Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH Review

4.5
June 18, 2014 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH is a new wide-angle lens for the Micro Four Thirds compact camera system. Sporting the exclusive Leica name. the Panasonic 15mm lens is tiny in both size and weight, yet offers a fast maximum aperture of f/1.7 complete with a manual aperture ring. Read our Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH review to find out if it's worth adding to your kit-bag...

The Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH is a fast moderate wide-angle lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Offering a 35mm camera equivalent focal length of 30mm, the Panasonic 15mm lens is comprised of 9 elements arranged in 7 groups, including 3 aspherical elements. It features a special Nano Surface Coating to minimise ghosting and flare and an iris diaphragm with seven rounded aperture blades. The Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens is available in black or silver for £559.99 / $599.99 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

The Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH is very small and light for a lens offering a 35mm equivalent focal range of 30mm, easily fitting in the palm of your hand. It's a very compact affair for a lens that offers a wide-angle focal length and such a fast maximum aperture, measuring just 36mm in length, and it's also very light at only 115 grams.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens attached to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens attached to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens attached to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

The Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens may have quite a lot of plastic parts, but the lens mount is, thankfully, made of metal. Panasonic does not claim any sort of weather resistance for this lens, and indeed you cannot see a rubber seal around the mount.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens alongside the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHFront of the Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens

In terms of features, the highlight is the traditional manual aperture ring on the lens barrel, which allows you to set the aperture in 1/3 steps, complete with full aperture markings from f/1.7 to f/16. The aperture is also shown in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen as you change it. The tactile aperture ring is nicely damped and makes a distinctive click as you change the setting. It toggles between auto aperture control (the ring is set to A) or manual aperture control (the switch is set to one of the aperture values).

There's also a responsive manual focusing ring, but no focus scale. A small switch on the side toggles between auto/manual focus.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHFront of the Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHRear of the Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHSide of the Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHSide of the Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens

Usefully the lens comes with a lens hood and a cloth storage bag, and it accepts 46mm filters. Less usefully, you have to take the accessory ring off the front of the lens before fitting the circular-shaped lens hood, and it cannot be reverse-fitted onto the lens, making it more difficult to safely store away when not in use.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens in-hand

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens with the supplied hood and lens cap fitted

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens with the supplied hood fitted

Focal Range

The lens has a diagonal angle of view of 72°, equivalent to that of a 30mm lens in a 35mm system.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHField of view at 15mm

Focusing

The Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens offers almost completely silent auto-focusing, and in use we found the system very quick on the DMC-GX7 camera.

The 46mm filter thread does not rotate on focus, which is good news for users of polarisers and graduated neutral density filters.

Manual focusing is possible in a focus-by-wire fashion. 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, without you having to press a dedicated button or enter the menu. Despite the small size of the lens, the focus ring is wide enough and more than adequate for the job.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are only conspicuous by their almost complete absence, as shown by the 100% crops below.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH

Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/1.7, there is some light fall-off in the corners, which disappears by f/4.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHLight fall-off

Macro

TheLeica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH has a closest focusing distance of 0.2m / 0.66ft and a maximum 0.1x magnification rating.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPHClose-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 Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens, Panasonic employed a diaphragm with 7 rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh, at least in our opinion. However, recognising that bokeh evaluation is subjective, we have provided a few examples for your perusal.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH
   
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH

Sharpness

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

Entry Tags

review, samples, images, wide-angle, test, compact system camera, sample images, lumix, micro four thirds, panasonic, wide angle, leica, 15mm, Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f1.7 ASPH Review, 15mm lens, panasonic 15mm review

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