Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Panasonic 20mm f1.7 Lens

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 was one of those cameras that could be labelled “revolutionary”.  A micro 4/3 format mirrorless system that brought the fight squarely to the prosumer level DSLR market. Comparisons to the mid-range Nikon and Canon DSLRs abounded with superb image quality and fast autofocus all in a much lighter and smaller package. Canikon DSLR enthusiasts were ditching their heavy equipment in favour of this little gem in their droves as it also supported a huge range of very good glass too.

One of those lenses is the Panasonic 20mm f1.7. A prime pancake lens which gives a standard field of view with a small footprint and fast aperture making the body/lens combination a very neat package indeed.  Again, I stress that there are lots of technical reviews elsewhere on this lens and I’ll add some relevant links to the bottom of this post. This is my non-technical, non-too detailed opinion of the combination.

 copyright Dave Carter Photography

It’s a very neat package. Not quite small enough to slip into your trouser or shirt pocket but a larger jacket pocket would take it. The effective  FF equivalent 40mm focal length makes this ideal as a general walkaround image capturing tool and extremely good for street photography. One of the cons of smaller sensors is the greater difficulty in achieving a shallow depth of field, especially with standard focal lengths so a large minimum aperture is essential in order to get this with a m4/3 camera. The Panny 20mm, at f1.7 minimum aperture, is a fast lens. It’s small too The lens is constructed of high grade plastic which, let’s face it, is just as good as metal these days. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart and the focusing ring has a very nice smooth dampened glide to it accentuating the quality build.

As for the competition, it’s closest rival will be the Olympus 17mm f1.8. A slightly larger, more expensive lens and made of metal. However, the general concensus of opinion between the online officianados of such equipment seems to be that the Panny gives slightly better image quality but slightly worse AF performance. Panasonic also do the 25mm f1.4, an even faster lens but at an equivalent 50mm focal length, a slightly longer reach. That’s not enough for me to want to swap and this little pearl of a lens will be the one that lives on the OM-D for the foreseeable future.

Links to other reviews on this combo:

Peter Tsai, Ed Dombrowski,

My gallery of OOC jpegs:

Note: This blog is dynamic so I’ll be updating it from time to time.


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