Which is weird to say for something like the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 since it is the same size and weight, more or less, than a number of my old OM film lenses, and not my bigger ones either. It is roughly the same size as my Zuiko 85mm f/2 and 100mm f/2.8, both of which are roughly 48x60mm and 230g and the PL25 is roughly 55x63mm and 200g. So a hair longer and wider but a little lighter. The lens is not unbalanced on the OM-D E-M5, but it does look big.
An hour of use, inside, at night, is most deffinitely not enough to produce a good impression of the lens. That said, early and tentatively the lens is stellar. To inject a moment of enthusiasim well below my years, it is fricken awesome. It is very, very sharp. Other people’s image samples, reviews, etc just didn’t prepare me for how good it really is. I haven’t been able to look in the corners much as the pictures I took the DoF was too narrow to produce in focus corners with what I was shooting (oh, hi, narrow DoF!) The center though is VERY sharp from wide open. I mostly shot from f/1.4 to f/2 (a handful this morning at f/2.8 which I haven’t had a chance to look at other than on the LCD) and the sharpness is just incredible to me.
I am used for 50mm f/1.4 and f/1.8 equivelent lenses that could produce a usable and acceptable image wide open. I am not used to ones that are extremely sharp wide open (even in the center). My old Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 MC and f/1.8 MIJ I would consider pretty sharp wide open and very good stopped down a few stops. The PL25 is at least as sharp in the center at f/1.4 as either of those other lenses are at f/2.8 or maybe even f/4.
Now for the bad, other than being a larger/heavier lens that I think was really necessary with the design, the focus is slow. It isn’t painful, it isn’t horrible, but in lower light, despite the fast aperture, it tends to hunt a fair amount. When it hunts it is roughly as fast to focus as my Olympus 17mm f/2.8 when the 17mm locks focus right away (I’d guess roughly 3/4 of a second or so). If the PL25 locks focus immediately instead of hunting first, I’d guess it isn’t much off the focus speed of the Olympus 45, but it deffinitely hunts more often in lower light than the 45 does.
I haven’t heard any rattlesnaking in my copy (the aperture opening and closing as you point the camera around at brighter/dimmer light sources), but most users report this only in bright light. Though pointing the lens up close at light bulbs and then away didn’t induce any rattlesnaking and my Olympus 45mm WILL rattlesnake a little (very quietly) if I do that. Focusing is very quiet, though just perceptible in a quiet room. Color reproduction is a little different from my Olympus lenses, but not bad. Maybe a hair warmer?
Overall I like this lens and I think in the long run I’ll love it. I like having a 50mm equivelent lens back. I like how sharp the thing is. I love having a couple of stops of extra light gathering in this FL range over the Sigma 30mm and the wide aperture is enough when shooting wide open or stopped down just a little, to produce nicely out of focus backgrounds (depending on subject distance). It is the equivelent of a 50mm f/2.8 lens on full frame, which in my experience is about what I tended to shot at to produce out of focus backgrounds most of the time anyway in light shade. I am getting a 3-stop neutral density filter both to be able to shoot the 45 and 25 wider in daylight and also for slower shooting for waterfalls. It cuts the butter better than a regular polarizer which is only roughly 1.5-2 stops.
Also, happy half birthday baby girl.
Olympus 45mm f/1.8: 1/60s, f/2 ISO1600
Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4: 1/80s, f/1.4, ISO800
Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4: 1/80s, f/1.4, ISO200
100% crop of the above from the center (click for full size). Focal point is on the left/near eye.
Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4: 1/30s, f/1.8, ISO400
Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4: 1/60s, f/1.8, ISO800
Well, I know she at least has good taste in planes (SR71 Blackbird).