen, her nose, mouth and cheeks are wider than in other shots. Look at shot #12 of her, at almost the same distance and taken straight on, there is no facial distortion.

    I shoot portraits with dual systems, Nikon D800 with the Nikkor 85mm f1.4, 135mm f2 DC and 50mm f1.4 or MF f1.2. With Olympus and the EM1 I use complementary fov lenses, the Nocticron, Olympus 75mm f1.8 and 25mm f1.8. The EM1 is my preferred system, thanks to the Nocticron, and is used more than 80% of the time now. The bokeh of the 25mm in your review is pretty outstanding, right up there with the Noct, and because of this, the 25mm f1.2 in now in my sights.

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    1. Thanks for the pointers Jim! Appreciate heaps. I still have a long way to go, and like a friend told me, the only way to improve is to shoot more.
      Oh that Nocticron, how I wish I can afford one! I can only imagine the things that I can do with that lens.

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    2. Robin, you do just fine with the 45mm f1.8! When I first bought the EM5 in July 2012, mainly because of your write ups on it in Feb/March 2012, the 2 lenses I purchased with it with were the 12mm f2 and 45mm f1.8. I used the 45mm for portraits, taking about 7,300 portrait photos with it before switching to the Nocticron about 20 months ago. The Olympus 45mm is a great lens, and it is a small matter of degrees between it and the Nocticron, just like it is with the now 2 Olympus 25mm's. But for me, it was worth it as it is my most used lens.

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  40. Great shots. Could you post more that illustrate the lens' low-light/high ISO characteristics?

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    1. Hey Dennis, I do intend to do an extension to this review, as usual (there is only so much I can cover in one blog entry). There are some events coming up this weekend, I shall see if I can sneak the lens out from the company.

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  41. I would really like to see a more direct comparison to the most closely spec'ed lens, the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4. I consider this lens to be an excellent 3/4 portrait lens, but how much more do you get from f/1.2? What other characteristics so they share?

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    1. No more comparisons will be made in this blog. The last time I did this I was grilled a live. So no thanks. I will skip. I am sure someone else will do it.

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  42. Greetings from Canada Robin.

    Enjoyed your review of the new 25 mm 1.2 PRO just like all your posts.

    I just had a question about your preference for using AF and shooting wide open. To capture those great close-up portraits do you use facial/eye recognition or do you isolate a spot and focus on the faces that way? Your portraits are always crisp.

    Thanks again for all your posts and we will look forward to more on the new products in the near future.

    Cheers.

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    1. Hey FreddyBeacher,
      Thanks for the kind words!
      I selected the AF point manually, moving it to the eye area of the frame and make sure the AF is pin point sharp by reviewng my shots diligently. I have heard people saying that the face/eye detection works wonder but there's just some stubbornness in me that wants more control and that's just me.

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  43. Hi Robin Wong, all i want is to say a huge thank you for all the articles you've written and the knowledge you share with us. I'm a beginner photographer using an E-M10 and your articles and reviews have helped me a lot.

    Again, Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Spyros for commenting, appreciate your kind words.

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  44. Lovely images as usual, thank you for your blog.

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  46. What about the handling of the lens on a PEN-F? I use an E-M10 whihch is almost the same size and I'd like to know how it feels using a larger lens on it.

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    1. I used the 25mm F1.2 PRO on PEN-F all the time. As I have described, it was comfortable, and I have no issues throughout my shoot. It was as if I was using the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens.

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  47. Hello Robin,

    Thanks for the great review and pictures!


    However, don't you think that using a rather small sensor, only to mount a big, expensive lens on it to get that 'big sensor look' is defeating the purpose of M4/3?

    Thanks!
    Alex

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    1. Hey Alex,
      Thanks for the kind words.
      As I have emphasized, the 25mm F1.2 PRO was not designed to "get the big sensor look". If the consumer wants a full frame look and shallow depth of field they should just get the full frame system. However, having a 25mm F1.2 PRO lens has plenty of strong benefits for Micro Four Thirds users: advantage in more light gathering capability at F1.2, superb resolution with near technical perfection, already super sharp at wide open aperture, and better separation/subject isolation than the current F1.8 25mm option.

      Honestly, it is not that "big". I have used 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens, and I have found that lens to be compact, small, and light. The 25m F1.2 is about the same size, so I see no reason it becoming "big". If you want a compact, light version, there is already the excellent 25mm F1.8 option!

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  48. Excellent review and presentation as always! I would just like to ask whether you know if Olympus is going to develop a 12mm f1.2 lens any time soon? Thanks!

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  49. Hi Robin,

    excellent pictures and a great review of an as it seems to me excellent lens, thanks a lot.
    Even owning the Panasonic 25mm f1.4 it releases this "must have" feeling, it's technically near perfection, even looking at other formats the only lens on such a level, that comes to my mind, is the Zeiss Otus.

    Cheers,
    Lars

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    1. When I bought my EM-5 I was going to buy the Panasonic 25mm 1.4 but when i put it on my new camera it kept making this horrible clicking sound as it focused. So I went with the Olympus 17mm 1.8 instead which actually turned out to be my favorite lens. However the images that Panasonic 25mm made were gorgeous.,

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  50. Great review as always, and such a wonderful lens. I'm definitely renting one next time I travel! I did want to give you a heads up that you have a typo in your mention of "pixel peeping" where you have twice put it as "pixel peeing". I laughed out loud at the thought, but figured that wasn't your intent.

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    1. specifically, the typos are in the "portrait of a stranger 2" section :)

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  51. Is it possible to have a full-res version of one of the bokeh ball images so I can look more closely as the quality of the bokeh please?

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  52. Wow! Great images -- thanks for sharing!

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  54. Please shoot in the night with this pro lens and publish a little video.

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  55. Was really hoping to see some 25mm 1.8 comparisons. However, the review was quite thorough. I'd also like to know what that t-stop is. 19 elements tells me it won't be all that great. Then again, not worth speculating because it's Olympus. Maybe they pulled it off here. Maybe.

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  56. Your reviews always have the best photo examples by far. I really want this lens and I want it on the new EM-1 coming so I better start saving.

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  57. Splendid review, Robin, as always. Lovely result from the exceptional lens. BUT, the SIZE... it reaps off the spirit of micro 4/3, IMHO. The PanaLeica 25 Summilux is the biggest dimension that I can tolerate (for 50mm equivalent) and I'm going to keep it as my main lens on my Pen F. BTW, do you have a Twitter account that can notify me that you have a new blog? Thanks a bunch!

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  58. Very nice post, impressive. its quite different from other posts. Thanks for sharing. Outsource Images to India|Real Estate Photo Editing Service

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  59. Good review, Robin can use as landscape ?

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  60. The images are popping. I will buy this lens regardless but I am hoping it will fit inside my EM 1 Underwater housing. The physical specs of this lens seem to be just slightly bigger than the 12-40 pro lens which currently just barely fits. So it will be a tight squeeze I am sure. Normally nobody would use such a focal length underwater but the images are so sharp I want to try. Thank you for providing the review and it just made me sink some more money into Olympus :)

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  61. Hi Robin,

    Did you try the lens on EM1 mk2? Heard it gives even better result than the Pen F. I've been waiting for a high quality 25mm F1.2 for ages, also, the 12-100mm/f4. Rock on Olympus!

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  62. I just bought a new PEN F from Amazon and it will be here tomorrow. I am loving the output I see coming from this lens. For me it has the perfect amount of out of focus area when shooting portraits much like what you have posted above. With creamy gorgeous Bokeh to boot. I am wondering about the size and weight on the PEN F it looks huge but then again I am so used to shooting the 17mm 1.8 light and fast. Doesn't matter to be honest because I love what I see coming from this lens a must buy for me.

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  63. Hey man, will you be able to test this vs the Panasonic leica 25mm f1.4? my colleague just asked me if it's worth the f0.2 to be paying almost double of it on amazon. i'm a EM-5 user x)

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