The Panasonic 25-50mm F1.7 Raises Important Questions about Micro 43

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Panasonic continues to amaze us since the start of the pandemic. Today, they’re announcing the Panasonic 25-50mm f1.7 lens for Micro Four Thirds. This equates to a 50-100mm f3.4 field of view equivalent in full-frame standards. They’re doing what Olympus hasn’t done: making bright aperture zoom lenses. Olympus used to do this when Four Thirds DSLRs were still around, but now Panasonic takes up the banner. They’ve also released cool things like the S5, the Panasonic 85mm f1.8, and the Panasonic 50mm f1.8 soon on the way. This new Panasonic 25-50mm f1.7 lens adds to an already great lineup of lenses co-branded with Leica. It also raises a lot of big questions.

Panasonic 25-50mm f1.7 Tech Specs

The new Panasonic 25-50mm f1.7 is weather resistant, has nine aperture blades, can be stopped down to f16, and has a 77mm filter thread. For sure, this is a big lens for a Micro Four Thirds camera body. It’s also around five inches long and weighs just under one and a half pounds. Below are the tech specs from Panasonic.

It will be available at the end of August for $1,799.99. That’s quite pricey, but it’s packing a lot of fairly awesome innovation. It’s faster than Sigma’s zoom lenses. and has newer autofocus motors. The Panasonic 25-50mm f1.7 is also weather sealed. But that price is a bit high. Check Amazon for the latest.

LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 25-50mm / F1.7 ASPH. 
Lens Construction16 elements in 11 groups (1 aspherical lens, 3 ED lenses, 1 UHR lens)
Nano Surface Coating
MountMicro Four Thirds mount
Optical Image Stabilizer
Focal Lengthf=25-50mm (35mm camera equivalent 50-100mm)
Aperture Type9 diaphragm blades / Circular aperture diaphragm
Maximum ApertureF1.7
Minimum ApertureF16
Closest Focusing Distance0.28m/0.92ft (at focal length 25mm) / 0.31m/1.02ft (at focal length 50mm)
Maximum Magnification0.21x / 0.42x (35mm camera equivalent) (at focal length 50mm)
Diagonal Angle of View47°(Wide) – 24°(Tele)
Dust and Splash ResistantYes*
Recommended Operating Temperature-10℃ to 40℃ (14℉ to 104℉)
Filter Sizeφ77mm
Max. Diameterφ87.6mm / 3.45inch
Overall LengthApprox. 127.6mm / 5.02inch (from the tip of the lens to the base side of the lens mount)
WeightApprox. 654g / 1.44lb (excluding lens cap, lens rear cap, and lens hood)
Standard AccessoriesLens cap, Lens rear cap, Lens hood, Lens storage bag
 *Dust and Splash Resistant does not guarantee that damage will not occur if this lens is subjected to direct contact with dust and water.

How Much Is Micro Four Thirds Relying on Panasonic?

Lots of folks like to talk about how Micro Four Thirds is dead. I sincerely don’t think that’s the case. I believe Micro Four Thirds has to rapidly evolve. And more importantly, I think Micro Four Thirds needs to be at the forefront of innovation to quell the opinions about sensor size. Indeed, those sensors’ colors aren’t as good as larger sensors. And it’s also true that their dynamic range isn’t as good either. The companies have fully admitted that their high ISO results aren’t up to par with larger sensors. So they instead need to rely on a ton of extra technology to make things better.

In essence, Micro Four Thirds needs to adopt the same strategy mobile phones did. There needs to be considerable reliance on the software inside the cameras. Further, they need stunning, new lenses like the Panasonic 25-50mm f1.7. Innovative lenses like this will make all the difference. Panasonic makes high-speed aperture zoom lenses. Olympus and Panasonic both have f1.2 prime lenses. But after seeing that Fujifilm made the first f1.0 autofocus lens, I think more is possible with Micro Four Thirds. 

Science tells us that Micro Four Thirds would have an easier time working with AI in cameras. AI requires lots of processing power that gets slower when you use larger sensors and more megapixels. But Micro Four Thirds is using fewer than other brands, and the sensors are smaller. 

Overall though, Micro Four Thirds really needs Panasonic. Their innovations in the video world have made so many other brands take huge notice. And I hope that they start doing a lot more with AI while making great lenses like these. 

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.