14mm vs 20mm

Discussion in 'Micro Four Thirds Forum' started by miklesw, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. miklesw

    miklesw New to SC

    Jan 25, 2013
    I just got got myself the EPL5 (my first interchangeable lens camera) and I'm having a hard time decided what prime lens to buy. I've been researching the m43 primes and narrowed it down to the pany 14mm and 20mm.

    Basically my previous camera was a canon s95 (28mm equiv).. so I got used to having a wide angle at my disposal.

    Seems like general opinion is mostly in favour of the 20mm for it's sharpness and speed, however, I came across a post stating that the 20mm is not that great at focusing in low light, resulting in better low light performance with the 14mm. (Panasonic 20mm and 14mm in low light - Micro Four Thirds User Forum)

    It's also seems to be debated whether there's much of a jump in quality/performance between the 14mm and oly kit lens. After every research session, the decision get tougher and tougher!

    Considering i'm new to lens cameras, don't have a particularly steady hand and get quite pissed off when I can't get a decent photo in low light.. which one would be the best compromise as an all-round vacation/walkabout/indoor lens?
  2. You might consider the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 - while not cheap, excellent focus speed. Not as sharp as the 20mm but as good as the 14mm (from what I can gather). The other nice thing is the manual focus ring and depth of field scale which come in very nicely when using a lens in ultra-low light.

    I have the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 which I use from time to time with my E-P3 and OM-D but will be replacing it with an Olympus 17mm f/1.8
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    Real Name:
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I second the recommendation for the 17mm f1.8. Not quite as wide as the 14, but a great all-around focal length. Optically closer to the 20 than the 14, the fastest of the three for AF, and the manual focus ring is wonderful. Or if you really like wide, the 12mm f2.0 is a great lens, a notably wider than the 14, with all of the advantages of the 17, but VERY pricey.

  4. miklesw

    miklesw New to SC

    Jan 25, 2013
    Although 17mm would be the ideal focal length, the new 17mm is out of my budget :)

    I'm also looking for something compact, that's why i've narrowed it down to the 20mm and 14mm..

    I've seen lots of amazing photos taken using the 20mm...so I'm partially inclined to go for that, however, I'm a little concerned about the AF (especially after reading about the focus problems in low light).. seems pointless to have f1.7 if it can't focus at all...could be I'm not understanding completely how it will affect my photography.
  5. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Do we assume that with your new E-PL5 you have the kit zoom as well? That being the case, I would say the 20mm over the 14mm without hesitation.
  6. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Real Name:
    Kyle Krug
    Get both! The 14mm can be had on Ebay for around $150... mostly from Asian dealers that have pulled them from Panasonic kits. A great value, very good lens and fast focus.

    The 20/1.7 can be slow-ish to focus and hunt a bit in low light, but that is really only in comparison to the current m4/3 lenses (that seem to focus instantly). In the real world, though, it isn't too much different than my Nex-7. Definitely useable, and I think pretty hard to beat IQ-wise given the lens' size.
  7. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Real Name:
    Gary Ayala
    I rarely have any problems focusing in low light with the P20mm. I use single point and focus on a high contrast area ... and no problem. The P14mm is quite sharp as well. I echo Kyle that the focus issue may be exaggerated a bit. I wouldn't get both lenses, the FOV differences between the two is only a step or two. If you're new to an ILC, the 20mm is a very good starter lens.

    GF1 w/20mm, 1/40, f/1.7, ISO 1600

    GF1 w/14mm, 1/160, f/6.3, ISO 200

  8. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    Real Name:
    My personal choice would be the Panasonic 20/1.7, it really offers something over regular compacts (fairly shallow depth of field), and it's very compact and sharp to boot. Also the focal length is wide enough for environmental portraits or landscapes, but also narrow enough to get detail shots without too much wide angle warping, making it a very versatile focal length.

    Regarding autofocus: I tried it on an OM-D in a somewhat darkly lit store, and while AF wasn't as instantaneous as you sometimes see in video reviews of OM-D + more modern lenses, it was really fast enough for just about any situation outside of fast and unpredictable action. Cl.early faster than any compact I tried. E-PL5 should be the same.
  9. miklesw

    miklesw New to SC

    Jan 25, 2013
    Cheers guys. I've made up my mind, 20mm it is :)
  10. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    I have no problem focusing the 20mm in low light with an E-P1.