Next Lens? Upgrade from Pana 20mm f1.7 - fast prime for night shots?

DJG

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Hello there,

I am looking for my next lens. I really love my Pana 20mm f1.7 lens, however, its autofocus is just too slow for low light conditions such as photographing rock shows.

I love the field of view on the 20mm, though I am open to something a bit wider or a bit narrower.

I have tried the PanaLeica 15mm f1.7 via BorrowLenses, and was quite pleased with its performance, especially the super speedy autofocus. The only thing I really did not like was that the hardware aperture ring did not work on my Olympus OM-D EM-1 (I know that this is the case with all Olympus bodies). If I am going to spend ~500 on a lens, I want ALL of its features to work well with the EM-1.

My budget is right around $500. I'd love suggestions on a fast prime in the 17-50mm range which works well with the EM-1. I am considering the PanaLeica 25mm f1.4, as they can be had second hand for reasonably cheap.

Opinions?
 

ahinesdesign

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The Oly 17mm 1.8 and 25mm 1.8 lenses are exactly what you are looking for - close to the 20mm FOV, but much faster focusing. The 45mm 1.8 is excellent, too, but a lot narrower FOV than your 20mm.
 

DJG

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I should note that I am going to demo pretty much any lens which I consider via BorrowLenses. I like the ability to spend a full week with the lens wayyy better than a few minutes in-store.
 

mh2000

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I do some night photography and mostly use my adapted Industar-69 now because of the scale focusing. You may not be used to scale focusing under these situations but it makes things significantly easier. When I get in on the next blow-out sale on the Oly 17/1.8, that's what I'm getting for this specific use. Add a VF-1 and you will be completely set! I own the Oly 17/2.8 and am happy with it for lightweight travel lens, but the scale focus on the 17/1.8 make it a seem a nessacary addition to my gear.

A small tripod is really more important than a slightly faster lens for most shooting IMO. Here is a set using my Oly 17/2.8 (shot at f5.6): http://markhahnphotography.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/sutro-baths-night/

Personally, I decided the PL 25 was too big for my needs and got the Oly. Here are some night shots I did (mix of Oly25 and 45, shot at f5.6): http://markhahnphotography.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/california-beaches-power-plants-and-the-night-air/
 

DJG

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Wow those are some beautiful shots! I think the first lens which I will demo is going to be the Oly 25/1.8.
 

mh2000

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Wow those are some beautiful shots! I think the first lens which I will demo is going to be the Oly 25/1.8.
Thanks!!! Now that I have the Oly25, I'm rock solid in m43! Nice lens! With my 17 & 45 I have the standard traditional set of eq. primes -- love it! :)
 

alex66

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Thanks!!! Now that I have the Oly25, I'm rock solid in m43! Nice lens! With my 17 & 45 I have the standard traditional set of eq. primes -- love it! :)
I have the 25 and 45 Olympus and think they are great lenses, as is the 12mm too, I love the 25mm its a superb little lens one if not the best 'normal' I have had in the digital realm. I would say you can't go took wrong with either of these trios of lenses and on a budget 14mm Panasonic and the Sigma 30/60mm pair makes a rocking trio for less money.
 

barry13

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The Oly 17mm f1.8 is very well built, and focuses very quickly.

The manual focus clutch and zone focus scale are quite useful, at least during the day. At night, my experience is that zone focus isn't very practical at f1.8.

Barry
 

mh2000

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The Oly 17mm f1.8 is very well built, and focuses very quickly.

The manual focus clutch and zone focus scale are quite useful, at least during the day. At night, my experience is that zone focus isn't very practical at f1.8.

Barry
Nope, wouldn't be useful at f1.8, but at f5.6 it would be a delight for night photography! AF is a nightmare in the dark!
 

davdenic

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If you have yet the 20 why don't think to buy also the 45. This way with your 500$ you have the 20 and 45 to shot in every situation and some money in your pocket ;)
Cheers
 

Vivalo

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I don't have experience with Oly 25mm but PanaLeica 25mm 1.4 and Oly 17mm 1.8 are both light years ahead in AF compared to Panny 20mm. Especially in dim light. Neither is as sharp across the frame as the 20mm so that is what you are giving up for better over all performance.
 

Rasmus

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I love my Voigtländer 25/0.95 for night shots.

Here's a few handheld ones.
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mh2000

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Actually the 17mm and 45 mm both AF well in low light.

Barry
That may be true, but still, in most of the night shots I posted using my 45 I had to resort to MF for many... much less frustrating! If I had the 17/1.8 *I* would be using the scale focusing feature almost exclusively! And for really dark scenes, *I* would prefer framing with an optical finder.

For really dark night shooting, I have been using an adapted 28mm MF Russian lens that scale focuses paired with a little matched cardboard finder I made and it works out so much better than AF or LCD screen focusing. (Too bad the Industar-69 lens is so crappy!)

Maybe I'll put together a gallery of this work. I shot a bunch of night scenes in Joshua Tree that are pretty good. My gf was using a P20 at the same time and focusing was completely impossible for her since there was nothing to focus on! I had to stand at distance for her holding up my cell phone for her focus. Me, I just set the scale focus on my I-69 and shot away! Also, even with f1.7, she could barely seen anything with in her LCD to frame with and used the VF-1 that I had bought her as gift once for night photography (the VF-1 is almost more perfect for the the 20 than the 17 that it was meant for). Since my eyes were got accustimed to the light, it was pretty easy to frame with my little cardboard finder.
 

DJG

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Datagov - those are some nice shots! My issue with the 20mm is that I am hardly ever operating off of a tripod, especially at rock shows. I need to be able to fire from the hip if necessary, and those rock kids don't stop moving for long enough for the 20mm's AF to catch them. Sure, I could use MF, and I might try that a bit more. I was REALLY impressed with the PanaLeica 15mm, especially in the AF realm. Should PanaLeica/Olympus figure out how to make the hardware aperture controls work, I would definitely go with that!
 
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