SLRGear: Oly 17mm F1.8 tested

Started Mar 21, 2013 | Discussions thread
Anders W Forum Pro • Posts: 21,466
Re: I hear ya...

kenw wrote:

tjdean01 wrote:

*The 75mm f1.8 is the sharpest m4/3s lens; probably one of the sharpest lenses in the world

*The 45mm f1.8 is very good

*The 20mm f1.7 is very good and popular due to size and price

*The 25mm f1.4 is very good

That certainly matches my experience with those lenses. I'd add that neglecting size I prefer the 25/1.4 to the 20/1.7 for both IQ and of course AF. But the 20/1.7 is still very good considered on its own and belongs in the class of good m43 primes.

*The 17mm f1.8 is decent but obviously NOT AS GOOD as those mentioned above. I base this on the complaints we see about it. No one complains about the above except for focus speed on the 20 (something I don't care about).

I'm reaching the same conclusion but my direct experience is with a defective lens so it is hard for me to base my conclusion on that. Safe to say the first four lenses tick almost every IQ checkbox very well or excellent. I think the 17 does a lot of things just as well but maybe a few only "sufficient". I feel more is being made of its weaknesses than is probably sound. That said I think "not as good" is a fair comparison but needs to be qualified by "does it matter" for the particular use in question. To be fair when you plunk a fair bit of money down for something you want to feel good about that. If a bad MTF chart or a soft corner viewed at 100% makes you regret spending the money then that is important even if it might not affect your images in the end. Happiness is all about perception after all!

As to my 17/1.8 it is on its way back to Amazon as defective. They are out of stock at the moment so I did a return instead of exchange. I'll mull whether I try again for a bit.


I don't konw if the 12/2 is really any good or not. Too many mixed reviews. I know the 14/2.5 is not really that good, but in comparisons I see that the 12/2 and the 14/2.5 look very similar to me, so that means the 12/2 isn't very good either, I'd say. Anyway want to buy me one so I can test it out for y'all?

I agonized over purchasing the 12/2. I eventually went for a discounted refurbished model that took a bit of edge off the price. I also hoped, perhaps erroneously, it might have received more optical testing and attention than one rolling straight off the manufacturing line. My copy is really quite excellent. I was quite surprised by the corner sharpness at F/2 and IQ beyond just sharpness was also very good. I am quite happy with it.

On the flip side our prolific and very helpful poster Anders tried out three copies with issues on all and eventually shimmed the last lens to optimal performance himself. So maybe the mixed reviews of the 12/2 are more than just variation in people's expectations and opinions. There might be some significant variation in performance of individual lenses.

Judging by my experiences, there certainly is some sample variation to be reckoned with. And it seems I am not alone. Admiring Light (Jordan Steele, jman on the forum) went through three copies as well.

But having shimmed my third copy to correct a slightly tilted focus plane and having come to terms with the field curvature (you have to set focus slightly off center for best performance on certain targets), I am quite happy with my 12/2 and don't hesitate to use it wide open even for demanding targets like landscapes or architecture. Price aside, I also prefer it to the 14/2.5. While the 14 comes pretty close in many respects, the 12 comes out with a slight edge in equally many.

 Anders W's gear list:Anders W's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH +28 more
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