Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 lens test
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Since the beginning of 2014, two Olympus system cameras have already passed through the Prophotos edition: we are talking about the Olympus OM-D E-M10 and Olympus OM-D E-M1. We tested both cameras in the format “Week with an Expert” and tried to tell as much as possible about them. But as it often happens, something important still remained without due attention. I am talking about Olympus M.Zuiko Digital optics. This is a modern line of lenses specially designed for compact system cameras with Micro 4/3 mount.
Get price Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8
Today we are starting a large project that will be dedicated to Olympus M.Zuiko Digital lenses. In the already familiar format of “Weeks with an Expert”, I will test all the system’s fixed-lenses, trying to tell as much as possible about each of them and show them in action. No synthetic tests, only real life stories! And we will start with the newest lens – the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8.
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 was introduced at the very beginning of 2014. We can say that he has become a truly long-awaited model in the lineup. In its appearance, design, and characteristics, it is as close as possible to the beloved adherents of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f / 1.8 system. But having a focal length of 25 mm, the hero of our test performs the role of a standard lens in the system, with a viewing angle close to the angle of view of the human eye. This is an analogue of the classic film “fifty dollars”.
The lens comes in black …
… and silver options
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 is a real kid: the diameter of the filter thread is only 46 mm, the weight is completely ridiculous for high-aperture optics – 137 grams. I have to admit, before starting testing, I managed to “lose” the lens in the bowels of my backpack: I barely found it!
Of course, such a low weight cannot be achieved, I use a lot of metal elements in the lens design. Most Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 enclosures are made of plastic. But at the same time, it’s nice to hold the lens in your hands: the details are perfectly fitted, there are no backlashes. The only lens ring – focusing – has a very soft and smooth ride. The ring is not mechanically connected to the lens block, it only controls the actions of the focus servo. But “electronics” with manual focusing is not felt. Apart from the unlimited travel of the focusing ring, it behaves exactly the same as the classic mechanical rings of retro optics: it responds to the slightest displacements and allows you to focus on sharpness with amazing accuracy.
If you shoot with autofocus, then the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 may pleasantly surprise you with its speed. It takes some fractions of a second to focus. When I was shooting, releasing the shutter by touching the screen (Olympus OM-D E-M10 can do this), at first I thought that the camera does not focus before shooting – the shutter click was heard so quickly. But I was wrong: of course, the camera focused, and all my pictures turned out to be sharp.
The first part of the test shooting I spend in the city center, in a flowering May park and on the embankments heated by the spring sun. This is where quick focus comes in handy. Not every plot will allow you to fiddle with the camera for a long time: some had to be taken literally “from the belly” when the camera is hanging on the neck, the display is turned up, and I select the focus area and release the shutter with a simple touch to the screen.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 can surprise you. This lens is sharp with an open aperture. Having quickly realized this, I hardly use other aperture values besides f / 1.8. However, I still carry out the traditional detail test at all aperture values. Of course, you can’t deceive physics, and the detail on a diaphragm covered up to f / 2.8 will be slightly higher than with f / 1.8. But you will not see any significant difference: it is noticeable only with careful pairwise comparison of frames. After f / 11, sharpness drops due to diffraction. If possible, these aperture values should be avoided.
Despite the apparent simplicity, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 has an optical circuit that is quite difficult to fix: 9 elements in 7 groups, two lenses are aspherical. The use of aspherics affected the optics: the lens turned out, as they say, with character. And you have to reckon with this character. Getting a softly blurred background from it is easy. It is enough to open the diaphragm and shoot from a short distance. By the way, the minimum focusing distance is only 25 cm.
But bokeh retains its softness until there are no bright highlights in the frame. Once the sun appears in the picture, the nature of the blur changes. Single glare becomes stiffer, their edges are more contrasty, and the filling is more uneven, the greater the difference in brightness in the frame.
I was able to verify this on the second shoot. I have already said that the lens is extremely compact. Together with the camera, it fits in the pocket of my fishing vest and goes fishing early in the morning with me. I meet the sunrise already at the pond. And as soon as the first rays appear over the forest, I don’t have to floats: I’m going to take pictures.
A drop of morning dew hangs on each blade of grass, and each drop is generously illuminated by the sun. You can just lower the camera into the grass, press the shutter and get a beautiful shot. This is what I do. And here the capricious character of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 is manifested in all its glory: the glare in the frame has a pronounced border, their filling is heterogeneous. However, such a bokeh deserves attention. At a minimum, it is unusual.
If the sun peeks into the frame, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 can catch flare or large color flare. But it’s worth changing the shooting angle a little, and you can easily get rid of glare. In addition, backlighting occurs only in situations where the contrast in the frame is very high: much earlier you will get an ugly overexposure in the picture.
This frame perfectly demonstrates in which situations chromatic aberration can manifest itself. However, their level is relatively low for a fast lens
E-M10 Installation: ISO 200, F6.3, 1/800 s Download RAW
For a fast lens, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 has a very low level of chromatic aberration. Of course, they are present in the frame. But you can see them only by setting the appropriate goal and increasing the picture on the screen to 100%.
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 is a truly versatile lens. Thanks to the convenient focal length, you can shoot them any scene. Moreover, the size of the lens is such that the camera with it can almost always be at hand. High aperture allows you to shoot without regard to the level of illumination: in conjunction with a stabilizer in the camera, it will make it possible to shoot hands-free even in the dark. At the same time, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 is sharp with an open aperture. If there is no contrasting glare in the frame, then the bokeh of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f / 1.8 is soft and pleasant, and only in the case of a large difference in brightness can it give an unusual, specific pattern in the blur zone.
- compactness and very light weight;
- universal focal length;
- high aperture;
- fast autofocus;
- high sharpness with an open aperture;
- pleasant blur in favorable lighting conditions;
- low chromatic aberration.
- a specific pattern in the blur zone when shooting contrasting scenes;
- glare may occur when shooting with backlight.
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