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Panny 20mm or Oly 45mm

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by NettieNZ, May 17, 2012.

  1. NettieNZ

    NettieNZ Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 18, 2012
    Just got my OM-D and I'm in love with it! I really want a prime to go with my 12-50mm zoom (also have a refurb'd 40-150mm on it's way). I'm looking for a lens that I can get nice shallow depth of field and well suited for travel photography - mainly street type situations. Typical would be like a market - wanting to focus on a couple of people type of thing.

    I really want both lenses, but which would you recommend first based on this? I'm probably favoring the 20mm at the mo but I love the photos I've seen from the 45mm!
  2. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    The 45 will give you more shallow DOF, but the 20 will give you more of the scene along with the couple of people you are photographing. It's such a personal thing - I don't think anyone can tell you what you'd enjoy more. When you use your zoom, do you photography more at 20mm or at 45mm? Whichever you use more, that's the prime I would get.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    I'm still an inexperienced amateur, so take my advice with that in mind. That said, if I had to only pick one prime lens to pair with a zoom, I'd go with the 20mm out of the two you mentioned.

    I've found the 20mm to be a really handy lens. It is just wide enough for indoor stuff like parties and restaurants - even then I find it tight at times. It also works great with the small size as a pocketable combo on my GF2 body. The 45mm I feel like I'd lose too much versatility as an only prime, unless you know most of your situations will work well with the longer focal length. FWIW, I used the 20mm and the M.Zuiko 14-42mm zoom as my only lenses up until recently. The 20mm took the majority of my favorite shots, including traveling in Australia and New Zealand for 3 weeks.

    As of right now the PL 25mm f/1.4 I just got is getting a lot of love, but I'm not ready to let go of my Panny 20mm just yet!
  4. KVG

    KVG Banned User

    May 10, 2011
    yyc(Calgary, AB)
    Kelly Gibbons
    I have both. 20, done, mic drop:cool: 

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    • Like Like x 1
  5. NettieNZ

    NettieNZ Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 18, 2012
    It's an interesting one 'cos it's so often just the moment you want to get and if you take time to change lenses it's gone. So thinking about it the 20mm would probably more versatile but the 45mm would be more useful in crowded locations. I guess I need to do some more thinking about it. I've got a bit of time until my next trip but I want to have time to play with it before I go :) 
  6. DFP

    DFP New to Mu-43

    May 2, 2012
    All the above responses are correct, both good in their way.

    I'd add 20mm makes a more pocketable camera, and say for a meal out with friends you'd struggle to get a group shot with the 45, but the 20 would allow group and make do for portraits.

    On the other hand, with the wider angle, dof and speed is less likely to e critical, so would it offer much over the 12-50.

    I have the three and it is a great set.

    To help make your decision, get the 20.
  7. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    I think the 20 tends to be more useful for most as the comments here indicate. I don't disagree. It is a fixture on my E-PM1 at the moment. I do, however, find that the 45 delivers better overall performance and image quality.
  8. MrKal_El

    MrKal_El Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 24, 2011
    I just wrote this in the other 45mm thread:

    Interestingly, while I still love my 20mm... (and she can be more practical depending on the setting, ex: my FoodPorn)...

    I am IN Love w/ my 45mm... Beautiful portraits and no distortion just rules...Of course as a Street lens, not so much

    IMO, If you have the space to use it...do it. I always thought it would have been too long for my taste...but I am actually anticipating the 75mm a lot because of it.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. KVG

    KVG Banned User

    May 10, 2011
    yyc(Calgary, AB)
    Kelly Gibbons
    The biggest problem is if your cool like me people want to be close to you and the 45 just won't due.:tongue:
    • Like Like x 1
  10. ill_dawg

    ill_dawg Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2010
    I have both lenses, and the 20 is a must-have. Shortly after I got my 20, I picked up a legacy 50/1.4, and it was only after using that for about 2 years that I finally got the 45. The 45 really is a great lens, and it's great to have autofocus, but it isn't as much of an all-around lens as the 20.

    If you find yourself wanting to take things at a distance or smaller things in low light, then the 45 will be worthwhile. One of my wife's 'hobbies' is taking care of the street cats of the world, so I often found that the 20 didn't give me the reach I needed to catch the little guys at night. For things like kecak dance in Bali, swans in the sea, isolating things in a marketplace, architectural details in the city, shots of a live band, etc., the 45 is a great choice, but those are mostly corner cases.

    The 20 is what I reach for every time if I am going out for the evening and know I will be indoors with friends or have no special plans that will require a specific lens. it can be a great all-day walkaround lens, and I've had days on vacation where I brought nothing else and didn't feel limited. If cash permits, by all means get both, but for sure get the 20 first. It's a lot easier to try the waters with legacy lenses on the longer end than it is on the wider, and the 20 is a really special little lens.

    • Like Like x 2
  11. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I have the 20 and the 45 and like a lot of folks here I am VERY impressed with the 45. BUT...I find its use limited because of the 90mm FOV. It's just not something I use that much. They way I look at it, the 20 is a lens that I could keep on my camera all day and use in a variety of situations. I can't say that same about the 45.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    As others have mentioned, the 45 (on m4/3) is a fairly limited application focal length (though wonderful for suitable applications) and the 20 is a much more versatile focal length. If I were you it would be the 20 for sure.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Minniesmum

    Minniesmum Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 2, 2012
    The 45mm will be my next lens purchase. I use my 50mm primes a lot for indoor gig shots in low light without flash. However sometimes hard to get the focus right. I know the 45 will suit me very nicely. Would love to get both lenses but the 45 will come first.
  14. Warren T.

    Warren T. Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 10, 2010
    San Francisco
    paging Bhupinder, our resident 45mm cheerleader... :rofl: :biggrin:

    just kidding. :smile:

    All good responses already, just felt like typing something silly.

    But seriously, 20mm vs. 45mm represent a very large FOV difference, and so the choice becomes very subjective depending on your subject and style of shooting. So give in to your GAS, and buy both.

    • Like Like x 2
  15. Pyro451

    Pyro451 Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Apr 18, 2012
    Massachusetts, USA
    Before coming to this forum I didn't know what GAS meant. Now I have more m4/3 gear than I ever had film gear. I went with the PL25 and Oly45. Can't wait to shoot the 25 this weekend (just arrived today).
    • Like Like x 2
  16. billgreen

    billgreen Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 4, 2012
    Santa Ana, San Jose, Costa Rica
    Bill Green
    I have both and use the 20 more than the 45. I wish the 45 focused a tad bit closer. So far I use it mostly for flower "portraits" using wide apertures for limited DOF. Don't really need macro but if it focused just a couple of inches closer it would be nice. That said, I don't think I'd ever part with the 45. It's just too sweet a lens to go without.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Agree with everyone recommending the 20mm. I had and sold my 45mm as I found the FL too long for general use. Perhaps more than that I found the FL required faster shutter speeds indoors than I could achieve at the ISO levels I was comfortable with - even with IS. Therefore I was a little disappointed in its low light performance, at least with my experiences -YMMV.

    Outdoors presented another challenge in that my E-PL1's top shutter speed of 1/2000sec meant that I couldn't shoot it with a large enough aperture to really achieve the shallow DOF you'd want from this FL without an ND filter. No fault of the lens, just something to be aware of if you want the creamy OOF backgrounds in bright light - plan on getting an ND filter to go with either lens you get if you want to shoot wide open outdoors during the day.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Nettie... In closely reading your objectives at the moment, from what you've described, I think you'll find more applications for the 20.

    You will read a lot of exclamatory praise for this lens or that lens and certainly it's great to appreciate the qualities that this lens or that lens offers. All lenses you might consider having offer unique suitability and benefits for particular situations. Some are limited in their applicability and others more broad in their applicability.

    After a lifetime of image making experience as a professional and an amateur photographer, I'll offer that what generally matters most in lens selection is field of view and perspective.... all else, assuming a certain level of quality, is of secondary importance. To buy a lens because others rave about it or because it's super sharp, or whatever isn't going to serve you very well. Always consider field of view and perspective, then choose the lens that will give you that... whether this lens or that lens is a little sharper or a little richer in color is of little importance, really.
    • Like Like x 3
  19. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    The best advice do far..
    • Like Like x 1
  20. acercanto

    acercanto Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 15, 2011
    SW VA, USA
    Something I noticed, that I don't think anybody has mentioned yet is that you already have both those focal lengths covered with your 12-50. I would do a bunch of shooting, and see which end of the zoom you tend to favor, and then base your decision on that.
    That will tell you more about your preferences than we could ever. That being said, the 20mm/1.7 is a beautiful lens. :) 

    Best of luck,
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