I hate to admit to ignorance professionally, but hey, when you're ignorant, you gotta 'fess up to it—it's only fair to people. So I admit I don't yet know how to distinguish between the fast-focusing Micro 4/3 lenses and the slow-focusing ones...although I've experienced it, in comparing the Panasonic 12–35mm ƒ/2.8, which is a speed demon on the E-M1 and E-M5 [note: link is to the Mark II but we tried it on Ctein's Mark I] and a favorite among lenses I've used recently, and my formerly beloved Panasonic 20mm ƒ/1.7, the rendering of which I love(d) but which is, alas, irremediably pokey in the focus speed department. Could someone please school me as to how to spot the difference?
I have to assume that the pictured lens, the just-announced Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm ƒ/1.7 ASPH. Power O.I.S. (available for pre-order), is the faster-focusing type.
It goes head-to-head with Micro 4/3 collaborator/competitor Olympus's popular 45mm ƒ/1.8. The differences are negligible, save one. Light-gathering power of ƒ/1.7 vs. ƒ/1.8 is barely more than the margin of error in aperture calibration between lenses, the focal length of 85mm-e vs. 90mm-e is not detectable by viewers of prints (although I've always fancied I can tell the difference when shooting). The new Panasonic offering is just slightly shorter and more squat in size and 14 grams heavier, again negligible differences, and the prices at this writing are within $1.01 of each other.
There might of course be differences in rendering (not that the Olympus is any slouch), although that remains to be seen.
The one real difference is that the Panasonic lens has IS built-in, and the Olympus doesn't—hardly a problem if you use one of Olympus's cameras with state-of-the-art IBIS (in-body image stabilization).
So is the Oly lens one of the fast-focusing ones, or not? Ignorance is hell.
Previously, in the Panasonic lineup, we had only the famous but pricey Panasonic/Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm ƒ/1.2, also aspherical, also Power O.I.S. But at nearly $1,400, it is a purchase to delay for many Micro 4/3 fans. The new lens knocks off a bit of light-gathering power, but sheds weight as well (295 grams to be precise), and shaves about a grand off the price. The two lenses provide a useful choice if you want to stick to the Panasonic brand.
Virtually nothing photographic triggers my Pavlovian slobber response like a medium-speed 85mm or 85mm-e lens. We all have our preferred lens kits, and a pairing of a medium-speed 35mm-equivalent with a medium-speed 85mm-e has long done the trick for me. It's not like anyone who already owns the Oly 45mm needs an alternative. But those who don't have a short tele yet—considering also the availability of the older Panasonic/Leica Macro-Elmarit 45mm ƒ/2.8 (my personal choice when I shot Micro 4/3, and a bokeh master) and the delightful superfast all-metal manual-focusing Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm ƒ/0.95—well, they're spoiled for choice.
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