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New 17mm 1.8 and new E-PL5/E-PM2 reviews!


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Image courtsey: Ming Thein |

Ming Thein published a comparative lens review with the new Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens: “the 20/1.7 is punchier but has slightly lower microcontrast; the 17/1.8 has lower macrocontrast but better reproduction of fine detail structures – i.e. better microcontrast

ePhotozine published the full E-PM2 review and became their “Editor’s choice“. They say: “The Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 produces excellent photos and punches well above its weight.

ThePhotoblogapher posted his first impressions review: “Though I initially had some concerns, the E-PL5 is turning out to be one heck of a compact performer.

The new Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens can now be preordered at Adorama (Click here), BHphoto (Click here) and Amazon DE.
E-PL5 at Amazon (Click here), Adorama (Click here), Bhphoto (Click here). In EU at Amazon Germany, Amazon UK, Amazon France,
E-PM2 at Amazon (Click here), Adorama (Click here), Bhphoto (Click here). In EU at Amazon Germany, Amazon UK, Amazon France,

  • So, the new 17 mm f/1.8 seems “only” faster than the Panasonic 20 mm…

    • No, it’s sharper across the frame, but that could be said as well by comparison with the ‘old’ 17/2.8.

      There’s been a lot of hype about the 20mm, Panny fanboyz being much more vocal than Olympians :)

      • avds

        The 20 has its share of disadvantages, on being its light fall-off (“vignette”) which is quite a bit beyond what is desirable for nature shots especially in low contrast conditions. That said, in most other aspects it just spanks the hell out of this new overpriced and overweight Olympus lens :)

        • Bronica

          Microcontrast – Macrocontrast – the 20mm seems to be sharper with the better contrast. It stays on my OM-D.

          I spare the money for the 75mm. Thats’s seems to be a perfect lens.

          • avds


      • QBNY

        hype /haɪp/
        blatant or sensational promotion
        syn: ballyhoo, hoopla, plug
        publicize in an exaggerated and often misleading manner

        -Sorry, but I as well as Many others don’t consider the 20mm “Hype”.

        I keep telling my self to avoid Olympus news… Too much Fanboyism, yet here I am…

        • Jonny5

          Tell me more about how you’re an amazing photographer.

      • elf

        You really have never gotten over your disappointment that the 17 f2.8 Oly was resoundingly panned by reviewers and users alike in favor of the Panny 20mm. And it still Gauls you to no end that despite the 20mm shortcomings it is still regarded as a significantly more desireable lens than the Oly 17 f2.8.
        We get it….. Your an Oly fan boy and lack the ability to discern quality regardless of manufacturer.
        It is going to take significantly more than minor micro contrast advantages for me to bin my Panny 20mm or Panny 25mm. The 17 f1.8 lens is a decent lens no doubt But it just isn’t brining anything significant that doesn’t already seem available. Of course it is “YOUR” focal length of choice for street peeping.

        • “Galls”. You trolls are often an illiterate bunch. Besides your vocabulary reminds me of Zoran, the serial raper of the Balkans. How could I ever accept advice about such noble things like lenses from such a sick primate? :)

          About one thing you are right: the 20mm is neither fish nor fowl, and doggedly slow at that, so it suits well your flea ridden hide. :)

          • avds

            Spank, spank, spank… Hear that? That’s the venerable Panasonic 20mm teaching this very unfortunate Olympus creation where it truly belongs :) Alas, this poor fella will never learn the words “sharpness” and “contrast” anyway…

            • Johnny5

              I bet this guy is pro.

          • Incessant Troll

            if Olympus took a poop into a plastic tube i would attach it to my camera and pay $500 ($200 for metal lens hood) if the performance was there and it said Olympus on the side

            • but does it come in black or just silver?

          • Boooo!

            Admin, why isn’t this guy banned already? He’s calling people rapists, sick primates and stinky beggars. Why are you tolerating this?

            • admin

              I removed them. Sorry, I simply didn’t see them!

              • Boooo!

                The message I was replying to is still visible, and it’s the worst.

                • avds

                  Come on Boooo, don’t be so serious, Amalric’s just teasing, as usual :)

            • Ronan

              Then don’t be a ass on the internet. People will point at you and laugh.

  • Anonymous

    “Ming Thein published a comparative lens review with the new Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens: “the 20/1.7 is punchier but has slightly lower microcontrast; the 17/1.8 has lower macrocontrast but better reproduction of fine detail structures – i.e. better ”

    HUH????? LOL!!!

    • lorenzino

      In fact when I first read that review I have seriously started to think that we all are a new kind of weird nerds…

    • fufu

      In fact when you looking at the comparison:

      You see that PL20 is more sharp than new oly.

      • Look up to right corner on image for 17mm F1.8 on aperture F1.8, and this coming in to the sharpness. :-P

      • avds


    • Don Pope

      I have no idea what that means in real world terms.

      • it means we’re doomed! all doomed!

      • avds

        In real world terms this means: “Look at those crops with your own eyes to see how the Panasonic 20mm just beats the *** out of this new overpriced and overweight Olympus lens while we’re exercising our skill in political correctness” :)

        • Johnny5

          Cool story bro.

  • E-1

    I like my 20 (though I use the 14 more) – but it’s so so slow (compared to the 45 or 75). Please make a 20/1.7 Mk II with fast AF.

    • Maybe Olympus try give you answer by 17mm F1.8, anyway this lens is answer to me ;-)

    • +1 for 20mm mk2!

    • avds

      Admittedly, while the 20mm can produce a sweet shot with the right FOV, sometimes I just grab the 14/2.5 instead because it focuses much better on my GF1… An update to this lens is very needed, especially now that the promise of an even better Olympus lens is hardly realized.

      • jevfp

        If panny updated their pancake,.it ail be great ,.Lumix 1.7/20mm M2 and make it faster Lumix 1.7/14mm M2,..

    • Miroslav

      The slow AF of the 20mm has been blown out of proportion…
      … or I’ve got an extra fast sample :).

      • QBNY

        Well said.
        20mm for the Win, every time.

    • JP

      @E-1 if you use your 14 mm more, then you would probably love the 12 mm f/2.0 – I sold my 20 mm and got the 12 mm, so glad I did.

  • Nawaf

    That pump action is so tempting! The price is right, but I must resist.

    Where is my resolution chart? More complex terminologies please.. Can’t wait for part two of Robin Wong’s review.

  • avds

    Wow, those tiled crop shots pretty make the advantage of the Panasonic so obvious there’s no even contest for corner contrast and sharpness… I’ll still miss the Olympus’ faster AF though.

  • Ren Kockwell

    Now if only Panasonic would rise to the occasion with a 17mm of their own. A Panasonic 17.5mm f1.4 would be cool.

    Panasonic LEICA DG SUMMILUX 1:1.4/17.5 ASPH anyone?

    • Nawaf

      Yes please!!

    • no, no, no.. I’ll have no money left!

      • Ren Kockwell

        Yours for a paltry US$550. The closest Leica imagery you’ll ever get without paying for a US$5,500 Leica.

        • Anonymous

          Nah, buy pretty much any Voigtländer and be there.

    • Optical1

      At least it would come in black…

  • Dogbytes

    That’s the only set of decent images I’ve yet seen made with that lens.

    However I bought an OM-D with a 12-50 (an excellent lens, despite the derision of the pixel-peeping masses) this year and since then 60mm macro. I already had the 17/2.8, 14-42, 9-18 and 45/1.8 but I won’t be buying anymore non-weather-sealed lenses.

    • Maybe i only is psychosis or fall in love, but i like IQ on this lens, the short depht of field on aperture F1.8 and nice bokèh, so i easy can sharp in PS and not more mess for exsample. First i look idea by 17mm F1.8 build like 12mm F2 i think cool, but when i see first image i sell my 17mm F2.8 pancake last Sunday. I now only hope lens coming in next month.

      • RIG


        • Nup, 17mm F2.8 pancake is maybe more sharp in center, but 17mm 1.8 is sharp mostly out to corner, and the so interest me more is a realy short depth of field.

  • Miroslav

    Why doesn’t any of these reviews compare field of view of these two lenses?

    • Johnny5

      Because they’d have to leave 100% zoom to even see it. The citizens of this website care about pixels, not photography.

  • Jevfp
    • Crazy comparo indeed, and I picked 3/6 incorrectly. Wish he had the 17/1.8 to compare to the Leica 35mm.

  • CL

    I’ve been a photographer for 30 years, and never heard someone use the term “microcontrast.” I guess today, with the Internet, everyone is an expert ;)

  • george

    Black body and silver lens. I think it looks better with the 20mm black lens. Stubborn Oly marketing.

  • I was hopping for more in this Oly lens :(

  • safaridon

    While these reviews point to the excellent IQ due to the new EM5 sensor they are less than objective when failing to point out the weaker points with these cameras and that is the lack of inbody flash and more importantly the very small 16:9 screen size. When shooting 4:3 format the active picture screen is only 1.5 inches in diagonal not 3 inches so use of optional EVF much more essential. Earlier EPL model had both a larger screen as well as flash so a step backwards in that regard. What is the point in having a small touch screen to select point of focus when your finger print will cover 1/4 of the screen? Also disappointing is the higher prices Oly is charging for these models as older ones available for half the price. Neither review mentions much about the old image stabilization system used and the fact the view on LCD or thru EVF is not stabilized until the picture is taken. Also note for video the IBIS is deactivated and less effective electronic IS used instead I believe. Just some conveniently frequently omitted factors which should be taken into consideration in their rankings in these reviews in my opinion.

    • Charles

      the answer is: money
      don’t look for objective review on a blog posts (robin & company) otherwise you won’t get next E-PM3 to review first… and won’t get hits/visitors…
      you have valid points (you forgot completely calibrated screen with zero critical ability judgment) and these can one only learn while trying the camera…not in reviews

      posting from mobile…
      p.s. Panasonic please be wise ane make mk2 version, you’ll sell millions and maybe you won’t be in 10billion debbt this year…but who am I to give you some wise ideas, you have your incredibly talented market strategies don’t you? looking on your finance though…

  • Byron

    “Punchier, microcontrast, macrocontrast”

    Could anyone please elaborate the meaning of these words in plain english?

    • Anonymous

      Punchier – looks like turning up saturation

      Micro contrast – kind of like pixel peeping detail sharpness or post prossecing increasing sharpness

      Macro contrast – kind of like increasing contrast in post processing

  • jimbo

    I say the 17mm f1.8 is sharp enough. I know some of you want ‘ultimate sharpness’ but it really doesn’t make a difference if the lens is sharp enough to make large prints. This lens is ‘sharp’ enough. The other details about the lens should be your deciding factor. Is it expensive at $499? No, not really. Consider the construction and the unique build of the lens, it’s worth an extra $150 over the Panasonic.

    • Fish

      I agree that faster AF and better build quality is worth more, probably even worth the difference in price. But I am not going to upgrade to a lens that is less-sharp than the one I have now. Too bad.

  • MAFAv8r

    The deciding factor between this and the Panasonic is the AF speed and manual control. I don’t see enough difference to say that after standard processing there would be any difference. Assuming that micro-contrast is the same as definition using Aperture, this is very important as it reduces the amount of sharpening I need to do.
    If it is the same, then micro contrast is like seeing feathers vs not seeing feathers on a light colored bird. Ie you will see fine structure.

  • What goes beyond 50 lpmm is not detectable by the human eye can’t you read the basic graphs, trolls?

    Absolute resolution is also sometimes less important than microcontrast. But of course to realize that one should be in the field, not blabbering on forums, which is what trolls do.

    Sharp is not the same of well resolved. One needs CONTENT not wanking. Sharp is bourgeois, F@ck the trolls. :)

    • avds

      Words, words, words. All those samples tell us the true story already.

      • RIG


    • Anonymous

      50 maybe the limit… but what happens when some one decides to do a crop on the photo?

      I know ‘digital zoom’ sucks but sometimes it’s useful for postprocessing and reframing etc.

      You sound angry, it would be a shame to generate such amger over ramblings from comments on a rumour site – even if you happeened to be right.

    • Anonymous

      50 maybe the limit… but what happens when some one decides to do a crop on the photo?

      I know ‘digital zoom’ sucks but sometimes it’s useful for postprocessing and reframing etc.

      You sound angry, it would be a shame to generate such anger over ramblings from comments on a rumour site – even if you happeened to be right.

      • I am not sure I follow the argument. Do you mean that you won’t be satisfied unless you can magnify a picture infinitely?

        No lens, or sensor, or film can stand infinite magnification, therefore I call it a typical troll argument.

        What is important here is the lens consistency, the fact that an even resolution has been achieved across the frame.

        • Nobody but you said “infinite magnification.” You suppose too much, or you just like using an Aunt Sally.

          • I put a question mark, Mr. Know-All.

            Just to expand a bit, I checked some lenses at Lenstip and saw that most of the m4/3 lenses have v. good resolution at the center of the frame compared to 4/3.

            The only area lacking was performance of the edges, especially with wides.
            The new 17mm solves the problem, so end of the story.

            • You posted:
              “No lens, or sensor, or film can stand infinite magnification, therefore I call it a typical troll argument.”

              Hence “infinite magnification,” which you presumed, since you didn’t “follow the argument,” is a mere straw man.

              You did use a question mark when you wrote, “Do you mean that you won’t be satisfied unless you can magnify a picture infinitely?” However, you then went on about “infinite magnification,” making your question a rethorical question, because it was YOU and not Anonymous who supposed indefinite magnification. Had your question been sincere, you would have waited for an answer from Anonymous. Of course, your question was never intended to be answered, because only wanted to make your silly straw man stand, even if on wobbly legs. Poor straw man – another of amalric’s unsuspecting victims. :-P

              • Yawn! Are you as boring in your photography as in in your writing? It must be quite a burden…

                I don’t envy you to live with such a catalogue of platitudes :)

                • Got no real argument, so do the old ad hominem attack, right? :-P

                  • lots of strawmens indeed, ad hominum, I can count a few times when he was beggin the question big time, confusing argument with thesis, and some more…

                    Reading him is a wonderful exercise for debunking fallacies :D

            • bob2

              Stop feeding the fanbois, amalric–they don’t know when to stop.

              • Why do you support a mudslinger? Are you a fanboi (sic) of amalric?

  • tigermanrocks

    I don’t understand the vitriol of some comments. I own an epl 3as I wanted a small camera with ibs. I also wanted a fast pancake so got the pan 20. If this oly was significantly better I’d consider trading…its not so I won’t. It is better than their existing 17mm so Theres progress. Other than the generally rubbish oly idea of charging a fortune for lens hoods and their penchant for differing shades of silver folk should just talk about the images then take some nice ones of their own with their existing kit! That’s what they are for, not some elaborate ornaments

  • Bob B.

    I find this statement of Ming’s to be utter NONSENSE:
    “the 20/1.7 is punchier but has slightly lower microcontrast; the 17/1.8 has lower macrocontrast but better reproduction of fine detail structures – i.e. better ”
    Just the silliest collection of words that tells me utterly…nothing.
    From what I can see ..this lens is average at best…nothing amazing…but competent.

    • Robin Wong’s Part II illustrates very practically what the new 17 mm, and neither the old one, nor the 20mm were capable of.

      Land-sca-pes. A series of towers at night in Malaysia. Sharp. That is what even resolution across the frame means. And a fast aperture.

      I use the 17/2.8 for street shooting, because I don’t need clear edges. For that I use the 18mm end of my 4/3 9-18, which is even across the frame.

      The new 17mm allows both genres, including photography at night. Not a mean achievement, resolution loss at the edges being the main problem of mirrorless.

      • Absolute agree, and i think this 17mm F1.8 will be a classic M43 lens from Olympus.

  • BB

    The Panny 20mm has crap bokeh. The OOF highlights are harsh, noncircular globs.

    You buy the 17mm for the bokeh and AF speed.

  • OliverTwisted

    The slight differences in IQ between the 17 and 20 don’t interest me, “micro-contrast” and all. But being able to capture the shot in focus do matter to me. The AF on the 20mm goes from dog slow during the day to completely unusable in moderate low-light (somewhat defeating the purpose f/1.7). The 20’s implementation of manual focus is equally worthless and has no scales to hyperfocal or zone focus.

    The 17, however, looks to have brilliant AF speeds even at night and has a real DoF scale for manual focusing.

    The 20, to me, is functionally worthless unless I am taking still shots in bright light. Since I like to capture people in motion, doing things, in a variety of lighting conditions indoors and outdoors (isn’t this the whole point of the classic 35 to 50mm focal length lenses with f2 and wider apertures?)

    If the $150 price difference is the difference in getting the shot or not, so be it. The rest of you can go back to your pixel peeping and your daylight shots of grass and door knobs, or whatever it is you do.

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