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HELP ME!!! Pan 20 vs. Pan-Leica 25...which is right FOR ME?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by LowriderS10, Apr 28, 2014.

  1. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Right off the bat, I apologize...I know it's one of the most beaten-to-death topics in this community. I've been reading up on these lenses, trying them out in stores, etc for about 8 months and STILL can't make up my mind. I'd like to get your input on this.

    My gear: Oly OM-D, Samyang 7.5 FE, Oly 9-18, Oly 12-50, Oly 45 1.8 and Oly 75 1.8. They all serve their specific purposes. The FE, UWA and 45 are my travel kit. The 12-50 is my walkaround/macro/bad weather lens (planning a trip to the jungles of Borneo and wanted a weathersealed lens) and the 75 is the "princess." It doesn't travel often, but when I do, I love it.

    What I really want now is a high-quality, compact walkaround. In fact, I want something *TINY* to take full advantage of the size/weight strengths of the M4/3 platform. I want a pancake bad, and the best one for my purposes is the 20 (not that much bigger than the 14 2.5/17 2.8, while being significantly faster and somewhat sharper). It also happens to be a FL I'm familiar with and love (used my Canon 40 pancake on my 5D and 5D Mark II cameras extensively). It would bring something to the table none of my other lenses has (therefore filling a unique niche and need): it's ultra compact. There's nothing I don't like about the P20.

    However, I keep being drawn back to the PL25, for a few reasons. Here (Korea), the PL25 is only $100 more than the P20. The amount of bokeh is stunning on the PL25 (though the actual quality I find more attractive on the P20). However, there are a few things I don't like. I'm not a huge fan of the FL, I don't like how big or heavy it is.

    I keep wanting the PL25, but then I remember that I could have the P20 *AND* the O45 with me for the same size/weight, and the O45 will give me more bokeh (at equivalent camera to subject/background distances) than the PL25 could ever dream of.

    The more I think about it, the more it makes sense for me to get the P20 (because it's small, light, sharp and unique), and not just get yet another lens because it has great bokeh.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    834
    Sep 30, 2013
    I've owned both the Pan 20/1.7 and 25/1.4, here is my take:

    The 20: Quite a bit smaller and lighter (for me too small, I would often smudge front element due to not having anywhere to put my left hand), very sharp lens even wide open, but loud and slow to focus, especially prone to hunting incessantly in low light. In low light there is visible banding on the EM5 and EM1 past ISO 3200 or so.

    The 25: Bigger, and larger, but not a particularly big or large lens (I use it with EM5 and EM1, it might seem bigger on the more compact bodies), the extra half stop of light is nice, and it certainly focuses faster, quieter, and hunts quite a bit less. Image quality to me is better, I'm not sure if its any sharper, but the rendering is better and I prefer the bokeh. The larger aperture and slight longer focal length makes it easier to isolate your subject/blur the background as well, which is a plus for me.

    If small size is the biggest factor, and you can live with the other quirks, get the 20/1.7.

    If absolute smallest size is not a concern, I would suggest the 25/1.4. For something a little smaller, but without the 20's AF issues, maybe the Olympus 25/1.8 or Oly 17/1.8. On an EM5 or EM1 I really find the size difference between a lens like the 20/1.7 and the 25/1.4 to be negligible, neither setup is going to fit in my pocket (even a jacket pocket which is doable is simply uncomfortable).

    I have the Oly 17/1.8, which I prefer over the 20/1.7 as well, mostly due to the faster and quieter focusing. I don't really understand the hate this lens seems to get, it may be less sharp than the 20/1.7, but I don't see it in real world use. Though to be totally honest I prefer my 25/1.4 and 12/2, the 17/1.8 is a bit neglected.
     
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  3. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    The 20 is more a tight 35mm equivalent than a wider 50mm. They are different enough focal lengths, so maybe the real question is which one do you buy first.

    I carry the P20 and O45 almost always (and add lenses depending on the situation). I love the 20. It's my most used lens, and depending on the day you ask, it's usually my favorite as well.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Thank you for your detailed reply EarthQuake, I really appreciate it!

    GFFPhoto: I think first I need to buy a lens that does things my other (numerous) lenses don't...and so far I don't have a truly tiny lens, and I've been wanting a pancake since buying my OM-D a year ago. I think it's time to get a pancake, then decide what I want to do. As far as pancakes go, the 14 2.5 and 17 2.8 are too slow and I'm not 100% sold on those FLs and the 17 1.8 is too expensive ($100 more than the 20) and too big (I know it's small, but if size is my objective, it's a consideration). So that really just leaves the 20.
     
  5. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    You won't regret buying the 20. Optically it is superb.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. bhima

    bhima Mu-43 Regular

    143
    Mar 25, 2014
    I haven't used the Panny 20, but after reading a rather significant portion of reviews on its poor AF speed and actually watching videos on Youtube of its poor AF speed, I'd maybe consider testing it before buying it. Image quality? No question the 20 1.7 is fantastic as is its rendering. But, depending on what you shoot, you might be a little annoyed at its sluggishness. You should also consider the Oly 17 1.8 and the upcoming Leica 15 1.7. Both are very compact, though not as compact as the 20... but I can personally attest to the Oly's AF speed as being as fast as any lens from any camera I've ever tried.
     
  7. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    The slow focus of the 20 is a bit overblown. It focuses slow for a m43 lens, which makes it blindingly fast compared to a lot of other systems. And slow for m43 means an extra 2 tenths of a second maybe? If you need fast focus to chase your kids, there are better lenses, but for most situations its fine.
     
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  8. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    Get the Olympus 25mm 1.8. It's not that much bigger than the 20mm 1.7. Not to mention the front element moves in and out with the 20mm. The Oly 25mm is fast.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  9. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Boom. You, sir...may have just altered the course of my lens acquisition history.

    I never quite liked the bokeh out of either the P20 or the PL25....it often (though not always) seems busy and distracting instead of smooth and pleasing. I'd say it's half and half (and I've seen hundreds upon hundreds of sample images out of each of the lenses). The Oly...is gorgeous no matter what. I think that's worth the 1/2" extra length...
     
  10. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I tried the 20mm 1.7 II on a GX7 and the Oly 25mm 1.8 on an E-M10 in a dimly lit bar and the AF speed/lock acquisition was just hands down better with the Olympus. Saying that, I much prefer the 20mm focal length. Panasonic really fudged up not updating the lens.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  11. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    You hit the nail on the head, Jonathan.

    Calling that same old 20 in a pretty new dress a "Version II" and jacking the price sky-high is an insult to customers.

    I was dead set on getting the 20 right as the Ver. II came out...but no one had stock on the Ver. I anymore and I couldn't justify the extra expense of the II.

    Now, I'm looking at something small and light, but the 20 seems to have its fair share of issues...high ISO banding (is that really a concern?), slow/inconsistent focus, and distortion. The Oly 25 would be great, but it's not a true pancake (which is what I'm after), also, it's rather expensive here (roughly speaking, the O25 is $420, the PL25 is $450 and the P20 is $350). I love the Oly's bokeh rendering and sharpness, but I was REALLY after a pancake of some sort. I'm having troubles justifying the price of the P20, when the other two are so close and it's not a perfect lens. I'm really in no hurry to get anything - so I'm considering waiting until the prices come down a bit -, but I made a few bucks this weekend that would have been nice to convert to some shiny toys. :) I'd love to try an O25 on for size...it's no pancake, but maybe it won't be so bad....that's pretty much the only thing holding me back right now (and the rather hefty weight premium...yes, I know it's still light in absolute terms, but in relative terms it's 50% heavier - in addition to being 50% thicker - than the P20). *scratches head* This is a tough decision. :p
     
  12. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    458
    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    Paul
    The Oly 25mm feels just the same as the Oly 45mm on an EM-5, small, light, a joy to handle and super quick focus ... Love it:):)
     
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  13. sammykhalifa

    sammykhalifa Mu-43 Top Veteran

    762
    Jun 22, 2012
    Pittsburgh PA
    Neil

    Find it used, maybe here on the forums somewhere. The price on the 20 seems pretty set in stone at this point--I got mine about 1-2 years ago for about $280 at B&H and I could probably get that back if I wanted to sell it (I don't, haha). I'd be interested in the Oly 25 too as a possible replacement, but I don't think it's been out long enough yet to have such a good secondhand market.
     
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  14. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    I looked into a ton of lenses before buying my O45 and I've not regretted getting it for one second. I absolutely love everything about it...size, speed, construction, and - most of all - IQ. The fact that the 25 is a little brother to it is a huge advantage in my books. However...at the outset of this hunt, I was really looking for a tiny, lightweight lens. So that's where my dilemma comes in....do I compromise on the original goal and pick up something slightly heavier/bulkier (O25) or do I stick to the original plan and buy the best pancake there is (P20)....

    While that's a great option back in North America, sadly, that's a tall order here in Korea. Very few people are shooting M4/3...the last time I saw a P20 for sale was nearly a year ago, and it was way overpriced (I think he wanted $300 for a Version I). Lower end bodies with kit lenses pop up now and again in Seoul (I'm on the opposite side of the country), but that's pretty much it. :(
     
  15. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    991
    Jun 12, 2012
    Sweden
    gus
    Go for the O25. You know what u get and size is the only small downside. But still its small and lightweight.

    If u go for p20. U may end up as several others; u sell it...

    O25 IS THE SAFEST BET:)

    Sent from my GT-I9300 using Mu-43 mobile app
     
    • Like Like x 3
  16. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    Australia
    I've only seen the panasonic 20mm a couple of times in real life, but I felt it's a pretty sizeable pancake. The 14mm is a significantly smaller pancake. From photo's I've seen, I don't think the 17mm 1.8 is that much longer than then 20mm, it's also thinner.

    If you can let go of the pancake concept, I'd consider the oly 17mm 1.8 or oly 25mm 1.8. They are both pretty small. Go for your preferred focal length. Also if your not in a rush to spend your money, you could hold off until the panasonic 15mm comes out.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    USA
    You need both :)
    But seriously , sounds like size is most important to you for this , 20mm wins hands down.
     
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  18. Darren Bonner

    Darren Bonner Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 1, 2013
    Poole UK
    I've had my P20 lens for 21/2 years now and it is my most used lens. I have the P14 & P25 as well, whilst the P20 is not as fas as focusing as these two lens, it focuses faster than any camera I had previously. Last weekend I shot a band playing in a dimly lit bar at ISO 2500 wide open mounted on a E-PL5. It did not give me any problems. Out of over 220 photo's, only one displayed the banding effect. For day to day shooting, I've never had an issue with it.
    If you need the smallest size general sized lens, the P20 is it. The O17 & O25 are a bit bigger and heavier, but not by much. The P25 is bigger definately, but even with it's dew shield on it still looks good and a perfect match for my E-PL5. If the small size is not important to you, take a look at the native lens section and decide which lens has the look that you prefer.
    If my P25 lens gets broken, stolen or just stops working, I would replace with another, I just like this lens.
    If the same happen to my P20.................maybe or maybe either of the O17 or O25, undecided on this one. That's how good all these lenses are. Which ever you choose, you've got a winner.
     
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  19. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    Yeah, the 14's nice and small...but I can forget all about playing with DOF with that lens...

    You're right, it's the size thing holding me back (that and the inflated price of it in Korea) on the O25...if it was the same size as the P20, I'd be on it in a flash.

    What would be great is if I could have them both side-by-side to play with...comparison pictures online are okay, but nothing beats hands-on experience...sadly, the closest place I could think of that would have it is Seoul, and that's on the other side of the country...and even then, they likely won't have both in stock...

    Thanks for the opinions and views, guys, please keep them coming... :)
     
  20. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    834
    Sep 30, 2013
    The 20mm focuses fast when it doesn't hunt, the thing is it can be extremely slow when it starts hunting in low light to the point that it will often fail to lock focus where other lenses in the system lock on after a fraction of a second. At its best it focuses as fast as many DSLR lenses that I've owned, but at its worst its a real PITA.