Question about Panny 20mm F1.7

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by syilim, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. syilim

    syilim Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 31, 2011
    I've been reading about how great this lens is and how it's a must have micro 4/3s. Problem is I've come from a point and shoot background, one with 12x zoom no less, so I'm pretty used to using zoom. When I first found out about prime lens, and how it can't zoom, I was so shocked. lol. I just don't know how to cope! I could carry more lens of cause, but for this instance, lets say I only had the panny 20mm lens.

    I was wondering if this was possible. Say I was taking a vertical picture of Eiffel tower from afar, where the tower only filled up half the height of the frame due to the distance. Could I then go home, use post editing to crop out just the Eiffel tower, and then enlarge it to fit in a 4x6 photo, thereby achieving a picture that I would've have taken if I had zoom? This question is most probably really silly and obvious, so sorry in advance =p

    If possible, how much can you enlarge a 12mp picture before it starts degrading?? I usually print 4 x 6s.

    Many thanks!
  2. akulya

    akulya Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 21, 2010
    Hi Syilim,
    Welcome to the boards!

    If you are coming from a P&S background (as I have, from sony t20 and lumix fx3), the first thing you notice about the 20mm lens is how much control you have over depth of field (DoF)- it is unlikely you have been able to isolate foreground subjects against a soft out of focus background in anything other than macro photography before, now you can do it at 3 meters.

    The kit zooms for m4/3 are all well regarded, but the 20/1.7 is the brightest autofocus native lens available for the system, and this large apeture not only lets you shoot more without flash, but also allows shallower DoF.

    It is also very sharp at the centre of the frame - other interchangable lenses can match it (or best it) but considering its price and size, the 20/1.7 is a very solid performer in this regard. It soundly outclasses almost all P&S lenses here.

    You will have absolutely no problems printing a full size image at 8"x10" or a crop at 6"x4", all m4/3 cameras produce good RAW files that can be adjusted (post processed) in Apeture or Lightroom as you see fit. Your example of the Eiffel Tower is certainly possible; you could even stitch two images together creating a vertical panorama like this. I have not personally printed any larger than 8x10, but I understand from this community that Professional quality A3 prints are acheivable.

    Good luck with your research, here's the 20mm 1.7 lens image archive and we hope you share some of pictures here!
  3. drpump

    drpump Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 28, 2010
    Yes, you can certainly do that. There is a loss of resolution, but for a 4x6 print you shouldn't notice.

    I get perfectly good 4x6 prints from my old 2MP Canon Digital Ixus. Considering this, you'd be pretty safe cropping to less than half the original area, and perhaps as much as 1/5 of the original area if it's a clear shot. The sharpness and resolution of the 20mm lens makes this even more achievable.

    That said, I would still suggest having a zoom lens as well. Preferably one with fast, quiet autofocus for video. The 20mm is quite noisy and not suitable for continuous autofocus video.
  4. greyelm

    greyelm Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 28, 2010
    I have both the 20mm and the 14 - 45mm zoom, I shoot raw at 4:3 to get the maximum number of pixels. I often crop the images in Lightroom 3. If you think about earlier digital cameras which gave excellent results at 6MP then you could argue that by cropping your 12MP by half you should get as good a result. It isn't as simple as that as the quality of the original image determines how much you can crop before quality reduces. I would suggest experimenting to see what you are happy with. The 20mm lens produces nice sharp images and is a great lens for general walkabout shooting, but equally I have made some nice images with the 14 - 45mm, the 20mm comes into its own in low light conditions. I hope this helps.
  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    If you want to shoot like you have a zoom, you should get a zoom. The 20mm prime will not act like a zoom and I don't recommend it if your intent going in is to shoot as if its zooming and use cropping to get that effect. I think you should get the kit zoom (or lone of the longer zooms) first, since that's what you're used to and you can get used to the new camera without having to rethink your whole approach to photography!!!

    But at some point, a prime lens like the 20 is a very nice thing to add. If you've never shot with a prime before, its a very educational experience. You get very accustomed to 'seeing' at that focal length and you start to envision images and patterns and frames very intuitively. Over time I think its an experience that will make almost anyone a better photographer. It also allows for better control of depth of field and much better low light shooting and the optical quality of that lens is pretty special. So you'll learn how to use it and you'll probably find it addictive. But trying to do all of that AND learn a new camera might be a bit much all at once. And the idea of having an interchangeable lens camera is to CHANGE lenses sometime, so having more than one is kind of the point! So, I'd get what you know initially and then add stuff later.

    • Like Like x 1
  6. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Sure there are plenty of people, including me, who promote the benefits of fixed lenses like the 20mm 1.7. But that doesn't mean it's for everybody. There is nothing wrong with preferring zooms. The m4/3 zooms are actually very good and you will see decreases in depth of field, less noise etc, even with the zooms. ALL lenses have compromises. The compromises of a zoom include a dimmer lens with less ability to limit depth of field. The compromise of a fixed lens is that you'll need to zoom with your feet.

  7. Burkey

    Burkey Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 26, 2010
    Northern New England
    Hi syilim,
    From Ray - "You get very accustomed to 'seeing' at that focal length and you start to envision images and patterns and frames very intuitively."
    This is a very important part of photography for me and many around here. However, if you are more comfortable with a zoom I too wouldn't recommend buying the 20/1.7 unless you are interested in exploring shooting with a prime that frames up pretty much what the human eye sees. A prime with a focal length like the 20/1.7 forces a photographer to consider proximity to the subject being composed within the viewfinder. 'Hope this isn't too confusing.
    Welcome to a very cool forum and good luck.
    . . . Burkey
    • Like Like x 1
  8. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I moved up from a compact camera, and the "lack" of zoom didn't turn out to be as big a deal as I originally thought. As mentioned above, the advantage in DOF control and low light capability (without flash!) more than make up for it in a lot of regards. There are always "zoom with your feet" or stitching as options.

    As for cropping and printing, I pretty regularly print un- or slightly cropped images at 13x19 and they look great. I have printed super heavy crops at 8x10 with no issues. There's more to image quality and printability than megapixels ...
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Tecpatl4

    Tecpatl4 Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 16, 2010
    I used to shoot with a Prime all the time. In fact I never used a zoom lens until I had my OM2n for almost 10 years. After I gave up on film due to cost and difficulty focusing, I used P&S cameras for years. Now I've got the E-P1 and am enjoying it. I love using my Zuiko 50/1.8 and you guys convinced me to get a Panny 20mm. It will be here tommorrow.
  10. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I echo Ray. Remember that when you purchase a camera which accepts interchangeable lenses, you now have a more than just a camera ... you have in your hands a lens platform. For most owners of an interchangeable lens camera, by limiting oneself to a single lens you have significantly stunted the camera's capabilities and your own creativity.

    Good Luck and Good Shooting,

    PS- You paid a lot of money for that extra capability and you should utilize that investment. But, (the big but), there is no need to exercise the purchase of additional lenses overnight. Buy a zoom, as Ray suggested. Use that zoom until one day you say to yourself ..."Man, this lens is killing me, I wish I had a (insert lens type/name here)!" By doing so you will greatly appreciate the new lens and you will be higher on the learning curve for photography and your new camera.

    One thing you can do to value the new camera over the P&S is to start printing larger. Try an 8x10 ... you'll find the 12mp delivers much better Image Quality (IQ) over the P&S.

  11. vtmullins

    vtmullins Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 11, 2010
    I moved up from a travel zoom point and shoot (the zoom function I used a lot of) to a similar pancake lens (olympus 17mm). I got it as a kit lens instead of the standard 14-40 kit. I couldnt be more happy with my decision. Although you are used to a zoom, you are even more used to a compact camera. WIth the pancake, it is significantly more compact than a zoom. Also, there are plenty of zoom lenses out there, and also adaptable legacy glass. You can find used kit lenses on this forum and ebay easily.

    As for lightroom and cropping, you shouldnt have too much of a problem, especially with the size that you are looking for w/ printouts. I crop all the time and enjoy having such a wide view of things that I can then frame how I want.

    Finally, people LOVE that panny 20mm. It seems that it is easily the most active lens thread. I would go with that, and then when your budget allows, get a zoom or wide angle. Welcome to this forum!
  12. syilim

    syilim Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 31, 2011
    Wow! Thankyou all ever so much for such valuable input!, and so quickly too!

    When I wrote the initial post it was mostly just to answer some questions that I had in mind (which you all did answer, and very well too!). I won't be getting the Pana 20mm any time soon as I don't really have that much spare money lying around, nor do I think I need to since I'm a beginner with a new camera in which I still have a lot to learn before delving into other lenses. Also wouldn't just get it simply because everyone else has it, but rather because I feel like I might need it for low light photography. One of the thing I hated most with point and shoot.

    I'll definitely get other lenses when I'm good and ready (I'll have to see when my wallet will agree =p), so not to limit my camera's capability, not my own creativity (although I really lack in the creativity department =S). Won't be using the 20mm as a zoom lens, but you never know when there might be something I want to shoot, and leg zooming simply isn't possible for whatever reason. Just incase ^_^

    But after looking at all those wonderful shots taken with the 20mm displaying the awesome use of DoF, I really can't wait to get one. DoF was actually one of the main reason I wanted to move up from P&S.

    Thanx again for all input! Such friendly place! :thumbup:
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.