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The Panasonic 20's focus really isn't bad at all!

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by LowriderS10, Nov 6, 2014.

  1. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Hi all,

    So tonight I was out shooting with my P20...and I realized something. Its focusing abilities (especially in low light) are perfectly fine, despite the bad rap it gets in many places. (Pics to come later, I have a ton of stuff on the go right now, but thought I'd quickly post this).

    I was out shooting in very dark places. My most common setting tonight was ISO 3200, f1.7, 1/6th of a second. Not much light at all...and yet, the lens (mounted on an E-M5) nailed focus without fail every single time. Every time. Did it take a split second? Yes. Did it rack back and forth before deciding where focus was? Yes. But that all happened in less than a second and it delivered results without fail.

    I started wondering...just how much light was out there. Let's say a decent day outside would yield you an exposure of ISO 100, 1/500s, f5.6. That's a pretty average daytime setting. If I'm doing my math correctly, that's roughly 15 stops more than what I had today. Doing the math on that (2^15) tells us that I had 1/30,000th of the light. That's right...1/30,000. Now, my frames weren't uniformly dark, and I did have some things to focus on (apartment windows, etc) that certainly helped...but just to give you an idea of the OVERALL lighting conditions.

    I'm just posting this because from what I read about this lens online before buying it, I was almost discouraged based on its AF performance. But...I would say that for non-moving subjects, it's a fine performing lens under any circumstance. For moving, I'm not sure...since, I never shoot moving stuff. Also, I would say that this lens outperforms most DSLR lenses, certainly in its price range, as far as AF performance goes (and then you get the bonus of a very fast aperture, sharp optics and great colours in a tiny little package).

    That's all...samples to come whenever I get to them. :) 

    Have a great day, everyone!
    • Like Like x 7
  2. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Yep my favourite small lens! Very compact, super IQ and nice rendering.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    The pros beat out all the quirky cons of this lens. It stays on my epm2 90% of the time. The Panasonic 25 1.4 makes up the other 10%
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Ramsey

    Ramsey Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2013
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I'm actually trying to sell the lens just because of slow AF. For still subjects/daylight, it's great. I love its FOV, sharpness and pancake form. But after a little fun with a borrowed PL25mm, i realizes how much i've been missing in terms of fast AF. But in all honesty, i shoot moving subjects a bit more often that you do, so it makes sense for me to get a copy of either Oly or Pana 25mm.

    My only regret is that the Mark II of the lens did not have improved AF. I'd be all over that deal if it had...
    • Like Like x 1
  5. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    The Mark II (which is what I own because I couldn't find a Mark I in Korea) was a straight up insult to consumers. They did a mild warm-up of the body, tried out a new coating (both of which are nice) and then jacked the price sky-high.

    For sure, if you shoot moving things, I could see this lens not being ideal...I know nothing of its tracking abilities, but its low light abilities (which have come under fire time and time again) are, in my opinion, quite acceptable. Not stellar..but reliable and consistent.
  6. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Very true...my biggest complaint is the high ISO banding...though I've only managed to make that happen when I was REALLY pushing things with it and the image was such garbage for other reasons that it was going to get deleted either way. I haven't really found that field-relevant, certainly not as much as it is in, say, a Canon 5D Mark II. Other than that...I'm not a fan of the extending barrel, but that's a very small complaint...not much to dislike about this lens, really, and plenty to like! :)  I waited a while to get into the pancake game with M4/3 (even though I loved my 40 Pancake on my 5D2), but I'm very glad I finally made the plunge, both the 14 and the 20 are fun to use.
  7. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    People seem to expect magic lenses to do everything for them.

    The 20 is a great lens, even better when you get it used for half price :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  8. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Personally I have gone the other way, I find I use the 20 1.7 more often than the 25 1.4.
  9. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    No one ever complained about the accuracy of the lens' AF; it's the speed. In,fact the slow focus SPEED makes it easier to focus accurately.
  10. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Put another way, if I take a crappy picture at ISO 6400 that's still underexposed, not only are the shadows full of purple noise when lifted, they have banding too.The horror.

    My 20mm will often be hunting in dim light if the camera trying to decide what focus box to use. I pick a spot via touch screen and then it focuses instead of hunting.

    So it does have its quirks, but when people are looking for lens help, the tradeoffs get amplified into faults.
  11. pmpup4p3

    pmpup4p3 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 23, 2014
    I have only yesterday received my new to me P20, and tried it last night at home, with the kids (2 boys), one of the main purposes of getting this lens (yes, I read many places it's not good for that)
    Well I must say I got nearly 85/90% of "focus on the kid" pics.
    And I'd say I only missed two or three pics on slow AF (by slow, I mean, it didn't find the subject on the first pass and had to go around the focus plane to come back to the kid), and he was gone when it came back ;) 
    The other misses were caused by me not having the camera pointed in the correct location so it could focus on one of them.
    I don't ask them to pose, I just sit there and fire away when they're on a nice "pose"

    Anyway, very satisfied with early results, will try it out over the week-end and see how it goes.

  12. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Despite all this praise (my copy is excellent, quiet and quick) there is no doubt that noisy slow-focus examples of this lens exist, let's not forget that.

    Be lucky! :) 
  13. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    Strangely enough, I'm back to owning the 20mm after going through the 17mm 1.8, 20mm and 25mm lenses. The 20mm is slower compared to all the other lenses out there, but the FOV is pretty darn good for environmental portraiture type shots. In fact going through my archive I prefer the shots from the 20mm over both the 17mm and 25mm I've owned. I found the best way to focus with the 20mm is use the single magnify AF box on Olympus cameras and the single AF select box on Panasonic cameras. You also have to find just enough of color contrast to have the lens lock on to maximize AF. The beauty of the 20mm right now, is that prices are really dropping due to the competition from the Oly 25mm 1.8 and 17mm 1.8 lenses and also from the PL 25mm. I picked my ver. II for cheap because people are swapping the lens out.

    This was shot in some dingy light, but I was able to focus using the method mentioned above -

    E-M10 & 20mm ver. II:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Was in the Georgia Aquarium a few weekends ago and it focused pretty slow with my E-PL5. For static objects its fine, but I was disappointed a little while at the aquarium.
  15. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2013
    Glad it works for you. Many said a horse was a quick way to get to work, certainly beats walking. Others chose to move into something a littler faster.
  16. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    I also have to wonder how many of the people who complain about speed were hanging extra weight off the end (or for the v1, had something that damaged the retracting motor when off by sticking out too far). I am another who hasnt had any issues with the speed of focus, but I bought mine new (v1) and have a UV filter and rarely a polarizer on it. Nothing else.
  17. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    And still I say the speed is fine, yes the speed ... i am talking about the speed to focus not the accuracy.

    I grew up with MF cameras in the 70's and was annoyed by AF cameras when they came out. My first AF camera was in 1991 and I was annoyed by the speed. At the time I was doing event photography and the amount of missed shots was much higher.

    By the late 90's the speed was better.

    I have used the 50mm f1.4 USM on my EOS bodies and I don't think the speed of the 20mm Panasonic is so different.

    Perhoas the speed complaints are a reflection of the photographers technique?
  18. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    • Like Like x 1
  19. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa

    I know! I love this crowd. These are the group who believe that the gear will make em better photographers. The camera makers love them. Always trying on the emperors new jacket and drinking koolaid with the professionals the camera makers or advertisers hire.

    These days I get my gear as their castoffs. Hardly used :)  heaps cheaper because the herd has moved over to the greener grass :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    .... the p20 may focus fast if you're on a slow boat to china ...... other than that, it's a snail .......
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