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Standard prime advice. 20mm, 25mm Pana or 25mm Oly

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by carterru, Aug 3, 2014.

  1. carterru

    carterru Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 16, 2014
    Advice needed for O-MD E-M10

    I need a standard lens to complement my 12mm and 45mm. I will be using it as a walk around lens and for environmental portrates.

    I have already used the 20mm and loved it. The price for the new model is £200

    I have heard good things about the 25mm Pana. Do the skin tones really look better? £300

    The new Oly 25mm seems good as well, but is it too clinical, without character? £295.

    I dont really care about focus speed, as I can use my other lenses when speed is required. Will be purchasing around 10th August.
  2. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    I picked up my Oly 25 for £200 off the bay and I love it, but I do not know if I would pay full price for it when the Panasonic is so close. The IQ on all seems very close though with each having its strength, if the 20mm is fast enough for you you should be able to get one for £150ish though that will be a mk1 version. I could not live with the slower speed of the 20mm though the IQ was superb and the difference in the angle of view makes the 25mm preferable for me. Another option the Sigma 30mm is a worthwhile option as well it is a pretty great lens for the money, thats if you don't want a <f2.0 lens.
  3. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I had the 20mm and it performed well but the focal length didn't work well with me. The Olympus is a bit smaller than the Panasonic 25mm so I ended up with the Olympus 25mm.

    If you loved the 20mm, I would recommend sticking to it.
  4. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    While I haven't used the Oly, I would definitely go for the 25/1.4 over the 25/1.8 at that price. I have the 25/1.4 and it is one of my most used lenses, pretty much fantastic in every way, af, build, sharpness, rendering/bokeh, etc. The size difference isn't really that bit between the 25/1.4 and the 25/1.8, though the Panasonic is a little heavier, but not a large/heavy lens my any stretch of the imagination IMO.

    I also had the 20 as well, but the AF hunts in low light sometimes failing to lock entirely, it also gives banding at high ISO, noticeable at ISO 3200 and really bad higher. I would only go with the 20 if pancake size is a big part of the equation. In use, I find the 25/1.4 handles better, as with the 20/1.7, its so small that you don't have a place to wrest your left hand comfortable without risking sticking your fingers on the front element.
  5. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    The difference in IQ between the Oly and Panasonic 25s is very small so you need to make your decision on other factors. I think the key considerations are 1.8 vs 1.4 and size - the Oly is much smaller than the Panasonic. The Oly 25 rendering is fine. If you find it too sharp, just add a spot of blur in PP.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I agree. You can get a feeling of size differences using camerasize.com (ordered left to right by weight. Mouse over the lens for measurements)

    • Like Like x 2
  7. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    I have the 25/1.4 and you can have it when you pry it from my cold dead hands :smile:

    That said, the 25/1.8 is certainly less bulky and more on par with the size of your 45/1.8 and 12/2.

    To me it really comes down to a trade off to the more favorable rendering (to mine and other people's minds) of the 25/1.4 over the better portability of the 25/1.8. I suspect you'll be plenty happy with either one - they are both excellent optically and it probably mostly comes down to personal preference.

    As to the 20/1.7 I've just never used or liked mine very much. There are plenty of people who do though!
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  8. carterru

    carterru Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 16, 2014
    Thanks for all the advice. Still going crazy with indecision.
  9. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I have both 25s and I would give the edge to the PL F/1.4 for sharpness but it's the Oly F/1.8 which lives on my E-M5. The reason is that I always felt the PL lens rendered colours a little on the cool side and I never liked the results from it as much as I liked my results from the rest of my lenses which are all Olympus. I find the Oly F/1.8 renders things pretty much the same as the rest of my Olympus primes and that's what keeps it attached to my camera. It's not quite as sharp as the Panasonic but it's more than sharp enough in my view. It's also a bit smaller and lighter which is handy but not a significant issue.

    So for me it would by the Olympus out of the two 25mm lenses but that's really a personal preference in my view. I can understand others preferring the Panasonic lens. I haven't tried the 20mm so I can't comment on it.
  10. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    I own both the 20 and the 25 1.4. While I've owned the 20 for quite sometime now, I much prefer the rendering qualities of the 25, especially at 1.4. Both are a keeper, but for low light, the 25 is tough to beat. The 20 is nice and compact, and fits nicely on my epm2.
  11. Serhan

    Serhan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 7, 2011
    I have all 3 and use the Oly 25mm. 20mm has slower autofocus and PL 25mm is bigger esp w/ gm1. Oly 25mm is same size as Oly 12mm & 45mm. However the big plus for me is that Oly 25mm is the only one with no digital distortion auto correction when I checked it.
  12. jcm5

    jcm5 Mu-43 Veteran

    May 12, 2014
    All the points above are well taken though I would like to add one more wrinkle to this issue, that of aesthetics/cosmetic appeal. Again, this lies in the realm of the subjective but I think the PL25 looks amazing while the Oly25 has nothing to set it apart from other similar lenses from Oly. That's not a knock on it by any means but given that the OP owns the 12 and 45, I wonder if he/she cares that the Oly25 would just look vanilla in that set.

    I also own the 12 and 45 and recently sold my 20 due to its FL not really being my favorite. I recently tried a PL25 on my em10 and loved how it looked, felt, and performed. YMMV of course but I think the PL25 (and also the PL15) looks amazing just from a cosmetic standpoint.

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43
    • Like Like x 1
  13. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 12, 2012
    ive had three pl25... never got friend to thst fov. its too narrow for being my regular lens.

    p20 is my way to go. Love it. coupled with my O45
  14. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa

    its a good lens ... I like mine ...

    I know people have said that 300quid was great value for "monster cable" on their stereo, so given that I think thats a total waste of money on copper I would also say that for me the answer to your question is no.

    too clinical? Hmm ... well I like my lenses to be accurate and I can add something (like take away clarity) when and where I want to in post. Hard to put it back or move it if its not right

    but those prices are not too far away from each other. Personally I prefer my 20mm because it goes well on my GF camera ... the others are a bit bulky for that.

    For me when one moves a wee bit closer with the 20mm the extra length of the 25 makes a better 'portrait' ... but then the 45 does even better at portraits.

    When stepping back that wee bit to get the same angle of view that works nicely with the 20mm then extra DoF you get with the 25 is likely to vanish.

    just my thoughts

    best wishes
    • Like Like x 1
  15. loskexos

    loskexos Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 11, 2013
    I'd like to throw in the 17/1.8 Oly - the FL for me is perfect for walkaround. And the rendering is really beautyful for my taste.
    Another alternative is the Sigma 19/2.8 which also renders very nice, focusses fast and you can buy/sell used with virtually no loss.

    Of course - if you liked the 20/1.7 a lot and did not mind the slow AF then I'd say for you this sounds like the best choice ;) .
  16. carterru

    carterru Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 16, 2014
    Thanks again for all of your great advice.

    I will probably be buying the Panasonic 25mm new for £330.
  17. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    No, not really, at least not in terms of subject isolation/the ability to blur the background. In that case, the faster aperture and longer focal lengths makes about a full stop of difference:

    The 20/1.7 is about even with a 25/2 when it comes to background blur.

    Having owned both, I would say its noticeably easier to get nice subject isolation on the 25/1.4. With the 20, you have to be quite close to your subject to get narrow DOF, which means unflattering perspective if your subject is a person. If narrow DOF is your thing, IMO the only AF lenses significantly better than the 25/1.4 are the 75/1.8 and the 42.5/1.2. The 45/1.8 is about even at short distances and a bit better the further you separate your subject from the background.
  18. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa

    interesting ... care to post some samples to make the point clearer?

    For instance here is one taken with a 28mm lens (at f2.8)

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    and here is one taken with the 20mm f1.7 lens at 1.7
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    of course a 24mm f1.4 would be slightly shallower DoF than the 20mm, but when focal distance changes then of course so too does the DoF at that new point.

    I agree that the 20mm is not a 'in tight' portrait lens, but then neither is the 24mm an excellent choice. The OP stated he had the 45, which of course is a much better lens for more traditional portaits (and keeping facial features true). For example

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    so my feeling is (not actually having a 24mm f1.4 to try this with) that the differences are 'more nipping around the edges' and that (from what I've seen) the 24 makes a "better" portrait lens than the 20mm does, but of course not as good as the 45 is.

    The 20 being a bit wider perhaps makes a better "all rounder" ... but it depends on what you like.

    I've actually been interested in the 20mm for some time, and after recently getting one I posted my views on it as a "normal" (not a portrait mid-tele) here on my blog.

    Best Wishes
  19. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    Sorry, I sold the 20mm a while back so I can't post a direct comparisons.

    The 25mm being a longer focal length doesn't hurt when it comes to subject isolation though, if you move back to keep the framing consistant you compress the perspective/enlarge the background which makes the out of focus elements appear even more out of focus. You can use a DOF calculator but that only tells you part of the story (the width of the focal plane), but I find background blur is a more important metric when narrow DOF/subject isolation is the goal.

    The sort of information you get from a DOF calculator is very useful for shooting landscapes or making sure you have enough in focus, but again it doesn't tell the full story.

    Here's an example, load up a DOF calculator and try this:
    12/2 at 1.2 feet
    45/2 at 4.5 feet
    Two different lenses, same apertures, subject distance normalized to account for different framing. A dof calculator will tell you the DOF is exactly the same (0.18feet), and that's true in the sense that the depth of the focal plane is the same. However, the background blur will be much different, with the background in the 45mm shot being significantly more blurred.

    The same applies to the 20 vs the 25, though obviously to a lesser degree, and the half stop faster aperture of the 25mm further separates the two.

    This is why I prefer the calculator at www.howmuchblur.com which I linked above, as it takes more into account than simply the depth of the focal plane.

    I would agree that when it comes to portraits, 45 > 25 > 20, both in terms of working distance (which determines perspective distortion) and ability to isolate a subject. Though again the 25 being 2/3rds stop faster than the 45 helps to equalize the subject isolation part of it.
  20. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    I have the Leica DG25 and won't be changing it, that's all I can say really. I reckon I would be happy with any of them. Pick the one you 'think' is calling to you the most. There must be review sites with full size sample photos of at least 2 of these lenses, if you plan to download and print at A3 or larger for inspection prior to purchase.
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