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Monday, 16 March 2015


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This must be like trying to give birth in 1 month by using 9 women. :)

The idea is potentially very hopeful, particularly starting with a rather seriously knowledgeable pool of players as we do here, and with somebody sane moderating the results (that'd be you).

I have evaluated quite a few lenses by searching Flickr for photos taken with them. While of course the fine points can't be figured out from small web images (or even large web images), I've been very happy with the results, and I think I know why.

First, a lot of the important things about how a lens interprets scenes are visible in even small prints, including web images.

Second, people who take a lot of images that look really good at web size usually actually know what they're doing -- and the lenses they use aren't crap. (And I tended to find groups of images by the same photographer that I liked taken with the lens I'm checking out; singular examples among a field of crap do NOT count in favor of the lens.)

Don't have nearly enough experience to comment on the 17mm myself; we use it at video shoots some, but usually it's on somebody else's camera not mine, and it's video not stills.

I owned the 17mm for a while and the short summary I could give of it is that it is a good all-round lens that does a lot of things well but nothing great.


Sorry for a third post, but a word on bokeh. The Panasonic 20mm has the very modern sharp/soft look and the Olympus the "old fashioned", long draw of background blurring. Its great for street grabs as the background has extended clarity and cohesion, even wide open. Its great for near misses looking near enough to in focus.

17mm seems to be a "blind spot" for Zuiko lens designers.

I enjoy the reviews at Polish site LensTip.com. Very thorough.


But..., but...
800 px is a THUMBNAIL.
That's a 4 inch print.

[ :-) That's okay, Luke. I just want to see the pictures people are taking with it. --Mike]

I use this Oly 17mm frequently on my Panasonic GX7. I'm not really qualified to judge the image quality. Some reviewers online have said it's soft wide open. Perhaps, but I haven't found this to be so. This shot, from Philadelphia's Italian Market, was taken at f/2.0:


What I like most is that it is small and light, perfect for the kind of street photography I like to do. And on my GX7, at least, it focuses extremely fast. The ability to switch to manual focus quickly by pulling the focus ring back may appeal to some. I hardly use it. All in all, a very appealing lens.

Thanks for this post! I'm tempted by the 17/1.8 but online reviews are mixed so I soldier on with my Olympus 17/2.8. Very interested to see what the TOP brain trust has to say about this lens.

A fantastic lens for street work, small enough to fit in a coat pocket when mounted on the E-M5, inconspicuous and fast at night. Highly recommendable if you have a feeling for the 35mm-e focal length

Great idea! I have only the 17/2.8 due to my finances but have often wondered if the 1.8 was really as much better as has often been claimed - I certainly don't think the 2.8 is as bad as some have said so I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone here has to say on this lens. Maybe I'll have to find a way to get it after I finally scrounge enough for the 25/2.8 :D

I think this is a great idea. Hope if works. Maybe you could explain why you chose this lens to crowdsource, given that your current camera is a Fuji?

I have this lens but I haven't used it enough, in part because I've been trying to stay with a 25mm for the OC/OL/OY thing (and failing, I have to admit). I used the 17 yesterday, just to try something different. It focuses quickly, is plenty sharp to me (though not up to the level of my 4/3 12-60 at 17mm) and feels very solid. It gets the job done nicely. My copy is sharp across the frame until the far corners where it softens just a little (visible at 100 percent). Compared to my Panasonic 20mm, I think the Panasonic has what one might call a nicer "draw," which I take to be some combination of sharpness and microcontrast. But the 17 kills it on focus speed when using an Oly.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Here is one of mine, and there are others in that account, though other lenses and Sony RX100 bodies are mixed in.

My very non-technical review is that while the lens is nice it lacks... something. Zip? Colors? It's hard to say and an intensely personal preference here. I love the Olympus 25mm f 1.8, and I've used briefly the Panasonic 15mm 1.7, and I think the latter might be a better choice.

Although I'm tempted to switch to the Panasonic 15mm, I don't quite shoot at that focal length often enough to justify the cash.

I have this lens and the 75mm f/1.8 for my E-M1.

I normall run around with the black&white art filter turned on, the camera in aperture priority and the lens wide open.

The 17mm is perfect. (sharpness, contrast, bokeh, etc...) With it I can get the exact look I always wanted from my Leica... A slightly gritty, slightly contrasty B&W that strongly reminds me of Tri-X in Rodinal, but without the insane amounts of grain.

In general, though, I don't even think about the lens... It does exactily what I want and I can go about happily getting the photos without thinking about the equipment.

And that's the higest compliment I can give.

Just bought this lens today, on a OM-D EM 5 Mk II camera. You and others have been complimentary of this camera/lens combo. Excited. Will let you know in a few weeks.

One more thing... as long as we are talking lenses today, the UPS man just arrived with a 12-40 2.8. I took around 15 test shots in the yard, and so far it looks like it easily bests both my 17mm and 25mm 1.8 Oly primes in outdoor light. There is a "glassy" quality to the rendering that I like a lot. Not a technical term I know, glassy, but that's what comes to mind, like looking through good binoculars.


I really like this lens. I'm not really qualified to judge its optical qualities, but the physicality of the lens makes me want to use it. The snap ring is really quite useful and seems to be better implemented than the one on the 12mm. It's one of the two things I miss on the 45mm (the other is the 46mm filter ring; I added a step-up ring, but it makes the 45 longer). I do think that the lens cap is janky and does't fit the overall high quality of the lens. So I just replaced it with a Lumix center-pinch cap. It's good to have many manufacturers in the m43 camp! :-)

One optical negative that I've noticed is that taking pictures of neon signs at night really leaves a pronounced ghost. It happens somewhat with other lenses too, though.

I like the lens. I wanted something that focused faster than the Panasonic 20 mm to help me in taking pictures of my kids, and this fit the bill. It's great for the purpose for which I bought it, and I've even taken a couple of more artistic pictures with it. It doesn't seem quite as bitingly sharp as the 20 mm, but it's more than sufficient for anything I do with hit. Here is an example: https://flic.kr/p/quJPEy


1. Looks lovely, has just the right weight/density/size. Main body feels sturdy and metallic, but the snap-focus ring can feel a little wobbly when snapping; this could be improved.

2. Snap-focus ring is a really nice option to have. I don't actually use it often because I forget it's there alot of the time, and the AF is so accurate and fast that most of the time I don't need it. However, it can make shooting slightly more fun.

3. Angle of view is very useful as a day-to-day general lens for when you aren't sure what you will be shooting. For those who use a camera as a sort of visual notebook, and/or those accustomed to their iPhone's semi-wide angle of view.

Will often reach for this if I decide to only bring 1 lens out. Also works well in a pair with the 45mm.

Chocolate Emporiaum, Bar Harbor, ME

This image was taken with my-then E-M5 and the 17/1.8 (I've subsequently upgraded to the E-M1 and GX7). The image was, in a sense, a grab shot; I was waiting on line for ice cream and bored, had my camera with me, and saw this alignment. Handheld, obviously, and courtesy of the E-M5's IBIS.

The 17mm lens seems to represent about 5% of the shots in my library since I got it, and 3% of those that made into one of my albums. Don't know what this means, except that I use zooms a lot (I have the 12-35 and 35-100 2.8s).

I often bring it because it's small and lightweight, and is a good general-purpose lens given it's FoV and aperture. I can't say I've really peeped at the results other than examining a specific image as part of PP; I just shoot with it and don't find any obvious flaws that get in the way of my photography. I'd recommend it for general-purpose use.

Purple People Bridge, Cincinnati, in the morning fog

Here's another image showing some straight lines. This one was taken a few days after I first got the E-M5 and the 17/1.8. I believe the waviness in the railings are really there.

A beautiful lens. I bought it with the E-P5, a great camera flawed by the missing (integral) VF. Yes, I know there was an E-M5 but it's not a 'Pen'.

The image above is cropped from the original file (I was on the Staten Island ferry with just the 17/1.8 on the E-P5), but not drastically so.

And in B&W:

Those are not even the people & family pictures I made with this lens - which are where the little 17mm really excels. It's a great focal length to just have with you - normal-ish, just wide enough.

+Optically pleasing esp. for portraits
+Fast focusing, silent AF
+Handles flare well
+Push/pull ring for manual focus override works great

A gem of a lens - highly recommended.

Link to portfolio images using the Olympus 17mm 1.8

At the link above, you'll see a collection of images exclusively shot with this lens on my OM-D E-M1, as part of thephotofrontier.com's 2015 WE35 project. For this, every participant is using a lens with the field of view of around 35mm in full frame terms. Obviously, the Olympus 17mm is notionally 34mm, but it's close enough!

I've had the lens since last August, and I got it at the same time as the E-M1. Overall, it's by far and away my most commonly used lens. I got it to give me that 35mm field of view and fast aperture, primarily for street photography. In that instance, the large depth of field of m43 is a bonus - more in focus in fast moving environments. I normally use it for street photography, where its super quick AF is rarely, if ever, wrong. The clutch MF is also stellar, and really well implemented. Therefore, it's ergonomically excellent to use, and a perfect pairing with the E-M1 for a high performance but still discrete street setup.

Technically speaking, it is not the sharpest lens I own. I've grown accustomed to its rendering and sharpness, but used my PanaLeica 25mm 1.4 for the first time in ages at the weekend during a street fashion shoot and was reminded of how much better a performer that lens is, when sharpness/clarity is important. (You can see one or two shots taken with that camera in the 'people' folder on my page, linked above.)

Regarding weaknesses, I dislike that Olympus doesn't include a hood for the price. Lucky for me, JJC makes a nice third party metal hood that compliments the lens and camera perfectly.

Overall, despite its moderate shortcomings with the fact it's not the sharpest lens in my bag, I'd still rate the lens at a strong 9/10. It ticks the boxes of what I expect from a micro four thirds lens, and just allows me to get on with shooting in near enough any environment.

My first m4/3 lens. Excellent build quality, great manual focus feature, sharp, lovely rendering, fast AF, and versatile focal length. What's not to love. No negatives in my view.

Hi Mike,

I use the Oly 17/1.8 on my E-M5 and I've found it to be a speedy (in both senses of the word) and reliably solid little lens. As you can see in this photo, it focused quickly and didn't distort the floorboards:

Cat Fight, November 03, 2013

Some other examples taken with it:

Evening Snow Light, February 23, 2013

Hanging The Caption, April 17, 2013

Grandma And Her Granddaughters, November 29, 2013

Michael And His iPad, January 05, 2013

Self Portrait, March 03, 2013

Great timing for this thread from my end. Just before Christmas I picked up a Fuji X-Pro-1 along with with the 35mm/1.4. I chose this camera over the X100S as I like the option of interchangeable lenses (but wanted to retain a 'rangefinder' style camera). I also have an EM-5 but with only the 25mm Lumix lens, beautiful results but the rattlesnake effect is crazy bad. I then thought of selling the EM-5 and adding an X100S to have both a 50mm & 35mm focal length handy without having to swap lenses on the XP1. But it occurred to me that that the EM-5 really isn't worth much on the resale market these days, so I researched getting a 35mm equivalent lens for the camera as I do like the system. After research I decided the Oly 17/1.8 was the answer and I haven't looked back ... although I am still hankering for a X100S but the price is still a bit high for my budget.

Harold: It has a distance scale. When the focus ring is pulled back to manual focus, the scale is exposed.

I like the 17mm for hyperfocal snapshots at f/6.3 using the lens' 3m mark. The 12mm also works well this way at f/6.3, but using the 5ft mark. These lenses helped eased the transition from my old Ricoh GX100/200 (with their snap focus modes) to m4/3.

I've never used the lens nor a system that can use the lens, but I just love that picture by Andrei Kozlov.

I have this lens. But I almost always end up using either something shorter or longer instead. Something about the 4x3 makes this field of view look wrong.

I carried around the Panasonic GF1 and 20mm combo for around 5 years. I still love how the GF1 handles as a camera, and intimately know the characteristics of the Panasonic 20/1.7... After using the Olympus 17/1.8 for around 5 months, I've come to the conclusion that the Oly 17 is a BETTER lens... I'm more surprised than anyone ;-)

I believe this is the best complement you can give to the Oly 17/1.8 !

That photo by Eamon Hickey is pretty much everything I love about photography. Wonderful.

the day i bought the olympus 17 1.8 my panasonic 20 1.7 started collecting dust . . . . . the only thing i like better about the 20 is the little raised dot that makes for quicker aligning in the dark . .. . i don't know why everybody doesn't do that on all there lenses . . .

One small thing I've found with this lens, if you get the front element dirty / smudged, it can be hard to clean to the edge of the element. I'm not sure if its really necessary to do that. I now keep a UV filter on.

I think it cannot be emphasized too much that this lens has great microcontrast. That becomes most obvious and really makes a difference when printing large and when converted to monochrome. Andrei Kozlov's extensive pix that he offers (shot on a G3) are one of the best examples of all those offered. Put otherwise, it is not what normally passes for "super sharp" in many modern lenses but does have very nice smooth tonal relationships while holding clarity of detail.

Bravo! This is what a lens review ought to be - how it inspires people to take photos and how they look - not just a bunch of dry numbers. Inspires me to shoot more with mine, it's sitting on the shelf too much.

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