Regarding the Olympus 25/1.8 Lens and the Panasonic Leica 25/1.4



There are now two nifty fifty lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system: the infamous Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 and the new Olympus 25mm f/1.8.

Some of the initial comparison reviews of the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 lens are in and they’re not what I expected them to be. It seems the choice between either the Panasonic or the Olympus lens isn’t an obvious one.

The Panasonic 25/1.4 is my favorite lens for M43. And it’s not just me — this lens has long been heralded as one of the finest pieces of M43 glass you can get.

However, as you may recall, when I bought my E-PL5 in the fall of 2012, I went with the 20/1.7 pancake lens as my daily shooter. For me, the size was a very important factor and at the time I didn’t want to have both the 20mm pancake lens and the 25mm.

But, after renting the 25/1.4 for the second time this past Christmas, I decided to just buy the thing (along with the new E-M10).

What I like about the 25/1.4 is that it has a much faster auto-focus than my 20/1.7 pancake lens1 and produces a more shallow depth of field with creamier bokeh. Also, the 25/1.4 has a distinct character to it — not only is it a handsome and well-built lens, it takes great shots that have a contrast and look to them which I think is great.

Then, Olympus came out with their own 25mm lens: the 25/1.8. Ugh.2 The Olympus lens comes in black, it is $130 cheaper than the Panasonic 25/1.4 lens ($399 and $529 respectively), and it’s a bit smaller. Anyway, I decided to stick with my Panasonic lens because it is about 2/3 of a stop faster (f/1.4 vs f/1.8).

A few comparison reviews have now started rolling in, and it looks like the Olympus lens is almost as great as the Panasonic.

If you check out Robin Wong’s side-by-side comparison shots, the difference between the two lenses is not as distinct as I would have expected. The images from the Olympus lens look great and have a character all their own, even when set side-by-side with the Panasonic lens.

Though I will say that I prefer the images from the Panasonic. Also I think the Panasonic is a better looking lens on the camera itself — as awesome as the Olympus lenses are, they are also, unfortunately, kinda ugly.

But that’s not the whole story. The Olympus lens has better corner-to-corner sharpness and its auto focus speed is even faster and quieter to that of the Panasonic.

And so the big question is this: is the extra cost and extra size of the Panasonic lens worth it? Well, Steve Huff says no:

The Panasonic is slightly sharper here but not by much at all. To me, the benefits of the Olympus ($129 less, smaller, faster AF, silent focus, more neutral color) beat out that small miniscule [sic] sharpness difference.

A year and a half ago, when I originally decided to go with the Micro Four Thirds system, my decision was predominantly influenced by the lens selection. Though mirrorless cameras have all come a long way since then, the M43 system continues to have one of the more impressive and affordable lineups of awesome lenses and compact bodes.

While I won’t be trading in my Panasonic lens for the new Olympus, for those who’ve been holding out on the former and waiting for the latter, it looks like it was worth the wait.


  1. The 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens does have notoriously slow auto focus. I’ve talked with people who have experience with nearly every single M43 lens, and the 20/1.7 has the slowest AF of them all.
  2. The worst thing about being into photography is also the best thing: there are so many darn choices for amazing gear!