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

Started Sep 2, 2013 | Discussions thread
texinwien Veteran Member • Posts: 3,326
Re: Goal? Hope for result from discussion?

Sergey Borachev wrote:

The goal is to get attention of potential solution providers and to raise awareness. Olympus seems to be listening to complaints if the new E-M1 and 12-40mm are any guide. It needs to know it got caught out this time. More information and alternative views cannot be bad for people still considering the lens, before all the owner experts influence them too much, just because they own the products and should know best. I know I won't get consensus, but if this helps to alert some potential buyers, that's not a bad thing. Some of those who are defending their expensive purchase in this very thread could be spared the pain of the realisation that it is not a good buy and spared also the need for denial and self delusion and justification posts to ease that pain, if they had seen my initial post 6 months ago. Too late, but it's not too late for numerous other visitors to these forums. Of course, I am also hoping to confirm my view with those who actually know better, or to be convinced otherwise, i.e. proven wrong with reasonable arguments and not just personal feelings.

I don't think switching systems is the option because there is still hope and M43 is the best mirrorless system. Schneider has an AF 14mm f/2 coming, though it is way too expensive and a bit too wide, e.g. it would mean having to get uncomfotably close in street shooting. It is possible Tamron or Sigma might see the opportunity. If everybody just accept what is given to them, or disallow dissenting voices, it would be a bad use of these forums.

Count me in.

I own the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7. Have for more than a year. It's my most-used lens, by far (on my E-M5). It and the E-M5 are the two main reasons I bought into the micro four-thirds system, in the first place. It's an excellent lens in many respects (most importantly [to me] in the areas of optical quality, light-gathering ability and size), but it has some significant warts that need to be addressed in order for me to be truly satisfied with it.

Because of the warts, I was excited about the early leaks regarding the Olympus 17mm f/1.8. Olympus had recently released the outstanding 75mm f/1.8 and the well-regarded 60m f/2.8, so I had high hopes that they'd hit a home-run with the 17mm and give me a lens that would be a worthy (to me) upgrade over my Panasonic 20mm.

I was initially disappointed to hear that the lens wouldn't be a pancake, but metal construction and the cool snapshot manual focus ring sounded like pluses, so I was still hopeful. Then we learned the target price, around $500. That's fine, I don't mind paying that much for a superb lens in my most-used focal length. Then the test results started coming out.

Look, the lens is more expensive, larger and less sharp than the 20mm - those are the facts. To me, it was a disappointment. I could have lived with more expensive and larger, had it been just as sharp as the 20mm that was already in my bag. But bigger, more expensive and less sharp isn't a win for me, at all. I understand that plenty of people like the lens, and I have seen nice images made with it. I'm not saying it's trash, just that I think it could have been better than it is, and I'm disappointed that Olympus didn't give us something better.

I transferred my hopes to Panasonic. I hoped they'd eventually come out with an updated 20mm that addressed some of the lens' warts - specifically, the banding that it has been shown to cause in conjunction with the Sony sensors (like the one in my E-M5). Now we have the new 20mm lens, and the banding is still just as much an issue with it.

So what we have, as Sergey has pointed out, is a strange gap in m43 in this very popular focal length. We have a number of OK or even quite good lenses in and around the 17mm focal length, but none that I, personally, consider to be truly outstanding. Nothing like the optically-excellent 75mm. Nothing like the optically excellent 20mm, but without the warts.

Again, as someone for whom this is the most-used focal length, it's really disappointing that we've recently had a new lens added to this focal length and an existing lens updated without ending up with what I personally consider to be a fantastic lens.

So I keep my 20mm and do the best I can with it. It's a capable lens that makes pictures that I like, especially when the light is plentiful. I need to be careful with it in low light, since I've had some shots ruined by banding, but there is no single lens that meets my subjective criteria to make it the solid, fantastic and obvious choice for a replacement right now.

Hopefully Olympus, Panasonic or one of the third-party lens-makers will take heed and deliver something outstanding to fill this niche. I'd buy it in a heartbeat if it met my personal, subjective requirements for a lens.

 texinwien's gear list:texinwien's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Olympus E-M5 II Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 OnePlus One Canon EOS 300D +20 more
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