What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?

Started Sep 2, 2013 | Discussions
Sergey Borachev
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What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
Sep 2, 2013

I created a thread about this disappointing situation but it got nowhere. It's been 6 months and we still have the same disappointing situation. The following is extracted from the previous thread and updated.

M43 is known for the best lens range for mirrorless cameras and there are many stellar lenses. Now, 35mm equivalent is a very important FL, and what most people would regard as the the FL to get if they can have only one single prime, hence its popularity throughout camera history.

However, there is nothing at all in M43 if you want a really good 35mm equivalent lens for general purposes.

1. Olympus 17mm f/2.8 - Inadequate IQ. Better than nothing, I suppose. The only reason for having the lens is small size, but the Panasonic 14mm is even smaller, cheaper, and I bet still as sharp after cropping to the same FOV, based on test results.

2. Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 - Very good resolution. It is however slightly wide but OK. This lens is a bit slow, but very good value given its low price. I am however trying to find better than a basic lens.

3. Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 - Very sharp, though slight,y uneven across the frame, but still impressive in IQ. Very good speed too. There are however some flaws, banding from ISO 1600, noisy and sluggish AF.

4. Sigma 19mm f/2.8 - Also quite sharp, fast and quiet AF too and good value. But it is a bit slow, more than 1 stop slower than the 20mm.

5. Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 - Excellent speed and bokeh. A very nice lens indeed. All good, except that it is 50mm equivalent FL, which is not ideal for a general purpose walk-about lens and restricting for buildings, landscape, travels or when you want to get closer and more intimate with your subjects.

6. Nockton 17.5mm f/0.5. - Beautifully piece of metal and glass and great specs. Excellent dreamy bokeh. The lack of AF plus the weight and size make this not enjoyable for many situations, including street shooting or parties, etc Too niche and expensive.

7. Olympus 17mm f/1.8 - An expensive but underperforming lens. Significant field of curvature problem and sub-standard sharpness (even worse than 12-35mm, the 12mm, and also the 20mm and 14mm, which are supposed to be harder to make sharp, being respectively a zoom, a much wider lens, and pancakes). Except for flare control, it does stand out in any optical measurements compared to much cheaper lenses.

So, here we have all these lenses around that FL, but not even one really good general purpose 35mm equivalent lens, even at a high price, if you want excellent IQ and reasonable features like decent AF, decent speed, and build. With the OMD and GH3 supposedly like pro, and its weatherproof and alloy build, its great sensor and features, I think there should be something better for a lens in this important FL. The 17mm f/1.8 seems the best at this time, but that is a risky assumption as it is really very average, to put it politely. Check reviews like Lenstip, Diglloyd***, DXOMark, Photozone and LensRental to confirm how ordinary this expensive lens really is.

It is time for someone to make a weatherproof and convenient to use 17mm f/1.8 with good IQ now, don't you think?

Sources:

*** The Diglloyd.com review is only available by subscription. The main comments can be seen in this thread below.

The other reviews mentioned should be easy to find by googling.

There are also threads about the problem with the field of curvature in 17mm f/1.8 on this forum, especially Sigala1's threads. The problem makes the lens unsuitable for numerous low light landscape or travel shots, as objects on a plane cannot all be in focus. It also makes it hard to AF accurately, e.g. when you AF and then reframe.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52080936

RealPancho
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Is it because
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

Did your prior thread not go anywhere because so many people like the Olympus 17/1.8?

I don't have that one, and I read what you said about curvature, but it seems like I never read anything here about that lens but praise.

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Steven Wandy
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

Have you actually SHOT PICTURES with one of these lenses - especially the 17mm 1.8? It sounds like all you have done is research various review sites instead of actually trying out one of them.

I had the original Olympus 17mm and the Pana 20mm. I currently have the Olympus 17mm and the Pana 14mm. And while perhaps I am not a super critical as some others, I really like the results I get from both. Is the 17mm overpriced - not when you consider the aperture and the build quality along with what I consider very good IQ. Could it been a bit sharper - possibly. But not to call it "a disappointing situation" IMHO.

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007peter
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In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

"1. Olympus 17mm f/2.8 - Inadequate IQ. Better than nothing, I suppose. The only reason for having the lens is small size, but the Panasonic 14mm is even smaller, cheaper, and I bet still as sharp after cropping to the same FOV, based on test results.

2. Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 - Very good resolution. It is however slightly wide but OK. This lens is a bit slow, but very good value given its low price. I am however trying to find better than a basic lens.

3. Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 - Very sharp, though slight,y uneven across the frame, but still impressive in IQ. Very good speed too. There are however some flaws, banding from ISO 1600, noisy and sluggish AF.

4. Sigma 19mm f/2.8 - Also quite sharp, fast and quiet AF too and good value. But it is a bit slow, more than 1 stop slower than the 20mm.

5. Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 - Excellent speed and bokeh. A very nice lens indeed. All good, except that it is 50mm equivalent FL, which is not ideal for a general purpose walk-about lens and restricting for buildings, landscape, travels or when you want to get closer and more intimate with your subjects.

6. Nockton 17.5mm f/0.5. - Beautifully piece of metal and glass and great specs. Excellent dreamy bokeh. The lack of AF plus the weight and size make this not enjoyable for many situations, including street shooting or parties, etc Too niche and expensive.

7. Olympus 17mm f/1.8 - An expensive but underperforming lens. Significant field of curvature problem and sub-standard sharpness (even worse than 12-35mm, the 12mm, and also the 20mm and 14mm, which are supposed to be harder to make sharp, being respectively a zoom, a much wider lens, and pancakes). Except for flare control, it does stand out in any optical measurements compared to much cheaper lenses."

Every lens/camera is a compromise of price/performance/size/IQ. It appear that you want the IQ of #7 Olympus 17/1.8, but isn't willing to pay the price. You get what you pay for. If the above choices doesn't satisfied you, then nothing will.

Honestly, name another system with 7 choices in 17mm (35mm) range. That's plenty. Select a compromise you can live with and be happy.  If not, leave for NEX, how many choices do you have there?

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javayoda
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

You forgot to criticize the 15mm F8 lenscap.

Anyway, I like my 17 1.8.

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Mittskitts
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

Hmmm. I have the 17/2.8 and like it very much. I would not call it "inadequate".

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s_grins
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

Sorry, I do not understand what are talking about. What exactly disappoints you? and why? Is it narrow lens selection? Is it your personal problem with lens/es from your list? Do you want one more 17mm lens to be produced?

I have only one 1.7/20 from your list and I'm not disappointed.

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DLBlack
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

I have the 17/1.8 and like it a bunch. Yes, it could be better but it would cost even more. Anyhow, the 17/1.8 has paid for itself several times over so I guess it is a good lens or atleast people likes and pay for images its produces.  So I can not ask for any more from this lens.

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thomasw333
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

Also note, Olympus is now having a lens sale, 17mm f2.8, $100 off, now only $200.

I am thinking about getting one.

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MiroM
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

It would be good if you'd show us some pictures with the exif data.

I like even 17mmF2.8 lens, like the colour depth and absolutely don't care what some review are saying.

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sigala1
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In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

Example photos of why the 17mm f/1.8 is so bad?

I do think it's overpriced and that the "snap focus ring" is gimmicky, and yes the field curvature issue makes it not good for taking pictures at infinity with wide apertures.

But on the positive side, at f/5.6 it's as sharp as the best m43 zoom lenses, and even at f/1.8 it's sharp on whatever you focus.

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pxchoi
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

I've read all the reviews on the 17 1.8 and still decided to buy it. In the real world, it's an excellent lens that renders beautiful colors.

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So 6 months ago you started a whine
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

and nobody joined in.  That should tell you something, it really should.  Maybe it's just you.

Why don't you go elsewhere with the negativity?

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jeffharris
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In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

Sergey Borachev wrote:

I created a thread about this disappointing situation but it got nowhere.

Now, 35mm equivalent is a very important FL, and what most people would regard as the the FL to get if they can have only one single prime, hence its popularity throughout camera history.

However, there is nothing at all in M43 if you want a really good 35mm equivalent lens for general purposes.

3. Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 - Very sharp, though slight,y uneven across the frame, but still impressive in IQ. Very good speed too. There are however some flaws, banding from ISO 1600, noisy and sluggish AF.

6. Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95. - Beautifully piece of metal and glass and great specs. Excellent dreamy bokeh. The lack of AF plus the weight and size make this not enjoyable for many situations, including street shooting or parties, etc Too niche and expensive.

7. Olympus 17mm f/1.8 - An expensive but underperforming lens.

So, here we have all these lenses around that FL, but not even one really good general purpose 35mm equivalent lens, even at a high price, if you want excellent IQ and reasonable features like decent AF, decent speed, and build.

Jeeze, agonize much?

There's no such thing as a perfect lens… unless you want to spend $10,000 or so for a Leica…

The 20mm is excellent. The Voigtländer 17.5mm is fantastic. I've not shot with the Oly 17mm, but even with mixed reviews, users seem to like it.

Pick one. Buy it. Shoot with it and learn to work it.

Or give it up and start stamp collecting…

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tjuster1
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Re: Why not take up stamp collecting?
In reply to jeffharris, Sep 2, 2013

jeffharris wrote:

Jeeze, agonize much?

There's no such thing as a perfect lens… unless you want to spend $10,000 or so for a Leica…

The 20mm is excellent. The Voigtländer 17.5mm is fantastic. I've not shot with the Oly 17mm, but even with mixed reviews, users seem to like it.

Pick one. Buy it. Shoot with it and learn to work it.

Or give it up and start stamp collecting…

+1. Wow, the whiners are strong today.

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AustinB
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

Sergey Borachev wrote:

5. Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 - Excellent speed and bokeh. A very nice lens indeed. All good, except that it is 50mm equivalent FL, which is not ideal for a general purpose walk-about lens and restricting for buildings, landscape, travels or when you want to get closer and more intimate with your subjects.

50mm is great for a general purpose walk-around lens!

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jeffharris
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to AustinB, Sep 2, 2013

AustinB wrote:

Sergey Borachev wrote:

5. Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 - Excellent speed and bokeh. A very nice lens indeed. All good, except that it is 50mm equivalent FL, which is not ideal for a general purpose walk-about lens and restricting for buildings, landscape, travels or when you want to get closer and more intimate with your subjects.

50mm is great for a general purpose walk-around lens!

Sure is. 50mm was the standard kit lens for decades!

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Sergey Borachev
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

Still waiting for a meaningful reply.

This is a discussion of the need of a better 35mm equivalent FL lens, not about whether you like the lens that you have bought (if not based on tests that are reliable for comparisons), or whether I have bought this lens or can take good photos, or how many people have decided to buy the lens, ... They are all irrelevant.

For example, one of my many points is this.

If a much wider 12mm lens can be made to clearly outperform the 17mm, then the 17mm is not so stellar, even though there is a small difference in maximum aperture. It should be possible to make the 17mm at least as good if not better, since it is not as wide and it is not constrained otherwise (by size restrictions like with pancakes), or by other considerations.

It should be clear also that a better lens is possible if a zoom is overall sharper than it, except for particular apertures. It is disappointing to me if not to the owners who for various reasons bought it that its optical qualities are give and take not any better than pancakes in sharpness, distortion, vignetting and certainly not in field of curvature characteristics. All these are well documented in detailed test results. I don't think Lenstip, DXOMark, Photozone, etc all conspire to bash this lens.

I have as yet no meaningful arguments on any of these, or on why the wide apertures of this lens is useless in many situations due to problems arising from its poor field of curvature property, which means such a fast lens not much better than a slower one like a 18mm f/2.8. It is also strange is that no one apparently would wish for a better performance, which should be quite possible.

While it is fine to say you like your lens and can get excellent pictures out of it (so can many P&S or compact camera lenses), it should be clear that a 17mm with better IQ would make it possible for you to do even more, easier, and have sharper pictures, more keepers, less problems. And it should be entirely possible to make it better, much better.

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zkz5
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In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

Sergey Borachev wrote:

While it is fine to say you like your lens and can get excellent pictures out of it (so can many P&S or compact camera lenses), it should be clear that a 17mm with better IQ would make it possible for you to do even more, easier, and have sharper pictures, more keepers, less problems. And it should be entirely possible to make it better, much better.

Show me a photo taken with any of the lenses you listed that just had to be thrown away because the lens wasn't sharp enough.

For that matter, show me a photo taken with *any* lens that you had to throw away because the lens wasn't sharp enough.

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Silvernitrate
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Re: What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?
In reply to Sergey Borachev, Sep 2, 2013

Sergey Borachev wrote:

Still waiting for a meaningful reply.

This is a discussion of the need of a better 35mm equivalent FL lens, not about whether you like the lens that you have bought (if not based on tests that are reliable for comparisons), or whether I have bought this lens or can take good photos, or how many people have decided to buy the lens, ... They are all irrelevant.

For example, one of my many points is this.

If a much wider 12mm lens can be made to clearly outperform the 17mm, then the 17mm is not so stellar, even though there is a small difference in maximum aperture. It should be possible to make the 17mm at least as good if not better, since it is not as wide and it is not constrained otherwise (by size restrictions like with pancakes), or by other considerations.

It should be clear also that a better lens is possible if a zoom is overall sharper than it, except for particular apertures. It is disappointing to me if not to the owners who for various reasons bought it that its optical qualities are give and take not any better than pancakes in sharpness, distortion, vignetting and certainly not in field of curvature characteristics. All these are well documented in detailed test results. I don't think Lenstip, DXOMark, Photozone, etc all conspire to bash this lens.

I have as yet no meaningful arguments on any of these, or on why the wide apertures of this lens is useless in many situations due to problems arising from its poor field of curvature property, which means such a fast lens not much better than a slower one like a 18mm f/2.8. It is also strange is that no one apparently would wish for a better performance, which should be quite possible.

While it is fine to say you like your lens and can get excellent pictures out of it (so can many P&S or compact camera lenses), it should be clear that a 17mm with better IQ would make it possible for you to do even more, easier, and have sharper pictures, more keepers, less problems. And it should be entirely possible to make it better, much better.

While it is fine to say you like your lens and can get excellent pictures out of it (so can many P&S or compact camera lenses), it should be clear that a 17mm with better IQ would make it possible for you to do even more, easier, and have sharper pictures, more keepers, less problems. And it should be entirely possible to make it better, much better.

Lenses are just not designed to give the performance your looking for at wide apertures, I don`t own the 17mm f1.8 but I bet its performance is better than the average anyway.

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