Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4 on E-330

If you attach a Leica lens to an Olympus camera, and that Leica lens is specifically designed for the FourThirds digital camera mount, then is the combinations still a "Lympa"? In any case, the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f1.4 Summilux lens offers wonderful low-light photography opportunities on my E-330, like this evening street-scene in Old Town Eureka.

The Leica/Olympus combo showed up with a posting on the Leica User Group (LUG) e-list for a used 25mm Summilux for sale. The price was good, so I raised some cash with the sale on eBay of my old Leica CL with 40mm Summicron and 90mm Elmar lenses. The lens arrived, looking practically new. And BIG!

 

Such a pretty f-stop ring in the old tradition, handy where your left hand cradles the lens while shooting. Alas, the f-stop settings are only functional on the Panasonic cameras and do not work on the Olympus camera bodies. You just use the on-body settings for f-stops as usual.

 

With the lens hood attached, the Summilux is bigger than my Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 zoom lens. I guess in the FourThirds world, such is the sacrifice you make for speed.

Looking from the top and with the lens hoods attached, the prime lens Leica 25mm (left) is longer than the Zuiko 28-54mm zoom.

I did not need that big f1.4 lens for a couple of quick shots outside that first day – yep, autofocus worked fine and photos looked sharp. But the real test would be in low light.

 

 
 
 
Leica has always been known for  extremely sharp lenses, even when used wide open. The f1.4 is two full stops faster than most standard zoom lenses (f2.8) and a full stop faster than any other Olympus Zuiko lens.

Our local Saturday Night Arts Alive event provided the available-light opportunity with dusk and evening scenes that used the wide-open capability of the lens.

Click on the image below for a gallery of sample images taken with the Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4 lens. 

Internet Cafe

Saturday Night Arts Alive in Eureka brings out the cafe crowd. The Olympus E-330 with tilted Live View screen is unobtrusive and puts the camera at the right height. Exposure f1.6 1/40th second, ISO 400.

At 25mm with the FourThirds sensor, the Summilux acts like a “normal” lens - just like a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera. On the E-330 the fast lens, auto-focus and flip-out live view screen make a powerful combination for night-time street photography. In the evening light, I used the optical finder for many photographs, and auto-focus gave consistently sharp photographs.

Additionally, the tiltable live-vew LCD in Mode A allowed me to shoot a  well-composed, "decisive moment" photograph from the hip. If only Olympus could recognize what  a creative advantage that combination gives the photographer. Unfortunately, every Olympus DSLR since the E-330 only provides Mode B live view with its inherent shutter-lag. But there's just something about prowling around the dark with a lens that says Leica and f1.4 on the front - isn't "Summilux" a great way to sum it up?  The FourThirds format seems to be the meeting place of creative combinations of camera bodies and lenses these days. 

 

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Articles and photographs copyright Gary Todoroff. For licensed use, call (707) 445-8425 or contact him by email.