Oly 17 f1.8 is not as sharp as I expected...

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Andy H., Dec 2, 2017.

  1. When compared to my P12-32 and my P14-42 II, I thought the Oly would be noticeably sharper, but can not really see a difference even when viewed 10X in my E-M10 II VF.
    Now, both my Panys are probably at the top end of their class for IQ, but I didn't expect them to be just as good as the Oly. All testing done at f5.6, ISO200.
    Does this seem "normal" to those that have these lenses and compared them?
  2. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    Perfectly normal. Oly 17mm 1.8 is not the sharpest of the fast primes in the system and it has some field curvature (the plane of focus is not flat). Also many kit zooms in the system are actually pretty good in terms of sharpness. So you are looking a case of below average prime against above average zoom, and I'm talking only about pure shapness. The Oly 17mm 1.8 is a great lens in many ways. It's fast, light, well made and it has very nice rendering.
    • Agree Agree x 6
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  3. Gonewest

    Gonewest Mu-43 Regular

    May 3, 2013
    Cornwall, UK
    My 17/1.8 is no sharper than my P12-32 either. But it is faster, better built (my 12-32 has been repaired twice) and can be easily manually focused.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. I agree with both of you about the Oly being a nice, well built lens, and wanted it for the FL as my "go to" everyday lens. Just wish is was as sharp as my O25 f1.8!
    BTW - my P12-32 has been faultless and is my most used lens!
  5. I never judge sharpness from looking in the viewfinder... it's just not that obvious. Take some photos side-by-side and look at them on a computer monitor.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  6. My monitor isn't nearly as good as my VF. When viewing these pics on my 2500x1600 Yoga Tab 3 they appear practically identical.
  7. You can properly zoom in on a monitor though. I'd say if you can't tell at 100% on a monitor then there really isn't much difference.
    • Agree Agree x 6
  8. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2014
    The Oly 17 mm f/1.8 is not the sharpest lens...

    I bought it first with the Panny 20 mm f/1.7, and I ended up returning the Olympus because the Panny was noticeably sharper, wide open or stopped down, and gave more background blur.

    After a while, I had some regrets about this... I tried it again a few days ago on en event where I could test any Oly lens I wanted. The 17 mm f/1.8 was the one I prefered and I bought it again the next week.

    All three copies of this lens were soft. Reasonably soft, or reasonably sharp, depend if you see the glass half empty or half full.
    I would call it "sharp enough".

    Despite this relative softness, I like it. It's very pleasant to use, you can do zone focus, and there's something about the look of the images that I like.
    There's no immediate "pop" like the Panny 20, but there's something more subtle about it... Maybe it's all in my head ;) 
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  9. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2014
    Totally agree.
    I find viewfinders to be very misleading for sharpness... I almost never delete a picture based on what I see on my VF.
    Differences on a monitor at 100% are a lot more obvious to me.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. Well....I just hooked up the HDMI output to my HDTV and saw negligible difference. I'm convinced there isn't any.
  11. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    The 17/1.8 was the first lens I bought when I got into m43 back in 2013 and whilst it's "OK" in the sharpness department, I often feel disappointed when critical sharpness is needed. So, after years of resisting, I picked up a 15/1.7 last week (actually it's the DJI re-branded version) - and there is quite a difference. The 15mm is sharper at all apertures and wide open it has quite a lead in the corners. It's also got better micro-contrast giving shots more of a punchy feel.

    However, it's 30mm eff, not 34mm and I find it quite a noticeable difference. It feels like a 28mm rather than a 35mm. And TBH, if I don't go pixel peeking then then 17/1.8 is actually perfectly fine.

    So now I have a dilemma - which should I sell, or should I keep both (yet another lens in the library!!).
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. Flip a coin. If it lands not to your liking...........flip it 'till it does! ;) 
    • Funny Funny x 4
  13. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2014
    It's not going to help you, but personnally I'll keep the 17 f/1.8 and the Panny 20 f/1.7... but I don't have the Panny 15.
    (14-15 mm is not what I like the most, I prefer 12 or 17)
  14. Reflector

    Reflector Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 31, 2013
    I think there's some significant copy variation given some of them can perform as well as the Olympus 17mm f/1.2 when stopped down and the shots used in the comparison actually are pretty sharp.
  15. Yeah....but how do you get one of those without a lot of "trial & error"?
  16. Reflector

    Reflector Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 31, 2013
    I'd personally ask if softer copies of the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 are actually warranty cases...
  17. Wouldn't surprise me if someone here hasn't already tried that.
  18. Thai-Mike

    Thai-Mike Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 2, 2016
    I recently got my 17mm 1.8 and regret that I didn't buy it a long time ago. I love the performance, the sharpness is wonderful. Nothing to complain, even I look at pics taken by my 45mm 1.8 or the 30mm 1.4.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  19. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2014
    I always buy where you can send back lenses "no question asked", because I think in most cases the lenses are considered "normal".
    The thing we don't know is the tolerance Olympus (or other brands) consider as "acceptable".
    What I care about is what *I* consider as "acceptable".

    For the 17 f/1.8, I'd say the sharp ones are the "abnormal" copies.
    All the copies I've tried were similarly soft (in fact it's 4, not 3, because I already had one copy lent by Olympus before I choose to go to m43).

    Once again, when I say soft, it's just "softer that some other m43 lenses".
    I consider the 45 f/1.8 to be soft too.
    • Useful Useful x 1
  20. At least my copy appears to be equally sharp in the corners without any "decentering" as others have complained about.
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