Olympus 17mm F1.8 first impressions and sample gallery

Started Feb 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
Mal_In_Oz Regular Member • Posts: 425
My thoughts...

These images were taken using an EM5 with a sturdy Manfrodo tripod, manual focus, IS off, 2 second anti-shock, manual exposure, custom white balance, -2 sharpness and ISO 200. Shutter speeds and apertures were matched for each set.

I also gave the 20mm slightly wider framing than the 17 (unintentionally), giving the 17 the advantage. Despite that, the 20mm still resolved better in most places I looked.

When focusing, both lenses had focus that moved in steps, and these steps did not always line up with the central babushka doll's eyes. So I had to move the tripod slightly forward and back to get the focus right. This is where the framing was not so consistent.

Also, for both lenses in M manual focus mode, the position of the focus dial did not consistently align with the focus position I was seeing. This meant that as the focus dial was turned back and forth, I could not rely on the focus staying within the range the dial was moved. This is a bad trait I had not noticed before because I don't do much manual focus with these lenses. However, when I used manual focus by pulling back the focus dial on the 17mm, then the focus was totally consistent. If the the dial was rocked back and forth, the focus position always aligned with the position of the dial. A VERY nice differentiation from other focus by wire lenses.

Overall, I still can't decide which lens I prefer. The 17 feels good, has a better construction, nicer manual focus and wickedly fast AF. The AF on the 20 is much slower if it has to move the focus position a long way. If not, then it focuses reasonably/acceptably fast on the OMD. The trouble is when it miss-focuses on the background somewhere and has to recover. Then the 20 can slow you down if you are in a hurry.

On the other hand, the 20 is smaller and a better fit in my pocket on either the EM5 or the EPL5. More importantly it resolves more detail at the widest apertures, and enough to make me think twice about selling it. If I didn't rely so much on cropping the image then the 17 would resolve enough for me. But I have learnt that the 20 can tolerate some heavy cropping and still make a nice image for my photobooks and family photos. There have been plenty of times I have done that and produced good results. The 17 resolves enough to crop, but is it enough when you really crop heavily?

For now I am keeping both lenses and decide over time if the 17 has enough to replace the 20. One thing is for certain, the 17 is a joy to use.

 Mal_In_Oz's gear list:Mal_In_Oz's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus PEN E-PL5 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH +5 more
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