Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH – Review

leica 15mmIntroduced in March 2014 the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15 mm f/1.7 lens is beautifully constructed. With a maximum aperture of f/1.7, Nano Surface coatings, a manual aperture ring and an on lens AF/MF switch this is an ideal all purpose lens. It is supplied with a well designed metal lens hood and a lens pouch.  Current street price of $498 makes this a very affordable high quality compact lens.

On a full frame equivalent basis this lens has an angle of view of a 30mm lens. It is constructed of quality metals and plastics and has a metal lens mount. It is a light lens at a hair over 4 ounces or 115 grams. The lens feels good when held and exudes Leica quality.

It is a small diameter lens that works well with the smaller form factor Panasonic MFT bodies. The lens does not extend below the base of the GM series bodies and will not interfere with tripod mounts.

A well designed, circular metal lens hood does a great job of preventing flare. As with any lens, the lens hood is added protection for the front element of the lens.

Specifications:

Focal Length 15mm – Comparable 35mm Focal Length: 30 mm
Aperture f/1.7 to f/16
Angle of View 72°
Minimum Focus Distance 7.87″ (20 cm)
Elements/Groups 9/7
Diaphragm Blades 7, Rounded
Filter Thread 46 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 2.26 x 1.42″ (57.5 x 36 mm)
Weight 4.06 oz (115 g)

 

The filter thread is 46mm. As the lens has internal focusing there is no rotation of the front section. This keeps any attached filter in the orientation as is was installed. The lens has a switch that is used to switch the lens from autofocus to manual focus. This is a very convenient feature so you do not have to use any switches or buttons on the camera to lock focus or to flip between the two modes. The lens has very fast autofocusing in good light and most acceptable in low light situations. The lens has a manual focusing ring that is well damped and smooth through the focus range. One nit that I have is that the lens has no focus markings. The lens focuses close with a minimum focusing distance of 7.87 inches or 20 centimeters.

Another great feature of this lens is the manual aperture ring. It has positive clicks at 1/3 stop increments and is very comfortable to operate. To switch the lens to automatic camera controlled aperture the ring has an “A” setting that is beyond the f/1.7 making. The manual aperture ring does not work on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 body.  When using the manual aperture settings, the aperture blades remain stationary when the lens is set to Manual focus.  However, if the lens is set to Autofocus the aperture blades do open a fraction and then close down to the set aperture.  This is an important consideration for time-lapse photography where aperture blade deviations tend to cause flicker in the sequence.

Performance: (This evaluation is based on using a test chart designed for use with ISO 12233 Photography as shown below)ISO_12233-reschart

Sharpness is excellent in the central frame at f/1.7 and edge sharpness reaches the best at f/4.0. f/4 is the sweet spot for the lens tested. At f/11 there is a slight loss of sharpness due mainly to diffraction.

Chromatic aberrations are minimal and not noticeable through the aperture range. High contrast edge fringing is just visible at f/1.7.  There is no fringing visible through the f/2.0 through f/11 range.  At f/16 there is slight fringing but that too is minimal and barely discernible until closely scrutinized.

The following comments are based on real life tests.

Lens flare is very well controlled and not perceptible even when the lens is wide open and shooting into bright light sources.  It is preferable to leave the lens hood on as a preventive measure.  That Nano Surface Coating does a good job here.

Once again, testing the Chromatic aberrations of this lens I found it to be minimal and what little there is can be easily removed in post processing. High contrast edge fringing is visible at f/1.7 and was not tested at f/11 and greater.  In the MFT world one would rarely use f/11 and smaller apertures unless extreme depth of field is desired at the expense of refraction.

Like most fast wide-angle lenses this lens demonstrates light fall off (vignette) when wide open. The falloff basically disappears at f/2.8.

Barrel distortion is not noticed through the range f/1.7 to f/8.0

Sample Images for distortion and vignetting:

The first set was captured with the camera in portrait orientation.

f/1.7

f/1.7

f/2.0

f/2.0

f/2.8

f/2.8

f/4.0

f/4.0

f/5.6

f/5.6

f/8.0

f/8.0

The second set was captured with the camera in landscape orientation.

f/1.7

f/1.7

f/2.0

f/2.0

f/2.8

f/2.8

f/4.0

f/4.0

f/5.6

f/5.6

f/8.0

f/8.0

Sample Images for edge fringing:

f/1.7

f/1.7

f/2.0

f/2.0

f/2.8

f/2.8

f/4.0

f/4.0

f/5.6

f/5.6

f/8.0

f/8.0

 

 

Pros:

  • Superior build quality
  • Fast autofocusing
  • Excellent sharpness
  • Low light falloff beyond f/2
  • Barely perceptible chromatic aberration
  • Manual aperture ring
  • Lens body Auto/Manual focus switch

 

Cons:

  • No focus markings

 

My verdict:  I highly recommend this lens and now own one.

Here are some additional sample images.

This first set is a set of straight on images of a store shelving.  Images captured using apertures of f/1.7 through f/5.6

f/1.7

f/1.7

f/2.8

f/2.8

f/4.0

f/4.0

f/5.6

f/5.6

This next set is to demonstrate DOF and how well the lens deals with shallow DOF.

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f/1.7

_1160859

f/2.8

f/4.0

f/4.0

f/5.6

f/5.6

f/8.0

f/8.0

f/11

f/11

This last set of images is to demonstrate that the lens has minimum barrel distortion using real life examples:

f/5.6

f/5.6

f/1.7

f/1.7

This entry was posted in Accessories, Lens, Mirrorless, Photography.

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