03.23.2022.GH5ii+Pen25mmf2.8 Yeah. It works just fine. Updated 03.24.2022

Added on Thursday morning. Before today's portrait assignment: 

I have to admit that I was stunned by the performance of this nearly fifty year old lens on one of the latest cameras from Panasonic; the GH5ii. After having used the lens on the original PenFTs and understanding that the focusing accuracy of the ancient and dim finders in those cameras and also using the same lens on the first Olympus EP-X cameras with their low res EVFs and thick sensor filter stacks I'd pretty much thrown in the towel. I figured that it must be something endemic to the lens that limited the performance I was able to get. 

My intention yesterday was to give the lens one last shot at redemption but I discovered that it's not the lens that needed redemption it is the supporting technology that needed time to catch up to the 1960s. With the GH5ii and especially with the GH6 we see, in the first case, a much reduced filter stack and either the absence of or the muscular slimming down of the AA filter which should give older lenses a big leg up in edge and corner performance. And looking at the image just below I can see amazing detail I've not seen from this lens before. 

Next, both of these new cameras make punching in, or magnifying, the frame in the finder for fine focusing easier than ever before. The magnification is greater and, in combination with state of the art image stabilization in the body the image in the finder stays more stable which also makes manual focusing easier. 

In fact, I spent some time focusing with a non-magnified finder and then checking how well I'd been able to hit sharp focus by then punching in to max magnification. This immediately showed me that any self-image I had about being an infallible focusing demi-god was total crap. I suck at non-assisted, non=magnified focusing. 

While the lens won't win any sharpness awards when used wide open it's probably time that we acknowledged that there's a whole world of photography out there that benefits from using any lens at a small enough aperture to give us good sharpness through most of a frame and not just in a narrow sliver of space. For a lot of work (landscapes? architecture? street? reportage?) having a "fat plane" of focus is a real benefit. 

Finally, your camera can make up for some of the performance shortcomings of older lenses if you are just willing to dive into the menus and tweak. For instance, I know that some of these older lenses are lower in contrast than contemporary lenses designed for digital cameras. Knowing that limitation I generally head into the camera menu and increase the contrast in the color profile. Adding contrast that way benefits the process in that you can more accurately see when composing how your final image will look. The higher contrast (or normal contrast in digital terms) also aids you in manual focusing. The same goes for the sharpness control in most in-camera color profile tweaks. If you know your lens is a bit less than stellar in the sharpness department it's not against the rules to add some sharpness in advance of photographing instead of waiting for later. 

The one thing I would caution all users of older lenses like the PenFT 25mm f2.8 is not to shoot into the light. The lens coatings of the time were nowhere near as good as they are now and you'll get flare, aperture artifacts and more. On second thought this could be just the artistic overlay you may be looking for.....

Summing up, if I implement my tweaks and am careful when shooting these lenses can be very, very good. Extremely useful adjuncts to modern zooms when you just feel like going bare-bones and single focal length oriented. 

I have to remember one important thing concerning some of my adapter rings... they don't deliver accurate distance information. The marked distances on the lens focusing rings don't match up and I can also go past infinity so any "zone focusing" has to be done by testing and re-marking hyper focal settings. Ah well. You can't expect to have everything. 

color profile: neoclassic

color profile: vivid

reflecting on my morning photography.



Anonymous said...

If you like this sort of focal length, even for fun, there is a m4/3 lens that might take you by surprise, Kirk.

If you don't have one, see if you can get your hands on a P30mm, a "nifty sixty". You might be surprised by just how good it is for a walk-around lens. Sub $400, sharp as a tack, lightning fast AF and very nice build, and price. Great contrast and rendering, and because it's a macro lens, it lends itself to a very additional focal length :D

Cheers, Roddy

Fred said...

I think I prefer the neoclassic to the vivid but I could imagine there would be times when the vivid would be very nice. I really liked the monochrome shots. This camera and lens works well together.

Michael Matthews said...

In-camera B&W? Or KirkPost with special sauce? Really struck by that backlit, side-lit stairway and the high contrast stairstep views of the sail building.

MikeR said...

Luscious B&W!

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

No special processing. Just shot in Monochrome D. and in the camera's profile I bumped the contrast a bit and reduced the noise reduction (which I seem to do routinely on all cameras....) I will confess to occasionally tweaking the clarity slider or bumping up the shadow slider. But all these images were processed and uploaded in about 20 minutes.

Rich said...

Nicely done Kirk! So good to have u reviewing Panasonic’s again. I’m giving away all my m4/3 gear to an enterprising step-son, but gotta say the gh6 is tempting. I’m over the moon about my S5 and S1r and 14 FF lenses, mostly world-series Sigmas

Eric Rose said...

I always love your B&W. I find them much more interesting than colour, but that's just me.


Anonymous said...


I'm curious about your thoughts on focus peaking with the Panasonic G cameras. The times I've used manual focusing, dark and low contrast scene, focusing peaking seems to work well.


EdPledger said...

To extend Jay’s question above. Curious which manual focusing assistance you used…peaking or magnified view. On my E-M1ii with vintage MF lenses I use magnified view…and often use it at 7x or 10x, even 14x at times to get precise focus. Since the new GH6 sensor is of interest, I was surprised when I heard the magnified view only went from 3-6x approximately. Is that the same on the GH5? Also curious if you have tried the HHHR on the GH6 for any stills…. And, be careful out there on Austin roadways

Anonymous said...


Looks like Kirk isn't in the mood to answer our questions; probably to busy playing with the GH6. Or he can't figure out how to turn on focus peaking.


Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

EdPledger, I just held the GH6 up to my eye and used the magnification feature. It goes to 16X. should be enough for me to make a very good assessment of sharpness.

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

Have not tried HHHR yet. I need to find the right subjects.

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

Hi Jay! The focus peaking works as it should but I don't trust it to tell me the ultimate sharpness so I nearly always default to magnification. The GH6 goes all the way to 16X. Focus peaking is better, I think, in larger format cameras. More ability for the cameras to discriminate in depth of field.

EdPledger said...

Thanks Kirk….I had posed that question on dpr and got mixed answers, but 2 of 3 said only up to 6x. So, when using a MF lens, say one of the PenF lenses you’ve tried…you use rear dial (I guess) and turn to whatever magnification you want. Like on Olympus. I have pretty low interest in videos,but my son is a writer, does readings and also has a band, so there’s the possibility of doing some videos of them in the future. Mainly, it’s stills, and while I do have enough m43 auto focus lenses to suit…the HHHR and the new sensor are really interesting for me to use my warehouse full of old MF lenses. Like you I rarely use focus peaking although it is one way to judge depth of field when apertures are changed.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the reply. I can lose what I'm supposed to be focusing on with magnification. It can be confusing. I'm sure I could learn to use magnification with practice but peaking is so easy.


dinksdad said...

Craig Roberts had some nice NYC environmental shots on his latest YouTube video under E6 Vlogs. Shot with Olympus m4/3 gear.