Olympus 25mm f/1.8 -- First Impressions!

It's finally here!  Yes! Earlier today, the mailman dropped off my package from Amazon containing my long-awaited-for 25mm f/1.8 prime lens!  I've been so sick of the 12-50mm zoom, that I've been dying to get a new lens.  I'm planning to use this 25mm lens as an every-day lens as well as a portraiture lens.

Let's take a look at this guy on the Olympus OM-D EM-5...


And what does he look like in my [tiny] hands?

I'm beyond excited to shoot on the street with the lens.  It is such a good size!  The build on the lens is great.  Albeit, it doesn't feel like a handmade work of art, it's better described as well engineered and executed.  Most of the lens is plastic with the exception of the lens mount.  It's metal and feels straight up solid. If you've ever felt the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ zoom or the 40-150 f/4-5.6 lenses then the plastic will feel pretty familiar.  I was expecting the lens plastic to be a little bit more shiny, but I'm okay with the finish - more inconspicuous on the street.  The focusing ring, which is quite large, has just the right amount of resistance when turning.  Not too hard where it feels like it's impossible to turn but stiff enough that you don't accidentally spin it and set off the manual-focus assist magnify unintentionally.

A lot of folks have been cheering about the fact that Olympus bundled a lens hood with this guy! And... Yeah, I'm pretty happy about it, too.  The plastic  lens hood is mounted in a bayonet fashion and hence reversible.  I have the feeling that the lens hood could have been a tad bit longer to block out more stray light, but I'm just really glad I don't have to go out and buy it separately.  Lens hoods are that kind of item on your amazon wishlist where you think about adding to your cart for your next order and say "Nahhhh... Next time."

The filter thread on this guy is 46mm.  This is my first in this thread size, but definitely not the last.  I know the Panasonic 14mm pancake has the same filter size.  I bought a step-up ring to 52mm so I can throw on the cheap ND-filters I already own so I can enjoy that bokehlicious f/1.8 during the day!

Now what am I more excited about... the wide f/1.8 aperture or the shorter physical size of the lens?  Honestly, I can't choose between the two.  f/1.8 may not be that fast to some more veteran photographers, but this is my fastest [autofocus] lens!  The closest I have is the 40mm f/2.8 pancake for my Canon T1i.  This is a stop and a third faster!  Love it!  With the kit zoom, the EM-5 worked just fine in low light.  I'd actually use ISO 6400 pretty often and I am content with the results.  Now I can shoot the same shutter speed at ISO1600 or ISO3200!  Or have an even faster shutter speed back at ISO6400!  Fantastic!

Coming back to that pancake, size was one of the big reasons I loved that lens so much.  When the T1i was my daily shooter, the 40mm pancake would make the camera feel so much smaller and maneuverable.  I switched over to micro-four thirds for the idea that it would be easier to lug my camera around with my daily.  The body of the OM-D EM-5 fit the bill exactly, but the kit zoom did not.  It was just so long!  Indeed, I did shrink size from the T1i to the EM-5 but I did gain some length (compared to the pancake).  With the addition of this shorter 25mm lens, I indeed finally have a all-around smaller camera than my old DSLR.  I mentioned the Panasonic 14mm above, and cannot wait to slap that guy on the EM-5.  That's definitely next on my list.

Okay, as this is a first impressions type post, I don't really have a definitive conclusion on this little guy.  I definitely know I'm going to enjoy him!  I did however take a bunch of [unscientific] sharpness tests!  To my eye, this lens looks tack-sharp at f/1.8 in the center, and just gets better around the corners as you stop it down...

Here's some shots!  These were shot with the EM-5 mounted on a tripod using the "anti-shock" drive mode.  Excuse the weird highlights in some photos... There was a light right exactly behind my head and sometimes I'd block it and sometimes I wouldn't...

(For these "sharpness/bokeh" tests, you can click on the images for a higher resolution if you'd like.)

And here are some more!  These might be more worthwhile to look at...

And finally, here are a few straight-out-of-camera JPEGs from the EM-5 that I took outside earlier today:

So if you stuck around to read all of that - thanks!  I'll update the blog with an actual review when I shoot enough frames with this lens in the future.

Until next time!