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Thoughts on exchanging Oly 17mm for Pany 14-45mm?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by sokar, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 30, 2011
    Hi All,

    I recently assisted in photographing a charity event and discovered that whilst primes are great for the M43 system, I really could have benefited from a reasonable quality standard zoom.

    I have read on this forum the consistent praising for the Pany 14-45mm zoom and these lenses are available locally for a reasonable price. I have to admit some of the photos I have seen from this lens are extremely impressive. I also take note of the more experienced users here, and their comments regarding this lens.

    I currently own the Oly 17mm and the Oly 14-42 II (that I have rarely used). From what I can ascertain the photo quality of the Oly 17mm is slightly superior to the Oly 14-42mm, but the 17mm is not really fast enough to use in low light without attaching a flash. The Oly kit zoom definitely needs a flash in low light, and due to the fact that I have the Oly 17mm and 45mm primes, the kit zoom never gets used.

    I have persisted with the Oly 17mm for 3 years and consider it to be good lens, but definitely not great. RAW files can be sharpened a reasonable amount, but I have to admit I am tiring of consistently changing prime lenses on the run. There are days where a one all proposition would be a great option.

    I am considering selling both the Oly 17mm and the Oly kit lens and can essentially sell them quickly and replace both with the Pany 14-45mm, and have a little cash leftover. I would definitely keep the Oly 45mm prime for portraits, but I am seeking a general walk about lens that has reasonable quality and sharpness.

    Where I live the market for used lenses is quite good and therefore I would not be losing cash, just changing one lens I use (and another that is never used) for one general purpose solid lens with good reliable output.

    I see the Oly 12-50mm is also available locally, but at a slightly higher cost. From user comments here, the Pany 14-45mm is superior in all aspects apart from the Macro function and the extra 7mm range. Other considerations I have pondered is that I would stay with whatever I purchase for several years and the Pany releases my reliance on IBIS. This lens would be most used on the EPM1 and with the lens stabilisation I may even vice the EPM1 IBIS I may even achieve similar results to the Oly 17mm in low light.

    Any comments or feedback would be appreciated.

    My current bodies are the EPM1 (VF3) and an EP1. Other lenses are the 45mm Oly and the Oly 40-150mm zoom.
  2. angusr

    angusr Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    My first thought is why not just use the Olympus zoom? It is a little less sharp than the Panasonic (which I used to own, and would still do if it hadn't been stolen), but it isn't a bad lens. The Panasonic is considerably larger since it doesn't collapse, and has OIS.

    I've debated rebuying a zoom but nothing out there is perfect for me. I'd like something starting at 12mm, but the current options are very expensive or slow and quite expensive! They are also much larger than your kit zoom.
  3. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel

    I own the P14-45 and love it.
    The problem you have with the 14-42 of low light will not be solved by the P14-45 and it will end unused like the O14-42.
    If you are looking for a sharp fast walk around lens you may consider the P20 and zoom with your legs.
    Another option is sell the 14-42 and buy the P14 to have a cheap wide option.
    With the last option you will have 14, 17 and 45 primes with good low light capabilities.
  4. angusr

    angusr Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    I may have misunderstood the question. If the OP wants to do available light photography, the only 'budget' option is the fantastic 20mm, which is of course not a zoom. The only fast zoom is the new Panasonic 12-35 which is way outside of budget. The other zooms will not be significantly better than his existing kit zoom.
  5. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 30, 2011
    Thanks for the feedback. It is not really a case of low light photography as most of the time I am taking portraits I will attach either the kit flash or the FL36R. For dedicated portraits in low light without flash I have the 45mm prime.

    It is more that from what I have seen on forums such as this one the Pany zoom seems to be sharper than the Oly17mm prime in the 17mm range, and it has benefits of being reasonably sharp throughout the range especially when stopped down a little. I also studied the Lens Rental analysis of the different M43 lenses and was surprised at the 14-45mm figures. I suppose that is what started this thinking process.

    I take onboard the idea of using the current kit zoom, but I struggle to bring myself to attach it to the body when I know that the 17mm is just that little sharper. Therefore it just sits on the shelf and gathers dust.

    For me, it comes down to essentially swapping one lens for another; the 17mm prime for the Pany 14-45mm.
  6. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Sharpness is great but how much do you need? I also have the 17mm which lives on my E-M5 a lot of the time simply because of its size and the fact that I can throw the camera and 17mm into my shoulder bag and carry it with me at all times so I have a camera handy. The camera won't fit in that bag when I have a sharper lens such as the 12, 25, 45 or 75 mounted. I've taken a lot of pictures with the 17 and never discarded any because I didn't think they were sharp enough unless the reason for that unsharpness was due to camera or subject motion. In its favour it has good contrast and colour rendition and it keeps delivering images I like. At present for me it's a keeper and for some strange reason I like the results I get from it on my E-M5 more than I liked what I get from it on my E-P3. That surprised me when I noticed it because I thought that the higher resolution of the E-M5 would mean that I would like the 17 less.

    The 17mm gets a bad press. Certainly its probably the least sharp native lens on tests but the test data I've seen still puts it in the average range for sharpness if one considers lenses from other camera formats. I've seen it claimed that "there are no bad lenses in micro four thirds" and if the 17mm is the worst we have then I think that statement is undoubtedly true.

    Depending on what you're shooting or how you like your photos looking the 17's sharpness may not be enough for you. If that's the case then change it but don't change it simply because you see a lot of people making negative comments about it. I've also seen more than a few good comments about it. It's certainly a lens which seems to polarise opinion, perhaps like the new Olympus 15mm bodycap lens I'm waiting for. Both seem to be lenses that you either want of don't want, with no middle ground. Interestingly some of the most negative comments about both that I've seen are from people who haven't owned or tried them and who are just going on the test reports they've read.

    If you decide to replace it, then decide what you're chasing. Are you chasing just sharpness, or sharpness and speed for available light, or the flexibility of a zoom? The 14-45 will give you more sharpness and the flexibility of a zoom but less speed and speed obviously does mean something to you since you raised it in your initial post. Why did you want the 17 in the first place? If it was for the focal length, which is one of the 2 reasons I bought mine (the other was its size), then perhaps your best option is simply to wait for the new Olympus 17mm F/1.8 which should be released early next year. By all accounts it should be sharper and it's certainly faster, and it gives you the same focal length.

    I think you need to be sure of just what it is that you're chasing and which elements of that package of desires are most important to you. You've listed 3 factors: sharpness, speed for available light, zoom functionality, and you can't get all 3 in a single M43 lens at present. In fact you may never get that but at present the Panasonic 12-35 may be the best option in terms of all 3 although at a considerable price. If you want something at a lower price than that, the question becomes more and more one of "what are you most prepared to give up?" I think you need to consider that question carefully or you're likely to find yourself a little down the track in the same position with the new lens as you are currently with the 17, tossing up whether it's worth swapping the new lens for something different because it doesn't do something as well as some other lens does.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. photographer-for-life

    photographer-for-life Mu-43 Rookie

    May 21, 2011
    I agree. I have owned the EP1 and EPL1 with the Oly zoom and still own the GF1 with the Lumix zoom. All combos have served me well and produced wonderful images and movies.
    Yet the OM-D and Lumix 12-35 combo is phenomenal especially with the F2.8.

    I haven't even tried the Lumix 14-45 on the OM-D as it resides permanently on the GF1, used by my kids for school, movies, FB etc.

    Maybe try the Oly zoom again, try to like it enough, sell the 17mm and buy the fab. Lumix 12-35mm when the money and price are right ($200 price drop already).
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Use your 14-42II
    Don't sell your 17mm
    The 14-45 is sharper especially in the corners but not by a lot and the kit zoom is a decent lens.
    The 14-45 is much worse in low light than the 17mm regarding aperture.

    My 14-45 gets used when I want a standard zoom and for landscapes, but mainly because I HATE uncollapsing the 14-42II.

    If you sell only your 14-42II and buy a good 14-45 you will have another good tool, but do not sell your 17mm.
    It takes better pictures than its 'sharpness' would suggest.

    Regarding stabilisation : my e-P1 does a better job than my e-pM1 in that regard, with all lenses.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 30, 2011
    Thanks for the comments. I will ponder this decision for a little longer.
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