Tack sharp, don't buy it for bokeh

Started Sep 18, 2020 | User reviews thread
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Valdai21 Regular Member • Posts: 348
Tack sharp, don't buy it for bokeh


  • Excellent build quality
  • Fast autofocus
  • Tack sharp at all apertures
  • Focuses close
  • Bokeh looks smooth at f/1,2


  • Quite big for the micro 4/3 system
  • Don't expect lots of bokeh due to the focal lenght

I got this lens quite recently and love it. I tried Panasonic 14, 15 and 20mm, Olympus 12 and 17mm f/1,8, plus Sigma 16mm f/1,4 before. They were overall capable for their weight and price but I didn't learn to like them and I was a bit annoyed with that since 35mm equivalent is my most used focal lenght. I found a good deal on a second hand 17mm f/1,2 and choose to give it a try.

The lens looks and feels like my 45mm f/1,2. Build quality is excellent.

Image quality is great too. The lens is tack sharp from edge to edge: even the extreme corners are almost perfect at f/1,2. Only the 45mm f/1,2 is as good. Then there is no noticeable difference shooting from f/2 to f/8: the lens is razor sharp, you don't need to stop down except for depth of field reasons. It's sharper than almost everything else in micro 4/3 and much sharper than the not so sharp 17mm f/1,8.

Bokeh looks quite smooth at f/1,2. The lense focuses close which is great for details or flowers if you like. However beware for portraiture. You can get some smooth blur in your backgrounds for headshots but don't expect huge creamyness. It's a 17mm lens which frames like a 35mm, not a 35mm lens. I mean bokeh is smooth and really nice from a 17mm lens but if you are accustomed to a 35mm lense on full frame, you can be deceived by the amount of blur the Olympus produces even wide open.

To conclude, I would say this lens is excellent but it's still a niche product. The main reason to get it should not be bokeh. It's smooth but the amount of subject isolation is limited except if you like close focus or tend to frame tightly. I don't really think the difference with the 17mm f/1,8 is worth it. 
However, sharpness is a huge improvement over this smallest f/1,8 version. The 17mm f/1,2 is hands down the sharpest wide angle standard in the system. You can spot the difference even with a good sample of the f/1,8 version and with an average one, it's night and day. The f/1,8 is probably sharp enough for everyday use but if you want tack sharp pictures at wide apertures, the f/1,2 is much better.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm F1.2 Pro
Prime lens • Micro Four Thirds
Announced: Oct 25, 2017
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Olympus 17mm F1.2 Pro
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