*Micro 4/3 Portrait Lens Shoot Out! Leica Nocti vs Voigtländer Nokton vs Olympus


Few systems can boast multiple, high quality portrait prime lenses.  Here I’m looking at three, very good lenses all in their own, respective rights.  Each, have their upside and for a given shooter, a very justifiable argument in favor of, over the others.

While there are two more proprietary portrait prime, focal length lenses with a micro 4/3 badge printed on them (the Leica 45mm f/2.8 macro and the new Lumix 42.5mm f/1.7) I have been able to justify buying all three of these for one reason or another over the last few years.  I must cull my quiver to make room (and provide budget) for new, fun things to review, so I need to decide which I’m going to hold onto.

C’mon in for some shots, and my thoughts…


From left to right, we have the Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 micro 4/3, manual focus light vacuum, the Panasonic-Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 and the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8.  Three different skill sets, three vastly different price points.  Before digging into the performance side of it, let’s have a quick look at where these lenses fall, relative to each other in the price, feature and build quality spectrum.


Oly45 on GX7

1. The Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 (see it at Adorama, B&H)

E-FOV: 90mm

Light Transmission: t/2

Dims: 2.2″ x 1.8″ (55.9 x 45.7mm) W x L

Weight: 0.26lbs (116g)

Min Focus Distance: 50cm/20″

Filter Diameter: 37mm

Optical Construction: 9 elements in 8 groups, two extra-high refractive lenses.

Price: $349

The Oly 45mm is by far the cheapest, smallest and lightest of the three I’m looking at here.  If your goal is to keep your kit as small and light as possible, this is the lens for you (or look at the new Panasonic Lumix 42.5mm f/1.7 OIS Lens).  Its body is built from plastic, and while it doesn’t feel as if it would handle near the abuse as the other two, it doesn’t feel cheap, but certainly built to a lesser spec comparitively.  If f/1.8 is fast enough for you, and you’re okay with the plastic build, you’d be hard pressed to find anything wrong with this little gem.


Voigtländer 42.5mm on GX7

2. The Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 (see it at Adorama, B&H)

E-FOV: 85mm

Light Transmission: t/1.1

Dims: 2.53″ x 2.94″ (64.3 x 74.6 mm) W x L

Weight: 1.26lbs (570g)

Min Focus Distance: 23cm/9″

Filter Diameter: 58mm

Optical Construction: 11 elements in 8 groups, one Super High Refractive element and one aspherical element.

Price: $999

The Voigtländer is a tank.  The Leica lens isn’t a lightweight lens in build quality or girth by any means, but this Voigty is as solidly built a lens as any I’ve ever used.  It is the heaviest of the three, heavier than the Leica by about a quarter pound and an even pound heavier than the Oly!  With speed comes weight, and this lens is faster than most any current lens on the market for any system.  The catch, it’s a manual focus lens.  

This, along with the other offerings from Voigtländer/Cosina are top notch lenses at very reasonable prices considering anything else close in offering and aside from the manual operation potentially being seen as a hinderance, it is every ounce a professionally capable optic.  With the ability to switch to a clickless aperture, and a long, smooth focus throw, this lens is great for those that shoot video as well.  The 9″ minimum focusing distance starts getting you into the suburbs of Macroville too.  Very versatile.

The lens comes with a metal hood and hood mounting ring which screws onto the front filter threads.


Leica 42.5mm on GX7

3. The Lecia Nocticron DG 42.5mm f/1.2 Power OIS (see it at Adorama, B&H)

E-FOV: 85mm

Light Transmission: t/1.6

Dims: 2.91 x 3.03″ (74 x 77 mm) W x L

Weight: 0.94lbs (425g)

Min Focus Distance: 50cm/20″

Filter Diameter: 67mm

Optical Construction: 14 elements in 11 groups, two aspherical elements, an Extra-low Dispersion element, and an Ultra High Refractive Index element.

Price: $1598

What is there to say, really.  This is the best tested lens for the micro 4/3 system, and I’ve not found that claim to be anywhere near incorrect.  It is expensive, and it’s big.  Two things that do seem to work against the mantra of many micro 4/3 system shooters, but if you want the best quality image the system is capable of providing, this lens is route one to get there.

The only of these three that offer optical image stabilization, it provides about 3 stops of handholdability, and operates to steady the optics in video.

I struggled with the price of this lens, and still hope to see the actual retail price come down permanently by about $200, there really isn’t much that one can use to argue against it.  Yes, as we will shortly see, you can get close to the same quality for less in this space, but there is a lot going for this juggernaut as well.

The Nocti comes with a metal hood and lens bag.

Alright, let’s get right into it, shall we?


Below are shots from all three lenses wide open, as well as stopped down to f/4.  I’ve also included a shot of the Leica stopped down to f/1.8 to see how it does vs the Oly at that aperture.  Instead of doing this for every available aperture, and to save us all some time, I’ve taken it upon myself to keep it at f/4 as all of these lenses are near if not at their sharpest between here and f/5.6.  The point of focus on all shots is the small sailboat center frame which physically measures about 7x9mm in width and height for reference.  All shots were captured and converted as RAW files in Aperture and exported as JPEGS.  Click to see larger:

Wide open:


Wide open, 100% crops:

V0.95-100 L1.2-100 O1.8-100


There are three different images if looking at the intricacies from these lenses wide open.  The obvious speed difference here shows with the Voigtländer exhibiting the shallowest DOF and less discernible detail in the background.  The focus falloff parallels this difference in DOF, and the bokeh is smoother and creamier, the faster the lens we’re looking at.

Sharpness wise wide open, The Olympus, to my eye, edges the other two out, but does so by way of at least a stop slower aperture compared to either of the others.  Wide open, I feel that the Oly @ f/1.8 is slightly sharper than the Leica at f/1.2, but not by a whole lot.  Good showing for both.    The Leica is still very sharp, and considering the large, maximum aperture, I find it impressive.  The Voigtländer, however is noticeably softer at f/0.95 which isn’t a shocker, and acceptable when considering the aperture measures larger in diameter than the focal length.  In my original review of the Voigt (find link to that at the end of this article), I found that at closer focusing distances wide open, the lens suffered a bit more than when focused a bit further away while shooting at the max aperture.    I have some 200% crops a little later to show you more closely.

First though, as the Voigt isn’t able to natively adjust to f/1.8 as it stops down in half stops, I’ve omitted it for this next side by side, to see how the Leica does compared to the Oly when it’s stopped down to f/1.8:

O1.8-100 L1.8-30 (1)


I’d say it’s at the very least, caught up to the Oly at the point of focus. where the sailboat and wording directly underneath have sharpened up.



And, here are the lenses stopped down to f/4, click to see larger:


Stopped down to f/4, 100% crops:

V4-100 L4-100 O4-100

The Leica is sharp wide open, and gets even sharper stopped down.  The Oly, is also very sharp wide open, but doesn’t gain quite as much of a bump when stopping down comparatively.  Due to its longer, physical focal length though, it exhibits a shallower depth of field at f/4 compared to the other two when focused at the exact same distance from the subject.  Not by much, but noticeably so when focused at about 3′ as they were here.  The other interesting thing to note is that the Leica seems to crop a little more into the image circle making me think it either is physically longer than the 42.5mm measurement, or the Voigty is slightly shorter.

Here is a screen shot of 200% center crops with the lenses wide open, click to see larger:

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 12.17.29 PM

All of these shots were metered and exposed, using the GX7’s spot meter off of a midtone/grey card, so it is somewhat interesting to see how each differs in overall contrast and saturation here.  The larger the apertures, it seems, the less contrast.  Not surprising necessarily, but interesting to see nonetheless.  

Stopped down, the Leica for me is easily the sharpest, with the Voigtländer outclassing the Oly, but again, not by a whole lot.  All three lenses when stopped down to f/4 are very close considering these are at a 200% magnification, and the contrast has seemed to catch up as well.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 12.15.30 PM


So to me, this shows that the Oly certainly holds it’s own, and when shot at like aperture, while not quite as sharp, does okay for itself.  I’d even go so far to say that the Oly is nearly as sharp wide open as it is stopped down in the center which is certainly impressive.  While the Oly at f/1.8 is slightly sharper that the Leica at f/1.2, that nearly equal sharpness gets leapfrogged by both other lenses when stopped down.  The larger apertured lenses have one huge advantage in the speed category, and while we may need to realistically give up a little center sharpness, that is where the budget busting prices come in.  While it isn’t shown necessarily in the shots above, the Leica lens also does very, very well in the corners at all apertures from my experience, but that is not hugely important to me for a portrait lens if I’m being honest.  I’ll trade center sharpness for corner sharpness when shooting people any day.



Alright, so knowing a little about how these three lenses perform when shooting a static, controlled subject, I was curious to see how they handled people.  Sharpness isn’t the only metric when looking at a portrait lens, and when accompanied by larger apertures, these lenses are able to further provide a shooter with tools.

I’ve been shooting people (cameras, not guns) with these lenses over the last couple months to try and get a good feel for their respective signatures.  All the shots below were captured as RAW files and converted in Aperture, with identical settings for shutter speed, aperture (where noted), ISO setting and white balance.  These are entirely un-retouched, and aside from converting to JPEG during export for space, nothing has been done to them at all.  

For the first series, I used a 3 stop ND filter on both the Leica and the Voigtländer to see how these lenses did when shooting opened up a bit.  The first shots are taken at f/1.4 with the 3 stop ND filter fitted to both keep exposure identical to the second round being shot with all three lenses at f/4, but also to eat as much light as I could to enable these exposures with shallower depth of field.

Thank you to my friends Savannah and Rose, who are now both represented through the SLU Modeling agency here in Portland, for kindly sitting patiently as I made stupid jokes, and did my best to explain what I was doing, and why I was doing it.  You can find both of these lovely ladies on Instagram via their respective links above.

Shots using the 3 stop ND filter to open up to f/1.4 on the Leica first, click to see larger:



And now the Voigtländer with the 3 stop ND filter opened up to f/1.4 as well:


At f/1.4, both of these lenses do beautifully to provide a softening falloff due to the shallower depth of field.  That they’re also being shot on a micro 4/3 camera, we gain a little bit of working DOF to keep both eyes, the mouth and nose sharp while quickly and easily blending the background and non facial elements out of focus.  Some would surely like to point this “equivalent of an 85mm f/2.8 lens out here, and in this case, it can be beneficial in my opinion.  Generally, I think the focal lengths do well to flatten features, providing a nice, flattering, very normal perspective.  The ‘in focus’ areas are sharp and with a little retouching, I can easily take care of any skin softening or eye sharpening tasks I may need to do.

Here are all three lenses stopped down to f/4, click to see larger:

Sav-f4 Rose-f4

I’ve always preferred the color profile of the Leica lenses for normal, everyday shooting having always felt the Olympus lenses were too cool, and lacked a bit of the depth and micro contrast that the Pana-Leica optics do.  In this case, I think the warmer, punchier profile of the Leica is a little bit of a detriment, straight out of the camera as I do like the skintones from the Oly better than the Leica, but I prefer the Voigtländer best of the three for tonality and contrast at these consistent apertures.

That all said, I’ve had very good results from the Leica when working files in post.  It is an extra step, but one that can pretty quickly be adjusted for.

So, what has this shown me?  Well, I am a bit of a sucker for fast optics, as I tend to do much of my shooting in lower light while out and about.  There are always going to be good arguments for slower lenses when so often, they’ll match the faster lenses when stopped down to equivalent apertures.  One shooting the micro 4/3 system has quite a few options in the 42.5-45mm portrait prime range, and there is not a stinker in the bunch.  If you’re shooting with strobes, in a studio, I see very little advantage to doling out the extra money for either the Leica or the Voigtländer, but if you shoot natural light, and enjoy the exposure latitude and DOF shallowing control of a faster lens, I don’ think you’d find anyone who has shot extensively with either of these lenses that would say it was a waste of money.  I certainly wouldn’t.


The Olympus 45mm f/1.8 (see it at Adorama, and B&H), and I’m sure the new Panasonic Lumix 42.5mm f/1.7 are wonderful lenses which are so small and light, you barely notice them in the bag.  They’ll fit in a pocket, and they’re plenty sharp.  Really good, inexpensive (comparably anyway) lenses.  I’ve always felt this lens is a no brainer for any system shooter who likes a portrait/shorter tele focal length.  It’s fast enough for most things, and the size reduction is truly a beautiful attribute.

The Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 (see it at Adorama, and B&H) is not only the fastest, but also most solidly built and boasts the ability to switch to a de-clicked aperture for smooth pulls in video.  It has a more cinematic color profile in my opinion, and is a joy to shoot.  For the purist, it is an inspirational tool, and one that is so much fun to shoot with.  That said, at larger apertures, even when aided by focus peaking, I’ve found my eyes to be untrustworthy in cases which is why I chose to buy the Leica after a couple shoots with the Voigty that I ended up with a few soft, slightly out of focus frames.  Any lens, regardless of the format that shoots at apertures this large can be challenging to properly focus, but when it hits, it’s a thing of beauty.

The Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 OIS (see it at Adorama, and B&H) is a beast.  Not quite as fast as the Voigty, but it has very quick auto focus.  It’ doesn’t quite feel as solidly built, but it is very quality feeling in the hand and has very good OIS (Optical Image Stabilization).  It has a more punchy, contrasty and bold color profile compared to the others, which is nice for most things, but for skin tones, can bring out more of the reds.  It has been lauded by test sites as the sharpest lens for the system, hands down, and my results would not provide an argument to the contrary.  While expensive, it is as good a lens as the system has for overall performance.

Finally, here are a few shots, after working on them to varying degrees using these three lenses in a not so attemptedly scientific manor.

Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8:

Oly-Retouched (1) Oly-Retouched Oly-f5.6-Retouched

Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95:

Voigt-Retouched (1) Voigt-f1.4-Retouched Voigt-Retouched

Panasonic-Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 OIS:

Leica-f1.4-Retouched Leica-f2-Retouched Leica-f2.8-Retouched

There you go.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and perceptions on these three, fine lenses.  What situations, to you, might justify the added cost of the more expensive options, or how any experiences have gone when shooting any or all of these lenses.

Thanks for the read.  If you shop for your gear online, and don’t mind helping lowly photography reviewers like myself out, doing so through my links throughout the article at Adorama and B&H are through my affiliate account, meaning that if you do purchase after clicking on one of these links, the gear you buy costs no more than it normally would, but I get a small referenced commission, so thank you for the consideration!  You can see the lenses here:

  • The Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 – via Adorama  and  B&H
  • The Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 – via Adorama  and  B&H
  • The Pana-Lecia Nocticron DG Summilux 42.5mm f/1.2 Power OIS – via Adorama  and  B&H

Find me on the various social and photography related networks.  I’d love to connect with you via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Instagram.  If you prefer email, please feel free to add your email address at the top right of the page here.  You’ll get email alerts as new articles are released.

If you’d like to read more on each of these lenses individually, I’ve reviewed each of them more extensively.  Click these links to see my user reviews:

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 vs the Contax G Zeiss 45mm f/2

Voigtländer Nokton review, dayum.

Leica Nocticron, I never should have doubted you…

Thanks for the read and happy shooting,



41 thoughts on “*Micro 4/3 Portrait Lens Shoot Out! Leica Nocti vs Voigtländer Nokton vs Olympus

  1. Pingback: *Micro 4/3 Portrait Lens Shoot Out! Leica Nocti...

  2. Wonderfully written review of these three optics, Tyson…I own the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 lens and it is a more analytical [if I can use that term] lens…if I had to choose and had the budget, it would be the Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95…it has an overall softer more artsy look which appeals to me…all three are brilliant in their own respect and would be please to own either the Voigtländer or the Lecia Nocticron DG…
    Cheers, Fred

    If It Wasn't for You, April, 2016


    • Hi Fred,

      Thank you. Yeah, I do feel that the Voigt has a very unique look to it, and I like it a lot. Some of my favorite shots have come from this lens, and the only failings I have found have been my inability to focus well enough, manually from time to time.



  3. I own the Olympus, and although it made fine portrait lens for my GX7, it looks ugly on my GH4. This isn’t helped by the fact that I have the silver model, but the proportions are all wrong for a larger DSLR form factor – it’s all bulbous at the base and tapers to the front. I don’t think that the new Panasonic 42.5mm 1.7 will be much better – it too has a 37mm thread, which I think will make it appear unbalanced on the GH4. Strictly speaking, the look of the camera-lens combo should be irrelevant, but try as I might, I can’t get used to it.


    • The Oly fits so well on the GM series too. I feel like the Pana-Leica 15mm and the Oly 45mm (or the Lumix 42.5mm f/1.7) could make an absolutely killer light weight travel kit on either of the GM bodies or the EPM’s as well. Even on the GX7 I think it looks a little silly, but fortunately I’ve not been too bothered by it, myself 🙂 I would imagine that on a GH body, it might start to look a little bizarre.

      Thanks for the read and comment, Dan.

      All the best,


  4. They’re all really nice but the Voight produces absolutely stunning shots. It almost creates a egg shape of focus in the middle and defocses lovely outwards. Great for portraits with a cool bit of style. Great comparison Tyson


    • Yeah, that cateye shaped bokeh ball action gets more and more pronounced toward the corners. I have always loved Voigtländer color. I see the same from the 40mm f/2 Ultron lens I have for the Canon. They just have a look, and a great look IMO 🙂

      Thanks Chris!


  5. Hey there
    Nice writeup

    The only thing I felt missing was a nice facial portrait for the Oly as was given to the other two. The close shot with the Oly did not have the same dark brown dapple curtain background that graced the leica and the voit. I reckon it is difficult to compare the bright white background with the Oly as with the other two.

    Bang for buck its hard to fault the Oly 🙂

    As an aside , just recently I was trying to do some product shots with my Oly and fell back to using my OM50f1.8 as I didn’t have to struggle against AF and was able to directly immediately see stop down effects (without resorting to pressing the DoF preview again each time I touched anything)

    Best wishes and keep up the good work.


    • Thanks Pellicle, yeah, going through the shots, I do wish I’d have gone back through and adjusted the lights by 2/3 stop to shoot the Oly wide open of the ladies. We were crunched a bit for time as we were off to shoot outside directly afterward and I just skipped it, unfortunately.

      Absolutely agree that bang for the buck, especially considering it is now $100 off currently, it is a great piece of kit for the money.



  6. A nice, usable side-by-side comparison of three lenses worth considering by most m4/3s photographers. I’ve own both the Oly (O) and the Panasonic/Leica (P) but not the Voigtlander (V.) My preference for pure image quality is the P, but when size and unobtrusiveness are important, O is hard to beat. I’ve also found the my O captures very nice infrared images without undue chromatic aberration or hot spots, both of which can be serious problems even with high quality glass when used for IR. I haven’t used my P with the infrared camera yet so I can’t comment on its suitability.

    While the following has no real affect on the main review, I’d like to add some comments on three aspects of the specs you give for the lenses.

    1. The optical transmission for the O is only a 1/3 stop loss, while it’s a 2/3 stop loss for the V and P. I suspect this is not a big deal for stills shooters. Is this something videographers would find important?

    2. The V is clearly superior in closest focusing with a distance of 23 cm versus 50 cm for the O and P. While probably not a concern for portrait shooting, it’s something to consider if you want to capture images where you get close to your subject.

    3. The V has the most common filter thread size. At 58mm, it can share filters with several other desirable m 4/3s lenses (the Panasonic 12-35 and 35-100 zooms immediately spring to mind.) At 37mm the O is unusual but manageable with inexpensive adapters. At 67mm the P cannot use any of my pre-existing filters. If I want to use them, I’ll have to spring for additional expensive ND and IR filter sets to go with the lens, thus adding to its cost. That’s the reason I haven’t used the P for IR imaging yet; a full set of IR filters will set me back a minimum of US$250 – 300.

    I hope this adds some minor points to think about.


    To say to the painter that Nature is to be taken as she is, is to say to the player that he may sit on the piano.
    —- James Abbott McNeill Whistler


    • Hi Richard,

      Thank you for the detailed comment. If I may, I’ll try to give my input and opinions by number…

      1. I can only assume that the extra 1/3 stop light loss in transmission has to do with the far more complicated optical designs which include quite a few more elements (and sizable elements). I think that for those shooting motion/video, as long as they’re aware of what to adjust for, I doubt it would be any bigger a deal than shooting with any other lens that has a different t-stop:f-stop, but I’m not a video guy, so this is entirely speculation on my part.

      2. I’ve had a lot of fun with the Voigt with the close focus distance. Eyes, mouths, bugs, flowers, etc. Not a massive factor perhaps, but a very cool inclusion for anyone looking for versatility perhaps.

      3. For me, having already invested in 77mm and 72mm filters for my ‘big’ cameras, I’ve only needed to buy step up rings which has been nice. I’ll probably never purchase a filter smaller than 72mm for this reason, unless I look to re-buy a couple ND filters or the like at 58mm or even 52mm, and then step up rings for the smaller filter threaded lenses below that. Certainly helps spread out the usability for expensive filters 🙂

      Beyond that, I’m very curious about differences in use of IR filters between the O and the P/L. I’ve not done any IR shooting, but it is always great to hear about these types of scenarios, and good to know about the Oly doing well.

      Thanks Richard, I hope all is well!




  7. That Leica is incredible. I seem to be alone in thinking the V is the least sharp, by far. I get that it’s really shallow, but those shots are comparitively unimpressive. The Leica is sick. 🙂


    • Hi BB, sorry for the late reply. Yeah, at aperture settings wider than about f/2, the Voigty is noticeably softer, but it does have its own look, and one that I do enjoy, personally. The PanaLeica is an amazing lens no matter where you shoot it. I was a little put off by the reds, but easy to correct for if and when necessary. The Oly is a great lens, but has far less soul to it, in my opinion. I would be far less likely to be able to pull an image from it out of a lineup so to speak, where the others have a far more noticeable signature.

      Cheers, man.



  8. Thanks Tyson,
    A very entertaining read. I have eyeballed botht he Voight and the Panny but only own the Olympus lens. I do have an OM 50mm f1.4 when I want a dreamier faster look to my portraits but of course it isn’t anywhere near as sharp as these.

    When I looked at the skin tones, I have to agree the VL came out ahead, but to me the Oly was in second place while the Panasonic just seemed too muddy (rich browns 🙂 ). Easy fixes though.

    Which would I keep? The Olympus. The returns are so diminishing for the other two optics and their escalating prices. Nothing romantic about it, the other two would free up so much cash and buying power, and you lose very little in exchange.

    All the best, and thanks for the read over my morning tea!


    • Thanks! I would never disagree with your choice. The Oly is by far the best bang for the buck, and the things you gain by purchasing either of the other two are pretty specialized. For me, I’ve been searching for a portrait focal length for years that I connect with. I have used quite a few for the Canon full frame side, the m4/3 system now too, and adapted optics for both. The quality, and physical interaction with the Voigt and Leica are head and shoulders above in different ways, for me personally, but it has been an individual journey for sure.

      Thank you for the comment.

      All the best,



  9. Any comments on the new Panny 42.5 f1.7? Supposed to be sharper in corners than Oly, and very close-focusing. I’d love the PanLeica f1.2 but can’t afford it now. Thinking about swapping my Oly for the Panny f1.7, mainly for OIS.


    • Hi Jacques,

      I can’t speak to the Panasonic 42.5 f/1.7 having not personally used it yet. All I’ve read and seen shows it to be great, and entirely comparable to its well regarded Oly counterpart. Right now, the Oly is $100 off, making it $100 cheaper, so buying now, I’d personally, probably opt for the Oly unless I really felt the need for the OIS. Already having the Oly, if the OIS is worth the upgrade to you, I’d say go for it. I think both are going to be great lenses moving forward, with little to differentiate them, performance wise, other than the negligible focal length and aperture measurement differences, and of course the OIS on the Panny.

      Can’t go wrong, I’d say, and if the OIS is worth it for you, while perhaps a fairly horizontal move, you’d not lose anything other than maybe some money in the trade/sale of the Oly.

      Thanks for the read and comment!




  10. Pingback: m43 sistem portre lensi kapışması !Leica Nocti vs Voigtländer Nokton vs Olympus | BLOG

  11. Thanks for the comparison. I like the Leica the best, it has a roundedness to the image that makes the face pop out a bit more. The Olympus seems a bit flatter and this reflects in my personal experience, too. The Nokton seems to have a more natural looking colour balance, though. The Nocticron and the 75mm Zuiko has been on my portrait wishlist for a while now — they both have distinctive signatures — unfortunately I still can’t afford either of them.


    • The Voightlander is superior to the Panasonic… It is faster and more flexible, offering you both a great portrait lens and a macro lens in one amazingly well-engineered optic.


      • I do love the Voigty, and do love the versatility of the close focus capabilities, but I’d stop short of calling it superior to the Leica. Aside from the close focus and speed bump, (and possibly for some the declicked aperture) it’s not as sharp as the Leica and of course isn’t able to auto focus. Wide open is pretty dreamy, and while the softness plays nicely to certain effects, I’d say you need to stop down to get it to be near either the Leica or Oly, for that matter.

        What I like about the Voigt that is a bit of an intangible (when looking at optical quality anyway) is just how good it feels in the hand. It’s a well made, beautifully engineered piece of equipment and a joy to shoot with when having the ability to embrace the manual operation.


  12. I have the 45 F/1.8 and a Pan-Leica 25 F/1.4… The 45 has to be used in perfect lighting or you’ll start to notice the serious lack of resolving power in the lens optics as the edges of people’s faces start to erode.

    With that said, the Pan-Leica 25 F/1.4 has a good 2 MP more resolving power and never suffers the break down on the edges of faces that the 45 does and I end up going with this lens over the 45 every time.

    Why am I talking about a lens you didn’t test? Well, the 42.5 F/1.2 Panny was rated to have 2 MP more resolving power than the 25 F/1.4 and that effectively puts it 4 MP higher than the 45. So, to me, I would love the Nocticron if I could afford it and I would ditch the Olympus as soon as I landed that lens.


  13. What an awesome review! Couldn’t of asked for a better comparison. Thank you so much for your indepth review, i know this took a lot of time and perfection. I especially like how you showed each lens wide open and with the cropped image. Using the text with the wine bottle label was perfect for dof, contrast and clarity. Also showing each lens at f1.8 and all edited in post all wide open. Thanks again what a great review!


  14. Great review! Re-reading your review now, but it actually helped me purchase the Voigt about a year ago.

    Just sold my GH4 and Voigtlander lenses except the 42.5mm and really regret it. I’m considering holding on to the 42.5 as long as I can now (Probably getting a GH5 or EM1-mk2 to use it on.) Absolutely fantastic lens.


      • Hahahaha! Love it!

        I had/have a chance to pull the trigger on the Nocticron for about US$1,200, and it’s an awesome lens as you mentioned, but also after reading your objective review, it’s tough to justify the cost. I usually take candid close-up, portrait-style photos of my wife and kids when we travel, so while I love bokeh and subject sepration, it has its place imho, coz why would I wanna completely blur out the Eiffel tower in the background? LOL Some hint of the background, as long as it is not too busy or distracting, provides a bit more of a story to the photo, and hopefully makes it a more interesting image.

        Still happy with my Oly 25mm f/1.8, Oly 45mm f/1.8, and Oly 75mm-300mm.

        That said, I read last night that Olympus is about to release their 25mm f/1.2 Pro and now available for pre-order (not cheap), so the excitement and love-affair continues!


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  16. This was great. I have been trying to find a review like this. Most reviews compare the sharpness to full aperture and is just pointless. Im looking for a lense to do video, after reading your review i decided to buy the Voightlander. I will probably not used it in 0.95 very often, but in a situation that I’m forced to choose between darkness or softness. I choose softness. Great job!!


  17. Excellent comparison and review of these lenses. I like the look of all the lenses and am partial to the Voigtlander for portraits.


    • Thanks, Bill. I would agree. I really like the Voigty’s rendering, especially for skin tones as they’re just a little softer, more muted perhaps with a little less contrast in the transitions from highlight to shadow which I feel are very complimentary attributes for most portrait work. Historically cinematic, perhaps. That said, I just don’t think my eyes are quite up to critical manual focus for tight portrait work in many cases which made it a little trickier for me.


  18. Great review – makes me realise how good a deal the Olyumpus 45 is – I bought mine second hand for £130. I would love the Leica 42.5 – but even second hand its over £800. Its nice – but is it 7 times better?


    • Thanks, Simon. The Oly really is a wonderful bang:buck lens. I think it, along with the Lumix 20 are possibly the best examples of what this system is and has been capable of when marrying quality with size reduction. I too love the PL 42.5, but you’re right, the quality, while better in ways, isn’t worth the price for most shooters in my opinion.


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  20. Tremendous job. Thanks.
    I’m an amateur, and a year and a half before I bought an olympus omd e-m1 with zoom lens 14-150 (old digital version). Then I adquired a sigma mini-wide II macro, and i was wrong selling it, and then I got a “cheap” Hexanon 50mm 1.4 (45 euros, in fact , it is more expensive, but…i was lucky), brand-new although second hand. It is in fact a 100mm in my oly, wiht the adapter, of course.

    The quality of this hexanon is impressive in f2 or more (f1.4 and 1.8… don’t like the flares and lack of sharpness) but the point is that…it is manual, of course. And I lose many many pictures, or get too much time to focus properly, so I was thinking in this zuiko 45mm (just because zuiko 60mm macro is too expensive for me even second handy) SO…. ¿Any of you have tested the hexanon, and compared it with zuiko 45mm ? to tell some conclusionis about it, or if it is worth to sell the hexanon and buy the zuiko. I think I would “lose” the quimic appearence of photos, but I would gain shooter speed and f1.8 sharp.



    • Thank you for the kind words.

      I’ve not ever shot with the Hexanon, but I have owned (breifly) the Olympus m.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 macro lens. I will say that the m.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 is an amazing lens, and FAR better than the 60mm macro for anything that doesn’t require extremely close focusing distances. I tried to shoot the 60mm macro as a portrait lens, and it suffered strongly on the OMD EM5 to focus in studio lighting. I’m not sure if it has had a firmware update to increase it’s focusing speed in lower contrast situations, but even using the focusing limiter, I found that lens to be nearly unusable, and at the very least, unjustifiable at it’s price (personally). I did a review on it and mentioned as much after testing it pretty rigorously for a couple weeks.

      That said, the 45mm is an amazing little lens, and I would not hesitate to suggest it to anyone shooting this system. Of course, the more expensive options provide different skill sets, but for the price, the Oly 45mm is a major bang for the buck.

      Thanks for the read and comment!




      • Thank you!. You solved my doubts. Though I am not a pro at all, I do like macro photography , and since I saw a beautiful portrait made with 60mm, I began to think if it would be a lens for protraits too… (never touched or used it anyway), but I see it is not more than that…a specificly designed lense for macro. Ok! As you say, may be some firm helps, but… I always see the 45 mm as the prior lense for portrait.



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