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Panny 20mm 1.7/Oly 25mm 1.8 DOF?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by stovi, Jul 8, 2014.

  1. stovi

    stovi Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2014
    A friend of mine wants to get an m43 camera. As it's possible they might never get around to buying another lens I want to advise something around 35-50mm equivalent general purpose prime. They are very keen to try a bit of shallow depth of field subject separation. The price and length of the Oly 45mm 1.8 would be superb for that but I think its too long if they might never get another lens.

    My question is, is the Oly 25mm 1.8 going to improve the opportunity for shallow dof significantly compared to the cheaper Panny 20mm 1.7? Does that 5mm make much difference for thin depth?
  2. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    The PL25 f1.4 might be a better choice.
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  3. G3user

    G3user Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 26, 2013
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  4. stovi

    stovi Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2014
    Thanks yeah I think you're right but that lens costs a bit more so I think the Olympus 25mm is close enough in spec.
  5. stovi

    stovi Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2014
    It does a bit! Thanks for that I should've thought to check. Although the way it describes what will be in and out of focus sort of makes it sound like its easy to get shallow dof and blurred backgrounds on any of these lens. It certainly shows the huge difference in dof between the 45mm and 25/20 thats for sure. Interesting.
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  6. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I would recommend the 25 f/1.8 over the 20 f/1.7, for a couple of reasons:
    - The O25 focuses MUCH faster than the P20. It may not sound like a big deal, but it can mean the difference between capturing or missing a particular shot. This is especially crucial when dealing with low light photography, which the O25 excels at
    - The O25 is much more ergonomic IMO than the P20. The focus ring is not only wider, but it is placed out away from the camera more than the one on the P20, making it easier to fine-tune the focus
    - The O25 will give you slighter better DOF control, with better looking bokeh than the P20

    The two benefits of the P20 over the O25 are that it has a wider FOV, which is more useful when only having 1 lens, and it is a pancake, so depending on the camera, it could fit in to a bag where the camera with the O25 may not fit.

    Another option to consider would be the Olympus 17 f/1.8. If he's only going to be using one lens, the 35mm FOV is much wider than the 50mm FOV, and he may like this more. Some people like 35mm FOV more than 50mm, and others are the opposite. It all depends on his preference.
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  7. stovi

    stovi Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2014
    Thanks ijm. That's useful. I have suggested the 25mm 1.8 Oly with an EPL5 (or EM10 if the budget can stretch). However, there is a very good Panasonic GX7 deal which comes with a 20mm 1.7 which is tempting. Though I have my doubts if that lens will satisfy the requirement for a bit of background blur and subject isolation from time to time!

    17 would be my choice for a general purpose but I have a Ricoh GR for that myself so the EM10 is basically more reach and portraits for me.
  8. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    You can get thin DOF with the 20 1.7 as well -

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  9. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    Honestly, I think DoF control on the 20mm will be negligibly different from the 25mm. You might just use them a little bit differently. Given the 20mm's slightly wider FL, you can fit a bit more in the frame, so you can have your subject (i.e. head and shoulders) at a closer distance while having more background visible, giving you equivalent (or more) subject isolation.

    I've grown to the love the 20mm not only for its size, but also the way it functionally splits the difference between a 35mm and a 50mm in one tiny, sharp, fast lens. I rarely find myself wanting for either.
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  10. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2013
    The way the Oly 25mm renders, it makes it feel much more shallow than the Pany 20. Focusing speed is so much better as well, the only issue is pocketability.
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  11. Jay86

    Jay86 Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 26, 2012
    I have used both and the Oly 25 is the much better lens for the purposes your asking stovi.
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  12. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Of those 2 lenses, the 25/1.8 due to it's longer focal length, the quality of bokeh as well as it's speedier auto focus. For the stated needs/wants, it's not even a question IMO.

    Having said that, if you're friend is wanting DoF, m43 might not be the best suited system. This isn't to say you can't get nice DoF shots with m43, but rather due to it's smaller sensor size, the ways to achieve DoF are more limiting. Also, since your friend will only stay with one lens, it might make more sense to maybe go with a APS-C fixed lens camera such as the Fuji X100S which is still fairly compact, has a fast 35mm f2 lens and yields nice OOC images with the usual pretty Fuji colors.
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  13. broody

    broody Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 8, 2013
    I'd get the O25, the P20 while a great lens for compactness and IQ, simply has worse bokeh quality (and less of it).
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  14. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    It's odd that your friend wants to experiment with blurred backgrounds but then is choosing m4/3s and only considering one lens. Usually the one-lens type of person would be fine with a 14-42 kit zoom (I have those zooms too and when I do them I'm not looking for thin DOF). As for the lenses you mentioned, I can attest to either of the 25s being just fine for nearly all situations as I can walk around all day with my 28/2 on the camera and never reach for the wide kit zoom (I would reach for the 50/1.7, however, because I like the blurred background).

    If I could only have one camera and one lens it would be the full frame Sony A7 and I'd have fast 50mm on it because that's the only way to get a wide enough angle with bokeh I like. I would skip m4/3s unless if I were getting the 25mm f0.95 (luckily I can have more than one lens!). The advantage of m4/3s is the size and price and fact that you can have several lenses cheaply (and the 20 is nearly the smallest).

    My advice would be to buy the 20 and then go buy any one of the numerous nifty 50mm f1.8s from the 70s or 80s. Those are nearly all good and will give more background blur than even the 25. That way he's still spend less money, have better bokeh, and also have the wider angle.

    PS: Since we're on the topic of more than one lenses, how about a Panasonic 14-42 II for $150 and $300 45/1.8? Or if the 20 was on his list because if the small size the 12-32 is smaller, very sharp, and $300.
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  15. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    For all of these lenses, the 20/1.7, 25/1.8 and 25/1.4, to get shallow DOF/subject isolation you need to get pretty close to your subject. Once you get to 10 feet or further away it will be difficult to achieve subject isolation. The 25/1.4 is best and the 45/1.8 is similar to the 25/1.4, but it isn't by a huge margin.

    The 20/1.7 and 25/1.8 are essentially even.


    If you can get close enough though, even a F2.8 lens will provide narrow DOF.

    If you want to take full body portraits of adults and still have narrow DOF, it will be difficult on M43rds will all but a few lenses (42.5/1.2, 75/1.8, the MF voigtlanders). In this case a cheap old gen FF DSLR and a 50/1.4 or 85/1.8 will provide noticeably narrower DOF. Personally I feel M43rds can provide narrow enough DOF though (but I do have the Nocticron hehe).
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  16. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 12, 2012
    they should stretch tp two lens setup. O45 and p14 or 14-42iiR
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  17. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    $1100 for an E-M10 and only one lens ever just doesn't make good sense. An ILC without the I and the L becomes a large investment that'll never realize its potential. Getting that system to play with shallow DOF but not getting a lens longer than 25mm is also contradictory. The E-PM2's are being fire-saled right now and you can get one with the 14-42 and the 40-150 lens kits for $399 or less (or $299 with just the 14-42). Then, as tjdean01 said, just buy a nice fast-50 for $50-100. Seems to me that that would be more camera than your friend would ever need with all the focal lengths covered by one of the lenses and plenty of opportunity to play with shallow DOF on a 50mm f/1.4 lens. And then he could do something nice for you with the $500 he saved.
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  18. stovi

    stovi Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2014
    Cheers all! It's true we've limited ourselves to m43 so far for no other reason than the people she's asked (including me) like it. Maybe something like an APSC DSLR and a cheap nifty fifty would be a cheaper and capable combo. I am partly to blame for the m43 bias as I'm a big fan of the smaller form factor.

    I've explained that the sort of lens within budget which will give the blurry backgrounds would probably be a bit long to be a lens which sits on the camera all the time for general use. The reality is she'd probably need a 17/20mm for regular use AND a 45mm/75mm or around that length for portraits/bokeh.

    I shouldnt have said she will never buy another lens. It's a possibility. I just dont want there to be an immediate need for more glass because the first one is too long.

    I find it odd talking about dof/bokeh etc this much as I know myself what I get from different lens and already have the combinations which work for me. Just trying to put myself in someone elses shoes.

    I know you can get shallow dof with most lens to some degree. I spend most of my time with a fixed 28mm at 2.8 or higher (Ricoh GR) and love it. I do like a bit of subject isolation from time to time. I still get it in the right conditions for that camera and don't care if I don't as I've got other gear when I'm looking for portraits with dreamy backgrounds.

    I suppose the problem is the classic hard to satisfy requirement of a camera which will not need replaced any time soon, which has a lens which does everything including amazing shallow dof. All for quite a low budget :) 

    Thanks again for the comments and ideas.
  19. Uncle Frank

    Uncle Frank Photo Enthusiast

    Jul 26, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    Not really. You need a significantly longer focal length to notice the difference. But if you take care to compose for the background, the 25/1.8 can provide noticeable separation, even at f/4.

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    I have both the 20/1.7 and 25/1.8, and would suggest the 25 for a single lens solution. It's faster focusing, and more useful for head and shoulder portraits.

    If you take advantage of current Olympus Buy Together and Save program, you can get the em10 + 25/1.8 for $998 from BH Photo.
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  20. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee Subscribing Member

    May 3, 2013
    Depends where the friend is coming from. Most people that ask me about cameras are typically shooting on an iPhone. The shallow DOF from Micro 4/3 is more than they'd ever think to ask for.

    No doubt there's a difference in bokeh ability between 20/25mm lenses and longer lenses, but I don't think you need to get too close for good bokeh with either lens.

    Some Olympus 25mm shots I've taken with decent bokeh.

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