Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm/1.2 | Petr Bambousek | Wildlife Photography

Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm/1.2

Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm/1.2

16 Oct 2020, Posted by Petr Bambousek in Articles, Equipment, Olympus gear





Since shooting on the M43 format, I’ve had my share of various bodies and especially lenses in my hands. A lot of people ask me for help when choosing their best equipment and of course we get to cover a number of different topics. For the most part, it’s a major struggle between what people want, what they really need, and what they can afford. As a result, I decided to write something for each piece of equipment I had on my m43 in the scope of short practical observations. I scored all lenses on a scale of 1-10 in terms of processing, equipment and sharpness. I must admit that the quality of each lens that I had the opportunity to test or use for a long time is at a very high level and I can easily imagine having each of them as part of my gear. The uniform reviews allow you now to read a detailed evaluation for each lens reflecting exclusively my personal opinion. Each evaluation is based on actual in-the-field use and may therefore differ from, for example, lab tests available on the Internet. The page is divided into four logical segments – numerical rating | practical observations | sample of published photos from a given lens | FAQ, where you can find my brief responses to questions I received.






Sharpness and beautifully soft bokeh



M.Zuiko 25mm/ 1.2 lens is the first of three PRO lenses with a brightness of 1.2, which came on the market in 2016. That’s the same year when I switched to Olympus and I immediately had the opportunity to borrow it for my first trip with Olympus – to Tenerife. Before that, I’ve never given a single thought to what might a shutter speed of 1/ 32000s be good for, since a standard SLR reaches a maximum of 1/ 8000s. I took mostly family photos and at 1.2 in full sun I was reaching exposure times of around 1/ 20000s and faster. That was completely new to me. Naturally, taking pictures at such fast times is not the only benefit of high brightness. ISO can be kept to a minimum with beautifully creamy bokeh. I especially appreciate the completely flawless simple construction, where everything fits perfectly. The fine detail on the open aperture 1.2 is unreal and it’s a bliss to view the photos in full resolution. Like all the lenses in the PRO series, it is extra resistant to dust, freezing and splash, which is one of the key factors for my work in the field. After many years of experience with Olympus products, I know that the mentioned weather-resistance is really above average compared to other manufacturers. The lens can focus from a distance of 30 cm, which allows for use even in nature. Saying that though, yes, it would be ideal if it could focus one step closer, at least another 5 cm. After the first test, I returned it to Olympus and eventually borrowed it several more times for trips to Borneo, Croatia and the Czech Republic. Although it is not one of the most used lenses in my gear, the photos are always interesting and in the end I decided to take advantage of the autumn Olympus sale, when it was possible to get one of three 1.2 lenses for FREE when purchasing the E-M1 II body! You can imagine that I couldn’t resist that. Having practical experience with all three lenses in this series (17mm, 25mm and 45mm – read the article about their direct comparison) and I can honestly say that each brings something unique. Ideally, I’d love to have all three, but in the end, I chose the 25mm as the most universal for a variety of motifs. Primarily I used it for photographing the family, but more and more often I now photograph butterflies, dragonflies, etc with it. I even used it for a photo of the NEOWISE comet during a family vacation in the Bohemian Paradise. It will be a permanent part of my set-up only as of autumn 2020 but I’m already looking forward to being able to try it out in the tropics on hummingbirds. Perhaps the only thing it lacks (and I hope that will be rectified over time) is the supported internal Focus Stacking function. Combining such a unique bokeh rendering with the possibility of focus stacking could create quite uniquely interesting macros. Maybe this will be an option in some future firmware update. Then the lens probably wouldn’t really have a single weakness.





Q: Why did you choose 25mm/ 1.2 and not 17m/ 1.2 or 45mm/ 1.2?

A: I was lucky enough to use all three mentioned lenses in the field (you will find my review in a separate article). Each of them is unique and I’d love to own all three. However, this is economically not feasible. Being professional lenses of the highest quality this is understandably reflected in their price. At the same time, there wouldn’t be any more room in my bag, where there are currently six other lenses. When I was deciding which of the lenses to buy in the promotion sale, I went for the biggest versatility of the 25mm. Close second was the 17mm, which out of these three lenses has the shortest focusing distance, while maintaining a relatively wide-angle view of the scene, highest magnification and an extra shallow depth of field. We are used to photos with a wider angle of view usually with a deeper depth of field (landscapes, etc.). The 17mm/ 1.2 adds a different atmosphere to “macros” of frogs, lizards and snakes, as well as plants where the object is sharp, while the surroundings are visible but considerably out of depth of field. However, this effect is achieved only at the shortest focusing distance, which not all animals like. From my point of view, the 17mm is less universal than 25mm/ 1.2 for other cases and it’s not as suitable, for example, for family photos. The 45mm is already quite close to 75mm/ 1.8, 40-150mm/ 2.8 or 200mm/ 2.8, for example, bringing you photos with a sharp main subject and slightly blurred surroundings. However, these lenses again require the shortest distance from the subject for the desired effect. For shy species, I prefer to use a telephoto and for the quiet ones, capture a little bit of the environment with the 25mm. That’s why, in the end, I opted for the 25mm as the one closest to my needs.





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