How I decided on the correct lens for me...

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jhunna Contributing Member • Posts: 990
How I decided on the correct lens for me...

I have been made several posts around the various lenses I own that overlap each focal range. It has been a learning experience for me so I figured I would share my process and why I am keeping the lenses I am keeping. I shoot primarily for the enjoyment and to capture the moments in my family's life, such as kids sports, birthdays and I enjoy street shooting as a hobby. The lenses I have reviewed over the last 3 years are the following:
12-32, 12-60/3.5, 14-140/3.5II, BCL15, 15/1.7, 17/1.8, 20/1.7, 14/2.5

Listing criteria in the order of importance to me:

1. Size:  I want small lenses period, so I love the smaller barrel lens.  And I enjoy pancakes even more.  My ideal lens is a stubby pancake, because it makes it easy to travel and carry everyday.

2. Focal Length:  Shooting with these lenses I found I felt the most comfortable with the 17-18mm focal length.  Its wide enough indoors, and not too wide outdoors and its the way I "see" the world.

3.  Sharpness:  If a lens is soft I just don't enjoy shooting with it.  I want good crisp shots.  I can always soften later, I may not be able to get it sharper without it looking artificial.

4.  Character: This is very subjective, but there will be some lenses that you look at that you simply enjoy viewing more than the others.

5.  Handling:  Handling is something I originally discounted, but it plays a large part in the photography experience.  A great handling lens makes the process more fun.

6. Performance:  How fast does it find focus, is it quiet, how quickly does it interact with the camera, image stabilization, and are all features available?

7. Flexibility: How many situations can you use the lens in, is it good in video, low light, is it one lens that can do everything given you have satisfied the above requirements? 
Looking at the above you can see I immediately discounted the big zooms because they are too big to use everyday.  I also discounted the BCL because it wasn't sharp enough.  The remaining lens were tougher.  I dropped the 17 because it wasn't as sharp as the others.

Now it becomes tougher, the 15 and 20 both pop with character, but the 12-32 and 14 still produced good images.  The 15 and 14 handled better, but the 20 was ok, and I found I didn't miss the lack of physical manual focusing with the 12-32.
Performance 15, 12-32!!!  were the best performers.  Particular be cause of quick focusing, BUT CAF was exceptional with both lenses. The 14 stutters with CAF and the 20 can't do it at all.
Flexibility I can make all of these lenses work, but the 15 gave me great performance in low light, and the 12-32 gave me zoom ranges and decent performance.
So with all these options how do you decide?  Well my basis had been would I miss the lens if I did not have it?  Have I used the lenses in enough situations to know that I am missing out on anything?  Is the lens easy and fun to use?  
I ultimately decided that the 15/1.7 is the best lens for me in this range.  No matter the situation I know I can get a good shot with or without flash, that will have some character and it is the best performer out of the bunch.
Surprisingly the 12-32 was second.  I set it at 18mm and treat it like an f5.6 prime. It is absolutely a marvel, and if I knew more about photography when I first received this lens I would probably have saved my self a lot of time and money.  The lens does lack character in rendering, but if you just want to get the shot, its hard to beat it.  And because of the IS Its even decent in low light IF your subjects aren't moving.
The 20/1.7 which was my old favorite was just a bit unwieldy compared to the 15 and 12-32, and the CAF was non existent, and that's something I would need with my kids sports.  Lastly the speed of focusing wasn't a problem for street shooting, but compared to other lenses you would miss more shots and the focusing is noisy in video.

 jhunna's gear list:jhunna's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm F1.7 ASPH Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm F4.0-5.6 ASPH Mega OIS Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm F1.7
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