Lens review

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17 mm f/1.8

20 November 2012
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

When it comes to mirrorless systems, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17 mm f/1.8 has already a lot of competition. In the very Micro 4/3 system you can compare it to the Panasonic 1.7/20, with a similar aperture and angle of view, and the Olympus 2.8/17 with exactly the same focal length but a bit slower aperture. Lenses which provide an angle of view of about 60 degrees you can be also found in the line-up of Canon (2/22) and Sony (Zeiss 1.8/24). A comparison between the tested lens and the models listed above is presented in the following chart.

As you see the Panasonic, the Canon and the Olympus 2.8/17 are among the smallest devices, which can be described as typical „pancakes”. The biggest and the heaviest Zeiss is definitely not a “pancake” at all. Recently, when I called the Fujinon 2/18 a “pancake”, I was castigated by the Readers – they claimed it didn’t deserve that name. The Olympus 1.8/17, tested here, has similar proportions so for many potential users it won’t qualify as a “pancake” as well. Still it remains obvious that the constructors of this instrument cared about small dimensions, making them one of their priorities - after all its length is only 35.5 mm and it weighs just 120 grams.

In the photo below the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17 mm f/1.8 is positioned next to two other Olympus lenses: the 2.8/60 Macro and the 1.8/45.

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17 mm f/1.8 - Build quality

The tested lens starts with an immobile rear element, 16 mm in diameter. It is surrounded by a black ring made of plastics on which you can find an inscription “MADE IN CHINA” and contacts. Around it there is a metal mount.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17 mm f/1.8 - Build quality

The first element of the metal casing is an immobile, ribbed ring with the name and the parameters of the lens along with its serial number. Further on there is a manual focus ring. It is 12 mm wide and most of it is covered by ribs. The ring moves smoothly; running through the whole scale takes a turn through 90 degrees. The ribbed element moves up and down, revealing a distance scale, expressed in meters and feet; it also allows you to choose one of working modes: based on electronic transmission or completely manual. Above the scale you can find a depth of field scale with markings by f/22, f/11 and f/5.6. This design we saw already in the M.Zuiko Digital 12 mm f/2.0 ED model; it’s a pity it wasn’t featured in the M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8 and the M.Zuiko Digital 75 mm f/1.8 ED which lacked any depth of field or distance scale.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17 mm f/1.8 - Build quality

Behind the distance scale there is a blue ring; the lens gets narrower after it and ends. The front element is 19 mm in diameter, immobile and surrounded by a non-rotating filter thread, 46 mm in diameter.

The optical construction of the lens consists of 9 elements positioned in 6 groups. The producer boasts of using two aspherical elements, one dual aspherical element (DSA - Dual Super Aspherical) and one element made of glass with high refraction index (HR). ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coatings are supposed to be an additional asset of this lens, damping down flares. Inside you can also find an aperture with seven diaphragm blades which can be closed down to the value of f/22.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17 mm f/1.8 - Build quality

Unfortunately the standard accessory kit of the lens is modest, including just an instruction manual and plastic caps. The producer encourages you to buy other , optional accessories like a metal hood (LH-48B), a lens cap with the Olympus logo (LC 48B) and an optical viewfinder VF-1.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17 mm f/1.8 - Build quality