What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?

Started Sep 2, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Sergey Borachev Veteran Member • Posts: 4,702
What a disappointing situation with the 17mm lens! Why?

I created a thread about this disappointing situation but it got nowhere. It's been 6 months and we still have the same disappointing situation. The following is extracted from the previous thread and updated.

M43 is known for the best lens range for mirrorless cameras and there are many stellar lenses. Now, 35mm equivalent is a very important FL, and what most people would regard as the the FL to get if they can have only one single prime, hence its popularity throughout camera history.

However, there is nothing at all in M43 if you want a really good 35mm equivalent lens for general purposes.

1. Olympus 17mm f/2.8 - Inadequate IQ. Better than nothing, I suppose. The only reason for having the lens is small size, but the Panasonic 14mm is even smaller, cheaper, and I bet still as sharp after cropping to the same FOV, based on test results.

2. Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 - Very good resolution. It is however slightly wide but OK. This lens is a bit slow, but very good value given its low price. I am however trying to find better than a basic lens.

3. Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 - Very sharp, though slight,y uneven across the frame, but still impressive in IQ. Very good speed too. There are however some flaws, banding from ISO 1600, noisy and sluggish AF.

4. Sigma 19mm f/2.8 - Also quite sharp, fast and quiet AF too and good value. But it is a bit slow, more than 1 stop slower than the 20mm.

5. Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 - Excellent speed and bokeh. A very nice lens indeed. All good, except that it is 50mm equivalent FL, which is not ideal for a general purpose walk-about lens and restricting for buildings, landscape, travels or when you want to get closer and more intimate with your subjects.

6. Nockton 17.5mm f/0.5. - Beautifully piece of metal and glass and great specs. Excellent dreamy bokeh. The lack of AF plus the weight and size make this not enjoyable for many situations, including street shooting or parties, etc Too niche and expensive.

7. Olympus 17mm f/1.8 - An expensive but underperforming lens. Significant field of curvature problem and sub-standard sharpness (even worse than 12-35mm, the 12mm, and also the 20mm and 14mm, which are supposed to be harder to make sharp, being respectively a zoom, a much wider lens, and pancakes). Except for flare control, it does stand out in any optical measurements compared to much cheaper lenses.

So, here we have all these lenses around that FL, but not even one really good general purpose 35mm equivalent lens, even at a high price, if you want excellent IQ and reasonable features like decent AF, decent speed, and build. With the OMD and GH3 supposedly like pro, and its weatherproof and alloy build, its great sensor and features, I think there should be something better for a lens in this important FL. The 17mm f/1.8 seems the best at this time, but that is a risky assumption as it is really very average, to put it politely. Check reviews like Lenstip, Diglloyd***, DXOMark, Photozone and LensRental to confirm how ordinary this expensive lens really is.

It is time for someone to make a weatherproof and convenient to use 17mm f/1.8 with good IQ now, don't you think?


*** The Diglloyd.com review is only available by subscription. The main comments can be seen in this thread below.

The other reviews mentioned should be easy to find by googling.

There are also threads about the problem with the field of curvature in 17mm f/1.8 on this forum, especially Sigala1's threads. The problem makes the lens unsuitable for numerous low light landscape or travel shots, as objects on a plane cannot all be in focus. It also makes it hard to AF accurately, e.g. when you AF and then reframe.


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