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Perfect street photography lens? (On a budget)

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by kriskerry91, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. kriskerry91

    kriskerry91 Mu-43 Regular

    So i'm after a lens for my Olympus EM-10 for street shooting.

    But i'm on a budget.

    The three lenses i've seen and heard good and bad points about are:
    Oly 17mm f2.8
    Pany 14mm f2.4
    Pany 20mm f1.7 II

    The first two are about the same price as far as i can see, the Pany 20mm will be about £70-£80 more.

    Anyone own either of these lenses and can give there 2 cents?

    Is 14mm too wide? Is 20mm too long? Is the 20mm slow at focusing? Is the 17mm not as sharp?
  2. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa

    Any lens you have.

    This woman did outstanding work with a a plain single lens camera


    Its your eye not the magic lens

    I would go for series 1 of the 20mm (not the series 2) or the oly17f2.8

    All the stuff about sharpness only matters if you are intending to crop the guts out of it or blow up to billboards
    • Like Like x 1
  3. kriskerry91

    kriskerry91 Mu-43 Regular

    Ill check out that link later on, thanks!

    Is there a difference in image quality from the mark i and mark ii of the 20mm?

    Is the 14mm out of the question in your eyes?
  4. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
  5. scott2hot

    scott2hot Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 27, 2012
    west yorkshire
    Absolutely no difference between mk1 and ii had many copies of both...ii just looks a little nicer(not image)..thats it
  6. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    It's a subjective choice on which lens you feel most comfortable with for street photography. I've personally used all those lenses and can comfortably shoot with any of them. I'd also consider the Olympus 25mm 1.8 and the Sigma 19 & 30 lenses as well. Also with the 20mm ver. II being out for awhile, I think the price difference between the ver. I & II isn't that far apart and I'd easily lean towards the ver. II due to improved build quality.

    My personal choice for street shooting is the Olympus 17mm 1.8. It's a little bit more wide, but it handles triple duty for general walk-around use, snapping the kid & baby and for tackling the streets. For your budget though, I'd probably lean more towards the 20mm, but unfortunately it's AF isn't as quick. The 14mm focuses quite fast in good light and has a fixed barrel length. The Olympus 17mm 2.8 is optically the weakest, but still a decent performer. The Sigma 19 & 30 are also good options and are priced similar to the 14mm & 17mm 2.8, thought they're a bit bulkier and might have a slight lag in start up times. Like I said though, all of these lenses can be used and it really depends on your style of shooting. :wink:
  7. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    Street photography on the cheap, well it can only mean the Panasonic 14mm/f 2.5, more so than the 20, as you'll capture more within the 28mm equivalent focal length, it's sharp and it's faster to focus than the 20, all of which is important.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. kriskerry91

    kriskerry91 Mu-43 Regular

    Thanks for that Jonathan.

    I have just come accross the Sigma 19mm while browsing online, and its not a bad price at all.

    So if i was to knock the wider 14mm off and focus on the 20mm, 19mm and 17mm. which would be the best performer?

    I think i can work around either of those focals lengths
  9. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    You don't want to "work around" those focal lengths. It should feel natural. Its difficult recommend a focal length simply because its a decision based on personal preference. While one person in this thread recommended the 20mm another, including me, would recommend the 14mm simply because I prefer wider focal lengths.

    You have a few kit lenses already..... Check the EXIF data of your photos.. What is the most common focal length in "street photography"? Or perhaps go out and shoot with your 12-50mm. Shoot a bit at 14mm focal length, then 17, then 20. Which feels better?

    One of the worst things people do with photography is that they let their equipment choices drive its direction rather than letting their photography drive their equipment choices.
    • Like Like x 3
  10. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    I wouldn't discount the 14mm off right away. The 14mm has a size advantage in being small, is bit sharper than the 17mm 2.8 and has faster focusing than either the 20mm or 17mm.

    I don't have much experience with the Sigma 19mm, but I believe it's a sharper lens over the 17mm. I also believe the focusing is quite quick. I'd probably still lean towards the 20mm if you can afford the extra cost. The 1.7 aperture is a big advantage when shooting in low light, but mainly for static subjects. By far it's probably the sharpest lens of the bunch.

    Though in the price category of the 14mm, 17mm & 19mm...I'd lean towards the 14mm as being the most well rounded of the budget primes. If you have the option though, I'd try all of them out in person because ultimately it's what FL, size and level of sharpness you feel most comfortable with.

  11. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    northeast US
    I'd go with the 17 based on AF performance. 19 would be second choice.
  12. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I agree with Jonathan. The 14mm was one of my favorite lenses in the group. The only reason why I sold it was to fund the 12mm f/2 which is closer to what I'm used to (24mm FOV).
  13. ivoire

    ivoire Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2011
    Naperville, IL
    I second usayit on this. If you determine 14mm is what you like, the Panny 14mm and em10 will make a small unobtrusive pkg and be less 'intimidating' for street.
  14. kriskerry91

    kriskerry91 Mu-43 Regular

    Now this is very helpful! Reason being is that I got the 14-42 EZ kit with my EM-10 and sold the lens for the 12-50 so I had the wider side of things (and hated the slow zoom). Most of my shots are taken at the 12mm side. Now ive purchased the Oly 9mm fisheye, I don't need the super wide of the 12-50, so I'm now swaying towards the 14mm.

    The 12mm f2 would be better, but i cant stretch that far!

    I think the size of the lens itself isnt too important, obviously being tiny does help as its less 'in ya face!'

    Now im stuck between the 20mm and 14mm!
  15. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    Yeah, it's really hard to tell what's best for you, since you know yourself better than anyone! :wink:

    Honestly, I went through all of the M43 primes until I settled with the 17mm 1.8. In fact my 17mm 1.8 and 45mm 1.8 combo are my two favorite street lenses. I'd say if your style leans more towards wide style compositions get the 14mm. If you like to emphasize more on close up shots of people, get the 20mm. If you can't make up your mind, split the difference and get the 17mm!

    I think samples might help, so here are various shots I've taken at 14mm, 17mm & 20mm. In terms of my physical distance from the subject in the same order I was closest, closer and close!

    14mm 2.5:
    View attachment 382833

    17mm 1.8 (used for FOV purposes):
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    20mm 1.7 ver. I:
    View attachment 382835
    • Like Like x 4
  16. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I don't believe there is such a thing as a 'perfect' lens for street photography, as it is such a broad genre.

    A lot will depend on the environment you are shooting in, your own personal courage and your style of shooting.

    If you live in a busy urban environment, where people are less concerned with personal space, then a wider lens can be made to work as you will often be closer to your subject, whereas if you live in a sleepy town you may not have the courage/opportunity to get that close so perhaps a longer lens will work better.

    It also depends on your style of shooting - me - I am a stealthy shoot from the hip and hope sort of guy - basically a coward, the complete opposite of a Bruce Gilden


    Others may take a more studied approach

    I have shot 'street' photography with everything from the 14 through to the 75, and have found that my sweet spot is probably the 17- 20 range. I still usually crop after the event, sometimes quite radically.

    this is a large flickr album of my street work, shot mainly in LA, Gent and Paris,on micro 4/3 or just 4/3 using a variety of lenses - feel free to check out what lenses were used - if no lens data is in the EXIF it will have been shot with a legacy lens, probably a 35 or 50


    There is no right or wrong answer to your question, it depends on what you want to achieve.

    • Like Like x 1
  17. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 18, 2012
    Ciaran Reilly
    Further to the other great advice here, all of the lenses are good but in terms of learning what you like, I'd suggest going with the 17mm f/1.8 or 20mm f/1.7 first because if you end up not liking the narrower field of view, well you still have a very useful, fast, walk-around lens.

    If you buy the 14mm and find it too narrow, it is quite a limited application lens, not being that much faster than the kit lens and it might see little use.
  18. Leif

    Leif Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 28, 2012
    If you have a kit lens fix it on those focal lengths and try each for a day.
    Personally I like the 17mm focal length but there is no "right" or "best" one. Some prefer 14, some 17 and some 25mm (mft). In street photography you often have to make so many decisions in a couple of seconds that you should take the focal length that works best for your vision and how you see the street. If you have a kit zoom it's the best way to figure out which focal length matches your vision the best.
  19. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 14, 2012
  20. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Ugh... I know Gilden is a Magnum photographer with a lot of accomplishments under his belt but the whole flash and dash method doesn't do a thing for me.... deer in headlights look with little to no context. I also don't think it helps photographers as a whole... people are already on edge.
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