Heated debate about 17mm/1.8

Started Sep 3, 2013 | Discussions
gotompoes
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Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
Sep 3, 2013

I have been reading recently a long debate about the IQ of the 17 mm lens.

Bought a week ago the wonderful Olympus E P5 with the 17 mm/1.8 and at the same time the Sony RX100II. Walked around with both camera's and was able to compare the results in good light.
The little sony performed much better at 35mm (full frame equivalent) then the Olympus 17mm 1.8.
It should be the other way round.
As a result of that i will return the E P5 kit today.
I loved the E P5 but as a stand alone camera i consider it too expensive, with the 17 mm and the EVF it was for me an acceptable price.
It is possible that i bought a bad copy but the reviews about this lens have been mixed.
What to do next ?. I still have the fantastic Panasonic Leica 25 mm.
No doubt i will return to m4/3 as the system is athletic with a fantastic build quality.

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photofan1986
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to gotompoes, Sep 3, 2013

Could you post a couple of samples maybe? From what I've seen, the Sony is overhyped. It has a very impressive sensor but a quite disappointing lens. Almost any other high end compact camera has better lens sharpness (in the corners and edge of the image).

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s_grins
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to gotompoes, Sep 3, 2013

gotompoes wrote:

I have been reading recently a long debate about the IQ of the 17 mm lens.

Bought a week ago the wonderful Olympus E P5 with the 17 mm/1.8 and at the same time the Sony RX100II. Walked around with both camera's and was able to compare the results in good light.
The little sony performed much better at 35mm (full frame equivalent) then the Olympus 17mm 1.8.
It should be the other way round.
As a result of that i will return the E P5 kit today.
I loved the E P5 but as a stand alone camera i consider it too expensive, with the 17 mm and the EVF it was for me an acceptable price.
It is possible that i bought a bad copy but the reviews about this lens have been mixed.
What to do next ?. I still have the fantastic Panasonic Leica 25 mm.
No doubt i will return to m4/3 as the system is athletic with a fantastic build quality.

I'm wondering why did not you try E-P5 with fantastic Panaleica 25mm.

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drcPhoto
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to gotompoes, Sep 3, 2013

I have been excited about the 17mm focal length for some time now, but have been disturbed by the mixed reviews about the Olympus 17mm 1.8.  My preference is to get the Voigtlander 17.5mm.   It would be great to see some photos from your  two cameras to compare.  Do you have some we could see?

Dale

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gotompoes
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to s_grins, Sep 3, 2013

I did try the E P5 with the Panasonic Leica and that combo is fantastic.
But i bought the E P5 with the 17 mm and EVF, as a kit effectively you get the EVF free.
The total package price was € 1499 and the E P5 stand alone cost € 999 with a separate EVF you pay € 1265. I consider that expensive.
Might come back to the E P5 when the prices drop or look at the Panasonic GX7 with the 20mm.
The camera is brilliant and so are some lenses in the m4/3 system (12mm, 25mm, 75 mm)

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gotompoes
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to photofan1986, Sep 3, 2013

photofan1986 wrote:

Could you post a couple of samples maybe? From what I've seen, the Sony is overhyped. It has a very impressive sensor but a quite disappointing lens. Almost any other high end compact camera has better lens sharpness (in the corners and edge of the image).
I need to check how i can post some samples but believe me the differences are substantial.

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Andrew Butterfield
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to photofan1986, Sep 3, 2013

From what I've seen, the Sony is overhyped. It has a very impressive sensor but a quite disappointing lens. Almost any other high end compact camera has better lens sharpness (in the corners and edge of the image).

Actually I think my RX100 has a pretty good lens and isn't overrated. I'm still planning on getting rid of my Canon SLR gear and getting a GX7 though. The RX100's limitations aren't corner sharpness or lens quality, but flexibility. No kit zoom lens for me with the GX7 then, because it would be no better than the Sony I already have, which will act as my 'kit lens' until I can afford the 12–35!

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gotompoes
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to Andrew Butterfield, Sep 3, 2013

I am rather spoiled, i have a Leica M9 and the Sony RX1 and pleasantly surprised about the file quality of the Sony RX 100II. I need a micro four third camera for the AF speed and love the Olympus E P5.
Unfortunately the kit with the 17 mm does not work for me. A bad copy ??

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Pikme
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to drcPhoto, Sep 3, 2013

drcPhoto wrote:

I have been excited about the 17mm focal length for some time now, but have been disturbed by the mixed reviews about the Olympus 17mm 1.8. My preference is to get the Voigtlander 17.5mm.

You have to put the 'noise' about this lens into perspective.  First of all, it is forever doomed to be compared to the Panasonic 20, even though the focal lengths are not the same. And there is the 'legendary' emotional attachment to the 20 that makes the 17 a 'loser' lens no matter the facts.

I have both lenses - the 20 is sharper but the 17 is sharp enough. By 'sharp enough', I don't mean kit lens sharp, it is better than that.  If it were rated by itself instead of being compared to the 20 and its 'legendary' status, the 17 would be considered a very good lens.  But the only way it would get acceptance here would be to 'beat' the 20 and it doesn't 'beat' the 20 (on sharpness only, it does 'beat' it on other criteria).

The 17 was not designed to be a landscape lens and most of those complaining about it are testing it (or more likely, reading about it) as a landscape lens. I nearly always use mine at f1.8 and it works very well at that aperture for my uses - but I'm not shooting traditional daytime landscapes with it.

I have also used the Voigtlander lens and loved it very much. It is not at all sharp at f0.95, but that makes it a lovely lens for shooting people.  It does get insanely sharp at smaller apertures and it is a very well built lens with beautiful rendering.  And guess what, it has extreme field curvature and heavy CA, much more than the Olympus.

But facts are facts - the Voigtlander is a very large lens, with no AF, weighs over a pound (540g) and costs $1250.  No surprise the Olympus does not 'beat' it, considering it is tiny in size, tiny in weight (120g) and costs $499.  People need to get rational!  I suspect that Olympus started with the price and then designed the best lens they could that they could sell under $500 - and they were successful at that.  No matter how good the lens was, can you imagine the screaming if they sold a lens that weighed more than a pound and cost over $1000??

There are really two things to think about (in addition to price and size):  how important is AF and/or the MF clutch that the Olympus lens has for your style of shooting?  what do you want from rendering - the Olympus has the usual Olympus no nonsense, 'scientific' style rendering while the Voigtlander is rich with its signature style rendering (and rich in 'flaws' as a result).  I would love to own both lenses and would not consider them to be at all redundant as they serve very different purposes.  And sharpness on some graph somewhere, especially as a comparison to yet another lens with a different focal length and its own set of 'flaws', is not really part of the decision process!

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larsbc
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RX100 over hyped?
In reply to photofan1986, Sep 3, 2013

photofan1986 wrote:

Could you post a couple of samples maybe? From what I've seen, the Sony is overhyped. It has a very impressive sensor but a quite disappointing lens. Almost any other high end compact camera has better lens sharpness (in the corners and edge of the image).

To some extent, I agree with you.  The edges of my RX100 II aren't very impressive, and make it a less than ideal choice for landscapes.  But the 1" sensor coupled with the small camera size, and the 20mp resolution, more than makes up for the lens' shortcomings.

This is the first P&S I've had where, when evaluating the images, I am comparing it to m43 and APS-C cameras, instead of P&S cameras.

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marike6
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to gotompoes, Sep 3, 2013

gotompoes wrote:

I am rather spoiled, i have a Leica M9 and the Sony RX1 and pleasantly surprised about the file quality of the Sony RX 100II. I need a micro four third camera for the AF speed and love the Olympus E P5.
Unfortunately the kit with the 17 mm does not work for me. A bad copy ??

I don't think it's a case of the bad copy as reviews of the 17 f/1.8 have been a bit disappointing.

Photozone, a pretty reliable review site wrote: "The Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8 may not be a stellar performer but it is certainly an interesting lens considering its strengths."

http://www.photozone.de/m43/840-olympus17f18?start=2

Lenstip had a similar lens test of the 17 f/1.8.

And remember when DPR posted it's "Real World Samples" of the E-P5 / 17 f/1.8 combo. The images were not as crisp as we've come to expect from cameras with that sensor.  It's a beautiful lens in terms of build quality, and quick, silent AF, but optically it doesn't seem to dramatically outperform the Olympus 14-42 much at all as far as resolution.

http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/reviewsamples/photos/2620242/p6290349?inalbum=olympus-pen-e-p5-preview-samples

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Uncle Frank
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Re: don't return the kit...
In reply to gotompoes, Sep 3, 2013

gotompoes wrote:

I did try the E P5 with the Panasonic Leica and that combo is fantastic.
But i bought the E P5 with the 17 mm and EVF, as a kit effectively you get the EVF free.
The total package price was € 1499 and the E P5 stand alone cost € 999 with a separate EVF you pay € 1265. I consider that expensive.
Might come back to the E P5 when the prices drop or look at the Panasonic GX7 with the 20mm.
The camera is brilliant and so are some lenses in the m4/3 system (12mm, 25mm, 75 mm)

Instead of returning the kit, why not sell the 17/1.8, and keep the ep5 and vf4.  The 17/1.8 is in demand for street photography, where edge sharpness isn't important, and it commands a high price.  Replace it with a 25/1.4 and you'll have your dream kit.

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s_grins
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Re: don't return the kit...
In reply to Uncle Frank, Sep 3, 2013

Uncle Frank wrote:

gotompoes wrote:

I did try the E P5 with the Panasonic Leica and that combo is fantastic.
But i bought the E P5 with the 17 mm and EVF, as a kit effectively you get the EVF free.
The total package price was € 1499 and the E P5 stand alone cost € 999 with a separate EVF you pay € 1265. I consider that expensive.
Might come back to the E P5 when the prices drop or look at the Panasonic GX7 with the 20mm.
The camera is brilliant and so are some lenses in the m4/3 system (12mm, 25mm, 75 mm)

Instead of returning the kit, why not sell the 17/1.8, and keep the ep5 and vf4. The 17/1.8 is in demand for street photography, where edge sharpness isn't important, and it commands a high price. Replace it with a 25/1.4 and you'll have your dream kit.

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And I'd recommend 1.7/20.

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Gregm61
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Re: RX100 over hyped?
In reply to larsbc, Sep 3, 2013

larsbc wrote:

photofan1986 wrote:

Could you post a couple of samples maybe? From what I've seen, the Sony is overhyped. It has a very impressive sensor but a quite disappointing lens. Almost any other high end compact camera has better lens sharpness (in the corners and edge of the image).

To some extent, I agree with you.  The edges of my RX100 II aren't very impressive, and make it a less than ideal choice for landscapes.  But the 1" sensor coupled with the small camera size, and the 20mp resolution, more than makes up for the lens' shortcomings.

This is the first P&S I've had where, when evaluating the images, I am comparing it to m43 and APS-C cameras, instead of P&S cameras.

My girlfriend owns the first RX100 and it is an excellent camera. I've had a chance to shoot with it a couple of times and run raw files through adobe camera raw. The one thing I notice, the highlight headroom is very narrow compared to E-M5 raw files. I can nudge into the clipped areas of the histogram with an E-M5 file and easily recover it and assume the same would be true of E-P5 raw files. You can dig a little into overexposed areas of an RX100 raw file, but not very far before there's nothing to get, but you can really pull up shadows with RX100 raw files and wind up with great results with little in terms of shadow noise problems.

That and the wider depth of field from the smaller RX100 files are the differences I have noticed. If i really needed something as small as the RX100, that's definitely what I would buy. Shooting raw and exposing the files carefully, the results can be quite excellent.

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honeyiscool
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to Pikme, Sep 3, 2013

Yeah, I think the 17mm f/1.8 is ideal for low-light action, and anyone who uses it for people, pets, kids, etc., they seem to love it. Those who use it for brick walls, landscapes, and still life seem to be less than impressed. Interestingly enough, I think the 20mm f/1.7 have exactly the opposite strengths and weaknesses, which IMO is a great thing as they complement each other perfectly.

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Pikme
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to honeyiscool, Sep 3, 2013

honeyiscool wrote:

...anyone who uses it for people, pets, kids, etc., they seem to love it. Those who use it for brick walls, landscapes, and still life seem to be less than impressed. Interestingly enough, I think the 20mm f/1.7 have exactly the opposite strengths and weaknesses, which IMO is a great thing as they complement each other perfectly.

That is a good way of describing the differences.

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MrScorpio
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to s_grins, Sep 3, 2013

s_grins wrote:

gotompoes wrote:

I have been reading recently a long debate about the IQ of the 17 mm lens.

Bought a week ago the wonderful Olympus E P5 with the 17 mm/1.8 and at the same time the Sony RX100II. Walked around with both camera's and was able to compare the results in good light.
The little sony performed much better at 35mm (full frame equivalent) then the Olympus 17mm 1.8.
It should be the other way round.
As a result of that i will return the E P5 kit today.
I loved the E P5 but as a stand alone camera i consider it too expensive, with the 17 mm and the EVF it was for me an acceptable price.
It is possible that i bought a bad copy but the reviews about this lens have been mixed.
What to do next ?. I still have the fantastic Panasonic Leica 25 mm.
No doubt i will return to m4/3 as the system is athletic with a fantastic build quality.

I'm wondering why did not you try E-P5 with fantastic Panaleica 25mm.

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Agree with this. The PanaLeica 25 mm is nothing less than awesome paired with the EM5.

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Guy Parsons
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to gotompoes, Sep 3, 2013

Just for curiosity I "compared" via SLRGear my Pana 14-45mm to the Oly 17mm both at best aperture (14-45mm at 18mm as per graph)....

Many thanks to slrgear.com

To me they are so close in performance at their sweet spots (f/5.6 in both cases). I would have normally expected a more expensive prime to be much better than a kit lens.

I'll stick with the kit zoom for a while longer....

Regards...... Guy

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dpreviewreader
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Re: Heated debate about 17mm/1.8
In reply to Guy Parsons, Sep 4, 2013

Guy Parsons wrote:

Just for curiosity I "compared" via SLRGear my Pana 14-45mm to the Oly 17mm both at best aperture (14-45mm at 18mm as per graph)....

Many thanks to slrgear.com

To me they are so close in performance at their sweet spots (f/5.6 in both cases). I would have normally expected a more expensive prime to be much better than a kit lens.

I'll stick with the kit zoom for a while longer....

Regards...... Guy

Take a look at the 20mm also to keep it in perspective. It doesn't look better than the 14-45 lens either.

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sigala1
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not a landscape lens
In reply to Pikme, Sep 4, 2013

Pikme wrote:

The 17 was not designed to be a landscape lens and most of those complaining about it are testing it (or more likely, reading about it) as a landscape lens. I nearly always use mine at f1.8 and it works very well at that aperture for my uses - but I'm not shooting traditional daytime landscapes with it.

I agree with that.

The lens works very well to photograph people at f/1.8 (although one wishes it was f/1.4 to get more bokeh), or other situations where you don't expect the entire photo to be in focus, but you want what you do focus on to be very sharp.

It's not a good landscape lens at wide apertures because of the field curvature. Stopped down to f/6.3, it's at least as good as any m43 zoom lens at that focal length. But I'd highly recommend the 9-18mm as a better landscape lens because it's just as sharp at 17mm (stopped down to f/8), but gives you many other focal lengths as well.

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