audio recordings to compare differences in focus speed between Panny 20 and Oly 17
Overall conclusions - with respect to my two copies only:
- under the right conditions (good light, good contrast, not moving from near subject to far subject), the Panasonic can be a fast focusing lens
- in real life, there is more variability to the Panasonic focus speed; it provides an overall slower experience with respect to focus, especially when moving from near subject to far subject
- conditions that make the Panasonic take a long time to achieve focus are less likely to impact the Olympus; when the Olympus slows down, it is not as slow as the Panasonic slowdown; don't know if difference in focal lengths accounts for any of that difference
- the noise and movement of the Panasonic lens while it is focusing makes the Panny seem slower than it is
- the Olympus visually appears to 'snap' into focus (i.e.., it does not show focusing behavior in viewfinder, or if it does, it is too fast to watch) while the Panasonic shows the focus behavior (moving into focus, overshooting and correcting while you watch); this behavior also makes the Panasonic seem slower
If you listen to the entire clips, you will hear more variability in focus speed with the Panny 20. At times, the focus speed is about as fast as the 17, but at other times the Panny takes much longer to focus (up to 4 or 5 seconds), although there was no real 'hunting' and it never failed to achieve focus.
The Panny takes a long time to focus when switching from a near subject to a far subject, not so much with the reverse.
Two points: First, all these audio clips were run through a basic noise filter because my recorder is cheap and has noisy preamps. Without using a noise filter, the preamp noise nearly obliterates the sound of the focus beeps. Unfortunately, the noise filter also erased much of the noise that the Panasonic makes while it focuses - in real life, the Olympus is nearly silent while the Panasonic is fairly loud throughout the focus process.
Second, here is a visual of the close up recordings, showing that the olympus is a bit faster across the clip:
For me, I think the visual cues that demonstrate the focus process, along with the noise cues and the feel of the focus mechanism at work, all combine to make the lens feel slower than it actually is.
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