A few weeks ago I have had a close encounter with the Panasonic Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 lens.
Around the same time, Kirk Tuck said in his blog about the Nocticron: "It's dense because it is built with a certain amount of rare metal called, Unobtainium."
Shaun who has that lens is in town again, and together with Bjorn we attacked Chow Kit, and Shaun was kind enough to loan me the lens made from Unobtainium for a whole morning. I was a happy kid all over again.
The lens looks great on the E-M1
You see, when Olympus and Panasonic started the Four Thirds which subsequently moved on to the Micro Four Thirds system, with the sensor a quarter of the size of a full frame 35mm sensor, it has been widely propagated and falsely advertised that ONLY by using the larger sensor you can achieve shallow depth of field, and you cannot do it with the smaller sensor system cameras. Then Panasonic came up with their 20mm F1.7, and then Olympus with now the highly regarded 45mm F1.8 (which I can't live without now), it is not too difficult to produce shallow depth of field shots with the Micro Four Thirds system anymore. In fact, more and more interesting lenses were released, notably the Voigtlander F0.95 series (though lacking AF capability), and then the Olympus 75mm F1.8, which I believe still renders the shallowest depth of field for Micro Four Thirds system, and trust me when I say not many can tell whether photographs taken from such large aperture lenses were from either the traditional full frame DSLR cameras or the newer Micro Four Thirds system.
Now, Panasonic took the large aperture craze to entirely new level with their Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 lens. That is right, it is F1.2, and you can expect super thin depth of field, and knowing the "Leica Nocticron" branding, the bokeh quality is going to be excellent.
I had a full morning shooting with the Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2, mounted on the OM-D E-M1, and I shall be writing about my experience with the lens. No, unfortunately I do not have sufficient time with the lens to make a full on review (I am rather occupied this weekend) and I do not like to rush out a review like that. With whatever limited time I had with the lens, I will make some honest comments.
I really like this lens. It is larger than most Micro Four Thirds, and obviously heavier, yes, but it did not feel out of balance with the E-M1. If you have the battery grip (I did not) it should be perfectly balanced, and I found myself using the lens rather comfortably. I like how creating shallow depth of field is so easy shooting at F1.2. I know full frame shooters will say that their F1.8 lens will render better bokeh and narrower depth of field, well, honestly, how much more shallow do you reaaaaaally need? My staple lens, the Olympus 45mm F1.8 is already sufficient to fulfill my bokeh fetish, and I almost never complained about not having shallow enough depth of field, in fact I found myself stopping down the aperture when necessary to achieve MORE depth of field to have more zone in focus. So yes, F1.2 on that Nocticron is surely more than enough for 99% of what you need to shoot out there.
The lens is sharp, really sharp. Sharper than the Olympus 45mm F1.8, possibly but I did not have the time and energy to do side by side comparison. Contrast from this lens is good, and I was pleased to find that the Olympus OM-D E-M1 does a great job in correcting the chromatic aberration from the lens.Focusing was actually very fast and always accurate on the E-M1, on par with any Olympus lenses, which was a pleasant surprise considering how E-M1 and E-M5 have minor focusing hiccups with the older Panasonic lenses, such as the 20mm F1.7 and even the 25mm F1.4. The best part about using the F1.2 lens on the E-M1? You get that advantage of the super bright aperture F1.2, AND the amazing 5-Axis Image Stabilization.
I really do not find there is anything I do not like about the lens. I know it is bulky and heavy, but come on... it is F1.2!
Say hello to Bjorn Utpott from Canada (the guy in focus), currently residing in KL. Do visit his blog, he has got some amazing street photographs!
And Shaun (shooting with the E-M1) is where the Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 came from.
F1.2, look at the wall and how thin the depth of field is.
Ohh Sweet Bokeh....
Portrait of a Stranger 1
And then there was a cat, with bokeh
I like how subjects just just popped out
Portrait of a Stranger 2
Lunch, Cheese and Garlic Naan
Portrait of Shaun and his E-M1
Bjorn's secret weapon for the day: Lumix GM1 and the new 15mm F1.7 lens.
Kirk Tuck was right when he commented that the lens was made of a special rare metal called Unobtainium. At the skyrocket high price ceiling, the lens is just unobtainable for me.
Now the question comes down to the Olympus 45mm F1.8 vs the Panasonic 42.5mm F1.2. Two very different lenses and one priced much higher than the other (you can probably buy five Olympus 45mm lenses with the Nocticron 42.5mm, according to local Malaysian pricing). We know that the F1.2 is indeed significantly brighter than F1.8, no doubt about that, and that the Nocticron is better built with metal, unlike the plastic Olympus 45mm lens.
However, when I asked myself, am I happy with the Olympus 45mm F1.8, honestly, it is a HUGE YES. Is the F1.8 rendering sufficient shallow depth of field for what I shoot? Again, another YES. Do I wish I have the F1.2, I must be truthful to say here, YES I do. Can I afford the Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 lens? Unfortunately, no. Is the Nocticron lens worth paying five times of the Olympus lens? Definitely no, and but I am sure this is not stopping those of you with no financial constraint from getting it!
Panasonic made a very bold statement with the pricing on the Nocticron 42.5mm that it is not the lens aimed at everyone. A very different strategy in contrast to the price friendlier Olympus 45mm F1.8, which is a default MUST HAVE lens if you get into the Micro Four Thirds system. Combined with a capable camera such as the E-M1 or GH-4, the Nocticron is surely capable of amazing results.
I know some of you already have this lens. Tell us what you think!
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