25mm vs 20mm for all round single prime shooting.

Started May 17, 2012 | Discussions
Jonas B
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Bokeh compared,a sample
In reply to Anders W, May 17, 2012

Anders W wrote:

As to bokeh, neither the 20 nor the 25 is all that good but the 20 by no means inferior. Personally, I wouldn't as a rule use either lens for subject isolation by means of background blur. For a variety of reasons, I'd use something longer for that, like the 45/1.8, which also has better bokeh than either the 20 or the 25.

Aside from what I've already talked about above, the 20 has the advantage of being smaller, lighter, and less expensive. The 25 has the advantage of being half a stop faster, having slightly faster and more silent AF, and being capable of handling AF-C (which is disabled on the 20).

Hi,

This (the 20/1.7 vs the 25/1.4) is one of those many times discussed topics.

We had a look at the bokeh earlier this year, in April, when I posted a direct comparison. It's still there, with some comments. Anyone interested can click here:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=41208572

Jonas

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ryan2007
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Re: 25mm vs 20mm for all round single prime shooting.
In reply to MT, May 17, 2012

It would make more sense to return the lens, 20 1.7 from wherever it cam from. eBay will take fees and you have to ship and pay for shipping material. You also need to sell the lens at least 20 % higher to break even. Makes no sense to not just get a refund.

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jkrumm
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Slightly wide vs. Normal
In reply to MT, May 17, 2012

That's what it comes down to. I find the 20 1.7 just about perfect for around the house shooting wide open. The depth of field is just enough to get faces into nice sharp focus, and the slightly wide point of view is useful more often than not. But compared to my 45 1.8 it's a slow thing.

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Anders W
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Re: Bokeh compared,a sample
In reply to Jonas B, May 18, 2012

Jonas B wrote:

Anders W wrote:

As to bokeh, neither the 20 nor the 25 is all that good but the 20 by no means inferior. Personally, I wouldn't as a rule use either lens for subject isolation by means of background blur. For a variety of reasons, I'd use something longer for that, like the 45/1.8, which also has better bokeh than either the 20 or the 25.

Aside from what I've already talked about above, the 20 has the advantage of being smaller, lighter, and less expensive. The 25 has the advantage of being half a stop faster, having slightly faster and more silent AF, and being capable of handling AF-C (which is disabled on the 20).

Hi,

This (the 20/1.7 vs the 25/1.4) is one of those many times discussed topics.

We had a look at the bokeh earlier this year, in April, when I posted a direct comparison. It's still there, with some comments. Anyone interested can click here:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=41208572

Jonas

There was a also more extensive bokeh test by micksh6 in a follow-up to that thread. Those interested may want to have a look here:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=41223047

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drusus
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Re: 25mm vs 20mm for all round single prime shooting.
In reply to MT, May 18, 2012

As others have said, this is a personal choice. But in case it helps you to hear other people's personal experience, i can tell you that I have found 20 mm to be a very versatile focal length. I use this lens almost exclusively, only changing it for a legacy 50 mm for the rare portraits, and for my shooting purposes (family, friends, and daily life in the city), I have found 20 mm to be just right. Wide enough for group photos inside a large room and for as much of a street scene as i have cared to frame, and long enough for environmental portraits and snapshots of two or three heads. The lens really shines in photos of family life, which in my case are mostly indoors. Then the f1.7 aperture is great to have, and the lens' sharpness and colors are fantastic.

The best aspect of this focal length is that I have grown to be very attached to it, as it feels like it reproduces the way I see things very well. A major reason I shoot pictures these days is to capture scenes and experiences from my life, and this focal length seem to match my perception of those scenes very well. Of course, I may simply have gotten used to it, and the same may not happen to you. But I am now very attached to this focal length, and I would be very nervous if I had to return to using a zoom, because I really feel that this lens captures the field of view that I naturally see.

Now, I understand that the 25 mm f1.4 is better than the 20 mm in many of these respects, so if you can afford it and don't mind the extra size and weight, I can't argue against it. But the 20 mm has a chance of making you happy enough, I think. As for focal length, I remember finding 50 mm on a film SLR a bit constraining, but that was years (decades) ago so I don't know whether I would feel the same way now.

Drusus

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Tack
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Re: 25mm vs 20mm for all round single prime shooting.
In reply to MT, May 18, 2012

You may also want to consider the new Sigma 19mm/2.8 if low light shooting is not that important to you. $160 less than the pana 20. It's supposed to be a very sharp lens, small and light (though not a pancake) and bokeh is good with rounded aperture blades.

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Jonas B
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Re: Bokeh compared,a sample
In reply to Anders W, May 18, 2012

Anders W wrote:

Jonas B wrote:

Anders W wrote:

As to bokeh, neither the 20 nor the 25 is all that good but the 20 by no means inferior. Personally, I wouldn't as a rule use either lens for subject isolation by means of background blur. For a variety of reasons, I'd use something longer for that, like the 45/1.8, which also has better bokeh than either the 20 or the 25.

Aside from what I've already talked about above, the 20 has the advantage of being smaller, lighter, and less expensive. The 25 has the advantage of being half a stop faster, having slightly faster and more silent AF, and being capable of handling AF-C (which is disabled on the 20).

Hi,

This (the 20/1.7 vs the 25/1.4) is one of those many times discussed topics.

We had a look at the bokeh earlier this year, in April, when I posted a direct comparison. It's still there, with some comments. Anyone interested can click here:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=41208572

Jonas

There was a also more extensive bokeh test by micksh6 in a follow-up to that thread. Those interested may want to have a look here:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=41223047

Well, I'm interested and as I missed that thread I appreciate you pointed it out.

Ouch, none of these lenses can be accused of very smooth rendering of background OOF stuff. In some of the images I like the 25/1.4 better, in some cases the 20/1.7 did better.

All in all I like the 25/1.4 better (and not only because I own it - I had both and made a choice) but looking at the samples makes me long for a FF camera and the Summilux-M 50/1.4 again. As I believe a FF LIVE camera will surface one of these days I've better start saving money right away...

It may be important to point out that I'm looking for the last 10-20% of IQ here. I can live happy with my 12/2, 225/!.4 and 45/1.8 for a long time, or at least nearly perfectly happy. They are all perfectly usable and capable lenses (and so are the µ4/3 cameras).

Have a nice weekend,

Jonas

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Anders W
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Re: Bokeh compared,a sample
In reply to Jonas B, May 18, 2012

Jonas B wrote:

Ouch, none of these lenses can be accused of very smooth rendering of background OOF stuff. In some of the images I like the 25/1.4 better, in some cases the 20/1.7 did better.

Yeah. Neither is all that great for bokeh. I am looking forward to getting the 45/1.8, and the 75/1.8 too if it turns out to deliver as it should (and won't cost a fortune). I guess that all Oly has to do for the 75/1.8 is to scale the design of the 45/1.8 a bit upwards. Shouldn't be too difficult, should it?

All in all I like the 25/1.4 better (and not only because I own it - I had both and made a choice) but looking at the samples makes me long for a FF camera and the Summilux-M 50/1.4 again. As I believe a FF LIVE camera will surface one of these days I've better start saving money right away...

It may be important to point out that I'm looking for the last 10-20% of IQ here. I can live happy with my 12/2, 225/!.4 and 45/1.8 for a long time, or at least nearly perfectly happy. They are all perfectly usable and capable lenses (and so are the µ4/3 cameras).

Well, we don't have too much to complain about, do we, especially not with a body and a sensor like that of the E-M5 now available. Sure, an FF equivalent made to high standards should do it better still but ... And although the M-Summilux 50 is certainly a nice lens, I wouldn't really want to trade MFT for a Leica M9 system, all things considered, even if the cost were the same.

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Seattle Steve
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Re: Bokeh compared,a sample
In reply to Jonas B, May 19, 2012

I have had the 20 mm 1.7 for years, and really appreciate it - the color, clarity and sharpness are remarkable. I recently had the 25 1.4 for a week, and and quite a few comparisons. I agree with all those who say these lenses are both really great - I found my preference to be the 20 based on the focal length. As other posters have noted, I have never felt great about the 50 mm "normal" focal length - for me, it was neither wide enough or close enough - and so I kept the 20 mm as my walk around.

It is true that people comment on the expense vs. another, and the physical size vs. each other - but field of view is a personal thing, and very important.

One other thing - I also found that the bokeh on some images was slightly better with the 25 - but not on ALL photos, or MOST photos - just some - on most others, the bokeh was comparable, and on a few, the bokeh seemed better on the 20 - in summary, I would personally NOT call one a significantly better lens - perhaps just better for a specific photographer vs. another.

Here are a few examples of comparison:

I strongly urge you to at least try the 20 before sending it back - to see for yourself which you like more - but i would not blame you for keeping either, or both - they really are that good.

Good luck in your choice -

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MT
MT
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Re: Bokeh compared,a sample
In reply to Seattle Steve, May 19, 2012

Thanks for all the responses. Much appreciated! Essentially a toss up.

MTMT

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OldDigiman
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Re: check what FLs you have been shooting at
In reply to Seattle Steve, May 19, 2012

If you have been shooting with a zoom, Adobe Bridge or Lightroom will tell you how many images you have at each focal length shot at. It's easy to graph and get a visual representation of your shootng style. I was surprised when I did it, I thought my preferred length would be around 35mm, but in fact it was closer to 43mm.
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Jonas B
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Re: Bokeh compared,a sample
In reply to Seattle Steve, May 19, 2012

Seattle Steve wrote:

(...)

One other thing - I also found that the bokeh on some images was slightly better with the 25 - but not on ALL photos, or MOST photos - just some - on most others, the bokeh was comparable, and on a few, the bokeh seemed better on the 20 - in summary, I would personally NOT call one a significantly better lens - perhaps just better for a specific photographer vs. another.

That's the same experience I have. Well put.

Jonas

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Jonas B
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Re: Bokeh compared,a sample
In reply to Anders W, May 19, 2012

Anders W wrote:

(...)

Well, we don't have too much to complain about, do we, especially not with a body and a sensor like that of the E-M5 now available. Sure, an FF equivalent made to high standards should do it better still but ... And although the M-Summilux 50 is certainly a nice lens, I wouldn't really want to trade MFT for a Leica M9 system, all things considered, even if the cost were the same.

No, we don't have a lot to complain about. (Except for the need of an extra grip, the irritating bugs, the lack of an IR port, the misplaced tripod mount, the.... )

To be clear, I wasn't thinking of a Leica when mentioning a future FF mirror-less camera. I truly hope (Ricoh? Sony? somebody else?), and believe, we'll see a LIVE FF mirror-less with a good EVF and ergonomics. Then I also hope it will be possible to use the 50Lux with that camera. An M9 or any other rangefinder... no, I've been there, done that, and left the area again. I'm a TTL sort of photog.

regards,

Jonas

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Anders W
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Re: Bokeh compared,a sample
In reply to Jonas B, May 19, 2012

Jonas B wrote:

To be clear, I wasn't thinking of a Leica when mentioning a future FF mirror-less camera. I truly hope (Ricoh? Sony? somebody else?), and believe, we'll see a LIVE FF mirror-less with a good EVF and ergonomics. Then I also hope it will be possible to use the 50Lux with that camera.

Yes, I realize that's what you meant. Although if Leica still wanted and were able to compete in something other than a retro niche market for people with very deep pockets, they should and would already have that LIVE FF camera on the market, at a fair price and with a feature set comparable to that of the E-M5 or the GH2. The "mirrorless revolution" is of course a golden opportunity for Leica to make a real come back in the photo industry and regain something like the position they had before the SLRs took over in the 60s. But it looks like they are going to miss it. And the explanation may well be that they simply don't have all the know-how and other resources required to actually do it.

An M9 or any other rangefinder... no, I've been there, done that, and left the area again. I'm a TTL sort of photog.

So am I. TTL plus a fair number of other things by now. Could never quite understand the Leica fascination even back in the 70s when the major distinction was indeed TTL and not a whole lot more than that. Yes, the lenses are good. But good lenses is not the only thing you need to get good pictures. And even with the lenses, that Leica edge, when/if there is one, doesn't exactly come cheap.

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Moonlight Knight
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Re: 25mm vs 20mm for all round single prime shooting.
In reply to MT, May 19, 2012

There were two threads about banding with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 when used on OM-D at ISO 1600 or above. If you think you'll shoot at high ISO, choose the 25mm.

On the other hand, the 25mm is infamous for rattlesnake noise. If you can't tolerate the audible noise, choose the 20mm.

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Michael Kaufman
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Re: 25mm vs 20mm for all round single prime shooting.
In reply to Moonlight Knight, May 19, 2012

Moonlight Knight wrote:

There were two threads about banding with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 when used on OM-D at ISO 1600 or above. If you think you'll shoot at high ISO, choose the 25mm.

On the other hand, the 25mm is infamous for rattlesnake noise. If you can't tolerate the audible noise, choose the 20mm.

Well, to be fair, neither of these issues impacts all users of either lens. I have both lenses, and I have never experienced any banding from the 20, or any noise from the 25.

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Anders W
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Re: 25mm vs 20mm for all round single prime shooting.
In reply to Michael Kaufman, May 20, 2012

Michael Kaufman wrote:

Moonlight Knight wrote:

There were two threads about banding with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 when used on OM-D at ISO 1600 or above. If you think you'll shoot at high ISO, choose the 25mm.

On the other hand, the 25mm is infamous for rattlesnake noise. If you can't tolerate the audible noise, choose the 20mm.

Well, to be fair, neither of these issues impacts all users of either lens. I have both lenses, and I have never experienced any banding from the 20, or any noise from the 25.

Thanks for saying that. I hope you are right. The reports about banding with the E-M5, particularly with the 20, is one of the few things I do worry about (when it comes to camera gear) at the moment. I certainly wouldn't want to part with my 20 but I'd also hate to give up the idea of getting an E-M5.

Do you have some nice banding-free high-ISO shots with the 20 and the E-M5 to post, pretty please.

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kodachromeguy
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Re: 25mm vs 20mm for all round single prime shooting.
In reply to MT, May 20, 2012

Sorry, you just can't ask this type of question on a forum. What focal length lens do you need for the type of photography you prefer? Only you can decide.
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berni29
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Re: 25mm vs 20mm for all round single prime shooting.
In reply to kodachromeguy, May 20, 2012

Hi

For general walkabout I think 20mm is a much better focal length. I use my 20mm indoors in low light a lot and a 25mm would be too tight. I have has a couple of vicious banding episodes with the 20mm, but seemingly at random (there in one shot, not there in the next otherwise pretty much identical shot). I also have the occasional OOF shot for no obvious reason. I don't think too hard about it, although one OOF (in a series) I took recently was very upsetting as the shot was otherwise perfect.

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ulfie
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I have THE answer!
In reply to berni29, May 20, 2012

I have THE answer to your conundrum! The 20/1.7 is a dog, a flea-ridden mangy dog, crap, no better than the bottom of a Coke bottle. Send it to me ASAP (contact via DPR's message service). I'll pay the shipping and send you a handmade Egyptian papyrus "Thank You!" card to boot. Just get rid of it--to me!--as quickly as you can before this conundrum ruins your marriage or relationship and life as a photographer as well as a human being.

Actually it is simple. You are just making it complex obsessing over that last 10~20% of image quality which is out of reach anyways. The 20/1.7 will deliver the goods to and for you even when pixel-peeping since it is also a 25 by way of post-process cropping.

As the Mick Jagger sings, "You can't always get what you want ... but ... you'll get what you need." I need the 20; you do too but don't know it. So you can do without it.

See, you feel better already. You'll feel even better better--me too--after sending it since you probably think what I wrote above is just a spoof anyways. Is it?
ulfie, waiting

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