Pana/Leica Summilux 25/1.4, First Impressions

Started Aug 28, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Quinbus
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Pana/Leica Summilux 25/1.4, First Impressions
Aug 28, 2012

Got my Summilux today, and as I usually do with new lenses I gave it a quick test to check for problems. I tested it on an Oly OM-D, on a tripod, with IS off, ISO 200, two-second timer. As usual my test subject was some books. You can see a test photo and results from a corner and from the center at all apertures in the attached photos, shown at 100%. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Wide open, the corner showed a good deal of vignetting and was relatively unsharp; f/2.0 helped a lot, and f/2.8 was fine. The center was a bit unsharp (again, this is relative to the test's BEST sharpness) at f/1.4, but from f/2.0 through f/11 it's top-notch. As you'd expect, f/16 shows some loss of contrast/sharpness overall. None of the exposures seemed any lighter or darker than the others.

This is all just as I expected from technical reviews. Optically a fine lens.

Build quality is excellent too. The only control on the lens is the focus ring, which is nicely damped. The hood's a good one, though because it's square it doesn't reverse-mount. Focusing is very quick.

So far so good, but there's a caveat. The first shot I made alarmed me because of the noise the aperture makes, especially when it closes after the exposure. Not only is it loud, it seemed to me to have overtones of grinding or screeching, like a distant fingernail on a blackboard. I figured I was in for a return/exchange, but I carried on and the images, as I've said, were fine. When I tried the lens on my Pana G3 the noise was less distressing. Then I went online and Googled something like "panasonic summilux noisy aperture," and found plenty of complaints about the noise, along with reassurances that it's normal.

Normal it may be, but I don't like it. It's not the lens I'd use at a concert or for sneaky Erich Salomon snaps of diplomats in conference. (Footnote: For concerts I use an Oly XZ-1 with all sound turned off. It's completely silent.) I presume Leica's contribution to the design ended with the optics.

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Olympus OM-D E-M5
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