I’ve been quite enamored with my latest lens acquisition – the ZD 25/2.8 pancake lens. I sold off all of my m4/3 kit and I had planned on using the pancake and E-410 combo as my go-anywhere camera, but I’ve found that the pancake is a great match for my E-3. This, however, makes for an interesting combination. Using the E-3 – a large camera on its own – with a pancake lens mounted on it is akin to taking a picture while looking through a cinder block. Or a toaster. Or a dictionary. Or a yoga block. Basically, without a lens protruding from it, the E-3 looks like a brick, albeit, an ergonomic one. It still looks weird, especially when it’s directly in front of my face.
This is the third time I have owned this lens. The first two times – I wasn’t in the right mindset for one. After a brief interlude with m4/3, the value of a small and light prime lens with a ‘normal’ field of view was realized. When combined with the E-3 and it’s magnificent viewfinder, the FOV of 25mm is really quite close to what my eyes see directly in front of me. However, when mounted on the E-410 with it’s tunnel-like viewfinder, although it becomes a nice and compact kit, the experience just isn’t the same. I think this is probably why I never really appreciated this lens to begin with – my previous 4/3 bodies (and I’ve gone through quite a lot) had pretty small viewfinders and looking through them was work.
In any case, for my style of photography, this lens is ideal. In fact, I think that I can get by with just this lens and the ZD 35/3.5 macro – though I’m not selling my 40-150 or the 14-54 anytime soon. I like having the flexibility of an all-weather camera which only the E-3 and 14-54 can do and I also occasionally like having the ability to get some reach, which the 40-150 provides.
Though many folks speak of color rendition and ‘mood’ when it comes to SOOC images with a body and lens combination, I tend to post-process my images with Lightroom or DxO to get the look I want, so anytime people complain about this lens and color cast or anything like that, I ignored it. Similarly, I’m one of the few people who actually introduces flare and vignetting into pictures, so again, not an issue for me. Sure it’s not as bitingly sharp as my ZD 35/3.5 macro. Frankly, I don’t think any lens I’ve ever used came as close to the sharpness of that macro lens. But truth be told, my eyes aren’t sharp either. The 25/2.8 is sharp enough for me.
I think this lens is fast enough even for available-light photography, as long as image stabilization is turned on. I can probably gain about 3 stops with IS and I’m ok with setting my ISO limit to 2000 – grain/noise is a nonissue since I convert to B&W when it gets a bit too noisy.
It’s overrated. If I wanted subject isolation and only the iris of an eyeball in focus, I’d be shooting full-frame and I’d probably be shooting weddings and I’d probably be a member of WPPI. I’m not. I haven’t been to a wedding in YEARS and when I did go to weddings, the last thing I wanted to do was take pictures. There’s a time and a place for capturing pictures, and for me, the wedding of a friend or family member is the last place I’d want to bring my camera to. But I digress. Bokeh is subjective. Some people even go and discuss the merits of the bokeh-ness of bokeh. Whatevs. I can do subject isolation old-school style with the ZD 25/2.8 pancake – just get close to the subject and focus on it and everything else will get defocused.
This lens is for capturing what your eye sees. It’s not wide. It’s not a short-tele. It’s normal.
Like I said, when I want to capture just that, then this lens does it for me.