OLY 17mm focus vs Pany 20mm sharpness

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by dohearne, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. dohearne

    dohearne Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 23, 2013
    Vermont, Virginia
    Real Name:
    Dave Hearne
    I have read several threads here and other reviews regarding the Olympus 17mm/1.8 and the Panasomic 20mm/1.7. I have decided that this focal length region is what I want for a walk around, low light prime lens. My present leaning is towards the Olympus lens. My primary purpose is to be able to do low light shooting so I intend to use the lens opened up. Even though the Panasonic is clearly the sharper lens it also gets consistent comments about slow focus. It seems to me that the little image quality sacrifice with the Olympus is worth it versus either missing the shot or have an OOF shot. Just curious as to the thoughts of others?
  2. dd1

    dd1 Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2011
    I can't comment on the 17mm, but the 20mm focuses faster than either the Pan or Oly 14-42 kit lenses.

    Personally, I think the whole "AF is absolutely terrible, probably the worst thing in the world" thing is one of those internet myths started by a few and propagated by many who have little personal experience of it.
  3. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    I have the M. Zuiko 2.8 & 1.8
    My reason for getting the 1.8 was simple - I wanted more light :smile:
  4. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    No, it's just pretty slow. Certainly for those of us used to DSLRs with USM/HSM focus motors. And for anyone who owns, well, any of the panasonic or oly lenses listed in my sig file.

    I love the 20/1.7, and it's fantastic value, but the AF is slow.
  5. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    You're only comparing it to kit lenses, but you have pronounced it a myth? Have you compared the P20 personally to other lenses?
  6. twokatmew

    twokatmew Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2012
    Lansing, MI, US
    Real Name:
    AF speed is also dependent on camera body. At least Oly kit lenses (II& IIR) focus very quickly on newer Oly bodies. I'd say the 17/2.8 focuses a bit slower than the aforementioned kit lenses but faster than the 20/1.7. Still, AFAIC, the real problem with the 20/1.7 on 16MP Oly bodies is the banding at high ISO.

    Sent from my phone. Please pardon my brevity!
  7. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    By current standards, including kit lenses, the 20mm is slow to focus. No myth.
  8. RayB

    RayB Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 19, 2010
    The 20/1.7 is my sharpest lens but I have a problem nobody else seems to have noticed. It simply does not want to focus close up on fine objects like grasses, small branches if there is any background showing through. I end up using manual focus in situations like that. Anyone else had that problem?
  9. Liamness

    Liamness Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    It's still faster than I was used to before making to move to m43, when I owned a Canon entry level DSLR and mostly used it with a (lovely) Tamron 17-50. The 40mm equiv. view is fairly wideish, so the AF never has to work all that hard really.

    Most lenses for the system use a floating focus element, which is far faster. The 20mm has to move all its glass to focus. Anyway, I would say there are other more pressing differences between the lenses. They are prime lenses, the perspective is fixed, so which gives an effect you desire? For me the 20mm has a very natural look. The 17mm may introduce a touch of perspective distortion by comparison, which may or may not be desirable.
  10. supermaxv

    supermaxv Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 20, 2011
    The slow autofocus of the 20mm is absolutely most emphatically not a myth, and the Olympus 14-42 MkII and the Panasonic 14-42mm kit lenses are very noticeably much faster on the same body from my experience (owning and using a E-PL1, E-PL2, and GH1).
  11. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    The best method I have found to coax a camera into focusing on a thin foreground object is to bring the focus point forwards by placing my hand in front of the camera and focusing on it first. The initial focusing motion always seems to be towards infinity, so if your focus point is already behind your intended subject the camera will just grab the background. I have found that this is a fairly universal problem and solution for just about any camera.
  12. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    17mm would be my choice hands down. I have both lenses right now, only because I never got around to selling my Panasonic 20mm lens. The 20 is a great little lens for size factor, sharpness, and contrast. But the AF is doggedly slow compared to modern m4/3 lenses. Definitely not a myth, and certainly noticeably next to literally any other lens I've used for the system. It's a simple fact, in exchange for a pancake form factor the focus design requires moving the front element in and out. It just takes longer and is noisier than other designs.

    The 17mm focuses very quickly and includes the nice manual focus clutch ring, versus the much less pleasant focus ring on the P20. I know much has been made of the 17mm f/1.8 not being sharp, but in actual use I find it plenty sharp and I quite like the rendering on it. Take a look at the sample image threads and decide for yourself, but despite all the lukewarm reviews I've been very happy with mine and would have no reservations about recommending it.
  13. kponds

    kponds Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 18, 2013
    Just want to throw another idea out there: if you're willing to go with a little bit longer focal length, you could have blazing fast AF speed and razor sharpness.

    But if it's a choice between the two, I personally would pick AF speed over sharpness any time. The 17mm's "softness" isn't likely to be very noticable unless you're shooting test charts anyway.
  14. Savas K

    Savas K Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 10, 2013
    That 1.8 is calling me, especially with the instant rebates currently going on.
  15. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    When shooting real pictures in the real world, you would probably never notice any difference in sharpness between the two lenses. With your OM-D you will without question notice the difference in AF speed and miss pictures with the 20/1.7, because of its AF speed.

    Differences in sharpness that show up in lab tests are often not apparent in run of the mill shooting. Missing the decisive moment because the camera couldn't focus fast enough is painfully obvious. (I have an OM-D, the 20/1.7 and a bunch of other primes & zooms and the 20/1.7 really is slow and noisy.)
  16. kponds

    kponds Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 18, 2013
    This really says it all, right here, IMO
  17. yekimrd

    yekimrd Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 14, 2012
    Cincinnati, OH
    Real Name:
    I have owned both and even the 25/1.4 so I can say with certainty that the 20/1.7's AF being slow is definitely not a myth. In fact, used it for an indoor birthday event (office room dim lighting) and I missed 50% of the time. The 17/1.8 and 25/1.4 never hunt or miss even in low light. Compared to the 2 Panny offerings, the 17/1.8 is less sharp (not a myth either) but doesn't really matter in real-world 95% of the time with the 1 exception being landscapes. I used this lens on a trip to the Grand Canyon and I had to sharpen quite a bit in post to get it to the level of detail I'm accustomed to with the 7-14/4 and 20/1.7 (I've never used the 25/1.4 for landscapes so I can't comment on it).
  18. brettmaxwell

    brettmaxwell Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 8, 2012
    I've owned both, the 17mm is wonderfully sharp, this is of no concern to me and I can be a bit of a pixel peeper. The 20mm may have been the tiniest bit sharper, but for all intents and purposes the image quality is equal.

    I kept the 17mm because I prefer that focal length and the focus is much faster and locks on in much more difficult situations.

    The only reason I would have kept the 20mm would be because of it's wonderfully compact size.
  19. gugarci

    gugarci Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2012
    Lyndhurst, NJ
    Real Name:
    The difference in sharpness between these 2 lenses can easily be rectified in the post processing of the images. The AF performance cannot be fixed if you missed your shot. I'm considering one of these 2 lenses myself as my next purchase. But since I'm not made of money I'm throwing in price into my equation. And if you could live with the slower AF performance the Panasonic 20mm is one hell of a bargain.

    If money was not in my equation I would buy the Olympus 17mm or step up to the Panasonic 25mm 1.4. But to be honest I would love to add another shinny Olympus lens to my arsenal. I love the bling. :biggrin:
  20. twokatmew

    twokatmew Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2012
    Lansing, MI, US
    Real Name:
    The 17/1.8 is $50 off till May 11. Check out the Deals forum for links. :smile:

    Sent from my phone. Please pardon my brevity!