Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17 mm f/1.8
- small, very handy and solid casing,
- decent image quality in the frame centre,
- slight longitudinal chromatic aberration,
- moderate coma,
- good work against bright light,
- efficient and accurate autofocus.
- very high distortion,
- significant vignetting,
- huge astigmatism, visible up to f/5.6 aperture,
- modest accessory kit.
This lens is not exactly a successful construction and it should have been thought out better – I write it without scruple. I could even call it ill-considered. Why? Because it repeats some features you can already find in the Micro 4/3 system. When Panasonic and Olympus companies announced the launch of a new system I thought they were going to support each other, filling in their respective gaps.
Meanwhile the Olympus 1.8/17 occupies a place already taken by the Panasonic 1.7/20 - a faster, smaller and better lens. If Olympus wanted to have an equivalent of a full frame 35 mm device in its line-up it could have offered its customers an expensive, solid lens, made in Japan, with f/1.0 or f/1.2 aperture (f/1.4 in the last resort) which would supplement the existing 2.8/17 and 1.7/20 devices nicely. If they didn’t want to deal with such a fast aperture, in my humble opinion a 1.8/14 instrument would be much better and I would accept it more gladly. It is true there is the Panasonic 2.5/14 but it is noticeably slower so launching a lens by 1 EV faster would be more than justified.
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Why the tested lens is nothing to be proud of? Although it can provide more or less sharp images, useful even at the maximum relative aperture, it lags behind everything you were used to when dealing with Olympus optics. That company can construct really outstanding lenses and they have proven it more than once. I don’t really grasp what they counted on, presenting such an average instrument as the 1.8/17 at such a price.
A lot of half measures is the next reason which makes me say the tested lens is ill-considered . The Olympus is noticeably bigger than the 1.7/20 Panasonic “pancake” but not much faster; it doesn’t use the potential of the Micro 4/3 sensor to the full (high vignetting, an average image quality on the edge of the frame, weak correction of such aberrations as astigmatism or distortion). It seems that, compared to the Panasonic, the augmentation of dimensions didn’t bright any good effect so what was the point of it?
To sum up, in my opinion it wasn’t senseless to launch such a lens on the market, it is needed, but certainly not at a current price. When the price tag is reduced by two or even three times the users of the Micro 4/3 will get a cheap, well-made and optically decent “prime” which can be a nice supplement of the 14-42 kit lens.