I Finally Purchased Panasonic 15mm F1.7

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I found a low priced, great condition Panasonic 15mm F1.7 and I immediately nabbed it. I have been eyeing one for a while, but I could not bring myself to pay for the full price. I am possibly one of the most frugal photographers out there, but hey, it is not like I am swimming in cash right now with so little jobs I get no thanks to the current on-going pandemic situation. I want to talk about the reasons why I added the Panasonic 15mm F1.7 into my camera bag, and of course, share some quick thoughts about using that lens for both my street photography and doing some simple video work. I have made a video as well on this same topic, you can find it here (click). 

Loving the incredibly small size of the lens, yet it delivers great results. 

In case you are not aware, I have owned a Fuji XF10 since early this year, read my review here (click). The reason I bought that XF10 was to force myself to shoot with wide angle in street photography. It did just that, and I thoroughly enjoyed the wider perspective, allowing me to see things differently and compose my shots outside of my usual tighter framing. However that XF10 was unacceptably slow in AF, and it has caused me to miss some critical moments when I needed the camera to react quickly. I cannot understand how a modern camera can have such slow focus (stop talking about snap focus, that is a lousy trick and a poor excuse for the underperforming AF). Therefore, the Panasonic 15mm F1.7 is the perfect lens for me to use for wide angle street shooting on my own Olympus cameras. The equivalent focal length is not exactly 28nm, but it is close enough, and I don't have to sacrifice AF speed. Quite frankly, I don't see anything special about the XF10's image output too. I am perfectly happy with what I am getting from my current Micro Four Thirds setup. 

Second reason I bought the Panasonic 15mm F1.7 was to replace my Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 PRO for video shooting purposes. All this time, I have been shooting my videos on YouTube primarily with 2 lenses, the 12-40mm PRO and 45mm F1.8. For talking head shots, where I need no distortion, proportionate look, some tight background compression, and shallow depth of field for isolation, I go for the 45mm F1.8, and it performed incredibly well. For everything else, including all my product shots and B-rolls, the lens has always been 12-40mm, and I realized I have always used about 14mm to 17mm to get my shots. The 15mm F1.7 can effectively replace the 12-40mm for the same purpose, yet it is so much smaller, lighter, I can carry less with me for my video shooting, and at the same time it delivers F1.7 wider aperture, which allows me to render shallower depth of field if necessary. The idea of just bringing out two small prime lenses - 15mm and 45mm, was very enticing!











There is a lot to like about the Panasonic 15mm F1.7. The lens is incredibly small and light, has great build, feels very solid when in use and handles well with any Micro Four Thirds bodies. The lens is also sharp wide open, and I generally quite like the image rendering. Autofocus is fast and reliable on all my Olympus cameras, and generally any lens flaws are well controlled, or corrected. I have no issues using this lens, and I have been enjoying shooting with it on the streets. 

My only small complains are harsh bokeh and not being able to use the aperture ring. The 15mm F1.7 does produce some nervous, messy background that can be distracting. I am not sure whose fault it was, but Panasonic or Olympus should allow the aperture ring to be accessible on Olympus cameras. 

There are a few other alternatives to look at. The obvious one being the Panasonic 14mm F2.5, a pancake lens, truly small and compact, perhaps the smallest Micro Four Thirds AF lens. However that 14mm pancake has slower AF, which can be dangerous for fast paced street shooting, and the purple fringing from that lens is very severe, it can be a chore fixing in post. Then there was the Olympus 17mm F1.8, which was an excellent lens, has metal build, fast AF, great image quality but I do not like the 34mm equivalent focal length, that is a bit too narrow for wide angle use, and if I want tighter composition, I'd rather use the 25mm or 45mm lenses, both which I do own, love and use actively. If I want a wider framing, I'd go much wider, and I think the Panasonic 15mm does a better job in that. 











I am really happy with this addition, and in fact, many of my recent videos I have been using this Panasonic 15mm F1.7 to shoot alongside the Olympus 45mm F1.8, and they cover everything I needed for small scale, simple video production on my YouTube channel. I am a minimalist, I don't like to carry too many items or gear, I simplify my workflow, and the less items I use, the better. I think the Panasonic 15mm is one of the best decisions I have made in recent times, at least for both my street shooting and my YouTube video making purposes. 

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4 comments:

  1. Lovely images, I’m sure the 15mm will suit you well

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  2. Just read your review of the Olympus C-8080. I have one, and it continues to give me good pictures after years of use.

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  3. An interesting and eye-catching set of street images with the new lens. You are going to do some outstanding work with the 15mm lens, Robin.

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