µ43 lens shoot out: Leica Summilux f1:1,4 12mm vs Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f1:2.0

August 04, 2016  •  1 Comment

When I was comparing the iPhone with µ43 and FullFormat I found out: one of the key differentiators is the lens speed. While µ43 suffers in terms of bokeh by its crop factor fast primes are key for shooting high quality images with the µ43 system. As faster as better.http://delightphoto.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/why-to-carry-gear-real-world-comparison-between-smartphone-43-and-fullformat

While the Oly 12mm is on the market since couple of years (June 2011) the PanaLeica lens hit the market a couple of days ago (August 2016). If you compare the lenses there are a couple of things which give you a major differentiator:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Price

So: is the new kid in the block with the money? Does it make sense to get the Leica instead or in addition to the Oly?

Let´s find out.

 

The direct comparison between the 2 lenses: the Leica on the left and the Olympus on the right.

Lens Design and Build Quality

Let us start with the feeling when you have the lens the first time in your hand: both lenses are excellent built. they look full metal and event the lens hoods have am metal design as well. 

  1. The main difference is the size and weight. The size you can see, but the weight is 335g vs 130g... 
  2. But in terms of usability there is a 2nd differentiator: The Leica lens offers a manual aperture ring and the Oly offers a manual focal distance ring - which is made in a superb way.
  3. Dust and weather sealing: the Leica is the Oly is not.

 

The top view shows you the different styles of lens hoods: both are working and the only one is making the lens relatively a bit larger than the Leica lens  hood does.

On  the rear side you can see the little rubber ring which indicates the dust and weather sealing of the lens. A feature which i would expect at the Oly as well because its price tag is pretty high as well - in absolute figures.

The Leica lens looks quite funny on the little GM bodies like the GM1 above. just a bit oversized. The Oly lens is really nice and tiny...

The other way around everything looks much more reasonable I would say.....

Here another point of view, the Oly in front on the GM1.

And now the same but with the lens hoods mounted on the lenses...

With the Leica lens in the front the Oly looks even smaller. This is a topic which we should keep in mind....

Specifications

To compare the specs I will only use those paraders which I found mostly interesting....

Topic Leica  Olympus
Weight 335 130
Min/Max Aperture 1.4/16 2.0/22
Closest focusing distance  20 cm 20 cm
Design Lenses/Groups 15/12 11/8
Aperture blades 9 7
Price € 1399 699

It is easy to see that the Leica lens is more complex and heavier. But does this justify the hefty price tag?

 

Comparison of image Quality

When I start to compare the image quality I do want to start with one topic which have blown me away: the closest focusing distance:

The spec says: it´s 20 cm. for both lenses. Above you see the reality: the Leica focuses much shorter. The images above are shot with f 2.0 both: look at the amount of bokeh produced by the Leica lens.What does mean in reality: here you see 2 photos to real world shots:

This photo is taken with the Leica @ f1.4 at closest focusing distance.

And this shows what means 20 cm focusing distance for the Leica Lens....

And this is the same flower shot with the Oly at closest distance...

And this is 20 cm focusing distance for the Oly-Lens....

Here are the same shot in direct comparison.

For me this feature of the much higher magnification of the Leica lens has blown me away. It is a game changer.... The Leica lens is offering creative possibilities the Oly cannot do...

But let´s continue

Here you see a sample for CA: In both cases practically spoken CA or color fringing are not really a topic for both lenses.... It is very well controlled: Both shots are made with f 2.0 but even @ f1.4 the Leica performs well...

 

One topic of the Leica 12mm f1.4 might be the Vignetting @ f1.4. The shot above shows the comparison with f 14 on the right and f2.0 on the left.. 

I would say you can manage....

This is the same perspective but shot at f2.0 with both lenses: the Leica is as good as the Oly....

Here you see the upper left corner @ 100%crop: there is an advantage for the Leica. But this also shows that the Zuiko is still a pretty good lens: please remind: this is the max. wide open!!!

This is the center sharpness of the same shot @ 100% crop. Do you see a great difference? hardly.... The Leica offers a bit more contrast and a better color saturation.

These night shots are showing some differences: unfortunately I lost a bit of time why the Oly shot was with 50s instead of 30s. At this level the sensor is producing more noise. I hope I will find some procedure for elimination.... The Leica is a bit clearer and the stars produced by the lights are a bit more pronounced with the Oly-lens....

 

Some Inspirations.

Making my first shots with this new lens I thought I should add some shots here....

Most of them are shot at closest focal distance. But they clearly show the amount of bokeh produced by this lens. It´s simply bokehlicious. 

It is amazing to see how clean images are possible with µ43 are possible today. 

Verdict

  1. Both lenses are great.
  2. The main advantages of the Zuiko 12mm f2.0 are the size/weight and the price tag
  3. The Leica is a game changer. The amount of bokeh was totally unexpected. Produced by a feature you cannot see in the specs.

The Oly will remain in my kit bag. But the Leica will accompany me everywhere... It will be interesting what new perspectives it will open to me in the future.. let´s wait and see.

I cannot make any comment on the price tag: It´s hefty. For my taste a bit too much. It should be below 1.000€ but let´s wait what the market and time will tell us.

For me this lens is without alternative. As long as you see bokeh as main differentiator for image quality from the technical point.

 

Addional Remarks

All photos were taken with the Lumix GX80 which is market as well as Lumix GX85 or GX7MkII. The exception are the photos both the camera showing the closest focusing distance: these shots i made with my iPhone6s plus. For the product shots I used the Leica 42.5 mm f1.2

 

If you want to have a closer look to the photos: You find them here: 

http://delightphoto.zenfolio.com/p830433512

Please feel free to send me any comment, remarks or questions.


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