Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Review
4 Conclusion & samples
Conclusion - Pros
- Extremely small size and light weight - the perfect match for the E-P1 and GF1
- Fast maximum aperture
- Impressive image quality at all apertures
- Good build quality, proper manual focus ring and non-rotating front element
Conclusion - Cons
- Comparatively expensive (at least at launch)
- No lens hood
The Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH is a lens that we've been looking forward to seeing for real ever since Panasonic first showed a mock-up back at Photokina 2008. The good news is that it's been well worth the wait - the 20mm is an excellent lens, especially considering its tiny size. It does well in all aspects of our studio tests, and produces fine images in a wide range of situations while also focusing quickly, silently and decisively. On compact Micro Four Thirds bodies such as the E-P1 and GF1, it offers impressive image quality and low-light capability in a package significantly smaller and more discreet than any DSLR system. The last few years have seen Panasonic rapidly improving its cameras; the 20mm F1.7 sees the company flexing its muscles in the field of lens design and showing it means business here too. We're unashamed fans of fast primes, and it's great to see Panasonic providing one relatively early in the development of Micro Four Thirds.
Of course many Micro Four Thirds owners will be most interested in deciding between the 20mm F1.7 and the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 17mm F2.8 Pancake. We were a little underwhelmed by the Olympus lens - it's competent without being outstanding - and in our opinion the 20mm is a much better choice. It's only a little larger and heavier, yet outperforms the 17mm in every aspect of our studio tests, while capturing almost three times as much light. However it is more expensive (although by how much depends greatly on where you live), and some users will still prefer the 17mm for its wider angle of view and E-P1-matching styling.
Speaking of angle of view, that 40mm-equivalent may initially look strange and unfamiliar, but we suspect many buyers will be in for a pleasant surprise. It's not a focal length which particularly enables you to generate visual impact through tricks of perspective, or via subject isolation from the background as with telephoto - instead you have to work on composition, and observation of light. The successful images that you get with this lens can have a natural, unforced look to them that may well make them some of your favorites.
With the fast F1.7 maximum aperture, Panasonic has also placed a shot across the bows of the other manufacturers producing similar cameras and lenses, who have apparently decided that F2.8 is good enough. In contrast the 20mm pancake lets in a stop and half more light, so a shot which would require a shutter speed of 1/20 sec at F2.8 (for example) becomes relatively comfortable at 1/50 sec F1.7. This makes the lens much more flexible in low-light situations; you're less likely to get blur through either subject motion or camera shake, and so can frequently shoot indoors without needing flash (thereby avoiding the 'rabbit-in-the-headlamps' look which has plagued social snapshots ever since small flashes were first mounted on compact cameras). And while the lens itself doesn't have image stabilization, if you use it on an E-P1 with its body-based IS you can shoot hand-held in vanishingly low light levels, such as at night under low-level street lighting (of course you'll still get blur from subject motion, which IS can't prevent).
Of course this being a Micro Four Thirds lens, it's important to acknowledge that the final image quality is aided by the close integration into the system of software corrections for distortion (and, when using Panasonic's own cameras, lateral chromatic aberration). While this is apparently anathema to some people, we think it's just intelligent use of the possibilities offered by digital processing - we're in favor of any method which helps users get better pictures more easily. Anyway in the case of the 20mm, the degree of distortion is relatively low, and the required corrections therefore small. It's also important to appreciate that while lateral chromatic aberration is not corrected when using this lens on the E-P1, the images don't suffer very much from this as the degree of fringing isn't very high (and many users will happily take Olympus's trademark color rendition in exchange).
Overall, we can't help but conclude that the 20mm F1.7 is the first must-have lens for Micro Four Thirds, and one which especially makes sense with the compact-bodied E-P1 and GF1. On these cameras it provides a winning combination of small size, high all-round image quality and excellent low-light capability. The only real negative is that it's quite expensive (at least at launch) compared to similarly-fast normal primes for other formats (such as the Nikon 35mm F1.8G DX). But given the quality you get in such a small package, we think it's a price worth paying.
|Detail||Rating (out of 10)|
|Ergonomics & handling||8.5|
There are two samples galleries, 31 images on the Olympus E-P1 and 16 on the Panasonic DMC-GF1. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. A reduced size image (within 1024 x 1024 bounds) is provided to be more easily viewed in your browser. As always the original untouched image is available by clicking on this reduced image.
Panasonic 20mm F1.7 Review Samples
Panasonic 20mm F1.7 Review samples (GF1)
|Prague by Manuel Jos Carvajal|
from Your City - Rooftops
|Docklands, Victoria, Australia... by Timotis77|
from Where I live
|DONALD SPRAYING STEAM by TX Photo Doc|
from Car Shows 2018
|Just happy! by fan700|
Researchers at NVIDIA have used artificial intelligence to train a system that's capable of turning standard 30fps video into 240fps slow-mo video with minimal loss in quality.
Loupedeck has updated its popular Lightroom editing console with a new '+' version featuring improved build quality, more customization and support for some non-Adobe software.
Apple released a new batch of mobile photography tutorial videos this week, each briefly demonstrating how to perform various camera actions using the flagship iPhone X.
Adobe has announced development of Project Rush, a cross-device video editing application that consolidates the entire video creation workflow, from shooting to social media sharing, in a single application.
Adobe's quarterly financial report was just published, and the news is good. Q2 2018 saw a new quarterly revenue record of $2.20 billion, and 22% growth to $1.55 billion in its Digital Media segment.
Just months after launching its QuartzLine filters for DSLR and mirrorless lenses, PolarPro has launched a buyback program that will give you credit towards a PolarPro filter for trading in an old one - even if it isn't theirs.
Sigma has announced that five of its Sony E-Mount Art-series primes, announced earlier this year, are now shipping.
Adobe has announced a raft of updates across its suite of Creative Cloud apps, including Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC.
The FUJINON GF 45mm F2.8 R WR is a 36mm equivalent fast prime for Fujifilm's GFX 50S. We've been shooting with one for a few days, and we're impressed. Check out our sample gallery to judge for yourself.
Video editing software package Video Pro X has received what is described as its biggest update yet to mark ten years since Magix Video Pro was launched.
Back in 2010, Canon announced that it was developing the world's largest CMOS sensor, measuring about 40 times larger than full frame. The company has just updated its website with more details.
Samyang has launched its latest lens, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 EF. This telephoto prime is a direct competitor to Canon's $1,600 alternative—and considering it's expected to retail for half the price, it looks like quite the bargain.
Scanning film takes forever and photographing negatives is a pain. The Pixl-latr aims to provide a simple solution.
Google has published an 18-page study fully detailing its synthetic depth-of-field technology that makes its single-camera Portrait Mode possible. The in-depth paper shows a degree of openness and academic mindset unusual for the industry.
Rugged, waterproof compact cameras are tough enough to survive even the most action-packed vacation, but they're not the only choice for capturing those great memories. Photographer Josh Root takes us through the options.
Kodak has restarted production of one of its most famous film emulsions - Ektachrome. Popular Science editor Stan Horaczek recently go to take a look inside.
The Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD is an affordable F2.8 standard zoom for full frame Sony E-mount cameras. What's it like, what are the trade-offs, and what are the alternatives? Chris and Jordan take a closer look...
We've updated our Best Drones buying guide and there's a new winner. Find out which drone was our favorite and learn more about all current models in our updated guide.
A teardown of a Nikon D850 has provided proof that the camera's sensor is made by Sony Semiconductor. The chip's design and performance already strongly supported this, but the confirmation also gives a hint about how the industry works.
Leica Camera has announced a new compact camera that features a 24-360mm F3.3-6.4 zoom lens and a 20MP 1” MOS sensor. Essentially a re-badged Panasonic Lumix ZS/TZ200, the Leica C-Lux will save Raw and JPEG files, will offer 4K video and has a viewfinder with a 2.33 million-dot resolution.
Leica has launched a limited edition M10 with a contoured handgrip designed by luxury car manufacturer Zagato. And, to celebrate the opening of a new part of the company's Wetzlar factory, a pair of Leica-made watches are due this autumn.
The new Mijia gimbal provides 3-axis stabilization and can charge the battery of the attached device.
YouTuber George Tomlin explains the concept of sub-framing and details how you can use it to take not only make the composition more interesting, but also provide context for the scene you're shooting.
British photographer Drew Gardner tells us how his gigapixel image of the queen's birthday parade came together.
YouTube channel Company Man has shared a 12-minute video explaining the history of Kodak and the factors that led to it going from industry leader to bankrupt business.
Neewer, a photo gear brand out of China, has launched a new budget APS-C lens for Fuji X and Sony E mounts. The Fuji X mount lens offering has appeared on Amazon as a new release with a $119.99 price tag, but is currently listed as unavailable.
Two years after launching its first photo filter, Aurora Aperture is back at it again with the Kickstarter launch of its PowerXND Mark II filters.
Nikon has announced the development of the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm F5.6E PF ED VR lens. Thanks to its use of 'phase fresnel' optics, Nikon claims that the lens will be small and light enough to be used handheld.
MIOPS has opened up a Kickstarter campaign for its latest product, the Capture360. This pocket-sized device is a versatile motion control box designed to be as simple or robust as your needs desire.