I own the 17mm 1.8, what's the next best lens you can't live without?

Started Aug 20, 2013 | Questions thread
grey0135 Regular Member • Posts: 223
Re: I own the 17mm 1.8, what's the next best lens you can't live without?

Alexis D wrote:

I supposed it is a "best" lens for you because it is the only M43 lens you have.

I don't own it but I have wanted to buy it many times, as I really need this FL. However I stopped myself every time, because this lens seems very ordinary. Both Lenstip and Photozone both said the 17mm f/1.8 is quite ordinary as a prime in its resolution ("just decent"), distortion ("extreme"), vignetting ("huge"), CA ("medium") and bokeh("not big calibre"), especially since it is not cheap. The 12-35mm zoom is said to match or beat it in sharpness at that particular FL. It is excellent in AF, flare control and build, that's about it. While there are other reviews that are more positive about this lens' worth, I trust Lenstip and Photozone more. So, I managed to live without it thus far.

The best lens I can't live without is the 12-50mm. By expecting less IQ (due to the lens quality and the need to use higher ISO more often), I have something that can go with me anywhere and be ready for just about any situation, rain, wind, wide scenes, portraits, macro shots, video, quick shots of things near and far (no time to change lenses) etc. Of course I use sharper lenses for specific and planned situations too, but this lens makes the difference of getting that picture or not.

Have you ever shot the 17mm Oly? The limitations are there, but they're massively overstated and are only a real issue if your primary use for the 17mm is shooting landscape shots. And if you're really that concerned about IQ, you wouldn't be shooting with the 12-50, which is a far inferior lens. Sure, the test charts show that the 17mm is slightly soft in the corners when you shoot wide open, but I've never had any issue with real world photos. When I shoot this lens wide open, I'm usually photographing people (especially in the evenings). The corners, for such photos, are out of focus anyhow, so not an issue.

This lens is especially great at night. It's allows me to travel light with the E-P5. It can quickly focus in the dimmest of settings, such as at restaurants or bars. In fact, after trying the E-P5 with the 17mm for several weeks (I got them as a package, along with the VF4), I ended up returning my Fuji X100S, which I had owned for several weeks. Although the Fuji has better high ISO performance, I actually found myself getting better pictures with the E-P5 and the 17mm because that combination focused so quickly and easily. And thanks to the fast aperture and IBIS, I never had to go above ISO 1600.

Don't get me wrong; the 17mm has its weaknesses, but the weaknesses are only apparent if shoot lots of landscapes or interiors at 1.8 (with focus on infinity), and even then, I found that the slight softness did not manifest itself in actual prints.

One other bit of advice: if you use the snap back feature and want to focus at infinity, turn the ring so that it's just a little short of infinity. On my lens at least, if you put it at infinity, it will focus past infinity, and you'll end up with soft pictures.

In short, the 17mm is a great travel companion.  I use the 12-35mm during the day, and the 17mm or 25mm at night.  I've gotten some of my favorite images with the PL 25mm, but if I'm in cramped quarters, I prefer the 17mm.

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RV Abbott

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