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Olympus 17/1.8 vs Panasonic 15/1.7 vs Panasonic 20/1.7

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by sagar, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. sagar

    sagar Mu-43 Regular

    28
    Jun 7, 2012
    Hi All,

    I am currently using GX7 with kit lens and looking to add compact fast prime for day to day normal/low light shooting.
    Based on your experience if you have to choose one, which one would you choose between Olympus 17/1.8, Panasonic 15/1.7 and Panasonic 20/1.7?

    Opinions with pictures welcome
     
  2. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    Tough call.. they're all great lenses which differ enough from each other to justify (given the funding) having all three. I too have the GX7 and of my m4/3 bodies, I use it the most, by far.

    The biggest factor for you to consider is which focal length meets your most "oft-needed" FOV. Another factor is focus speed. The 20 is the slowest to focus, which isn't a factor at all, to me. But it might be to others who need speedy AF for moving toddlers, etc.

    I have all three and prefer the 15/1.7 and the 20/1.7. The 17 is expendable to me. And if I could only have one... it would probably be the 15, as I prefer a somewhat wider FOV when in that range of focal lengths.

    Only you can say which of the three focal lengths would be most useful to what you like to shoot and whether you need fast AF. If you do need fast AF, then your choice is down to the 15 and the 17. Then decide, do you need the clutch manual focus of the 17 or would you prefer the lens aperture ring on the 15 (suited to Pany bodies.)
     
  3. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    775
    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    I have all three.

    I never shoot the 20/1.7 for some reason, lens never grew on me but there are plenty of folks who love it. The AF is a bit problematic with a toddler but is by no means bad. It is just the 17 and 15 are better for AF. And the 20/1.7 makes annoying noises when AFing which can be distracting to your subject, especially if that subject is an easily distracted two year old.

    I've have the 17/1.8 and shot with it for a bit more than a year and quite enjoyed it. The first copy of the lens I bought had IQ issues and was returned, the second was great. I greatly prefer this wider FoV to the 20 for my shooting. I've got a 25/1.4 that I use extensively at home but when out and about wider is nicer because I'm usually trying to capture the environment of wherever we are visiting which is often low light and close quarters (museums, resteraunts, relatives houses).

    I currently never use the 17/1.8 anymore since getting the 15/1.7. I love the 15/1.7. It has the rendering I like of the 25/1.4 and it is very sharp in the center wide open. Because it is a bit wider than the 17 and it is so sharp I can crop as needed in post. Easier to vaccuum up a bit more FoV than needed and crop in post with this lens.

    In general personally I never recommend the 20/1.7 but always caveat that by saying a lot of people love that lens and if you prefer the tighter FoV then that is probably the lens for you.

    The 17/1.8 rarely gets much love but I think it is an excellent lens. It can be a fair bit cheaper than the 15/1.7 and the optical differences between the 17 and 15 really come down to your personal preference in focal length and how it renders out of focus regions.

    As stated my personal favorite is the 15/1.7 and I'll eventually be selling my 17/1.8 as I can imagine ever using again now that I have the 15. But again, the 15 is the widest of the three options and so keep in mind what focal length you really are interested in. Also consider what other lenses you might get in the future, for example if you think a 25/1.8 or 25/1.4 is in your future the 20/1.7 probably doesn't make sense.

    P.S. I should add all my experience and comments are based on using these lenses almost always wide open or close to it for portraits, usually of a little kid. When I shoot landscapes I use my zooms.
     
  4. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I feel like the 20mm is my favourite normal lens. It works really well as both a "narrow 35mm" and a "wide 50mm," and almost never feels drastically out of place in normal shooting. The technical image quality of the lens is stupendous, the focus is fast enough for me (especially if you use the touchscreen and pick an edge with high contrast - focuses in a fraction of a second in almost all normal conditions), and the fact that it is a tiny pancake lens cannot be overstated. It allows me to fit it with my GX1 into a small low-profile belt camera pouch that no other fast lens could fit into. That alone is worth the (very inexpensive) price of entry for me.

    The only thing that I covet about the 17mm/1.8 is the focus clutch, since I quite enjoy manually focusing, and the focus-by-wire doesn't cut it for me. But when I have an AF lens, I rarely miss using MF in normal conditions, and vice-verse, so I just shoot differently in those circumstances.
     
  5. pcnyc

    pcnyc Mu-43 Regular

    198
    Sep 15, 2010
    I own both 17 and 20. 17's wider FOV I find more useful, and it's faster to AF, and silent; 20 on the other hand is smaller, and gives a little more background separation. close call and yet like DHart said, differ just enough for me so I decided to keep both.

    if I am forced to keep only one, I would have pick the 17mm had the sample-variation god not gifted me an extra-silent copy of 20mm, for some reason the AF noise on my copy is muted compare to the other 20mms I've come across. it's still there, but only if I choose to listen for it.
     
  6. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Mu-43 Veteran

    462
    Jun 21, 2012
    Mississippi, USA
    Do you have a favorite focal length in this range?
    If yes: pick that one

    Do you need fast AF?
    If yes: 15mm or 17mm

    Do you need a pancake lens?
    If yes: 20mm

    Do you need clutch manual focus?
    If yes: 17mm

    Are you on a tight budget?
    If yes: 20mm

    You can make yourself a decision flowchart with these questions, but only you can decide what order (i.e. order of importance) they go in. The order in which I listed them is my personal preference--I have a strong preference for 35mm equivalent so the 17mm was the best fit, and I needed fast AF so 20mm was definitely out (although I actually still own a 20mm and use it for my GM1 exclusively).

    Unfortunately your decision probably doesn't come down to one single deciding factor so the flowchart thing won't work.

    Image quality-wise there's no clear winner per se, although the 17mm is the weakest overall. The 20mm I believe is sharpest wide open with 15mm coming in 2nd, but stopped down to f/4 and beyond there's very little between all 3 lenses (for instance in test charts the 17mm pulls ahead of the 20mm stopped down, but in actual use there's not a big noticeable difference). Rendering is a subtle difference and difficult to articulate, but there are differences there too and this is more subjective. Personally I really enjoy the Panasonic 42.5mm, and the 15mm reminds me of that rendering in some ways like color and bokeh character.

    Having said that I have to put in a plug for the much-maligned 17mm. It's a very good lens that unfortunately just misses out on being excellent optically, so a lot of people were disappointed with it. But the more I use it the more I appreciate it and it's my favorite lens now. For the type of shooting I do--lots of candids and lots of low light--it's plenty sharp, the AF is super fast, and the lens is just all around satisfying to use.

    But as others have said, if I had money to burn I'd own all 3 or at least have all 3 in my kit temporarily to test them. I still think the 17mm would come out on top because it's my favorite focal length, but all 3 lenses are attractive for different reasons.

    Now if only somebody would do a 17mm f/1.4 with AF...
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. broody

    broody Mu-43 Veteran

    388
    Sep 8, 2013
    The 20mm is cheapest, shortest, and has a very sharp and clinical rendering. There is the issue of slow autofocus.

    The 17mm is the M43 with the fastest focus, and it has lovely contrast and color. But it's not first-rate for sharpness.

    15mm is the most expensive, but it's very sharp specially past F/2, and the Pana-leica signature look.

    IMO the 15mm is the best choice if you can budget it. All are very solid choices... I own the 17mm, and I adore its rendering.
     
  8. gravijaflare

    gravijaflare Mu-43 Veteran

    218
    Aug 28, 2014
    A planet called Gaia
    I also previously owned both the 17mm and 20mm. And while both lenses are good optically, i replaced them both for the 15mm, due to the faster af, metal build and similar 25mm f1.4 rendering. Quite similar to the other guys.. :)
     
  9. david6785

    david6785 Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jul 27, 2012
    las vegas
    The 15 is a fantastic lens but I sadly returned it because it was just a little too wide for me. 17 is the widest I want to go for a prime even though I loved the sharpness and rendering. I'm really bummed micro 43 doesn't have a stellar 35 equivalent, I tried two different 17s on my em10 and the sharpness was not even close to the 15. We need a petition for a 17.5 version of the 15, I would happily pay a premuim for it.
     
  10. Linh

    Linh Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 14, 2009
    Maryland, US
    I would prefer the 20 built like the 17/1.8 (both rugged and silent AF). The AF bugged me and to an extent, the banding on my E-M5. So I kept the 17 and sold the 20. But if size and price are a priority, the 20 can't really be beat. I also have the PL25, so letting the 20 go wasn't too hard, heh.
     
  11. Jazz80

    Jazz80 Mu-43 Rookie

    10
    Apr 27, 2014
    Recently purchased the PL15 and I am very happy with the lens. Won't go through the points already raised by others above.

    Another point to add though, I like the way there is a cap over the lens hood. This way I generally leave my hood on all the time and don't have to take the hood off to replace the lens cap.

    Good luck with your choice! [emoji2]
     
  12. pmpup4p3

    pmpup4p3 Mu-43 Regular

    57
    Jun 23, 2014
  13. sagar

    sagar Mu-43 Regular

    28
    Jun 7, 2012
    Wow! Thank you folks this is really helpful.

    I am going through all responses carefully, I am more inclined to first complete Panny kit 15/25/42.5 and then add may be Oly 60/75
     
  14. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    Is that 'slow' like a horse that finishes second in a photo finish is slower than the winner? Or slower like one that loses by a nose, that is, when the winner crosses the finish line the second place horse is behind by the length of a horses nose? Or by a neck? Or by 2 lengths? By 20 lengths?
     
  15. broody

    broody Mu-43 Veteran

    388
    Sep 8, 2013
    Well, to expand a bit, it doesn't matter that it's slow as long as it's good enough for what you're shooting. It's sufficient for street shooting and most social situations, and on a Panasonic body it might be able to keep up with dogs sometimes. But most people agree it's hopeless to try to capture active children with it.
     
  16. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    Just the sort of info I was seeking. Thanks.
     
  17. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    775
    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    To expand on the 20mm AF "slowness". On bodies from the past few years if the AF is only adjusting slightly - in other words the AF doesn't have to "hunt" and move a lot then the 20mm AF is just barely slower than any of the other lenses. However, as soon as it has to "hunt" it is dog slow compared to everything else. The other issues is that it seems with moving subjects it is more likely to "hunt" than other lenses and so this slow hunting behavior is exhibited more when using the 20 compared to other lenses. I don't entirely understand why it seems to end up hunting more than other lenses, but it sure seems to. Could be a perception thing though. And yes, not a good choice for kids.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. scott2hot

    scott2hot Mu-43 Veteran

    318
    Aug 27, 2012
    west yorkshire
    scott
    I concede..it is slow the 20mm ..but when it nails focus...no other lens i ever owned ..any system! compares to the output and rendering..it really is a gem...look through 20mm page and you will see plenty of kids images taken with it...always a must for me in my M4/3 kit bag and i get more keepers than deleters than any other lens/camera combo...period.
     
  19. david6785

    david6785 Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jul 27, 2012
    las vegas
    The 15 focusing is stellar on the em10 body right up their with the 17, if your comftoble with the focal length jump on it.
     
  20. scott2hot

    scott2hot Mu-43 Veteran

    318
    Aug 27, 2012
    west yorkshire
    scott
    Yeah i was tempted if its anywhere near as good output wise...only problem is price...maybe when it drops a little.