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Should I buy the Panny 20mm 1.7

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by 369, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. 369

    369 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 10, 2010
    Hi all,

    I take photos of my family while on vacation, party, event, holiday etc. I have the EP-1. I am not happy with the camera and the kit lens specially at night. So I am thinking of buying the panny 20mm, but is this also a good lens for day time in bright lights.

    I also feel that its my inability thats blaming the kit lens. I see so many nice pics taken by the same kit lens, however, mine are not as sharp and focused and others I have seen here.

    Also recently I was trying to take a pic of my wife in a hotel hallway. Behind her was a glass and ocean, the hallway was decently lit how it is in hotels. I tried to take her pic in P mode and the background was bright but she was dark, there was very little light on her. how do you take pics in these situations?

    is there anywhere here in the US, whee this 20mm lens can be tested? best buy, ritz camera etc?
  2. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    I am not sure if you already did this (and not sure if the EP1 has the same features as the E-PL1 as far as focusing is concerned), but with the E-PL1, I made sure the focus (green rectangle) is only in the middle. That way, I half-press first (focusing on my subject), then, still half-pressed, move the camera to recompose my shot. I do not trust the camera to decide which part of the scene it wants to focus on.

    The kit lens should be fine when light is abundant or if mounted on a tripod, but I bought the 20mm initially for my indoors/low light needs. But now I find that it is usually the lens on my camera. If I need to use the 20mm on a bright day/outdoors, I just slap on an ND/CPL filter to decrease the light. Or, I use the kit lens. :smile:
  3. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Yes, you should buy the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    The 20mm is a much better performer than the zoom lens, and it will work excellently in bright light or inside. The down side is you have to use foot zoom (i.e. walk toward or away from your subject), which can change the shot.

    The issue with the photo of your wife is what's called "backlighting" and is due to the camera's exposure metering, and would be the same on ANY camera you use and any lens you use. The solution here is to learn about metering and exposure.

    The issue is the camera doesn't know what the subject is, and what the background is, it only sees really bright lights, so it makes the shutter speed really quick, so the bright background doesn't go all white, which sadly makes your subject go much darker than you wanted.

    There are three ways to handle this;
    1) Be aware of "back lit" situations and change the situation to avoid it. Get a light on the subject OR turn the shot so the subject is brighter than the background. One common mistake is when people shoot the picture of someone with the sun behind them. Dark subject. If both people turned around, so the sun was behind the photographer, the subject would be lit by the sun, and the exposure would work. If this isn't possible (i.e. you want a shot of your wife on the hotel balcony, which is shaded, with a bright view of the ocean behind), then try one of the next two:

    2) use flash. This is one of the knocks on the EP1 and a good reason why the EPL1+2 exists.Ppop-up flash is PERFECT for this situation. It will put enough flash on the subject so both the subject AND the background are viewable. You can also add a flash to the EP1 (like the FL14) into the hot shoe.

    3) If you can't change the backlighting situation AND you don't care about the background becoming white, then expose for the subject only and let the background wash to white. You can do this one of two ways. One is to use the "spot" metering setting (see your manual). This is where the camera only meters on what's in the center, and ignores the bright background. Then the center is exposed properly and everything else falls where it may. The other way is to push up the "EV" by using EV adjustment (again, see the manual -- it's the +/- button on the top of the camera). If you add +1 or even +2 EV to the shot, the subject will brighten up, but the background (again) would blow out to white. DON'T FORGET TO SET EV BACK TO O when done, or your next shot could look nasty. DO NOT mix spot metering and EV adjustment. Use one or the other (or go with flash, or reposition the shot).

    There is also a third way to meter. Point the camera at something else (without a bright background) that is similar in lighting as your subject, half-press the shutter to let the camera meter, and then press exposure lock (or AEL -- see your manual). That will lock the exposure, and then you can turn back to your subject, focus and shoot. Just don't hit AEL again until your done shooting, or it releases the exposure lock.

    A great book on exposure is Bryan Petersons "Understanding Exposure" -- if you want to get better at photography, this is a must-read. Amazon.com: Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera (9780817439392): Bryan Peterson: Books

    happy shooting!
    • Like Like x 3
  5. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    think you need to learn a little more about exposure... no matter how bright the hotel may seem, the sunshine outside will probably be brighter.

    Stand some one with their back to the brighter light source, and especially if you are on P mode, then the camera will try and come up with an average exposure... but if you have a lot of light behind your subject, then the camera will expose for the background not the subject.

    learn to move away from the P mode in tricky light conditions. Try switching to centre weighted or even spot metering.

    Regarding the 20mm in brighter light... it works fine... it doesn't 'have' to be shot wide open

    • Like Like x 1
  6. kytra

    kytra Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 28, 2011
    YES, that is a must if you want to make the most outta your m43 camera ;) 
  7. Alf

    Alf Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 23, 2010
    Northeastern Tuscany
    The 20 is really good for available light shooting in low light (churches, clubs, places where flash is forbidden). As others pointed out, shooting with a lighter background requires adjusting exposure, but the 20 is a very useful lens anyway.

    I also use a lot the 14-42 mkI on my E-PL1, but indoors it requires more effort in low light.

    Sent from my LG-E900 using Board Express
  8. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    P mode has nothing to do with how the shot is metered, just what aperture/shutter speed combos you can select.

    As mentioned above, these backlit situations are hard for all cameras. The solution is to spot meter on your subject, and then dial in negative exposure compensation to keep the backlighting from blowing out. Hopefully, there will be enough front light on your subject to bring it within the dynamic range capability of the sensor.
  9. shoturtle


    Oct 15, 2010
    indoor low light shots are hard without a flash. With the kit lens you are pushing up the iso. So you are getting more noise. And lower image quality and sharpness.

    The 20 1.7 will give you 2 stops of performance. So you can still have the same shutter speed as the kit lens, but at lower iso. Giving you a cleaner photo. So if you were shooting at 1600iso with the kit lens at the wide end at 3.5. You can shoot at 400iso at 1.7 with about the same shutter speed. Or push up to 800iso for a bit faster shutter speed.

    But you are more restricted with a prime lens. Framing will require more setup. And at 1.7 there can be some dof issues at time, but not as bad as aps-c or ff at 1.7.

    So if you can live with the fix focal length and get use to shallow dof. It does make a good low light lens match with the ibis. It does give excellent results.

  10. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I'd recommend the 20 although it is a tad spendy at the moment. If you have the means then yes go for it because it is quite a good lens (and I think at normal prices quite a bargain for what you get). Do you NEED to buy it? I don't know, do you? It is the AF lens that I have mounted MOST of the time. I use my 14-45 more when I travel as I find it more convenient to not have to swap lenses (and the 14-45 is no slouch either).
  11. drpump

    drpump Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 28, 2010
    In most circumstances yes. If it's really, really bright and you want to use a wide aperture (to control depth-of-field) then you might need an ND filter to reduce the light coming into the camera. Normally you can just use a higher shutter speed, but occasionally you might hit the camera limit.

    As others have pointed out, this is an exposure issue. If you can't change the background, then the quickest and easiest is usually with a flash. The lack of built-in flash on the E-P1 makes this less convenient so some of the other suggested techniques are worth trying. Note that the lens shouldn't be a major factor unless there is very little light inside.
  12. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011

    Should you buy the Panny 20? In a word, no. Use the money to buy a flash and take a class. Your more educated self will take better photos than your current self with the 20.

    Besides, the better your equipment, the fewer excuses LOL!
  13. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Don't pass go, don't collect your $200. Buy the 20 Immediately.

    Then pay close attention to what Kevin Paris and others have said here, John Flores idea wasn't too bad either....

    Then, once you understand exposure control, you'll have one of the nicest combinations of body and lens that's been produced in some time. An µ43 body and the Panny 20mm pancake.

    Haven't you looked at the 20mm image thread....?

  14. 369

    369 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 10, 2010
    Thanks all of you, I really appreciate you advice and will try to learn these things. I am sure that I have the center focus only set. But I don't think I have spot metering on. I think I should read the manual again.

    And as far as the 20mm, I was going to buy it but wanted to know if it will be as goos as it is in inexperienced hands of mine.
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