Last month I went to Iceland to test the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II flagship Micro Four Thirds camera system and came away mightily impressed. In this era of many fine cameras, well-made lenses are even more crucial to both growing as a photographer, and capturing images and videos exactly how you want.
Along those lines, I was able to try out several Olympus PRO series m4/3 lenses and, while all offer a tempting cocktail of sharpness, contrast, performance, ruggedness, and size for comparatively affordable pricing, I want to talk to you today about their latest prime lens offering.
The new M.ZUIKO Digital ED 25mm f1.2 PRO was announced at Photokina, is available now, and will fit any OM-D, PEN, and other Micro Four Thirds camera systems. While I didn’t spend as much time with this glass as I did with the other PRO lenses — including the new 12-100mm f4 IS PRO — the 25mm f1.2 produces gorgeous 50mm-equivalent imagery that sets a very high bar for sharpness and bokeh in Micro Four Thirds cameras, and I can’t wait to spend more time with it. Let’s dive in.
- Weather resistant
- Buttery bokeh
- Price may be out of budget for some
- Some fringing
- Focal Length 25mm
- 35mm Equivalent: 50mm
- Max Aperture: f1.2
- Min Aperture: f16
- Manual focus clutch
- Programmable Lens Function (Fn) Button
- Ultra-High Speed AF Mechanism
- Lens Construction: 19 Elements in 14 Groups
- Closest Focusing Distance: 0.3m
- Dimensions: 87mm x 70mm
- Lens hood: included
Like all M.Zuiko PRO lenses, the 25mm f1.2 PRO is rugged, yet precise. When tasked with shooting behind waterfalls or on a blustery, snowy evenings, this weather-sealed lens performed flawlessly, with the only required accessory being a lens cloth to wipe away any water droplets. PRO series lenses are also quite light and compact, but retain a nice sense of heft thanks to metal housings and soft rubber focus rings.
With its manual focus clutch and programmable / assignable Fn (Function) Button, the 25mm f1.2 PRO is wonderfully intuitive in the hand. The rubber grip helps guide buttery-smooth focal adjustments between 0.3 meters and infinity, or let Olympus’ speedy AutoFocus systems lock in your subject. The 25mm f1.2 PRO autofocuses quickly and accurately.
As I said above, I spent a short time with the 25mm f1.2 PRO, but it only takes a few shutter clicks to fall in love with the imagery this lens produces. The first standout quality is its ultra sharp focus that, depending on your aperture settings, runs edge to edge across the frame. Stills aren’t simply clear, but VIVID and rich with detail even before you drop them into a post-processor like Adobe Lightroom. The next thing that registers is SPEED — this lens focuses almost-instantly even under candlelight and with very little AF hunting (where the AF ramps between minimum focus distance and infinity). Contrast and color reproduction are also quite good — this lens ADORES reds and other warm tones. Juxtapose them against colder blues and your images pop with a lifelike vibrancy.
In terms of fringing and other anomalies, I did get some flare and fringing when pixel peeping images shot near and directly towards candles, but outside of those backlit conditions, this lens is mostly error-free.
Last and especially not least, the bokeh. Like butter. Micro Four Thirds camera systems may have depth-of-field limitations when compared to APS-C and Full Frame cameras but, with this lens, you’d never know. Focus rolls off smoothly creating creamy out-of-focus foregrounds and backgrounds. If you shoot portraits and are a bokeh fan, the 25mm f1.2 is going to make you very, very happy.
Given its speed, sharpness, colors, minimal fringing, and yummy bokeh, the 25mm f1.2 might just be the best piece of glass in the entire M.Zuiko PRO lineup. It’s that good.
WHERE TO BUY
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f1.2 PRO Lens is available now with a $1,199.99 MSRP. Click HERE to purchase directly from Amazon.com. It is also available directly from Olympus or any authorized Olympus retailer.
FINAL THOUGHTS: ALL HAIL THE PORTRAIT KING
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f1.2 PRO may be a budget-buster for some, but it’s an extraordinary lens. Paired with the new OM-D E-M1 Mark II, you can quickly capture sharp images with brilliant colors in a variety of challenging lighting conditions. You can also feel free to take it with you into the most extreme weather conditions imaginable with no worry of a breakdown. I literally watched other photographers stand in the torrential spray-shadow of the waterfall from the opening scene of ‘Prometheus’ and they just kept on shooting.
If you’re looking for an excellent portrait lens and have the budget, the 25mm f1.2 PRO is…
The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 25mm F1.2 PRO isn't the cheapest 50mm-equivalent lens out there, but may just be the finest PRO series glass in Olympus' very accomplished stable.