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

Started Aug 20, 2013 | Questions thread
Alexis D Contributing Member • Posts: 531
Re: I own the 17mm 1.8, what's the next best lens you can't live without?

grey0135 wrote:

Have you ever shot the 17mm Oly?

No, I only try something when I want to buy it. In this case, I have not bothered.

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.

I am really concerned with IQ if I have to spend so much money on a prime lens. A prime is a huge sacrifice (in terms of the FL range and cost, compared to zooms) and is justified if it has superior speed, resolution and/or other optical qualities. In this case, as explained already, this 17mm f/1.8 only has speed and flare control but nothing much, e.g. in terms of sharpness, distortion, vignetting, CA, or bokeh (all fairly ordinary for a prime and an expensive one). I trust the detailed tests in Lenstip and Photozone.

As for the 12-50mm, it is indispensible for its versatility, which is in many situations more important than IQ, e.g. for travel shots, outdoor parties, etc. It is a far inferior lens in terms of IQ when compared to the 17mm f/1.8, but it superior in numerous situations it when you need to shoot monuments, coins, tight head shots, in wet weather or cannot change lenses, etc.

By the time you can change to a 37mm lens (assuming you find one), the shot may be gone. And, if you have to shoot with your 17mm to get that shot (and crop to get the correct frame and subject size), the 12-50mm would be definitely much sharper. What's the use of a superior lens if it cannot get the picture? The butterfly is already gone when you can change to your macro lens, so is the 17mm so indispensible?

Sure, the test charts show that the 17mm is slightly soft in the corners when you shoot wide open,

Look at the Lenstip chart, it is very average all the way to diffraction point, both in the centre and edge. Just compare it with other primes.

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.

Good for you. It is good for others to know that this lens is just so-so in terms of resolution, and as explained about the same as what you can get in the Panasonic zoom.

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.

Good for you. Some of us need to crop, to PP and enlarge, in which case more resolution will be important.

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.

Thanks, but no thanks.

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