Noob questions about Oly 17mm f2.8 prime

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by ANRiley, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. ANRiley

    ANRiley New to Mu-43

    Dec 18, 2012
    near Chicago
    Hi all -- yes, I'm a noob to the world of interchangeable lenses, so please be kind. I bought my lil refurbished ELP-1 a couple of months ago to help me learn how to take good photos for my work (I work for a nonprofit and we never have decent photos for our newsletter).

    Anyway. Enough about me; let's talk about you. What it is that you like about the Olympus 17mm f2.8, besides how small and unobtrusive it is? In what situations would you choose to use it over the 14-42 IIR zoom? And why?

    Thanks for all your help! You're helping a noob become less so.
  2. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    :rofl: All the time!
    On my e-P1 it actually fits in my pockets ... some of them.
    It takes beautiful photos.
    I don't have to twist it to start it.
    It looks fine.
    It focuses reliably on the person or tree infront of me.
    It produces nice results even straight into sunlight.
    It has a decent aperture and is sharp enough wide-open.

    See? ;

    • Like Like x 2
  3. ANRiley

    ANRiley New to Mu-43

    Dec 18, 2012
    near Chicago
    Pretty! Thank you!!
  4. RogerAdams

    RogerAdams Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 19, 2012
    Hi ANRiley,

    I've been using the 17mm f2.8 almost exclusively for the last 5 months. The size just made my EPL-1 more compact. Also as Ulfric said, I really hated to unlock the kit lens to use it. I had been using the kit lens for almost two years and was just bored with it.

    The 35mm equivalent makes capturing large groups easy but that's something you can already do with the kit lens. I've heard good things about the 14-42 IIR. I have the original 14-42 and I found it slow to focus.

    You can get some bokeh if you get close enough to your subject (see my dog pic below). The part where I found it lacking is its performance in low light. I took it with me to our Christmas party and it was a failure in really low light. I just couldn't get it to auto focus. I'm sure a more experienced photographer could have gotten it to work or if I had a better body (EPL-1).

    After that experience, I was thinking of getting the Panasonic 20mm 1.7 as a replacement for it's low light capabilities but I can't afford it right now. Another member recommended getting the kit lens you have for low light.

    Again, the 17mm 2.8 is a fun lens. An alternative is the Panasonic 14mm that is readily available on ebay from separated kits for around $160 - $170. And I'm sure users upgrading to the new 17mm 1.8 will have their old 17mm 2.8 up for sale.

    <a href="" title="PB242244 by Roger_Adams, on Flickr"> 8217736030_dcbae826f5_b. "1024" height="768" alt="PB242244"></a>
  5. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    There are image threads for both the 14 and the 17, which will give you many examples of what these lenses can do.
  6. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 21, 2012
    Mississippi, USA
    Ulfric, that's a really lovely photo.

    As for what the 17mm f/2.8 is good for aside from being small and unobtrusive, uhm... :biggrin:

    Just kidding. It's not going to win any image quality awards, although the flipside of that is that it's been torn down by critics a lot more than it deserves. If you plan on shooting it stopped down in good light most of the time, its image quality is pretty good. The center of the image can get reasonably sharp, but the edges and corners are a bit of a mess and there's heavy chromatic aberration.

    f/2.8 means that it's almost a stop faster than the kit lens, so it's a little better in low light too.

    Oh, and since others are posting photos, here's one from me that demonstrates nothing about the lens except for its angle of view, which in a way is its most important characteristic :smile:

  7. ghetto

    ghetto Mu-43 Regular

    I used the 17mm lens exclusively for I think 3 years.

    1) because it's cheaper to use what you have than to buy another lens you don't :) 
    2) it's great for landscape / scenic photos as well as crowds of people at short distances
    3) it's cheap and relatively fast (f2.8 is relatively fast, especially compared to f3.5 for kit zooms). It's fast enough to hand-hold the camera and still get ok photos in darker situations (with out using a flash). You just can't do that with a kit lens.
    4) it's tiny
    5) if you flip it backwards (or buy an adpater for $10) you can use it as a macro lens (compare that to paying for another lens...)
    6) it's a great field of view for making panoramic photos, there's not too much distortion so things line up well.
    7) I love it, because it is the most hated lens in the m4/3 line up.

    If you're new to F-numbers/apertures or new to primes... the short brief answer is : the smaller the number (2.8 compared to 4.5) the faster shutter speed you can use and the smaller depth of field you can get. Try it, just put it into "A" mode, dial the F to 2.8 and take a bunch of pictures, you'll see that you can hand-hold the camera steady easier in dark situations. Then to pretend you have the kit-zoom, put it to F4 or F5 or something and try to take the same picture. You should see the difference.
  8. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    It's probably around the same sharpness as the 14-42 kit lens, i.e. average/acceptable. Reasonable contrast and colour rendition.

    It's the lens I use whenever I'm simply putting one of my 2 bodies in my shoulder bag to carry with me wherever I go rather than heading out specifically for photographic purposes. It's a reasonable general purpose focal length though I'd probably prefer a 25mm pancake of the same size if there was one. It does a great job with general snapshots and some landscape work which are the 2 things I mostly use it for.

    So, the 2 things it has going for it as far as I'm concerned are size and focal length/field of view.
  9. ANRiley

    ANRiley New to Mu-43

    Dec 18, 2012
    near Chicago
    Thank you!! That's very useful information. I'll do exactly that.
  10. ANRiley

    ANRiley New to Mu-43

    Dec 18, 2012
    near Chicago
    DavidA, can you tell me more about the focal length/field of view? Remember, I'm a noob.

  11. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Focal length/field of view?

    You have your micro four thirds camera set up on a tripod overlooking the Grand Canyon and you have a 17mm lens mounted on it. You take a photo and what it contains is a large panoramic image including hundreds of square miles of land. Now, without moving the camera (that's why I put it on a tripod), swap the 17mm lens for a 170mm lens and take another photo. This shot gives you a tree on the other side of the canyon and a couple of hundred square yards of ground around it.

    What is included in the photo is the field of view of the lens. The 17mm lens has a wider field of view than the 170mm lens does. If you want to get a lot of what is in front of you into the photo, you want a lens with a wide field of view which means a lens with a short focal length while if you want to capture only a small part of what you can see you want a lens with a narrow field of view which means a lens with a long focal length.

    So increase your focal length and you decrease field of view. Decrease your focal length and you increase your field of view. There is a fixed and precise relationship between focal length and field of view. Camera lenses are described in terms of their focal length but what we buy them for is their field of view. If we know what one is, whether that be focal length or field of view, we also know what the other will be.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. ANRiley

    ANRiley New to Mu-43

    Dec 18, 2012
    near Chicago
    Thank you, DavidA!
  13. FrayAdjacent

    FrayAdjacent Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 5, 2012
    Austin, TX
    I picked one up for half of what they go for new from a member here. I'm pretty impressed with it after some general messing around at home. Seems to focus decently fast and accurately, but sometimes hunts when it starts getting darker.

    If you can find one used for what I paid for mine, it's almost silly NOT to get it.
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