Olympus 25mm F/1.2 vs 25mm F/1.8 Lens Review

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About Tony Ventouris

"I am a full time commercial photographer specializing in architecture and panoramic imagery. I love working with all kinds of businesses and creative people in various industries to help them visually achieve their goals. I also love landscape photography and spending time creating images of insects and the natural world. I started the Unlocking Olympus site with the goal of helping others liberate their creative passion for photography through smaller and lighter gear. It has grown into an amazing community that has been a joy to interact with on a daily basis. Thank you my friends!"

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I was looking forward to seeing this review the moment the Olympus 25mm Pro F/1.2 lens was released.  Unfortunately it never came.  I still haven’t seen one. (or at least how I was hoping for) I wanted to know which 25mm lens was I going to actually buy.  I have wanted buy a 25mm lens for a while now but waited to see the pro lens.  What is the difference between the two?  Are there any big differences besides the obvious?  Does the size matter?  Does the speed matter?  Does the weight matter?  Which 25mm is the better for the kind of shooting that I do and for the needs that I have?  No review would help me in that sense.  I needed both lenses in my hands, back to back to really find out.  As for you, the same will probably apply.  You need to try a lens to really know if it works for you.  Hopefully this review will help shed some light, but ultimately my needs might be different than your own.  I will address some of these aspects.

 

  • The first part of the review will look at the 25mm Pro.
  • The second part will look at the 25mm 1.8.
  • Part three will show the lenses back to back in the same exact shooting scenarios with identical images. Please note, a lot of the imagery I show will be in part three.  Make sure to check that part out.

 

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  • Good review and fine comparison. I mostly use the 17mm 1.8 as a walk-around for my street photography, however, I’ve been on the fence too… and settling for the 25mm 1.8. I think mostly it is about size for me. I was also leaning towards the 25mm Pana/Leica 1.4 — but the size of the Oly is swaying me, not to mention it is also half the price of the Pana.

  • Thanks for your grate comparison. I would go for the 1.8 version because
    of weight and cost but I went on with the Panasonic 25mm 1.4 😉
    This
    lens is not as big as the 1.2, it is light and it performs very well on
    the E-M1. In fact there is another lens that needs to be considered in
    this comparison, the Sigma 30mm f1.4.
    As you see you have a lot of “low cost” options to get more light on your sensor if you look around.

  • Samuel L. Mingo

    I think the 1.2 would be great if you were in some harsh conditions, and needed weather sealing. Other than that, I don’t think you could justify the added size and weight if there wasn’t any sort of light gathering ability. I have the 1.8 and it stays on my camera because it’s small, light, sharp, and generally just gets out of my way. I feel like the 1.2 would get in my way, and equipment that gets in the way is never good.

  • H_

    I had the 1.8 and upgraded to the 1.2…

    I think that the 1.8 lens does not provide enough background blur when you want to fit a larger subject (like a 3/4 or full person) in the frame. The 1.2 is just enough.
    Also I think that the transition between focused and out-of-focus areas looks smoother with the 1.2 (even when stopped down to the same 1.8). Plus I love the subtle “swirly” quality of the background, as seen in the first turtle photo here.

    I’m saddened by the size and weight, but finally I’m getting the smoothness I wanted.

    Oh and the lens hood of the 1.8 lens is really crappy. Kept falling off while walking.

  • pdelux

    As an owner of the Pro lens, I agree with your decision to stick with the 25 1/8. I think the points you made that it works for your needs are very well thought out.

    As for me I do like the Weather sealing and yes the Manual Focus is a dream to use, for a while I thought it was real manual focus as it is just like my Voigtlander 17.5mm. I cant believe its Focus by Wire. I am finding I am using the manual focus now more often because the AF cannot be trusted at such thin DOF especially with faces that are not front on where it cannot obtain EYE focus, not ony my lowly Em 5 MK 1 with its large focus box.

    i think the main advantage is you can step back and take wider shots than the F1.8 and still have smoother bokeh and transitions. So your point about the 1.8 being wider is true – but it depends if you still want really smooth bokeh, you can step much further back with the PRO lense and as they say “have your cake and eat it too”. These are the type of shots I like – more than the close up shots where only a sliver is in focus. This is where the lens really shines and gives the most 3d look because you capture alot of foreground as well as the background – and the smooth transitions from OOF to Focus to OOF really gives a 3D look.

  • Ted Ramasola

    Thank you for doing this review, Tony. I like that you did a side by side. I am mostly a video shooter using Lumix cameras with adapted lenses. I did not yet commit to m4/3 lenses and only have the 12-35mm f2.8 from lumix. I am currently testing the Olympus 25mm f1.8 and my frustration with most af native lenses are the lack of a good manual option. The lumix lenses I have tested, including the 25mm f1.7 lumix all RESET their focus settings when the camera is turned off and on again. So my question to you is this, in your test of the Olympus 25mm f1.2, when you engage the manual focus clutch, will it have,
    1. Hard focus stops that are repeatable, (I might need this when using a follow focus)
    2. With the clutch engaged, will the focus settings remain even when camera is turned off and on again? I need this when using the camera on a film set where we might take a break and need the same settings upon return.

    Again, thanks for your review.

  • Ted Ramasola

    Thank you for doing this review, Tony. I like that you did a side by side. I am mostly a video shooter using Lumix cameras with adapted lenses. I did not yet commit to m4/3 lenses and only have the 12-35mm f2.8 from lumix. I am currently testing the Olympus 25mm f1.8 and my frustration with most af native lenses are the lack of a good manual option. The lumix lenses I have tested, including the 25mm f1.7 lumix all RESET their focus settings when the camera is turned off and on again. So my question to you is this, in your test of the Olympus 25mm f1.2, when you engage the manual focus clutch, will it have,
    1. Hard focus stops that are repeatable, (I might need this when using a follow focus)
    2. With the clutch engaged, will the focus settings remain even when camera is turned off and on again? I need this when using the camera on a film set where we might take a break and need the same settings upon return.

    Again, thanks for your review.

    • Eric

      Hi Ted,
      In case Tony doesn’t get back to you, I’d like to give you my experience with the Olympus clutch (albeit on the 12mm 2.0, so it might be different with this 25mm 1.2).
      Like you, I found it frustrating as all hell when my focus would have to be reset when the camera was turned off or went to sleep between takes. With the Oly lens and the clutch “disengaged” (pulled back to ensure full manual control), the focus point does indeed remain the same.
      I only hope the results are the same with this 25mm lens as they are with my little 12mm!

      • Ted Ramasola

        Thank you for sharing your experience, Eric.

  • Jin Wan

    Thanks for your very helpful review Tony. I currently have the Panasonic 15mm f1.7 but it doesn’t seem to play too well with my Olympus OMD-EM5 Mk2, so I was contemplating perhaps the upcoming Oly 17mm f1.2 Pro… OR… for a LESSER price, get BOTH an Oly 17mm and 25mm f1.8. I think your review above convinced me of the latter, because frankly, having already got the Oly 12-40mm Pro lens, like you, I’m now much preferring to smaller size lens (that was what the micro four thirds system is meant to do). Appreciate the review.

  • Thinkinginpictures

    Lensrentals did a review of all the M43 25mm’s. Seems to echo your findings here. The 25mm 1.8 really is a surprisingly good lens for the money. I’ve done test shots against my loxia 50mm on an A7. It can really give the 50 a run for it’s money. No, the sensor and lens combination doesn’t resolve quite as much. In the center under 24MP though, you’d be hard pressed to see seriously massive difference. I really wish they had re-released a 25 and 45mm with better build and aperture rings. Perhaps 9 blades. Instead we got bazooka sized lenses at Zeiss prices. I’m not complaining but for me…that’s the brakes.