Those of you who (like me) feel at home with the ~35mm-e angle of view and who (unlike me) need or want an alternative to the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm ƒ/1.7 will be happy to learn that Olympus will be shipping a fast, premium-quality (metal bodied!) 34mm-e lens in December.
The new lens, which can be pre-ordered now, appears to be intended to be a match with the high-end OM-D E-M5 and its even newer, even smaller stablemate with the same sensor, the E-PL5. It's more or less a stop faster than the older 17mm pancake, and has higher aspirations. Olympus is one of the premier lensmakers in the world, superior to most and the equal of any, and it seems to have energetically thrown all of its expertise and technology at this one—as many elements as the designers wanted (I'm guessing), nine (which is a lot for a lens of this spec); three aspherical elements including one "Super Dual Aspherical" element (which is also a lot for a lens of this spec); a high-refractive-index element (which is unusual for a lens this wide); and Olympus's new ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coating. The press release even touts extreme precision of construction*, which is something you don't see very often. And, of course, it also comes with a premium price (remember, some people like that): $499.
It's the same focal length as the older pancake so that it can use the same VF-1 optical viewfinder. That's extra, as is the metal hood, but the lens does come with a metal lenscap.
Final judgement depends on performance, of course, but when Olympus does well it tends to do very well indeed. See it on the new E-PL5 here, starting at 1:35.
(Thanks to Eolake)
*"Each lens element is polished to an ultra-high level of working precision only possible with the progressive techniques developed by Olympus master craftsmen, and carefully assembled to ensure maximum accuracy and reliability."
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Nicholas Condon: "As much as I love the 20mm ƒ/1.7 (and I've taken thousands and thousands of frames with it), I think I'm going to buy one of these. I'm not sure whether I'll prefer the 35mm-e FOV to the 40mm-e, but I know that I'll appreciate the quieter autofocus when taking movies of my kids. I'm also excited about the possibility of faster autofocus; my Oly 45mm ƒ/1.8 will lock on my toddler pretty well, but he often outruns the 20mm. And, of course, I'll be buying the E-PL5 and/or E-PM2 on which to fasten it...."
Ed: "That really read like a puff piece press release. Esp. the * part which sounds like complete BS. Looks like a decent lens but I also doubt it's 'all metal.' Maybe vapor depositied metal over plastic...a la SX-70."
Mike replies: No, here's the press release. That was is my restating of the press release. The footnote was a quote from the press release.
John Krumm: "Pekka Potka has a nice write-up of his experience with the lens, comparing it to his copy of the Panasonic 20mm ƒ/1.7."
Dennis Ng: "I do not agree that $500 is a premium price for a 35mm lens.
"By the way, I was surprise you can get ebook from Thom as I assumed (after so many purchase in the past that they come with CD, has to ship bra la bra la...). It is ebook! Shocking. Should have bring these long time ago as I read his site in parallel to yours. Thanks for information to update my old assumption."
Mike replies: Thom's great, isn't he? I calculated it, and he has 11.2X as much energy as I do. It would take me the rest of this year and all of 2013 to write a 'Guide' like that one. Well, assuming I could, which is assuming too much.