Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 - AF just too slow

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by cclocke, May 18, 2015.

  1. cclocke

    cclocke New to Mu-43

    Sep 10, 2014
    Holliston, MA
    Hi all,

    First time poster on the site. I purchased an OMD EM10 last fall, for the main purpose of taking pictures of my son, now 15 months old. I have the kit Olympus 14-42 lens, Olympus 40-150, and the Panasonic 20mm. I'd say 90 percent of the time I am using the Panasonic. While I like the picture outside in bright light, the camera's AF is very slow, especially indoors, and now that my son is walking around, I'm losing a lot of pictures I should be catching. Any recommendations? Is there a lens that I should be targeting? Also, I rarely use the flash on the EM10.


  2. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    The 25mm f1.8 is blazing fast on the EM10, and is close to the focal length you have with the 20mm. The 17mm f1.8 might be better for indoor environmental kinds of shots, but it would depend on your shooting style whether you'd want that or the slightly longer FoV of the 25mm.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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  3. sdb123

    sdb123 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 25, 2014
    Northants, UK
    Agree on the suggestions easy way for you to see if you like either focal length is to set your zoom to both 17mm then 25mm for a period of time and see how you get on.
  4. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    You are not alone in this complaint. The 20mm was one of the first m4/3 lenses and used a somewhat compromised AF motor to allow for the pancake design.

    Probably the easiest and most cost comparable alternative is the 25mm f1.8, But it is about 20% longer focal length. Try it out on your 14-42 and compare 20 and 25 and see if you are OK with the difference. If so, that's a no brainer. I traded my 20mm f1.7 for the 25mm f1.8 and the hit rate with my kids is much, much better, plus movie AF is very good and inaudible.

    If you find that you would prefer something a bit wider, the Olympus 17mm f1.8 or Panasonic Leica 15mm f1.7 are also great alternatives - but they are a bit more expensive.

    The 25mm f1.8, 17mm f1.8 and 15mm f1.7 all have the latest AF motors that are dead silent and focus instantly. You will be very happy with the AF on any of these lenses.

    And just as an honorable mention, if you are on a tight budget and favor AF over the fast aperture, the Sigma 19mm f2.8 could work. It's 1.5 stops slower but has better AF than the 20mm.
  5. DennisC

    DennisC Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2010
    Cheshire UK
  6. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    Yeah, if you use it on a Panasonic camera, the body auto-disables AF-C from being selected. It's not meant for action, that's for sure.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. cclocke

    cclocke New to Mu-43

    Sep 10, 2014
    Holliston, MA
    Thanks guys, I'm going to go ahead and get the Oly 25mm. I think this is the perfect lens for what I'm looking for, and seems like a great multi purpose lens. The 45mm was an option, but using my kit as a test I think the length is too big for our house, and the 25mm looks to be the best bang for your buck. With this, the kit, and the 40-150 zoom I should be good to go for a while.

    Other than the focal length and pancake size, is there any reason to keep the Panasonic 20mm? Unfortunately, I don't have the cash to buy more than 3 or 4 lens at this time, so 5mm difference isn't really a large enough difference for me to justify keeping both.
    Last edited: May 18, 2015
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  8. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    25mm is definitely a great all-around focal length for kids. It's long enough to be useful for portraits and wide enough to not require backing into a wall to fit people in the frame (like with the 45!)

    I personally cannot see keeping both, especially when you have so few lenses. The focal length and aperture is about the same and the focal lengths are very close together. The 20mm is a pancake, but the 25mm is not even an inch longer, so it's still very compact. I sold mine after getting the 25mm.

    If you did want another prime lens, the 45mm f1.8 or Sigma 60mm f2.8 are good options for outdoor or close up headshot portraits or of your son. Neither would cost much out of pocket after selling the 20mm.
  9. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    I carried the 20mm on a walk down Las Vegas Blvd last Saturday evening. I tried to use it by the New York New York casino, but it struggled to focus on the lit up buildings with my EM5. So I put it away.
  10. Ddeveryday

    Ddeveryday Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 24, 2013
    Ahhhhh.. the Panny 20mm problem.

    I feel your pain. I have been trying to replace mine, but it seems irreplaceable for me... I have had it since the GF1, so it's a little difficult to let go. I tried replacing it with the Olympus 25mm 1.8. The Oly 25mm has beautiful image quality and amazing AF speed, but I just find it too big and a little too long. The 20mm's pancake size really does spoil you. And it's just a little too long for landscape shots. Just like you, my 20mm was on my camera most of the time and I used it for all types of shots.

    I sold the Olympus 25mm 1.8 and got the Olympus 17mm 1.8 now. The Oly 17mm solved some of the issues I had with the 25mm. The 17mm is wider and its size is the next smallest prime you can get on the 35mm - 50mm equv. focal range. My only complaint is that you don't get much bokeh with this lens, but now I have the 45mm 1.8 for that.
  11. coffeecat

    coffeecat Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 4, 2012
    SW England
    Yes, the "P20 thing" - me too.

    I am some years past the toddler phase (my youngest photo subject is now over 5ft tall and doesn't often move too fast to focus on!)
    Over my three years in m43 I've taken the vast majority of my shots with my P20.
    Then I got a PL25 last Christmas, and I do love the results from it.
    ...but... I do surprisingly often find the difference between the two focal lengths quite noticeable. I'll be lining up a shot (indoors) at 25mm and think "this is a bit tight, I wish I had my 20mm on here".

    So, I think I'm going to end up keeping them both. Which is not very efficient really.
    I have to say though, I've never really had a problem with the focus speed, although I do realise it is a bit slower than most other m43 lenses. And it was not used for chasing round after fast moving toddlers, which would have been tricky.

    Ramble over.

  12. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Yes there is.
    It is a very sharp lens with a bright aperture : one of the very best lenses for the whole m4/3rds system.
    You might want to take some time to learn how best to use this lens on moving children in dark rooms because if you improve your "hit rate" you can save money and space by not buying some other wideish prime.
    It is my best indoor lens and I use it with my e-pL7 which has very good stabilisation, with max ISO 6400.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    The 20mm doesn't do to well at close distances, which unfortunately is the proximity you'll be shooting your kid! Your best bet is to use single point focus (the option with just one square AF box) and the moment you hear the beep, shoot! At further distances the 20mm is quick enough. The 17mm 1.8 is another option, but to be honest I find the 20mm produces nicer photos when you nail it.

    One more thing, you can use the pop-up flash and stop it down to F8. Even if they're out of the zone of focus, if you shoot quick enough, there should be enough DOF that it will still come out sharp if you use the flash. Give that a try!
  14. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    I don't have the Pana 20mm, but I tried my friend's lens. It focused slower and noisier than my Oly 17mm f1.8 and hunted a bit more. Not so good for video. I decided on the 17mm despite the higher cost because it closely matched my favorite "normal" focal length of 35mm on my old film SLR. And, it focuses quickly and quietly. It also has the snap focus ring to switch quickly between manual and auto focus. The 25mm sounds like a good choice when you're looking for a nifty-fifty type lens and want to take a few closer portraits. The 17mm gives you a more environmental view and would probably work better indoors. The difference in FOV between the two is quite significant.
  15. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I feel like I need to make a video of me using my 20mm/1.7 just to verify whether I'm having the same experience with it as everyone else. I use it on a Panasonic body, with Quick AF enabled, and typically use the touch-screen to select a high contrast edge for focusing...but using it this way, the lens focuses instantaneously. Less than half a second. It's as fast as I could ever hope for. I literally do not understand the complaints.

    I just tested it in an extremely dimly lit room because these posts keep making me think that I'm imaging things or mis-remembering how fast it focuses.

    How do most people use autofocus? Do they rely on multi-point AF and just hope that a camera will somehow guess their intentions on what they want in focus?
  16. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    main problem is that the Pana20 just seems bad on the Oly cameras.

    works beautifully on a Panasonic camera ... but that's no help :)
  17. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 12, 2012
    with children I zonefocus to be sure I'm getting things in focus. but the funny thing is, I do the same with my oly 45... I simple dont trust moving targets and em5.. but for me its a small problems. the important keepers are usually static objects anyway
  18. Ddeveryday

    Ddeveryday Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 24, 2013
    You're not imaging things. The 20mm is just slower on Olympus bodies. I used the same 20mm on the GF1 and G3 then on the Olympus PL5, it's noticeably slower on the PL5.
  19. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    In hindsight, I should have kept it on the camera and taken my time. When it nailed focus, it was better than the 17mm f1.8. M5151360.JPG
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  20. cclocke

    cclocke New to Mu-43

    Sep 10, 2014
    Holliston, MA
    Great pic, Yea the lens is definitely awesome, when it focuses. If I was shooting more stills, I'd keep the P20. The last thing my 15 month old does is stay still, however. The Oly 25mm arrives today, and unfortunately the two lens are too close in length for me to keep both of them.
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