Newer production Olympus 17/1.8 sharper than older production ?

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I have been doing the usual reviews and research when making a new lens purchase. I have found that older reviews favor the PL 15 over the Oly 17/1.8 while newer reviews and opinions seem to think that there is little to split them regarding resolution. Do the DXO folks retest new lens'? Do they test multiple samples of each lens? It is has become very confusing. I thought I would find more support for my decision to go with the PL 15 but quite the opposite has happened. Any thoughts? Am I missing the obvious? Also, I have found at least 2 opinions that state the 17mm is sharper than the 12-40. Is there a review site that makes this comparison? Lastly, I have a shoot coming up where I will need to print 16x20 and 20x24 sizes. Any advice/help is greatly appreciated. But, changing systems is not an option and while a FF may be better for this job, it is not in the stars at this point in time..
 
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Like you, and I suspect many others, I went round in what felt like ever decreasing circles when researching a go-to walkabout lens but eventually I went for the Oly 17mm. This was partly due to reviews and a few sample images posted on line and partly that all the other lenses and most of my kit is Oly and I'm a bit anal that way, wanting everything matching. This was a little over a year ago.

I can offer only a subjective view and a fairly limited one at that but in my experience the Oly 17mm is good but not quite as sharp as the 12-40 Pro which I love. To be fair, and for obvious reasons, I've not had much chance to get out and about and find the 17mm lens' sweet f stop spot (sic). However, the few landscape shots I have taken with the 17mm appear a little fuzzy compared to some other shots taken on the 12-40 Pro at roughly the same length.

More playing is definitely needed and I'd appreciate seeing comments from those with more experience of the 17mm.
 

SilverShutter

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I find the lens to be sharpest between f4 and f5 or f5.6. From there on you may start to notice the sharpness decreases because of diffraction. The lens isnt the sharpest, but it has a very unique rendering, especially wide open, I don't own any other lenses that can match it so it basically lives glued to my cameras. Something else I find however is the bokeh and out of focus rendering tends to be quite ugly, but then again its not really noticeable since the focal length gives you plenty of DOF to begin with. If you want the best optical performance go for the PL15, but if you get the Olympus I don't think you would be dissapointed.
 

PakkyT

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I have had no complains about my 17 nor 25 f1.8 lenses and only have experience with one copy of each. But there have been people here who have talked about finding a lot of copy to copy variances with these two lenses when they had had reason to return one for another or sold one then decided to re-buy later.

So to your question, of which I have no answer, any review sites or dxo, I imagine only using a single copy for those purposes could be problematic. It would be nice if those sites were more upfront about that.

I will add however, that the lenses that truly are nor as good as others they are typically compared tend to be rather universally ranked alike from site to site. So if you are seeing a pretty even mix of pro and con comparisons for a lens you are interested in, it is more likely they are very close and differences may be copy to copy variances or simply subjective opinion by the reviewer and at that point you are just going to have to pick one and try it yourself.
 

JonSnih

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I have been doing the usual reviews and research when making a new lens purchase. I have found that older reviews favor the PL 15 over the Oly 17/1.8 while newer reviews and opinions seem to think that there is little to split them regarding resolution. Do the DXO folks retest new lens'? Do they test multiple samples of each lens? It is has become very confusing. I thought I would find more support for my decision to go with the PL 15 but quite the opposite has happened. Any thoughts? Am I missing the obvious? Also, I have found at least 2 opinions that state the 17mm is sharper than the 12-40. Is there a review site that makes this comparison? Lastly, I have a shoot coming up where I will need to print 16x20 and 20x24 sizes. Any advice/help is greatly appreciated. But, changing systems is not an option and while a FF may be better for this job, it is not in the stars at this point in time..
I had the 17mm F1.8 (made in China) and was never satisfied with sharpness wide open. It didn't matter if I used F1.8/F2.0/F2.2, only very center was sharp, the rest of the frame was acceptable but nothing to be excited about. My copy mirrored this analysis:
1618770759000.png
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Things got better when stopped down to F2.8. For optimum results F4-F5.6 was needed. I read several times that copies (the later production) made in Vietnam are better - in terms of sharpness. The 12-40 Pro will give you better optical performance: an uniform sharpness, less vignetting and almost no CA.

Regarding the PL15mm F1.7: this is in general better performer but - as often with some Panasonic lenses - suffers from high sample variation. I would recommend to test more copies in person.

The complete comparison: O17mm F1.8 vs PL15mm F1.7
 

fortwodriver

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I lucked out. I didn't get one of the first, but mine is very sharp wide-open. It's pretty contrasty wide-open, too.

Before I bought it I heard that there were issues with the lens being soft, but lots of people seemed to be refuting the softness claim in late 2013, so I bought one. I only briefly tried the 12-40 way back, and I didn't really like it. It was my only m43 lens for a long time as I settled into m43 from 4/3rds.

Mine is made in China and black-barrelled.
What it did do was teach me to dislike m43 lens-caps. Really, they are the thinnest, fiddliest things I've ever used. My wife's G2 camera and lenses came with centre-pinch caps, so I quickly ordered a few and tossed out the Olympus caps. haha!
 

davidzvi

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My PL15 is my 3rd copy, I've also owned 4 O17s.

I find the PL15 to be a little sharper across the frame and the micro contrast is more appealing to my eye. Obviously I've gone back and forth a few times. I like the O17 better in use aesthetically, especially on rangefinder body and the none reversible hood use to bother (I know both aren't REALLY issues but....). Thanks to both the PL25 and a Fuji 18mm I use to have, I've gotten more use to the hoods and lens hood caps.

But the main reason I have the PL15 now is that I prefer the slightly wider FOV and with these two options that's really what it comes down to IMHO.
 
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JonSnih

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My PL15 is my 3rd copy, I've also owned 4 O17s.

But the main reason I have the PL15 now is that I prefer the slightly wider FOV and with these two options that's really what it comes down to IMHO.
Fully understand. The 17mm is just not wide enough for certain situations. I hope that we will see a Zuiko 14mm bright prime. Have you noticed any purple fringing issues with the E-M1ii and the PL15 combo? I read that flares might be an issue in some angles. Also some ppl complaint about poor lens hood implementation, is that so bad?
 
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I tried 4 versions of the oly 17 1.8.
First one lent by my shop, second one that I bought and sent back within 2 weeks (after comparing with the 20 1.8).

Third one I tested on a photo event, lent by olympus.
and fourth that I bought just a few weeks after.

None of them were really sharp wide open, and they were all approximately the same quality.
Nothing shamefull but the edges and corners are soft wide open compared to my other primes.
Even stopped down, the panny 20 is shaper than the oly 17.

That being said, I prefer the oly 17 and I almost never use my panny 20.

This lens is small, has a nice rendering, and is fun to use.
Sharpness is not optimal but rarely an issue.

I don't think the new produced lenses are better, I just think some people maybe got lucky and got an abnormally good sample.

It's like the oly 45 1.8, I've heard about sharp ones, but I've tested a bunch of samples and never found one.
It's not necessarily a problem, and I think that this is not what you should expect when buying one.
 

threeOh

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Reviews, other than Lens Rental, generally review one copy of a lens. I’ve noticed with both Panasonic and Oly more copy variation than I’m accustomed to with Nikon or Fuji. I returned 3 out of my first 5 lenses to get to my starter set. Rentals suffer the same issue. Just buy, test, return if need be until you're satisfied.
 

SilverShutter

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What it did do was teach me to dislike m43 lens-caps. Really, they are the thinnest, fiddliest things I've ever used. My wife's G2 camera and lenses came with centre-pinch caps, so I quickly ordered a few and tossed out the Olympus caps. haha!
Just wanted to add to this, Olympus used to have centre pinch caps, I have some from the 4/3rds kit lenses but for some reason they decided to go for the akward ones they use now! They are unusable with lens hoods.
 
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Reviews, other than Lens Rental, generally review one copy of a lens. I’ve noticed with both Panasonic and Oly more copy variation than I’m accustomed to with Nikon or Fuji. I returned 3 out of my first 5 lenses to get to my starter set. Rentals suffer the same issue. Just buy, test, return if need be until you're satisfied.
I agree with that.
I returned 2 samples of the 75 1.8 before getting an excellent copy.
I returned 2 samples of the 25 1.2 before giving up.
I carefully tested my 12-45 to be sure it was sharp.

In the case of the 17 1.8, I sent it back and then had regrets.
The photos were softer than my 20 1.8 but I found out that I liked the rendering.

That’s why I tried it again and bought it again.
Sharpness is important but not the only quality of a lens... you just need to know how much it is important to a specific lens choice.

if you want a very sharp lens, be prepared to compare and send back a few samples of the 17 1.8.
 

fortwodriver

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Just wanted to add to this, Olympus used to have centre pinch caps, I have some from the 4/3rds kit lenses but for some reason they decided to go for the akward ones they use now! They are unusable with lens hoods.

Oh I remember those... They were great... Now they only use the centre pinch caps for the pro lenses. Everything else gets the 2-ply thin plastic caps.
 
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Oh I remember those... They were great... Now they only use the centre pinch caps for the pro lenses. Everything else gets the 2-ply thin plastic caps.
I like these because they are thin... center pinch caps are bulky.
It makes sense for bulky lenses (as on my 12-45) but for small primes not...
I know it's only a few mm but all this adds up...
 
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Personally I doubt that more recent build versions of this lens have really improved. I do believe there might be a bit of sample to sample variations, as reported by a number of people, but you won't find "legendary" copies of this lens which are way above other copies of the same lens.

My copy is also pretty soft wide open, especially in the corners. This gets much more obvious when directly compared to the excellent 17mm Pro. You really have to stop down quite a bit if you want better sharpness across the frame, on my copy sharpness really improves only at around f3.5
I still enjoy the rendering, even though it really isn't perfect at all. Combined with the great build quality, compact size and low weight, last but not least the MF clutch, it is more or less my most favourite lens in the system. Also the AF is very fast, almost as blazingly fast as the bigger Pro counterpart.

The 17mm f1.8 always has been the most controversial of the bunch, some people never liked the lens, even after giving it several chances with several copies, while others enjoy the lens.

If you really care about the 17mm focal length and want the best image quality, the f1.2 Pro version offers a clear upgrade: Even at f1.2 it is much sharper than the smaller sibling, not only drastically at the edges, but also at the center. Stopped down slightly, maybe f1.8 and it improves over the already very good wide open quality. Of course this lens if much more expensive, much larger and quite a bit heavier...however as I said, if you really care about IQ, this one is pretty much as excellent as it can get. Having said that, after all I still kind of prefer the imperfect f1.8 version, as the compact size and weight is much more in line with the Micro Four Thirds spirit in my opinion.
 

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