Olympus 17/1.8 review

Started Nov 17, 2012 | Discussions
Ming Thein
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Olympus 17/1.8 review
Nov 17, 2012

Hi everybody,

I've had a final version of the 17/1.8 for a couple of days now and just posted my review:

Comparative lens review: The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 17/1.8

As usual, leave a question here or on the site and I'll do my best to get back to you.

Enjoy and have a good weekend!

Ming

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sunhorse
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 17, 2012

Thank you for the thorough and excellent review.

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Ramesh

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Prime85
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to sunhorse, Nov 17, 2012

Thakn You Ming!  Well done and great photos!

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SLOtographer
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 17, 2012

Great job!  If it's similar in performance to the 20/1.7, then I'm tempted...

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Laszlo13
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Great work, but I am puzzled
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 17, 2012

Puzzled by 2 things:

- Your 17mm 2.8 seems to be a very good copy!  Given your center and corner crops, I wouldn't spend the money on the new lens.  Mine unfortunately is not as good.

- As I was checking out your images on flicrk, I was in full screen mode, and indadvertedly continued onto the RX100 images.  I thought they were still shot with micro four thirds and the new lens (they seem to be around the 35mm field of view).  When I exited full screen mode, I then noticed of course that these were with the RX100, and then I was blown away.  The color, saturation, film like texture, are pretty amazing.  Not much more money that the 45mm 1.8 lens either.

Best regards, Laszlo

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fotophool
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Re: Great work, but I am puzzled
In reply to Laszlo13, Nov 17, 2012

Laszlo13 wrote:

Puzzled by 2 things:

- Your 17mm 2.8 seems to be a very good copy! Given your center and corner crops, I wouldn't spend the money on the new lens. Mine unfortunately is not as good.

- As I was checking out your images on flicrk, I was in full screen mode, and indadvertedly continued onto the RX100 images. I thought they were still shot with micro four thirds and the new lens (they seem to be around the 35mm field of view). When I exited full screen mode, I then noticed of course that these were with the RX100, and then I was blown away. The color, saturation, film like texture, are pretty amazing. Not much more money that the 45mm 1.8 lens either.

Best regards, Laszlo

Yes, the RX100 has turned out to be one of several surprises of the season.

In case you missed the link on his blog site, ming reviewed it here:

http://blog.mingthein.com/2012/08/06/the-sony-rx100-a-somewhat-comparative-review/

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KwhyChang
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 17, 2012

Thanks for the work and the link to it.

I look forward to reading your impressions.

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Dave

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MT
MT
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Darn- hoped it would be world class...
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 17, 2012

I have the 20 1.7 and hoped the 17 1.8 would be even better optically but it did not seem to be much of an improvement in that department.  Darn...I was hoping for a world class 17mm....

MTMT

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Ming Thein
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Pleasure! nt
In reply to sunhorse, Nov 17, 2012

sunhorse wrote:

Thank you for the thorough and excellent review.

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Ramesh

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Ming Thein
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No problem. nt
In reply to Prime85, Nov 17, 2012

Prime85 wrote:

Thakn You Ming! Well done and great photos!

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Ming Thein
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Slightly better, I think.
In reply to SLOtographer, Nov 17, 2012

You get a bit more microcontrast, slightly less overall contrast - good for preserving dynamic range - and similar corner performance.

Ming

SLOtographer wrote:

Great job! If it's similar in performance to the 20/1.7, then I'm tempted...

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SLOtographer
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Ming Thein
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Re: Great work, but I am puzzled
In reply to Laszlo13, Nov 17, 2012

Yes, the 17/2.8 I've got here does appear to be a good one - not all of the lenses I've used in the past  have performed the same way. In fact, most were markedly worse. The new lens blows it out of the water for AF speed though, and is of course 1 1/3 stop faster in physical aperture - and slightly more in transmission.

Something to be said for both the camera (RX100) plus of course how it's used...

Ming

Laszlo13 wrote:

Puzzled by 2 things:

- Your 17mm 2.8 seems to be a very good copy! Given your center and corner crops, I wouldn't spend the money on the new lens. Mine unfortunately is not as good.

- As I was checking out your images on flicrk, I was in full screen mode, and indadvertedly continued onto the RX100 images. I thought they were still shot with micro four thirds and the new lens (they seem to be around the 35mm field of view). When I exited full screen mode, I then noticed of course that these were with the RX100, and then I was blown away. The color, saturation, film like texture, are pretty amazing. Not much more money that the 45mm 1.8 lens either.

Best regards, Laszlo

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Ming Thein
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You're welcome! nt
In reply to KwhyChang, Nov 17, 2012

KwhyChang wrote:

Thanks for the work and the link to it.

I look forward to reading your impressions.

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Dave

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Ming Thein
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I think it's slightly better, but pretty close overall. nt
In reply to MT, Nov 17, 2012

MT wrote:

I have the 20 1.7 and hoped the 17 1.8 would be even better optically but it did not seem to be much of an improvement in that department. Darn...I was hoping for a world class 17mm....

MTMT

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Anders W
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 17, 2012

Ming Thein wrote:

Hi everybody,

I've had a final version of the 17/1.8 for a couple of days now and just posted my review:

Comparative lens review: The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 17/1.8

As usual, leave a question here or on the site and I'll do my best to get back to you.

Enjoy and have a good weekend!

Ming

Many thanks for that review Ming. I am thoroughly familiar with the 20/1.7 since I have one, and to some extent with the 17/2.8 too, since I borrowed one for a while in order to include it in the bokeh test of MFT WAs to which I link below (where the 20/1.7 is picture 1 and the 17/2.8 is picture 2):

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3279903#forum-post-50023507

In view of that, I much welcome your direct comparison of these two lenses with the new 17/1.8. I find your test images very helpful. However, I don't always agree with your comments. Here's my take:

MTF: I find the 20 distinctly superior to both 17s in the center and the corners alike. Not only is global contrast better. I'd say the same goes for what I'd refer to as micro-contrast. Look, for example, at the grid below the window in the bottom-right corner crops. The 20 renders it far more clearly. I never thought much of the 17/2.8 in this regard but I am afraid the 17/1.8 disappoints me here. I had hoped and expected it would give the 20 a run for the money but judging by your samples it doesn't.

Lateral CA: Yes, the 20 has more of that than the 17/1.8, which is to be expected in view of the fact that the 20 is designed to be software-corrected in this regard. Neither the presence of this kind of CA, nor the fact that Oly bodies (e.g., my E-M5) won't autocorrect it bothers me at all. Since LR 4 can autocorrect it with virtually no downsides, I find no reason to care. BTW: You say in your comment to the bottom-right corner crops that you find it interesting that the CA doesn't change when you stop down. To the extent that it is LaCA we are talking about, as it primarily is here, this isn't surprising at all. LaCA (as opposed to LoCA) doesn't change with aperture. If anything, it can be visually more prominent at more narrow apertures than at wide ones due to the gradual disappearance, when stopping down, of other aberrations that prevent us from seeing it clearly.

Longitudinal CA in the in-focus area: Yes the 20 has more of that (towards the edges of the frame) and this is one area where I was pretty sure the 17/1.8 would beat it. While this kind of CA is more of a downside than LaCA since it is slightly more time-consuming to correct (although still pretty easy with the defringe tool available in LR from version 4.1 on) and cannot currently be corrected as well as LaCA (you get a gray fringe after desaturation of the purple hue rather than the color that should have been there in the first place), it's still a pretty marginal problem in my book.

Vignetting: I would expect the 17/1.8 to do at least as well and probably a bit better than the 20 here. I note that you say that the 17/1.8 doesn't have much of a problem with vignetting but what would you say about the comparison with the 20 in this area?

Bokeh: None of these lenses is a bokeh champ. On the other hand, I don't really expect that from lenses with FLs like these. Based on the test I linked too above, I know that the 20 is better in this area than the 17/2.8 (which has more pronounced outlining and LoCA) and I find no reason to think, on the basis of your samples, that the 17/1.8 beats the 20 either. At best, it reaches parity.

AF mechanism: You say that the 17/1.8 is much faster than the 17/2.8 and the 20/1.7. Well, that depends. As you can see here,

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/50110471

I tested both the 17/2.8 and the 20/1.7 against lenses with fully up-to-date AF mechanisms such as my 12/2 and 14/2.5 and found the difference to be close to non-existent as far as ordinary AF-S is concerned. AF-C might be another story and the noise made by the AF on the 17/2.8 and 20/1.7 is a concern for video if you want to be able to AF during the clip. But for stills with AF-S, the drawbacks of the old AF solution on the 17/2.8 and 20/1.7 are truly minor.

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Jonas Palm
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Thanks for the review, much appreciated1
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 17, 2012

Personally, I would have loved to see the Panasonic 25mm f1.4 thrown into the mix, in spite of the differences in focal length. (By the same token, the panasonic 14mm f2.5 would have been interesting as well, although more of an outlier in focal length/speed/price).

But that would have been a bonus - the comparison was very informative for me, and helpful in my personal decision making.

Jonas P

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SLOtographer
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Re: Slightly better, I think.
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 17, 2012

Ming Thein wrote:

You get a bit more microcontrast, slightly less overall contrast - good for preserving dynamic range - and similar corner performance.

Ming

Thanks Ming! I admire your work, and you've been a great resource for all us M43 shooters.

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Ulfric M Douglas
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Anders W, Nov 17, 2012

Anders W wrote:

I tested both the 17/2.8 and the 20/1.7 against lenses with fully up-to-date AF mechanisms such as my 12/2 and 14/2.5 and found the difference to be close to non-existent as far as ordinary AF-S is concerned.

How could that be?

In my own autofocus speed tests my optically nice 17mmF2.8 is far slower to S-AF than the 14-42R kit lens or even the 40-150 kit zoom.

The difference is OBVIOUS and measureable.

The new 17mm seems to fill a niche for a fast-AF pancake ... or did the Lumix 14mm do that already?

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jkrumm
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Ulfric M Douglas, Nov 17, 2012

Yes, the 17/2.8 is very slow in s-af. I finally was able to try one out. Not unusable at all, but far from something like the 45 1.8 and I assume the 17 1.8.

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Jorginho
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SLow focussing seems body reltated mostly
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 17, 2012

First of all thanks: really nice review. I browsed through it. And looked at the focussing remark. After that I thought: I did not experience anything dramatic and I have the 20 mm 1.7 on my EPL5 80% of the time.

SO: I have tried the 45 1.8 and the 20 1.7 (at 1.8) on an EPL5 and a GH2 body. Even on the EPL5 in low light it varies. It can focus almost instantly and it can take more than a second. Changing the lens to the GH2 it focusses in, say, 0,2 seconds 9 out of 10 ties and it hunts the other time.

The 45 f1.8 @ 1.8 focusses very fast on the EPL5 but as fast as the 20 mm 1.7 on the GH2. On the GH2 it is the 45 f1.8 that hunts much more. But mostly 0,5 -1 second. So not as long as the 20 mm on the EPL5.

So I think it is important to note you tested it (most likely, I did not read it) on an Olympus body. On a Panny body, the story is different.

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