Two Small Lenses, Two Small Cameras

Started Feb 20, 2017 | User reviews thread
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Michael Jardine
Michael Jardine Senior Member • Posts: 1,925
Two Small Lenses, Two Small Cameras
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[Note: Looks like DPR has automatically placed this review in the APS-C section. I can't seem to move it to FE section.]

Lumix 20mm f/1.7 for MFT, vs Sony 35mm f/2.8 for FE

Because I like both Full Frame and MFT format mirrorless cameras, I like to compare similar lenses on both camera systems. Here I take a look at two of the smallest lenses offered for each system: the Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 and the Lumix 20mm f/1.7. The Sony 35mm is by far the smallest autofocus lens available for their full frame system. The Lumix is even smaller - as are the bodies I used them on - and offers a 40mm equivalent field of view in full frame terms.

Sony A7Rii with 35mm f/2.8 ZA

Olympus E-PL5 with Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancake

DEPTH OF FIELD

As small walk-around lenses, neither is expected to be a Bokeh monster. But both perform very well, given those lowered expectations.

These two sets of photos were both shot wide open in order to show side to side clarity as well as depth of field and bokeh. f/1.7 on a m43 camera is equivalent to f/3.4 on full frame, so the two lenses are only one or two stops apart.

To me, both are sharp and have similar DOF, though the Sony 35mm f/2.8 is a bit smoother, which is to be expected given it's smaller aperture. However the Lumix performs comparatively well and has very reasonable DOF for a pancake lens, as you can see in the photos below and in the linked galleries.

This chair photo is a bit of an unfair comparison because I had to shoot at iSO 6400 using the Sony (it was darker that day).

Sony

Lumix

I shot this lamp up close in broad Pacific Northwest winter daylight, which is to say not bright at all...

Sony

Lumix

GOING CLOSE

For close-ups, the Lumix has a much closer focusing distance, which allows you to get up to the letters on a keyboard. Just want you always wanted to do, right? The Sony 35mm only focuses up to about 18 inches. Lucky the camera has 42 megapixels to crop from. Personally, I prefer the Lumix up close.

Sony

Lumix

OUT AND ABOUT

Let's get even more un-scientific and look at some photos taken "in the field."

Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 on various Olympus bodies

I just love this lens for people pics and for still-lifes. Together with a small body such as the E-PL5 or OMD-EM10, you can drop it into a blazer pocket or a cargo short pocket. It's that small. The focus is not quite as fast as the Sony 35 but it's my favorite pocketable lens for MFT.

Jeremy Loerch by Michael Jardine for Bainbridge Magazine

Still life

Street urchin, Saigon

Gallery of photos taken with this lens: https://qamera.smugmug.com/Gear/Lumix-20mm-f17

Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA on A7Rii

I haven't spent as much time with this lens but I love it for landscapes and also for hand-held low-light photography. Of course, Sony and Zeiss make 35mm lenses with much lower apertures, but those are more expensive and substantially less pocketable. This one strikes a good balance.

Bamboo forest, Kyoto

Transit at Chicago O'hare. Two frames stitched together.

Atchafalaya River bridge, Louisiana

Gallery here: https://qamera.smugmug.com/Gear/Sony-35mm-f28/

You can also view and download full-res versions of the photos in this article here .

Coming soon: A short review of two portrait lenses for both systems.

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 Michael Jardine's gear list:Michael Jardine's gear list
Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8 Nikon D800 Olympus E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M10 Sony a9 +9 more
Sony FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T*
Wideangle prime lens • Sony FE • SEL35F28Z
Announced: Oct 16, 2013
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Olympus PEN E-PL5 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Sony a7R II Sony FE 35mm F2.8
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