Leica DG 12mm f1.4 review - Quality

Quality

On this page I’ll compare the real-life quality of the Leica Summilux 12mm f1.4 against the Olympus 12mm f2 and Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 set to 12mm. All three were mounted on the same Panasonic Lumix GX80 / GX85 and shot the following scene moments apart at each aperture setting. The Lumix GX80 / GX85 was set to RAW and the files processed in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: sharpening at 50 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, noise reduction disabled and all lens corrections disabled. I realize there may still be some corrections taking place at a lower level, but this test is as close to using uncorrected images as possible when processing with a mainstream RAW converter. The areas cropped for comparison in the tables below are indicated by the red rectangles in the full image.

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_outmain_2000

In the first table below I’ve compared crops taken from the corner area. The first thing you’ll notice is each lens suffers from some vignetting (darkening in the corners) when set to their respective maximum apertures, but this is easily corrected in software and is also essentially eliminated optically by closing each by a stop.

The Leica Summilux 12mm f1.4 kicks-off the comparison in isolation as the only lens in the group to open to f1.4. There’s visible vignetting darkening the image, but look beyond this and you’ll see an image that’s still impressively crisp and detailed. Close it to f2 and the vignetting essentially goes away, while the Olympus 12mm f2 joins the battle. The Olympus crop wide-open at f2 suffers from vignetting, but you’ll also see that it’s softer than the Leica Summilux – indeed it’s lacking the crispness and details of the Leica when the Leica is at its maximum aperture of f1.4.

At f2.8 the Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 can join the comparison and again exhibits some vignetting. I’d say the 7-14mm at f2.8 looks quite a lot like the Olympus 12mm f2 does at f2. Meanwhile the Olympus 12mm f2 when closed a stop to f2.8 has eliminated the vignetting and crispened-up a little, effectively beating the 7-14mm zoom, but still falling behind the Leica Summilux.

I’d say all three improve again at f4 and between there and f5.6 represents the peak of each lens – as you’d expect for the Micro Four Thirds format. I’d also say from f4 onwards the two Olympus lenses are pretty well-matched with the major difference in quality terms being their colour balance – the zoom seems visibly warmer when all are processed with the same white balance settings. Meanwhile the Leica Summilux enjoys crisper corners than either.

At f8, diffraction begins to show its ugly face with minor softening from all three, and by f11 they’re all effectively on the same level. The quality falls noticeably at f16 where the Summilux bows out, leaving the two Olympus lenses to offer an f22 option which significantly reduces the quality. If you’ve never seen the effect of diffraction in action, this table should illustrate why it’s important to learn the optimal apertures for your system.

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_corn_f1-4

Above: 100% crop. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f2.8

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_corn_f2

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, both at f2

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_corn_f2-8

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f2.8

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_corn_f4

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f4

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_corn_f5-6

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f5.6

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_corn_f8

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f8

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_corn_f11

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f11

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_corn_f16

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f16

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_corn_f22

Above: 100% crops. Middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, both at f22

 

Leica 12mm f1.4 vs Olympus 12mm f2 vs Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 (at 12mm) centre quality

In the second table below I’ve compared crops taken from the middle of the frame where all three lenses perform very well even with their apertures wide-open. The Leica Summilux arguably enjoys a minor boost in contrast and sharpness over its two rivals here, but this is pixel-peeping. The major difference in sharpness is to be seen towards the corners, where the Summilux enjoys an advantage over the two Olympus lenses.

 

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Above: 100% crop. Left: Leica 12mm at f1.4

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_cent_f2

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, both at f2

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_cent_f2-8

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f2.8

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_cent_f4

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f4

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_cent_f5-6

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f5.6

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_cent_f8

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f8

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_cent_f11

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f11

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_cent_f16

Above: 100% crops. Left: Leica 12mm, middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, all at f16

leica12_vs_oly12_vs_oly7-14_out_cent_f22

Above: 100% crops. Middle: Olympus 12mm, right: Olympus 7-14mm at 12mm, both at f22

 

Next check out my Leica Summilux 12mm f1.4 sample images or tab back to my verdict!

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