For travel - 20mm or 25mm Panasonic?

Started Apr 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
NZ Scott
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Re: 17/1.8 versus 20/1.7
In reply to marike6, Apr 12, 2013

marike6 wrote:

NZ Scott wrote:

Why restrict yourself to Panasonic lenses?

My three-prime travel lenses are all Olys: the 12/2.0, the 17/1.8 and the 45/1.8.

If I was taking two primes I would definitely take the 12 and I would probably take the 17.

If I was only taking one prime it would be the 17/1.8.

I've shot briefly with the 25/1.4 and thought it was great. Granted, it is a bit heavy and expensive. On the postivite side, it is bright, has great optics and focuses quickly. If it hadn't rattlesnaked horribly on my E-P3 I would have bought it.

The 20/1.7 faces stiff competition, however - from the 17/1.8.

I think the 17/1.8 is a better lens than the 20/1.7 simply because it focuses more quickly. These focal lengths are associated with street photography, and fast focusing is critical for street. The 17/1.8 focuses very quickly, whereas the 20/1.7 is sluggish. The 17/1.8 also has the clutch-focus mechanism for hyperfocal focusing, although I'm not convinced that it is very well implemented.

The 20/1.7 does have two advantages over the 17/1.8: it is flatter (pancake) and it is a little bit sharper. In some countries it is cheaper, but in other countries (including mine) it isn't.

The 17/1.8 has received mixed reviews, but I think it's great. And I'm not speaking as an Oly fanboy, either - I've reviewed the 12/2.0 on several websites and given it only an average rating because of its poor price/performance ratio. I think the 17/1.8 is a better lens than the 12/2.0.

The 20 1.7 focuses more than fast enough for street photography.  The only type of photography the 17 1.8 would be better is sports but neither focal length is particularly useful for sports photography.  For most static or slow moving subjects (like you'd find with street photography) the 20 1.7 is more than capable.  I'm not sure who started the rumor that the 20 1.7 had deal-breaker slow AF, but it does not.  On any modern m43 body, the 20 1.7 focuses plenty fast for the types of photography you'd use a 40mm lens for.

Well, I've shot with both the 17/1.8 and the 20/1.7 and without any doubt at all the 17/1.8 is much more responsive. There are quite a few videos on youtube showing that the 20/1.7 is inferior to other lenses for focusing.

In terms of optics, the 20 1.7 is near the top in a list of the sharpest m43 lenses ever made.  And it's size, and excellent close focus ability (6" compared to 11.5" for the PL 25 1.4) make it an extremely versatile lens, and one of the truly must own lenses in m43.

The 17/1.8 focuses down to 6" as well.

I think you're a bit overly-fixated on sharpness. There's more to a lens than just MTF charts and pixel-peeping. There are quite a few 20/1.7 owners in the m43 forums who have bought the 17/1.8 compared the two and then sold the 20/1.7. The 17/1.8 is still a very sharp lens, even if it is not quite as sharp as the 20/1.7.

I get that people want the 17 1.8 to be great, as it's a well made lens with a beautiful casing.  But for over around $600 when you get the non-optional, optional lens hood, I'm guessing that many here had higher hopes for the 17 1.8.

I don't know where you're getting your figures from. I paid $485 for my 17/1.8. You can get third-party hoods on ebay for $10-$20, but I don't bother with a hood because Oly's new nano coatings are extremely resistant to flare. The ability to shoot without a hood means that the 17/1.8 is an extremely compact piece of kit.

I've taken hundreds of photos with the 17/1.8 without a hood and had no problems at all.

To be honest, I did have higher hopes for the 17/1.8. I think for the price it should have f1.4 aperture, and it would also be nice if it were just a smidgen sharper. However, it's still a very good lens.

As for the OPs question, I'd get the 20 1.7 for the wider FOV and for it's small size.  The PL 25 1.4 is not a large lenses at all, but it's lenshood is bulky and doesn't reverse mount.  Both a superb lenses optically so it's hard to make a bad choice.  If you are going to be shooting a lot of video with AF, get the PL 25 1.4 as it has a more modern AF motor.

Good luck, happy shooting and safe travels, Markus

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