Olympus 17mm/f1.8 Comments by users would be appreciated

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Dave Reynell, May 31, 2014.

  1. Dave Reynell

    Dave Reynell Guest

    I presently have a 20mm/f1.7 Panasonic lens clipped onto my G1 body for most of the time. I love primes, they are light and fast.

    It would be nice to have something a little wider and the closest lens in the MFT line-up is the Oly 17. We all know how good the Panny 20 is (despite its sleepy auto-focus), how does the Oly 17 compare in terms of sharpness ?

  2. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    I've owned both, the 17 isn't quite as sharp as the 20, but you have to pixel peep or print really, really large to see the difference. The 17 is a little softer in the corners but sharp in the center wide open, so you wouldn't really want to take landscapes wide open (but who does?), its good for portraits or anything with narrow DOF as you rarely have much detail in the corners.

    The AF speed, and especially AF reliability in low light makes up for any slight loss of sharpness though, with the 17, I am much more likely to nail af in lower light, while the 20mm hunts and hunts and hunts and I am forced to use MF, often times the moment has passed by then. For this reason alone I would recommend the 17mm, but it really depends on what you do. If low light af performance is important, get the 17mm. If you shoot mostly in daylight or are fine using manual focus, stick with the 20mm.

    The 20mm also gives visible banding in low light at ISO 3200 or higher on the EM5 (and other Oly cameras with the same sensor), I sold it before I got the EM1 so I do not know if it causes banding with that camera. No banding with the 17mm.
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  3. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    EarthQuake nailed that review. Totally agree. I've owned multiple copies of each lens.
  4. Ellsass

    Ellsass Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 15, 2014
    When reading comparisons, make note of what body the reviewer has. My 20mm focuses much faster with my GF5 (and nearly always locks on) than it does with my supposedly-far-superior EPM2.

    It’s still slower than the Oly 25mm on either body, so I’m not trying to say the 20mm can be a fast focuser; just keep it in mind if/when someone says the 17mm blows the 20mm out of the water and they’re using an Olympus body. I haven’t used the 17mm myself so I can’t give you a direct comparison.

    Just out of curiosity, why is that?
  5. SkiHound

    SkiHound Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2012
    No experience with the 20. I really hemmed and hawed before buying the 17. It doesn't test as being super sharp in most technical reviews. But most users really seemed to like it. I eventually decided to buy it. My take is that there is some corner softness wide open, there's also a some vignetting. The center is pretty sharp wide open. Corners improve and there's less vignetting when you stop down a little. None of this is intended to imply it's soft or doesn't produce good output. I really like the output. But I have the PL25 and Oly 75 and I'd say both are sharper. Heck, the 75 is just stunningly sharp. The 17 focuses REALLY FAST and I like the overall rendering. My take is it's really a great lens for use on the street and use in social settings. It's become a favorite lens that's probably on my camera more than any other lens. It's just a fun, fun lens. I'd give a close look at the yet to be released PL 15 as well.
  6. mpresley

    mpresley Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 13, 2012
    Wolfe City, TX
    Real Name:
    I have both lenses and seldom use the 20 anymore and tend to pick the 17 for a walk-about lens. On my cameras (GX7 and EM5) I have the impression that the 17 both focuses faster and is more sure in the results if conditions are a little challenging. I think I agree that the 20 is sharper, but not radically so. The 17 is no slouch. I like the focal length of the 17 better for just walking around - just a little wider as you mentioned. I find the 20's focal length to be uncomfortable - but that's obviously just a personal preference.

    Here's a couple of samples using the 17 - both at f/1.8


  7. karma

    karma Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Real Name:
    Are you looking to replace the P20 or add a second lens to your collection?

    If the latter, I don't think the 17 provides enough of a difference from the 20 to warrant its purchase. I think you'd be better off going for the P14 if you're looking for something a little wider.

    If you're looking for something to replace the 20, then I think the 17 is a great option. I just recently acquired my 17, and I'm surprised at how much I enjoy using it. It's a really fun and versatile focal length. Like others have mentioned, the 17 doesn't get the best technical reviews, but people who have one seem to love it. Now I understand why.

    I used to own the P20, but never had both at the same time. The 20 is sharper, but the slow AF ended up being a killer for me after having a baby. The 17 AF is lightning fast, and I really like using the "clutch" zone focus for street shooting.

    The 20's an awesome lens and what got me hooked on m43. I miss it sometimes, but I'm very happy with my stable of Olympus primes.
  8. jcm5

    jcm5 Mu-43 Veteran

    May 12, 2014
    would you all sell the 20mm and buy the 17? I currently own the 20mm but wondering if it's worth it to sell it and purchase a 17 with that money.
  9. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    I definitely would sell the 20 to help fund a 17. But if you are happy with the 20 and like the FL I'm not sure it makes much sense.
  10. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    I've been in and out of m4/3s a few times.
  11. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 21, 2012
    Mississippi, USA
    The 17mm f/1.8 gets a bad rap. It is a bit disappointing numbers-wise, but it seems that almost universally those who use it end up loving it. If ever a lens was better than the numbers indicate, it's the 17mm f/1.8.
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  12. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Real Name:
    I had the 17 1.8 and thought it was a nice lens, well built and fun to use, but sold it, because I really got away from shooting wide mainly. The 17 2.8 was good enough too and compact, but ended up selling it too. No real complaints about the 17. The 14mm is good too for less $.
  13. gswpete

    gswpete Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 18, 2011
    The 17mm 1.8 is one of my favorites. Small, sharp (not razor sharp, but sharp), fast AF, and really pleasing rendering. If I only had one lens to take on a trip, this would be it.
  14. Kalifornier

    Kalifornier Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 29, 2014
    + 1 for 17/1.8. I have used both Pana 20/1.7 and Oly 17/1.8. I liked the former and I love the latter.
  15. AlexH

    AlexH Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 27, 2012
    Arkansas, U.S.
    That's a good way to describe it. I love my 17mm f/1.8. In real world use, it performs beautifully. While there are sharper lenses out there, it's still a generally sharp lens. I have no issues using it wide open as the center of the frame is sharp, and stopped down to f/2.8 the entire frame sharpens up nicely.

    In the end, this lens is more than sharpness charts make it out to be. It's sharp enough to be considered a solid performer, it's fast enough for virtually all conditions, and at that perfect focal length to be a general purpose walk around lens that's rarely taken off the camera.
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  16. taz98spin

    taz98spin Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 13, 2011
    The 20/1.7 was too slow for my then brand new E-PM2. So once I got the 17/1.8, I sold the 20/1.7 in a hurry. (at a steal for the buyer..)

    However, the more I shot with the 17/1.8, the more I missed the 20/1.7. The 17/1.8 is less sharp and lacks the character of the 20/1.7.

    At first I thought it was because I was using the lower end PEN, but even after upgrading to the E-P5 I feel the same way about the sharpness & plainness of the renderings.

    So don't sell the 20/1.7!
    I will sell my 17/1.8 once I receive my 15/1.7.
  17. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    I've mentioned this before, but the 17/1.8 really requires a certain amount if post processing, then all's good.

    One thing the 17 is better for though on an Olympus body is ISO - at ISO 6400 I sometimes (though not all the time) get what appears to be some banding with the Panasonic 20mm. Don't get this with the 17/1.8 though.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  18. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus Loser

    Nov 16, 2010
    The more I shoot with my 17mm 1.8 the less I miss my sold 20mm. It is just a joy to use. It handles so beatifully. The build, the MF ring and that fast/silent autofocus without rattling aperture blades. Images turn so much better when the lens doesn't affect negatively to the actual moment of taking the picture.
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  19. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    The 17/1.8 was my first lens when I got into u43 and I've always been pretty happy with it. Tempted by lots of people raving about the 20, I bought a copy and ran them both for a few weeks. Yes, the 20 is marginally sharper, but the rest of the ownership experience was worse - AF speed, build/aesthetics etc. IMHO, the sharpness difference makes little difference unless pixel peeking or wanting to print large with lots of fine detail.
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  20. Jan68

    Jan68 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 1, 2014
    Had them both on my EM5 (in the store) when I was ready to buy. The 20 has a great reputation and it's smaller, the price was very similar..... For me - the 17 looked better and felt better on my camera and in my hands. The way to move the focus- ring to switch to MF is awesome. Also, 34 over 40mm, liked the wider angle. Bought the 17 1.8 and it's my favourite lens, fast, sharp, and I am glad I bought the wider one, seems perfect on this camera. Is the 20 "sharper"? I don't know, maybe. But the 17 is so sharp, it beats all my. Canon L-lenses. Good enough for me and probably for most shooters. Just my $ 0.02.....

    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
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