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17mm 1.8 vs 17mm 2.8

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Pecos, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    I know this has probably been discussed, but I was unable to find it in a search.

    According to the Olympus lens page, the MTF curves for the two lenses look pretty similar; yes, the 1.8 does get the edge, especially for 60 LPMM, and I think these tests are at full aperture for each lens, so the 1.8 would be even better 1-2 stops down.

    But I'd be interested in anybody's opinion who has owned both at the same time, as to what is each lens' best. The 2.8 is small, cheap, and ratings are pretty good. I don't want to fork out the money for the 1.8 since it is reportedly "good, but not great." Would I be wasting my money getting a used 2.8? Maybe I'm just cheap, but a pancake and the E-M5 would be a handy grab-n-go kit.
  2. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    I'm also interested in this. Thanks for posting.
  3. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    I'm curious as well since I have the 17 2.8. I could put the money toward a 25 1.4 which would be even faster.
  4. yekimrd

    yekimrd Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 14, 2012
    Cincinnati, OH
    I've owned both but was never happy with the AF, sharpness and micro contrast with the f/2.8 version. Even with sharpening in post, I can't get it to the IQ level that I want. The 17/1.8 on the other hand has very fast AF, excellent micro contrast OOC, and with a fair degree of sharpening will produce a stellar image. Just to complicate things more, the 25/1.4 can produce great images straight OOOC.
    • Like Like x 2
  5. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    You won't be wasting your money getting the 17/2.8. But if you're looking for a pancake lens, most of us will recommend the 20/1.7 instead.

    Between 17/1.8 and 17/2.8, besides the obvious speed differences. There is also a new AF mechanism, non-rotating front element, new optical formula, better build, MF override with depth scale. I wouldn't bother with sharpness tests too much, modern lenses are all sharp enough.

    You can't really compare the 25/1.4 to any of these. 25/1.4 is quite a bit heavier (by m4/3 standards) and is a godly lens. If the goal is to obtain the one native prime to own forever, it would be the 25/1.4.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. redington

    redington Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 28, 2012
    Why not consider the 14mm 2.5? Great bang for the buck from what I can tell.
  7. stonebat

    stonebat Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 17, 2010
    Let's stop comparing 14mm, 17mm, and 25mm. They are different animals.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  8. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    Right. What I want to know is - is it sharp enough that I wouldn't hate it? I do have the 25/1.4 and love it, so I don't need the 20 pancake.
  9. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    In fact, I think I will get that one; I always liked the 28mm FOV - it's wide enough for me. I have a Pentax 15mm Limited which is very nice, but the FOV (approx 23mm FF) while interesting for many shots, can get old, IMO.
  10. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    I've never been dissatisfied with the original 17mm, but then I actually go out and shoot with it. I don't take a few test shots and freak out that there are sharper lenses out there somewhere.

    If you're swayed by popular opinion (as most here seem to be) you won't be happy with either of them.
    • Like Like x 3
  11. mister_roboto

    mister_roboto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Although I didn't own both 17mm's at the same time, I have owned both lenses.

    The 17mm f2.8 gets a bad rap as a terrible lens, it's actually not that bad. ...it is however probably the worst lens in the µ4/3 lineup though (heh, I don't count the body cap lens).

    I got a 14mm Panasonic, and was blow away by the resolution difference compared the 17mm f2.8- it didn't require much pixel peeping either to see the difference.

    As for the 17mm f1.8 vs the 17mm f2.8: the AF speed, build quality, and much better optics of the f1.8 pretty much blows the f2.8 out of the water. Another note: I like to MF lenses, and I've never like MF on a pancake lens in general- and it was difficult and weird on the f2.8, the f1.8 is a joy to MF.
  12. Serhan

    Serhan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 7, 2011
    See photozone for sharpness /sample images and any other lens comparison:

    Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8 Pancake - Review / Test Report
    Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 ASPH - Review / Lens Test Report

    14mm focuses faster then 17mm & 20mm, more like 25/1.4 af speed. 17mm & 20mm are the first pancake lenses for the m43 system, so they are slower then currently released m43 lenses.

  13. yekimrd

    yekimrd Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 14, 2012
    Cincinnati, OH
    I'm speaking from experience. For a long time with my E-PL3, I shot with just the 17/2.8 and 40-150/4-5.6. The 17/2.8 produces very good sharpness after sharpening to a moderate degree in post but it was only when I tried out other lenses (25/1.4, 45/1.8) that I realized that I can get MUCH sharper images. It's not bad but depending on what you need and want in your shots, there are certainly sharper options out there.

    I would allude this to getting a MacBook -- my friend once said: Once you go Mac, you won't go back. Some of the newer smaller PC-based laptops are great and will serve you very well but after trying a Macbook, you're unlikely to ever want to use a PC-based laptop ever again.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Personally, I wouldn't bother with the m.Zuiko 17mm/1.8 when you have the Leica 25mm/1.4 Summilux. If I wanted to go wider, I'd be looking at the m.Zuiko 12mm f/2 instead.
  15. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012

    Unless you absolutely need two standard primes I would just skip the 17 focal length.

    I am among the odd group that likes both 35mm and 50mm FOVs. It's an overkill though unless you know this is what you want.
  16. gr6825

    gr6825 Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 10, 2012
    I have used the 17mm f/2.8 pancake for a few months and I like it. I think its reputation for less-than-stellar sharpness is probably right, if that is a high priority for you. Someone mentioned that the 17mm pancake had a rotating front element - it does not (although it extends on power-up).

    As far as focal length - I think that is a personal preference. I like the FOV with the 17mm - it is a good snapshot focal length for me because it is sort of in the transition from wide-angle to normal. Some people seem to think it is in no-man's land, but it works for me.

    I also like the Oly's OOF rendering and it focusses pretty close - 0.2m.

    Oh - and it is TINY!
  17. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    Maybe. But it's entirely possible that a person might grow dissatisfied with a lens because it don't compare to the other lenses they already own rather than "lenses out there somewhere." If I only owned the 17mm f/2.8 and nothing else, I'd have no problem. But weaknesses of the 17mm become apparent as soon as you compare it to any other prime regardless of focal length. And that's true whether you're talking about test shots or real world usage. Soft corners show themselves on more than just brick walls.

    Like mister_roboto said, it isn't a bad lens, but it is the worst performing native prime for the system. Some lens had to hold that position.

    That's a little more than just slightly condescending. Maybe we're not swayed by popular opinion. Maybe we created the popular opinion.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Kirill

    Kirill Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 13, 2013
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Hello, long time lurker here, have finally decided to register and start posting.
    I used to look down on the 17/2.8 due to mediocre test results and derogatory opinions. But then someone in my neck of the woods (and the used m4/3 gear market here is tiny) put this lens up for sale and I enquired about full-size samples and he e-mailed me several without any post-processing and to my pixel-peeping sharpness-loving eyes they ranged from excellent (stopped down) to just plain good (wide open) across the frame so I took the plunge and bought it for 130 euros and I am happy as Punch with it. Maybe I just got a very good copy, I don't know, there are certainly plenty poor copies out there, as my recent experience with the Oly 45mm lens has confirmed. Yes, wide open the corners exhibit quite strong vignetting and sharpness falloff, but I understand it is the same with the new 1.8 variety that costs much more than it should IMHO. But most of the image is already very sharp wide open. Slow and loud focusing is the only negative thing but not mission-critical for my preferred subjects/themes :) 
  19. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I find the 35mm and 50mm FoV's very, very different. My favorite lenses on full frame are 35's and 50's, for different purposes. So decide what focal you like first
  20. yekimrd

    yekimrd Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 14, 2012
    Cincinnati, OH
    I agree with Ned -- if you're happy with the FOV of the 25/1.4, stick with it. I only have up the 25/1.4 for the 17/1.8 because the 25/1.4 was too "normal" for anything but event photography (for me, I'm sure other people will find great use for it for environmental portraits or landscapes). I know a lot if people use the 12/2 for street photography but that's a bit too wide for me.
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