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Advice please re 17mm pancake

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by daveproctor, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. daveproctor

    daveproctor Mu-43 Regular

    May 27, 2010
    Olympus finally releasing some quality primes has lured me back to MFT and I have now found my Holy Grail of compact camera and great primes

    My lot comprises of an E-P3 with 12mm F2, 25mm F1.4, 45mm F1.8 and 100-300. I love this combination and all 3 primes give me superb results

    What I am missing is a prime which covers my favourite focal length of 35mm equivalent. I know the Panasonic 20 is an excellent lens but the focal length is slightly too long and it is too close to my 25mm. The Panasonic is too wide for me

    This leaves the Olympus 17mm 2.8.

    I've read several reviews of this and none seem over enthusiastic about it. However, reviews don't always tell the whole story so I'd really like to hear how the lens performs in the real world. I'm not desperately concerned about performance wide open but want a lens which is sharp at usable aperture settings f4-5.6

    Any honest feedback would be very welcomed as this really does seem to e my only AF option
  2. daveproctor

    daveproctor Mu-43 Regular

    May 27, 2010
    Thanks for that and apologies - I hate people asking questions before they search the forums and now I've done it!
  3. speltrong

    speltrong Mu-43 Veteran

    May 8, 2011
    Northern California
    FWIW, Voigtlander is coming out with a 17.5 (35mm equiv). Big, heavy and MF only, but probably will have superior image quality.
  4. daveproctor

    daveproctor Mu-43 Regular

    May 27, 2010
    I know - likely to be a superb lens but MF only (I'm lazy) and approx 5 times the cost :frown:
  5. speltrong

    speltrong Mu-43 Veteran

    May 8, 2011
    Northern California
    Then I guess it comes down to how much you really want that focal length. I'm sure it'll still produce far better images than any kit lens, which is your only other option for 35mm equiv in that price range. I'll also bet that any technical imperfections (CA, distortion, etc) can be corrected in post. If it's the bokeh, max aperture or character of the lens that bothers you, you'll just have to wait :/

    Do you have any way to rent or borrow the lens for a week to see if you like it?

  6. daveproctor

    daveproctor Mu-43 Regular

    May 27, 2010
    I think you're right that my only real option is the 17mm. The Voigtlander does look beautiful but I think I may be divorced if I get it!

    I have a store not far away that will probably let me take a few pictures to check out at home. The various threads here seem to indicate that, optically, it's a very respectable performer if you don't want to shoot wide open.

    I very much suspect one will find its way into my bag soon
  7. pictor

    pictor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 17, 2010
    I own the 17mm, which is glued on my E-P1, and I like it very much. It is a fine lens and I would not hesitate recommending it. It is one of the most underestimated lenses. It is sharp, but might not offer the same sharpness as the 12mm or the 45mm. It renders the images very beautifully, nothing to complain about.
  8. capodave

    capodave Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 4, 2010
    Southern Cal
    • Like Like x 3
  9. The 17mm is probably not a great lens by design, but that hasn't stopped anyone from using it to take great photos. From a lot of commentary I've read I guess that more than a few people who like the ~35mm focal length are standing back in silent protest by not trying this lens and instead waiting until something faster comes out, whenever that may be. Each to their own. For the time being I'm still enjoying my 17mm.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    As long as you don't mind mediocre sharpness (only visible at 100% view), there's nothing wrong with 17/2.8. Make sure to get it secondhand though - the new price is rather ridiculous (MSRP is $300, used they go for < $150).

  11. capodave

    capodave Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 4, 2010
    Southern Cal
    I've actually had two.
    Sold the first one and missed it.
    Bought both used.
    Good Point
  12. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    That's the problem. If you believe the objective tests floating around, the 14-45mm has better sharpness, and the 14-42mm while slightly worse in the center, holds its resolution to the corners, while the 17mm even though is sharper in the center, is noticeably beat out in the corners by both kit lenses, which makes it a better proposition if you're stopping down and don't mind the size. You could always hold out for the Sigma 19mm, if it's not too telephoto (38mm equivalent).
  13. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I don't see that big a difference in the Olympus 17 vs the Panasonic 20 as far as a focal length (although I am partial to that 40mm FOV) so I'd be more inclined to go with the Panasonic 20. That said, I recall quite liking the Olympus 17 when I had one. Got some great shots with it and used it's pretty cheap.
  14. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    In comparison to other native lenses it's probably the poorest performing prime when it comes to sharpness tests. That doesn't mean it's not sharp enough. I've never discarded a shot because it wasn't sharp enough unless the reason for it not being sharp enough was that I stuffed up on the focussing.

    It's not the fastest AF lens I own, but it's fast enough.

    Basically it's a lens that does the job. Despite some people's concerns about sharpness it punches out shots with good colour and contrast and I like the field of view.

    While other native lenses can beat it for sharpness and AF speed, the 17 happens to be the cheapest native prime. I think it's good value for money.

    It's also the lens that's usually on my E-P3 when I'm carrying my normal carry around shoulder bag because it's the only pancake lens I own and the only lens that will let me fit the camera into that bag so mine has taken more than it's fair share of shots. Because of its size I think mine gets more use than my 45 or my 12, and while I do think both of those are better lenses than the 17 and I have both in my bag, I'm still happy to use the 17 as my main carry around lens.

    I think in summary it's fair to say that i's a good lens, not a great lens. Except in AF speed it can't compete with the 20 but despite that most of those who own it seem to like it and use it quite happily. I know I do. I suspect that many of those who can tell you why, based on innumerable tests, you should never consider it have never owned or used it.
  15. jim_khoo

    jim_khoo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 9, 2010
    Kuala Lumpur
    i kinda feel bad that my 17mm has been neglected for the past 4 months or
    so since the acquisition of the 12mm, 25mm and 45mm.

    not sure if this helps with your decision...

    sooc by the 17mm on E-PL2, re-sized on flickr,

    sharpness & bokeh
    View attachment 194235

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    processed by adding vignetting :tongue:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    low lights
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

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    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  16. luguidomanski

    luguidomanski Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 11, 2010
    Curitiba, Brazil
    I like mine a lot. It is always on my E-PL1, and I can get nice bokeh from closeup shots. Sharpness is not that good, but I just love the colors, rich and warm.

    Some examples below:

    With the "pinhole" Art Filter:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/luguidomanski/6801706306/" title="Cupcakes de baunilha com avelã by Luiz Domanski, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "640" height="427" alt="Cupcakes de baunilha com avelã"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/luguidomanski/6237326937/" title="Concha y toro à noite by Luiz Domanski, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "640" height="427" alt="Concha y toro à noite"></a>

    At f/5.6, sharpness is pretty good (I can arrange you a full size if you want):
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/luguidomanski/6237752354/" title="Vinícola Concha Y Toro by Luiz Domanski, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "640" height="427" alt="Vinícola Concha Y Toro"></a>

    I wouldn't neglect this lens, If you find it at a good price. I got mine new for $240, when a Panny 20 was found nowhere, and only at full price ($399).
  17. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    I really enjoy mine. Like others have said, its not terribly sharp. I'd say its only marginally shaper than the kit lens at the same focal length and f stop. It focuses reasonably fast and is slightly faster.

    If I had the scratch I think I'd pick up the panny 20mm. I don't have this lens and have been debating for some time about picking it up.
  18. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Photo comparison

    To give you an idea of the sharpness of the 17mm, here is a comparison.

    I just got my 25mm Summilux today and took a walk with it this afternoon, shooting a few things around my neighbourhood that I've shot before. I shot this tree and vine originally with the 17mm back in January and shot it again today with the 25mm. The 25mm is certainly sharper but the 17mm is sharp enough for a nice shot.

    There are differences in framing plus slightly different time of day and light plus we've had a lot of rain since early January when I took the 17mm shot so the grass is longer, the vine has grown, and the greens are a bit greener so it's definitely not a side by side comparison with both shots from the same point separated only by seconds, but it will give you a comparison with a very sharp lens that costs a bit over 2.5 times the cost of the 17mm here in Australia.

    Hope you find the comparison interesting and useful. I actually think the 1 7mm holds up reasonably well considering.
  19. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Its a very good lens and underrated .I had it for 5 months and liked it .I sold my EPL1 and this lens together . Panny 20 mm is better but there is nothing major agaist this lens.I won't mind having an other one .
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