Testing The New Olympus 25mm f1.8 Lens

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 Test

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has fast become one of my favourite cameras. One of my favourite focal lengths, especially for street photography and environmental portraits is 50mm and I felt that the Olympus m4/3 lens lineup was missing this. I was delighted to find though that this lens was going to be announced soon and Olympus UK kindly lent me the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f1.8 lens to shoot my Los Angeles trip with. I’ve therefore been shooting with this lens since the 5th of January, for creating real pictures. Those who are familiar with my tests know that I don’t do the scientific breakdown or photograph brick walls; I take equipment on real assignments and shoots.

The sun rises over Los Angeles, California, USA. January 13, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The sun rises over Los Angeles, California, USA. January 13, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), plays volleyball on Venice Beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), plays volleyball on Venice Beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach at sunset. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach at sunset. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), at the funfair on Santa Monica pier in the evening. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), at the funfair on Santa Monica pier in the evening. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

For those not familiar with the m4/3 (Micro Four Thirds) system, the 25mm lens gives an equivalent of 50mm at a relatively fast aperture of f1.8. Married with the astonishingly great 5-axis stabiliser in the E-M1, this means that hand held extreme low light photography is very possible. At f1.8 one also gets lovely separation of subject from the background. I shot with the lens solidly whilst on a trip to Los Angeles and day in, day out, it performed perfectly.

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator - www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator – http://www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator - www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator – http://www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Visitors at the Chinese Theatre forecourt featuring handprints, footprints and signatures of iconic celebrities. The young visitors check out the Harry Potter imprints. Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Visitors at the Chinese Theatre forecourt featuring handprints, footprints and signatures of iconic celebrities. The young visitors check out the Harry Potter imprints. Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Cartoon characters interact with the tourists. Walk of fame, Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Cartoon characters interact with the tourists. Walk of fame, Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Very fast (and silent) to focus, pin sharp, accurate colour and tonal rendition and great element coating, meaning that shooting into the sun is not a problem. Being part of the M.Zuiko Premium range means it’s extremely well built. As you can see from the product photography, it’s also tiny and only weighs 137g. With two Aspherical elements and a close focusing distance of only 0.25cm, it has fast become my standard lens on my E-M1. I won’t hesitate in recommending this lens; it’s fast, crisp, small and extremely capable.

To see more photographs taken with the Olympus 25mm f1.8 lens, please visit my Flickr set.

LA Fashion District, downtown Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

LA Fashion District, downtown Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 South Grand Avenue in Downtown of Los Angeles, California, is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Centre and was designed by Frank Gehry. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 South Grand Avenue in Downtown of Los Angeles, California, is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Centre and was designed by Frank Gehry. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Photographed next to the 45mm lens for size comparison.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Photographed next to the 45mm lens for size comparison. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Shown with supplied lens hood attached.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Shown with supplied lens hood attached. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

13 responses to “Testing The New Olympus 25mm f1.8 Lens

  1. Gorgeous photos, and cripes, that lens is tiny! Doesn’t it pack a punch tough! And hearty congrats on your reaching the awards too, a great achievement.

  2. Nice work, did you prefer using the OM-D E-M1’s than your Leica and where does it fit in with your Canon’s, work wise? And, congratulations on your awards, always look forward to reading your blog and twitter every day.

    • Thank you, much appreciated 🙂 A very good question; the Leica equipment and specifically lenses are in a different category. Firstly, Leica gear is between five to ten times more expensive (depending on various specific items) and is by far the best optics in the world. Therefore a comparison is not like for like. I think the Leica is still my main choice as the optics are zero compromise; it’s also something I’ve been shooting with little break since 1989. However, the Olympus m4/3, starting with the PENs and now the E-M1 in may ways offer some of the Leica M goodness; the equipment is small and unassuming and the Olympus prime lenses have wide apertures, fast and silent focusing and are tiny. Their rendition is pine sharp with great contrast and detail, plus accurate colour. As a result, I’m very happy shooting with it and shot 95% of my week long LA trip with the E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8 PRO, 25mm f1.8 and 45mm f1.8. Such a great setup. As far as the Canon equipment that I use, with a few more long lenses (a 40-150mm f2.8 is coming out by the end of the year hopefully) and a few more tweaks in firmware and future hardware, and I can see the Olympus OM-D range being able to take on the pro kit from Canon and Nikon, at a fraction of the cost, size and weight. One things for sure; I’ll happily take the E-M1 to any assignment; it’s that capable.

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  4. Great photos. Thank you for sharing them and your thoughts on the lens.
    I just Love to see the lens used for whats it meant. I find tests with chart performance etc. rather boring and more interesting is how lenses and cameras perform doing what they are meant to do.

    This seems a great addition to the m43 range. Considering the PanaLeica 25mm is rather expensive this seems to be the go to 50mm-e lens and seems the optics work very well.

    I have yet to test the E-M1, as I am hoping it will fit my hands better than the E-M5 which is way too small for my very large hands. IF the E-M1 fits I think I will be converting from Nikon to Olympus. If it does not, have to wait to see how the new Fuji XT does in the same comparison.

    • Thank you for your kind words. You should try and get your hands on an E-M1; it’s by far the best m4/3 camera I’ve used and really brings the system up to professional standards. As it already has a grip, it fits better and more comfortably for me; also definitely recommend you try the additional grip as it’s really well designed and gives more surface area for holding if one has large hands. As far as the 25mm lens, I would say that every Olympus PEN and OM-D shooter should have one; it’s small, fast and optically stunning.

      • Definitely need to get my hand 5on a E-M1 as soon as possible. It would be tremendous if it fits in my hands as it is much nicer to carry one of those around with a couple of lenses vs a big dslr. Hopefully my favorite camera store will have one to test as these have been selling rather well over here. One EM-1, 12mm, 25mm, and the 45mm would pretty much cover everything I do par bird shooting that needs longer lenses.

      • The second I held one I knew it was going to be a favourite camera; hopefully you’ll get the same vibe 🙂 As far as long lenses, there’s a 40-150mm f2.8 (35mm equiv 80-300mm f2.8 constant) due out by the end of the year; maybe this will answer the need for long lens? Also, keep in mind that if you’re happy manually focusing, you can pretty much mount any lens onto a m4/3 camera with an adapter. Extremely versatile! I have adapters for Leica M, Nikon and Canon lenses!

  5. Thank you for the quick review and the great photos! Did you ever try the Panasonic 25mm 1.4 and if yes could you give a personal opinion how it compares to the new 25mm 1.8 from Olympus? I am thinking of getting a 25mm lens and still thinking which one. Olympus has definitely the edge in size and probably AF noise and performance. For me, the out of focus rendering would be important to know.

    • I haven’t tried the Panasonic, so can’t compare. From the images, you can see the quality of the Olympus and as you say, it also has the size and weight advantage. The difference between an f1.8 and an f1.4 aperture is pretty small and unless you did side by side comparisons, probably unnoticeable I’d suggest.

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