17mm or 25mm 1.8

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by JackDuluoz, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. JackDuluoz

    JackDuluoz New to Mu-43

    Jan 9, 2015

    Does anybody own both 17mm and 25mm Olympus primes?

    I transferred from dslr-world to the wonderful m43 land. I bought e-m5 kit with the 12-40mm pro lens. The 12-40 is the best zoom I have ever owned, by far. But too big and heavy to be always with me in my coat pocket or laptop case. A 17mm 1.8, /20 1.7 or 25mm Oly prime would be the obvious option.

    So, I have read the reviews and looked at the pictures at different sites, and it seems to me, that the 25mm gives clearly the best IQ, especially when it comes to sharpness. 17mm would be best when it comes to angle of view, but the IQ seems to fall behind the 25mm quite noticeably. Is this really the case? 20mm panasonic seems to fall in the middle when it comes to sharpness, but falls behind in AF speed, especially in Om-D bodies. Does anybody have any comparison photos of 17mm and 25mm? The latter is about 60€ cheaper (here in Europe) than the 17mm.

    Any advice? I appreciate versatility, since this would be my go-out/ take pics while going to work etc. lens, I would shoot anything from tree branches to buildings to ocean views.. It is of course obvious, that the 17mm is better for street/ or landscape photography, but the 25mm for portraits and details... All advice welcome :) 
  2. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    You will end up with both sooner or later. I don't have them both but I have the 17mm 1.8 and PL25mm and I can tell you the 17mm is sharp enough. I have noticed that in post processing the 17mm 1.8 needs less contrast and saturation than shots with other lenses. With that lens photos seem to have good contrast and saturation to begin with. The "lack of sharpness" is about the only flaw of that lens. It is well built, has manual focus clutch and is fast and silent in auto focus. Not to mention the versatile focal length and good color and mood it can reproduce. That said I think you can't go wrong with either and it is, above all, about the angle of view that you prefer more.
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  3. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 4, 2014
    I have the 17mm, but for 25mm I have the PL 25 1.4. There is no contest in sharpness and rendering between these two of course. That said, I have been very happy with the 17mm as well. I think it is underrated. If you are willing to go Panasonic and a little wider, you may want to give their 15mm a try. Personally, I think the 25mm also is good for street photography. For portraits, you should perhaps go longer, like the Oly 45mm or the Panasonic Nocticron 42.5 (yes, I know, it is very expensive...).
    • Like Like x 1
  4. MoonMind

    MoonMind Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 25, 2014
    I own the 12-40mm and the 17mm, and in all honesty, you don't gain a lot in terms of IQ (if anything, the 12-40mm is even sharper and more contrasty), but of course, the 17mm is smaller and brighter. I love the 17mm a lot, that's why I keep both lenses. The 20mm is still one of my favourite lenses, too, but I hardly ever shoot it on the E-M10 because of - you might have guessed - AF speed. But just to let you know: It's not at all a slow focusing lens - it's just not as fast as the super-fast MSC lenses (or the Panasonic equivalents of such). In good light, the 20mm's focussing speed is more than adequate, and it's by far the most compact (and also surprisingly sturdy for a non-metal lens - though the new edition seems to have a metal barrel).

    The 25mm is very comparable to the (great!) 45mm f/1.8 in terms of built quality. I have only handled it, though, so don't have any real idea what it's like to shoot with it. It looks and feels plasticy, and my 45mm shows it, too: The focus ring shows signs of wear (on the outside) even though I haven't mistreated it. In that sense, the 17mm is heads and shoulders above the 45mm which in turn is equivalent to the 25mm. So, if you consider this as go-everywhere lens, I'd definitely choose the 17mm (or the 20mm).

    In my book, the 20mm is still worth a second look for its optics and size if it comes to the purpose you stated. The 17mm is more convenient, quicker and a very nice lens to shoot with *and* to look at - the focus ring is extremely well implemented, the auto focus is quick and precise, and the whole lens is a gem when it comes to built quality. The 25mm - less so, but of course, that doesn't say anything about its IQ (compare the 45mm - still one of the best!).

    However, the 17mm renders beautifully, though not as sharp as the 20mm (that's what you've found out anyway, I think). For the purpose of a small, high-quality prime, it's still a strong performer. I'm using it extensively at the moment - it's really a joy to shoot. If you need sharper images, the 20mm is a lot(!) smaller and a very reliable lens that gives you a crisp, clear image with slightly more analytical, yet pleasing rendering (though cooler colours - but that's something you can always fiddle with in post).

    I hope someone will chime in on the 25mm - I'm interested in that myself. But owning the 12-40mm, the 17mm and the 20mm, I'll probably not find a niche for the 25mm, whereas it might still be a better fit for your needs and purposes.

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  5. JackDuluoz

    JackDuluoz New to Mu-43

    Jan 9, 2015
    Thanks for the insight! For real portrait work I am getting the 45mm (or 60mm/75mm someday..), but I try out my old minolta 50mm first (adapter coming next week). The Panasonic 25mm 1.4 would be my choice if "pocketability" would not be one of the main points. I noticed my 12-40 is excellent in wider landscape shoots and more detailed close-up shots too. But for indoor shoots and for take-it-with-me photography I need a small prime.
  6. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    I have the Oly 17mm/1.8 and 25mm/1.8 and I don't notice differences in rendering, just in field of view. I usually prefer the wider angle of the 17mm because I take a lot of indoor snapshots of two or more people, and I also like how it pushes back the background when I'm close to my subject. Also, I usually crop my RAW for composition, so it helps me to start with more margin around my subject.

    Since you have the zoom already, I suggest you take a variety of photos at both 17mm and 25mm and see which you prefer.
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  7. MadMarco

    MadMarco Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 30, 2014
    Guildford, England
    This is a good tip, I spent the day with my 12-40 set at 17mm and decided that this was going to work for me. The 17mm is a lovely lens.
  8. lrlebron

    lrlebron Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Apr 8, 2013
    Huntsville, AL
    Luis R. Lebron
    I own the Oly 17 and the 25. I think the 25 is a tad sharper but I prefer the FOV of the 17. It is probably my most used lens. For portraits I like to use the Oly 45.
  9. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I've got the 17 and had the 25 (which I sold in an effort to lighten up - then I spotted a used PL25 at a price I couldn't resist! - damned GAS). I've also owned the 20 in the past.

    I think you've got it pretty much bang on in your original post, but here's my take FWIW:

    17/1.8 - Beautiful in every way except for the sharpness wide open. It's not that bad though, and it takes sharpening well in PP; but in my mind it's an opportunity lost on Oly's part. Given how good the other primes are (12, 25, 45, 75), it's odd that the 17 misses the mark a little. However, it's a lens I doubt I'll sell (it was the first u43 lens I bought and I've done a lot of gear churning since, so that says a lot!).

    20/1.7 - Nice sharpness and very compact. Somewhat harsh in its "rendering" IMHO. But, AF is slow and comparatively noisy. Build quality feels cheaper than the 17 too. For me, the improved IQ wide open didn't make it a more desirable lens than the 17.

    25/1.8 - Fantastic lens. Sharp corner to corner. Small, light and reasonable build quality. Hard not to like it, esp now that the launch price has softened. If you want a 25 and don't want faster than f1.8, then it's a no brainer.

    25/1.4 - Hmmm. I'm enjoying this lens a lot. It definitely delivers a nice look to OOF areas. Although there's not a significant increase in bluring compared to the 1.8, it's definitely noticeable and the look is sort of more creamy than the 25/1.8. That extra 2/3 stop helps too when you're in low loght and you're pushing ISO 3200. However, it's notably bigger and heavier and wide open it's softer in the corners than the Oly (but not by much). It feels better built than the 25/1.8 but it's not a patch on the Oly metal primes (12, 17, 75). I think I'll probaly move this lens on in due course, but I may just keep it since it's definitely a classic in the u43 library.

    The only way to make your mind up of course is to try them all!!
    • Like Like x 1
  10. JackDuluoz

    JackDuluoz New to Mu-43

    Jan 9, 2015
    Wow! Great tips & feedback!!

    I went through my photos and looked at the angles I have been shooting with different zooms, finding out that I do like to shoot more totally wide, or to the 40mm end than in between. For that in mind, the optically brilliant 12-40 is a gem to own.

    I used to own a Nikon 35mm (about the same as the m43 25mm), which was not the most useful outdoors. I think that with a prime, you always need to get used to the fixed angle and change the way you have shoot. My favourite lens with Nikon was the 90mm Tamron Macro, and I wanted to take that with me most often, because it provided by far the best optical results. That guided my photography quite a lot.

    By looking at flickr photos of both the 25mm and the 17mm, the 25mm photos are clearly sharper and more pleasing to the eye. Sometimes the 17mm photos seem a bit smudgy, for the price at least. But then again, the FOV is arguably more useful in the 17mm. Tough decision. The 20mm panasonic would be some sort of a compromise, and definitely the most "pocketable".
  11. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    There was a time when I would have repeated RichardB's advice about seeing which focal length you used the most, BUT you have the 12-40 f/2.8.

    I've got the 12-40 along with both Oly 17s and the Oly and PL 25s. I'd change that advice slightly.

    When it comes to sharpness the 12-40 can hold its own with all of those lenses. I'm not saying it's the sharpest of the bunch but unless you absolutely need to get every bit of sharpness possible in which case you're also going to be shooting on a tripod and taking every bit of care you can with the shot, you aren't likely to ever find yourself complaining that a shot with the 12-40, the 17 f/1.8, or either of the 25s is not sharp enough unless you missed the focus. The 12-40 can hold its own very well in that company when it comes to image quality.

    So, what would make me want to stick either the 17 or 25 primes on the camera instead of the 12-40? One of two things. Either I needed more lens speed because I was shooting in low light, or I wanted a smaller and lighter camera setup because I was going to be carrying the camera in hand for long periods. Those are the sorts of things I'd be looking at in making the choice.

    So, examples. If I found that I the lens I used most often in good light during the day was the 17 and that the lens I used most often indoors in low light at night was the 25, the prime I'd go for would be the 25 even if I used the 17 more. I'd get more benefit from the additional speed with the 25 in low light than I would with the 17 in good light. If I found I was using one of those focal lengths more frequently at times when I was carrying the camera around in my hand for long periods, I'd go for the prime at that focal length because I'd get the most benefit from the reduction in size and weight. If I needed shallower depth of field than I could get with the 12-40 more at one focal length than the other, I'd go for that focal length.

    Basically, don't think in terms of picture quality since the 12-40 can deliver that. Think in terms of where the prime could deliver a specific advantage that you want and choose based on where you can get the maximum advantage on that basis.

    As for the 17 or 25 when it comes to street photography, there's a big following for both focal lengths because they both work really well. If I were going to make the choice based on using the prime for that sort of work, I'd choose based on the working distance I felt most comfortable with. You'll need to get closer with the 17 if you want to fill the frame with your subject so if you don't feel comfortable working that close, go with the 25 provided the spaces you work in give you enough room to work with it. Either one will work well. Choose based on which one suits your shooting style and preferences rather than on lens quality because both hold up very well on that front.
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  12. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I have always failed to see the much quoted assertion that the 17mm is not sharp…maybe I have a different perception of sharp… but its definitely sharp enough for me !... the first shot is ISO 4000

    No experience of the Oly 25, but I find I tend to use the 17 or the 75, and only sometimes the pana 25/1.4... which is also a very fine lens

    11076001295_a4f9f6da69_b. PB250019 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    9909788785_9ab3177583_b. P9240015 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    8527402424_abda1c00d1_b. P3040033 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    obviously your mileage may vary

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  13. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 5, 2013
    I love the 25mm focal length. Or perhaps I just love the PL25. When I was a zoom shooter, I too found most of my shots taken at the two extremes of the zoom range. So, the first two primes I bought were the P14 and the O45, since they are basically the extreme ends of many zooms. I was pretty happy with those two lenses until I bought the PL25. Now it hardly ever comes off the camera. I can't explain that. It makes no sense to me. Evaluating my zoom photos, I would never have expected to bond with the 25. Just goes to show that even the best logic doesn't work out in practice. Sorry if I muddied the water, but I think I'd go with the lens I liked the pictures from the best.
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  14. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 12, 2012
    I chime in about the fov of 25mm... I use pl25 as my normal lens but I've had some problems to adjust to that tight framing. but I found a good work around. I simply shoot my pl25 in 3:2 aspect ratio and by then I get a wider feeling, almost like a semi 35ish lens.

    that's work for me...

    Sent from my GT-I9300 using Mu-43 mobile app
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  15. WeaselWily

    WeaselWily Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 9, 2014
    Jyväskylä, Finland
    I had 25/1.8 but decided to switch to 17/1.8 and I don't have any regrets. 17 is better focal length for general photography for me. Better focal length wins slightly better sharpness because I can produce better content with 17/1.8.

    My only complaint about 17/1.8 is that the lens hood was not included in the retail package. That sucks.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    From what I've seen, the general reviewed opinion is that the 25 has better centre sharpness while the 17 has better edge sharpness. I'll cite the ePhotozine reviews just because they have the simplest, prettiest graphs:

    17mm lens review

    25mm lens review

    That said, they're both very sharp and produce stunning photos. The much better questions are which FL do you prefer to shoot at and is the price difference a deal-decider.
    • Like Like x 2
  17. JackDuluoz

    JackDuluoz New to Mu-43

    Jan 9, 2015
    Exactly the reasons why I am getting a small prime for e-m5. As I said, the 12-40 is as sharp as many primes. I assume, that when I really go out in the purpose of shooting, I would most often take the 12-40, but the prime + e-m5 would be with me almost always. One of the main reasons for getting e-m5 instead of sticking to Nikon and getting a D610 or D7100, was portability. So much more opportunities to get great shoots, if the camera is in your bag/ pocket instead of your closet ;) . Love the om-d.

    The FL of 25mm gives obviously a slightly better bokeh, especially indoors. What the 50€/$ more for the 17mm gives, is more versatility, although the idea of shooting 3:2 with the 25mm is a great one (thanks fansglans!). I do tend to shoot more details than landscapes, but great lenses often guide the style, at least for me. Getting the extra 3mm wider angle than with my previous Nikon lens (in 35mm eqv.), made me want to take more landscape / scenery photos.

    Sitll, have to consider the Olympus 20mm too, since it would be the most pocketable of these options, still providing great IQ.
  18. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I kept my 17 mm f/2.8 pancake when I got the new f/1.8 lens, specifically because of the size of the lens. My backup body became my E-M5 once I got my E-M1, and the 17 mm f/2.8 sits on the E-M5 in the shoulder bag I take with me when I'm not carrying a bigger bag of some kind. It's a great small combination.

    I think you mean the Panasonic 20 mm however since Olympus don't make a 20.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. JackDuluoz

    JackDuluoz New to Mu-43

    Jan 9, 2015
    Yes, 20mm panasonic, obviously. Sorry about that.
  20. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee Subscribing Member

    May 3, 2013
    I previously had a Panasonic 20mm but sold it when the Olympus 25mm came out, due to two factors: (1) the 20mm focal length wasn't quite for me, and (2) the focus speed.

    Now I recently picked up another Panasonic 20mm to give as a gift, and I spent an afternoon comparing the lenses head-to-head. Not scientifically, just casual use. Even though I am happier with the Olympus, the head-to-head comparo definitely improved my opinion of the Panasonic. It's sharper, smaller, and the focus speed in good lighting conditions really isn't bad (even on my Olympus cameras). For the price you can get a Panasonic 20mm, it's hard to argue against it.

    • Like Like x 3
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