I am not sure why Panasonic likes to create lenses with really unusual focal lengths. 15mm, which in 35mm equivalent format is 30mm, is quite an irregular number, and it would have made much more sense if they just have a standard 14mm (classic 28mm equivalent) lens! Since the closest, "popular" focal length is 28mm equivalent, I shall use the lens as if I was composing with a wide angle, 28mm equivalent perspective. Oh dear, wide angle has never been my first choice when it comes to street photography, and I almost always use longer focal lengths, unless absolutely necessary.
This is not a review of the lens, I will need a lot more time to use the lens before I can write a full review. Using the lens for a few hours was not sufficient for me to form a meaningful conclusion. Also, there are already several reliable reviews available for this Panasonic 15mm F1.7 lens. I will also avoid doing any comparisons with any existing lenses from any brand, the last time I did this I suffered through unnecessary bashing, though I was being completely honest. I have figured out that sometimes people just want to hear what they want to hear, so I am shying away from comparison tests and just focus on creating photographs.
The Panasonic Leica 15mm F1.7 fits the E-M10 Mark II perfectly.
I am quite impressed by how small the lens is. I think we should have more of such small, super capable, bright prime lenses.
I really like that the lens is so small. I believe small prime lenses can truly realize the full advantage of Micro Four Thirds system, and we should have more of such capable, small lenses. I think F1.7 is just nice, I certainly would appreciate wider aperture, but that also means the small and compact form factor will be compromised. F1.7 is still extremely bright and more than sufficient for more photography cases. If you intend to create super shallow depth of field shots, there are longer focal lengths to achieve that, such as the Olympus 45mm F1.8 or 75mm F1.8. If ultra thin depth of field is your main priority in photography, why are you not using a full frame system?
I did have difficulties working with the wide angle focal length, this was mainly my own problem and has nothing to do with the lens. I have repeatedly said Olympus 17mm F1.8 lens was my least favourite lens, for the same reason. Dealing with perspective distortion is not easy, and I generally shoot with longer focal lengths. Nonetheless, not being good at something does not mean I should just ignore it and pretend that the weakness never existed. It is also crucial to expose myself to unfamiliar territories and challenge myself to do something that I am not good at. After all, growth can only happen if we move out of our comfort zone and this is me, giving the 15mm F1.7 and myself a chance.
A Wall of Eggs
Up, Up And Away
Watch Your Head
Autofocus was fast and always accurate. The focusing works really well on the OM-D E-M10 Mark II, and I have very high success rates. This was certainly a huge improvement over previous Panasonic lenses that I have tested on Olympus cameras, evidently the Panasonic 15mm F1.7 is noticeably faster in AF than Panasonic 25mm F1.4, 14mm F2.5, and especially the 20mm F1.7.
The Panasonic 15mm F1.7 is a sharp lens. It is sharp wide open, and gets even better when stopped down to F2.8 and beyond. I was generally satisfied with the results taken at F1.7, and I see no reason to stop down the aperture, unless you absolutely need your images to have optimum sharpness. The contrast and colors captured by this lens are fantastic and I quite like how the images are rendered. Since it is a wide angle lens, shallow depth of field was not easily achieved, unless you are shooting close up distances to your subjects.
I did not find any noticeable barrel distortion, which was probably corrected in camera by software processing. Also, chromatic abberration was well controlled, showing almost no trace of purple fringing in any of my shots, even taken at F1.7 wide open. The 15mm F1.7 lens was susceptible to flare when shooting against strong source of light, but to be fair I did not put on the supplied hood, and with the hood attached I believe the chances of catching flare can be lesser. Techncially the Panasonic Leica 15mm F1.7 is a stellar performer, almost difficult to find any fault with it.
When shooting people, instead of doing close up portraits, I decided to do more environmental portraits, placing a lot more background in my framing. Since it is quite wide, I did accidentally include subjects or background that I did not want to, which resulted in messier background. Nevertheless, I did find the lens giving me beautiful results, when the composition comes together nicely.
Crossing The Border
Man And Sewing Machine
This was taken at F1.7
The Panasonic 15mm F1.7 lens performed admirably at F1.7, showing good contrast and high level of clarity. This was a crop from previous image, obviously.
Portrait of a Stranger
While the F1.7 aperture on a wide angle lens for Micro Four Thirds cannot render very shallow depth of field, shooting wide open at F1.7 can still create the "pop" in the image, adding depth to your main subject.
Crop from previous image
The lens is susceptible to flare. I did various compositions, shooting from different angles for this shot, and flare was persistent in all the shots.
I think this Panasonic Leica 15mm F1.7 lens is just perfect for the casual social media photography, such as use for Facebook or Instagram photographs. Being a wide angle lens, you can shoot full body portraits easily at a rather close distance, and the wide angle perspective works well for food photographs. Minimum focusing distance of 20cm also allows for a little bit of close up photography, which adds a lot of flexibility in composition options.
While not a macro lens, the lens can go quite near to the subjects. Combined with the wide aperture of F1.7, you can create the smooth, creamy blur background, isolating small objects in your shots. In fact, the close up shooting performance of the lens is respectable, delivering results with plentiful fine details.
I think I have thoroughly enjoyed my short time with the lens. I can see now why this Panasonic 15mm F1.7 is the favourite lens for some of my friends, and I am happy with what the lens can do. My only regret is not having a Panasonic body with me at the moment, and if only I still have my Panasonic GM1 which would have been the perfect pairing for the Panasonic 15mm F1,7 lens!
Beautiful Morning light
Fish Market Worker
A Pre-Wedding Shoot
School bus on fire
My Leic... I mean my powerbank
The not so smart, smartwatch
Close up of lunch
If you are looking for a wide angle perspective, yet not super wide, with manageable perspective distortion (more on how you use the lens, than what the lens can do), this Panasonic 15mm F1.7 should be sitting high in your list of considerations. It is small and compact, yet delivering sharp images with beautiful rendering. I find myself having nothing to complain about this lens, it is just a lens that works and gives you fantastic results.
Will I be getting one for myself? Probably not, considering my focal lengths of choice have always been something much longer. And I seldom shoot with wide angle perspective. However, if I can find a great deal in the used market.... that could be an entirely different story.
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