Review Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH

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The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH is a unique wide-angle zoom. Unique because it has an unusual range. Converted to 35 mm, it starts at 20 mm and ends at 50 mm. Unique also because this is the brightest zoom lens in the world. The lens also offers a stepless aperture setting, good linear manual focus and, according to Panasonic, a barycentric design. Just as curious as we are about what that means and how the lens performs? 

TEST RESULTS: Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX

PROS

CONS

  • High brightness
  • Great range
  • High image quality
  • Focus Clutch for manual focus
  • Clickless aperture
  • No focus breathing
  • Dust- and splashwater-tight
  • High price
  • Big and relatively heavy (for M43)

Unique wide-angle zoom: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH

The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH is the brightest zoom for modern system cameras. With its brightness of f/1.7, it narrowly beats out the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art. The zoom range of 2.5x is also a bit more ambitious than the 2x of the Sigma. To be honest, Panasonic has it a bit easier, because the Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 is designed for the slightly smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor. The Sigma is a lens designed for the slightly larger APS-C sensor. Converted to 35 mm, the range of the Sigma runs from 27 mm to 53 mm. As with the Sigma, we expect the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH to become a big hit, especially with videographers. If you have built a complete film rig, with the camera stabilized on a gimbal, equipped with a microphone, headphones, possibly an external screen and perhaps a focus puller for manual focusing, then you prefer not to have to constantly change lenses. And that is not necessary at all with the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH.

The zoom lens has a fixed brightness over the entire range, and that’s a brightness that many fixed focal lengths in this range also have. And at the extreme wide-angle position, 10 mm, it is even brighter than any other Micro Four Thirds lens with this focal length. The lens is also free of focus breathing. That is, the field of view of the lens does not change if you shift the focus during filming. With lenses that do suffer from this, it seems as if you are zooming with the lens while shifting the sharpness. Even good, fixed focal points often suffer from this. It is therefore good that this zoom does not have that. Perhaps that has something to do with the barycentric design that Panasonic claims to have applied.

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The 2.5x zoom range of the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH offers many possibilities.

We were already familiar with telecentric design. This ensures that light rays fall on the sensor as parallel as possible. Barycentric is a term that has actually never been used by lens manufacturers, and Panasonic does not explain exactly what it means. It has to do with the main rays from the subject, which remain parallel to the optical axis of the lens. A kind of telecentric plus. It ensures that the subject is displayed the same size, whether you focus closer or farther away. And that is exactly what the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH does. 

BUILD AND autofocus

Product

The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH is a hefty lens, certainly by Micro Four Thirds standards. It is almost 13 centimeters long, has a filter size of 77 mm and weighs 690 grams. This is a lens that is therefore more at home one of the larger Panasonic cameras such as the G9 or GH5, than on a GX9. If you use it with a somewhat larger M43s body, the lens actually feels a bit lighter and smaller than you would think at first glance. The lens is solidly built, exactly what you expect from a lens in this price range. Everything turns very smoothly and without play. The lens is also dust- and splash-proof. Panasonic has a good reputation in this area, and we expect no problems if you want to continue using this lens with a heavy rain shower or on the beach.

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The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH has three rings. The front one is, surprisingly, the aperture ring. It is clickless by default and lets you adjust the aperture continuously and silently. It also has an A-mode, where the control is taken over by the camera. The middle ring is the focus ring. That also has an extra function. When you pull the focus ring backwards, you switch to manual focus. That is not only linear, but also has stops at near and far. You can turn the ring further, but you feel when you have passed the extreme point of the focus range. Thanks to this ring, you can easily and accurately shift the focus manually from one point to another. That’s important when you’re filming. The rear and widest ring is the zoom ring. The lens becomes a fraction longer when you zoom. The zoom mechanism is not entirely internal. The difference is so small that we think it will be difficult for most gimbals to stay in balance.

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IMAGE QUALITY

The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH scores high in terms of sharpness. The center sharpness is almost maximal at full aperture. The lens achieves the best values at f/2.8 in the center. The corners are also good at full aperture, although you can still benefit from stopping down. At f/4 and f/5.6, the corners and edges are the best, and those are the apertures at which the sharpness is the most smooth, and the gradient to the corners the least.

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VIGNETTING, DISTORTION AND FLARE

Something crazy is going on with vignetting. In our tests, we measured higher vignetting in jpegs than in RAW. Usually, it’s the other way around, because corrections are made in the jpegs to lower the higher values in RAW. Now, with the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH, the values for vignetting in RAW are already exceptionally low for a zoom that is so bright and wide-angle. What may be a cause of the difference is the increase in contrast due to the standard profile in the camera that we always use to create the jpeg files. That apparently causes a greater difference in vignetting than the correction of vignetting in the camera. A somewhat less spicy profile such as Neutral causes a smaller increase in vignetting. At any rate, a value of less than 1.2 stops at full aperture is quite unusual for such a bright wide-angle zoom.

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Without the corrections in the camera, the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH has considerable problems with distortion. It is nearly 5% barrel-shaped in the wide-angle mode. That is a lot but not a record. You see virtually nothing of that distortion in the viewfinder because the camera can already eliminate it before taking the shot thanks to the built-in lens corrections. Modern lenses are designed for this. After correction, the distortion varies from about half a percent barrel-shaped to half a percent pincushion. And that is nothing to worry about.

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With so little distortion, you can use this lens for photographing subjects with straight lines, for architecture and interior photography. It also produces a nice, straight image when filming with the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH.

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The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH has few problems with flare. You really have to do your best to get some light spots in backlighting, with the sun in frame. Conversely, even at aperture 11 or 16, it is not easy to get sun stars. But it is possible with the right positioning of the camera. Below you can see how nicely that can turn out.

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bokeh

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The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH gives at full aperture, f/1.7, a clearly nicer bokeh than at f/2.8, the maximum aperture of other Micro Four Thirds zoom lenses.

Of course, you buy the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH not only because of the zoom range and all the extras that are so nice for filming. The lens is also wonderfully bright, and that offers opportunities for lovers of bokeh. The only two Panasonic lenses in this range that are brighter than this zoom are the 12 mm f/1.4 and the 25 mm f/1.4. That is not even that much brighter. If you compare the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH with other zoom lenses, the difference is bigger. They all start at f/2.8. You can definitely see that more than one and a half stops that you get with the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH compared to other zooms in your shots at full aperture. If your subject is not too far away, you see a clear gradient in the sharpness towards the background. This makes your subject more isolated from the background, and you get a more three-dimensional effect.

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Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH SAMPLE PICTURES

Curious about the performance of the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH in practice? Click on the button below and visit our renewed web gallery with sample images. The images can be downloaded in full resolution to be viewed at 100%.

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ConclusiON: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH @ Panasonic G9 REVIEW

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

WYSIWYG score: More and more often when designing a lens, distortion, color separation and vignetting are consciously not optimally corrected. As a result, fewer expensive lens elements or exotic glass types need to be used, which ultimately results in a more attractive selling price. The lens manufacturer relies on automatic correction of these characteristics in the camera or in photo editing software. The “jpg-score” gives you for a lens/test camera combination, “What you see is what you get” when all available lens corrections are applied in the camera. 

{loadmodule mod_custom, LensConclusion} {insertgrid ID = 308}

Pure RAW score: With more expensive lenses, a manufacturer often goes to great lengths in the lens design to prevent lens errors. Neither costs nor effort are spared, which can be recognized by the use of exotic types of glass and many lens elements. The “RAW score” approximates the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera, with CameraStuffReview attempting to bypass any automatic lens corrections of RAW files. If you use lens correction profiles in Photoshop or Lightroom to convert RAW files, the RAW scores for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration will be higher or equal to the corresponding jpg scores.

{loadmodule mod_custom, LensConclusion} {insertgrid ID = 309}

The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH is good for photographers and a dream lens for videographers.

The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH is a unique lens. The range and brightness are not found anywhere else, and the image quality is excellent. It is therefore not surprising that such a unique lens also has a somewhat heftier price tag than is usual for Micro Four Thirds. At the same time, that is pretty much the only thing that we can criticize about this lens. And then only if you only take photos. You could then opt for the Panasonic Leica DG Vario Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH, for example, for less money. It offers more wide angle and a little less on the long side and is a lot less bright. But for a lot of typical wide-angle photography (landscapes, interiors), that’s no problem. On the other hand, the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH offers almost the same image quality and brightness as the fixed focal lengths that fall within the zoom range, but with the convenience of a zoom. And then this lens suddenly isn’t that expensive at all. And the Vario Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 is also the only way to get a 10 mm f/1.7 for Micro Four Thirds. If you would like such a bright wide angle, then that possibility alone is more than worth the price. As soon as you start filming with the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH, the lens is more than worth its price. Because then this lens offers so many extra options that you will not find on other lenses that the additional price is totally justified. This includes manual focusing with stops at infinity and close range, a clickless aperture and the absence of focus breathing. The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH is a fine all-around lens for photographers and one of the very best lenses you can buy for filming on Micro Four Thirds.

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