Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 Review

4.5
May 2, 2014 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 is a fast standard prime lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Offering a maximum aperture of f/1.8, a silent auto-focus motor and 7 rounded blades for a smooth bokeh, the new M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.8 also features the faster MSC (Movie & Stills Compatible) auto-focus mechanism. Read our Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 review to find out if this new "fast fifty" prime lens deserves a place in your camera bag...

The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 is a fast standard prime lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Offering a 25mm focal length that’s equivalent to 50mm in 35mm terms, a bright maximum aperture of f/1.8 and a silent auto-focus motor, the M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 is well suited to unobtrusive street photography, and is also a good candidate for a general-purpose walk-around lens. Comprising 9 elements in 7 groups, including two aspherical elements, and boasting an iris diaphragm with 7 rounded blades for a smooth bokeh, the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 also has a ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coating to reduce flare and ghosting effects. The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 lens is available in silver or black and officially retails at £369.99 / $399.00 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Tipping the scales at a mere 137 grams and measuring only 42mm in length and 57mm in diameter, the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 is a lightweight and relatively tiny standard prime lens. As seen in the photos below, it forms a very compact package even with the prosumer Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera body.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 lens attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 lens attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 lens attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 lens alongside an Olympus OM-D E-M1

In terms of features, the lens has little to offer. There is no distance scale, and therefore no DOF scale either – which is sad news for street photographers, who will not be able to use zone focusing techniques as easily as with a lens featuring a proper distance scale complete with depth-of-field markings.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 Front of the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 lens

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 Rear of the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 lens

The lens offers no focus limiter and no image stabilisation, either. The latter is no big deal really, given that this is a fast wide-angle lens that allows hand-held photography in fairly low light without IS (not to mention that Olympus bodies offer in-body image stabilisation). 

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 Front of the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 lens

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 Rear of the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 lens

The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 lens takes small 46mm filters, and comes with a standard Micro Four Thirds mount that is, thankfully, made of metal. This is good news given that the lens construction is predominantly plastic. Olympus does not claim any sort of weather resistance for this lens, and indeed you cannot see a rubber seal around the mount.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 in-hand

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 with the lens hood fitted

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 with the lens hood fitted

The lens ships with a fairly short circular hood (LH-49B), but no lens case.

Focal Range

At the 24mm focal length the angle of view is 47 degrees.

Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Field of view at 25mm

Focusing

With the lens attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera body, focusing is very quick and also reliable. Upon focusing, there's virtually no audible noise, making this a good choice for candid still photography and shooting movies too.

Manual focusing is possible in a focus-by-wire fashion, although there are no hard stops at either end of the range. This should not put you off using it as it feels pretty natural in use, and actually enables the camera to display a magnified view of the subject automatically, or to use focus peaking if available on the camera body. The focus ring is quite generously sized given the overall dimensions of the lens.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or green fringes along contrasty edges, are a slight issue with this lens, although we would not call it a serious problem.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8

Light Fall-off

With the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 wide open, you can see some light fall-off in the corners, but it’s not too excessive, as you can see in the macro example below. Stopping down to f/4 cures this problem almost entirely.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8

Macro

The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 is not a macro lens, , offering a minimum focusing distance of 25cm and a maximum magnification of 0.12x. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash memory card.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 Close-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8, Olympus employed an iris diaphragm with seven rounded blades, which has resulted in quite nice bokeh, at least in our opinion. However, recognising that bokeh evaluation is subjective, we have provided a few examples for your perusal.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8
   
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8 Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

review, samples, wide-angle, lens, test, compact system camera, jpeg, jpegs, olympus, jpg, micro four thirds, jpgs, 25mm, prime, sample, standard, f1.8, 50mm, Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f1.8 Review

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