Oly 17 1.8 vs Pan 20 1.7 for Street

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by bbarnett51, May 20, 2016.

  1. bbarnett51

    bbarnett51 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 23, 2015
    I've read so many reviews on these two lenses. Many ppl say that the 17 isn't very sharp. However, the reviews don't jive with that. Every review I've watched and read from credible sources says it's extremely sharp.
    The reason I would consider it over the Pan 20 is the fast focus. The 20 fits my budget better and has a good reputation. But I have little kids, like street photography, and I'm just worried about the sluggish focus.
    Any thoughts?
  2. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    The "issues" with these particular lenses are way overblown imo. The 17/1.8 is a great lens. Maybe some initial units were soft, I don't know, but for whatever reason word got around that it was soft and internet parrots went to work. It's not soft, just not quite as sharp as the very sharp lenses people were using at the time, including the Panny 20/1.7 and Oly 45/1.8.

    And yes, the Panny 20 is not as fast as most other primes from O or P. But is not slow.

    Having said all that, I would choose the speed of the 17 for street and kids. When using one on an E-P5, E-M5 or GX7 the focus always seemed instantaneous to me. Hard to beat that.
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  3. christofp

    christofp Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 21, 2012
    What about the PanaLeica 15mm/f1.7? Stellar lens with very fast AF.
  4. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Just be warned that the PL15 feels more like a classic 28mm than a 35mm, it's just that little bit wider.
  5. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2014
    I bought both a few months ago and I kept only the P20.
    Wide open (that's all that counts for me as it's 80% of my usage of this type of lens), the O17 wasn't as sharp as the P20.
    I would even call it soft (wide open), but soft in a pleasing way.

    The focus was faster on the O17 but I had more misfocused shots with it than with the P20.

    Both are good lenses, I just found that the O17 was a bit expensive for what it offered.
    I also tend to prefer the 20 mm field of view.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. cptobvious

    cptobvious Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 8, 2013
    The 17/1.8 is decently sharp in the center, but it has field curvature to where it doesn't get corner-to-corner sharp for landscape, even when stopped down to f/4 or f/5.6. It's not mushy and it's fine for web output, but not ideal. For street photography you're likely not to notice.

    I own the 20/1.7 II now and it's definitely a sharper lens than the 17 for landscapes, but I would take the 17 for street photography due to the clutch manual focus and the faster AF. I don't need fast AF so the 20 works for me.

    Another difference is the rendering - the 17 has smoother bokeh but the 20 has better contrast IMO. The 15/1.7 has the best of both worlds IMO - sharp (though not as consistent across the frame as the 20), fast AF, smooth bokeh, and great contrast. It is a fair bit wider than the 20 though.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  7. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    Tough to recommend the 15 when the OP likes the 20 because it fits budget better than 17.
  8. bbarnett51

    bbarnett51 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 23, 2015
    The 15 is too wide anyway even though it' close to the 17. 17 is as wide as I want to go.
  9. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Don't forget the Sigma 19mm, as far as value goes it's pretty great, though I haven't used it personally many people like it.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. bbarnett51

    bbarnett51 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 23, 2015
    I love the Sigma lenses. Had the 60 and 30. Optically they are impressive. I sold the 60 and got a 45 1.8 for the low ligh performance. I actually just listed the 30 today bc it's going to by either the 17 or 20. Lol
  11. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    My take, the 17mm 1.8 is a better street lens due to the slightly wider FOV and quick focusing. The 20mm is a better environmental portraiture lens due to excellence sharpness and better subject/background separation and rendering. Personally I'd love for Olympus to make a pro spec 17mm with fast aperture, weather sealing and superior sharpness.
    • Agree Agree x 4
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  12. Rick F

    Rick F Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 5, 2015
    I prefer the FOV of the 17mm and also like the feel of the shots it gives. I can't say I'd call it soft, but I haven't really examined it that closely. I'll have to try the 20mm more and give it a second chance.
  13. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    I have owned both. The 17 produces great images. When pixel peeping, it is not as sharp. It does not resolve as many line pairs as the 2.8 zooms at equivalent f-stops (at least it did not when I shot some charts with it). This does not matter in any actual photographs that I took with it and it gets a bad wrap on this technical point IMO.

    I would pick the lens you like based on FOV. I like the 20mm better in this regard and focusing has been more than adequate on the newer bodies. I just used the P20 the other day in low light and it reminded me how well it can focus (on my EM5-ii).
  14. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2015
    Dont know about the 17mm as I never used it, but the focus issues of the P20 are blown out of proportion - it isnt as fast as other lenses but I hardly ever find it limiting - it is a great lens. I have not experienced any of the reported banding issues either. (I shoot em10 and epl5). Also the size of the P20 is a real plus.
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  15. peppermonkey

    peppermonkey Mu-43 Regular

    May 20, 2013
    Toronto, Canada
    The concern about the 17mm being soft and the 20mm being too slow is definitely overblown. Then again, I'm not overly demanding. Certainly not a pixel peeper. Heck, I find I can get great shots even with the *ahem* 17mm f2.8...yeah, that Oly pancake that has been the disdain of many users. Sure, it's not that great optically compared to the others but it's not garbage either. And that's the crux of the matter. There are no garbage lenses in M43. All of them are at the very least decent. The Oly 17mm f1.8 may get beaten by the Oly 12-40mm f2.8 optically but it's still a very good lens. Just not quite as good as some of the best M43 lenses.
    As for the 20mm. Yes, it's slower. But I love it for using with kids. My PL 25mm 1.4 gets much less use than the 20mm because the 20mm is just simply easier to have around and more versatile. Even if the PL 25mm is better optically and I do love it's rendering, the 20mm is no slouch. And for all it's slowness, the 20mm isn't THAT slow. You may miss some shots here and there but overall, as long as you aren't taking sporting shots or other situations where you need instantaneous focus, it works just fine.

    Which would I chose over the two? I'm not sure. Probably the 20mm but that's because I also love taking food shots and the 20mm is perfect for me for that purpose. If I was strictly using for street photography then I may get the 17mm 1.8. Kids...maybe the 17mm but a pancake lens that I can take with me everywhere is a very big benefit for me, which makes me lean towards the 20mm ;) Hmm..well, that didn't help huh? Lol. For my purposes I would lean towards the 20mm but if strictly for street and kids, and if you had no need for a tiny pancake lens, then the 17mm would make an excellent choice.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    It's not just about sharpness. Lenses have a character and rendering, not to mention bokeh characteristics. They're both excellent lenses. You'd likely be satisfied with either. If you snap fast photos you mayb be frustrated by the 20s focus once in awhile. Buy them both from somewhere like Amazon that will let you return one, but try not to go insane deciding between them.
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  17. Debbie.Cato

    Debbie.Cato Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 23, 2016
    I picked up my copy of the 17mm 2.8 for $150. This is a lens that gets a bad rap but enlarge this photo and take a look at the detail. I have never used the 17 1.8. I did have a p20 several years ago but never really took to it. I don't shoot street or pixel peep so my comments may not be relevant. image.jpeg
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  18. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    If I had to choose which one of them to lose, it'd be the 17. The criteria I'm using here is the comparitive image quality of both lenses. People moan about the banding on the 20, which I can understand, as well as its speed of focusing. You just overcome that with technique, it not hard. You don't have to get the mark 2 version of the 20 either, a second hand first version is just fine.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. peppermonkey

    peppermonkey Mu-43 Regular

    May 20, 2013
    Toronto, Canada
    As far I can tell, there is no optical difference between the first and second version of the 20mm. The difference being only cosmetic.

    Sent from my E5823 using Tapatalk
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. Theo

    Theo Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2013
    Theo K.
    The good old 17f2.8 is quite good optically IMO. I upgraded to f1.8 for better low light use and the better build. I found that I really missed the f2.8 version's rendering and nice transition of out of focus areas. If there is one word to describe the good old 17f2.8, it would be "organic", whatever that means.

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Mu-43 app
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