Sunday, 30 January 2011

Comparison: Lumix 14mm vs Lumix 20mm pancake lenses

The Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 and Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake lenses are similar, yet still very different. They are of course similar since they share a pancake characteristic: They are both very compact. They are shown below, with "home made" lens hoods:


(From the left: 20mm and 14mm.)

Still, there are many issues which make them different. The Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 has internal focusing, which makes the autofocus very fast and silent.


The Lumix G 20mm f/1.7, on the other hand, has a more traditional focus assembly, which moves all the lens elements back and forth. This is not as fast, and does generate some noise. This is not an issue in daylight, since both are very fast in sufficient light. But in low light, the 20mm lens can take in excess of one second to focus, which can be annoying.

And low light brings us to another area where the lenses are different: The 20mm lens is a true low light lens, with a maximum aperture of f/1.7. The 14mm, still gains about one stop of light gathering compared with the kit lens, but it is not at all a low light lens.

And, of course, the field of view is quite different: The Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 is a wide angle lens, and the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 is more of a "normal" lens, which can be used for, e.g., environmental portraits in low light without a flash.

In terms of pricing, they tend to sell for approximately the same amount. The 14mm lens was included as a kit lens for the Panasonix GF3 camera, and these kits did not sell well. They were often split, and the lens sold separately off auction sites, which lowered the perceived value of the lens for some time.






Sharpness

What about the sharpness? The general opinion is that the 20mm lens is very sharp in the centre, even wide open at f/1.7. It does require stopping down to at least f/2.8 to get sharp corners, thought. When it comes to the 14mm lens, people generally say that it is not as sharp as the 20mm lens.

I prefer to find out for myself, so I made a field study. I put the Panasonic Lumix GH2 camera on a tripod, set it at base ISO (160), and used 2 second shutter delay to avoid camera shake.

I took the same picture using both lenses, at different apertures. I used the out of camera JPEG images. The shutter speed was always 1/100 second or faster. Below are the full images, scaled down and resharpened. Both images were taken at max aperture.



Lumix G 14mm f/2.5
Lumix G 20mm f/1.7

To better compare the sharpness, I have cut out 100% crops from the images. These crops were not sharpened. Here are some comparisons. These are from the centre of the images:



And here are crops from the top left corner:



Click to see larger versions of the images.

Sharpness Conclusion

First of all, we can conclude that the centre images are boring: They are virtually the same from max aperture down to f/5.6. They show that there is little to gain by stopping down the aperture when it comes to the centre resolution. Perhaps we can say that the Lumix 20mm lens is a tad bit softer at f/1.7 than f/2. But the difference is very subtle.

In the corner, though, there are more issues to comment. The Lumix 14mm lens does sharpen up a bit when stopping down, and appears to reach an optimal aperture around f/4. Stopping down further to f/5.6 does not appear to give better performance.

The Lumix 20mm lens appears to sharpen up quicker when stopping down. f/2.8 appears to give a sufficient sharpness, bit there is a tad bit of improvement also when going to f/4.

What about comparing between the two lenses? In the centre, I would say they are equally sharp. There is little to complain about in terms of sharpness at any of the aperture values.

In the corner, though, it seems that the 20mm lens is a bit sharper overall. Also, the 14mm lens has some purple fringing artifacts around the branches, which cannot be found in the 20mm corner images.

When it comes to vignetting, the 14mm lens again appears to have somewhat more vignetting wide open. You must close down to around f/3.5 to lose the vignetting, but it is not a huge problem even at larger apertures.

Optically, it seems that the 20mm lens still has an edge over the 14mm lens, especially in the corners. However, unless you are very critical, and make huge enlargements, I don't think any of the lenses will disappoint in terms of optical performance.

Chromatic aberrations

When using these lenses on Panasonic Lumix G cameras, the JPEG output images are automatically corrected for some Chromatic Aberration artifacts, like red/green fringing around high contrast areas, especially in the corners of the frame.

As at the current date, Olympus cameras do not employ this CA adjustment.

Based on my examination of the CA artifacts, these lenses do not generate a significant amount of them anyway. So even without the in camera CA correction, CA artifacts are not a significant problem.

Some purple fringing are left after the in camera processing, as we can see in these images as well.

Geometric distortion correction

Perfect rectilinear projection is one of the traditional quality indicators of lenses. If the lens gives a pincushion or barrel distortion, then that is commonly interpreted as a sign that the lens design is bad.

Both of these lenses give a significant barrel distortion without any post processing. Bear in mind, though, that this processing is done automatically in the camera, so that the JPEG images come out looking rectilinear. And when using RAW, most RAW converters will apply the geometric distortion correction seamlessly. So the user might very well never notice that the lenses feature significant distortion.

Using some third party RAW converters, it is possible to look at the images prior to the distortion correction. This reveals the true nature of the distortion properties of the lens. Below are images of a tiled wall. The black lines show how the image looked after the automatic in camera correction, while the red lines illustrate how the camera sensor actually saw the scene:



Lumix G 14mm f/2.5
Lumix G 20mm f/1.7

Read more about this study here. The 14mm lens has somewhat more barrel distortion. To get a rectilinear image, the 14mm lens requires a correction of -16% in the "Lens Distortion" filter in The Gimp, while the 20mm lens requires -11%.

What this means, is that the 20mm lens wastes less pixels in the corners of the image frame, and, potentially, can give slightly better corner sharpness. On the other hand, this effect is rather subtle, and for any real life application, I'd say you can basically ignore it.

Further, the 14mm lens does not correct enough for distortion at close focus distances. Hence, while you get good, rectilinear images at moderate to far focus, you'll get some small amount of barrel distortion at close focus. Again, this is not a problem for most real life usages, but it may be worth to note that this is not a lens for close focus reproduction of art, for example. The 20mm lens, on the other hand, is well corrected for all focus distances. I would guess that this difference is due to the internal focus of the 14mm lens, which is known to produce different geometric distortion properties at different focus lengths.

The lenses are designed to require post processing for a reason: Lens design is a matter of balancing various optical properties against each others. With this choice, the lens designers can focus improving the artifact that cannot be corrected in post processing, while leaving the geometric distortion to be adjusted in post. This can, potentially, lead to smaller lenses with better quality.

Bokeh

I have made a comparison of the out of focus highlights rendering for both lenses. The study shows that neither lens has a "perfect" bokeh. They exhibit various problems, for example non-circular out of focus highlight discs, ringing, dirty and uneven bokeh. See another bokeh comparison here, which has the same conclusion.

However, you must focus quite close in order for these problems to show. When photographing people, you will normally want to keep a distance of one meter or more to avoid perspective distortion, and the bokeh should not be a problem with this distance.

Field of view

Obviously, the 14mm lens has a wider field of view than the 20mm lens. The 14mm lens is a wide angle lens, while the 20mm lens is what people would normally call a "normal" lens. Normal lenses have a focal length which correspond roughly to the diameter of the sensor. The Four Thirds sensor diagonal measures 21.6mm, so the 20mm lens is in fact a slightly wide normal lens.

Based on the field of view difference, which is quite significant, which lens would you want to buy? Experienced photographers will probably not ponder long about this. They are already well aware of the concepts "wide angle" and "normal lens", and know their preferences. What about the rest of us?

If you have used the kit zoom lens for some time, you could take a look at your favourite photos and see what focal length they were taken with. Did you typically use the wide end of the zoom lens? Or the longer end? The answer here might determine your focal length preference.

There is a philosophy which goes like this: You can always get closer to an object, but you cannot always get further away from it. So to be able to photograph what you want, choose the widest lens. In this case, this philosophy dictates that you choose the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 lens over the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 lens, since the former is wider.

However, it doesn't take much thinking to see that the premises are not always right. Let's say you want to photograph people. Then, you should not get closer to them than around 1 meter. Going closer will give you perspective distortion, which can make the photo unflattering.

Hence, if you intend to photograph a person, and want to have their face as the main part of the image, you will want to choose the longer lens. At a 1 meter distance, their face will be just a small spot in the frame with the 14mm wide angle lens. Even the 20mm lens is not long enough to be a portrait lens, but it is still the better choice. For a portrait headshot, you will generally want a focal length of around 40mm or higher. But the 20mm lens can be used to take an environmental portrait.

On the other hand, if you intend to photograph a group of people, you will want to choose the wide angle lens. You cannot always back up more, so the widest lens is best to cover a group of people.

Aperture range

We have already discussed the different maximum apeture. The 20mm f/1.7 lens has the larger maximum aperture, obviously. However, the 20mm lens also has the larger minimum aperture. Here are the ranges.

14mm: f/2.5 - f/22
20mm: f/1.7 - f/16

The smaller possible minimum aperture for the 14mm lens is an advantage when shooting video. Generally, one would not want to have too fast shutter speed when recording a video.

For motion pictures, a 180° shutter is commonly used. This means that the shutter is open half the time. If you have 30 frames per second, this means that the shutter speed should be 1/60 second.

When recording a video outdoors on a sunny day, you may need to close down the aperture a lot to achieve 1/60 second shutter speed. In that case, the f/22 option comes handy with the 14mm lens. Otherwise, you may need to use an ND filter to get the right shutter speed.

Common knowledge says that you should avoid using small apertures, due to diffraction. Diffraction is known to blur the image at pixel level when using very small apertures. However, when shooting video, the resolution used is smaller, so I don't think diffraction is any problem. In fact, one could say that diffraction acts as an extra anti aliasing filter, which could actually improve the image quality during video capture.

Video use

Both lenses work perfectly fine with video. However, the quick and virtually noiseless autofocus of the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 pancake lens makes it preferable for general video use.

In low light situations, you could find that when using the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 you can lose focus for some seconds when there is movement in the scene. This is not so likely to happen with the 14mm lens, in my experience.

Apart from the autofocus differences, the choice between the two lenses largely comes down to the same issues whether you intend to use them for video or photo: The field of view and the maximum aperture. So the considerations in the rest of the article apply just as well for video use.

Here are some example videos.

Low light video with some action using the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 pancake lens on a GH2:



More information about the video parameters used in the movie above. You'll notice that the audio quality is poor in the video. However, this is due to the sound system, which clips the sound at high levels.


This video showing the ice breaking up in Stockholm was recorded using a Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 pancake lens on a GH2, at 1080p, 24fps:




A low light concert movie using the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens on a GH2:



More information about the video parameters used.

The following video was recorded outdoors using the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens on a GH1. You'll see that the camera loses focus now and then, which is a bit annoying. Both the lens and the camera have had firmware updates since this video was recorded, and the autofocus performance during video has improved.



More information about the video parameters used.

Compared with the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN

In 2012, Sigma released their first Micro Four Thirds lenses, the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN and the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN. The 19mm lens is quite similar with the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens, so it makes sense to compare them.

See my main comparison article here. A brief summary: The Sigma lens focuses much quicker, and more silently. It also has a short startup delay, just like the Sigma 30mm lens, and it rattles when not in use. The rattle is no problem, it can just be a bit annoying.

The Sigma 19mm lens has the most pleasing bokeh. It is also cheaper.

In terms of image quality, I think it is clear that the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 lens is the better. The 20mm lens also has a larger maximum aperture, and a smaller size.

I think that reasons for buying the Sigma 19mm lens over the Lumix G 20mm lens could be to save money, and to get better autofocus performance, especially during video recording.

After just a year, Sigma discontinued the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN lens, but introduced a new version at the same time. The new version has a different exterior design, but other than that employs the same optical layout, and, hence, the same image quality. The new lens retails for a bit more than the old one did before being discontinued. I guess that Sigma thinks the new metal exterior appears more desirable, and allows them to charge a premium price:



New version of the 20mm lens

In the summer 2013, this lens was discontinued, and a new version of the lens, Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II (H-HS020A) was released. The new version has the same basic specifications, and has the same optical design. The exterior design is new, though, with a black or silver metal finish.

As the new lens has the same optical design, it still has the old style focus assembly which moves all the lenses back and forth. Reports indicate that the focus speed is the same as the first one, i.e., not very impressive. Even with the new design of the lens, the autofocus is still the slowest among the Micro Four Thirds lenses.

So the only reason to buy the new version of the lens would be if you prefer the new design to the old one.

The new designs of the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II:


Conclusion

It seems to me that the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 is valuable as a sharp, low light lens, while the main benefits of the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 are the very compact size and the fast autofocus. Both lenses are optically very good, but the 14mm lens, lacking the true low light capability, is not as interesting. From my perspective, anyway.

This note is written six months later: After using the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 lens a lot, I have come to like it more and more. Now, I use it more than the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 lens.

The reasons for liking it more are the same as I have written above: Fast and silent autofocus, small size, very good optical qualities. It's also very good for video, due to the AF performance and silence. Besides, the field of view is generally quite useful when photographing and videographing people.






Appendix

To make the comparison of the images easier, I have applied auto levels to each row. That way, the exposures are more comparable.

The centre of the images:



The corner of the images:

121 comments:

  1. great review.it helped me a lot!
    thanks!

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  2. This is one of the most informative blogs on M43, especially the Panasonic bodies and lenses I either have or covet. Thank you for sharing!

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  3. Thank You a lot! Your articles are very valuable!
    I own 20 mm f/1,7 but I wonder is there any sense to buy 14 mm pancake... 14mm is the wide end of kit lens (14-45mm) and I also own 7-14 f/4...
    What do You think this 14 mm is good for? I use my 20 mm for street photo and low light photography, can You share Your experience and name some applications where You have found this 14 mm lens is better than others?

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  4. I would say the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens is a must have lens. But the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 is not.

    If you like using the 14mm focal length, and it is important for you to have a small lens, then the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 makes sense. If not, just continue to use the kit lens.

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  5. Thanks for the clear explanation. I'm about to get into the 4/3's world and I would like to ask a question. The Lumix 20mm seems great with the Olympic Pen camera, is this true of the 14mm as well? Does the different focusing systems play any role here? Thanks.

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  6. I haven't tested the 14mm lens on an Olympus camera. But in general, the latest firmware revisions and new models from Olympus feature autofocus which is comarable in speed with the Panasonic cameras.

    I cannot think of any reason why the 14mm lens should not work well with Olympus cameras.

    Perhaps then only issue would be CA artifacts, which are not corrected for by Olympus cameras. You might see this as red/green colour fringing off high contrast areas in the image corners. Panasonic cameras will automatically remove these artifacts. But honestly, this is not any big issue anyway.

    So if you want a wide angle prime with an Olympus camera, I cannot imagine that the Lumix 14mm lens will disappoint you.

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  7. I've been doing some real world tests with the 14mm and its disappointing because I'm comparing it to the 20mm, but also because I realize that it might not be useable for professional work. I don't think the lens resolves details, even in the center, as well as the 20mm. Is it possible that I have a copy of the lens with some defect. Before I try another copy, doesn't anyone else suspect the same problem, from an off batch?

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  8. From my experience, for example from this article, or the one about CA correction, I think that the 14mm lens renders a bit differently than the 20mm lens, but I cannot see that the 14mm lens is bad in any way. Of course, one could always wish for better performance in the corners at wide open, but considering the size and the price of the lens, I am happy with it.

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  9. I wonder if its a trade-off for the pancake design? I remember years ago Nikon had their 45mm pancake that was desirable for its size, but rendered more like a Tessar than a Planar, if you know what I mean? Also, Olympus made a 40mm pancake for it OM series that seemed to be near perfect. The Lumix 14mm is a keeper. Easy to work around its weaknesses. Thanks for all your work on this blog.

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  10. Could you please measure how much each of the two lenses sticks out from the body? Thanks.

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  11. The 14mm lens has a 20.5mm length, while the 20mm lens has 25.5mm length.

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  12. For a shallower depth of field, which is better?

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  13. For shallow depth of field, you need one (or more) out of the three:

    Shorter focus distance

    Larger aperture (smaller f-number)

    Larger focal length

    Both lenses focus quite close, but the 20mm lens has the largest aperture, f/1.7. So for shallow depth of field, get the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens.

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  14. Very informative comparison. Keep the blog coming :) Your site is very valuable to the M43 community \m/

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  15. If anyone has an advice about where to actually purchase the 20mm lens,
    I'd be grateful. Everybody seems to be out of them. Thank you for a very useful review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen them in Amazon, which I think has a price range between 330 and 400+. There are also used ones on eBay.

      Delete
  16. thanx for the great review... I think there's a specific & important use for the 14mm: first, there's simply no faster wide-angle around for mft, second, that's exactly what you need, in case you want to use a handheld stabilizer... But also for documentary work, where shallow dof isn't the main concern, but you have to work with available light in WA. It's a pity though, it isn't just a tad faster, like 1.4 ;-)

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  17. great review. I have started using my M43 2yrs back and ever since I touched the GF1 my Cannon 30D with its range of L series lenses is gattering dust. I have a 20mm lens, 45mm and a 45-200mm. I always compare all my lenses to 20mm and get a bit depressed. 20mm is 'the lens' on a GF1 for over all wow effect. well, I need a wide angle and unable to sellect between 7mm and 7-14 and oly 9-18 can you please run a comparison...
    regards,
    Dr.syed Arshad

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  18. I don't have any of the wide angle zooms for Micro Four Thirds, so I cannot compare the Olympus 9-18mm with the 7-14mm. If I had them, I would certainly be happy to compare them.

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  19. Hi,

    I am travelling to the USA in Sept/ October visiting Zion,Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon and finally to Las Vegas. I am new to photography and recently purchased a Panasonic Lumix G2with14-45mm lens. Due to places to visit should I buy the wide angle 14mmlens on one of the telephoto lenses. Before I read these postings I was going to buy the 20mm pancake but now I am not so sure.

    Any advice?

    Philip

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  20. Personally, I'd say the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens is mostly useful for low light photography. E.g., photographing people indoor without a flash. Or photographing an indoor event, like a concert.

    For outdoor, daylight photography, I don't think the 20mm pancake lens adds much value.

    It sounds like you are going to be doing outdoor photography, and in that case, your kit lens covers the wide angle well. The kit lens is good.

    I would consider to add the Lumix G 45-200mm tele zoom lens, to complement the kit zoom. It's a good value tele zoom lens. For the money, it has good performance.

    Of course, if you know that tele photo is not interesting for you, then you can disregard this.

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  21. Thanks for a great review, especially for a beginner like me, it really explained clearly the difference between these two lens. Now I just have to hunker down and cough up the dough for the 20/1.7

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  22. Thanks so much for the review. Here is my issue, have the GH2 coming with both the 14-42 and 14-140. I'll shoot stills but really interested in the video capability of the camera.

    I realize the redundancy of 14-42 so I am going to dump that for either the 14mm or 20mm. With my setup and desires in mind (video first, stills second), would the 20mm still be the better choice, given the silent AF and wider angle of the 14? I do like the idea of a low light performer with the 1.7 but still, not sure if thats the right choice given my desires.

    Thoughts? Much appreciated.

    Brandon

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  23. Well, the 14mm and 20mm are rather different focal lengths. The typical idea is to review the images you have taken, and see if you typically use the wide end of the zoom (14mm), or longer focal lengths. If you typically use the widest end, then the 14mm pancake makes the most sense.

    When using the 20mm lens, I often find it to be too narrow, and would have wished that I had the 14mm mounted in stead.

    I would also challenge that your 14-42mm is redundant. Given the size and weight difference, I'd say the 14-42mm lens has a place in your lineup. You don't always want to mount the enormous 14-140mm lens.

    I would advice that you continue to use the zoom lenses for a bit longer, and pay notice to what focal length you typically prefer to use. If you use the widest setting a lot, then that may indicate that you would be happy with the 14mm lens.

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  24. After 10 years with a Canon D60, I just got GH2 with 14-140 for everyday family and travel use, and I also got the gorgeous Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 for the sheer joy of photography. Having used the Voigtlander a few times, I love the image and must say it is a lot of fun. But I do find I miss shots because of the manual focus and it is a big lens (relatively). I've been wondering about the usefulness of adding the 20mm f1.7 and the lure of the pancake small size. Appreciate your thoughts and thanks for the review.

    Wayne

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  25. I can understand where you're coming from. The Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 looks like a fun lens, from the specifications. But using it for snapshots is not that easy, since you must set the focus and aperture manually.

    Personally, I think that a small lens can be an advantage. Not only when lugging the camera around, but also because it is less intimidating to the people you photography, so they tend to act more normal.

    When it comes to the speed, the 20mm lens is not as fast operating as the 14mm lens, in terms of focus. But when used on the GH2 and other modern cameras, they are both fast enough for most applications.

    I think you know best yourself whether or not you want to invest in a new lens, but I can see that adding the 20mm lens will give you some more photography possibilities.

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  26. Great article. Just bought the GF3 with twin kit lens (14mm & 14-42mm). Going to run through some experiment with both for portraits.

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  27. Generally, people would not say that the 14mm pancake lens is a portrait lens. It is too wide for a "headshot" portrait, and even for a head and shoulders picture.

    I find that the 14mm lens is better for taking picture of a person with some environment around, or for a group of people.

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  28. Congratulation! Great review but now I don't what to do... Let me explain.

    Around 90% of my shots are of my two babies and a lot of them are taken inside our home which doesn't have a lot of light, unfortunately.

    I have (planning to sell) a Canon 1000d with a 24mm 2.8. This lens is great for the shots I am taking because it's somehow wide enough to capture the kids inside and relatively fast.

    A few days ago I bought the Panasonic G3 with the 14-42 because I wanted to shot video, again of my babies. However the zooms lens are not fast enough with the current light and the winter is coming...

    So I started considering buying an equivalent to my Canon 24mm 2.8 and I thought the P 20mm would be the right choice till I read your blog.

    My thoughts
    - Kids move fast so maybe the 14mm is the winner here but maybe the firmware updates have reduced the gap to the 20mm
    - In low light conditions the 20mm is clearly the winner. I am happy with the f2.8 of the Canon so I can't even imagine the possibilities of the 20mm
    - A lot of my shots are taken at close range (sometimes closer than 1m) so not sure which one would cause less distortion
    - I prefer the focal length of the 14mm but the 20mm is alright
    - for video it seems the 14mm is better
    - I need to sell the Canon gear. I can't justify having both

    I would appreciate your thoughts.

    Cheers,
    Jose

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  29. Using the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancake for video with AF is not always a good idea. The camera will often try to jog the focus back and forth to verify the correctness of the focus, which causes 1-2 seconds of out of focus footage, longer if the light is low.

    So having AF on when using the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 for video is almost always a bad idea. It is better to prefocus, and then turn off AF (set to manual focus, MF) before starting the video recording.

    With the Lumix 14mm f/2.5, it is safer to leave AF on. The camera will still try to reconfirm the focus now and then by jogging the focus back and forth, but it is much faster, and there is a smaller chance to lose focus for an extended period of time.

    The conclusion is that using the Lumix 20mm lens for video is possible, and it will generate good videos, but it takes a bit more work to get it done good with respect to focus. With the Lumix 14mm lens, it is more of a fire-and-forget affair.

    And it is true that the Lumix 20mm lens is a better low light lens with an aperture of f/1.7. But the difference up to f/2.5 with the Lumix 14mm lens is not that large. We are talking about approximately one stop difference, which isn't too significant.

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  30. Thanks a lot for your comment. I think I'll buy the 14mm.

    But curious on why you say the 20mm is a must have lens and the 14mm is not?

    Jose

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  31. I think I should add to the comment that the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens was a must have lens for low light use. Since I wrote this comment, there are more choices in this category, for example the Lumix/Leica G 25mm f/1.4, which has an even larger aperture.

    So that comment was a bit dated, probably.

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  32. I am stuck between the 20mm and 14mm, but leaning towards the 14mm because of its fairly low price on ebay. How does the the 14mm compare to the kit 14-45mm in low light? I know it would be better because of the f2.5 aperture, but is it that much better, or should I try and save the extra for the 20mm? Also, how would you say the Oly 17mm compare in low light to the 14mm? Thanks

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  33. As I understand, the low priced Ebay Lumix G 14mm lenses come from splitting up camera kit packages. There is nothing wrong with that, so not problem.

    For low light use, the maximum aperture is the most important factor. And the Lumix G 14mm lens has about one stop larger aperture than the 14-45mm kit lens. Which is not very much. So if low light use is the only reason why you want to buy a prime lens, I suggest you save up for the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 lens, since it provides far better low light use.

    On the other hand, if you have other uses for the pancake prime lens beyond a large aperture, for example small size, then the Lumix G 14mm lens could make good sense.

    The Olympus 17mm f/2.8 has an even smaller maxium aperture, and hence is not a very good low light lens.

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  34. How does the 14mm compare to the 14-42/45mm lens(at 14mm of course), in terms of sharpness, CA, and vignetting? Thank you for the reply.

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  35. I have made a comparison @ 14mm here. Generally, the Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit zoom lens is better than its reputation. It is good optically.

    The older Lumix G 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 is generally regarded as being a little bit better than the 1-42mm. But I am unsure if it is worth the extra money compared with the newer kit zoom lens.

    I would say you don't get a lot better image quality @ 14mm with the pancake compared with the kit zoom lens. The pancake is more about very small size, low weight. And one stop better aperture.

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  36. Thank you for that.

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  37. I have the 14-42mm kit lens with the GH2. I am looking to replace it with a faster lens for taking pictures of kids and at kids' parties. The kit lens is not fast enough when kids are running around. Which would be the best lens for that? Thank you for your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just bought the Oly 45mm for kids ( moving / indoors) - not only fast optically, but unbelievably quick focus. The results have been outstanding. Don't hesitate to buy it - you will not be disappointed.

      Delete
  38. It sounds like you are talking about "fast" in terms of autofocus speed? If so, you are out of luck, since the 14-42mm kit lens is one of the fastest in terms of autofocus speed. It cannot be beaten by other lenses in this respect, not by a significant margin, anyway.

    If you are talking about "fast" in terms of "fast aperture", meaning a large maximum aperture, then the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens is a good choice, or even the Leica-Lumix 25mm f/1.4, which is a bit expensive. These both have very fast apertures.

    But keep in mind that the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 has a slow autofocus. So the best choice may well be the Leica-Lumix 25mm f/1.4.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Sorry for the confusion. I was thinking about a faster lens to reduce motion blur with active subjects. I'll go with the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7. The 14-42mm kit lens would still be useful for video recording. Thanks very much.

    ReplyDelete
  40. No worries!

    Just keep in mind that a side effect of using a larger aperture, like f/1.7, is that less of the image will be in focus. So while you will be able to avoid motion blur, you will in stead find that what is further away from the focus point will be out of focus.

    For some people, this is what they want, and why they buy a large aperture lens. Other people are disappointed by this.

    Another comment is that to capture movement, you could consider to use the flash. Or to use a higher ISO. That way, you could still use the same lens, and avoid motion blur.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Yes, those are good points. I ordered the 20mm pancake lens. It will also be great for portraits in low light without a flash. Thanks for the advice!

    ReplyDelete
  42. As a beginner with system camera and G3 I might get the 20mm for the size and lowlight. A few questions.

    Is lack of stabilization a big problem?
    What is it best for?
    What is it not for? In short.

    Maybe I should use my 14-42 at 20 mm for a day and see what I could get. Doing a lot of buildings, reflections in windows/water, details in old buildings, some lowlight landscapes/sunsets. Not people apart form parties for friends - might be a problem. My priority is not covering everything (100 %) but rather 30% with quality and sharpness.

    But also interested in the new 14-42, might not need both? Wait and see the tests?

    ReplyDelete
  43. I think that most people who buy the 20mm lens buy it to use it for selective focus and low light photos. For both, you need a large aperture, which is not available with many other lenses.

    For the ultimate sharpness, I would say that a large aperture low light lens is usually not what you would normally want. But the 20mm lens is a rather sharp lens, so no problems there.

    If you don't need the large aperture for selective focus or low light, you might just as well use the kit zoom lens at 20mm, like you say. Of course, the size of the lens is also an issue.

    ReplyDelete
  44. @Michiel Brand: there is now a faster wide-angle for m4/3s: the Olympus 12mm f/2.

    http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/11/olympus-12mm-review.html

    ReplyDelete
  45. one technical question - what is the pitch on the filter mount on these lenses?

    the 20mm lens have 46mm diameter filter - is it standard pitch 0.75?

    ReplyDelete
  46. Honestly, I have no idea what the pitch is. But seeing that all standard filters and filter accessories fit to these lenses, I don't think this is any issue.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hi, really useful article. I have a few lenses with my GH2 set up, mostly canon fd's, but also have the lumix 14-140, just wondering if you know how the 14mm prime compares against the 14 end of the zoom? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  48. In my opinion, the Lumix G HD 14-140mm is quite dull in the wide end (at 14mm). Here is a direct comparison of the lenses at 14mm which I think shows this point quite clearly.

    The 14-140mm lens and the 14mm pancake lens are very different lenses. Perhaps the only area where they are similar is the focus speed: The are both very fast.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I have a Panasonic GF1 with a Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 and an Olympus 45mm f/1.8. Optically both lenses are great, straight from the maximum aperture (and that's important to me, since the low light performance of the micro 4/3 system really sucks). Autofocus is somewhat slow on the 20mm I think, but it's usable in most situations.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I'm just an average Joe in the States and bought the GF2 w/ 14-42 kit lens as a long-lasting replacement for an old old old Canon P & S.

    I found your site when doing some research about whether I should buy another lens. I think you've convinced me that even though the 14mm Pancake is relatively similar to what I can get out of my kit lens at the 14mm end, I'll purchase the Pancake simply because its small stature will let me take the camera more places - and thus take more photos!

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for all the very in-depth and informative work you've done! Kudos.

    Cheers!

    Phil

    ReplyDelete
  51. Hi,
    Very informative blog.
    I gave the G3 with the 14-42 kit. I am into fashion and I'd love to be able to take more full body shots with blurry background. For that, is 20mm 1.7 better than 14mm 2.5? Thanks very much

    ReplyDelete
  52. If a blurred background is important for you, then the 14mm f/2.5 lens is quite simply not an option. At the distance needed for a full body shot, the background blur will be fairly marginal.

    I'd say the choice depends on from what distance you are going to be photographing the subjects.

    If you are fairly close, let's say around 2-3 meters from the subject, then you need the 20mm f/1.7 lens.

    If you have more distance, around 5-6 meters, then I would recommend the Olympus 45mm f/1.8.

    I think either of the two will be good for your purpose. Since it may be difficult to get the 5-6 meters distance required for the 45mm lens, probably the 20mm lens is the most reasonable choice.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Great post... I have a Lumix GF2 14mm but I think I need a lens with a lot more zoom, which one would you recommend? I'm a newbie please help. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  54. It depends on what you mean with "a lot more zoom". "Zoom" usually means the ratio between the end and start focal length, e.g., the Lumix G 14-42mm kit zoom lens has got a 3x zoom ratio (42mm/14mm=3).

    The kit zoom lens is quite good and inexpensive, so you could choose to get that one, the Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6. It is usually sold as a kit together with the camera, but it seems that you chose the kit with the non-zoom lens.

    If what you want is a tele lens, the value choice is the Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6. It is a good lens for a reasonable price.

    An alternative is the Lumix G X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6. It is more expensive, more compact, and has got a little bit better optical characteristics.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Which one of those 2 lens do you suggest for street photography (both indoors and outdoors) ? I also primarily shoot in the dynamic black and white mode - please advise!

    ReplyDelete
  56. For street photography, you would normally stop down the lens a bit, for some extra depth of focus (DOF). One would normally use, say, f/3.5-f/5.6. With this in mind, the faster aperture of the 20mm lens is perhaps not that useful.

    So I'd say choose the lens which has the most useful field of view for you. Do you prefer a wide field of view (meaning that you need to get closer to people to photograph them)? If so, get the 14mm. At 20mm, you can stay at a slightly larger distance.

    ReplyDelete
  57. For me the 20mm was a no-brainer. I bought the G3 with the 14-42 and 45-200 kit lenses (because it was a very good deal) and put the camera through its paces for a while before settling on other lenses to complete the kit. The 14-42 is excellent at all focal lenghts and for my needs works well at 14 - 20 so for the prime lens, a focal length of 20 with a wide maximum apperture was ideal. Like many I started photography many moons ago with a SLR with a 45/50/55 lens and the Panasonic 20mm is in this territory. I also neeed a wider lens and having discounted the Panasonic 7-14 on cost grounds I opted for the Olympus 9-18mm. I couldn't justify the huge extra cost of the Panasonic lens for the sake of an extra couple of mms at the wider end while the gain between 14-18 is more functional. Both lenses are superb comparing well with the Leica lens on my Digilux3 although not quite in the same class as my last remaining film camera - the trusty Contax G2 with the wonderful Zeiss glass - and I suspect these purchases will be the ones I use most with the G3. In the end though, it depends on the sort of photograhpy you do.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Hi guys i am wanting to pursue, photography to combine with my other passion food, thus i am wanting to get a lens or maybe 2 to get me started so, specifically for food based shots 14mm or 20mm or something else ??
    thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
  59. Thanks for the helpful blog. I'm a newbie.. just purchased a GF2 and have been playing around with the 14-42mm kit lens, but am thinking about getting the 14mm. Have you tried or heard anything about the following kit with extra lenses? How is the performance of the 4 piece macro, the .45 wide angle and the 2x Telephoto? Do these accessory lenses make it a worthwhile investment when I already have the 14-42?

    Thanks so much!

    -Panasonic Lumix 14mm f/2.5 G Aspherical Lens Kit Includes: Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH Lens, 0.45 Wide Angle Lens, 2x Telephoto Lens, 3 Piece Filter Kit (UV-CPL-FLD), 4 Piece Close Up Macro Lens Kit, Lens Cap, Lens Cleaning Pen

    ReplyDelete
  60. I haven't tried any of these add-on lenses. Generally speaking, using such add-on lenses does not give the best image quality. But I don't have any experience with them.

    ReplyDelete
  61. thanks for the helpful blog. I just bought panasonic gf 3 with 14-45 mm lens. I like food photography but with my present lens I can not have the desired blurred background effect. That's why I am planning to buy another lens which provides lower f value than 3.5. Which of these two lenses is better foor food photography? Indeed I was planning to buy 14 mm with f value 2,5 but now don't know which one to buy? Can you give me an idea?

    ReplyDelete
  62. If you're only looking for the most amount of blurred background, then I think you should look for the Olympus 45mm f/1.8. It goes well with a Panasonic camera, even if it is an Olympus lens.

    The Olympus 45mm lens is quite long, though, in terms of focal length. That means that you must keep a distance of around 60-100 cm for photographing a plate. That might be difficult.

    So with that in mind, I'd say the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 makes the most sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot for valuable information. You have been great help. I think i will buy 20 mm.

      Delete
  63. thanks a lot, your blog article helped me make a decision to buy a Panasonic 20mm 2.5 :)

    ReplyDelete
  64. Hi i am new to photography and I am getting the g3 or gh2, , my question is what is he best kit I can get ?
    1) body +14 mm- 42mm (included with the camera)
    2) get the body only and get the 14-140mm ( I save 100 usd without the 14-42mm lens) that money use for the 14-140mm

    And later should i get the 14mm? Or the 20mm ? i will get one of this lenses the moment I can have some more cash available

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I think that the Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens is rather good. Of course, you understand that the zoom range is more limited compared with the Lumix G HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8. But it is also hugely less expensive.

      I think that I would have bought the camera with the Lumix G 14-42mm kit lens, and then later bought the Lumix G 45-200mm or Lumix X 45-175mm if you need more tele.

      The main advantage of the pancake lenses over the kit zoom lens is the size, and the ability to use a larger aperture, for more selective focus and speed. The 20mm lens has the largest aperture, at f/1.7, and for this use, it is the best.

      As for your camera choice, I'd say that the GH2 is good for heavy video users, and for people who want a more substantial grip. The GH2 also has more wheels and buttons, and is better for changing settings without going to the menus. Otherwise, get the G3, especially for the more compact size, if that is what you are after.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for you reply I will discard 14-140mm lens then. I guess my priority is to get the 20mm before the 40-200mm

      Delete
  65. Wonderful review!

    I'm interested in getting the Lumix GX1 and wanted to get some advice on what lens to choose between the 20mm and 14mm. It sounds like from your review that I'd probably need to go w/ the 20 mm due to it being superior for lower light settings.

    Weight is a huge issue for me, and that's why i'm looking at soley the pancake lens. I'll primarily be shooting outdoor photography while rock climbing/hiking. Landscape photography as well as shooting shots of my climbing partner from above. What would you recommend? Thanks in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some would say that a wide angle lens is best for landscape photography. However, that is not always true. In fact, you can often take interesting landscape photos with a tele lens as well.

      I think both lenses would be fine for your use. I think you can probably get more spectacular climbing photos with a wide angle lens than with the normal lens, due to the wider perspective. Especially if you can get close to your climbing partner, which you can probably do since you are climbing as well.

      Climbing photos and landscape photos do typically not need low light lenses. So from the max aperture perspective, it probably doesn't matter which lens you choose.

      One could speculate that the 14mm lens is probably a bit more solid, since it does not have any external moving parts. The 20mm lens, on the other hand, has a moving lens assembly.

      I think that both lenses will allow you to take good and interesting photos.

      Delete
  66. great info! Im new to photography, like really new, but have been wanting to get a camera better than my iphone (don't laugh) to document my travels that doesn't take up too much space. Picked up the e-m5 today with the 14-42mm kit lens but I feel it protrudes out from the camera too much. Im looking for the most versatile lens that will take great city shots, landscapes, groups photos and individual shots both day and night... inside and outside. Would you recommend the 20mm f1.7 or am i asking for the holy grail of lens that doesn't exist in a such a small compact size? it would be cool to be able to have blurred and sharp images from the same lens as well. thanks in advance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is a versatile lens which does not protrude much from the camera, and that is the Panasonic Lumix G X 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 "pancake" zoom lens. It is very small when not in use, and extends when powering on the camera.

      Given that you are looking for a wide range of applications, landscapes, groups of people, individual persons, day and night, I don't think it is easy to recommend one lens. I'd say that if the speed of the lens (maximum aperture) is important for you, get the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7. If not, then the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 is probably more useful for landscapes and groups of people.

      Delete
    2. I got the 14-42 PZ lens kit and I'm quite satisfied with its fast focusing and sharpness. It's not that much bigger than these pancakes when off. But big boys like toys so I'm on the fence with the 20mm :)

      Delete
    3. I have used the Lumix X PZ 14-42mm lens for a couple of weeks, and so far, I think it is a good lens. Very compact and easy to bring along.

      Delete
    4. Hi, I'm looking at getting the Panasonic GX1 with either the Lumix X PZ 14-42mm lens, or a standard panasonic kit 14-42mm lens AND 14mm. For an identical price which would you pick? I'm also looking for a versatile starter combination/lens. I have a feeling I would end up with the 14mm on the camera most of the time, and given that it is pretty much the same size as the PZ (when off), is it even worth lugging round a second larger lens rather than just having it all-in-one from a image quality perspective? Thanks in advance!

      Delete
    5. I used to bring along the Lumix G 14mm pancake for the wide angle capabilities in a small package. Now, I have had the Lumix X PZ 14-42mm lens for some weeks, and it has replaced the Lumix G 14mm pancake for that purpose. I haven't tested them very much yet, but I think the PZ lens is very good so far.

      So I would have gone for the PZ lens, rather than the twin lens kit.

      Delete
  67. Great review. Been searching online all night and this has helped alot!

    ReplyDelete
  68. I found that the images produced by the kit len ie 14-40mm is a bit grainy as compared to that taken from a 20mm len. Any reason why this is so? Is it because the 20mm Len is a good low light Len and thus image taken is sharper?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The reason might be that your camera chooses a higher ISO when you use the zoom lens. The zoom lens has a smaller maximum aperture, and hence, the camera will set the ISO higher in some cases. Try to use a tripod, and set the ISO to the lowest option.

      Delete
  69. May I have your comment regarding 25mm Len? Should we get a 20 mm or a 25 mm?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't used the Lumix/Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens. It is probably better in every way compared with the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7, except for the size and price.

      So you must decide if the price and size is ok with you, and if you think the 25mm field of view is usable for you. It is a bit more narrow compared with the 20mm lens.

      Delete
  70. Hi, can you please help me out? I have an Olympus EPM1 with the kit 14-42mm. I am looking for a pancake but I am unsure of which to go for, the 14mm or the 20mm. I am extremely new to photography and mainly only use it for holidays (food photos, scenery/environment), and special occasions (dinner parties, birthdays).

    The main reason for looking at purchasing a pancake lens is the size, I will probably use it a lot more when on holidays and also bring it out more to small occasions. This would lead me to think the 14mm would be the most ideal, however there are times when taking photos during a dinner with my 14-42mm where it does not come out nice due to the low light, which I believe the 20mm would help me out with.

    If you were in my position, which would you go for? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tend to agree with you that the 20mm lens might be the most useful for you. It is the most different from the kit lens, in that it has a truely large aperture. For people group photos around a table, the 14mm might be better, though, for the wider field of view.

      The 20mm lens is the one which gives you more extra possibilities (in terms of low light photos), so that might be the one to go for.

      Delete
    2. Hello, thank you very much for your interesting blog and the useful comparisons.

      I just got a GX1 as a replacement for my beloved Lumix LX3 (Compact camera) which was perfect for me in low light conditions.
      Now, with the kit zoom, (Panasonic Lumix G X 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6) I'm really missing the f 2.0 aperture and wonder if the 20mm could help me for low light situations.

      Thank you in advance for your comments.

      Delete
    3. Well, there isn't much to add here. The Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 is going to give you better low light performace. On the other hand, you lose the zoom when using this lens. So it is a trade-off between low light performance and zoom.

      Delete
  71. Very useful blog!
    My son bought me Panasonic GF5 with 14-42 mm standard kit lens.
    Is it reasonable to pay additional money to change this lens on 14-42 mm PZ for photo and video capturing (architecture, landscapes ...) during my trips abroad (taking in account its size, OIS ...)?
    Or it's preferable to use 14 mm pancake instead of kit lens?
    Which lens do you recommend me for taking indoor images of my 2 years old grandson?
    Thank you in advance for your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you buy the Lumix X PZ 14-42mm lens, then you don't get anything extra in terms of photographic possibilities. I'd say the two Lumix 14-42mm lenses are pretty much equivalent in terms of optical properties.

      If you buy the Lumix X PZ lens, then you get a more compact package, which will be easier to bring along. You probably know best if this is important to you or not.

      The PZ lens also adds power zoom, which can be useful for video recording. However, there are many who would say that one should not change the zoom during video, so the value of this feature is a bit uncertain.

      For indoor images of your grandson, you need a lens which has a large aperture, and which focuses quickly. If you are going to be very close to him, then the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 might make sense.

      On the other hand, if you prefer to keep a bit of distance when photographing him, then the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 might be a better lens. A cheaper option to the two is the Sigma 30mm f/2.8. Since the 30mm lens is a short tele lens, you need to keep a distance of about 1.5 meters or so when photographing a small child with this lens.

      Delete
  72. Thank you for advice.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Greetings! I want to add my thanks for the comparison; it's been helpful.

    I've got two main photography interests: Outdoor landscape/architecture and indoor museum (aerospace and automotive in particular). Outdoor I've generally had good luck with lenses, but indoor has been a perennial problem for me; many museums use low or natural lighting, and I end up with something like https://picasaweb.google.com/tbutler67/WashingtonDC#5295505641345085074 or https://picasaweb.google.com/tbutler67/Aerospace#5295499566589834258. I've looked at the 20mm f1.7 for its low-light capability, but I'm concerned about a tight field of view; a lot of places have exhibits packed in like https://picasaweb.google.com/tbutler67/NationalAirAndSpaceMuseum#5295490290764142978 where there really isn't room to back up for a shot. At one point I tried using the inexpensive Canon 50mm f1.8 on an original Digital Rebel (APS-C sensor), and that was definitely too tight (and didn't seem to be that much of an improvement on low-light over the kit lens).

    How would you say the 20mm compares to the 14mm on those two constraints? Is the low-light improvement going to be enough to compensate for the field of view issues? If I understood my research correctly, the problematic 50mm/APS-C combination gave the equivalent of around an 80mm full-frame, while the 20mm on M4/3 runs around 40mm and the 14mm around 28; I've mostly used compact cameras before and don't have a really good instinctual 'feel' yet for how a specified field of view translates to what comes out on the picture.

    Many thanks for any advice you can give!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 14mm lens is a wide lens, corresponding roughly to the widest setting you'll find on compact cameras.

      The 14mm lens has a somewhat larger maximum aperture than the kit zoom lens at 14mm, but the difference is hardly significant.

      The 20mm lens is somewhat more narrow. The difference between 14mm and 20mm is fairly significant, and you cannot expect to capture a wide scene with the 20mm lens.

      It sounds like what you need is the Olympus 12mm f/2, which is a very wide lens with a good maximum aperture, suitable for low light use.

      The Canon 50mm f/1.8 is a good low light lens, but on an APS-C camera, as you say, it becomes a quite long tele lens, and cannot be used to take overview pictures inside a museum. That is simply impossible.

      Delete
  74. Hi,

    As you may have already heard millions of times, great write up. I recently upgrade from a canon P&S due to a great deal that I got for a GF2. I live in Hawaii, so sunsets, beaches, and flowers are my main target, with sunsets being the priority. I know you stated that the 20mm is great for low light indoors, and 14mm is great for outdoors, but what about for sunsets? Is it logical to assume that the 20mm is more suited for sunsets?

    Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I'm not sure. I think it depends on when during the evening you would take these photos. If you take them very late in the evening, then the extra aperture of the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 will come in handy.

      I think the 20mm lens is probably a safer choice here.

      Delete
  75. This blog has been so helpful. Thank you for taking the time to write this.. I already have the olympus 14-42 kit lens, 40-150mm zoom, and panasonic 20mm pancake. Which other lens would you recommend to complement my setup. Im undecided between 14mm f2.5 and 45mm f1.8 or if you have any other suggestions would be much appreciated.I do mainly landscape and landscape portrait photography

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In terms of giving you more possibilities, I'd say the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 is the best choice. The 14mm f/2.5 is pretty close to your 14-42mm lens at 14mm.

      Delete
  76. This beginner greatly appreciates the education. Just purchased the G3 with the 14-42 kit lens. Am interested in small size factor pancake for everyday shots (too many family birthdays, etc.) but also outdoors. Saw the review of the Canon f/2.8 that uses the Canon AF mount. Are the m4/3 cameras able to accommodate APS-C lenses and mounts? If so, would this be a reasonable choice, and what would one need to adapt to the G3?
    Many thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You cannot mount Canon lenses directly on Micro Four Thirds cameras. You need an adapter, and even with an adapter, it can be difficult to change the focus or the aperture. Only go for this solution if you really know what you are doing!

      The adapter is going to be as large as the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 lens, so this is not a compact solution.

      I suggest that you check with your kit zoom at 14mm and 20mm to see what focal length you prefer, and then buy either the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 or Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake lenses, as this would be the most convenient choice by far.

      Delete
  77. Hi, thanks for a brilliant and informative blog, best on the net. I am new to compact system cameras and would appreciate your advice. I have a Lumix GF3 body, and can afford EITHER the power 14-42 zoom (x series) OR the kit 14-42 zoom plus the 20mm f7. My needs are mostly for stills but some video, mountain and ski environments, some indoor pics, plus shots of classroom and in-school events for my job. Size and weight are important for the outdoor stuff. Images are for print at max A4 size, and for website. What would you suggest, and why?? Thank you very much for your time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would go for the regular Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 and the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7.

      In my experience, the newer Lumix X PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 is not better in terms of optical qualities. It is more compact, and it has the powerzoom feature. Otherwise, the Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 gives sharper images, in my experience.

      While the Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 is the larger of the two zoom lenses, it is very, very light.

      The basic 14-42mm and the 20mm lenses give you better value for money, in my opinion.

      Delete
  78. Hi There, just looking to purchase the older Lumix GF1, but still deciding which lens- either the pancake 20mm f/1.7, or the Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6. Which is the better set up? I'm looking for a nice travel camera, walking around with, taking landscape, city shots, people and closeups. I'm looking at two sales, that are up in the next 12 hours! The GF1 with the pancake for $475 or the GF1 with the Olympus for $400...Which is the better deal? Many thanks for a quick reply!! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 has come in many versions, and the sale is probably for an older version. This lens does not have OIS, and hence, it is not the best match for Panasonic camera bodies.

      The zoom lens is of course the most versatile, since it covers many focal lengths. Hence, you may find it easier to use to capture various pictures that you want.

      Out of the two packages, I think the one with the 20mm pancake lens sounds like the best, because it gives the most value for money. After all, the 20mm f/1.7 lens is rather expensive.

      But I don't think the two offers sound so interesting. The GF1 is an old camera by now. Unless you are specifically looking for this camera, I would rather look for good offers on, e.g., the Olympus E-PL3 or E-PL5 with kit zoom lenses, or even the Panasonic GF5 or GX1 with kit lenses. I don't think they would set you back much more in terms of cash spending.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for your help Fredrik! I ended up missing out on the 20mm package unfortunately! The GF1 with the Olympus lens is still for sale, starting bid $300 NZD with a "buy now" option of $400 NZD. Are the cameras you mentioned that much better than the GF1? Also, do you think I would be able to find any of those with a lens for less than $400 New Zealand Dollars?? If I can get the GF1 with that Olympus lens for $300NZD would that be a good deal?? Cheers! :)

      Delete
    3. Hello, I think you should decide yourself what to get. My initial comments to the prices were based on thinking that you had US$. The GF1 is an old camera. While some people still like it because of the design and layout, I think most would agree that a more recent camera would be better.

      Delete
  79. Hello,

    I've got the enormous 14-140mm mounted on my GF1. Except the dimensions, is the Pancake 14mm giving better end results ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have compared the two lenses here.. In my opinion, it is quite clear that the Lumix G 14mm lens is better than the Lumix G HD 14-140mm lens at 14mm.

      They probably focus similarly fast. The Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 has 1.3 stops larger aperture, which is useful. However, it does not have OIS, which could be a (small) problem when recording video.

      All in all, I think there is little doubt that the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 is better at 14mm.

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  80. Hello, nice review. I want to purchase GH2 or GH3 in near future. Which of the two lenses will be better for VIDEO ?? I am interested mainly in shooting VIDEOs outdoors and daily in good weather conditions, I don't need low-light lens. As I have read this review 14/2.5 looks better for me (for video shooting), but the one thing that worries me it is: lower sharpness. Finally, which to chose? The focal length (14 mm) is also better for me.

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    1. If video is your main interest, then I think the choice is quite clear: The Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 will be the best choice. I tend to find the 14mm field of view more useful for video as well, but that depends on the situation, of course.

      The 14mm lens is plenty sharp for video. No problems here.

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  81. I'm to photography and I've moving up from a PnS. I've recently bought an Olympus E-P2 body and looking for a lens. I do a lot of hiking, sight seeing and family events (indoors and out) .

    After reading this blog, I'm still indecisive. For now I'm only dishing money out for one lens so I'm trying to decide on one lens to do them all if not most.

    Cheers and thanks!

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    1. Why specifically are you looking for a new lens, beyond the kit zoom lens which probably came with your cameras? You could take a look in my lens buyers guide where I outline some reasons for getting new lenses, and the possible choices.

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  82. I am new to photography and looking to buy the Panasonic Lumix GF3. It comes with either 14 - 42mm and 45 - 200mm lens kit or 14mm and 14 - 42mm lens.kit. I will be taking photos mainly of my children (at first anyway). Which lens kits would you recommend? Also if I want to take close ups/portraits of them? There is so much information out there than I am getting confused over which one to get.
    Thanks

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    1. Its a tough choice. The 14mm and 14-42mm is probably a slightly more expensive kit out of the two. So which to choose?

      The 14-42mm lens is probably going to solve most of your needs. At 14mm, you get a good wide angle, capable of capturing a scene with some people at a fairly close distance. At 42mm, you can use the lens for portraits, at a distance of about 3-5 feet.

      My conclusion would be: If you can foresee the need for a very compact camera, then choose the kit with the 14mm and 14-42mm lenses. The 14mm lens is very compact, and allows you to bring the camera along in a small jacket pocket, for example.

      On the other hand, if you don't see the need for a compact camera, then get the kit with the 14-42mm and 45-200mm lenses. The 45-200mm lens is going to be slightly better for portraits and closeups. You can set it to 45mm for portraits at 3-5 feet, and zoom in if you are at a longer distance.

      On the other hand, the GF3 camera is quite small and not easy to hold with a big lens like the 45-200mm. So using the GF3+45-200mm combination will take a bit of getting used to. Its not impossible, not at all, but not as easy as with a smaller lens.

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    2. Thanks for your quick response. Just another question... I am considering buying the Panasonic Lumix GF3 but have just been recommended to look for a secondhand GF1 as they are better. Any thoughts?

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    3. Actually, I just ended up buying the GF3, so hope it's okay! :-)

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    4. I would certainly prefer the GF3 to the GF1, so I agree with your choice!

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  83. I am thinking of buying the GF6 or GX7. I am quite an amateur but try my best.

    Most of my photos are scenery (mountains, lakes, etc.) wildlife (sometime moving quite fast) and us, doing the scenery, wildlife, etc. I think I probably need a wider angle and a telezoom. Do you think the standard LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 II ASPH is sufficient for my needs, or should I buy just the body and get a better zoom and the 14mm pancake - or something completely different?

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    1. For wildlife, you are going to need a long lens. The standard kit zoom lens is not going to be sufficient.

      For those cameras, the best lens for wildlife will be the Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6.

      If you think the lens is too large or too expensive, I would recommend the Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6, but then, you may find that you are not able to zoom in long enough when taking pictures of birds or animals in the distance.

      I think you should go for the standard kit lens (Lumix 14-42mm II), and one of the tele zooms above. That would cover most of your needs. The 14-42mm lens is fine for landscapes.

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    2. Brilliant, thanks so much, the Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5 to go with the supplied kit 14-42mm II. Do you think I also need either the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 or Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake lenses?

      Finally, GF6 or GX7. I prefer the old-fashioned viewfinder rather than LCD display>

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    3. You could consider the Lumix G6 as an alternative to the GF6 and GX7. The G6 is very compact, capable, and reasonably priced. It has better ergonomy than the GF6 and GX7, in my opinion, with a good grip and a tiltable LCD, as well as a good viewfinder.

      As for the lenses, I'd say try to go without any of the prime lenses (14mm and 20mm) in the beginning.

      You could supplement with the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 later, if you want to try to take pictures indoor without a flash, or landscape images at dawn/dusk when the light is low.

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    4. thank you - much appreciated

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