40mm vs. 50mm FOV on Micro Four Thirds

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Biro, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Real Name:
    A year ago I gifted my Panasonic G1 with kit 14-45mm zoom to my niece. It's her birthday time again and I am considering giving her another lens. The Panasonic 45-200 comes immediately to mind.

    My niece lives in Virginia while I live in New Jersey, so I don't see and talk to her daily or weekly. I do plan to have a brief discussion with her about her lens needs before acting. But it comes down to this: I am also thinking about buying the PanaLeica 25mm for myself and giving her my Panny 20mm.

    And here is where I need to hear from the best and brightest at mu-43.com. I absolutely love the 40mm FOV equivalent I get with the Panny 20mm pancake. The 25mm prime would give me an equivalent FOV of 50mm. Now, I've worked with a 50-53mm FOV on both full frame and APS-C... but not with :43:. It's true that 50mm is simply 50mm in a technical sense. But, as I'm sure some of you already know, it's not always the same at some aesthetic, non-technical level.

    So, I'm asking anyone who has worked with both the 20mm and 25mm on :43: if they have any impressions to share about moving from the wider FOV to the slightly tighter one.

    I could have asked this same question in one paragraph... but that's just me - the frustrated essayist and novelist. :smile: Thanks for reading.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    It is absolutely personal. Personally, I prefer the 20mm to 25mm FoV. Others feel the opposite. And some don't care. So, to answer your question in definite terms, maybe.
  3. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    What Hikari said. I've decided that while the PL 25 is a fantastic lens, I prefer the focal length of the 20mm. I frankly never used the 50mm lens on my 35mm SLRs very much, and I find I don't use it much on m43, either. I'm considering selling it and buying another 20mm, but haven't decided for sure.
  4. sohcsleeper

    sohcsleeper Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 4, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    I started with the 20mm and "upgraded" to the 25mm and honestly, I find the 25mm a bit too tight. What I mean is, when I go out for dinner I like to take my camera along and take a few photos of those accompanying me. With the 20 I could sit where I'm at and take a photo of 2-3 people no problem (head shoulders). With the 25mm its like mostly head shots and I lose context of the dining environment and I find that I have to get up out of my chair. This makes for a bit of a distracted scene and this affects how people (my friends) act in the photo. I lose the candidness of the shot.

    The output from the 25mm is unmatched by any current m4/3 lens. With its bright 1.4 aperture, shooting in low light is easily accomplished. The AF is also blazing. You will hardly ever miss a shot. Compared to the 20mm I often got motion blur from the subject because the AF as just a tad slower and this was ultimately why I opted for the 25mm.

    I hope this helps you make a decision and not make it harder, lol.

    I would keep both! and buy your niece whatever fits her shooting style.
  5. penfan2010

    penfan2010 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 12, 2010
    NJ, USA
    Biro -I just grappled with this issue myself.

    As background, I bought the 20mm F1.7 after really liking the 42mm FOV of my fixed lens Olympus 35 SP rangefinder. I sold my Oly 17 to fund it. Interestingly, while I loved the sharpness and fast aperture of the 20mm, I ended up buying another 17 because I found the 20 FOV a little too tight. After I bought the Oly 45, I essentially shot predominantly with the 17 and 45, and for lowlight shots where I needed a more "normal" FOV, I used my legacy Pen F Zuiko 38 F1.8. Needless to say the 20 sat on my book shelf, too narrow for a wide, too wide for a normal FOV.

    I saw the great photos from the Panny Leica 25, but could never bring myself to shell out that much money for a lens. But last month I forced myself to do a rationalization of my lenses and decided to sell off those which I had not used consistently for 3 or more months. Onto the the Buy & Sell page went my Panny 14, Panny 20 and Oly kit zoom. I therefore found enough money to fund the purchase of the Panny Leica, and I was extremely lucky to get one at Unique Photo for a good price. I really like the FOV (I probably shot 30-40% of my photos in my film only days with the 50mm normal lens of whatever camera I happened to have); I think it truly more versatile than the 20mm in terms of mimicking the FOV of a wide or a short tele, depending on framing. I don't detect any noticeable difference in the sharpness vs. the 20. I'm not that much of a "shoot wide open at all times" hound, but the OOF areas at 1.4 appear more pleasing to me than the 20 at 1.7 (very subjective measures, take note). One of the best things I like about the 25 is that its heft makes it more comfortable to hand hold when I use it with my E-P2 in particular. It feels very much like my OM-1 and 50mm combo, nice, solid, substantial, but still compact. With many of the m43 WA to normal native primes, including the 20, my Pens feel like bigger P&S's; not with the PL 25mm 1.4.

    Ultimately you'll have to think through what type of FOV you tend to shoot with most often, and base your decision on whether you go slightly more wide (in which case, stick with the 20) or whether you tend towards more normal to short-tele photographs, in which case go with the 25 if you can justify the price.

    Hopefully this helps.
  6. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Real Name:
    This response from you and the others above leads to me believe my initial concerns about the slightly tighter FOV are well-placed, at least for me.

    It may very well come down to this. Thanks for the feedback. Any other thoughts are welcome.
  7. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 21, 2012
    Mississippi, USA

    You have a 14-45mm. You could try shooting with it at 25mm and see how it compares to 20mm.

    It's really hard for anybody to give lens recommendations to people with different shooting needs, especially when comparing 2 lenses with very close focal lengths. Having said that I'm going to offer mine anyway :) On 35mm FF my favorite focal length is 35mm, so the 20mm fits the bill better than the 25mm for me. I feel like the 25mm is a bit of no-man's-land. I'd rather go wider or longer, but again that's just me. To me 50mm equivalent is the worst of both worlds--still has a good bit of perspective distortion like a wider angle lens when doing close-up portraits, while also being a bit tight to get in more of the scene like a longer lens. Your mileage might certainly vary.
  8. sohcsleeper

    sohcsleeper Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 4, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    The best part about owning a desirable lens is that its value never really depreciates. Play with both and if you find that you genuinely use both lenses often then keep both, but if one takes a backseat, you'll have no problem selling and collecting back 90% of what you paid. Its really a win-win situation.
  9. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Real Name:
    This is interesting. You sound like a 35mm focal length guy during the film days.

    So, I was wrong. You were more a 50mm guy. :smile: Ironically, I got by for literally several years with only the 50mm f/2 Rokkor-X kit lens on my first film SLR, a Minolta SRT-200 during the mid 1970s. But as the years passed, with the exception of when I needed a true telephoto or portrait lens for specific situations, I gravitated toward 35mm as a general walking-around focal length.

    It's interesting. Most people looking for feedback fall into two categories: Genuine newbies who lack technical knowledge and need to be helped along until they gain enough knowledge and experience. And then there's the second group, which likely I'm in here. Experienced guys who, somewhere deep down, already know the answer but use input from others to recall what they know, clear out the cobwebs and shake it loose.

    I suspect I'm going to keep the 20mm, may try the 25mm and get my niece something separate that she needs.

    Thanks all!
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  10. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I'm very used to seeing through and composing with 50mm. I'm very comfortable with it. Although 40mm is weirdish, I still love the 20 very much.
  11. mnhoj

    mnhoj There and back again

    Dec 3, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Real Name:
    John M
    For places and things I prefer the 14mm.

    For people I prefer the 25mm.

    For carrying one body/lens and shooting both I like the 20mm.

    Since I like/don't mind carrying a lot of gear I don't have/need the 20mm anymore.