Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Holy Classical Lens: The Olympus M. Zuiko 25mm F1.8

During the so-call 35mm film era we use to call it the "normal" lens. The one optic that came almost the facto with any camera model ... and the most economical one too! If you are looking through it (via you viewfinder) it respect roughly our eye sight for the proportion of the subject. So it was and still is a very previsible lens. Parts of the Olympus fine lens line-up there are two versions of this normal lens: the M. Zuiko 25mm F1.8 and the Pro 25mm F1.2 the latter has been introduced lately. Their angle of view are similar (47 degrees for the F1.8 version) but the big differences are mainly their specific construction and their respective maximum aperture available. If you are planning to use your 25mm very extendedly in adverse external condition or for many studio mandates it can be wise to privilege the F1.2 Pro version. But for a more casual use the basic F1.8 will do the job without any losing quality expense. This is the version that I will briefly review.



Legendary Belgian World Champion Eddy Merckx at the finish
 line of the 1974 Montreal World Cycling Championships.
This shot was done only with anticipation and has succeeded !

( Photo Daniel Marchand)

A "normal" lens on sports assignment !!!


Typical 1974 Photo Press Release of the photo finish lane
( Picture source from Cycling Week Web site )


Memories: Some years ago (let say few decades) my first 35mm SLR camera (a modest Argus Cosina STL1000) was coupled with the economical standard Cosinon 50mm F1.7 lens, a package available for 249 $CAN which was a lot of money from a yesterday point of view. And I remember "covering" the World Cycling Championship in Montreal in 1974 with a few black & white rolls of film and this minimal combination of camera and lens. The results of that improvised assignment had just convinced me to poursuit my photographic dream of a career which finally happened about ten years after. And that story along many others is proving the great versatility of a so-call normal focal fixed lens such as the 25mm in M4/3 format.


Other photo extracts of that day of the 
1974 Montreal World Cycling Championship.
( Photos Daniel Marchand)


(Let's return to our regular program...)

Physically the Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 is a small package considering its relatively large maximum aperture. This compact design will match nicely the camera dimensions of most M4/3 format models. A large focus ring is surrounding the 25mm which is a strong permanent tentation to select manually by yourself your focus point. It is really a creative prime lens, an academic optic as should add the traditional photographic teachers.

A polymer made lens hood is part of the accessories included with the lens. It is a nice addition offer with a none too much perturbing size. And it is bayonet mounted and very easy to put in or pull out.



With an angle of view of 47 degrees the Olympus 25mm F1.8 is a very confortable optic to work with. All perspective aspects of the image respect your own view of the subject. By moving yourself you can control the cropping of your picture without surprise. So it is really a pro-active tool in that sens.




No subject is out of the reach of the Olympus 25mm although it can ask to reframe in some cases when you finally edit your picture for diffusion. Very close focus subjects can be photograph with this "normal" lens. As for subjects with minimal deep of field study. And you can do portrait assuming that there is always the possibility to crop afterward the picture.




The Olympus M. 25mm F1.8 is a fine lens. The quality output of its picture results is high for its modest price compare to "pro" counterpart such as the Olympus Pro M.Zuiko 25mm f1.2 optic. Most of the time I have selected the largest apertures available ranging from F1.8 to F5.6 without suffering any lost of definition. Moreover I suspect that the lens has been primarily designed to be used within that range of apertures. Focus final selection can be easily performed by configuring the camera with the option allowing the combination of auto-manual focusing. The more you will explore your subject with it the more you will learn to appreciate its abilities.




Is the 25mm lens can be assimilated as a "one and only" lens to bring option? May be depending what type of photographer you are. For sure for contextual street photography into urban area its angle of view can be perceive a bit too much narrowed compare with the Olympus 17mm f1.8 for example. But remember that guys like Henri Cartier-Bresson have done very fine and emblematic  pictures with that angle of view (translated by the 50mm focal length in 24X36mm film format).


















Finally if your are more oriented "zoomer" photographer by choice or by necessity, the Olympus 25mm F1.8 is a nice back-up lens for on-the-spot replacement and its useful maximum aperture in low light conditions or even for its smaller less intrusive size and it can be slip in your pocket.

Yes the Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 is another affordable gem part of the nice Olympus M.Zuiko line-up.