Monday, October 12, 2009

Panasonic 20mm lens (40mm-equivalent)


I'm a little disappointed that Panasonic's new compact prime lens (non-zoom) Micro-Four-Thirds 20mm F:1.7 does not have stabilization (or the camera body). It would be nice, because otherwise it's a real damn pleasant lens, physically and optically. It's the equivalent of a 40mm lens in 35mm film terms, and very compact.
(And the lens with the Panasonic GF1 actually fits in my pants pocket. Although visibly. "Is that a GF1 in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?")

But even though I think no stabilization is just stupid these days, I can live without it if I have to, in this case. For one thing, the lens is sharp at full opening. For another thing I have found out that if I'm not too rushed, I can take a sharp picture at 1/15 of a second, with a 40mm-equivalent lens. I honestly did not think I could. I used to get the occasional shaken picture at 1/125.
Either the cameras and shutters have gotten better, or I have. I suspect both are true.

Lookit this picture. At 400ISO, 1/15 second, F:1.7, hand-held. The picture looks like there was much more light than it looked like in reality. That end of the corridor is very dark. (Oh, obviously that is not a flash which is reflected on the door, I didn't use flash.)
I did not sharpen the picture in the computer, in the interest of objectiveness.



I used to think that if I had a "street camera" with just one lens and no zoom, it should have a 28mm lens or a 35mm. But I might just be coming around to Sally Mann's and Mike Johnston's position that there is something "Goldielocks" about a 40mm. It takes in the scene naturally. 50mm is a bit too long, it's a shame that it became the defacto "normal lens" for some reason or other, despite the diagonal of the 35mm format, 43mm, being closer to 40.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Monday, October 12, 2009   13 comments links to this post

13 Comments:

At 12 Oct 2009 17:25:00, Anonymous Stephen Gillette said...

I have also lamented the lack of IS on my otherwise fine (and bargain-priced) Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens. Used with an APS-C sensor, the lens is mildly telephoto, which further calls for IS.

However, with good results capable in low light at ISO 1600, like you, I have been surprised at the utility of flat-out lens speed, vs. image stabilization.

You may have seen today's (Oct. 12) post on The Online Photographer regarding the huge popularity of the Panasonic GF1 kit that includes the 40mm.

This seems to be the current killer combo kit (alliteration, anyone?) for the serious compacts club. Su-weeeeet!

 
At 12 Oct 2009 17:35:00, Blogger eolake said...

I just got the kit today. It really is sweet. And it actually fits in my pants pocket. (Although visibly. "Is that a GF1 in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?")

Yes, Mike told me a couple weeks ago that the GF1 already then was a champion seller for him.

 
At 12 Oct 2009 18:05:00, Anonymous Dave said...

That's a really fabulous little lens, check out our test results for it on SLRgear here.

Just amazingly sharp wide open, and CA is nicely low across most of the frame as well. (Of course, Panasonic corrects for CA in the Camera JPEGs.)

Vignetting is the biggest downside at f/1.7, but that's also easily corrected for. Really just an amazing little lens. (If I had any $ these days, I suspect I'd be buying a GF1 and a kit of their lenses: Stay tuned to IR, we're just in the process of finalizing our GF1 review, it's a great camera, apart from some oddness in rendering of orange through yellow hues - which it has in common with other Panny G-series models. Converting images in ACR or other good RAW converter largely eliminates that as an issue, though.)

- Dave E.

 
At 12 Oct 2009 19:01:00, Blogger TC [Girl] said...

Eolake said...
"Although visibly. "Is that a GF1 in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?""

"GREAT MINDS" think alike: I "went there" before reading yours! lol! (well...I'm sure that I'm not the only one but...FUNNY just the same! :-)

 
At 12 Oct 2009 22:28:00, Anonymous Patrick said...

Looks so nice, I'd love to have this paired with the GF1

 
At 13 Oct 2009 05:22:00, Anonymous Miserere said...

Either the cameras and shutters have gotten better, or I have. I suspect both are true.

Eolake,

The lack of a mirror slapping up and down undoubtedly helps stability too :-)

 
At 13 Oct 2009 10:11:00, Blogger eolake said...

It doesn't hurt for sure!
Helps with space, weight, and complexity too.

--
Patrick, right you are. And I have.

So now I also have two M4/3 bodies for those days I'm out with more than one lens. Kool.

 
At 13 Oct 2009 13:35:00, Blogger Charles said...

Just wanted to say, nice looking door. I love the ebony stained look. Not sure if I have seen that before, usually black means black paint. With the hardware, its smashing. ch

 
At 13 Oct 2009 13:51:00, Blogger eolake said...

Thanks, Charles.
I'm quite pleased with the door myself too.

Hard to see on this photo, but actually it's a very dark blue.
On the outside and from new, it is a very dark green, so dark that it has to be good light for people not to mistake that for black too.
But I painted the inside blue to match all the other doors in the apartment, when I painted those. It's a gorgeous, deep color.
And really I don't think that any of the doors, including this one (the front door) are actually even real wood. But they have the texture, and it shows through the paint in a very pleasing way.

 
At 13 Oct 2009 14:33:00, Blogger eolake said...

... I've made a post about it here.

 
At 15 Oct 2009 03:46:00, Anonymous Kabel Yaache said...

Again - take a Pentax K1000 loaded with Tri-X and meter, focus, interpret the scene, and expose the shot, and you'll learn a lot about photography.

Have you even EVER developed a roll of film? Or been in a real darkroom? Or push-processed film?

Once the stabilized auto-focus sharpness enhanced cameras hit the market, the actual photography aspect went away.

All the 'kit' in the world won't teach a damn thing about real photography. If you love it - learn it.

 
At 15 Oct 2009 07:36:00, Blogger eolake said...

"Have you even EVER developed a roll of film? Or been in a real darkroom?"

You betcha sweet ass. In the seventies I was more hours in the red light than I'll ever admit. I bought the film in bulk rolls too and loaded the cassettes myself.

 
At 15 Oct 2009 07:37:00, Blogger eolake said...

"Once the stabilized auto-focus sharpness enhanced cameras hit the market, the actual photography aspect went away."

The painters said exactly the same a hundred years ago when you started to be able to buy paint ready-mixed in tubes.

 

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