Micro 4/3 PanLeica 25 vs Olympus 25 vs Panasonic 20

Apr 18, 2014
Boston Burbs
David
I just completed a comparison of the P14mm / PL15 / O17 / P12-32 in which I decided to hang on to the P14 for size and the PL15 for focal range, image quality/rendering, and a couple of handling points. One of those points is I'm getting use to bigger hoods that don't reverse and make it so I can just store the lens hood down in my bag and don't really NEED to put the front lens cap on.

But at the end I commented about reviewing 20-25mm options, so...... I'll start with what and why I'm looking at options and then reply here to @MoonMind's reply to that thread instead of diverting that thread.

I have the E-M1.2 and Pen F now, I also have the PL25 now. At the time I got the PL25 I didn't have the Pen F, I had a Fuji X-E3 for my smaller setup. So size, weight, and AF weren't an issue and I actually like the mid size primes on the E-M1.2. But that was last week (Ok last year, but so far 2020 been pretty :wtf: so...). So now I'm considering options again (I know :doh:). And yes I've own both the P20 and O25 a couples of times each. I'm still on my first PL25 that I've had for a little over a year. Advantages and disadvantages of each:

PL25 - Aperture of f/1.4 and rendering are the big pluses. Size, weight, and noisy AF are the big minuses.
O25 - Smaller, lighter, and silent / lighting quick AF. The slowest aperture and while very nice, it doesn't render as nicely. But unlike with the P20, if I got the O25 I could consider selling the PL25.
P20 - Pleasant rendering, in between the other two. Size and weight are BIG pluses. But AF speed, AF in low light, being not continuous AF compatible, and reports of banding are all issues. No this would never replace either of the others for a family get together when I'm trying to get quick snaps. But would it fit in my really small camera bag or a jacket pocket?

Since I just sold off a P12-32 and O17, I probably could pick up an O25 and P20 to compare. But what do others think?

And to reply to MoonMind:
Definitely interesting - and yes, another can of worms ... I ended up keeping the 20mm in spite of all alternatives, but the 25mm f/1.8 is one charming lens; that said, the new 25mm f/1.4 II seems to eat them all for breakfast. Unfortunately, it costs the equivalent of about $850 in Switzerland - so it's ridiculously overpriced ... (even if you can certainly get it cheaper, the official price makes acceptable offers completely improbable).

I know you're after small lenses, so I won't suggest the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 C - I do love that lens, especially on :mu43: where it doubles as a nice portrait lens, plus it has certainly helped keeping me from going after the 25mm f/1.4 II. But it's definitely not suitable for the frame you established.

Looking forward to the next discussion ;)

M.
The PL25 II might be of interest one day, but I'm fine with the version I for now. Prices over there always are a bit of a shock. I can get a new US version for about $700 and an import version for about $600. Maybe if AF noise and speed is actually improved I might be worth it.

Yes the Sigma 30 is too big for me. But the reason I'm thinking about the P20 is also because it's slightly wider than the 25's. It's a focal length that might work really well for a lot of what I shoot, but not for how does it really work for quick snaps and street? Am I going to have to finally learn how to zone focus?

But a bigger question might also be does it exhibit banding on Olympus bodies and under what conditions? Does anyone have some examples?

Anyway, time for more research.
 
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Apr 18, 2014
Boston Burbs
David
Well I posted over on mu43 a question about the P20 and banding, I got some interesting information. Armed with that I've decided to pick one up on the used market, it should be here Friday 6/12.

If ti works well I could see a really small kit of the Pen F + 20mm / 14mm / 9mm BCF.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Jan 19, 2015
One thing I remember from my m43 days is that with the pany 20 and 25 (Lumix) lenses it’s definitely not a case of one or the other, you need them both, they are sufficiently different in size, rendering and focal length. The bokeh on the 20 might actually be better than the 25(!). But the 25 has its own character which becomes apparent after using it for a while.

I never did get the oly 25 as I thought it would render the same as the 45. It’s quite special having a lens that doesn’t require pp all the time to get the look you want and this is what I was having to do everyone I used the 45. Doesn’t mean the oly 25/45 are bad lenses though, far from it. For their sizes they are quite frankly amazing.
 
Apr 18, 2014
Boston Burbs
David
One thing I remember from my m43 days is that with the pany 20 and 25 (Lumix) lenses it’s definitely not a case of one or the other, you need them both, they are sufficiently different in size, rendering and focal length. The bokeh on the 20 might actually be better than the 25(!). But the 25 has its own character which becomes apparent after using it for a while.

I never did get the oly 25 as I thought it would render the same as the 45. It’s quite special having a lens that doesn’t require pp all the time to get the look you want and this is what I was having to do everyone I used the 45. Doesn’t mean the oly 25/45 are bad lenses though, far from it. For their sizes they are quite frankly amazing.
Well with this purchase I'll have the P14, PL15, P20, PL25, and S56. The P25 is one lens I've actually never owned. I've owned the O25 (twice I believe), the O45, and the P42.5 (not the PL42.5). Something about the P25 has never appealed to me.
 
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Apr 18, 2014
Boston Burbs
David
Well just some samples from the new P20 and some thoughts.

It won't replace the P14, PL15, or PL25. Yes it's AF is notably slower than the others. So I was correct, it won't be my pick for street shooting with any action or movement or for family events trying to capture quick snaps. For those times any of the others are a better option.

But as I look over what I've shot the past couple years, the P20 will fit nicely as the Fuji 27mm did with the X-E3. Also the Pen F + P20 fits into my mini case so I will have two options when I go really small.

The PL25 vs O25 question is still there, from a few reviews I've seen and read the AF on the O25 is faster than the PL25. But I think the PL25 is fast enough and with the P20 I don't think I need the O25 for it's size benefit over the PL25.
 

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MiguelATF

Hall of Famer
Aug 27, 2013
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Miguel Tejada-Flores
I appreciate the thoughtfulness and detail of your comparisons, David.

I only have one thought to offer. I owned the 20mm and loved it - and also shot briefly with the PL25 and found it very very good. But some time ago I read a fascinating technical comparison of mu43's 25mm lenses which was done by the great photographic nerd, Roger Cicala of lensrentals - and his observations and conclusions are fascinating. Especially since, when all is said and done, the lens which most impressed him was the least expensive of the (25mm only) lot.....the Olympus 1.7

Reading his review really made me want to get a copy of the Oly, for my Pen F.
Here's the link to the review
 
Apr 18, 2014
Boston Burbs
David
I appreciate the thoughtfulness and detail of your comparisons, David.

I only have one thought to offer. I owned the 20mm and loved it - and also shot briefly with the PL25 and found it very very good. But some time ago I read a fascinating technical comparison of mu43's 25mm lenses which was done by the great photographic nerd, Roger Cicala of lensrentals - and his observations and conclusions are fascinating. Especially since, when all is said and done, the lens which most impressed him was the least expensive of the (25mm only) lot.....the Olympus 1.7

Reading his review really made me want to get a copy of the Oly, for my Pen F.
Here's the link to the review
I think that article is why I bought the last O25 I had. But I got it back when I had a GX85 and GM5. Then I got the E-M1.2 I found I preferred a little more substantial primes and sold the O25 for the PL25.
Me personally, though, I love a bargain, and in this case, I’d be willing to give up some aperture to get it. The little Olympus 25mm f/1.8 isn’t as wide an aperture as the others. Even stopped down, it’s not quite as sharp at the edges as either the Olympus Pro or the Panasonic Leica. But at that price and that small size, it’s a great bargain and a really good lens. This one surprised me in a very positive way.

Roger Cicala and Aaron CloszLensrentals.com January, 2018[
So did he actually like it better or was it the whole package including the "bargain" factor and that it surprised him that it was better than he expected?
 

MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
Switzerland
Matt
So did he actually like it better or was it the whole package including the "bargain" factor and that it surprised him that it was better than he expected?
More the latter than the former - though he stated it was a very good lens. The Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 still fared better stopped down, but he was very pleasantly surprised by the performance of the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 wide open. I was on the verge of buying the 25mm f/1.4 II, as some may remember, but the 25mm f/1.8 does more or less exactly what I want from a :mu43: prime - it's small, light and very, very good; not "best in class" good, but much better than such a small and light lens has any right to be. Yes, it's on the expensive side, but this is much more than just a "nifty fifty". Could it be a bit smoother? Well, yes, it could - but the things it gets right, it does very well indeed (sharpness and contrast where it counts, AF speed, size and weight). FWIW, I prefer it on the GX9 whereas the E-M5 III feels better with the much(!) bigger Sigma 30mm f/1.4 C (which, all things considered, isn't too big a lens, either).

I fully get why someone would stick with the Panasonic, though. I wouldn't sell the Panasonic to get the Olympus, either - especially if I also had the 20mm f/1.7. I own the 20mm f/1.7 (small, very nice IQ), the 25mm f/1.8 (fantastic middle-ground, no real downsides for its class) and the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 C (somewhat capricious, but superb when you play to its strengths). To justify the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 (II), I'd have to sell the Olympus and the Sigma ... but I'm quite fond of both lenses.

Bottom line: The 20mm f/1.7 and 25mm f/1.4 make a fine pair. The Olympus 25mm f/1.8 doesn't fall far behind the Panasonic 25mm, but mends almost all weaknesses of the Panasonic 20mm ...

M.
 

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