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Keywords: Panasonic Leica-DG Wide Prime Micro-Four-Thirds


Prime Minister

Registered: May 2011
Posts: 34
Panasonic 15mm f/1.7 ASPH Leica DG SUMMILUX review by Prime Minister
Review Date: 10/9/2014 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Speed, sharpness, contrast, build quality, size, weight, ergonomics, look and feel
Cons: Vignetting, distortion

When I first heard about this lens, I hoped for better optical performance than the current Micro Four Thirds autofocus prime lenses like the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 and the Olympus 17mm f/1.8. The Panasonic 15mm f/1.7 lens doesn't disappoint.


The lens is compact and lightweight, but it feels solid and well build. The lens barrel, rings and the lens mount are all made of lightweight metal. I think it looks beautiful too. It's a good match for any MFT camera. It has a fairly common 46mm filter thread, which is nice. Maybe it's just my sample, but I find it slightly difficult to attach the 15mm to my Olympus camera. It's a very tight fit and there's not much to grab onto (except for the AF/MF switch, but you don't want to use that).


Straight from the widest aperture sharpness and contrast are very good. The center of the image is sharp and contrasty and totally usable. The edges are very good, the corners are softer, but nowhere near as soft as the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 and better than the Olympus 17mm f/1.8. Apparently it's difficult to design and build a (moderate) wide angle lens for the Micro Four Thirds system that's both compact and optically excellent. Oh well, at this moment it's the best option and I'm happy with it.


The Panasonic 15mm focuses real close. From f/2.8 everything is nice and crisp close-up, but at f/1.7 a large portion of the frame is already decently sharp.


There is some CA, but most of it can be easily removed in post processing and it's not that much. Unfortunately, vignetting is strong at larger apertures. Distortion is rather high for a prime too. However, when I look at the end results, I'd say this is a lens that you can shoot wide open without reservation. And that's precisely why I prefer fast high quality prime lenses to a slower zoom (plus the size and weight advantage of course). On stopping down the sharpness gets better and contrast is slightly higher too.


The first thing I noticed was the typical rendering of this lens. The lens renders like the other Panasonic primes. A different look than Olympus lenses. Higher contrast, very good micro contrast and sharpness. I think it's nice look for a 30mm equivalent lens. It makes photos 'pop'. It helps bring out detail better. Not sure if I would like this look for a short (portrait) tele like the Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2. Personal preference of course.


Autofocus works flawlessly. It's fast, silent and very accurate. When I first tried the lens, I thought the autofocus mechanism was broken. I forgot about the AF/MF switch on the lens barrel. It was set to manual focus. The switch works on Olympus camera bodies too. Manual focus is electronic and there are and no hard stops at either end. Nothing new, it works fine.


A feature that sets the Panasonic 15mm slightly apart from many other lenses is the lovely little aperture ring. It allows you to set the aperture manually in 1/3 click stops. You can also set it to automatic. You can then set the aperture via the camera body. It feels very nice. So good in fact, that I find it hard not to play with it, even if it doesn't work (firmware update please) on my Olympus camera body. Weird, isn't it? Maybe it's because I haven't touched a real aperture ring on a high quality lens in a long time. I think it's a very nice feature on a small camera body with limited controls like the Panasonic GM1. On other camera bodies it might be redundant. Well, you can always play with it or just look at it.


Highly recommended lens if you're looking for a 30-35mm equivalent prime. If you have the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5, this is a nice upgrade (apart from the size of course). If you have the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 this Panasonic has slightly better image quality and better build quality. It might be worth upgrading. I did.


 






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