I feel misled: Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II AF is SO SLOW!

Started 5 months ago | Discussions
photo perzon
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17mm f/1.8 fuzzy compared to super sharp 20mm
In reply to Pixnat2, 5 months ago

Pixnat2 wrote:

Wesley Byrne wrote:

UPS just delivered my Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II. I had read the reviews and knew the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 autofocus wasn't fast, but I wasn't expecting it to be so unbearably slow. Some here have said that the 20mm f1.7 isn't that slow, and that it autofocuses about as fast as other m43 lenses when large focus adjustments are not needed, but they are wrong. This lens is useless for even slow moving subjects. I am definitely returning this lens.

I know the 20mm f1.7 has many fans, presumably folks who photograph static scenes. In my opinion, compared to the 17mm f1.8 and the 25mm f1.8, the 20mm f1.7 is a dog. Panasonic should be embarrassed for releasing this lens with barely-functional AF.

</end rant>

I bought this lens for the E-P1, but never quite liked it. I wouldn't say that the 20mm f/1.7 is slow, but rather annoying to use. Yes it's sharp, but sharpness is not even across the frame, it has noisy AF operation, PF on Oly cameras older than E-M1 and I didn't liked the bokeh.

I got the 17mm f/1.8 (an FL that I prefer), and really enjoy it. Yes it's a bit less sharp, but nothing to worry about, and it has an even sharpness from center to corner. Moreover it's quiet, fast, and the clutch mechanism makes it a joy to use. I never ever regret the slight loss of sharpness!

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Frederic
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To me sharpness is muh more important than fast AF and accross the frame.  With f1.7 accross becomes bokeh.  And fast AF to get a not so sharp image is like rush to wait.

The 20mm is sharper than the 25mm Leica.  Sharper than most lenses worldwide.  99% of my shots do not need fast AF.

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FrankS009
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Re: Well duuh, Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II AF is SLOW
In reply to Ulfric M Douglas, 5 months ago

I have never been able to understand the complaints on this forum and in this thread about slow AF with the 20mm. I have had mine for several years, and it has always been fine.

F.

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Anders W
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Re: Well duuh, Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II AF is SLOW
In reply to Wesley Byrne, 5 months ago

Wesley Byrne wrote:

Ulfric M Douglas wrote:

Wesley Byrne wrote:

... I had read the reviews and knew the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 autofocus wasn't fast, ... This lens is useless for even slow moving subjects. ...

There you have it, you misunderstood.

It is not a lens for subjects moving towards or away from the photographer.

Rant about your own comprehension skills?

The Lumix 20mm is sharp, with a bright aperture and a tiny size.

Three out of four ain't bad.

Buy the Sigma 19mm or Olympus 17F1.8, or either of the 25mm.

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Cheksa wrote:
You're evil Ulfric.

And yet some claim that the 20mms f1.7 AF is not so slow, in this very thread.

At least one of them didn't just claim it. He showed, by means of controlled testing, that it isn't so slow (about on a par with other lenses) under the specific conditions he outlined (AF-S, focus range of 0.75 m to infinity, no hunting). See here:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53580158

Other tests have shown roughly the same thing, for example this one

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3456246

Additionally, the following properties of the AF of the 20/1.7 are are well established:

1. It is unusually slow when it hunts.

2. It is unusually slow when it moves across the entire focus range (as opposed to the range from 0.75 m to infinity).

3. It doesn't work or works poorly in AF-C.

4. It works poorly if you want to AF during a video clip (e.g., because it is not completely silent).

I understood that some reviewers said the AF was a little slow, and that some reviewers said that it was plenty fast. I took a chance on the lens because it is small, bright, reported to be sharp, but was misled by comments stating that the AF is fast enough for general use (understood not to include action shots). It isn't a big deal, really (I can return the lens), but I do feel misled.

There are lots and lots of threads about the AF behavior of the 20/1.7 before this one, some of them discussing the matter in considerable technical detail. While you are of course free to say that I and others have misled you by reporting test results like those I linked above, I would personally not make such claims without having more in the way of evidence to offer than you do (i.e., none whatsoever this far).

If your subjective impressions are significantly out of line with the objective evidence provided by me and others, the likely reasons are a) that your copy of the lens is defect, b) that your perceptions are in error and/or c) that you have not compared the lenses at your disposal in an unbiased and controlled manner.

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Pixnat2
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Re: 17mm f/1.8 fuzzy compared to super sharp 20mm
In reply to photo perzon, 5 months ago

photo perzon wrote:

Pixnat2 wrote:

Wesley Byrne wrote:

UPS just delivered my Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II. I had read the reviews and knew the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 autofocus wasn't fast, but I wasn't expecting it to be so unbearably slow. Some here have said that the 20mm f1.7 isn't that slow, and that it autofocuses about as fast as other m43 lenses when large focus adjustments are not needed, but they are wrong. This lens is useless for even slow moving subjects. I am definitely returning this lens.

I know the 20mm f1.7 has many fans, presumably folks who photograph static scenes. In my opinion, compared to the 17mm f1.8 and the 25mm f1.8, the 20mm f1.7 is a dog. Panasonic should be embarrassed for releasing this lens with barely-functional AF.

</end rant>

I bought this lens for the E-P1, but never quite liked it. I wouldn't say that the 20mm f/1.7 is slow, but rather annoying to use. Yes it's sharp, but sharpness is not even across the frame, it has noisy AF operation, PF on Oly cameras older than E-M1 and I didn't liked the bokeh.

I got the 17mm f/1.8 (an FL that I prefer), and really enjoy it. Yes it's a bit less sharp, but nothing to worry about, and it has an even sharpness from center to corner. Moreover it's quiet, fast, and the clutch mechanism makes it a joy to use. I never ever regret the slight loss of sharpness!

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Frederic
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To me sharpness is muh more important than fast AF and accross the frame. With f1.7 accross becomes bokeh. And fast AF to get a not so sharp image is like rush to wait.

The 20mm is sharper than the 25mm Leica. Sharper than most lenses worldwide. 99% of my shots do not need fast AF.

To each his/her own. I can figure that many are happy with it.

Just need to figure that the 17mm is plenty sharp, just a tad less than the 20mm.

I remembered a thread where people had hard times to find which picture was taken with either one!

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Frederic
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FrankS009
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Re: Well duuh, Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II AF is SLOW
In reply to FrankS009, 5 months ago

Of course I am speaking subjectively, and for my uses of the lens in particular.

F.

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G1Houston
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Not so slow
In reply to Wesley Byrne, 5 months ago

As some said, you do not want to use it the same way as other lenses. For this, when used indoors, do not use AF-C as it will hunt. Use AF-S, focus, lock, refocus, lock, etc, and do not use focus tracking … I use it to photograph my two toddler boys with no problem. Love the focal length, not too wide, not too long and it is a sharp lens. If you only care about a speed race test, then, yes, indeed, the 20 will be among the slowest lens for this platform. However if you learn its behavior and adapt, it will reward you with outstanding results.

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Anders W
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Re: Not so slow
In reply to G1Houston, 5 months ago

G1Houston wrote:

As some said, you do not want to use it the same way as other lenses. For this, when used indoors, do not use AF-C as it will hunt.

On Pany bodies (the OP has a G3), the lens is not even allowed to enter AF-C as far as I know. My G1 doesn't allow it and I think later Pany bodies behave similarly.

Use AF-S, focus, lock, refocus, lock, etc … I use it to photograph my two toddler boys with no problem. Love the focal length, not too wide, not too long and it is a sharp lens.

No problem agreeing with any of that.

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G1Houston
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Re: Not so slow
In reply to Anders W, 5 months ago

Anders W wrote:

G1Houston wrote:

As some said, you do not want to use it the same way as other lenses. For this, when used indoors, do not use AF-C as it will hunt.

On Pany bodies (the OP has a G3), the lens is not even allowed to enter AF-C as far as I know. My G1 doesn't allow it and I think later Pany bodies behave similarly.

I used it first on a GH1. I do not recall if it can be used in the AF-C mode for still, but in video mode, it will do AF-C by default. However I quickly learned not to do that so even in video, I use only AF-S. I also use the lens on E-PL5 but I never bother to find out whether it works in AF-C, which is to be avoided with this lens.

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Anders W
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Re: I feel misled: Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II AF is SO SLOW!
In reply to jhinkey, 5 months ago

jhinkey wrote:

Anders W wrote:

jhinkey wrote:

The OP has a G3 listed in his gear list - this is a quite "old" model at 3+ years - could the G3 focusing be contributing to the slowness of the 20/1.7?

While the G3 is perhaps not quite as fast as the most recent models, it is surely no slouch either. Middle-generation as far as MFT AF speed is concerned. Besides, to the extent that the G3 is slow with the 20, it is slow with other lenses too. Body processing time is what it is no matter what lens is used.

I've never used my 20/1.7 on my G5 or GH2 so I have no idea how much slower it could be. I was just suggesting that perhaps the AF speed of the 20/1.7 is slowed down enough on a not-so-current body (like a G3) that it passed the threshold of minimum nimbleness for the OP.

I see what you mean. But as Pekka Potka showed in a test that no longer seems to be available on line, regrettably, the increase/decrease in AF speed when you move from a body with slower AF to one with faster (he compared the E-P3 with an earlier Oly) is about the same no matter which lens we are talking about (including the 20/1.7 which was among the lenses in his test). He also showed that the 20 was about as fast as other lenses included in his comparison under the test conditions he chose (AF-S, switching between focus targets at one and five meters if I recall correctly, no hunting).

Generally with my 20/1.7 on my GX7 I have no real complaints - only when racking from near to far or back does it show it's lack of speed. Short hops between distances are usually quick enough not to be an issue. Tracking of a fast moving object is not something I've generally tried to do with my m43 gear.

Yep.

I may swap it out for the new 15/1.7, but not because of AF speed . . . .

Personally, I am unlikely to swap. Possibly supplement, although I am far from sure I really need another prime between the 12/2 and the 20/1.7.

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Anders W
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Re: Not so slow
In reply to G1Houston, 5 months ago

G1Houston wrote:

Anders W wrote:

G1Houston wrote:

As some said, you do not want to use it the same way as other lenses. For this, when used indoors, do not use AF-C as it will hunt.

On Pany bodies (the OP has a G3), the lens is not even allowed to enter AF-C as far as I know. My G1 doesn't allow it and I think later Pany bodies behave similarly.

I used it first on a GH1. I do not recall if it can be used in the AF-C mode for still, but in video mode, it will do AF-C by default.

Yes, I was referring to stills only when I said the body wouldn't allow it.

However I quickly learned not to do that so even in video, I use only AF-S. I also use the lens on E-PL5 but I never bother to find out whether it works in AF-C, which is to be avoided with this lens.

Right. No point moving to AF-C even when the body allows it (as does my E-M5).

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Anders W
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Re: I feel misled: Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II AF is SO SLOW!
In reply to Sergey Borachev, 5 months ago

Sergey Borachev wrote:

Anders W wrote:

Sergey Borachev wrote:

MAubrey wrote:

Well...you were only misled because you listened to the wrong people.

Sorry it turned out that way.

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--Mike

Unfortunately, it is not easy to tell the right from the wrong people, without spending a lot of time here researching and verifying comments. Number of posts, expensive equipment, or even quality of photos posted, are not reliable indicators of reliable comments. For example, even DPReview's review of this lens did not warn about this AF problem.

What problem? You mean this one?

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53579948

As to DPR, they actually said the following:

"Autofocus is driven by a micro motor in the lens body, which works very well. It's not as fast as the Panasonic 14-45mm or 14-140mm zooms, but it's not terribly slow either (obviously this depends to some extent on the specific body used, with the E-P1 feeling just a little bit slower than the G1 or GF1). The focus motor is very quiet, and unlikely to intrude on any occasion. The 20mm F1.7 is also capable of continuous autofocus in movie mode."

Source:

http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/panasonic_20_1p7_o20/2

Lenstip OTOH only said this::

"The autofocus accuracy is absolutely beyond reproach for a change. In lab conditions with good lighting the autofocus didn’t miss one single time."

Actually, Lenstip also said the following:

"In cameras used in the test, so in the Olympus E-PL1 and the Panasonic G2 the autofocus work is based on the contrast detection method. As a result the focusing is not a fast process. The lens-plus-camera system first goes to the area close to the right position, passes it and then goes back and only afterwards the focus is set. The whole process can take as long as over one second. What’s more, you can hear a silent whirr during the work. "

Source:

http://www.lenstip.com/269.10-Lens_review-Panasonic_G_20_mm_f_1.7_ASPH._Autofocus.html

You are correct Anders, as usual, something was said but nothing like a warning, a Con in the Conclusion or something that could be more easily picked up as a no-go for those who cannot read in between the lines to realise there is a problem.

What they should have said is summarized here:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53583615

But that requires that you take the trouble to find out how the lens actually behaves under different conditions and are willing to think a bit outside the box, away from the simple, one-dimensional idea of slow versus fast AF.

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tt321
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Re: Not so slow
In reply to Anders W, 5 months ago

Anders W wrote:

G1Houston wrote:

Anders W wrote:

G1Houston wrote:

As some said, you do not want to use it the same way as other lenses. For this, when used indoors, do not use AF-C as it will hunt.

On Pany bodies (the OP has a G3), the lens is not even allowed to enter AF-C as far as I know. My G1 doesn't allow it and I think later Pany bodies behave similarly.

I used it first on a GH1. I do not recall if it can be used in the AF-C mode for still, but in video mode, it will do AF-C by default.

Yes, I was referring to stills only when I said the body wouldn't allow it.

Just had a look. On the G3 AFC is greyed out. Video AF is somewhat painful indeed. So should use MF in video. I almost exclusively MF in video anyway but the video targeted lenses (such as the power zooms) do AF quite well in video if someone wants to use that feature. So it's a minus for the 20 in that respect.

However I quickly learned not to do that so even in video, I use only AF-S. I also use the lens on E-PL5 but I never bother to find out whether it works in AF-C, which is to be avoided with this lens.

Right. No point moving to AF-C even when the body allows it (as does my E-M5).

Agree. Probably has changed with the E-M1's PD?

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Anders W
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Re: Not so slow
In reply to tt321, 5 months ago

tt321 wrote:

Anders W wrote:

G1Houston wrote:

Anders W wrote:

G1Houston wrote:

As some said, you do not want to use it the same way as other lenses. For this, when used indoors, do not use AF-C as it will hunt.

On Pany bodies (the OP has a G3), the lens is not even allowed to enter AF-C as far as I know. My G1 doesn't allow it and I think later Pany bodies behave similarly.

I used it first on a GH1. I do not recall if it can be used in the AF-C mode for still, but in video mode, it will do AF-C by default.

Yes, I was referring to stills only when I said the body wouldn't allow it.

Just had a look. On the G3 AFC is greyed out.

Yes, that's what I thought.

Video AF is somewhat painful indeed.

IIRC, it's not just the noise. It's also slow in video (IIRC, I only tried once), perhaps because they are afraid that the mechanism might overheat if it's running fast and continuously. That may also be part of the reason why Pany bodies won't allow it to use AF-C for stills.

So should use MF in video. I almost exclusively MF in video anyway but the video targeted lenses (such as the power zooms) do AF quite well in video if someone wants to use that feature. So it's a minus for the 20 in that respect.

I hardly shoot any video. But if I did, I'd probably try to MF too. The back-and-forth search that CDAF has to perform looks pretty bad (disturbing) to me in video. PDAF (which should be useable with video if it's on the sensor) should be able to do better in that regard but I have no idea whether it is at all used for video on the only MFT cam that has it (E-M1).

The problem if you try to MF during video with native MFT lenses is that they are no good for pulling focus with precision due to their focus-by-wire design (except possibly those Oly lenses that have the special MF focus clutch). Even with focus by wire, a given distance on the focus ring should correspond to a given change in focus. But that's not the case. It depends not only on how far but also how fast you turn the ring. Completely idiotic in my not so humble opinion.

However I quickly learned not to do that so even in video, I use only AF-S. I also use the lens on E-PL5 but I never bother to find out whether it works in AF-C, which is to be avoided with this lens.

Right. No point moving to AF-C even when the body allows it (as does my E-M5).

Agree. Probably has changed with the E-M1's PD?

I'll believe it when/if I see it. My E-M1 should arrive any day now. But it does not seem all that clear if/how the E-M1 uses PDAF for AF-C with native MFT (as opposed to FT) lenses. And to the extent that it does, it remains to be seen if that helps any with the 20. I am not holding breath and honestly don't care much. The lens is already doing perfectly well for what I want to use it for.

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tt321
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Re: Not so slow
In reply to Anders W, 5 months ago

Anders W wrote:

tt321 wrote:

Anders W wrote:

G1Houston wrote:

Anders W wrote:

G1Houston wrote:

As some said, you do not want to use it the same way as other lenses. For this, when used indoors, do not use AF-C as it will hunt.

On Pany bodies (the OP has a G3), the lens is not even allowed to enter AF-C as far as I know. My G1 doesn't allow it and I think later Pany bodies behave similarly.

I used it first on a GH1. I do not recall if it can be used in the AF-C mode for still, but in video mode, it will do AF-C by default.

Yes, I was referring to stills only when I said the body wouldn't allow it.

Just had a look. On the G3 AFC is greyed out.

Yes, that's what I thought.

Video AF is somewhat painful indeed.

IIRC, it's not just the noise. It's also slow in video (IIRC, I only tried once), perhaps because they are afraid that the mechanism might overheat if it's running fast and continuously. That may also be part of the reason why Pany bodies won't allow it to use AF-C for stills.

Is this lens unique in this? I will check all my other lenses...

So should use MF in video. I almost exclusively MF in video anyway but the video targeted lenses (such as the power zooms) do AF quite well in video if someone wants to use that feature. So it's a minus for the 20 in that respect.

I hardly shoot any video. But if I did, I'd probably try to MF too. The back-and-forth search that CDAF has to perform looks pretty bad (disturbing) to me in video. PDAF (which should be useable with video if it's on the sensor) should be able to do better in that regard but I have no idea whether it is at all used for video on the only MFT cam that has it (E-M1).

The problem if you try to MF during video with native MFT lenses is that they are no good for pulling focus with precision due to their focus-by-wire design (except possibly those Oly lenses that have the special MF focus clutch). Even with focus by wire, a given distance on the focus ring should correspond to a given change in focus. But that's not the case. It depends not only on how far but also how fast you turn the ring. Completely idiotic in my not so humble opinion.

A bit like flicking on an iPad, do you want precision movements or some kind of interpretation of your speed/acceleration added in to enhance your gestures? They chose to enhance it with the derivatives which is not unreasonable as if you focus slowly you are into precision and if you move fast you want to travel a long distance. They of course should have added the capability of distance only without any derivatives for video, but in the absence of that, they did provide shooting without a lens

However I quickly learned not to do that so even in video, I use only AF-S. I also use the lens on E-PL5 but I never bother to find out whether it works in AF-C, which is to be avoided with this lens.

Right. No point moving to AF-C even when the body allows it (as does my E-M5).

Agree. Probably has changed with the E-M1's PD?

I'll believe it when/if I see it. My E-M1 should arrive any day now. But it does not seem all that clear if/how the E-M1 uses PDAF for AF-C with native MFT (as opposed to FT) lenses. And to the extent that it does, it remains to be seen if that helps any with the 20. I am not holding breath and honestly don't care much. The lens is already doing perfectly well for what I want to use it for.

The last sentence sounds like famous last words. When you discover a new capability and start using it, you will look back and find it hard to image how you could have tolerated life without it. I used to think that standard issue sliced white bread was all I needed for bread. Now I can only vaguely recall those dark ages

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RickPick
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Re: I feel misled: Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II AF is SO SLOW!
In reply to Wesley Byrne, 5 months ago

Wesley Byrne wrote:

RickPick wrote:

You shouldn't expect A/F miracles from a 5 year old design pancake lens. I did an informal test once between this lens and the Olympus 45mm, which is acknowledged to be quite fast. I tried this with a range of light levels. The difference in AFS, provided no hunting was induced, was barely noticeable.

I noticed the difference. I had read that the AF was slower than newer lenses, it also misleading comments like yours saying that there is no noticeable difference in AF speed in real world use (there is).

Yes, it is a little slower, but we are talking hundredths of a second - apart from the lack of CAF and where there is hunting. I do not want to mislead anybody but am just reporting what I myself tried with my own copy. For my own use I never had a problem with the lens and in fact I like it and do find it versatile due to its natural focal length (meaning similar to the human eye view) and bright aperture. If it isn't suitable for your use then sell it and get another one - but please don't complain that you were "mislead", as if there is a conspiracy against you. This is not a "one size fits all" situation by any means.

Thanks,

Rick

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enrique santa
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Wesley you'r right
In reply to Wesley Byrne, 5 months ago

But you prefer to the "oficial" tester on this forun intead of phothographers. I sold it 2 years ago because its really sharp but its the hunting king and really slow.

Now I own the oly 17 1.8 and it focuses like a ray and it is sharp . In a3 size you cant see any differences between 20mm an 17mm.

Next time dont be so confident in our clever-minded testers.

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Olympus OM-D E-M5 Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm 1:2 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm 1:1.8 +1 more
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micksh6
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Re: I feel misled: Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II AF is SO SLOW!
In reply to Wesley Byrne, 5 months ago

Why do you feel mislead? Of course it's slow and it has been shown here long time ago. You just needed to look at the right tests:
http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52045407
http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52049352

A "controlled" test can also show that 20mm focuses much slower than other lenses and hunts more often too. It's not needed to refocus from close-up to infinity in order to see that. These tests show refocusing between about 5 and 7-8 feet.
I think a curved focus target attributes to slow AF with this lens. Slow AF wouldn't be that noticeable on flat target such as brick wall.

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Olympus PEN E-PL5 Olympus E-M1 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4.0-5.6 Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 R +6 more
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Eric Nepean
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Re: I feel misled: Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II AF is SO SLOW!
In reply to Wesley Byrne, 5 months ago

Wesley Byrne wrote:

UPS just delivered my Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II. I had read the reviews and knew the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 autofocus wasn't fast, but I wasn't expecting it to be so unbearably slow. Some here have said that the 20mm f1.7 isn't that slow, and that it autofocuses about as fast as other m43 lenses when large focus adjustments are not needed, but they are wrong. This lens is useless for even slow moving subjects. I am definitely returning this lens.

I know the 20mm f1.7 has many fans, presumably folks who photograph static scenes. In my opinion, compared to the 17mm f1.8 and the 25mm f1.8, the 20mm f1.7 is a dog. Panasonic should be embarrassed for releasing this lens with barely-functional AF.

</end rant>

Hi Wesley - from your gear list I assume you are using amd measuring this lens with the Pana G3 -  can you confirm the body and the AF mode you used? Also are you noticing the slow AF under bright light or low light conditions?

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Eric

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Chris R-UK
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Re: I feel misled: Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II AF is SO SLOW!
In reply to Wesley Byrne, 5 months ago

I never knew that my 20mm f1.7 was slow focusing until the experts on this forum told me about it.

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Chris R

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Eric Nepean
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Re: I feel misled: Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II AF is SO SLOW!
In reply to Chris R-UK, 5 months ago

Chris R-UK wrote:

I never knew that my 20mm f1.7 was slow focusing until the experts on this forum told me about it.

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Chris R

I don't think my copy of the 20/1.7 I  is slow either, but then I have different camera bodies (I think) than Wesley, I have also observed that focusing speed slows with low ambient light level, and it also depends on the contrast detail within the that region.

Which is why asked the OP for a bit more info.

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Eric

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