which Olympus 17mm: new f1.2 PRO or older f1.8

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William Porter
William Porter Senior Member • Posts: 1,730
which Olympus 17mm: new f1.2 PRO or older f1.8
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I have the older Olympus 17mm f1.8. I'm not a technical connoisseur but it seems to me a VERY nice lens: sharp, fast, small and lightweight -- and affordable. It's the lens that is on my PEN-F by default.

But I'm tempted by two alternatives: the new Olympus 17 f1.2 PRO, and the Voightländer 17mm f0.95. The Voightlander is less expensive than the Olympus f1.2 and I'd go for it in a heartbeat -- except that it's a manual focus only lens. Not what I'm looking for. Sigh.

So what about the new Olympus 17 f1.2? Does anybody have it? Even more to the point, does anybody who has it also have experience with the older (smaller, less expensive) f1.8? I might be able to sell the f/1.8 for a couple of hundred dollars, but even then, the f1.2 PRO is going to be almost a thousand dollars more. Is it even remotely worth it?

.

Here is how I'm comparing the two right now.

PROS of the f1.2 "PRO" lens

  1. The f1.2 PRO is weather resistant. While the f1.8 sits on my PEN-F mostly (small lens on small camera) I'd probably use the f1.2 on the E-M1.
  2. F1.2 would make possible shallower DOF shooting close up. I do some of that and it might be nice. Of course, the DOF difference isn't huge and diminishes as I step back even a few feet.
  3. Wider aperture would allow me to use lower ISO when light is scarce.

PROS of the f1.8 "amateur" (?) lens

  1. Smaller and lighter and suits my PEN-F really nicely. 
  2. And of course, if I stick with the f1.8 that I have already, I save about $1000 that I can blow on something else (like paying bills).

.

So it seems to boil down to three questions.

First, how much is the weather sealing of the f1.2 PRO lens worth to me? I shoot a lot outside, in national parks etc. I have hiked down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon a couple times in snow storms. I was carrying Pentax weather-sealed cameras on those trips. But in general, I'm not out in the rain taking photos. I suspect that the weather-resistance of the f1.2 doesn't matter that much to me.

Second, how big a deal will it be that the f1.2 is heavier and larger? I haven't been able to hold one so I can't quite tell how much heavier and bigger it is. I will say that I sometimes think I'm moving in the wrong direction with my lens acquisitions. I bought the 12-100 f4 PRO and it's probably going to work really well for me in Yellowstone this summer, but by MFT standards, it's a honkin' big lens. I sold my Sony full-frame gear in order to get small, and for a while, all I had for my Olympus E-M1 were small, lightweight primes. I'm afraid I'll find the 17 f1.2 a bit too big.

Third, how much better is the f1.2 lens's IQ? Without pulling out a microscope, is it noticeably better? I've looked at photos in the gallery here for the f1.2 and also in Flickr and the f1.2 is indeed nice -- but gosh, so is the f1.8.

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When I started writing this post, I was itching to justify the purchase of the 1.2. I will confess that writing the post has sobered me up a bit. Not a bad thing. Still I'd like to hear from anybody who has an opinion -- especially from anybody who knows BOTH lenses. Thanks in advance.

Will

Basically a DOF test. Shot with PEN-F and 17mm f1.8 wide open, focusing manually on the tab of the folder in the box. Black and white straight from the PEN-F, no extra charge.

My aged cat Mao, shedding on her chair in my office. Not a prize-winner perhaps but I don't think that's the fault of the lens or the camera (or the cat).

 William Porter's gear list:William Porter's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Olympus PEN-F Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 +12 more
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