Panasonic 20mm and 14mm in low light

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Art, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Had an outing last night shooting in very low light (See samples below). I started out with Panny 20mm (on E-PM1) and couldn't get ONE picture in focus and for most of the scenes I couldn't get a focus lock at all. It was a total nightmare until I switched to Panny 14mm and it was like a miracle, instant, accurate focus for over 300 pics. All perfectly in focus. I've owned Panny 20 for a while and I know it is a slow focusing lens but this was my first experience shooting with it in such low light for a prolonged period of time. The problem wasn't even slow focus but the fact that I couldn't get a focus lock for most of the scenes. AF assist light had no effect. Based on my experience I can't recommend Panny 20 for low light to anyone. It's ironic because the lens has bright f1.7 aperture yet it's possibly the worst lens to use in low light among all m43 lenses.
    Panny 14mm is a gem. I am especially impressed that changing aperture didn't affect focus speed at all, both f2.5 and f4 are same AF speed and both accurate.

    39.
    214.
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Dang, and here I was kicking around the idea of trading the 14 for the 20. Actually you've probably just saved me a hundred bucks, because I didn't expect the 20 was quite THAT bad at focus. Low light would be the whole point of that lens for me.

    Gorgeous photos though, I bet it was a real spectacle to watch. Were these shot RAW or JPEG?
     
  3. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    jpegs, those aren't the best, I just didn't want to post more personal family pics. E-PM1 + 14mm is a low light monster! It'll focus accurately and fast in almost complete darkness even at slow apertures (not face detect though, I turned it off as it is considerbaly worse and unreliable in low light). Basically Panny 20mm is totally useless in such low light? (MF focus with it is pain).
     
  4. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    563
    Sep 3, 2011
    L.A.
    +1. I prefer the 20mm FOV, and it operates without problems in daylight, but it is no low-light lens.
     
  5. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Panny needs to do a 20/1.7 mkii. It's a backbone lens for them, and one of their first m43 designs. They need to update it, and keep their prime lens momentum going. I think they will, within the next 12-18 months, just IMO of course.
     
  6. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    The 14 is the quite achiever of the pant lenses, a little gem. As far as low light and quick AF is concerned.....I got the PL25/1.4 for that ;)
     
  7. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    F-ing iPhone predictive texts !!!!!
     
  8. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I returned PL25 cause it's much bulkier and heavier and AF speed is not much faster on E-PL2 body. It is faster on E-PM1 but nothing like 14mm. I just didn't realize how bad 20mm in low light until last night. The problem is not so much slow AF but inability to achieve focus lock altogether. Oly 45 was much better in that regard but again not up to the speed of 14mm in low light which I now consider #1 m43 lens ( followed by Oly 45) in my own rating:)
     
  9. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    By the way my iPhone 4 had no problem focusing in low light!
     
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  10. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe

    Agreed. A 20mkII would probably spark as much hype and fanfare as the release of a new body....perhaps even more so.
     
  11. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Well if we're talking mk2 lenses, look at the sad little 17mm pancake. Released along with the E-P1 if I'm not mistaken, and never revised since. You can still buy an E-P3 kit with that lens now, which is just depressing. I think that both sides of the family really want to focus on new lenses, not revisiting old ones. Unless they're old kit zooms, we need more kit zooms! Can't have enough kit zooms! Oh boy.
     
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  12. labcoatguy

    labcoatguy Mu-43 Regular

    130
    Jan 23, 2011
    Cambridge, MA, US
    I'm another victim of poor 20mm f/1.7 low-light performance, mounted on an E-P2. I was in the American Museum of Natural History taking a picture of a dimly-lit model of a whale, and it took me four attempts before it managed to lock focus and snap the picture. Once it worked it turned out fine, but by then I'd spent half a minute trying to focus it, including a futile attempt at manual focusing. Considering how much time I spent using the wide end of a 14-54 II lens in the museum, I may have to add the Panasonic 14mm (or the Olympus 12mm should something miraculous happen) to my list of purchases.
     
  13. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    :rofl:

    Have you trained it to remember f-bombs yet?
     
  14. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    I too have felt your low light 20/1.7 focus lock pain.

    It is a real shame because the lens is so fast and great otherwise.

    +1 for a mk ii version! I am okay with either a 17mm or 20mm, but it needs to keep the same relative profile. :biggrin:
     
  15. Is there a combination of settings where it is failing to find focus more often? I was just doing an unscientific test with my 20mm on my venerable E-PL1 (using the small AF box and S-AF) in low light and it was reliably focusing when the meter was reading 1 sec at f/1.7 and ISO200. Not fast but it was doing the job. The only time it was failing when I was deliberately pointing it at an object with zero contrast i.e. a plain wall. I've always focused in darker scenes by aiming the focus point at an object with definition or contrast and then re-composing regardless of using PDAF or CDAF.

    I'll have to test it a bit more thoroughly at night to see if I can get the AF to trip up as badly as described here.
     
  16. kahren

    kahren Mu-43 Regular

    145
    Mar 21, 2010
    forget the 20mm, make a 17mm f1.4
     
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  17. Dede

    Dede Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Oct 10, 2011
    Thanks for the pictures and the story, you just made 14mm number one on my priority list!

    @ iPhone auto correction: The other day when I was chatting with a friend, I sent the word "duck" four times in a row ... Guess what the iPhone was correcting ;)
     
  18. CarlB

    CarlB Mu-43 Veteran

    Yes, but if you're OK with manual focus, the 20mm can give you some beautiful results right now. Hand held, 600ms, f1.7:

    <img src=https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2710/5847730594_34806b5c24_b.jpg>
     
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  19. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I found it quite difficult to MF Panny 20 in the dark. I can't really see much, that's why I was using flash. Not to mention that MF of focus by wire pancake is ergonomically challenging. And just imagine you're asking a stranger or a waiter to take a pic...
     
  20. htc

    htc Mu-43 Top Veteran

    579
    Jan 11, 2011
    Finland
    Harry
    For me it's so hard to understand, why it's "your hands fault if your head doesn't work"? ;-) From the system point of view is it all the same what's in the brainless end of the system?