Handling and Features
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Good value for money
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 Cons
Not weather sealed
No hood supplied as standard
|VALUE FOR MONEY
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
- Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
- Olympus Micro Four Thirds
|Angle of View||65°|
|Maximum magnification||No Data|
|Box Contents||Lens, Lens Cap, Rear Cap, Warranty Card|
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