The Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH, here on out called the PL25, is a beauty of a lens. That pretty much sums up my review. Now to get a little deeper in.
I bought the lens a few months ago (September, if memory serves) and I have been using it extensively since. I originally purchased a Sigma 30mm f/2.8 to fill out my kit as a standard lens. That may work for some people, and that lens is pretty good, but it just doesn’t have the magic, or focal length, of the PL25. Personally there is something about the 50mm equivalent focal length that the PL25 provides. My favorites have always been 50mm, 24mm, 35mm, 85mm and 135mm lenses (in that order) on my old OM-1. So it does make a certain amount of sense that the PL25 scratches an itch I had since adopting m4/3 with the purchase of an OM-d E-M5.
The PL25 is not a tiny lens by any measure. It is roughly the same size as an Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, though only about 2/3rds of the weight. It balances nicely on an OM-D E-M5, but it might be a bit unbalanced on a smaller/lighter camera. The lens is 63mm in diameter, roughly 55mm long and tips the scales at 200g. It takes a 46mm filter like most m4/3 primes do. I want to take this time to thank m4/3 manufacturers for seeming to standardize on this one filter size. Or more appropriately, to thank them for picking ONE filter size (whatever it is) for most of the primes. It makes it much easier to be to able to use a single filter across all of my lenses (sadly needing a 37-46mm step up ring for my 17/2.8 and 45/1.8).
The optical quality of the PL25 is just wonderful. There are better lenses out there, but few (none?) nearly as good as this at the same price point. The Panasonic 20mm is argued to be as sharp and some argue sharper than the PL25, but with my admittedly limited use of the Panasonic 20mm, I would disagree. The 20mm is slightly sharper in the corners in a narrow range from about f/1.7 to f/2 and that is pretty much about it. The PL25 matches the 20mm by f/2.2 and is slightly sharper in the corners at all other apertures. The PL25 is sharper in the center at all apertures. To expand upon that, the PL25 is very good in the center wide open and sharpens a bit more as you stop down ranging to extremely excellent by f/2.2 on to f/5.6 where upon sharpness begins to be limited by diffraction. The corners are a little soft wide open (very usable though) and slowly sharpen till f/2.2 where they suddenly jump in sharpness to be very sharp from f/2.2 until they begin to be limited by diffraction at f/5.6.
The PL25 also has a character to it that the 20mm and a number of other lenses lacks. Maybe something squeezed from the tear ducts of Leica optical engineers and mixed in to the glass before it is formed? On character, I did want to mention that some users of Olympus cameras have mentioned a “rattle snaking” sound from the lens, which is the aperture opening and closing as the camera is pointed around. I have not experienced this on my OM-D E-M5. the lens is very quiet during normal operation and focuses very fast (though a hair slower than my 45mm f/1.8). The only time it is noisy is when shooting video in A mode, whereupon changing the aperture dial does result in an audible click as the lens stops down or opens up. This is not audible over the shutter taking a still picture and during regular video shooting it makes no audible noises focusing.
I have no hesitations recommending the PL25 at its price point (as of the time of this writing it can generally be found for $499). I have been using it even more than I suspected I would and it’ll likely to continue to be my main go to lens.