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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 Lens Review

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews this new compact 17mm f/1.8 Micro Four Thirds lens from Olympus.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8
Price : £440
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Olympus M Zuiko 17mm F1 8 Msc Lens (1)

This premium compact wide angle lens sports a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture and is compatible with all Micro Four Thirds cameras. The lens provides a field of view roughly equivalent to a 34mm lens used on a 35mm camera and costs around £440.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 Handling and Features

Olympus M Zuiko 17mm F1 8 Msc Lens (3)

Despite being very solidly put together and sporting a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture, this lens weighs only 120g, which makes for a nice compact combination with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 body used for testing. High quality metal and plastics finish the lens off nicely, making a high-quality impression. Unfortunately this lens isn't weather sealed, unlike some other lenses from Olympus' range.

Autofocus is quick, precise and virtually silent, thanks to the MSC focusing motor, which is designed for use when shooting video as well as stills. The manual focusing ring slides back towards the camera body to reveal a distance scale and a useful hyperfocal focusing scale is also provided. Manual focusing is silky-smooth, which makes applying fine focus adjustments relatively straightforward. However, it is a shame that the lens does not automatically switch the camera used for testing to manual focus when the focusing ring is engaged. Instead a warning flashes on screen to prompt you to change focusing modes. Closest focus is 25cm, which allows you to get close for frame filling shots or for shooting in claustrophobic environments.

Olympus M Zuiko 17mm F1 8 Msc Lens (2)

A 46mm filter thread is supplied, which does not rotate during focusing and the lens does not extend. This makes the lens ideal for use with graduated or polarising filters. No lens hood is supplied as standard. The optional LH-48B hood retails for a wallet-busting £55 if you require one.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 Performance

Sharpness in the centre of the frame is already approaching outstanding levels at maximum aperture, and clarity towards the edges of the frame reaches good levels. Stopping down the aperture improves performance across the frame with peak sharpness being achieved between f/4 and f/5.6, here the clarity recorded is outstanding across the frame.

Olympus17mm MTF |

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G3 using Imatest.
Olympus17mm CA |

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Panasonic Lumix G3 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are on the high side for a lens like this, but remain below one pixel-width in size, so shouldn't pose too many issues, except in areas of extreme contrast towards the edges of the frame.
Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is reasonably well controlled for a lens with a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture. At f/1.8 the corners are 1.58 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved with the aperture closed down to f/4.

Unusually, for a wide angle lens, Imatest detected 0.439% pincushion distortion. This level is so low that it should not pose any issues for all but the most demanding applications. If absolutely straight lines are paramount, then you'll be glad to know the the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame. This should make applying corrections in image editing software later a breeze.

Olympus has applied their 'ZERO' anti-refection coating to this lens and it is quite resistant to flare as a result. Bright light sources towards the edges, or just beyond the edge of the frame (the sun, for example) can cause a red haze over affected parts of the image. It would've been nice of Olympus to supply a hood with the lens as standard, even it if will rarely be needed.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 Sample Photos


Value For Money

This lens costs around £440 from HarrisonCameras and sports a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture, silent MSC focusing motor and metal build with snap-shot manual focusing mechanism.

The closest equivalent to this lens is Olympus' 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens, which boasts more compact and lightweight construction, but only has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and plastic build. However, this lens costs half as much, so may be a viable alternative if a fast maximum aperture isn't the greatest concern.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 Verdict

Even though this lens may carry a premium price, and a premium place in Olympus' lens line-up, this optic certainly deserves it. £440 for a lens that delivers sharpness like this is excellent value and it should find a home in many a Micro-Four Thirds camera owner's kit bag as a result.

Those looking for a moderately wide angle lens wide a fast maximum aperture need look no further.

   
  The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 is a very very sharp lens with an excellent, compact and lightweight build.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 Pros

Very, very sharp
Excellent build
Compact
Lightweight
Good value for money

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 Cons

Not weather sealed
No hood supplied as standard

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 lens is available from HarrisonCameras.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 Specifications

ManufacturerOlympus
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length17mm
Angle of View65
Max Aperturef/1.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size46mm
35mm equivalent34mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus25cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades7
Elements9
Groups6
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens, Lens Cap, Rear Cap, Warranty Card
Dimensions
Weight120g
Height35.5mm

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Comments


1 Mar 2013 9:09PM
Nice review

It would be good to see a comparison to the Panasonic 20/1.7.

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Kuau Junior Member 1
3 Mar 2013 3:09PM
I I tried 2 copies of this lens with my OO-D and was quite disappointed with it's sharpness.
I shot it on a tripod F4 F5.6 manual focus for landscape.
Corners were not acceptable, no where near as sharp as the Oly 46 or Pana 25/1,4
StrayCat e2
10 14.9k 2 Canada
29 Jul 2013 3:55AM
After much procrastinating, I finally ordered one of these. I got a good price on a used lens in mint condition. My choices were between the Olympus 12mm f2.0, this lens, and the Panasonic 25mm f1.4. I considered the Panasonic 20mm f1.7, but the price has remained up there on this lens. The only knock I see against the 20mm is slow focus, but the difference in what I got the 17mm for and what the 20mm is going for is negligible, it was an easy choice in the end.


Quote: However, it is a shame that the lens does not automatically switch the camera used for testing to manual focus when the focusing ring is engaged. Instead a warning flashes on screen to prompt you to change focusing modes

I'm almost certain that I read that shifting the ring back puts the camera in manual mode. Maybe it doesn't do it with Panasonic camera bodies?

Denny
StrayCat e2
10 14.9k 2 Canada
14 Sep 2013 6:30PM
Having used the Olympus 17mm f1.8 on the Olympus OM-D E M5 for several weeks, I can truly say it is a lens that has outstanding performance in all respects amongst any lenses I have ever used. I have not really had to use manual focus for any reason, because it auto-focuses so quick, and so accurately in any light, including night videos, that I've been using it in, but when I've used the snapshot feature, it's incredible. I haven't taken the lens off the camera for weeks, and I've taken 4 or 5 thousand images plus dozens of videos at car rallies with it. I was shooting videos of the cars leaving the rally the other night, with auto focus and f1.8, it locked on the car, and as people passed between me and the subject, the lens refocused on the people, giving a sharp clear night action image, and back to the car after the people moved out of the frame, so quick, that if you didn't know before hand, you wouldn't realise it.

This lens has been a Godsend for me, opening up so many new avenues for my hobby that it's renewed my enthusiasm for taking photos.

Denny
lemmy 7 1.9k United Kingdom
9 Dec 2013 4:14PM

Quote: Maybe it doesn't do it with Panasonic camera bodies?

Panasonic bodies have an AF+MF function so that after focusing, if you keep the shutter half pressed you can make any manual adjustments you wish. You can do this with any MFT lens, so it makes the push/ pull ring redundant, really.

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