Olympus 17/1.8 review

Started Nov 17, 2012 | Discussions
DaveWo
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Re: Just a side note
In reply to brunobarolo, Nov 18, 2012

brunobarolo wrote:

DaveWo wrote:

brunobarolo wrote:

Once you increase global contrast in PP for the 17mm f1.8 (which seems necessary since it's so low, as compared to the 20mm) you will also increase noise. An 800 ISO shot with the 17mm lens processed to the same global contrast may have as much noise as a 1600 ISO shot with the 20mm lens. No?

May I ask if you shoot raw or jpeg primarily?

RAW

And you increase the contrast in something like Adobe Camera Raw?

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Jorginho
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Anders W, Nov 18, 2012

That is my point with the review. I like it a lot, it is professional from the point of presentation and indeed writing style. To me it is not just an amateur who wants to write something down (like I would be), I think I would hire him for writing and making reviews. A joy to read.

But his conclusions are lacking in my view if we take the reality into account from a buyer/user POV. That is also because of the methodology, which is hampering this review. Most of all the omission of autocorrection with the 20 mm 1.7 on the Panny body is a big one for me, as it is mentioned quite some times in his review. Another one is that AF speed, at least my copy, is actually pretty fast on the Oly at daytime with the occasional hunting, in lower light it gets worse.That is subjective too of course, but for the use of a 20 mm 1.7 (parties, stret shooting) it would be okey for everybody I am convinced.

On a Panny body, it focusses much faster consistently. In my view, there is no problem with its AF speed at all here. Besides, the 45 mm f1.8 Oly does show some of the same behaviour on a Pany body: it is not as fast as on the EPL5. This might be the case with the 17 f1.8 too, we don't know.

I understand you cannot demand this from him, to have all sorts of bodies and lenses and compare. But I think he should take the info, which he gets here right now, into consideration and add it to his review. I have had discussions with other, professional reviewers also on this forum and they changed what they agreed on. If not, of course there should be no change. Just some disagreement

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brunobarolo
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Re: Just a side note
In reply to DaveWo, Nov 18, 2012

DaveWo wrote:

brunobarolo wrote:

DaveWo wrote:

brunobarolo wrote:

Once you increase global contrast in PP for the 17mm f1.8 (which seems necessary since it's so low, as compared to the 20mm) you will also increase noise. An 800 ISO shot with the 17mm lens processed to the same global contrast may have as much noise as a 1600 ISO shot with the 20mm lens. No?

May I ask if you shoot raw or jpeg primarily?

RAW

And you increase the contrast in something like Adobe Camera Raw?

Lightroom

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Hen3ry
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Many thanks, Ming, excellent review. Now if it were just a little flatter ... nt
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 18, 2012
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bluelemmy
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 18, 2012

Nice review. I have the 20mm 1.7 and there seems no great reason to replace it with the Olympus.

On the other hand, if I didn't have the 20 and was looking for such a lens, this 17 would be the one to go for.

-- hide signature --

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Jorginho
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 18, 2012

Yes, I think so too. It also makes a bit more sense when you consider the primes. 12-17-25 (not a prie, but okey). But as it is now and hopw the 20mm 1.7 behaves on either my EPL5 and GH2 there is not reason at all to sell it and get the 17 mm.

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tt321
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to bluelemmy, Nov 18, 2012

bluelemmy wrote:

Nice review. I have the 20mm 1.7 and there seems no great reason to replace it with the Olympus.

On the other hand, if I didn't have the 20 and was looking for such a lens, this 17 would be the one to go for.

The great reason is to have a nicer spread if you have the 25 and 12.

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noirdesir
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Re: SLow focussing seems body reltated mostly
In reply to Jorginho, Nov 18, 2012

Jorginho wrote:

Judgementallity is rarely helpful, certainly not when you do not know the subject you are talking about..

And being rude for no good reason sometimes deserves being called out.

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noirdesir
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Jorginho, Nov 18, 2012

Jorginho wrote:

That is my point with the review. I like it a lot, it is professional from the point of presentation and indeed writing style. To me it is not just an amateur who wants to write something down (like I would be), I think I would hire him for writing and making reviews. A joy to read.

But his conclusions are lacking in my view if we take the reality into account from a buyer/user POV. That is also because of the methodology, which is hampering this review. Most of all the omission of autocorrection with the 20 mm 1.7 on the Panny body is a big one for me, as it is mentioned quite some times in his review. Another one is that AF speed, at least my copy, is actually pretty fast on the Oly at daytime with the occasional hunting, in lower light it gets worse.That is subjective too of course, but for the use of a 20 mm 1.7 (parties, stret shooting) it would be okey for everybody I am convinced.

On a Panny body, it focusses much faster consistently. In my view, there is no problem with its AF speed at all here. Besides, the 45 mm f1.8 Oly does show some of the same behaviour on a Pany body: it is not as fast as on the EPL5. This might be the case with the 17 f1.8 too, we don't know.

I understand you cannot demand this from him, to have all sorts of bodies and lenses and compare. But I think he should take the info, which he gets here right now, into consideration and add it to his review. I have had discussions with other, professional reviewers also on this forum and they changed what they agreed on. If not, of course there should be no change. Just some disagreement

So you want Ming to add to his review a sentence like: "Some random guy on the internet told me that the 20 and 17 mm lenses have about the same focussing speed on Panasonic bodies."

More to the point: Why have I read testimony from probably about at least 100 people (forum posters and people writing reviews) that say that the AF of the 20 mm is slow compared to almost all their other m43 lenses but have only read one person (you) claiming the opposite? Who would therefore not think that is you who is reporting an anomaly and not Ming?

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Anders W
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Ulfric M Douglas, Nov 18, 2012

Ulfric M Douglas wrote:

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.

So how did you mesure it? I described my tests in the post I linked to (the Pekka Potka method via the link to his blog post and my own later method using a video recording of the AF process and counting the number of frames it takes from start to finish).

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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Anders W
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to jkrumm, Nov 18, 2012

jkrumm wrote:

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.

That may be what you perceive (because the 17/2.8 AF is audible but that of the 45/1.8 not). But did you try to measure it systematically, as I have?

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Anders W
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Jorginho, Nov 18, 2012

Jorginho wrote:

Another one is that AF speed, at least my copy, is actually pretty fast on the Oly at daytime with the occasional hunting, in lower light it gets worse.That is subjective too of course, but for the use of a 20 mm 1.7 (parties, stret shooting) it would be okey for everybody I am convinced.

On a Panny body, it focusses much faster consistently. In my view, there is no problem with its AF speed at all here. Besides, the 45 mm f1.8 Oly does show some of the same behaviour on a Pany body: it is not as fast as on the EPL5. This might be the case with the 17 f1.8 too, we don't know.

I don't think there is much difference between the AF-S speed of the 20 with Oly versus Pany bodies. What matters is what generation the body belongs to. The AF speed increased noticeably on Pany bodies from the GH2 onwards and on Oly bodies from the E-P3/E-PL3/E-PM1 onwards. For example, all my lenses, Oly as well as Pany (the 20 included), focus noticeably faster on my Oly E-M5 than they did on my Pany G1.

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Anders W
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Ming Thein, Nov 18, 2012

Ming Thein wrote:

Anders W wrote:

Ming Thein wrote:

Hi Anders,

I think there may be some confusion between microcontrast, macrocontrast and resolution here. On the full size images, the 17/1.8 has slightly better microcontrast in the center than the other two, but macrocontrast is definitely lower. The 20 is the better performer in the corners, but it also exhibits purple fringing which the 17/1.8 does not.

No confusion, at least not on my part. You can't measure resolution without specifying a contrast criterion (e.g., 50 percent as the test sites usually do). And you can't measure contrast without specifying a resolution criterion (which is what the manufacturers regularly do, e.g., 20 and 60 in Oly's case). What your test images show is simply that the 20 is better in the center and the corners alike, no matter what criterion you choose.

If I apply my usual sharpening actions/ passes to both samples, the 17/1.8's center crops start showing a bit more detail than the 20, which starts blocking up.

I assume that by blocking-up, you mean that details start to be lost in the shadows and/or highlights because they start becoming too black and too white, respectively. If so, that's just another indication of higher microcontrast on the 20. The 17 reguires extra sharpening (at the expense of higher noise) as well as global contrast increase (again at the expense of more noise) to go equal with the 20.

The 17/1.8 vignettes less than the 20.

OK. By how much? Did you try to measure this?

No, not scientifically. I do know that I notice vignetting on the 20 with skies, but I didn't really on the 17/1.8.

OK. Thanks.

As for AF speed...I'm only relating what I experience practically on my (latest firmware) OM-D.

Yes I understood that what you said was based on subjective experiences. That's why objective measurement is important.

Not easy to time without the right equipment. And I'm a commercial photographer, not a paid review house.

I certainly don't require you to mesure everything. As I said, I am grateful that you took the time to test what you did.

However, you made a claim with regard to AF speed based on your subjective perceptions and I pointed out that such perceptions can be treacherous (especially since the older lenses are audible during the AF process whereas the newer ones are not) and that systematic tests such as those carried by Pekka Potka and myself have failed to confirm their validity.

As to equipment, you don't need much to determine the speed with reasonable precision. I used my iPhone 4 to shoot a video of the AF process and then counted the number of frames from start to finish. If you know the frame rate (29 fps in my case) you can then determine the time as well.

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Jun2
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Re: Macrocontrast vs. Microcontrast
In reply to noirdesir, Nov 18, 2012

I don't use the term micro-contrast.  It is very confusing.  Contrast is contrast.  I use term "clarity". Clarity make subject more clear out of background ( not due to shallow DOF), indicating less internal reflection of optical elements (less muddy image).   Personally, clarity is more important to me than resolution, not saying resolution is not important because it shows up even in less than 100% crop.

noirdesir wrote:

Ming Thein wrote:

I think there may be some confusion between microcontrast, macrocontrast and resolution here. On the full size images, the 17/1.8 has slightly better microcontrast in the center than the other two, but macrocontrast is definitely lower.

Ming,

A few years back I tried to figure out a definition for the term microcontrast. Since the most comprehensive way to measure contrast of a lens is a full MTF curve, lenses with different amount of microcontrast should have characteristically different MTF curves. To this day, I keep being surprised that I have not seen a single person talk about this (how microcontrast is reflected in a MTF curve).

I showed a generic example of two lenses with very different character in this post:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/35584548

and discussed it further in this post:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/37010026

Of note is that all full MTF curves that I have seen, eg, from DxOmark, always start at one, ie, 100% contrast. That is obviously not really correct as every lens + camera system has some internal flare. While one naturally can normalise all MTF curve to one, this would clearly paint 'foggy' lenses in a much better light than it should be. My idea of what you mean with macrocontrast would be the contrast at essentially target resolution of zero, whereas microcontrast would be the contrast at finer resolutions, whether that is the contrast below the resolution of the MTF50 value as I insinuated in the first post I linked to above or the contrast just above that resolution, I don't know.

And since nobody has rigorously defined microcontrast to my knowledge yet, so far I can only answer that by comparing lots of full MTF curves of lenses which are claimed to either have good or bad microcontrast to see whether there is a pattern (or whether the term microcontrast either covers a wide array of lens behaviours or is just not used very consistently).

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Anders W
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Re: Macrocontrast vs. Microcontrast
In reply to noirdesir, Nov 18, 2012

noirdesir wrote:

Ming Thein wrote:

I think there may be some confusion between microcontrast, macrocontrast and resolution here. On the full size images, the 17/1.8 has slightly better microcontrast in the center than the other two, but macrocontrast is definitely lower.

Ming,

A few years back I tried to figure out a definition for the term microcontrast. Since the most comprehensive way to measure contrast of a lens is a full MTF curve, lenses with different amount of microcontrast should have characteristically different MTF curves. To this day, I keep being surprised that I have not seen a single person talk about this (how microcontrast is reflected in a MTF curve).

I showed a generic example of two lenses with very different character in this post:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/35584548

and discussed it further in this post:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/37010026

Of note is that all full MTF curves that I have seen, eg, from DxOmark, always start at one, ie, 100% contrast. That is obviously not really correct as every lens + camera system has some internal flare. While one naturally can normalise all MTF curve to one, this would clearly paint 'foggy' lenses in a much better light than it should be. My idea of what you mean with macrocontrast would be the contrast at essentially target resolution of zero, whereas microcontrast would be the contrast at finer resolutions, whether that is the contrast below the resolution of the MTF50 value as I insinuated in the first post I linked to above or the contrast just above that resolution, I don't know.

And since nobody has rigorously defined microcontrast to my knowledge yet, so far I can only answer that by comparing lots of full MTF curves of lenses which are claimed to either have good or bad microcontrast to see whether there is a pattern (or whether the term microcontrast either covers a wide array of lens behaviours or is just not used very consistently).

It is certainly true that the usage of the term "microcontrast" is not well defined. However, it is obvious to me that it must originally have been coined in contradistinction to global contrast or macrocontrast, and thus refers to contrast at frequencies (resolution criteria) some distance away from zero. At the same time, I have the impression that at least some people use it in reference to contrast at fairly low frequencies rather than very high ones, lower frequencies arguably being more important for perceived image quality at ordinary display size.

Like you, I have come to the conclusion that we need to consider the entire MTF curve for a better understanding and I have therefore, like you, looked with interest at the curves now regularly published by DxOMark as part of their lens reviews: one curve at each aperture and FL (if it's a zoom we are talking about) for each of four distances from the center of the frame (dead center, one third away, two thirds away, extreme corner).

My conclusion after having gone through this exercise for quite a few lenses is that good lenses tend to have MTF curves rather similar to the red curve in the hypothetical diagram you link to, i.e., the curve is fairly close to a line sloping downwards at an angle approaching 45 degrees. Bad lenses tend to have curves more resembling a hyperbolic function (1/x), i.e., they decline very rapidly as the resolution criterion increases from zero to some 10 or 20 lp/mm and then taper off more slowly as the resolution criterion increases further. I can't remember seeing a curve resembling the blue graph in your hypothetical diagram. Would you agree with this somewhat schematic description of mine?

What I have seen has left me more comfortable with the MTF-50-percent criterion used by most test sites. While the result at that contrast level (which, as you probably know, is said to be chosen because it correlates well with human perception of image quality although I have seen no description of the research that this contention presumably rests on) won't tell us everything, it is likely to be strongly correlated with the results we would see if the contrast requirement were set a bit higher.

I am less happy with the fact that DxO themselves set the contrast criterion used for their lens scores significantly lower than other sites (they use 20 percent rather than 50), both because the differences between lenses are likely to be less clear-cut in this contrast region and because I think it is less important for perceived image quality how a lens does in this contrast region at anything resembling normal display size and viewing distance.

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Jorginho
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Anders W, Nov 18, 2012

Well, there is a clear difference between GH2 and EPL5. In the evning indoors the 20 mm 1.7 hunts say 4 out of 10 times or so. On the Gh2 may be 9 out of 10 times. Daytie, with the GH2 it is stil really better.

I saw Tim saying his 20 mm 1.7 is really slow on many occasions.

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Jorginho
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to noirdesir, Nov 18, 2012

noirdesir wrote:

Jorginho wrote:

That is my point with the review. I like it a lot, it is professional from the point of presentation and indeed writing style. To me it is not just an amateur who wants to write something down (like I would be), I think I would hire him for writing and making reviews. A joy to read.

But his conclusions are lacking in my view if we take the reality into account from a buyer/user POV. That is also because of the methodology, which is hampering this review. Most of all the omission of autocorrection with the 20 mm 1.7 on the Panny body is a big one for me, as it is mentioned quite some times in his review. Another one is that AF speed, at least my copy, is actually pretty fast on the Oly at daytime with the occasional hunting, in lower light it gets worse.That is subjective too of course, but for the use of a 20 mm 1.7 (parties, stret shooting) it would be okey for everybody I am convinced.

On a Panny body, it focusses much faster consistently. In my view, there is no problem with its AF speed at all here. Besides, the 45 mm f1.8 Oly does show some of the same behaviour on a Pany body: it is not as fast as on the EPL5. This might be the case with the 17 f1.8 too, we don't know.

I understand you cannot demand this from him, to have all sorts of bodies and lenses and compare. But I think he should take the info, which he gets here right now, into consideration and add it to his review. I have had discussions with other, professional reviewers also on this forum and they changed what they agreed on. If not, of course there should be no change. Just some disagreement

So you want Ming to add to his review a sentence like: "Some random guy on the internet told me that the 20 and 17 mm lenses have about the same focussing speed on Panasonic bodies."

Yes that is exactly what I mean.

More to the point: Why have I read testimony from probably about at least 100 people (forum posters and people writing reviews) that say that the AF of the 20 mm is slow compared to almost all their other m43 lenses but have only read one person (you) claiming the opposite? Who would therefore not think that is you who is reporting an anomaly and not Ming?

I am claiming that the EPL5 makes the 20 mm 1.7 focus somewhat slower and more inconsistent compared to the GH2. I am not talking about other camera's and I am comparing to 45 mm 1.8. Second point is that this more than just the AF because "fast", "fast enough", "slow" are relative of course. So some measurements would be nice but I agree we cannot demand it from someone like him. Like he says: you need equipment for it.

It is also the aberations he notes. Now if you say the slower focus of 20 mm 1.7 is well known (and you are correct there) this is also true for the incam corrections Panny does and Oly does not perform.

When testing lenses for m43 it might be advisable to state that on the other brand, the performance may be different and that this test is only valid with some certainty for and OM-D cam.

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Jorginho
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Re: SLow focussing seems body reltated mostly
In reply to noirdesir, Nov 18, 2012

Agreed hence my reply. I felt he was like I wrote down. I was not being rude but I was being straightforward with him. I simply said how I felt. Not how he behaved as a fact, just how it came across to me.  I did not call him names, I did not say he is arrogant. I said that to me his reply felt like this and that...How is that rude? Also he does not get into my remakr at all, only that point that I had to read the whole review. Again....I was wrong..okey. I was 100% correct he used an Oly (as CA and PF with a 20 mm 1.7 is clear sign of not using a Panasonic body...). So for the point I made it was absolutely not necessary to read his review. To me it seemed he had some trouble with the critique, but I am not sure. I don't know.

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noirdesir
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Jorginho, Nov 18, 2012

Jorginho wrote:

noirdesir wrote:

Jorginho wrote:

That is my point with the review. I like it a lot, it is professional from the point of presentation and indeed writing style. To me it is not just an amateur who wants to write something down (like I would be), I think I would hire him for writing and making reviews. A joy to read.

But his conclusions are lacking in my view if we take the reality into account from a buyer/user POV. That is also because of the methodology, which is hampering this review. Most of all the omission of autocorrection with the 20 mm 1.7 on the Panny body is a big one for me, as it is mentioned quite some times in his review. Another one is that AF speed, at least my copy, is actually pretty fast on the Oly at daytime with the occasional hunting, in lower light it gets worse.That is subjective too of course, but for the use of a 20 mm 1.7 (parties, stret shooting) it would be okey for everybody I am convinced.

On a Panny body, it focusses much faster consistently. In my view, there is no problem with its AF speed at all here. Besides, the 45 mm f1.8 Oly does show some of the same behaviour on a Pany body: it is not as fast as on the EPL5. This might be the case with the 17 f1.8 too, we don't know.

I understand you cannot demand this from him, to have all sorts of bodies and lenses and compare. But I think he should take the info, which he gets here right now, into consideration and add it to his review. I have had discussions with other, professional reviewers also on this forum and they changed what they agreed on. If not, of course there should be no change. Just some disagreement

So you want Ming to add to his review a sentence like: "Some random guy on the internet told me that the 20 and 17 mm lenses have about the same focussing speed on Panasonic bodies."

Yes that is exactly what I mean.

More to the point: Why have I read testimony from probably about at least 100 people (forum posters and people writing reviews) that say that the AF of the 20 mm is slow compared to almost all their other m43 lenses but have only read one person (you) claiming the opposite? Who would therefore not think that is you who is reporting an anomaly and not Ming?

I am claiming that the EPL5 makes the 20 mm 1.7 focus somewhat slower and more inconsistent compared to the GH2. I am not talking about other camera's and I am comparing to 45 mm 1.8. Second point is that this more than just the AF because "fast", "fast enough", "slow" are relative of course. So some measurements would be nice but I agree we cannot demand it from someone like him. Like he says: you need equipment for it.

There is a place for both: quantitative measurements and qualitative judgements. Numbers can tell unambiguously which device is better but they don't tell you what number is good enough, for that you need qualitative judgments. You read Ming's blog because you want to know what his impression is, not because you want find measured numbers.

It is also the aberations he notes. Now if you say the slower focus of 20 mm 1.7 is well known (and you are correct there) this is also true for the incam corrections Panny does and Oly does not perform.

When testing lenses for m43 it might be advisable to state that on the other brand, the performance may be different and that this test is only valid with some certainty for and OM-D cam.

Do you really think such boilerplate disclaimers serve any other purpose than covering your a** against people who just want to pick a fight because they feel some minor injustice has been done?

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Anders W
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Re: Olympus 17/1.8 review
In reply to Jorginho, Nov 18, 2012

Jorginho wrote:

Well, there is a clear difference between GH2 and EPL5. In the evning indoors the 20 mm 1.7 hunts say 4 out of 10 times or so. On the Gh2 may be 9 out of 10 times. Daytie, with the GH2 it is stil really better.

I saw Tim saying his 20 mm 1.7 is really slow on many occasions.

The 20 is likely to start hunting slightly later (i.e., at lower light levels) on the E-M5 than on the GH2 due to the better sensor of the E-M5 (less noise gives the AF system more signal to work with). There might also be other factors involved here, e.g., the size of the AF frame.

When the 20 starts hunting it will indeed be slow, significantly slower than other lenses, i.e., it takes longer to lock (if it does) and longer before you know that it failed (if it doesn't lock).

Since, however, the 20 has a wide max aperture (f/1.7), it takes very low light and/or a focus target with very low contrast before it starts hunting. I never have much of a problem with hunting in practice. As long as there is enough light to take pictures handheld of less than perfectly static subjects, the 20 has no difficulties handling the situation if only you give it a decent focus target. For perfectly static subjects and/or when shooting from a tripod, you are not dependent on the AF system and can use MF if required.

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