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Review Olympus 25mm f1.8: So good!

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Since the success of the Olympus OM-D E-M5, Olympus has decided to continue in the direction of system cameras for the serious amateur photographer. This kind of photographer enjoys using high-quality, dedicated, fast lenses. Together with the Olympus OM-D E-M1, the first lens in the Pro series was released (the Olympus 12-40 mm f/2.8). And with the introduction of the Olympus OM-D E-M10, the Olympus 25 mm f/1.8 from the Premium series was presented. When it comes to lenses with a fixed focal length, an amateur photographer now has the choice of a few feather-light, compact and also fast Olympus lenses from the premium series with a fixed focal length and an f/1.8 aperture. In the first case, I'm thinking about the 17 mm, 25 mm, and the 45 mm, which all have a suggested retail price of under 400 euros. The Olympus 75 mm f/1.8 is, given its higher price and less common focal length, more a lens for connoisseurs and prosumers.

Olympus25mm210

Olympus M 50 mm f/1.8 and Olympus OM-D E-M10

ZwartWitPortretOlympus 15 mm f/1.8  @ f/1.8, 100 ISO, 1/320 sec (Image style: Grainy film)

An affordable standard lens, with a field of view that compares with a 50 mm focal length on a camera with a full-frame sensor, is broadly usable. According to purists, the focal length is a bit too short, but thanks to the beautiful bokeh, you can also make portraits with it where the subject comes free of the background nicely. The supercompact combination of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with a 25 mm f/1.8 lens is a bit less intimidating than the same lens would be on an SLR camera. 

Construction and auto focus

We tested the Olympus 25 mm f/1.8 on an Olympus OM-D E-M10. This combination is nicely compact and light. At the same time, it lies very well in the hand. The housing of the lens is made of high-quality plastic. It all feels quite solid. Manual focusing, certainly in combination with LiveView, works well. The shortest distance from which you can make pictures is 25 cm. The front lens is then 20 cm from the subject. You can thus really creep up on your subject. Autofocus is lightning fast and silent. That makes it also suitable for video. The lens is available with a black or silver-colored finish. Finally, Olympus reports that there are interchangeable decorative rings for the Olympus 25 mm f/1.8.

Specifications
Olympus 25 mm f/1.8
Image Stabilization:-
lenses/ groups:9/7
length x diameter:58 / 42
filter size:46
Weight:137
Lens hood:+

Vignetting

You will never have trouble from vignetting with this lens. Even at full aperture, the vignetting is less than half a stop. In comparison: For a standard lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor, a stop and a half is not unusual.

jpgvignet

BokehOlympus 15 mm f/1.8  @ f/1.8, 100 ISO, 1/320 sec

If you come up close to a subject, then the bokeh/background blur is impressive. The Pale & Light color image style of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 amplifies that effect.

Distortion

Here too there's not much to remark on. A barrel-shaped distortion of half of one percent is so low that you in practice you will almost never see it. Most probably, there will not be any software correction needed for distortion. If you do want to correct any distortion with software, then this lens scores even higher in terms of image quality, but I doubt whether you will see the difference.

jpgdistort

Flare

 

A sun cap comes standard with the Olympus 25 mm f/1.8. That's very nice. You will probably not really need it very often, because even if you're shooting directly against a bright light source, then this lens will practically never have trouble with flare or ghosts. I never use a sun cap on a good lens, although I might be better off doing so to protect the front lens.

flare

Sharpness

 

The first immediately noticeable thing about the focus of this lens is the high, very regular sharpness. The sharpness in the in the center is actually equal to the sharpness in the corners – from full aperture on. That is a very good performance and increases the usability of this lens. Many other lenses at full opening have clearly softer corners. Where sharpness is concerned, you're completely free to choose any aperture between f/1.8 and f/11. The amount of sharpening is partly a matter of personal taste. For my taste, standard jpg files of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 are slightly too sharpened. But there are many photographers who will find that really beautiful. Examine the image below at 100%, and form your own opinion. 

Resolutie
In order to compare MTF50 results for this lens with MTF values for lenses tested on cameras with an APS-C or full frame sensor, we set the micro-43 test camera to a 2: 3 ratio. In other words: we tested this lens with a resolution of 14 megapixels (2:3 ratio) instead of 16 megapixels (4:3 ratio). Using the native 4:3 aspect ratio will yield slightly higher MTF values.

700pxSampleImageOlympus 15 mm f/1.8  @ f/1.8, 100 ISO, 1/320 sec (Natural Image style)
Click (2x) on the image above for a display of this practice shot at 100%

Chromatic aberration

 
The lens design includes 9 lens elements in 7 groups and has 2 aspherical glass elements to prevent aberration. You will not encounter lateral chromatic aberration, red and blue edges at sharp contrast transitions, with the Olympus 25 mm f/1.8 – not in the jpg files from the camera and not in RAW files that you open in Lightroom or Photoshop. In both cases, any chromatic aberration is corrected by the camera. But in this case, that's not needed. This is a good lens design, because if we remove the software correction for chromatic aberration we still don't find any lateral chromatic aberration. Lensdesign
Color bokeh, magenta edges at sharp contrast transitions in front of the focal point and green edges at contrast transitions behind the focal point, often appears with bright lenses (. kleurbokeh

Bokeh

The large aperture with 7 round aperture blades does provide a beautiful background blur. With the Olympus 25 mm f/1.8, you really have a beautiful background blur, much nicer than that of the less-bright micro-43 zoom lenses. In comparison with the Olympus 45 mm f/1.8 and the Olympus 75 mm f/1.8, this lens loses the bokeh competition because those lenses offer a longer focal length and even smaller focal depth.
Move your mouse over the image for a cutout at full size.

bokeh2

Conclusion Olympus 50 mm f/1.8 test with Olympus OM-D E-M10

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Look in our list of tested lenses or in our list of tested micro-43 lenses to compare the performance of this lens with other lenses.

ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you save the files in the camera as jpg, including all in-camera lens corrections (distortion, chromatic aberration). This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
25
50
7.4
7.1
8.2
8.4
7.6
ECPure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera as a RAW file. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you make use of Photoshop, Lightroom or SilkyPix for converting RAW files, then the RAW scores for chromatic aberration and distortion are the same as the jpg scores.
25
50
8.0
7.7
9.5
8.8
8.2

Advantages

  • High image quality: Beautiful, evenly spread sharpness, no chromatic aberration, very little flare or ghosts and a beautiful bokeh
  • Light and yet solidly built
  • High price to quality ratio
  • Includes sun cap

Disadvantages

  • Not sealed against dust and water splash

Where image quality (and our conclusion) is concerned, this lens looks like the Olympus 45 mm f/1.8. In that test, we couldn't think of any real disadvantages, other than that you don't get a sun cap with the purchase of an Olympus 45 mm f/1.8. With the Olympus 25 mm f/1.8 a sun cap is included. That disadvantage is thus gone here. And the Olympus 25 mm f/1.8 is a lens that is nice to use and offers very high image quality. Already at full opening, the sharpness is high from the corner to corner. You don't often find that with bright lenses. On the Olympus website, the Olympus 25 mm f/1.8 is praised as an indispensable lens. For photographers with a preference for an affordable, compact, light and qualitatively high standard lens, Olympus is right. The only disadvantage that I can think of was that the lens is not extra well sealed against dust and splash water. That disadvantage also applies to other lenses in this price class. I think that for the target audience for the Olympus 50 mm f/1.8, with which you aren't going to be in the desert every day or laying in water to take a picture, it's not a problem. That I can't think of any other disadvantages perhaps illustrates best just how good this lens is.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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