Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7

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khcan Junior Member • Posts: 31
Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7

I was convinced here to upgrade my body (likely to OM-D E-M10 II) and get a new lens to improve low light performance. Originally I wanted to keep my camera as small as possible, so I was planning on a pancake. But now I'm not so sure. I might take my camera more places if it had a pancake, but maybe not enough to sacrifice a bit of quality (plus, the body isn't getting any smaller).

What I'm looking for are sharp pictures, nice colours, nice bokeh. By low light, I mean people hanging out indoors at night or outside at dusk.

The Panasonic gets generally good reviews, my only concern is that people often say it's great for a pancake.

What I'm wondering is if the Olympus 25mm f1.8 would produce better pictures in general but especially in low light. They're roughly the same price on amazon.

This lens will be the last one I buy for a while and will likely stay on the camera most of the time. I really just take pictures of friends and family.

Thanks in advance!

 khcan's gear list:khcan's gear list
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pdelux Contributing Member • Posts: 787
Re: Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7
1

"great for a pancake" is pretty much my experience with it. I still have it but rarely use it. At first I was enamored with it, but after I used other lenses, it's flaws become obvious to me.

1, At times it wasnt wide enough, to be used like a 17, at times it was too wide to be used like a normal 25 (i.e.) half body shot etc.

2. suffers from some serious distortion its obviously a compromise to achieve the pancake

3. Its very sharp, but the bokeh is a bit harsh/nervous

4. AF is pretty slow.

This doesnt mean it is not the lens for you, if you need a lens/camera combo you can slide into a pocket, this may be the only option in town.

Size is not too big of a deal for me, but when it is I do bring the 20mm. But an Em10 with a 15, 17 or 25 is not really much bigger than a 20mm and think those lenses while maybe not as sharp, are better all rounders.

If you taking group photos I wouldnt recommend it, as it distorts the people on the edges quite a bit.

 pdelux's gear list:pdelux's gear list
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larsbc Forum Pro • Posts: 14,969
Re: Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7
6

khcan wrote:

The Panasonic gets generally good reviews, my only concern is that people often say it's great for a pancake.

I've never heard of that remark in relation to that lens.  I have the 20/1.7 as well as the 25/1.4 and 15/1.7.  IMO the 20 doesn't lose anything to those other lenses in terms of image quality.  However, compared to them, it is definitely the slowest and noisiest for autofocus.  It still acquits itself just fine for street photography, so the AF isn't THAT slow.  But you'll definitely notice the difference.

I've kept mine because I value its compact size and the FoV is more preferable to me, most times, than the 25.

Androole Contributing Member • Posts: 935
Re: Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7
3

khcan wrote:

What I'm looking for are sharp pictures, nice colours, nice bokeh. By low light, I mean people hanging out indoors at night or outside at dusk.

The Panasonic gets generally good reviews, my only concern is that people often say it's great for a pancake.

That's a surprising comment. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that about it. It's an outstandingly sharp lens - according to DXOMark it equals the resolution of the Olympus 25mm/f1.2 PRO (i.e. the lens that's almost $1000 more expensive than the 25/1.8 you're considering).

What I'm wondering is if the Olympus 25mm f1.8 would produce better pictures in general but especially in low light. They're roughly the same price on amazon.

This lens will be the last one I buy for a while and will likely stay on the camera most of the time. I really just take pictures of friends and family.

The really, really important thing to consider in this case is the focal length. 20mm and 25mm sound similar, but they're surprisingly far apart. I find that the 20mm is still usable indoors, but the 25mm is too tight unless you're only ever including one person in the frame. That alone makes it a lot more versatile to me.

Optically, people will quibble one way or the other, but there's really not anything to pick between the P20mm/1.7 and the O25mm/1.8 on that front. They are both very good.

You can see for yourself on LensTip.

https://www.lenstip.com/401.4-Lens_review-Olympus_M.Zuiko_Digital_25_mm_f_1.8_Image_resolution.html

https://www.lenstip.com/269.4-Lens_review-Panasonic_G_20_mm_f_1.7_ASPH._Image_resolution.html

The only real complaint that should be leveled against the 20mm/1.7 is that it has slower autofocus than modern lenses. Similar AF speeds to many lenses in many other systems, but slow by contemporary M4/3 standards. The 25mm/1.8 is faster in this respect. The AF speed can be helped along by using the touchscreen to select a high contrast edge. When I do this, I find that the 20mm/1.7 still focuses faster than I press the shutter button, so it doesn't hold me back. It's just not like...5 millisecond instantaneous the way brand new lenses are.

The pancake form factor is really nice, too. On a compact body (I'm using my GX7 for reference), it can fit in a pouch or purse or even pocket in a way that is simply not possible with a larger lens, even one the size of the 25mm/1.8. So if you're planning on using it for social photography, that's a big bonus (or it is for me), since it significantly increases the convenience of actually having a good camera with you.

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rashid7
rashid7 Senior Member • Posts: 3,117
Re: Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7
3

I took my 20 out yesterday on GH5... shooting in the mall for an hour+

I didn't notice any issues w/ AF.  It is a stellar lens in all respects, and it made the camera look smaller... which helped keep security off my back (=an issue here in Dubai)-;

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dezinerd
dezinerd Senior Member • Posts: 1,070
Re: Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7
1

So what I would say is neither, if you want a pancake how about the Oly 17 2.8 that people love to hate but I am not sure why. My copy is sharp in the middle and has ok bokeh but it is thin about an inch thick including the mount which is metal. 34 mm equivalent was commonly used for small groups of people, now that folks are desensitized to distortion from looking at bad cellphone selfies anything goes

. A fantastic bargain is the Panasonic 25 1.7 can be had for as little as $100 when on sale. It focuses close is sharp and has pleasing bokeh. Great length for 3/4 body portraits but as mentioned earlier get close if you like. The Panasonic/Leica 25-1.4 and 15 1.7 are better but as you are trying this out get the entry level models and if it clicks you can always upgrade. Buying used  or refurbished is a good way to keep the cost down.

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Dennis

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Boss of Sony Senior Member • Posts: 1,521
Re: Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7

pdelux wrote:

"great for a pancake" is pretty much my experience with it. I still have it but rarely use it. At first I was enamored with it, but after I used other lenses, it's flaws become obvious to me.

1, At times it wasnt wide enough, to be used like a 17, at times it was too wide to be used like a normal 25 (i.e.) half body shot etc.

2. suffers from some serious distortion its obviously a compromise to achieve the pancake

3. Its very sharp, but the bokeh is a bit harsh/nervous

4. AF is pretty slow.

This doesnt mean it is not the lens for you, if you need a lens/camera combo you can slide into a pocket, this may be the only option in town.

Size is not too big of a deal for me, but when it is I do bring the 20mm. But an Em10 with a 15, 17 or 25 is not really much bigger than a 20mm and think those lenses while maybe not as sharp, are better all rounders.

If you taking group photos I wouldnt recommend it, as it distorts the people on the edges quite a bit.

I prefer the 25mm (Panasonic f1.7) because it's a better all-rounder, and much better for landscapes and for stitching panoramas, and faster/more reliable AF. But I do think the 20mm is a special lens with a very nice rendition, especially of close-up scenes and people. The bokeh in my opinion is extremely nice, much nicer than the Panasonic 25mm f1.7, but maybe not that much nicer than the Olympus 25mm f1.8.

Here are 2 baby shots I got with my old (now sold) 20mm f1.7:

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OP khcan Junior Member • Posts: 31
Lots of good points to consider here

Thanks everyone!

I was considering the Oly 17 2.8 at first too, but it just seems like there's a lot more praise for the panasonic on here, so that swayed me to think the extra $ is probably worth it.

The focal length could be key here. I definitely take quite a bit of pictures of family events indoors.

I'll take a look at some of the links when I have a chance.

Thanks for the pictures, it's great to see a lens in action.

In terms of "great, for a pancake", it seems like I've read a lot people say it's the best lens ever, followed by people pointing out some flaws, and then the original person saying, well, I mean, for a pancake.

 khcan's gear list:khcan's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8 LG G5 +1 more
OP khcan Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: Lots of good points to consider here

Also, in terms of AF, I don't think my camera is currently very fast so I might not notice.

 khcan's gear list:khcan's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8 LG G5 +1 more
Boss of Sony Senior Member • Posts: 1,521
Re: Lots of good points to consider here

And for sharpness try this one:

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 1,752
Re: Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7
2

khcan wrote:

I was convinced here to upgrade my body (likely to OM-D E-M10 II) and get a new lens to improve low light performance. Originally I wanted to keep my camera as small as possible, so I was planning on a pancake. But now I'm not so sure. I might take my camera more places if it had a pancake, but maybe not enough to sacrifice a bit of quality (plus, the body isn't getting any smaller).

I have both these lenses, but for different purposes. The 20mm is for a small light kit often on a GM5, sometimes on an EM1ii, typically outdoors. For kids moving around the 25 1.8 would be better, for faster AF and for not crowding them to get the picture. The difference in focal length is more than one might think as the 25 is gives a tighter composition. Since I purchased the 20mm the 25mm hasn't been used much. The biggest question for you is what focal length will suit you best.

What I'm looking for are sharp pictures, nice colours, nice bokeh. By low light, I mean people hanging out indoors at night or outside at dusk.

The Panasonic gets generally good reviews, my only concern is that people often say it's great for a pancake.

What I'm wondering is if the Olympus 25mm f1.8 would produce better pictures in general but especially in low light. They're roughly the same price on amazon.

Since you want as small as possible try the 20mm 1.7 first. Take it out at dusk and see if it works for you. If focus is too slow or the focal length doesn't suit you then send it back and get the 25 1.8.

This lens will be the last one I buy for a while and will likely stay on the camera most of the time. I really just take pictures of friends and family.

For several friends at a time the 20mm is a better choice.

Thanks in advance!

jsaras Regular Member • Posts: 421
Re: Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7
1

The image quality is as good as any in the M43 universe and it's certainly as good as my Olympus 25mm f1.8; probably a tiny bit sharper.  It does have its occasional AF and noise faults but that shouldn't deter you if you like the focal length.

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Skeeterbytes Forum Pro • Posts: 13,839
Re: Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7
1

I have both, got the 20 first then the 25 a couple years later. I prefer the 25 overall and use it more now than the Lumix.

Both are sharp and from the standpoint of which to pick, angle of view can be the main reason--25 being "normal" normal and 20 wide normal. I like the 25 as a standalone do-all small prime.

If focus response and silence are important the 25 is the clear choice and the only one I bother to C-AF with. It also comes with a hood.

My $0.02.

Rick

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007peter
007peter Forum Pro • Posts: 11,620
I find 25mm (50mm) in 4:3 ratio TOO TIGHT & Uncomfortable indoor
1

I wouldn't worry about sharpness with either lens.  AFAIK, panny 20mm is rated by DxO as one of the sharpest M43 prime, and Olympus 25mm is no slough either.

My problem is that 25mm (in 4:3 ratio) feel very restricting to me.  In indoor sitting, I found myself often with my Back-Against-the-Wall, trying to squeeze in more people into the shot.  Yet for outdoor, I find 25mm too short and prefer my Olympus 45/1.8 for outdoors.  Thus, 25mm (4:3) became a real No-Man's Land for my type of shoot.

YMMV, but I would pickup the 20mm (40mm) over 25mm in a heart-beat.  That extra 5mm wider makes a big difference in everyday usability.

richj20 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,004
Test for yourself...

khcan wrote:

The Panasonic gets generally good reviews, my only concern is that people often say it's great for a pancake.

What I'm wondering is if the Olympus 25mm f1.8 would produce better pictures in general but especially in low light. They're roughly the same price on amazon.

The way to be sure is to test yourself -- both can be rented.

Otherwise, you will have opinions equally for both lenses and you will end up deciding based on someone else's opinion. ( Here is mine: the Panasonic 20mm even though a pancake!).

- Richard

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Mark Thornton Veteran Member • Posts: 3,926
Re:Back against the wall

I prefer the 17mm for this, or when that is still too tight I have 12mm or 7.5mm FE. The problem completely goes away with that last option

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OP khcan Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7

greg 123 wrote:

khcan wrote:

I was convinced here to upgrade my body (likely to OM-D E-M10 II) and get a new lens to improve low light performance. Originally I wanted to keep my camera as small as possible, so I was planning on a pancake. But now I'm not so sure. I might take my camera more places if it had a pancake, but maybe not enough to sacrifice a bit of quality (plus, the body isn't getting any smaller).

I have both these lenses, but for different purposes. The 20mm is for a small light kit often on a GM5, sometimes on an EM1ii, typically outdoors. For kids moving around the 25 1.8 would be better, for faster AF and for not crowding them to get the picture. The difference in focal length is more than one might think as the 25 is gives a tighter composition. Since I purchased the 20mm the 25mm hasn't been used much. The biggest question for you is what focal length will suit you best.

What I'm looking for are sharp pictures, nice colours, nice bokeh. By low light, I mean people hanging out indoors at night or outside at dusk.

The Panasonic gets generally good reviews, my only concern is that people often say it's great for a pancake.

What I'm wondering is if the Olympus 25mm f1.8 would produce better pictures in general but especially in low light. They're roughly the same price on amazon.

Since you want as small as possible try the 20mm 1.7 first. Take it out at dusk and see if it works for you. If focus is too slow or the focal length doesn't suit you then send it back and get the 25 1.8.

Thing is, I'll be ordering off amazon.ca so I need to get this right the first time. I don't want the hassle of trying to return something if I don't have to.

This lens will be the last one I buy for a while and will likely stay on the camera most of the time. I really just take pictures of friends and family.

For several friends at a time the 20mm is a better choice.

Right, that's the impression I'm getting and the direction I'm leaning.

Thanks in advance!

 khcan's gear list:khcan's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8 LG G5 +1 more
OP khcan Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: Lens advice - Oly 25mm f1.9 or Pan 20mm f1.7

Skeeterbytes wrote:

I have both, got the 20 first then the 25 a couple years later. I prefer the 25 overall and use it more now than the Lumix.

Both are sharp and from the standpoint of which to pick, angle of view can be the main reason--25 being "normal" normal and 20 wide normal. I like the 25 as a standalone do-all small prime.

If focus response and silence are important the 25 is the clear choice and the only one I bother to C-AF with. It also comes with a hood.

My $0.02.

Rick

I could go this route too, but I think I'll start with the 20. I don't want to get into back-against-the-wall situations when the family wants a group shot

 khcan's gear list:khcan's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8 LG G5 +1 more
OP khcan Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: I find 25mm (50mm) in 4:3 ratio TOO TIGHT & Uncomfortable indoor

007peter wrote:

I wouldn't worry about sharpness with either lens. AFAIK, panny 20mm is rated by DxO as one of the sharpest M43 prime, and Olympus 25mm is no slough either.

My problem is that 25mm (in 4:3 ratio) feel very restricting to me. In indoor sitting, I found myself often with my Back-Against-the-Wall, trying to squeeze in more people into the shot. Yet for outdoor, I find 25mm too short and prefer my Olympus 45/1.8 for outdoors. Thus, 25mm (4:3) became a real No-Man's Land for my type of shoot.

YMMV, but I would pickup the 20mm (40mm) over 25mm in a heart-beat. That extra 5mm wider makes a big difference in everyday usability.

I think I've been convinced of the difference in usability, I don't want to get into back-against-the-wall situations. Also, I've seen the 45/1/8 flickr group and a lot of those pictures are outstanding. Looks like it would be a great second prime.

 khcan's gear list:khcan's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8 LG G5 +1 more
OP khcan Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: Test for yourself...

richj20 wrote:

khcan wrote:

The Panasonic gets generally good reviews, my only concern is that people often say it's great for a pancake.

What I'm wondering is if the Olympus 25mm f1.8 would produce better pictures in general but especially in low light. They're roughly the same price on amazon.

The way to be sure is to test yourself -- both can be rented.

Otherwise, you will have opinions equally for both lenses and you will end up deciding based on someone else's opinion. ( Here is mine: the Panasonic 20mm even though a pancake!).

- Richard

I'm not sure of my rental options around here, but I did consider setting my zoom to 20 and 25 for a bit of a test.

I figured there would be opinions in favour of both options (and other options suggested), but I wanted to hear some of those opinions in this context and hear the pros and cons.  Overall I'd say it's been helpful and has tipped the scale back to the 20mm.

 khcan's gear list:khcan's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8 LG G5 +1 more
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