Panasonic Pancake Pandemonium - 14mm vs 20mm vs 12-32mm

RAH

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Personally I like some vignetting and softness in the extreme corners, it's "filmic" (yeah, I know, that's not accurate but it suggests the cheapish kit primes that would come with many cameras in the film era), but to some it's anathema.
I think the idea of wanting perfect sharpness and non-vignetting throughout is that if you want soft edges, dark surroundings, etc, you can do that in post-processing; removing them when they are already there (because of the lens) is harder. But I can see the appeal of getting a particular "look" straight out-of-camera.
 
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Personally I am partial to those effects which "weaken" the fidelity of the image, but I always feel guilty about using them, it seems amateurish somewhere in my psyche (even though chasing pixel perfection is often more amateurish in reality!), but when the gear I am using naturally imparts something of that look, I consider it a win, as long as it's the right occasion for the look.
 

threeOh

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It is interesting to see there are now 3 of us who raised our hand to say "Hey, that O17/2.8 is in fact quite good" while the general consensus is that it is a poor lens. Could it be because there would be a lot of variability? Some are lucky to have better copies maybe.
There's different groups with different criteria. Some value sharpness and ignore, or don’t see, any other parameters. Sharpness is fairly simple as charts are frequently published and statistics exist.

Others favor a render they simply happen to like. As that can’t easily be statistically measured, we don’t hear much from those folks. But, I suspect, there are a lot of us.
 

bmhome1

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I use a uv filter, then the 46-37 step down ring. No vignetting.

I use a 46>37 step down with 37>46 step up and then another 46>37 step down combined for really effective lens shade and compact without any vignetting. Works with uv filter too. Same three ring combination works for 14mm f/2.5
 
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wimg

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So when using the P20, do owners mount a UV filter? And what about a lens hood, slotted, no slots, step-up ring? What do you use?
Considering my experiences with lenses which were not protected by filters, I always use a UV or protection filter.

A friend of mine is a camera retailer, mom & pop brick store, and he recommends filters too, considering the returns he has received over the years of kncked cameras and lenses with and without filters over a career lasting well over 30 years. And he is a guy who wll never oversell, but really try to provide you with what you need, and only if you insist with what you want.

His experience is that filters, due to the metal ring make, the lens fronts stronger, and the glass saves most lenses from most impacts. He can normally remove a broken filter himself, no problem, and he does so for free. A knocked lens generally has to be sent back to the OEM for repairs, not so a camera lens with filter.

Because of accidents I had, and the protection a filter provided, I have ever since an accident with a lens in the Swiss Alps always equipped all of my lenses with uv or protective filters. With digital I found I had to up the level of filters, however, as I found out with a low sun in a pretty snow landscape. The internal reflections litterally killed the shot, and that was because of reflections from the sensor to the back of the filter, and reverbs of that. Since that time I only use the best, multi-coated, preferably dirt/grease resistant filters, and have never looked back :). The only lenses in my collection without filters are the ones that do not have filter threads, essentially UWA lenses with a large concave front lens, like the Oly 7-14 F/2.8 Pro, although that fortunately still has a lens hood that provides protection. And with that, I am just extremely careful not to knock it against anything :).

Lens hoods I only use when absolutely necessary. I don't like the extra bit protruding further. Most modern lenses handle bright lights at the edge of the image or in the image very well anyway, these days. Coatings have come a very, very long way since the 1950s and 1960s .... Reviews where a bright light close by is shown against a rather dark background are not really very representative, IMO :).

Kind regards, Wim
 
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The 20mm is a pretty cheap lens, so I do not use a filter. I used a screw-on lens hood for a while but found that, real or imagined, it made AF slower - since the whole focus element moves, adding extra bulk to the front filter ring means the focus motor has to push that along as well!
 
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It is interesting to see there are now 3 of us who raised our hand to say "Hey, that O17/2.8 is in fact quite good" while the general consensus is that it is a poor lens. Could it be because there would be a lot of variability? Some are lucky to have better copies maybe.

You can raise your hand and say it's good because "good" is subjective. It's not a bad lens, I had that lens and I loved it, but stopped using it and sold it after a while.
Why? I loved that lens and it's so small! And I like the 35mm field of view.
The truth is that it is optically not that good. And that is okay.
It's small, it's light, it's cheap, it's fun - these things can make it a good lens for anybody that likes photography.

If build quality, weather resistance, corner-to-corner sharpness, lack of CA, flare and ghosting resistance, are important to a photographer, they need to be prepared to spend more than the 100 bucks for the 2.8 lens and get a bigger, more expensive lens, that would better built, faster focusing, and optically superior. Those lenses are better for a lot of use cases, but not the best when it comes to traveling light and/or just having fun.
 

JensM

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The gotcha's on the 12-32 is the lack of manual focus, and I don't believe you can get a hood on it either.
Indeed there is available hoods for it, one of those generic, screw-in, slotted ones has made a version for the 12-32. I tried one of the regular ones which vignettes on 12 mm, and later found one marketed as for the P12-32, which does not. :drinks:

As for the OP question, the pancakes are so minuscule that it is quite feasible to carry all at the same time and add the 14-42PZ for the longer reach. 😇 Not that it really answers the question, but I am rather taken by the lot of them and am currently working them out, somewhat. If I stumble over a cheap Oly 17 2.8, I may very well hog that as well.

In fact, I was looking for something in addition to get a bit wider than what the 14-42mm PZ offers, but concluded that the easiest, lightest and cheapest way to get there was by adding the 12-32 I already had. I`ll see if I can post up some pictures of the lot. They are proper incredible tiny, the lot of them.

Ranking in order of smallest to smallish the list would be: 14/55 grams, 12-32/70 grams, 20/87 grams, and PZ14-42mm/95 grams. Combined weight for all of those, are 307 grams or 10,8 ounces.
 

D7k1

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I've used the 14 w/GWC1 and the Oly 60 as a small kit (f2.8 or faster) and really liked that combination.
 

Tili

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I'm not sure why the Olympus 14-42 EZ gets so much hate.
Ok it's not the sharpest lens ever.

But it's amazingly small, and very handy with the auto-lens cap.
The zoom range is pretty darn handy. Magnification is also not too bad. And it has a focus ring.

Have a look at the Sample Image Showcase for it, it's really good value, imo.
 

davidzvi

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Sounds like I'll have to try the 20mm first, the rest later. I do plan on expanding my portfolio of Olympus 1.8 primes, 1.2 if I can afford it. My next lenses after this one are the 60mm Macro (unless a 100mm comes along before I pull the trigger) and the 100-400, but I'll have to save up for those.
The P20 is a fine option if you aren't looking for an instant on->shoot companion for your E-M1 and 40-150. It's just not that lens. The P14 is a better option.

I go between the P14 and P20 on my Pen F and yes I've also owned the P12-32. In fact I've owned all three at least 4 times. I think the only reason I don't have the P12-32 right now is I like primes on my Pen F more and I have the 12-45 Pro.

One note on the P12-32. Yes the metal versions can be a little stiff to mount and remove. It you get one get the plastic mount version :eek:. The metal mount ones can be so still that I (personally) believe was a major factor in the lens separation issue many experienced. There are a few threads here and elsewhere about it. But I can't recall hearing about it on a plastic mount version and it would NOT stop me from getting another.
 
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I recently picked up an Olympus Pen E-P5 for an everyday carry type camera, and I'm considering my lens options for it. I've looked at the Olympus small primes, but the only pancake is the 17mm f/2.8 which seems pretty universally disliked, and the f/1.8 is about double the length of the three Panny-cakes, and goes for a lot more money. Price being equal, which lens do you prefer and why?

Additional info: I shoot primarily with my EM1.2 and 40-150 PRO, so wider lenses are outside my norm but I'm looking to experiment with more street photography, hence the smaller camera. I don't shoot video or in C-AF mode, so AF noise doesn't bother me. I'm thinking I'd like to own a GM1 or GM5 someday just for the novelty of it, but the Pen is small enough for me for now. I like the width and size of the 14mm, the speed of the 20mm, and the zoominess of the 12-32mm, so I'm hoping to learn any weird quirks that might push me towards or away from any particular lens. Of course I'm happy to find there's no wrong choice and perhaps I'll just put out a want advert and get whichever is the best price at the time I want to buy.

Thank you all!

20mm f/1.7 hands down!!!
 

PakkyT

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Ranking in order of smallest to smallish the list would be: 14/55 grams, 12-32/70 grams, 20/87 grams, and PZ14-42mm/95 grams. Combined weight for all of those, are 307 grams or 10,8 ounces.
You should throw the Olympus 9mm fisheye body cap lens in there as well to round it out. :popcorm2:
 

jacobm

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The P20 is a fine option if you aren't looking for an instant on->shoot companion for your E-M1 and 40-150. It's just not that lens. The P14 is a better option.

I go between the P14 and P20 on my Pen F and yes I've also owned the P12-32. In fact I've owned all three at least 4 times. I think the only reason I don't have the P12-32 right now is I like primes on my Pen F more and I have the 12-45 Pro.

One note on the P12-32. Yes the metal versions can be a little stiff to mount and remove. It you get one get the plastic mount version :eek:. The metal mount ones can be so still that I (personally) believe was a major factor in the lens separation issue many experienced. There are a few threads here and elsewhere about it. But I can't recall hearing about it on a plastic mount version and it would NOT stop me from getting another.

Thanks for the input, especially the note on the mount for the 12-32.

My instant on and shoot companion is my EM5.2 with the 12-40, I wear both on a harness for my "serious" work. The E-P5 is just a fun carry around camera in case I see something I'd like to memorialize better/differently than my phone, and as a cheap spare just in case.
 

BruceRH

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I recently picked up an Olympus Pen E-P5 for an everyday carry type camera, and I'm considering my lens options for it. I've looked at the Olympus small primes, but the only pancake is the 17mm f/2.8 which seems pretty universally disliked, and the f/1.8 is about double the length of the three Panny-cakes, and goes for a lot more money. Price being equal, which lens do you prefer and why?

Additional info: I shoot primarily with my EM1.2 and 40-150 PRO, so wider lenses are outside my norm but I'm looking to experiment with more street photography, hence the smaller camera. I don't shoot video or in C-AF mode, so AF noise doesn't bother me. I'm thinking I'd like to own a GM1 or GM5 someday just for the novelty of it, but the Pen is small enough for me for now. I like the width and size of the 14mm, the speed of the 20mm, and the zoominess of the 12-32mm, so I'm hoping to learn any weird quirks that might push me towards or away from any particular lens. Of course I'm happy to find there's no wrong choice and perhaps I'll just put out a want advert and get whichever is the best price at the time I want to buy.

Thank you all!
Out of your 3 choices, I would pick the 20mm because it is very sharp with a nice rendering. I rarely use mine though because of the noise and slow focus and as someone else mentioned, it is a bit of a hockey puck. Maybe those issues are petty but they bug me.

I much prefer the Olympus 17/1.8, it is small, fast and well built with wonderful image quality. I have not tried the 17/2.8 or the 14mm and I have sold my 12-32 in favor of the 14-42 EZ. In fact I have two copies of the 14-42, one silver one black and both are sharp enough for most purposes. I did not like the functionality or build quality of the 12-32 and I did not feel it was any sharper than the 14-42, although I do prefer a 12mm starting point. That point gets nullified by the fact that I almost always carry something wider anyway. The 14-42 EZ with the auto open lens cap is awesome IMHO. For me, the 14-42 wins over the 20mm because of size, focusing, range and though not as sharp as the 20mm, it is sharp enough.

I, as others have mentioned, would love to see an updated small prime series from Olympus. I have used some of the small Voigtlander and Leica primes with adapters but native would be much better. The tiny Laowa lenses are worth considering if you don’t mind MF but those are not pancake either, but they are small, light weight and with very good image quality. The 17mm is only $149! Quite the bargain.

This is a shot of Comet Neowise, taken through a few inches of aircraft glass over the North Pacific, with the EM5 MKiii and the Laowa 17mm, the image is cropped.
D5DF5888-7CA4-4A31-8AC3-04FDBA13770B.jpeg
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