Which Wide to Normal Prime Do You Like Best?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by tjdean01, May 12, 2015.

  1. Panasonic 15mm f1.7

  2. Olympus 17mm f1.8

  3. Panasonic 20mm f1.7

  4. Panasonic 25mm f1.4

  5. Olympus 25mm f1.8

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    There are now several choices in the fast, AF, sub-$500 standard wide prime department. I've made my selection. In certain cases you'd be justified to own a couple. I'm just curious which is your favorite? Why?

    Here are our contestants with short descriptions for those who haven't read about the newer ones. I don't need to write that they are all superb optically.
    • Panasonic 15/1.7 - Small but not a pancake (36mm). Widest of the bunch. Built well with aperture ring. $450 new (might come down)
    • Olympus 17/1.8 - Small like 15 but tapered a bit. Classic 35mm FL makes the lens popular for some. But will it remain popular with the 15 out now? This lens also has had the most complaints of the bunch about image quality. $400
    • Panasonic 20/1.7 - Oldest so a lot of people have it. But is it still your favorite? Many reports of great rendering. Wide diameter (63mm) but the only true pancake (25mm). The worst focusing of the bunch. $300 new
    • Panasonic 25/1.4 - Big by comparison: as wide as the 20 but 54mm and 200g. Fastest and longest so most OOF blur. Has a "special rendering" which may or may not be a thing everyone experiences. Price finally below $500 and nearing $400.
    • Olympus 25/1.8 - 41mm in length and 136g. More "clinical" than the 25/1.4, so they say. $300

    --My cutoff is f1.8 and only the wide-normal length are included
    *12/2 - too wide and expensive
    *14/2.5 - wide and slow....a favorite among many for its small size, low price, and width. I initially included it but removed it to be fair to the 12 and Sigma
    *17/0.95 - expensive and no AF
    *17/2.8 - slow
    *Sigma 19/2.8 - slow
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
  2. chris5107

    chris5107 New to Mu-43

    Dec 18, 2013
    Even with the slow focusing in lower light, the 20mm is still a classic. The small size is a real benefit. This is the reason I got into m43 in the first place. Adding to that, the IQ is excellent and the price is reasonable (within the system anyway). The 15 is expensive and has reported high distortion to correct and the 17mm is not quite in the same class from an IQ point of view. The field of view of the 25s is just a little tight for me in many occasions.

    Bottom line, the 20mm's combination of a "just right" field of view (IMO) for a "normal" lens, small size, fast aperature, and high IQ make this lens my top choice.
  3. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The PL25 f/1.4 is not stabilised... I still favour it, despite owning the PL15 as well. Totally different FL for different purposes, but the PL25 gives me more joy.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    I don't really use any of the native lenses, the 12-40mm f2.8 is generally pretty good at everything and one stop faster is rarely a worthwhile trade off for the extra focal lengths on offer.

    If I need speed then Sigma art lenses on a speedbooster have far more to offer... if I require autofocus then the SHG Olympus glass is far more attractive.
  5. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    My most favorite is the Oly 17/1.8, but i also use the Oly 25/1.8 a lot as well.
  6. kingduct

    kingduct Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2013
    My favorite is the 20mm because it's the one I own. :)
    • Agree Agree x 2
  7. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Real Name:
    The tricky thing is they are all different. Hard to say which one I like "best".
  8. MadMarco

    MadMarco Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 30, 2014
    Guildford, England
    I've heard a lot of rhetorical complaints about image quality for the 17mm f/1.8, but not much from people that actually own it. This seems to have almost taken the status of urban myth.
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 2
  9. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Basically every lens on offer is good enough to print at any size you can possibly think of these days.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  10. skellington

    skellington Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 4, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Real Name:
    As mentioned the PL25mm is not stabilized, and neither is the PL15mm. (i.e. none of these lenses are.)

    I've got the 20mm. I keep thinking about trying out the 15/25 (to go with my current 45mm or the new 42.5mm which is stabilized.)
  11. NWright

    NWright Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 13, 2014
    I've no experience with the 15 or 17.

    But I've owned the 25 / 1.8 and currently own the 20 and the pl25.

    The 20 takes the cake for me for its slightly wider fov, solid close focusing ability (much better than the pl25, but a bit worse than the oly25) and its size.

    I keep the pl25 around now for a different look - I find its output looks somewhat telephoto compared to the 20. This goes beyond the "just step back" idea of coping with the 20 vs the 25.

    My .02
  12. Palmguy

    Palmguy Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 3, 2013
    Orlando, FL
    A lot of people complain about the IQ of the 17/1.8, but I've been happy with it and like virtually everything about it. It's barely longer than the 20/1.7 (10mm) but focuses more quickly and quietly.

    I've had both of the 25s and like them both, but for a more general purpose lens I prefer the wider 17.
    • Like Like x 2
  13. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Real Name:
    I've had them all at one time or another, except the Panasonic 25mm. I found the 20 to be too slow to focus with my grandchildren. Quite liked the 17, but preferred my X100 at that focal length, and it wasn't sharper than the 12-40 I had then. The Olympus 25 was very good, but I don't get on well with the focal length - too short for portraits, too long for travel (YMMV, of course!).

    The 15 is now my 'always on' lens: fast to focus, nice to handle with the aperture ring, and satisfying results.
  14. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee

    May 3, 2013
    Yo, which thread did you think you were posting in?

    I had a 17mm for a few months. "Image quality" is very good, I really love the way it renders people and out of focus bits. It's got a unique look about it that I think suits street photography.

    But it's true that it's not super sharp. I shoot more landscape than people, and for that use I found myself avoiding the 17mm. This shot below kind of shows why. (To be fair, the lighting was really harsh.)

    I ended up selling the lens because I wanted to pick up a Ricoh GR and it didn't make sense to have as many wides as I had (especially since I have a hard time with wides).


    As for my answer, I've owned three of the lenses mentioned above: The Panasonic 20mm, Olympus 17mm, and Olympus 25mm. Of those, I still have the 25mm, so it gets my vote. The 20mm is also fantastic, though. I wish Panasonic would make a faster-focusing version with perhaps a bit less girth, but the same optical design. Definitely the crispiest of the three I've owned.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    Of these five lenses, I currently own the O17, P20 and PL25. I have not owned (or even handled) the PL15 or O25.

    I've had the P20 for ages and it was long my favorite prime in the system. I really enjoy shooting with this focal length and the pancake form factor is a big plus.

    I've had the PL25 for 2-3 years and it quickly found a place in my heart for its quick focusing (especially compared to the P20) and wonderful rendering -- it can sometimes render an almost 3-D quality with its lovely bokeh. However, the 25mm focal length is a bit long (for me) as a general purpose lens and the bulk of the lens compared to the others is a disadvantage.

    I picked the O17 up a few months ago and it has really clicked with me in a way that no lens has since I first got the P20. Since that time it has rarely been off my camera and I've barely touched the other two. I'm not sure I can put my finger on exactly why that is, but I guess its a combination of the lightning-fast AF, the just-right size, the rock-solid feel of the build quality, and the very useful MF clutch. I also can't deny that the fact that I find it the prettiest of the three may be a factor. There may be some aspect of the shiny new toy at play as well, but I really think it goes deeper than that.

    I've long contended that to get me to part with the P20, you'd have to pry it from my cold, dead hands, but since the O17's arrival I've begun entertaining the idea of letting it go. So for me, the winner is the O17.
    • Like Like x 2
  16. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Real Name:
    I've been considering one of these lenses lately. I have the 12-40 Pro, but have been thinking one faster lens for low-light situations and smaller for occasional walk around town would be nice to have.

    Can't decide which to try though. The p25, 1.4 is obviously the brightest, the p20 the smallest, the 12mm the most intriguing.

    The P20 would be the best buy of the bunch.

    For resolution lovers, DXO provides some interesting data.
  17. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I've owned 3 of them

    The Olympus 25mm f1.8 is phenomenal in every way. There is literally nothing bad one can say about this lens. It's crazy sharp even at f1.8, focuses instantly and silently, has great bokeh and contrast, is a nice compact size and is affordable.

    The 20mm f1.7 is excellent optically and a great pancake size, but you will see complaints about the bokeh and AF. The AF wasn't as bad for me as people say it is, but I was frustrated trying to use it in video and with people who aren't posing for the camera. My Panasonic camera actually disables AF-C when this lens is mounted. Personally, I found the focal length to be a bit of an odd duck. I sold this one after a short run with it just because it seemed like it was always the wrong focal length for me.

    The 15mm f1.7 is just a fantastic lens. The slightly wider FL gives you many of the benefits of both a 17 and 14mm lens. Sharpness is very good. But it's the contrast, color and bokeh that leave me grinning. Who would think you could get such nice 3D look and subject isolation from a wide angle? It should be less than the 17mm f1.8 in this regard, but it beats it hands down. It was a bit too expensive and I think they could have made it smaller (especially with the hood), but it's just really clicked with me for "snapshot" style photography that really has more life than I'm used to seeing. It is also great for landscapes, even if it is a bit narrower than one would typically think for that purpose.

    I haven't owned the 17 or the 25mm f1.4. I think based on the way I've clicked with the 15mm f1.7, I could really get along with the 25mm f1.4. But it is a bit expensive and quite a bit larger than the 25mm f1.8 I already own and love, so I can't see a lot of motivation to go there.

    I compared the 17mm f1.8 and 15mm f1.7 extensively before deciding on the 15mm. I think I would have been happy with the 17mm, but it just doesn't seem to have the magic in the output like shots from the 15mm. Plus I like the little extra separation from 25mm that 15mm gives. If you really want 35mm equiv, it's a very good, but probably not "great", lens.

    Truthfully though, after all that rambling, I'd probably summarize it as, "We are spoiled by choices here in m4/3 and one really cannot go wrong."
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
    • Agree Agree x 3
  18. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    Given that you have the 12-40 I would assume that you would use the prime primarily for low-light situations and for compactness. It's true that the PL25 is brightest, but in my personal experience that extra 2/3 of an f-stop (or whatever it is) doesn't make a major difference. Particularly since with the E-M1 you've got a camera that provides good performance even if you have to shoot at higher ISOs.

    So I would suggest that your decision should come down to lens size and focal length. Which focal length you are most comfortable with is highly subjective, so what I would suggest is to try sort of locking the zoom of the 12-40 down at each focal length you are considering and limit yourself to that focal length for a day or so. Through that exercise you should be able to determine which feels most natural to you.
    • Like Like x 2
  19. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    That is well said. I think each of these lenses has its pros and cons, but every shooter should be able to find (at least) one that works for them.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  20. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    If I didn't have a family to feed, I'd probably find some reason to own them all! :)

    ......And we didn't even mention the 17mm f2.8 or Sigma 19mm f2.8 or the several cool manual options in native mount.
    • Agree Agree x 1