spencerberus's reviews

  • Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 ASPH LEICA DG SUMMILUX

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very sharp, lightweight, good in low light
    lens hood doesn't reverse for storage

    This is the first lens for which I've ever paid full retail price, and I have no regrets about it. I needed a fast, fairly wide (my only other fast lens was a manual focus 50mm f1.4), sharp lens with auto focus so I could get indoor pics of numerous active nephews & nieces with minimal flash. This definitely fit the bill - and has become my primary lens for everything but macro photography - it isn't a macro lens and doesn't claim to be. It's pretty sharp wide open, which is crucial in low light if you want to avoid using a flash as much as possible. It really sharpens up around f4, I think that is about optimal for this lens though anything from 1.4 to 11 is pretty sharp (haven't tried it any smaller, if it even goes smaller). It's not built like a tank, but then it doesn't weigh as much as one either, and the materials used seem solid and high quality. I wouldn't throw it against a wall, but I can't think of much that costs $600 that I would. It's also not a pancake lens, but its my smallest non-pancake lens so I can't complain there. I've actually fit a GF2 with this lens on it (no lens hood) in a large jacket pocket comfortably. The only complaint I can come up with is that the lens hood doesn't reverse for storage - and I think it would if it were just a couple millimeters taller, but that's really minor. The same lens hood can be used with the Panasonic-Leica 45mm macro lens, and it fits right over the Panasonic 14mm lens in my camera bag so it really isn't a problem to carry around. The big plus? I'm taking a lot more pictures and not thinking 'if only I had that lens....'.

    reviewed December 16th, 2011 (purchased for $600)

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Great image quality, excellent autofocus
    small max aperture, lens hood doesn't reverse for storage

    I love shooting close-up - not quite macro (1:1) in most cases, but pretty close (1:4 to 1:2). I am amazed at how well the autofocus works even it these close ranges - it always focuses on something, and very often the right thing, but once you get to know the lens its relatively easy to coax it into focusing on the correct subject (hint: if you want it to focus closer than it is, look for something that will fill the FOV and focus on that, then move back to your actual subject - focus occurs from the relative current position of focus and will be more likely to 'find' what you want it to).

    However, there are times when manual focus must be used, or is just preferable, and that works very nicely too - a good, solid feel to the focus ring and sensitive enough to make minute adjustments.

    The picture quality is absolutely stunning - I use it as much as I can, for all kinds of images, not just close-up and macro. I'm not exactly sure how to describe it, but the pictures just look better than with other non-Leica Panasonic lens. They are extremely sharp, especially around f4, with rich color.

    The biggest limitation I find is the fairly small maximum aperture - if Vivitar could put out a 90mm f2.5 macro lens in the 70s, surely Panasonic & Leica could do a little better than f2.8 on a 90mm-equivalent lens in 2011. I would almost certainly use this lens a LOT more if it went to, say, f2.

    One very minor gripe - I'm not sure why the lens bezel is grooved (to reduce reflected light?), but it tends to trap small dirt & dust particles easily. Having dirt here isn't a problem in itself, but its so close to the lens it can easily transfer there, and the grooves make it a little more difficult to clean as well. This should in no way deter anyone from buying or using the lens, just something to be aware of so you can plan accordingly.

    reviewed January 20th, 2012 (purchased for $550)