What the what? Why did Panasonic replace a seemingly near perfect lens with one that from initial reports didn’t remedy the AF speed which was really the only major gripe about the first version? Well, let’s see…
I’ll start off by saying that I’m not bothered by the speed at which the original lens auto focuses. I’ve never been. Sure, it’s not going to capture a cheetah chasing a gazelle, but neither will any other lens for the system because the CDAF isn’t great at tracking subjects, or achieving focus where there is no contrast. Yes, it tends to hunt more in low contrast situations when on Olympus bodies, and has had issues on those same Oly bodies with banding when shooting at or above ISO6400. Okay, so perhaps not a “near perfect” lens, but the 20mm has always been lauded for being very sharp, even wide open and the fact that it is tiny allows for a very compact, yet fast and quality package for the system. That said, the 20mm is often called out for having slow AF. Depending on your criteria for AF speed, we can agree that this isn’t a lightning fast lens in the mechanical sense, but for most any subjects in decent light, it will be more than useable, and always has been for me.
This lens is as close to a true standard lens for the format available if you go by the scientific definition of what a “standard” lens is. If you’re wondering what “standard” is defined as, in terms of focal length, “standard” is based on the diagonal measurement (normally in mm) of the capture medium (film or sensor) which when translating that measurement into an equal focal length measurement produces a similar view to the perception of the human eye in regards to subject and environmental compression in relation to the angle from which these subjects are viewed. The (technically wrong) default is usually said to be a “50mm equivalent” which even for full frame or 35mm film standards is incorrect if taking the diagonal measurement, which on micro 4/3 is just about 22mm, APS-C (depending on which APS-C sensor) ranges between about 28-30mm, and for full frame it is 43mm. That said, this lens seems to have always been developed as a slightly wider than standard lens for the system as it weighs in at an equivalent field of view (in full frame terms) at 40mm.
Regardless of it’s classification, the original (version 1) was seen by many as the single, must have lens for the system for years, and to be honest, is the main reason I chose to buy into the micro 4/3 system to begin with, and why I chose to buy the GF1 w/20mm kit over the EP1 or EP2 with the 17mm pancake (because the Oly 17mm f/2.8 lens just isn’t up to this level and is a stop and a half slower while being almost the exact same size). The Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancake is sharp, it is fast, and it is discreetly small. In my opinion, it is exactly what the micro 4/3 system should be shouting from the rooftops and showing off.
So, why would Panasonic update a lens that was in most every other way, a great lens and not address the AF “speed” issue? Well, on first glance, there is little to differentiate the lenses. The newer, version 2 is shinier and adopts the “Leica” numerical nomenclature, it moves the print on the front of the lens to the outer barrel and is offered in both black and silver. The front barrel of the lens is also more squared when viewing the lens from the side where the original has a bit more of a softer bevel to it so to speak, so, it’s not entirely the same, but let’s see how they compare.
For the below tests, I will be using the Panasonic GX7 unless otherwise noted. I’ve captured all images in RAW and processed via Aperture 3.5.1
I haven’t noticed a huge difference in AF speed between the two versions on the GX7, but again, I don’t find it to be slow at all. I think that much of the problem people have had with this lens is down more to the inability, or hindered ability of the contrast detection AF to accurately track subjects and when trying to lock onto a moving subject this lens, and many others for the system seem to become stumped, and to be fair, perhaps this lens may struggle a bit more than average, and admittedly, it’s AF motor operates slightly slower than the average modern lens I’d say. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it isn’t a problem solely limited with either of these 20mm lenses. Yes, the 20mm lens isn’t as fast as the Lumix 14mm or the Oly 45mm but like I’ve mentioned, in most situations, and certainly in decent light, this lens is as quick as I personally need it to be. Just as a comparison, I’ve found the 20mm (both) to be faster than the Oly 75mm f/1.8 lens in lower light when achieving focus automatically, especially on the GX7 (which does have wonderful AF capabilities in very low light compared to all other m4/3 bodies I’ve yet used) where the 75mm tends to struggle in lower light shooting when attempting to find contrast. While not the best example of modern AF, I feel they have gotten harshly branded as slow AF’ers. Have a look at the video below to see what I mean.
Okay, so I will say that while not hugely different, the newer version 2 does seem to do slightly better in the AF speed department. Not as huge a difference as many of us may have been hoping for, but like I mention in the video, I don’t think either of these lenses is horribly slow, and they have always done well enough for me. If you want slow, try most any compact fixed lens point and shoot camera ever created. Either of these 20mm are capable of blowing most any high end fixed lens compact I’ve ever used, out of the water (I’m remembering the AF speed in the very good LX3, various G and S models from Canon as well as some Pentax and Olympus compacts I’ve owned over the years) so much of this speed issue is subjective and relative.
Starting off using the original 20mm on a GF1 back in the day, I was amazed at what the combo was capable of. This was roughly 4 years ago, and at that time, while in its infancy, the micro 4/3 system was already holding its own. The system promised the ability to lose weight, and in good light could produce image quality comparable to any DSLR on the market. The 20mm lens might have been the first lens for the system that realized this capability of size reduction and overall image quality.
Below, I’ve pitted the two versions against each other to see the corner and center sharpness at varying apertures. The sharpness comparison below is shot on the GX7 at ISO 200 and converted as noted above. Click any to see a larger version.
Wide Open @ f/1.7:
Well, in the center both are equally sharp to my eye at each aperture setting with the slight edge going to the newer Version 2 by the slightest of margins from what I see, mostly at wider apertures. By f/2.8 the comparison at 200% magnification is almost imperceptible. Both wide open are nearly as sharp as they are stopped down essentially with perhaps, very minuscule increases at each stop which more or less tops out at about f/4 where from there through f/8 are equally as sharp.
In the corners, the original version 1 is sharper from f/1.7 through f/4 at which point the version 2 catches up and they more or less equal out. This is disappointing to me as I’d have hoped that the newer lens would have performed at least as well as the older original. That said, we’re talking pixel peeping here and I had to magnify the images to 200% to really tell much of a difference, and honestly, in print or ANY normal web/screen viewing even up to 100%, the differences in the corners will be tough to differentiate. Still, seems weird that they reinvented the wheel with this one and made it worse in any way.
In regards to vignetting, I found that the newer version II does better at eliminating the vignetting by about f/4, where with the original version I, needs to be stopped down to almost f/5.6 to see the same correction. Personally, I like a little natural optical vignetting for much of what I like to shoot, and when shooting wide open, or near, I’m not shooting landscapes, or scenery where I need the corner brightness to match that of the center necessarily, so it didn’t bother me with the original, and won’t with the newer version either.
When I first bought the OM-D E-M5, I was thrilled to mate it with the 20mm, which at the time was the fastest m4/3 lens I owned. I brought it out to shoot rock shows and the like, and immediately found the banding issue when using these two together when shooting at ISO6400 and up. There is a more in depth comparison with the banding, showing the 20mm and an adapted FD55mm f/1.2 lens, both shot at ISO6400 toward the end of this post HERE if you’re interested in rehashing this issue.
Here are two setups, the first from the same scene as shot above and to compare, I shot both lenses on both the Olympus EM5 and Panasonic GX7. Click any to see larger.
First, the EM5 @ ISO6400:
Next the GX7 @ ISO 6400:
The EM5 @ ISO 12,800:
The GX7 @ ISO 12,800:
The EM5 @ ISO 25,600:
And finally, the GX7 @ ISO 25,600:
The second setup is with the EM5 only to see how it does in very low light when using both of the 20mm lenses at like settings.
First, at ISO 6400:
Next @ ISO 12,800:
Finally, @ ISO 25,600:
Now, I don’t know if this banding issue has continued with the newer Oly cameras that employ the same 15.9mp Sony sensor, but it was weird that the 20mm lens would only band consistently on the EM5 when shot at 6400 or above when no other lenses would do so, consistently anyway. The EM5’s sensor still shows worse banding than the GX7’s, but the GX7 isn’t entirely free from banding with the 20mm which really only shows up at ISO 25,600 where with the EM5, it is still around at and above ISO 6400.
The funny thing here is that when doing the two tests, I found the newer version to not only exhibit banding as well, but seemingly more egregiously than the older version in the indoor, low light test. This may be down to an EM5 firmware update having addressed this for the first version of the lens at some point (which as far as I’m aware didn’t happen, or at least not officially announced as such), but it still does band, just seemingly not as badly as the newer version of the 20mm lens does when on the OMD EM5.
CHROMATIC ABERRATION & FLARE
Most any lens wide open will exhibit some CA, and when shot into a direct source of light will have some flare and loss of contrast. CA tends to be most prevalent in areas of extreme contrast (think dark subjects with substantially imbalanced back light) creating color fringing. I’ve yet to find a lens that doesn’t show some CA to some extent. There are however, some that are worse than others, and as a rule of thumb, the faster/larger the maximum aperture of the lens, as well as the more budget friendly the cost of the lens is, the more subject to CA a lens design can be. There are many optical coatings and such that go a long way to combat the color fringing in high contrast situations or are incorporated to help minimize the contrast stealing effects of light flare, but really CA is pretty easy to correct in post for most lenses and of course there are those that are less prone to this aberration, while with flare, in many cases a simple bump in contrast can balance that out (albeit at the cost of the highlight detail in some cases).
I’ve never found the 20mm Lumix lenses to be overly prone to CA, nor did I ever find the original version to be overly subject to flare but that didn’t stop me from taking a look, and through this comparison, I learned a bit about these two and feel there is a difference between these two in regards to flare at least. Here are a couple of shots to compare the two.
In this first shot, the handle, and left edge of the coffee mug shows a tiny bit of CA in both shots, but really it isn’t too bad as any lens at this exposure would show the highlight on that edge, and in many would probably be far more purple, even stopped down a stop and a half. More interesting is that both of these shots were taken on the GX7 at identical exposure settings…
At first, I’d thought that I messed up and under exposed the shot with the v.2 lens. That is not the case, and the version 2 lens is FAR more contrasty. This is largely because it seems far more impervious to flare which is very apparent in the first, version 1 shot. While more contrasty, it has crushed the shadows making the image potentially trickier to balance the overall exposure. Interesting at least, eh?
Next, a simple 100% crop from shots wide open at f/1.7 where both versions show a bit of purple fringing and some green fringing in the out of focus edges, again, nothing that I wouldn’t expect any lens at this setting to show, but take a look at the difference in contrast and saturation.
In these types of exposure situations, the highlights are entirely clipped and lost, but the contrast and saturation are vastly different between these two lenses. This is probably the biggest improvement in the newer version and while the contrast and flare control may rob us of that dreamy, hipstamatic-like washed out look, I am impressed.
In conclusion, I feel that while there are noticeable differences in certain situations, both of the 20mm f/1.7 iterations are great and I wouldn’t be rushing out to grab the update if I already owned the original. If I didn’t own the original and were interested in this lens, assuming you could get your hands on one of the original versions, I think the version 2 has done a great job at carrying the torch.
Where the newer version has improved from the first version in my observation:
- Flare control, contrast and color saturation (yes you could bump the contrast on the older version, but still impressive)
- Center sharpness (very slight, but still should be noted)
- AF speed (again, it is a minimal increment, but still worthy of noting)
Really, the only area I feel the first version to best the newer is in corner sharpness at wider apertures. This shouldn’t be ignored, but to me is more excusable in regards to the newer version because for anything that I’d be intentionally shooting with corner sharpness in mind (landscape, interior, etc) I’d be shooting the lens stopped down more than likely and at f/5.6 on, the corners sharpen up to equal levels more or less.
On the surface, there seems to be very little that has been changed with the second version’s release, but when seeing the flare control, and the (very) slight bump in center sharpness added to what I feel is another slight improvement in AF speed, there’s enough there to call it an improvement overall. Like I’d said, I wouldn’t go out and buy a new version if I already owned the older lens (even though I ended up doing just that by way of my GX7 kit), but I’d also traded away the original 20 a while back and was pinning for this little gem to be coupled with the GF1, GX1 or GX7 again.
It is still, in my opinion, one of the three or four best overall lenses for the system. When taking into consideration image quality, speed and size, it might be THE best lens as far as quality per gram goes. It is unique in that it is the fastest pancake available for the system and at a 40mm equivalent field of view, can work as a remarkably versatile focal length for daily shooting.
You can find the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 II lens on B&H through my affiliate link here.
For those of you that perhaps haven’t connected via other social media channels, you can find me on Facebook here, Twitter here and of course our growing family on Flickr here. For the new year, I will be holding a giveaway on a new, handmade product I’ve been making and will do so based on those who’ve signed up via email (at the top of the page), on Facebook, Twitter and perhaps even the Flickr Group with your name being added once for each, and might just double the drawing entries for those who have been signed up via those channels previous to the announcement, so have at it 😉 See, reading all the way to the end can be advantageous!
I’ve also kept track of all reviews, gear and tutorial posts on their respective, dedicated page links at the top of every page for quick future reference.
Thank you as always for the read. I’ve really enjoyed maintaining this blog over the last 4 years and enjoy and appreciate the continuing conversations many of us have had over that time. I wish everyone a healthy and peaceful holiday season as we finish off this year. I will be traveling a little bit over the next few weeks, so blog posts and comment response may be pretty sparse. If I don’t get the opportunity to send out wishes before hand, have a safe and happy new year.
Happy shooting and all the best,
Hi Tyson, many thanks for the in depth review. I am still doubting if this lens would be a good choice for me. I use the 12mm Oly and the the 25mm Panaleica. It’s the size of this 20mm that tempts me…. Luxury problem off course 🙂
Anyway, merry Christmas and a happy new year to you and your family!!
You bet Kris,
Personally, I think it is borderline surplus and really, if one owns the PL25, the 20 doesn’t offer an upside except for size. That said, the compactness is a decent benefit.
If I had the resources, I’d say the Oly 17/1.8 would be a better ‘tweener lens considering you’ve got the 12 and 25, but the 20 is faster (slightly by a sixth of a stop) smaller and sharper…. Like you said, problems of luxury 🙂
Thanks and all the best,
Thanks! Interesting to see a real comparison. Ever since I saw the Leica/Panasonic 15mm f/1.7, I figured that was a better choice for me, but no one knows how well that will perform, and it’s likely to be more expensive per gram. 😀
I’m not thrilled about non-weather-sealed lenses, though, which is why the Olympus 12-40mm is more my style.
Depending on the performance and price, I was going to look at replacing my 20 and my 14mm pancakes with the 15mm. Kind of like the fact that the 75mm makes for kind of a non traditional focal length (which I’ve been enjoying), I like that the 15 will be different as well. Can’t wait to see it in the flesh!
I’ve been thinking more about this, especially concerning wide, wide angle lenses. Fuji announced their new 10-24mm f/4.0 lens. At US$999.99, it’s not a bargain, but it’s situated between the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4.0 and the ZD SHG 7-14mm f/4.0, weather-sealed and all.
Of course, having to buy a FujiFilm body is a big deal, but it might be a good size for my hand, if I can deal with the rangefinder shape. I’m still thinking about the Panasonic GM1 + 15mm f/1.7, though. It might be perfect for some food photography.
Hope you’re having a good Christmas Day.
I just had a fun play around with a couple of the Fuji bodies and they are smaller than I remember them being. Well, the XE-2 is a lot smaller while the X-Pro is a pretty traditional rangefinder sized body. They are sweet though. I’d be happy with an XE-2, a 10-24/4, 14/2.8, 23/1.4 and the 60/2.4 myself. I think it would be nice to have, and I’m sure we will see an 85 or 90/1.4 (or f/1.8) for the system for a 135mm e-fov, portrait/mid tele.
I think the 60mm macro would do really well for food photography. I’ve done some shooting with a 100mm macro on a full frame and have been very happy on the food front.
We had a wonderful Christmas, thank you. I hope everything is going wonderfully and have a happy New Year.
Hi Tyson, fantastic review as always! As an owner of the 20mm v.1, I can definitely attest to its awesomeness in real world shooting conditions. In fact, my favorite photos are often with this lens (though when strictly looking for the stereotypical head/bust portrait shot, my Oly 45mm is unmatched). So long as I stay in the MFT system, I will always own this 20mm jewel. IMHO, it is without a doubt the single most important must have lens for the system for all the reasons you so thoroughly describe. The 45mm prime is close, but the 20mm is just so much more of an all purpose lens that mates well to both Panasonic and Olympus bodies (though admittedly with the minor nit-picks you mention).
The 15mm intrigues me as well because I definitely feel that I see well within that 14mm to 20mm range just wide of normal. But I recently replaced my GX1, 14mm, and 60mm macro prime with a (sub $700) fire sale on a new GH3, so I’m on hold for a good while regarding any new gear. My OM-D E-M5 is now my daily carry around (instead of the GX1) with the 20mm and I use a Panasonic 14-42mm II zoom for my wide angle landscape needs. So far, I’m extremely impressed with this tiny and very nice performing kit zoom (my first non-prime MFT lens).
I love your blog because its so well written and thoughtfully composed and because so many other MFT system bloggers are heavy on the Olympus love and don’t give Panasonic enough of the glory. I really love the offerings from both companies and I’m so happy to be in this system where two excellent manufacturers are pushing each other to stay at the top of their game.
So far I’ve been a bit surprised at how much I love the GH3. I was worried it might feel too big compared to the other MFT bodies, but it really feels nice in hand. The “Touch AF” feature (which allows the use of touch/drag focus on the LCD while its off and you are using the EVF for composition) combined with the articulating LCD are really killer features that I believe don’t get enough discussion. The GX7 may offer this Touch AF, but without being able to clear the LCD off to the side away from your chin, it just won’t offer the same degree of usability. Of course, I guess you could tilt the EVF up and then have better access to the LCD. I might look strange while doing this with the GH3, but its like having a mouse pointer floating out in the real scene I’m shooting. Its simply a brilliant feature and makes selecting your single focus square so easy, fast, and accurate! Have you tried Touch AF while composing with the EVF on any of your Panasonic bodies? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.
Happy holidays to you and your family!
Thank you Hal!
I have wanted to get a GH3 since it was announced, but have been on the fence largely because I’m still using my full frames for work, and the GX7, OMD and GX1 have been in the daily carry around bag (helps from having to switch lenses 🙂 )
Regarding the touch AF, I love it. Having the ability to move it around even when my eye is in the viewfinder without having to stop composing or shooting is just awesome.
I hope all is well for you. Happy holidays man!
Thanks Tyson, happy new year to you and your family! That’s good to hear that the touch AF works just as we’ll on the GX7.
I sold my GX1 to help fund the GH3 and I must admit I miss that little workhorse. I totally understand the benefits of having multiple system bodies to keep the lens changes down. I wish I still had the GX1 for that same reason.
One quick update on the GH3…the complaints about the edge smear/blur in the EVF are very valid. So far it’s my only real complaint and I’d happily pay for an aftermarket replacement EVF optic if it were available. It’s certainly a useable EVF and might even be better than the E-M5 if it was clear across the frame. But it is a minor annoyance for sure. Otherwise the ergonomics of the GH3 are top notch!
One other quick question on Panaonic Lumix MFT menus and features…is there a way to activate the highlight and/or shadow exposure blinkies for live view in the EVF or LCD screen during shot composition? This is a feature in the Olympus MFT cameras which I use quite a bit and thus far I can only seem to show highlight blinkies during playback mode on the GH3.
Happy New Years Hal!
I’m close to pulling the trigger on a GH3 myself. I think it may be a better mate for some of the longer, bigger, heavier lenses. I’m still of the opinion that EVFs are inferior to optical finders for a majority of scenarios, and seem to have accepted their shortcomings for the most part wether they’re situational or a failing of a particular model or whatever. Bummer to hear about it though. For most stuff I’m shooting through a finder, electronic or otherwise, I’m not too worried about the edges or corners so much. If shooting landscape or interior stuff where I’m more concerned with fine focus across the frame, I’m using the LCD/live view almost all the time. Still not an excuse to have a poorly implemented finder on any company’s flagship model though 😉
Regarding the highlight blinkies, I’m not sure, but I do not remember ever seeing the ability to have them displayed in live view on the Panas. I tend to have the histogram displayed on screen in dynamically diverse scenes, which for me works well being able to see if my highlights or shadows are clipping.
I may pick your brain if I end up getting closer on a GH3. I hope all is well.
Happy to help answer any questions you may have about the GH3 as they arise!
In case it is helpful, here is a fantastic 10 part review of the GH3 by Andrew down under at Camera Ergonomics.
He really covers a ton of useful ground and I share his sentiments thus far, though I find myself wanting to hold the grip with my fourth and fifth fingers so I can use my middle finger on the shutter and my index finger is free to adjust the top control dial and various top deck buttons plus it perfectly places my thumb for both static holding and rear control dial adjustments. My hands must not be as big as Andrew’s because I have to completely readjust my palm and fingers to reach the top deck buttons if I hold the grip with my middle finger as well. This may sound strange, but it just feels right for me and I’m quickly adjusting to using the middle finger for the shutter. Like you, I am mostly a prime shooter so its all light enough for this two finger grip (especially since the back right bottom corner of the camera body rests on the lower portion of my palm in this position). If I have a heavier adapted lens on the GH3 I may hold it like Andrew suggests. I can send a picture of my grip style if my text explanation isn’t working.
Interestingly, I am a pretty dedicated follower of Ming Thein’s blog and I have both deep respect for his professional guidance as well as his art and craftsmanship…yet I completely disagree with his thoughts on the GH3 (which he found to be a soulless and ergonomically flawed piece of consumer electronics…and thus more like an appliance than a camera). While it certainly does not have the same personality and soul as my E-M5 (and likely even more dramatically different than Ming’s Hasselblads), I truly love the unique feel and function it offers. It has soul…it’s just different!
You may also want to check out cinematographer Andrew Reid’s just released shooter’s guide for the GH3. As I plan to use the GH3 for some educational videos for work, I purchased his guide and I’m glad I did!
Lastly, for clarification on the EVF blur, it is a problem with the convex optical lens in front of the actual electronic screen so you can see the corners clearly if you shift your eye positioning (the center of your view is always clear). But I completely understand how you are using the LCD for landscape compositioning… I do the same 😉
I’m familiar with giving my camera the middle finger 🙂 When shooting a few different projects back in the day, I used a back button focus combined with the index working the wheel and middle firing the shutter for quick operation and it was great. I’ve not worked out an equivalent to the back button focus on the m4/3 cams of yet, but I’m also not shooting the same way with these cameras so I have been shooting a more run of the mill style with the smaller bodies.
I appreciate the links and will carve out some time to read through, thank you. When bloggers are obviously fans of particular equipment (myself included) it can definitely read far from an impartial report on one camera or the other. Of course, personal opinion should come into play, but I think that it shows that we each interact with many things so differently. Personally, I feel that the EM5’s soul is chaotic and has provided me with the worst interface I’ve seen on a camera. I know this isn’t a popular view, but for me it is what it is, and I’ve never understood the pure fascination with the Oly system myself. I shoot with Canons, Hasselblads, Oly’s and Panasonic cams while in the past I’ve shot with various others. Every camera has its own pros and cons and will of course interact with any given individual in its own way. That’s the beauty I feel and while I look for certain features and their implementation, I always try to see it from a variety of angles when “reviewing” anything. There is always a target market for any product, and often we are not the intended market, but a good product can bleed those lines and serve a wider customer base if done well, and in my opinion, the GH3 is the first micro 4/3 camera that truly offers advanced shooters coming from an established DSLR system, a very streamlined and similar offering to very easily transition someone into the system. It has more external, direct control than any micro 4/3 body, and more than most any DSLR for that matter. With that comes size and a different direction than the Oly “program your own camera” approach. Both have their merits, but one will inevitably appeal to any given individual over the other. To and for me, I vastly prefer having external, established control over needing to set up my camera to access certain needed features in certain ways while shooting in certain modes. I use too many different cameras and systems to jive with a personally programed camera myself, preferring more to have a camera work how I need it when I need it by being able to see what I’m needing to change when I want to change it through direct buttons, etc. Knowing I can pick up a camera and immediately find exactly what I need to access by way of features and settings is important for me. Not remembering exactly which untitled, custom button I set to change ISO, or AF/AE lock, or drive mode, focus, etc when shooting in aperture priority or manual after not shooting a camera for a couple weeks has proven to be frustrating for me, and in that, I’ve been very interested in the GH3 because of the direct access and control. If that is soul-less, I guess I’m a fan of that, but from where I stand, I feel the opposite as having the ability to focus on photography instead of tinkering with my tools, that means more to me in the creative process, but again, that’s my personal opinion.
Happy 2014 and I look forward to future and continued interactions!
Thanks for the added perspective. I completely understand and agree. The more I use the GH3, the more I find its ergonomics and interface to be very intuitive, very quick, and a neck of a lot of fun to use! The Panasonic touch AF is really superb and I now have trouble going back to the Olympus touch AF (which is not only unavailable when using the EVF, but also just slower and less accurate than the Panasonic integration).
I had a Canon EOS Elan 7e as my only film SLR and it just didnt get used enough. I waited nearly a decade into the digital revolution to finally get something other than a point and shoot. I am glad I went with MFT for my needs, but the reality is there are so many amazing systems, cameras, and lenses out there today we are all spoiled for choice! I have been using some adapted Minolta Rokkor lenses adapted on my MFT bodies but I will soon be adding a Minolta x700 to the mix for fun.
So the next question is who will make an MFT bellows and slide/negative holder for digitizing film with our gear? Any interest in working on a kickstarter 😉
Alas, I guess the niche is just too small.
I certainly think that a film converter would have legs, and I’ve tried through a variety of tools, but to no avail. (Although, if I just had a decent light table, I think I could get my setup rigged decently) I’ve actually been trying to find a decent medium format scanner, that is the hard one. There are plenty of flatbed scanners, but the results are dodgy and inconsistent, not to mention a pain to deal with… I certainly wouldn’t shy away from a project though 🙂
Good review, thanks for taking the time to do it. I wonder how much of the variation in sharpness could be attributed to sample variation? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference between the two verisions in sharpness.
I’m surprised how little banding there is in the ISO 6400 photos. Based on internet forum chatter, I would have expected it to be a lot worse. Same goes with the AF speed.
I have only shot with the two lenses I have, but I get the feeling that they have done well with this lens (both versions) because I’ve heard nothing but good things regarding sharpness over the years.
Regarding the banding, I know! I am a little confused, but if you click the link to my previous article where I compared the older Panasonic 16mp sensor to the newer Sony sensor, I have an example in there at ISO 6400 on the OMD where the banding was horrible, and I had pretty consistent problems with it, but it may have been quietly addressed in some way via fw update for the first version 20mm. I’d traded my 20 away after getting the PL25, so I didn’t shoot it much on the EM5 after the first few months.
Thank you for the comment and read, always appreciated.
Merry Christmas Tyson & Family!!! Thank you for your wonderful articles. They gave me lens and bags acquisition syndrome 🙂
Merry Christmas Hussam!
Happy New Year. Now the $1 Million question is if you still would get rid of your 20mm for the 25mm if it would be the new version II 1.7 as stated in the comparison report in 2012 ???
I don’t think I will ever get rid of the PL25. The 20 is a great lens, and it’s size, speed and quality are wonderful, but I think there is something special about the 25 for me at least.
I find the original version to be slightly sharper, but because the differences are small, it could be owing to sample variation. It could also depend on the camera used to test the lens. I didn’t use a backlit subject to evaluate the contrast, but it would be interesting to see the contrast test under different conditions, with different raw converters as well.
Just wanted to leave a thank you for this comparison, in particular the video showing the speed to Auto Focus.
Some of us live in places where it’s not easy to test photographic gear (particularly Panasonic) and seeing this work as fast as it does really puts in perspective all the negative feedback on this lens.
Now, I’m starting to save to buy one to use with my GX7, which you helped me decide on too… maybe I should stop reading your site 😉 just kidding…
So thanks and keep up your great posts.
I really feel the 20mm lens gets an undeserved tag of being slow to AF. It is not a super fast focusing lens, no doubt about it, but it is as fast as various other lenses for the system, and in my experience, it is plenty fast enough for normal shooting. If shooting sports, or quickly moving kids or something, then yes it may not be the best option, but there are other lenses that I’ve had far harder times using that were challenging in their auto focus operation (like the Oly 60mm macro for instance which sometimes would take 3 seconds to AF and a lot of the time wouldn’t actually nail it…) so there are different situations where one lens can be seen as underperforming situationally depending on the situation.
I’m happy to have helped and appreciate you taking the time to comment. Yes, stop reading and go out and shoot 😉
Totally agree. Mark 2 is nice and fast on my G7 and the Mark 1 I tried today on a GF1 wasn’t far behind.
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Thanks for such a comprehensive comparison. I just got version 2 and love it. Nearly got a used version 1 today as I had heard about the sharpness diffence. But that only really matters to me stopped down to 5.6 or so(when doing landscaoes), where it isn’t an issue. Therefore, I will happily stick with version 2. It feels and looks much better too, which I think is worth adding to the Pros list.
Outstanding blog! Congrats . . . .