Panasonic 20mm at f/8 or smaller?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by scott, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. scott

    scott Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 15, 2010
    The dpreview test back when the 20mm lens came out said that the optimal apertures for sharpness were f/2.8 through f/6.3. I've been trying to stick close to f/6.3 with landscape pictures, but there are cases where f/8 or smaller would be helpful. On the other hand, gaining DOF only to lose sharpness may not be a great trade-off.

    So I was wondering--for people doing landscapes and similar photos, what have your experiences been like with this lens at small apertures?
  2. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    My question would be when you shoot a landscape, why not shoot several images at different apertures?

    I am happy shooting my 20mm at f/8 or f/11. I even shoot at f/16 in those wild and crazy moments. The content of the image is more important than camera settings. If you need the DoF at f/11 to create the image you need, then do that and live with the compromise--it really is not bad.
  3. BillN

    BillN Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    SW France
    The lens is (surprisingly) sharpest at around f3.5 .......... apparently from the review ....I think?

  4. scott

    scott Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 15, 2010
    I'm planning to do that, too, but I just thought it'd be interesting to hear what other people have experienced.
  5. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Dunno Bill, I tested it pretty well and found f5 to work well.
    I have no doubt that at any f-stop it will perform well.

    PS... Bill, there's a guy running around Flickr that looks just like you but I have my doubts...
  6. scott

    scott Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 15, 2010
    Looks like you're right
  7. BillN

    BillN Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    SW France
    It's not him you need to worry about, it's the others, particularly those with the funny names

    I reckon that you can do anything with the PL 20mm - I gave it a rest for a few weeks, but have now got it out again, (as the Bishop said to the actress), stuck it on the end of the EP-1 and it's magic even it my big fingered hands.

    Landscapes - digital is cheap, I'd take as many as needed at different f's and get to know what it can do.

    PS - this Flickr thing is a lot of work add it to all the other stuff, I need an assistant
  8. Timm

    Timm Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 30, 2010
    Grand Rapids, Michigan
    You could always use a neutral density filter if things are too bright to keep your aperture where you want it, and optimum DOF. I've bought a couple to take some shots of waterfalls with a longer exposure to get that nice silky look to the moving water. Of course you would be adding extra layers of glass and you may be loosing some sharpness to gain that control over DOF.
  9. scott

    scott Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 15, 2010
    Right now, I'm concerned more with maximizing DOF in shady conditions. We're going to Costa Rica in April, and I'm taking a tripod this time so that I can get decent pictures in the forests. Last time I lost out on lots of potential pictures due to lower-than-expected light levels and not having a tripod.

    This one, for example, while maybe not a wonderful picture, could have been a lot better if the background was in focus:

    • Like Like x 1
  10. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    You can always raise ISO a couple stops too.
  11. BillN

    BillN Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    SW France
    just a few comments from me - (and not really specific to your PL 20mm considerations)

    If you are using AF - it can depend on what the cam is focusing upon - have you tried using an MF lens, (SLR), for your landscapes, (you can pick up a good one for really no money) - then the usual f8 and above should "come into play" - just stick it on f8 or above and infinity and use scale focusing .......... or you could even try MF with the PL 20mm and see if you get any better results

    In the shot, you have got a great contrast between light and dark - you will blow the highlights if you let the cam meter without adjustments - but probably not your typical landscape

    Are you using the EPL1 - as they reduced the maximum shutter speed on that cam,

    Have you tried using various EV stops to control your exposure?

    If you shoot RAW and "over expose" you will have more chance to bring the detail back, (in PP - LR or PS), than if you under expose

    Good luck
  12. sinpig

    sinpig Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 2, 2010
    Superior, WI
    Out of subject but cannot help myself, as I'm from Costa Rica. Just one piece of advice (even when you probably know) pack a big ziploc bag, there's always a mist in the forest and the high humidity is not good friends with the camera sensor and other parts.
    :thumbup: Pura Vida!!
  13. scott

    scott Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 15, 2010
    Thanks! Yep, I have a few rainsleeves for the cameras, and I'll plan on packing some bags, too.
  14. scott

    scott Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 15, 2010
    I haven't tried that yet, but largely because I haven't found a 17mm to 20mm lens that I like and can afford. I've been considering it, though, because the lack of a focussing scale is the one thing I dislike about the G1.

    I've recently given up on the multi-spot AF and started just selecting a key focus point and trying to set up the DOF around that. Sometimes I use MF, and I'm even looking for a reliable optical rangefinder that I can use to find the hyperfocal point visually, so I can then focus the camera on that point.

    Back when I took that picture, I had just gotten the G1, so I wasn't doing the exposures as well as I might have--although this one came out pretty much as I intended. Now that I've gotten used to using the histogram to set exposures, I think the highlight/shadow problem is under control. But of course one or the other has to go when you're dealing with that kind of contrast range, unless I get into HDR, which hasn't happened yet.

    Nope--I just have two G1s.

  15. scott

    scott Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 15, 2010
    Well, apparently saying that did the trick -- I just found a Tokina 17mm to fit my unused Minolta MD lens adapter, and at a pretty good price. :smile:
  16. SimonL

    SimonL Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 15, 2009
    NW England
    Sharpness seems to be optimal at f/2 to f/5.6.

    At f/5.6 the hyperfocal distance of the 20mm is at 4.73 metres with the closest point in focus being 2.43 metres in front of the camera. The furthest, of course, being out at infinity.

    less usefully:

    At f/2 the hyperfocal distance of the 20mm is at 13.4 metres with the closest point in focus being 6.7 metres in front of the camera. The furthest, of course, again being out at infinity.

    from: dofmaster
  17. akulya

    akulya Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 21, 2010
    A "goto hyperfocal" and "goto infinity" settings really needs to be shoehorned in. Surely it can't be that hard? Map it to Fn; Set apeture, press "goto hyperfocal" and bang.

    I was trying to take some startrail pics with the 20, and eventually swapped it for a MF 50/2.8 that I had laying around, because it was such a PITA to get the 20 to a nice sharp infinity. I love the 20, and the E-p1, but as I was fitting the old 50 and looking at the distance/DoF markings; I couldn't help think "this is a well designed lens, how come this stuff is missing nowadays?"
  18. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Real Name:
    The problem with this is that I've found some of the lenses focus past infinity, if that makes any sense. For example, I keep my camera to have the lens reset to infinity on power up. Yet, if I take a picture of something at infinity, it is not in focus. I have to pull back just a bit to get it to focus.
  19. akulya

    akulya Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 21, 2010
    DJ, thats exactly my point, because the 20mm lens does focus past infinity; the only way to get it to infinity exactly is by manually focussing it in good light.

    The "Lens Reset" / camera reboot trick is better than nothing, but I'm not convinced mine actually takes it to the exact point I want, and it doesn't help setting HF.

    Maybe one day a camera body will appear with the ability to "save" a focus point in the firmware. :dreams:
  20. DesertRose

    DesertRose Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 1, 2010
    Hi Scott,

    Two comments. One, your photo might not look as great with the BG in focus... That bit of focus change gives your photo a look of depth, and bringing the BG in to focus would flattening it out. I like it as is, actually.

    Second, you can always try taking extra images for focus stacking during processing. Just change the focus point toward the BG and take a second image (works best on a tripod). CombineZM is a free program that does focus stacking nicely. One good thing about a stack is that if you don't prefer the extra DOF effect, you don't have to stack 'em. Stacks are an easy and cheap solution, other than taking a bit of processing time (worth it for special images).