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Review Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO

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The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO is the brightest lens in the Olympus M.Zuiko PRO series. The lens is more than two stops brighter than the M.Zuiko PRO zoom lenses. That offers new possibilities, both for photographing in low light and for bokeh fans.

BRIGHT: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO is a unique lens. It is fairly big and heavy by Micro Four Thirds standards. You might almost think that it’s a zoom. That has everything to do with the high brightness. And more particularly with the fact that the image quality, according to Olympus, is already exceptionally good at full aperture. That is a clear trend in recent years. Ever-more manufacturers are developing bright lenses that perform well starting at the widest aperture. The result is that the dimensions are increasing considerably. Good image quality requires almost by definition more glass. But then you have something. A good and bright lens has many advantages. You can use that big lens aperture for photographing in low light with lower ISO values, so that the image quality is better. Or you can use it to make the shutter times shorter so that your shots are not bothered by motion blur. And that big lens aperture ensures that the bokeh, the blur in front of and behind the focal plane, is nicer.

M25mmf12 stand MF

BUILD

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO is an extraordinarily complex lens. A 50mm f/1.4 standard lens often has no more than 7 lens elements. The less bright Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 goes the extra mile with 9 lens elements in 7 groups. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO has a full 19 lens elements in 14 groups. And a large number of those are aspherical or made from special glass types. Olympus has really spared neither expense nor effort. The lens is much smaller than good bright standard lenses for full frame. But for Micro Four Thirds, it is not really compact. This lens works best in combination with the somewhat bigger cameras from Olympus like the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. The balance is perfect then. The lens is very solidly built. We expect nothing less from a lens from the Olympus PRO series. The lens is completely moisture- and dust-resistant and can be used under extreme conditions. The filter size is 62mm, and a lens hood is included. For switching between autofocus and manual focus, the M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.2 is equipped with a “focus clutch.” By pulling the focus ring back a bit, you switch quickly and easily to manual focus. That can of course also be done in the menu, but this is a better solution.

Specifications
Olympus 25mm f/1.2
Image Stabilization:-
lenses/ groups:0
length x diameter: /
filter size:0
Weight:0
Lens hood:0

Autofocus

 1010206The autofocus of the M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.2 PRO is fast. The lens focuses practically silently and completely internally from infinity to close-up in less than a second. In practice, with a subject at average distance, that means that the lens is able to find the right focus almost immediately. The focus ring is ‘fly-by-wire’, which is to say that by turning the ring, only a signal is sent to the camera, after which the camera operates the autofocus motor. If you use the focus clutch, by pulling back on the focus ring, then you have hard stops for manual focus at infinity and close up.

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NO IMAGE STABILIZATION

The M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO has no built-in image stabilization. It doesn’t need it, either, because the built-in image stabilization of Olympus cameras has no difficulty stabilizing shots with a 25mm. Five stops’ stabilization is quite feasible with this lens. In combination with the high brightness, that means that you can still photograph by hand with practically any light, no matter how weak. Or that you do not immediately need to raise the ISO values when it gets a bit dark.

IMAGE QUality

 1010180The optical performance of the M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.2 PRO is exemplary. The sharpness is high at full aperture, both in the center and in the corners. Stopping down a bit ensures that the corners and edges get a bit better, but from f/2 you are already actually getting the maximum out of this lens. Distortion and chromatic aberrations are measurable with this lens, but the values are so low that in practice they are negligible. And when you use this lens on one of the modern Olympus bodies with automatic lens corrections, then you won’t see any of it. There is really nothing to criticize in the practice shots. Very occasionally in some shots, you will see some longitudinal chromatic aberration at full aperture. That is seen in purple-colored edges in the blurred parts in the foreground and green edges in the blurred parts in the background. Sharpness, contrast and color reproduction are outstanding. Lens errors are practically absent, and the lens has no trouble at all with backlighting. The same is generally true, though, for the PRO zooms from Olympus. The M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.2 PRO is not visibly better at f/2.8 and f/4 than, for example, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO. The 25mm is a lens that you buy mostly if you really want to use that high brightness.

JPGREZZ

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Bokeh

The word comes from Japanese and stands for the quality and amount of blur that you get in front of and behind the focal plane. How much bokeh you have—in other words how blurred that blur is—depends on the focal length and the brightness. The longer the focal point and the brighter the lens, the more blurred the blurry parts are. That says nothing about the quality of the blur. There are lenses with a nervous bokeh. Then, for example, we see that branches in the background do not simply blur, they are shown doubled. With f/1.2, you get a good deal of bokeh, but the focal length of 25mm is of course fairly short. A lens like the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 has less brightness, but because of the longer focal length, the amount of bokeh is practically the same. A 50mm f/1.4 standard lens for 35 mm has, for the same reason, more bokeh than this 25mm. But the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO scores extra points when it comes to the quality of the bokeh. That is really beautiful and organic, with a lovely, fluid transition from sharp to blurred. That is something difficult to measure, but you will experience it in practice. The photo with the bokeh balls clearly shows one aspect of the unique rendering from this lens. The onion rings that you can see with many other lenses in these light balls are often attributed to the use of aspherical lens elements. The 25mm f/1.2 has an aspherical lens element as well, but the bokeh balls are beautifully soft and even.

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ConclusioN Olympus 25 mm f/1.2 REVIEW

 Use the Lens Comparison or see our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses.

WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get". 


Focal Length
mm @ FF
Total score
Resolution
lat. C.A.
Vignetting
Distortion
AF accur.
AF speed

25
50
7.9
7.5
8.9
8.1
9.3
8
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you use lens correction profiles in Photoshop or Lightroom for converting RAW files, then the RAW scores for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration are even better.


Focal Length
mm @ FF
Total score
Resolution
lat. C.A.
Vignetting
Distortion
AF accur.
AF speed

25
50
7.9
7.5
8.9
8.1
9.3
8

PROS

CONS

  • High image quality
  • Bright
  • Sharp at the widest lens aperture
  • Professional build
  • Weather resistant
  • Big and heavy for a MFT standard lens
  • Hefty price
 

Bright lenses have been around for a long time, and f/1.2 is not even the highest brightness that is for sale for Micro Four Thirds. What makes the M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO unique, however, is the combination of high brightness and high image quality, and you see that from full aperture. With this lens, you actually do not need to stop down to achieve the highest image quality. More to the point, it would be a waste to primarily use the lens at f/4 or f/5.6. If needed, for example to get more focal depth, it’s always possible. But this 25mm is a bokeh beast and comes into its own especially at f/1.2. It is a shame that there are almost no cameras that still have a 50 or 25 ISO mode, because you will regularly need that in full sun to be able to photograph at f/1.2. It is not such a strange idea to buy a gray filter for this lens so that you can photograph on a summer day at f/1.2 without getting into trouble at your shortest shutter times. The price tag of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO is hefty, but it is entirely in line with the quality of the lens. And you buy a lens with which you can get pictures that are not possible with any other lens from Olympus.

Jan Paul Mioulet
Author: Jan Paul MiouletWebsite: https://www.mioulet.nl/
Jan Paul Mioulet is zelfstandig fotograaf sinds 1994. Hij heeft zich beziggehouden met veel vormen van fotografie, van portret tot sport, van bruidsfotografie tot reclamewerk. Inmiddels is hij al bijna vijftien jaar gespecialiseerd in architectuurfotografie. Hij is een van de oprichters van DAPh, de Dutch Architectural Photographers, een collectief van een aantal van de beste Nederlandse architectuurfotografen. Van 2010 tot 2014 was hij hoofdredacteur van PF, Professionele Fotografie, het magazine voor de Nederlandse en Vlaamse vakfotograaf. Naast zijn fotografie schrijft hij voor PF en CameraStuffReview over techniek en allerlei bijzondere wetenswaardigheden rondom fotografie en camera’s.

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