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

Sr. Cordeiro

New to Mu-43
Joined
Oct 21, 2021
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4
Location
Portugal
I currently have all of the 3 pancake lenses you mentioned.

- 14mm f/2.5 - the smallest and lightest of all. It feels like you don't have any lens on. Good for snapping quick shots, like on a smartphone. The AF speed is in between the other 2 options.

- 20mm f/1.7 - sharp and optically special. The slowish AF is it's main problem. It's not that bad, actually pretty manageable, but I wouldn't consider it a good option to start street photography: street photography is already hard without having to fight with the equipment. Some years ago I would say it's good enough, nowadays there's no need to get into extra hardships when there's better options. Having said that, on the long run be sure to at least try one, it may become your favorite lens despite it's limitations.

- 12-32mm - surprisingly excellent optically. Sharp and constrasty. Has the fastest AF of the 3 lenses. It's a excellent choice as a small travel lens. And/or a good option for daylight street photography in the hands of an experienced street photographer, which leads me to my actual recommendation:


If you're real serious on trying street photography, the lens I recommend you to get is the Olympus 17mm f/1.8. I know it costs more than any of the other 3 options, but I think it's worth the sacrifice because it may very well be the best one to start practicing street photography in my opinion.

It's small and light enough to not bother you and the others. It's operation never get's in the way of you getting the shot, the AF is blazing fast and the large aperture makes it suitable for any light conditions.

And the in-between focal length is perfect to learn to "see" in street photography terms. It will be challenging but at the same time it will be a like a teacher: will force you to get closer (but not as close as with a 14mm), to learn to see on a wider scope but remaining natural (without exaggerated wide distortion). Sure the versatility of a zoom like the 12-32mm is great, but with one you will be "all over the place", it will be easier to avoid getting close, will open more possibilities that may overwhelm you instead of focusing on just getting a good shot with a fixed angle of view.

This comes from personal experience, I consider the original Fujifilm X100 (that also has a 35mm equiv. lens) my teacher of street photography. It was frustrating at first, but when I finally started to get the focal length the results reflected that. Today I rarely use 35mm for street photography (prefer 28mm or 40mm equiv.), but only because I have experience and leaned from a good foundation.

So in resume: learn to shoot with the "in-between" 35mm (equiv.) focal length first, and after a while you will be able to adapt to whatever is more suitable to the style you end developing.

Just my opinion, hope this helps :)
 

Tili

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Apr 25, 2020
Messages
83
Honestly, I've gotten the LX100 mk1 and It's replaced the 20mm f1.7, 12-32, 12-40 f2.8 and 14 f2.5 all in one package. It's really amazing.
 
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
236
Location
Gloucester, UK
Real Name
Deryck
I too have a LX100 mk i as a small walk around.
It replaced a GX85/12-32 combo and it does a far better job; smaller lighter, faster, better IQ.

The LX100 is good, very good for what it does and I found mine on eBay for the price of a small prime lens.
I thought if I didn't like it it could go back on eBay and it would cost me nothing.
That was over 2 years ago now, I have 1000s of photos from it and some really good ones.
I could still put it on eBay and sell it for close to what I bought it for.

None of the lenses you are considering are expensive used, buy any one that turns up at a good price, if you don't like it, sell it and buy another.

I still use my LX100, but my em5ii now gets more use along with a set of small primes (all bought used)
The Laowa 7.5, PL15 and O25 may not be pancakes but they are small, lightweight and fast with amazing IQ.

Last week I saw a used 14-42 EZ at a good price. I could stick it on the em5ii and the LX100 would finally hit eBay

The EZ arrived and was returned on Monday (faulty);

A 12-32 arrived yesterday, I took it for a walk this afternoon and I think it might do the job, much much better than my old copy. I may hold onto it for a while.
 

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