The Panasonic 20 1.7 II Lens on the Olympus E-P5

The Panasonic 20 1.7 II Lens on the Olympus E-P5


Hello to everyone out there in camera land! Today I am talking a little bit about a new version of a legendary lens and one that helped to propel Micro 4/3 to huge sales back when it was launched almost four years ago. The lens that when attached to an old E-P2 beat out a Nikon D3s with Nikon 50 1.8 in all areas back in Jan of 2010 right here on this very blog. Yes, I am talking about THAT lens, the Panasonic 20 1.7 but in its new updated version, which is called “VII”. This will be a shorter than normal post/review as this lens is basically the same exact lens as the version I that I have written so much about with a few tweaks. If you missed the original reviews you can see them at the links below:

When this lens was announced many of us thought “YES! Finally an improved version of the 20 1.7, but HOW can Panasonic improve on what is already a killer lens”? At least that is what I asked myself because I am a huge fan of the original, even though it has been beaten out in IQ from the newer and larger Panasonic/Leica 25 1.4. But for size and cost, the 20 1.7 and now 20 1.7 II is a force to be reckoned with and I know MANY who use this as their one and only lens for their Micro 4/3 camera. Yea, it is that good. So the question is..if you already own the original, is this one worth upgrading to? Well, read on and find out what I think about that 🙂


So what is really new with the lens?

The lens is small, looks great, has a metal barrel and mount and gives you a 40mm equivalent on Micro 4/3. The older version, which is still a capable and amazing lens, did NOT have a metal barrel, it was made of plastic. So right off the bat, this guy is made of metal even though it is still feather light and feels like plastic. The lens looks slicker and nicer. I always found the original a little on the ugly side with the grey and black so in all black it looks great. So far, a metal barrel is all that is new. But there HAS to be something else…right?


According to Panasonic, the only other change is that it supposedly has an improvement in the FLARE department but I found that claim to be off. My old 20 1.7 flared every now and again and I have seen flare in the new one within the 1st 5 shots I snapped. Is this just a fluke, shooting into the sunlight and seeing flare? Well, maybe but the Oly 17 1.8 does not do what this lens does with flare (in my experience/real use). So the 20 1.7 II lens still can exhibit flare. In regards to flare, I feel the Olympus 17 1.8 does better. Then again, if you are shooting on a Panasonic body I 100% recommend this lens over the Olympus.

The Flare is There! But the contrast, sharpness and color are rocking it wide open!

As always, click on ANY image to see the correct and larger version!



Panasonic has also stated that this lens will give a better contrast to your images, and I believe it. The results are crisp, have great color and look very good in the contrast department. That 20 1.7 look is there 🙂

Tasty color and contrast wide open. At 1.7 this lens beats the Olympus 17 1.8


Auto Focus

This has NOT been improved so the AF is still on the slower side for Micro 4/3 but guess what? It runs circles around the Fuji X-M1 and Zeiss 32 Touit I have here for AF – both speed and accuracy 🙂 But do not expect any improvement in auto focus speed over the old version. With that said, I never had an AF miss or issue. It locked on without fail in all situations. I shot it on an E-P5 the entire time. (which is a camera that has grown on me quite a bit..that EVF-4 is amazing).


This will equal a 40mm field of view with light gathering of a 1.7 Aperture lens. Sweet!

Yep, a 40mm field of view, which to be honest is a little oddball when you hear it but when you shoot, it feels natural. It’s in between the 35 and 50mm focal lengths and to me, this is a great in between to have. Just enough reach to get some nice shallow DOF and still wide enough to get quite a but in your frame.

A fast 1.7 aperture is why this 20mm lens is one of the original legendary choices for ANY Micro 4/3 system camera. You can use it in low light, bright light or any light. It is easy to hand hold and on the Olympus OMD or E-P5 the 5-Axis IS is INCREDIBLE with this lens. Superb!

Also, FYI,  I have been shooting it alongside the Olympus 17 1.8 and to be honest, this lens is giving me the better looking images even though I see more CA and flare with it over the Oly. With the 20 I am getting crisper results, as in “sharper” and cleaner with better contrast. The Oly is just a tad soft wide open and while I prefer the design of the Oly with the snap manual focus feature, for size, cost and IQ, this one is tough to beat. Also, the AF of the Olympus is faster.

You can read my Olympus 17 1.8 lens review HERE

Wide open at 1.7 but converted with VSCO to B&W using the AGFA SCALA 200 preset


So should I upgrade if I own the old one… and is Micro 4/3 the real deal?

Well, I would not do it because by the time you sell your original and pay for the new one you will be out about $200. Not worth it for a metal barrel and a contrast boost. But, if you LOVE the new slick look and want that extra bite to your images with the lens, then go for it. The truth is simple: Micro 4/3 is fantastic and those who call it rubbish, or no good, or a toy system or anything other than what it is are fooling only themselves. At the end of the day Micro 4/3, and especially cameras like the E-P5, OM-D and whatever is coming up from Panasonic and Olympus, are fantastic image taking machines. Some of my favorite images of the past 4 years were taken with an OM-D or Nikon V1, two systems many scoff at and call “garbage”.

This one was shot at f/2 where the lens gets really sharp while giving a nice smooth Bokeh – rich with plenty of depth.


Micro 4/3 vs the APS-C or Full Frame

Last week I made a post in my Facebook page for this website (you can see it or like it here) and I said that I was enjoying the new Fuji X-M1 more than the X-E1 or X-Pro 1 due to its tiny size and cool swivel screen. It is the size of an X20 but has a huge APS-C sensor inside, pretty incredible. At the same time I wondered if “that was enough” from Fuji due to the competition as the X-M1 is $700 for a pretty tiny and basic body that feels almost too light and airy (feels “cheap”..sorry, but my true opinion) and when the large Fuji X lenses are on the body it feels unbalanced. Someone replied “what competition, and I do not consider Micro 4/3 competition”. All I can say to that is in my experience, and that experience is pretty vast, I much prefer a camera like the OM-D, E-P5 or even my V1 and 18.5 and 32 1.2 to any of the Fuji X bodies. I even did a slew of personal comparisons, WANTING to enjoy the X-M1 more than these other cameras but it did not even come close. Not because of image quality, which can be gorgeous from the Fuji X..but in all areas that I look at when evaluating a camera.

To the naysayers of Micro 4/3 – this format is here to stay and the reason is simple. This system has the best lenses, and makes the least compromises while delivering stellar IQ and capabilities. Micro 4/3 today is miles better than it was 4 years ago and it gets better every year. Today, the files I get from an Olympus E-P5 and a lens like the 20 1.7 or 45 1.8 or 75 1.8 or 12 f/2 are as good as anyone needs. I know many pros shooting Micro 4/3, some of who dumped their large full frame DSLR’s to do so. Are they happy? YES, of course. The only thing a full frame camera will do over a Micro 4/3 camera is give a more shallow DOF, a richer file and better extreme high ISO performance (12k, 25k)  – in other words, ISO’s no one ever uses in reality.



Full Frame cameras like the Sony RX1R, Leica M and Nikon D800 are superior to the Micro 4/3 format, of course. But you also lose out on things like weight, size, cost, speed while gaining an adavantage in low light and shallow DOF. These days, cameras like the OM-D or E-P5 deliver superb performance and anyone who has researched this will agree, because they have to, the proof is there.

If you want the “best” and have a healthy budget – buy a full frame camera and be done with it (Leica M or RX1R). They can be BEAUTIFUL and usually are but they will cost you. They are superior in the IQ abilities, hands down. But if you want a slight compromise and want to save some money and do not need all of that insane power, this format is, IMO, the best there is in the mirrorless world. Yes, I prefer it to APS-C systems for three reasons. The three S’s.

  1. Size
  2. Speed
  3. (Lens) Selection

Micro 4/3 is smaller, faster, and has superior lenses and many more of them to choose from than any other mirrorless system.

The E-P5 and 20 1.7II next to the Fuji X-M1 and Zeiss Touit 32 1.8 I much prefer the Olympus/Panasonic setup that comes in at a few hundred less than the Fuji combo pictured.


For me, it takes four things for a camera to stick to motivate me and to make me WANT to go out and shoot at the crack of dawn.

  1. It must be made nice/built well with good control and it must feel good in my hand. Solid, giving me confidence in its ability. Not too large nor too small. 
  2. It must have fantastic usability. Accurate AF matters more than speed and it has to be able to be controlled easily. Issue free while out in the field in all areas.
  3. Image quality has to be good. I am not talking about “Bokeh” – but image quality in general. 
  4. Lens selection and quality has to be there. This is most important.

If I get all four of these things in a camera body then I am thrilled. Cameras that do this for me? Olympus OM-D E-M5, Olympus E-P5, Fuji X100s, Nikon V1 or V2, Sony NEX and Leica M series. Cameras that fail this test for me? Leica X-Vario, Fuji X-Pro 1 and X-E1, X-M1, Samsung NX300, and a few others. But this is ME, my opinions for how I like to shoot. Also, those cameras on the “did not do it for me list” were all amazing in IQ but failed me in other areas such as usability, design, AF, or something similar.

The 20 1.7II at 1.7


As for Fuji, the images from the Fuji give me different color and slightly more shallow DOF but I can achieve images that are just as nice, or powerful with a Micro 4/3 camera or even Nikon 1 camera. Same goes for my Sony or Leica cameras. The moral of the story is that ALL cameras are fantastic these days and I use and recommend what I enjoy using. Micro 4/3 has come a long way since the early days of the E-P1 and GF1 and the Fuji X system cam provide jaw dropping results.

But Micro 4/3..In the mirrorless world they have the fastest focus, the best image stabilisation, the best prime lenses available, the best made/built bodies, superb usability, fantastic viewfinders and astonishing versatility. I am mainly talking about the Olympus E-P5 and OM-D series due to what they offer. 

So Micro 4/3 is here and here to stay. They do not need, nor will they ever have larger sensors. If that were the case, it would no longer be micro 4/3. The newest bodies supply the tools needed for amazing output and if the photographer is up to the task, can squeeze out special images just as easily as one can using a full frame camera.

I have used and tested them all my friends and Micro 4/3 is no joke. 


Pros and Cons of the new 20 1.7 II Lens


  • It is small and flat, a pancake lens
  • It is sharp even wide open with great contrast and color
  • Looks great in the all new slick black or silver colors
  • Metal Barrel
  • Works great on Olympus or Panasonic bodies!


  • Same IQ and AF speed of the original
  • Can flare in some circumstances
  • Does exhibit CA wide open in some situations
  • No real improvement over the old version






Three shots, one with the E-P5,  and 20 1.7 II ($1450 combo), one with the Nikon V1 and 18.5 1.8 ($430 combo) and one with the Fuji X-M1 and 32 1.8 Zeiss ($1600 combo). It is easy squeezy to spot the Fuji as it does have that signature Fuji color and a more shallow DOF and a biting sharpness. With that said, of all three cameras I enjoy shooting the E-P5 the most with the V1 just behind it. TheHad a frustrating day with it today and out of 12 shots taken of the cows with the Fuji, 7 were in focus. The E-P5 and Nikon had zero missed AF shots. The images below are all looking good IMO and my fave came from the Nikon 1 and 18.5. 🙂




With that rant out of the way, this new Panasonic 20 1.7 II is a joy to use and gives stupendous output and should do very well on the new Panasonic GX7 or any of the Micro 4/3 bodies available today.


If you own a Micro 4/3 camera and DO NOT own this lens or the Panasonic 25 1.4, I HIGHLY recommend this lens, without a shred of doubt! It sells for $429 and can be purchased at the links below from my recommended shops:

Buy the 20 1.7 II in black at Amazon or B&H Photo

Buy the 20 1.7 II in Silver at Amazon of B&H Photo

You can buy the Olympus E-P5 at, B&H Photo or Amazon









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  1. Hi. I thinking in buy the new Panasonic Lumix g7 (currently I have a G3). But I’m looking for a new lens, sepcial high apertre lens. There so much from panasonic (20mm/F1.7, 15mm/F1.7, 2mm5/F1.4, 42.5/F1.2. I need to know how to decide..I wana do some portraits, indoor, casual photos of people in street.

  2. “Yep, a 40mm field of view, which to be honest is a little oddball when you hear it but when you shoot, it feels natural. It’s in between the 35 and 50mm focal lengths and to me, this is a great in between to have. Just enough reach to get some nice shallow DOF and still wide enough to get quite a but in your frame.”

    From the old film days it was a very common focal length for compact fixed lenses camera’s, all between 35mm and 50mm. It is somehow close to what our sight perceives.

    Minolta made many compact Hi-Matics with 45 / 40mm 1.8 / 1.7 lenses as wel as their competition.
    the “family/holiday shooting” length?

    (the standards for changeables were/are like 24, 28, 35, 50, 85, 105, 135 but also smaller, longer and in between)

  3. Both the old (Version I) and the new (Version II) P20/1.7 lenses will not disappoint. I got a used VI like-new on Fleabay (pardon my French…) in part due to your original review of it. Even on my “ancient” but still quite capable Oly E-PL1 it can produce better IQ than I am as a photog. Its small size, aka a “pancake,” fast f1.7 aperture and superb sharpness and contrast make it a real gem. Thanks for your honesty in this updated review of VII. Panny made some changes but the IQ and focusing speed weren’t in them really. Regardless, either version will not disappoint … unless one is a gear nitpicker.

  4. Hi there Steve!.. I have the E-P5 as well and I’m just curious how much noise does this lens do when autofocusing in video mode. I plan on doing both video and stills with it (about 50/50) but I see a lot of reviews complaining of the autofocus “buzzing” (using Panasonic bodies). I am hoping that maybe the E-P5 has the mic in some other position that would minimize the noise – or am I daydreaming here? Thanks!

      • Thanks! My first choice for a fast standard prime was the 17mm 1.8, but the little extra on the sharpness of this lens got me thinking – up until I read about the buzzing of the AF (a pitty that Panasonic released a mk2 of the lens and did not fix the major flaw people found with it).

  5. Great post Steve. I enjoy reading all your posts. I am looking to upgrade from compact/bridge cameras to MFT and checking out the various lenses available. MFT lenses are at the bottom if I look at the Dxomark lens ratings. Even the above lens you reviewed is closer to Poor rating than excellent rating. But it seems to be one excellent lens based on real world reviews (by both users and experts). I am trying to understand how much importance should I give to Dxomark ratings and why do MFT lenses fare poorer in that. Appreciate your response. Happy holidays!

  6. Hey guys/Steve, excellent page here, great review on a cracking looking lens i know i’m a bit late off the mark in reply to this review, but am really looking for some advice on to go for this as a kit lens with the Panasonic gx7, what’s everyone’s thoughts, much appreciated for any responses

  7. Hi Steve, I heed your advise last time and bought an EP3, with a Pana 20mm to go with it. However due to the slow AF of the 20mm I sold it and replaced by the Oly 17mm.

    However I still prefer the punchier color of Pana 20mm than the 17mm. Would the AF of a 20mm on an EP5 on par with a 17mm on an EP3?

    Kindly advise. Thank you very much.

  8. I think the contrast of the Panasonic 20mm is too high. It gives images a harsh processed look. I prefer the lower contrast of the Olympus 1mm f/1.8. It’s as sharp it leaves more room for processing and it gives more naturally looking photos.

  9. Hi Steve,

    Please keep up the good work, I believe that your crazy comparisons are never as crazy as they appear!

    One note regarding your review of that new Lumix 20mm f/1.7 v2… You mentioned something that kept bugging me, until now: “So far, a metal barrel is all that is new. But there HAS to be something else…right? According to Panasonic, the only other change is that it supposedly has an improvement in the FLARE department but I found that claim to be off. My old 20 1.7 flared every now and again and I have seen flare in the new one within the 1st 5 shots I snapped. Is this just a fluke, shooting into the sunlight and seeing flare?”

    Please go see Blunty’s comparison btw a GX7 w/ a new 20mm versus a GH3 w/ the old one ( ), and look carefully at the stills within the presented video btw 1:10 & 1:14 Elsewhere, perhaps.

    Q. : E-P5 or GX7 or E-M1… I eventually want both (my head says: “Go Oly Pro, due to its overall balancing act of the 4/3 & m/43 realms, its modern look, its high speed, its sturdiness, etc.”, while my heart says: “No, for once try a Lumix instead because it seems pretty cool, fits like a glove, is light, feels relatively fast and so nimble, has unfamiliar Art filters too!”) But strategically speaking, which one to buy at full price first first? Seriously, as opposed to the mass, I view the whole debate GX7 versus E-M1 as quite relevant…

  10. I bought the 1.7 20mm ASPH II lens a couple of weeks ago, and I love it.

    Ever since I bought the Panasonic G2 with the kit zoom in 2011, I have been frustrated when I try to take photos indoors. There always seems to be a little blur even on the best aperture setting.

    The 1.7 has essentially eliminated that problem. As long as there is daylight coming in or an overhead light turned on, I can get an adequate shutter speed.

    Here is a shot I took at night using only the available outside lights on a church building.

    And here is one I took indoors with only a little bit of ambient daylight:

  11. I’m interested to know if the Pana 20mm 1.7 II has a smoother focus ring? I really love the Olympus lenses for their wonderfully smooth manual focus rings – the Pana lenses are a little tight IMHO. How does the newer Pana lens compare? Thanks!!!

  12. So when I got my EP-3, I had a nice plan of getting 2-3 lens right away. But justifying the cost of buying multiple lens over saving money for emergency is becoming harder as time goes. So if I go for just one lens which should I buy? This lens or panasonic 25mm 1.4? I mainly take picture of people (mostly one/two person shots, many times kids, some group shots) and landscape every once in a while. I like the wider angle of 20mm, but like the 25mm bokeh which would make my children/portrait photography better. I know 45mm is a better portrait lens and eventually I’ll get it, but now I can only afford one to get everything done. Plus having not to change lens is much more appealing. I’ll still keep my kit lens (14-42).

  13. Love the 40mm angle of view , love the 40mm pancake on my 5dmkii so much that I am seriously considering this lens for my olympus epl1.

    • Looks good on epl1


  14. Personally, I’m very disappointed in Panasonic with this lens. The lens still produces high ISO banding:

    Why have a fast, light, and portable lens that claims to be a great low light carry all lens when banding is visible at high ISO? The old lens was great if not for this ever present issue.

    They missed the boat on this one.

  15. Steve,

    I’m about to purchase my first micro 4/3s camera (The olympus epl5) and was wondering which prime you would suggest: The 20mm 1.7 or the 17mm 1.8. Is the better build, better looks (IMHO), and faster autofocus of the oly worth the extra $70 and the mild loss in IQ?


  16. Thanks for the review. I agree with your editorial that micro 4/3 cameras can take beautiful, professional photos. They are outstanding tools for the most photographic tasks.

    Full frame DSLRs are more “flexible” anchors in a system. If you’re shooting wildlife you need good continuous AF, and dangerous wildlife requires loooong lenses. Professional architectural photography often requires lenses with movements. The big two have killer (and expensive) flash systems for studio strobists. The dynamic range of some of the best DSLRs is fantastic for certain landscape situations. ETC, ETC. But for most purposes, a full frame DSLR is not necessary. I don’t need one right now.

    As an aside, I think that the Japanese government should mandate focus peaking in all new camera bodies. 🙂 Focus peaking with magnification has been a manual focus revelation for me and has opened up great new macro possibilities for me.

  17. Hi Steve,

    I owned the previous version before (already sold) and love this lens very much,

    now I’m considering to choose 17mm or 20mm ii for my E-P5,

    the only thing I really concern about the 20mm is the high iso banding issue,

    could you have some test shots in several low light conditions,

    and reverse the colors (turns out like x-ray film) to check if the banding issue exists below ISO 1600?

    Thank you very much!

    • I only had the lens for a few days, so this was a quick review. As for banding, if you have to reverse the colors to see it, then why would it matter? Do you regularly reverse colors in your photos? I shot up to 1600 and saw zero banding. I did not go over 1600 as there was no need to indoor or out. But no, I saw no banding on the E-P5. If it is an issue where you physically see banding at high ISO’s then that would be a reason to consider the 17 1.8. Buy one, if it shows banding return it. Easy squeezy.

      • I’m sorry to report that there is excessive banding even at ISO 1600 in 20+ photos I’ve taken with a combination of the P20 and my E-PL5. It sucks, and I decided to sell the P20 and get the O17/1.8 instead.

    • I always do when I mention the AF being slow on the Fuji cameras in comparison to others. I always get “you just do not know how to use it”, which is a joke. I had an X-Pro 1 in daily use for 3 months, an X-E1 on three occasions with months of use and the X-M1 as well. They all had focus quirks that irritated me when compared to other cameras such as those from Olympus, Sony, etc. Fuji is at the bottom when it comes to AF speed and accuracy as well as build (for their X Bodies). The X100/X100s is much better IMO.

      But the Fuji crowd always gets upset with me and why is that? Because they all love and adore their Fuji’s so it hurts their feelings when I say an Olympus can focus faster and more accurate. They will deny that is a fact to their grave so it doesnt matter but it does give me more traffic, so I do not complain. Instead I smile, but I will always tell the truth no matter who gets upset whether that is users, manufacturers or whoever.

      I do not run this site to cater to any one camera user, but I run it to tell my experiences with all of these cameras. Real experience. If I never used any other camera besides a Fuji X-E1 and 35 1.4 I would think it was amazing. Since I get to compare to everything else I know that they lack in certain areas, AF being the big one. Build being the 2nd. I could lie and say they are the most amazing mirrorless camera ever, (even beating Leica as many Fuji users say) and sell a ton through links and make extra money but then I would be lying, and that would be wring. At least I would not feel right about it.

      So let then get upset, doesn’t change the reality. I never said the Fuji’s were bad cameras, just said they lag behind in AF speed and Accuracy, and yes, they do (all expect the X100s).

  18. Bought a 20mm/1.7 to compare with 25mm/1.4, decided to return even though it’s considerably smaller, lighter and less expensive—had a great deal at $339 (new).
    AF did it in. Also I much preferred looks of pics taken from 25mm (and video too).
    Thanks for the review–convinced me no need to pick up the version II.
    Too bad that Panny doesn’t address a key issue.
    I think the new Olympus zoom 12-40/2.8 will be exciting, it’ll be great for families taking high-quality pictures/videos indoors. The look is attractive too. Check it out if anyone hasn’t yet:

  19. Like Steve, my favorite cameras the Nikon v1 and the E-P5. Both have a superb range of lenses. The E-P5 is the most ergonomic camera I’ve tried in any mirrorless format. Don’t have to think about the controls when you line up a shot because they’re right at your fingertips.

  20. Nice review. I know I been hard on you in the past about the plastic feel vs build quialty but that was before I held an OM-D. Omg, it felt like my old pentax camera and feels like a tank. It was something I had been waiting for a long time.

    I am thinking to stop buying stuff for my Sony (nex and a99) cameras and start saving (selling off a99) for an omd em1. I think I might enjoy m43 more because of the smaller size and faster AF.

  21. I’ve just come back from my sister’s wedding and shot the whole thing on the OM-D and virtually just the 20mm F/1.7. Having my Nikon FX DSLR undergoing repairs was the catalyst that spurred me to get into Micro 4/3rds last week and buy an Olympus OM-D, 45mm F/1.8 and Pany 20mm F/1.7 My first few shots at a wildlife park impressed the hell out of me for this format and the lenses. The first shot at the link below was taken with the Pany 20mm. Very sharp lens.

  22. Steve

    Interesting review of the new lens and I like the artistic use of the flair to demonstrate the effect. Though I suspect you had to work a little to get this effect. Personally, to limit the possible flare effects, I use a 46mm to 52mm step up ring as a lens shade, which has an added benefit of letting me use other filters I own such as a polarizer.

    I have the original lens and it was my most used lens on a recent trip to Italy, even over my Leica 35 Summicron and M7.

  23. Very interesting but am I so really old fashioned, over eighty, to want a distance and depth of focus scale on a prime lens
    Jim Felt is so very right when he comments on aspect ratios”s. No one seems to mention in their reviews of the Panasonic GX7 the rear screen is not 4thirds and the viewfinder shows 4thirds with a black border so I assume the image is smaller unlike the EVF4.

    • Very sorry, but I can only see a bunch of relatively unsharp pictures here.
      Miles below any Leica.

      • Then you really do not knowhow to judge images. I own an M240, and have had an M9 for 3 years. What comes out of a camera like the E-P5 and 20 1.7II are just as sharp as what comes out of a Leica M 240, in some cases sharper and in others not quite as. The only differences you will see are file size, and depth of field differences. Color is better from the E-P5 than the M240 (remember, I own both and adore both brands) and the E-P5 is more reliable. So your statement could not be more incorrect but it is expected from those who really only love Leica. Today most cameras compete with each other once you get to this level and just because a Leica costs $7000 does not mean it is superior in IQ. This was true with the M9 in the M9 era, but not so much today. Leica is superior due to being full frame which gives the benefits of full frame (DR, DOF, Noise) as well as being able to use the best lenses in the world as they were meant to be used. But the M 240 sensor is not much different than what is in other cameras today. What you get from the 240 is the uniqueness of using an RF, not so much superior sharpness or color, etc.

        The E-P5 and the 20 1.7II are superb – sharp as a tac wide open (which is where all of these were shot) and focuses pretty fast on the E-P5.

        I am not a fan when people spread misinformation due to the fact that they hate other brands because they shoot another. I have no brand preference, I like most as long as they put out a quality product and I judge each one on what they can do and how they are made and how they feel when using them. The E-P5 combo is pretty damn nice in use, one of the best mirrorless cameras available today. I’d take it over an X-Vario even if the cost was the same, and I love Leica 🙂

        Thanks for reading

        • Mr. Huff.

          I’d prefer the word “moron” but I suppose to be more polite I’ll just quote the Doors “People are Strange”…

        • Hi, Steve,
          thank you for your extensive reply.
          You might be surprised to hear that I am professionally involved in lens design.
          It would be a pleasure to meet you at the next Photokina (seriously!).
          Until then, keep up the good work.
          It is most interesting to study your pages regularly, and I can also learn from you:
          Your test shots of the Sony NEX 7 vs .Ricoh GXR with M front end and the Voigtländer Heliar 4,5/15mm prompted me to buy the Ricoh…superb! I use it every day, with this unbeatable Heliar.
          Kind regards, M 8 Guru

          • The fact that you are professionally dealing with lens design does not give your above derogatory and unsubstantiated statement any more credibility. (And no, I have no 20mm Pana lens skim in the game, to the contrary, I own several Leica M lenses along with two Leica RF bodies).

  24. Hello from France Steeve.
    You are the truth !!! :p

    After shooting for years with Aps-c dslr (nikon D80 D90 D300 D7000 – canon 60D – Fuji S5) i came with MFT afger reading your reviews of the Ep3….and what a joy. I’ve found a good deal with an Ep3 and several month later sold my dslr system and get the OMD yesssssssssssss !!!
    Only wiht prime 14 pana / 20 pana / 45 oly
    Now i’m a happy shooter, light system, good enough (very good), fun to use.
    Long life to MFT and you.

  25. Sorry Steve, I am not buying that you could not focus properly with the Fuji and got so many out of focus, it’s either you did that on purpose to prove your point by holding the camera and clicking or you really don’t know, I think the former than the later….

    • Well, I believe it easily, as I have the same experience (on both X-Pro and XE-1), and in more difficult lighting conditions (sunset, shot into light or against white background), I would say it’s close to 70% misfocus, if there is focus at all. I find the focusing on the X series so frustrating that I often don’t want to take it out anymore. I do not see major improvements with the firmware, and just do not want to defend this camera system anymore, as it has major issues.

      • OP. Let’s call it for what it is. Fuji’s Achille’s Heel is its focusing. I own the X-Pro1 and while FW V3.01 make the camera behave like it’s a different camera from V1.0, it is still admittedly slower compared to the competition. The Nikon V1 puts it to shame. Heck even the X20 just gets out of the way and just takes the shot. Period. The X-Pro1 is (not so) slow and temperamental. I’m the first to nod my head when someone says focusing on the X-Pro1 is a challenge. But it also surprises me a lot of times that when it gets it right, it’s amazing. For people to with slow and purposeful technique, I’m sure they’ll ask what the problem is. With purposeful technique, you’ll have a high hit rate and tac sharp images. But for people who just wants the camera to get out of the way and let them concentrate on the shot rather than having to have a special technique, then this camera will never sit well with them. Most photographers will agree that a camera that gets out of the way and let them go on with the shot will always be the first one then take with them. M43 will always have that focus speed and hit rate advantage over Fuji or other larger sensor cameras because of the DOF or lack thereof. The accuracy of the algorithm will not penalize it. I even see the difference in focus speed between f/1.4 and f/4.0.

    • I only speak the truth, if you want to block it out or disbelieve because you are a Fuji fan, that is your choice. If you had the X-M1 with Zeiss 32 alongside the E-P5 and 20 1.7II you would see exactly what I mean. But since you do not have these setups side by side you do not. Instead you come here and tell me I am lying, which is quite funny to me. The facts are facts and if you do not want to believe it, you do not have to but it is the truth. To me, all of the Fuji X bodies (not the X100s) feel like beta pre-release products. I think that when they release NEW bodies (X-Pro 2, X-E2, etc) we will see improvements, but not until then. Of all the mirror less I shoot, Fuji is the slowest and most inaccurate to focus. If it was amazing and gave me no issues I would own one of the Fuji bodies. I love Fuji but no matter who makes a camera, if it is not up to par I say so. Same with the Leica X-Vario. I love Leica but say it like it is. Not everyone likes this because they take offense when I say something negative about the camera THEY shoot but that is just how it is. Thanks and enjoy your camera, whatever it may be.


  26. A major factor with MFTfrom my POV is the ability to get shots otherwise impossible with a DSLR. I work with a helicopter company which as you can imagine can be a demanding with no chance for retakes and little option (or wish) for tripods and mounts. MFT’s lightweight fast zooms, hybrid video and stills capabilities are game changers. I use two GH3’s with the Panny 12-35 and 35-100 f2.8’s as general work horses with some of the usual primes when situations allow. Recently I used the original 20mm on the GH3 in 24p 72mbps video mode and the results were outstanding and certainly special.

  27. I think most of the above reasons making m4/3 the ‘best mirrorless system’ are going to be marginalized in the near future. Fuji has a very well-thought-out lineup of lenses, and the roadmap shows pretty much all gaps being filled by Q1 2014. m4/3 has more lenses but overall the lineup shows less cohesion and poorer product planning especially on the Olympus side (the only reason I can think of why the premium lenses are mostly lacking in weather-sealing). In addition, m4/3 is still missing a reasonably-priced high-quality wide/normal zoom – the XF 18-55mm is excellent and an absolute bargain, especially when purchased in a kit.

    Considering how good Fuji’s first generation offering actually is, and if they continue to progress at their current rate, I think we can expect most or all operational issues to be fully sorted by the next generation. I currently have both m4/3 and Fuji systems, but I’m much more excited where Fuji is going and it’s clear they have a much stronger product vision and know better how to reconcile the desire for a classic/manual experience without losing any of the modern gadgetry. After close to a decade with Olympus (which, when looking back seems more like Stockholm Syndrome than being loyal to the brand) Fuji seems like a breath of fresh air.

  28. Steve: I have had the original 20 since it first came out and have always been bothered by the noise of the focusing motor. Has this been improved in the new model. Video was impossible due to this noise.

    • The aperture chatter is more of a concern to me than the focus motor, but I have version 1. Still love it and completely agree the IQ is stellar.

  29. It’s not the OM-D you have next to the Fuji.

    If there is no real improvement from the original, than I don’t think it’s better than the Olympus 17mm f1.8.

    • The 20 1.7 is sharper at 1.7 than the Olympus is at 1.8. The Olympus will show more distortion on a Panasonic body where it is not corrected. The Panasonic will not show any on the Oly or Panasonic bodies. Technically, IQ wise, the Panasonic beats the Olympus. I had them both here and used them both. I have used the 17 for months. The 20 1.7 is sharper with more contrast and deeper colors. The 17 will AF faster but it is not night and day, but it is faster. The Olympus is latrger as well. Also has the snap MF feature. If I were to buy one fresh, it would be the Panasonic after I thought about it and looked at my results.

      • We’ll have to agree to disagree than, Steve. I own both lenses too (20mm mk1). 17mm on my OM-D is tack sharp (wide open or not), with a lot of punch on the contrast. I may be sold on the contrast of the new 20mm, but that is something you can add to on post.

        I appreciate your review. Thank you for giving your professional input on the things you get to try, for all of us. But I’m gonna stick with what I said. Have a great weekend!

  30. I forgot to mention. I too, like some others, am disappointed that the focus issue was not addressed. I love this lens, but it can be frustrating indoors. I usually keep the Pana/Leica 25 on the camera, but the compactness of the 20mm is really nice sometimes. I know, it’s a little nit picky, but I think I’m going to sell the 20 and get the Oly 17.

    • Use this on an E-P5 or OM-D and there are no focus issues. It’s plenty fast, faster than any Fuji lens. If using on an older body it may be slow but its quite fast on the E-P5 at least.

  31. As always, great post! I am loving m43! There was a time that I was frustrated with it, and missing my Canon gear. However, once I got the E-M5 it was game over.

  32. Hi Steve,
    From what I heard, the focusing elements are all internal with the new casing, another minor update from the version 1. Is this true? Its a very minor thing to this really wonderful lens, but the retracting design of version 1 prevents the use of step up rings for the filter mount – which is unfortunate because since most of my lenses are 49mm, and my 25 1.4 doesn’t have this problem, I need to get 46mm filters specially for the 20mm. Probably not enough of a reason for me to get the updated version, but wanted to know if that was true.

  33. You almost have me convinced. I need more speed, though, particularly in C-AF. (Shooting special needs kids is like being a sports photographer, except you get tackled more.)

    I sold the OMD and went back to an old DSLR, because I was losing too many shots in low light. I can’t wait to see your review of the new Panny and Olympus MFT models.

    • For light the new Panasonic camera is amazing (GH3, G6, GF6 got -3EV, better than 70D’s -0.5 EV and same as 6D’s -3EV), I can almost lock focus on dim light with GH3 and 12-35mm after I press shutter, where else my E-P5 +17mm sometimes need more confirmation before locking focus, my friend’s 600D also takes a good few seconds before confirm focus

      The new GX7 with -4 EV will be even better for low light AF

    • Why do you need to be convinced?

      If C-AF is very important to you then you should be using a DSLR.

      This may change in the future.

      There is plenty of room for different systems with different strengths and weaknesses.

      • Ash, I never meant to imply that it was Steve’s job to convince me, just that I enjoy his reviews. Oly and Panny are the ones that need to convince people.

  34. Hi Steve,
    I think you are completely right about the lenses. The amount of lenses available for m43 (with the future addition of 43 lenses) is absolutely mental/insane 🙂 I think the only one missing is a high quality 8mm prime (not fisheye).

    However, the lens that I am really excited about is the new 42.5 f1.2 Nocticron Pana/Leica.
    Nocticron 🙂 I have to say, I like this name. Also f1.2. This will be a beautiful monster 🙂 I love my Oly 45 f1.8. But I don’t know if I will be able to resist this one. Have a look if you haven’t seen it before:

    Also, there is the Voigtlander Nokton 42.5 F0.95, which is in stock now at BH photo.

    You can probably guess, that I (probably most m43 users) would love to see a comparison of these three lenses :). Hope you can make this happen for us.


    • Ive seen/read about it and have the 42.5 0.95, using it on the E-P5 and it is GORGEOUS. Id take this over the Panasonic 42 1.2 just for the precision, build and feel and 0.95. Review soon.

      • Awesome!!! Thanks 🙂

        And I’m sure you will review the Nocticron too in the future 🙂

  35. Well said Steve. M4/3 is a killer system, the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 one of the best lenses made for digital ever. I use an OM-D now, but some of the best pictures I’ve ever taken, film or digital, were shot with an EP-1 and the 20mm lens.

  36. i have the older version of the 20mm . . . it has some strong attributes . . . focusing speed is not one of them and in other than optimum conditions it’s focusing ability downright “sucks” . . . . to have given it a new “coat of paint” without addressing that issue seems pretty lame to me . . . imo the new 17mm 1.8 is so much more satisfying to work with that these days the 20mm is pretty much sidelined . . . and not to hijack the thread but i wanna ask if anyone whose using the e-p5 with the VF-4 has noticed that when looking through view finder that there’s often an odd kind of “wavy” effect almost like subtle heat waves that you see on a highway on a hot day . . . . and that when pointing at certain subjects (a bamboo blind with many thin slats comes to mind) it gets particularly “odd” (sorry for being vague) . . . i tried a old VF-2 for comparison and see the same thing so i’m thinking it’s a function of the camera rather than the view finder but it’s in the viewfinder that the effect is noticeable ( and certainly not in the files ) . . . . has anyone else see anything that reminds them of what i’m saying ?

      • thanks to olympus tech support i finally got my issue with the whacky effects in the view finder resolved . . . . it was as they put it a “counter intuitive” setting buried in the gears menu . . . . and for the record i frequently use this camera (as i did an e-p2 / OMD before) with a schneider 25mm 0.95 . . . . talk about gorgeous ? wanna talk about kicking the noctilux’s ass 🙂

    • Someone that don’t want to compromise with IQ in low light, miss a shot caused by slow AF, don’t appreciate shallow DOF too much, aren’t interested in shadow detail/high light preservation or general ease/uncompromising shooting – I don’t know.

  37. Hi Steve, a very good article. Its a pity Panasonic did not see fit improving the AF of this lens on the second iteration. That would have been the icing on the cake. As it is, there’s no reason to replace the original one with the new version.

    I could not agree more regarding your thoughts on m43 being the best mirrorless system all around. But, lets be honest, its only in the current generation of cameras that the system has matured. Not that long ago, AF speed was so, so, ISO above 640 was practically useless…you get the idea. There were too many compromises. It was a great portable system, with small and great lenses, let down by IQ and AF.

    Not anymore. I feel like my E-M5 is such a great camera, i don’t feel the need for upgrading to anything else, the image stabilization is just amazing, the tactile feel is great, IQ is at least on par with my (now long gone) Canon 7D (but with better colors!), weatherproofed, etc. A great powerhorse.

    If anything could be copied from the FUJIs, I’d love to have an m43 camera with proper shutter and aperture dials. We are photographers, we should be able to quickly and easily control LIGHT, and, sometimes, being able to know exactly how the camera is set up without raising it to eye level (heck, without even turning it on) is most valuable.

  38. Hi Steve, thanks for this review. I have the 17/1.8 and the 25/1.4, so kind of skipped the 20, but wish I had a reason to get it.

    One thing your picture comparing the xm1 and ep5 got me thinking about is that, if you take off the evf on the Oly, and put on the 25/1.4, the sizes of the two systems would be really, really close.

    Build quality of the OMD is top notch, and the Fuji cameras seem to be a bit plasticky compared to it (even the X100), but is it the same on the EP5? I would hate to go to a non weather-sealed body now that I have a decent one, but the WR lens selection is still an issue until the new King of m4/3 and 4/3 comes out.

    It seems like for some folks, the increase in high ISO performance is going to make a difference when going to APSC — even at ISO 800 or 1600, which is used pretty often by enthusiasts in natural light situations (but not by a pro in a studio). I still haven’t found a solution for really high IQ prints at slightly larger sizes (like 16×20) with OMD when the ISO gets pushed above 400-800, and even in that range I have to be careful not to underexpose during capture. On the other hand, I’ve got two large prints from the tiny X20 including one at base ISO and one at higher ISO because the XTrans sensors, even the 2/3″ one, produce much sharper images than I expect from less than FF sensors.

    This is starting to get too wordy, so just one more observation. Another factor in choosing a camera seems to be that there is a change in “compressed” perspective at equivalent focal lengths with larger sensors (less compression of perspective with the larger sensor, since, as in the Touit comparison above, its a 35mm on APSC instead of 25mm for the equivalent cropped frame on m4/3). Over the last year or so, I noticed that I usually prefer pictures from longer equivalent focal lengths on m4/3 when compared to a real FF camera. So, I end up liking my 45/1.8 photos more than the 25/1.4 as long as I’m able to get to the right distance to frame the scene. I do have a tendency to back into walls more often, and I have to be careful on the NorCal coast!
    ; )

    Just some thoughts. Thanks for putting all the work into keeping this site going!

    • Well that’s the first time I’ve heard the X100 described as plasticky! Other than the control wheel and buttons being plastic the rest is metal. I’m not a fan of the control wheel, it really doesn’t live up to the excellent build quality of the rest of the camera.

      • I guess plasticky is not a good term to describe the x100. But its true that it somehow feels hollow in the hand, in a way the E-M5 (for example) does not.

        • Plasticky and now hollow! 😉 It feels really hefty to me. I guess this just goes to show how people have such differing views and personal tastes and how the X100 really divided opinion!

          • The X100s is not hollow feeling, but the X-M1 is and so is the X-E1 and X20. The E-P5 is more substantial and solid feeling than the OM-D E-M5 or any of the Fuji cameras, by a large margin. I am talking heft, weight, dials, buttons, etc.

          • The x-e1 is not hollow feeling. It is a substantial well built camera. It is neither plastic nor plasticky. It has its failings just as the om-d has. It produces magnificent images, just as the om-d does. But the Fuji images are better according to reports and the samples I have seen. All cameras have foibles. If you took the time to get to know and use the x-e1 you would appreciate it. You need to know a camera and make its use second nature. As a reviewer and user of many cameras you have obviously not taken time to do this.

          • I have used and shot the X-E1 for months at a time, same with the X-Pro 1 that I used on three occasions for many weeks in a row. I have used and used and tested and shot with them. Thousands of frames. I speak the truth, which is what I do. I use ALL cameras. So I am very well qualified to compare them to everything else. FACT: The Fuji X Bodies are hollow feeling, feel much less substantial than other mirror less, focus quite a bit slower than others and even the lenses like the 35 1.4 feel hollow and chattered for the 1st year of their life when focusing and while just being on. The AF misses much more than I would be comfy with, even when using the tricks created by Fuji users to avoid it. The video is awful.Yes, they can take gorgeous images, more so in JPEG if you use Adobe Lightroom (which most use) because the RAW files still suck with Adobe software. I can get images from Olympus that meet the X bodies without a problem. So IQ is a wash with any APS-C or Micro 4/3 Oly body. I would rather have a camera that could shoot faster, more accurate, feels better in my hand, has better usability, better lenses to choose from (and many more) and just “works”. I never felt IQ was any better from the Fuji X Bodies, The thousands of images shot with the Fuji’s over the thousands I have shot with Olympus show me no real IQ difference, in fact, I much more enjoy the images i shot with my Olympus, or Sony or Leica over any I shot with the Fuji.

            The Fuji cameras put out great quality images, yes, but they are faulted. Mark my words..when Fuji Releases the X-Pro 2 you will hear TONS of X users saying “Finally Fuji got it right”! Then they will start talking down the current X bodies when they see the new versions with much faster and accurate AF, etc. Then I can say ‘told you so”. 🙂

            I love Fuji. Fuji X100, one of my all time faves. The Fuji medium format film foldable, amazing camera (though made by Voigtlander) and teh X100s is also fantastic. But I call it like I see it and when comparing to bodies that are in the same price range, the X Bodies fall flat for ME every time. Even after extensive use and WANTING to love them (which is why I have given them so many chances). I am done with the X-Pro 1, X-E1 and X-M1 until I see an X-Pro 2..then will try again.

          • I think it’s a matter of weight:OMD is like a little brick, give you a pleasure feel of weight.
            X100 and X-pro1 especially, seems like empty inside, reminds me the plastic E-pl1.
            It’s not a real disadvantage, because some prefer lightweight, but for me E-m5 feels(i don’t said IS) more like a well-made object than Fuji’s(and i know, all the little problems the little Oly had:not so solid painting, the scar under the screen, etc).

  39. The EP5 is a great all around camera, no question, and I like it. But, add in the VF4, which most would consider essential to it’s full usefullness, and it’s a $1300 camera – without a lens – and $1500 with the 17 1.8. And at $1300 for a camera w/o a built in EVF, it’s a less desirable proposition. Olympus missed the mark with their introductory pricing.

    Btw, a Fuji X-M1 with the 27 2.8 – which would compare in equiv. fov to the Panasonic 20, would run $1150. Coupled with an X-E1, $1250. That’s some stiff competition.

  40. Hi Steve, that Nikon shot among the “THREE SHOTS” is amazing! Just curious about the lens used coz the EXIF says 18mm and I know the lens must be the 18.5mm. Is that how the EXIF is catching it? (although Lightroom is showing it as 18.5mm on my shots). Thanks!

    • Was the 18.5 1.8. I have teh B&W version in the NIkon 1 gallery, which I prefer. But yea, I am always happy with the little V1 output with the 18.5 or 32 1.2 especially.

  41. Another feature of M43, which I feel is too often overlooked, is the native 4:3 aspect ratio. Now I know this is entirely a matter of personal preference. Some people love 3:2 but I have always preferred the old MF aspect ratios like 6×4.5cm and 6x7cm and for digital 4:3. Yes, I know you can crop in post. This works and if you crop regularly you get used to composing with the crop in mind. However, nothing beats composing in the actual aspect ratio that suits you. For me the 4:3 aspect ratio was a compelling factor in my decision to invest in M43 as opposed to the alternative APS-C systems. It’s perhaps worth adding that cropping APS-C to 4:3 almost completely wipes out the advantage of the larger sensor. Of course, the reverse is also true, for example, if you routinely crop 4:3 to 3:2. While I’m on the subject, I wish there was more of choice of different aspect ratios, as I feel this is something we’ve lost in the transition from film to digital.

    • It’s also more convenient to crop to 5:4 from 4:3 to print 8×10 or 16×20.

      I think a lot of it comes from people starting out with a “point and shoot” compact digital camera, and then looking up to a DSLR, and associating 4:3 vs 3:2 accordingly, giving 3:2 a more “professional” reputation. I like 3:2 a lot for landscape shots, but I find it’s rubbish for portrait orientation.

      I just shoot 4:3 on my PENs, and will crop according to what feels best. Often, 4:3 is just fine, but it’s a good launching point for both 3:2 and 5:4.

    • Simon. So true. So true. The image shape of 2 1/4 square, 4×5 (8×10!) and the big 6×7 cameras has been nearly lost in the digital fray over the past now 20 years(!!!).
      The little Oly and it’s brethren still carry the analogue size torch if like me you always had to crop your Kodachrome and Velvia just when you had a great FF shot. And it’s a serious frustration.

      Steve is correct to address the feel (or as a Texas boot store owner once called it to my Portlandia surprised self “the hand”). I too never liked the hand of many unnamed brands and for a decade have never quite settled that issue in my transition to Canon from Nikon. Or the Fuji built Hasselblad H series from the Swedish Hasselblad build V series.

      And Steve! What about “tethered”???

      • Jim, you forget the square photos on Instagram with the fake RVP100 borders, which desaturate the image to look as far from slide film as you can get! 😉

      • I have seen zero banding on the E-P5 but only had the lens for 3 days, so did not have the time to do ultra high ISO tests anyway. I saw no banding in my images with the lens.

        • Tnx. Is it possible to correct distortion in lightroom, or in camera?
          Panasonic bodies do it.

  42. Thanks, Steve, this is a really useful set of reflections on top of the actual lens review. When I bought my NEX C3, my dealer convinced me it would be a better move at that time for IQ than m4/3 with 12MP sensors. But I can see a lot has changed, and maybe – for my kind of shooting – I should stop with NEX and go over to the better lenses that go with m4/3. Your thoughts certainly help the decision-making process. And I’m intrigued by your liking for the Nikon V1 which on my screen comes out really sharp.

    • John

      I made the jump from the NEX-5 to the Olympus EP-3 and really haven’t looked back. While the NEX with a 14mp APS-C sensor looks superior on paper, in use it was not even close to the 12mp EP-3. Even when comparing with my Leica lenses mounted. The M43 prime lenses are superior to most of the offerings from Sony and the 3-axis in body stabilization just adds to the experience. In lens comparisons the newest offerings fron Zeiss and Sigma improve the choices for the NEX line the breadth of high quality lenses is still not there.

      So, if you are considering making a change from the NEX system it is very much in your interest to consider M43. At present only the NEX-7 has been a temptation in concept, but the overall package of M43 is still superior for me.


      • I toyed with the NEX line for a while because I have a Sony Alpha camera, the a57. So I thought: Why not go all Sony? I sold my m4/3s gear and bought NEX. What a disappointment! Slow focus, poor lens selection. So I dropped my economies of scale notions and went back to m4/3, probably dropping 1K$ in the exchanges.

        Now I have an E-P5 and VF-4 with great lenses. Very satisfied. And the remarkable Nikon v1. If there are any issues with either, it’s the way Olympus and Nikon handled the business/marketing side.

        For the former, overpricing at the launch. And the latter, doing a poor job of educating dealers on the strong points and not involving well-known photographers in a campaign to promote the product like Samsung is doing with Kirk Tuck and the Galaxy NX.

  43. great post! (except for the dodgy cow pics:) but a lovely shot of your missus in the kitchen:)
    I have to agree with you here, the OMD EP5 are proving to be the most useable cameras I’ve owned and although the Fuji sensors are legendary, the bodies, AF and lens selection leave them lacking. I’ll be sending you a post soon with some new work I’ve been working on which I hope will illustrate the incredible quality of m43, keep up the great work!

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