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All I Want Is 20/20 Vision

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by goldenlight, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    With apologies to Blondie..........

    Many years ago I had an Olympus 35RC compact rangefinder camera with a fixed 42mm prime lens, which went many places with me where I didn't care to take an SLR and bag full of lenses. Having just one focal length may seem rather restrictive but I found it could also be liberating, eliminating many choices and decisions to allow me to concentrate on the image. Of course, you have to learn to recognize subjects and compositions that are suited to the lens and be prepared to walk forward or step back in the absence of a zoom function, but you do eventually learn to see like the lens.

    The day that little camera broke I could have cried, but my photography was becoming more “serious” and I took to carting a 35mm SLR and half a dozen prime lenses around with me, followed later by a medium format system with a similar number of optics. Amongst these lenses I always had a 35mm and 50mm, or medium format equivalent, but I often missed having something in between, just like the lens on my little compact.

    Moving on to a DSLR with a bag full of zooms this was no longer an issue, for I was spoilt for choice. It was by far the most flexible and versatile system I had ever used, but it was useless when it wasn't with me because I didn't want the hassle of lugging it around just on the off-chance of seeing a picture. I started to hanker again for a similar camera to the little Olympus.

    Micro Four Thirds seemed to offer the solution but rather than opt for one of the little Pens I was swayed by the inbuilt EVF and articulated screen of the Panasonic G1. Unfortunately it was the wrong choice for me as, although small compared to a DSLR, it is nevertheless just too cumbersome to be a true take anywhere, any time kind of camera. Also, I didn't get on with the menus or some of the controls and I wasn't getting the kind of JPEGs that I have come to expect from my Olympus DSLRs. Having said that, it's a great little camera and it's my fault entirely for making the wrong choice for my needs.

    Recently I started yearning for a Pen and eventually bit the bullet, financing it by the reluctant sale of my much loved but now almost redundant Bronica system. The kit zoom lens that came with my E-PL1 is really dinky but is a bit slow and doesn't quite make a truly compact package. However this time Panasonic has come to the rescue in the form of the 20mm f1.7, which is a pretty close equivalent to the 42mm Zuiko I had on my old 35RC all those years ago, except it's faster and maybe even sharper!

    So in a way I've come full circle, back to my roots but with up to date technology. The Panny/Pen combination just fits in the same small Camera Care Systems (whatever happened to them?) pouch that I used with the little rangefinder. Mind you, several years of using zooms almost exclusively has given me a lazy eye, letting the ring on the lens barrel do all the work. Now I have to learn how to see again, to recognise situations and compositions which suit that little pancake prime.

    It's early days yet but I'm enjoying the new kit immensely, just snapping whatever catches my eye and grateful that I have a camera with me all those times when I wouldn't have bothered taking a DSLR. It's also useful at home, sitting on my desk always ready to hand rather than zipped up in a bag stowed away in a cupboard. Now all I want is 20/20 vision - to match the 20mm focal length of that little gem!

    Here's a few pictures I've snapped so far, nothing of particular merit but nevertheless they've all given me a pleasure that I would otherwise have missed.

    My cat Pumpkin doing what cats do best

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    First signs of autum in my garden

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    Snapped on the way home from taking my daughter to school

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    B&W conversion of old Daimler convertable spotted while shopping in our local town

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    Ducks on the village pond

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    • Like Like x 3
  2. Gwendal

    Gwendal Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 6, 2010
    Weren't they also singing "Heart of glass" ? ;-)
    Anyway - always interesting to see how people end up with the Pen !
    • Like Like x 1
  3. JoeFriday

    JoeFriday Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 28, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    John, I can totally relate to your thoughts.. I have a Canonet and a Vivitar 35ES.. both very similar to your old Olympus. They've taken some of my best photos, and the lack of zoom is more of a blessing because you become more familiar with the field of view and learn how to use it to your advantage. It's pretty obvious that you're doing that quite well.

    I REALLY need to buy that Lumix 20/1.7 lens so I can start taking photos like my old rangefinders produced. I always preferred the 40mm view over the 'standard' 35mm so that lens would be a natural for me.
  4. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Great photos!
  5. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Hi Brett,

    Yes, it's amazing how much difference there is between 35mm and 40-42mm (equivalent focal lengths). I think it's not so much the slightly wider field of view of but rather that 35mm is the point where wide-angle characteristics and distortions, although quite mild, first become apparent. The 40mm has a more "natural" feel.

    My first impressions are that it a fantastic lens. If you can afford one, get it!

    I very much enjoyed looking at your Flickr, you've got a good eye and some great pictures.
  6. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Thanks Peter, that's a real compliment comming from you, I always admire your work. :smile:
  7. crcal

    crcal Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 21, 2010
    Honolulu, HI
    I enjoyed reading this post, excellent pictures to back it up. :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
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