PL 25mm: x steps forward, y steps back

Started Dec 8, 2011 | Discussions thread
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pocketpygmy Contributing Member • Posts: 829
PL 25mm: x steps forward, y steps back

finally got my hands on the esteemed Pana Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ($539 at a brick-and-mortar store!)

guess what? it's all true!

i probably don't need to repeat the superlatives as most of us here will probably be familiar with them. but i will get into it with the rattlesnake, though. it's really the only thing that concerned me before, and now it's enough of an issue for me to post here, and enough to consider returning the lens.

first i tried the 25 on my EPL2 in the store. totally silent. different modes, changing the aperture, etc. didn't phase it. brought it outside (overcast but midday) and sure enough, the rattlesnaking is there. waving it around, pointing it in different directions, etc. causes the aperture blades to do its thing, loudly. there was a post here a few weeks back that compared it to the sound of the shutter -- i'd have to agree with that. it's just slightly less loud than pulling the trigger.

so i got the camera store guy to test it on a panasonic body for me -- a GF2. we went outside again to try it out -- nothing. silent.

i decided to take it home anyway and try it out for a few more days, see if i could figure something out or otherwise just warm up to it. $500+ for a lens is nothing to sniff at, after all. we expect a certain amount of goodness in return for a certain amount of currency. it's ok to have a lens with compromises if you're not parting with a big chunk of change. but otherwise, i'm not so sure.

anyway. one thing i found was that, even though the aperture blades are grinding away while the aperture value is fixed, it's really the auto-exposure that seems to be the problem. lock it -- that's what i've got the red video-record-now button assigned to -- and there's no rattlesnake. i thought maybe it had something to do with live view (apparently it does, more on that in a sec), but when i switched off the LCD (what i have the 'Fn' button assigned to, and only works without the viewfinder, otherwise it doesn't do anything) the lens still acted the same: with rattling when pointed at particularly brighter or darker scenes.

so another thing i found is in the super control panel, under 'D' (DISP / D))) / PC): 'live view boost'. i don't know what this means exactly. i found out a little while ago that when it's turned off, it's actually representative of how the photo will appear once you take it, specifically when changing exposure compensation values. with live view boost on, changing exposure compensation values does not appear in real time (take it out to -1.7 or +2.3 and the image on the screen appears the same) -- with it off, you can see the differences in light and dark (this has been a great discovery for me, as i'd until then had it turned on). now with the PL25 and the rattlesnake, i've found that turning 'live view boost' on seems to lessen the rattlesnake's sensitivity. with it off (where i'd prefer it since i can clearly see how the exposure will work out in the end), it seems to rattlesnake more. i'm not so sure about this, and would like to hear if anyone else can corroborate... for a moment i thought i'd solved the issue (pointing it straight at lights didn't make it rattlesnake like it had with live view boost off), but i went back outside and there it was again, albeit (i think) less severe.

both the lens and the body were on the newest firmware versions.

so unless something else comes to light, it sounds like (from direct experience; barring some deus ex machina like an olympus firmware update that fixes it, or again, some new user-sourced discovery) my options for perfectly silent performance with this lens are (a) switch to a panasonic body like the GF2 (though of course i'd rather a GX1), or (b) keep the exposure locked constantly until i'm ready to take a photo.

for some, it's no big deal. for me, it's kind of a big deal -- again, considering cost, but also because this is my only system camera. i chose m4/3, and not a DSLR, because i wanted and expected a certain degree of physical as well as sonic discreetness. with the 20mm so close in spec -- and yet so far in price and size -- i really have to wonder if i'd just be better off with that instead. it, too, is known for its noises, but when it's so small and $200 cheaper... i can live with that. i'd rather have the 50mm-eq focal length, but there's just no way around it with m4/3: something is gonna bug someone, somewhere. but overall it's a format worth sticking with. i think.

Olympus PEN E-PL2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1
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