Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7

Started May 3, 2012 | Discussions
Bruadair
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Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
May 3, 2012

Would mainly be used for street photography and some, though not too much, night photography on the streets of India, things like street food vendors and the such.

I'm new to lenses but gather that a full stop difference may mean a lot. But considering that the Sigma is half the price of the Panasonic ($200 vs $400) I have to ask, is the Panasonic significantly better to justify the extra $200?

Thanks again,

D.

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Aleo Veuliah
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Re: Panasonic (nt)
In reply to Bruadair, May 3, 2012
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SkiHound
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to Bruadair, May 3, 2012

One of the pluses of fixed focal length lenses is that they are often faster (wider apertures) than zooms. Often much faster and thus are very useful in low light. The Panny is over 1 stop faster than the Sigma. 1-stop would be the difference between shooting at 1/15 versus 1/30 which may mean the difference between a sharp photo and a blur. I know the Sigma 30mm got a pretty good review for it's optics, I know nothing about the quality of the 19mm. I just think if you're going to go for a fixed focal length lens in that range you might as well go for one that gives areal benefit in low light, and that would be the Panny.

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intruder61
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to Bruadair, May 4, 2012

i have the 19mm and it is a brill lens, here are some nights shots which convinced me and im not disappointed......sometimes forums are full of people who have no idea and have never tried a lens...yet have to comment in a "scientific" way to justify what they have not used....good luck with what you choose.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/minami/sets/72157629603676923/with/6843588928/

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Martin Ocando
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DOF
In reply to Bruadair, May 4, 2012

Don't see it as a faster lens, but the shallower DOF you get with 1.7 is impossible to get with 2.8. And, since m43 is a smaller sensor than Full Frame, you need all the shallowness you can get.

Bruadair wrote:

Would mainly be used for street photography and some, though not too much, night photography on the streets of India, things like street food vendors and the such.

I'm new to lenses but gather that a full stop difference may mean a lot. But considering that the Sigma is half the price of the Panasonic ($200 vs $400) I have to ask, is the Panasonic significantly better to justify the extra $200?

Thanks again,

D.

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baxters
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Re: DOF
In reply to Martin Ocando, May 4, 2012

Martin Ocando wrote:

Don't see it as a faster lens, but the shallower DOF you get with 1.7 is impossible to get with 2.8. And, since m43 is a smaller sensor than Full Frame, you need all the shallowness you can get.

Not everyone wants shallow depth of field, but it is nice to have it available when you do want it.

From what I have read and seen, the Sigma 19mm is a good lens for its price. It is said to be faster focusing than the 20mm. I used to discount the speed complaints on the 20mm, but recently I have noticed its slower focus can be an irritant for certain shooting, although there are work arounds. F2.8 plus ISO 800-1600 will be enough for most night markets and nightscapes too.

It comes down to ... why would I want one. It's only a little faster than the kit lens. It's not a pancake. Maybe the extra bump in speed and better sharpness is enough for some buyers.

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BillCarr
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to Bruadair, May 4, 2012

I went through the same decision. The Panasonic lens is over twice the price, slower to autofocus, but has the advantage of a nice wide aperture and is slightly sharper while being an inch or two shorter.

If you intend to shoot a lot of low light subjects or want to shoot with limited DoF definitely look at the Panasonic for the f/1.7.

My choice? I bought the Sigma for daytime street shooting. Got it the other day and I like it. It's a very nice lens, and for the price it was a very easy decision. In fact, for the price of the Panasonic you could get the Sigma 19/2.8 and the Sigma 30/2.8 (another quality prime lens for m4/3.)

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azazel1024
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to BillCarr, May 4, 2012

Pros Sigma

  • Cheaper, about half the price

  • Faster focusing, even on newer bodies

  • I think Vignetting is better controlled

  • Focusing is quieter

Pros Panasonic

  • 1 1/2 stops faster

  • Half the length of the lens

  • Lighter lens

  • From reviews/test charts at least, it appears to be slightly sharper at similar f/stops (though not by a lot, the sigma is quite sharp)

So that is pretty much what you have there. I am very interested in the Sigma personally, but the extra speed and smaller size without being worse optically (actually a little better, but the important part for me is it not worse optically) is the selling points for me in the panasonic 20mm.

Its not a lens I plan on getting for a little while because of money issues, but it will be one of my next lens purchases. I have the sigma 30/2.8 and love it, I have the panasonic 14/2.5 on the way (customs finally sprung it overnight, after sitting there for 3 bleeding weeks). That is going to be my setup on my OM-D (whenever that darned thing ends up shipping) till the fall.

Then Panasonic 20mm (I think) and Olympus 45mm.

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clengman
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to Bruadair, May 4, 2012

I'm having a hard time with this as well. I believe since it's possible to get the oly 17mm used for under $200, that one is in the mix for me as well.

Small differences in sharpness mean nothing to me whatsoever. I'm perfectly happy with the performance of my kit zoom in that regard. What I'd really like is a snapshot lens that will focus a little faster and more reliably in low light, mostly for the benefit of my wife who gets a little frustrated when the camera won't lock focus. I think the panny 20mm probably has the edge for reliably acquiring focus since it lets in more light. The sigma and the oly focus faster when they have enough light to work with.

I feel like ultimately, f/1.7 isn't that important to me either. I use a flash when it's appropriate, I'm more often looking for ways to include more not less in my DOF and I have a little cheapo 24mm cctv lens that's very fast that I can use when all else fails, but still the fact that the f/1.7 option is available makes it a little harder to pull the trigger on a slower lens.

Tough decision...

Bruadair wrote:

Would mainly be used for street photography and some, though not too much, night photography on the streets of India, things like street food vendors and the such.

I'm new to lenses but gather that a full stop difference may mean a lot. But considering that the Sigma is half the price of the Panasonic ($200 vs $400) I have to ask, is the Panasonic significantly better to justify the extra $200?

Thanks again,

D.

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BillCarr
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to clengman, May 4, 2012

clengman wrote:

I'm having a hard time with this as well. I believe since it's possible to get the oly 17mm used for under $200, that one is in the mix for me as well.

Except the Olympus 17mm is really not a very sharp lens. Check out the numerous reviews, as well as the comparisons with the 20/1.7 and zooms. I'd love a good 35mm equivalent, but the Olympus is simply inferior to the 20/1.7 and the 19/2.8... and it's $80 more than the 19/2.8. I don't understnad why anyone would buy that Oly lens at this point in time.

In fact, Olympus seems to understand that, and 43rumors posted something a month ago about new Olympus patents for a series of f/2.8 primes @ 14mm, 16mm, 17mm and 22mm:

http://www.43rumors.com/panasonic-rgbw-sensor-and-olympus-pancake-patents/

If you're looking for low light 40mm-equivalent and you're willing to spend $450 get the 20/1.7. If you don't need the wide aperture you'll probably be very happy with the $200 19/2.8. (And if you want a faster-focusing 50mm-equivalent with f/1.4 get the PanaLeica 25/1.4 for $540.) It's not really a hard choice, it depends on your needs and your budget.

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azazel1024
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to BillCarr, May 4, 2012

I've considered the 17/2.8 as well, but almost every review universally pans its sharpness. It isn't even as sharp as the original 14-42mm kit lens (which isn't horrible, but is not a stiriling performer).

As for low light focusing, reading tons of comments and reviews, the panasonic 20/1.7 struggles the most with low light focusing. If the sigma 19mm is anything like the 30, then it focuses really, really well in low light still.

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JeanPierre Martel
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to Bruadair, May 4, 2012

Bruadair wrote:

Would mainly be used for street photography and some, though not too much, night photography on the streets of India, things like street food vendors and the such.

For street photography, a wide-angle (like the M.Zuiko 12mm) would be the best prime lens.

But since the choice is between the Lumix 20mm and the Sigma 19mm, both have about the same angle of view. The only real differences are the size (the pancake is smaller) and the maximum aperture (1,7 vs 2,8). My suggestion would be to use the Lumix 20mm if your second criterion is to be able to take night shots : more shots will be blurred when taken with a slow lens.

Examples of night shots taken with the Lumix 20mm (camera hand held - no tripod) :

Panasonic GH1, Lumix 20mm Lens — 1/30 sec. — F/1,7 — ISO 320 — 20 mm

Panasonic GH1, Lumix 20mm Lens — 1/30 sec. — F/1,7 — ISO 640 — 20 mm

Panasonic GF1, Lumix 20mm Lens — 1/100 sec. — F/1,7 — ISO 100 — 20 mm

Panasonic GF1, Lumix 20mm Lens — 1/120 sec. — F/1,7 — ISO 100 — 20 mm

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Lights
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Re: DOF
In reply to baxters, May 4, 2012

I think that the wider you go, the less DOF plays as an important part. You'll probably be using some form of zone focusing perhaps, where you want a lesser DOF for street shots...The Sigma most likely will focus faster in auto mode (it actually focuses fairly quickly on my old EPL1). For closer portraits 38-40mm equiv will work, but a little longer lens will give more stand off anyway and less distortion. Yeah I'd rather have the 1.7 aperture especially if the prices were the same but then they aren't.

The Sigma is very sharp, the colors are good, and I'm finding the contrast between the colors is very good. (I just got the Sigma 19mm last week- but don't think I'm biased, since I've seen just excellent shots from the Panasonic 20mm) You can get a blurred background at F2.8 if you like, just watch your subject to background distance, of course it will be blurred more at F1.7. Remember also that doubling your ISO will in effect take care of the roughly stop of difference in dimly lit shots..as far as brightness and shutter speed goes (not DOF).

A hard call. If you think the extra stop is needed for night shots, or interiors..then the Panasonic would be good. Otherwise, the Sigma isn't far off in the lens tests I've seen in sharpness. It's also telecentric, which means the distortions aren't software corrected (there is very little and mostly irrelevant) The Panasonic is also smaller, where the Sigma is about the size of a 14-42 kit lens if collapsed. So a lot to balance.

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BillCarr
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to JeanPierre Martel, May 4, 2012

JeanPierre Martel wrote:

Bruadair wrote:

Would mainly be used for street photography and some, though not too much, night photography on the streets of India, things like street food vendors and the such.

For street photography, a wide-angle (like the M.Zuiko 12mm) would be the best prime lens.

It's great for street scenes but 24mm distorts people a bit too much when subjects are close. Historically street photographers (from Cartier Bresson to Lee Friedlander to Garry Winogrand to Robert Doisneau) used lenses (or 35mm equivalents) between 28mm and 50mm for street photography. 24mm can be great but just a bit too wide and distorting if you're primarily photographing people on the street.

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BillCarr
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to clengman, May 4, 2012

clengman wrote:

I feel like ultimately, f/1.7 isn't that important to me either. I use a flash when it's appropriate, I'm more often looking for ways to include more not less in my DOF and I have a little cheapo 24mm cctv lens that's very fast that I can use when all else fails, but still the fact that the f/1.7 option is available makes it a little harder to pull the trigger on a slower lens.

I've had the 19/2.8 for a day now. I like it and am keeping it as my main walk around street lens. Note that you can get obvious selective DOF only if you shoot wide open and are close to the subject. To me that's the big difference between the two lenses. (Besides the Sigma focusing faster, and being an inch or so bigger.) If you want the ability to shoot f/1.7 and get less noisy images in low light then definitely go for the Panasonic though.

No complaints about image quality or build on the Sigma. It's a neat lens and I'd say that it's sharper and faster focusing than my Panasonic 14-45mm. Definitely worth the $200, and makes a bit questionable for me the extra $150 I'd have had to spend for the f/1.7 on the Panasonic.

But ultimately you have to decide what you're looking for and what your budget is. You'll get a good lens either way but decide what your real needs are.

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Lights
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to JeanPierre Martel, May 4, 2012

I would pretty much agree, that if doing many night shots the 20mm 1.7 would be the best choice (I don't know how is the speed of focus in lower light?) Since in order to get the same shutter speed with the Sigma, the ISO would have to be roughly double, or shutter speed halved...which would lead to noise or blur.I would also agree with Bill that a person has to watch perspectives much more with a 12mm, especially if a little inexperienced with it (of course one can always learn) I even find sometimes with a 14mm.
Good illustrative photos of what the 20mm can do Nice night shots.

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clengman
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to azazel1024, May 4, 2012

azazel1024 wrote:

I've considered the 17/2.8 as well, but almost every review universally pans its sharpness. It isn't even as sharp as the original 14-42mm kit lens (which isn't horrible, but is not a stiriling performer).

Like this? From Lenstip: "Looking at the function graph at the center of the frame, it’s hard not to be pleased. Even at the maximum aperture the lens reaches the level of 45 lpmm, and so generates very sharp images. Stopping down limits optical aberrations and improves image quality even more, so at f/5.6 the lens reaches around 50 lpmm. It’s a level typical of the best fixed focal lengths of the 4/3 system. "

Or this? From SLRgear: "In summary, very good performance wide open and stopped-down slightly."

Sure, sharper lenses have been released since this one came out. I'm not saying it's the sharpest lens around, but "universally panned" is just inaccurate. A lot of people use it and like it.

As for low light focusing, reading tons of comments and reviews, the panasonic 20/1.7 struggles the most with low light focusing. If the sigma 19mm is anything like the 30, then it focuses really, really well in low light still.

I'm not sure what reviews you read, but this makes no sense at all. If you compare two lenses on the same camera, the only thing that will affect the ability of the system to acquire focus is the aperture of the lens. If we're talking about focusing reliability or absence of "hunting" or "AF lock failure" in low light the 20mm lens must win over the oly 17mm and the sigma 19mm.

If we're talking about AF speed, it's an entirely different quantity that's being measured. The 20mm has the slowest motors and the most mass that must be moved to change focus. So assuming we look at each lens on the same camera and there is adequate light and contrast for the camera to determine when focus has been achieved regardless of aperture, the 20mm lens will lose. I haven't seen any comparison of the 17mm and the sigma 19mm but I believe they are both fairly quick.

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clengman
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to BillCarr, May 4, 2012

You can read what I think about the 17mm sharpness below. I've seen many very pleasing photos taken with that lens.

Every time I go around again through these options I come to the same conclusion. I will probably get the 17mm. The biggest reason I haven't yet is the possibility that oly will release a newer version, but not because I think I need a sharper lens. No... When the new one is released, all the turkeys are going to start selling off their "horrible" mkI 17mm lenses and the price will take a dive. Then I can get one for a great price not just a good price.

BillCarr wrote:

clengman wrote:

I'm having a hard time with this as well. I believe since it's possible to get the oly 17mm used for under $200, that one is in the mix for me as well.

Except the Olympus 17mm is really not a very sharp lens. Check out the numerous reviews, as well as the comparisons with the 20/1.7 and zooms. I'd love a good 35mm equivalent, but the Olympus is simply inferior to the 20/1.7 and the 19/2.8... and it's $80 more than the 19/2.8. I don't understnad why anyone would buy that Oly lens at this point in time.

In fact, Olympus seems to understand that, and 43rumors posted something a month ago about new Olympus patents for a series of f/2.8 primes @ 14mm, 16mm, 17mm and 22mm:

http://www.43rumors.com/panasonic-rgbw-sensor-and-olympus-pancake-patents/

If you're looking for low light 40mm-equivalent and you're willing to spend $450 get the 20/1.7. If you don't need the wide aperture you'll probably be very happy with the $200 19/2.8. (And if you want a faster-focusing 50mm-equivalent with f/1.4 get the PanaLeica 25/1.4 for $540.) It's not really a hard choice, it depends on your needs and your budget.

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ryan2007
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to Bruadair, May 4, 2012

Get the Panasonic. You will find that lenses cost more than or can cost more then the camera body which has not changed since shooting film. You get what you pay for and the lens is just as important as picking good speakers for a home theater. The electronics change but if you buy a good product it will last. I also believe but it once when you can no matter the purchase or catagory.

Bruadair wrote:

Would mainly be used for street photography and some, though not too much, night photography on the streets of India, things like street food vendors and the such.

I'm new to lenses but gather that a full stop difference may mean a lot. But considering that the Sigma is half the price of the Panasonic ($200 vs $400) I have to ask, is the Panasonic significantly better to justify the extra $200?

Thanks again,

D.

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Gregm61
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Re: Sigma 19mm f2.8 or Panasonic 20mm f1.7
In reply to Bruadair, May 4, 2012

Bruadair wrote:

I'm new to lenses but gather that a full stop difference may mean a lot. But considering that the Sigma is half the price of the Panasonic ($200 vs $400) I have to ask, is the Panasonic significantly better to justify the extra $200?

There you go. Which is more important, speed or cheapness? Hard for anyone to qualify that for someone else. If the price is not a problem, I'd go for the speed. $200 is about right for one stop...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/102851-GREY/Canon_2510A003_Wide_Angle_EF_28mm.html

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/12096-GREY/Canon_2505A002_Wide_Angle_EF_28mm.html

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