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Olympus 17mm f/1.8 shipping in Asia. And some info directly from the lens designers!


First unboxing pics have been posted at Mobile01. Click on the green links to open the images. And Olympus OMD facebook posted the text from Planning Manager Eiji Shirota and Development Leader Kazuya Nishimura. Both developed the 17mm lens. They say: “Although a large front element may provide an attractive exterior appearance for a lens, we decided on an efficient aspherical front element which minimizes thickness and diameter, helping us achieve the compact size of the M.ZUIKO DIGITIAL 17mm F1.8 lens while providing extraordinary picture quality. We urge you to confirm this image quality with your very own eyes.” As you know this lens left some mixed feelings on reviewers like Ming Thein, Robin Wong and Pekka Potka. Hmmm….does it really have an extraordinary picture quality??? A good lens it is…but extraordinary probably nope :)

Shipping status: The lens will ship on Dec. 20th at Amazon Japan. It’s still uncertain when the lens will be available in US and EU. BHphoto removed the shipping date (which was mid December) and Amazon US even doens’t even list the lens. The new Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens can now be preordered at Adorama, BHphoto and Amazon DE.

  • Arboreologia


    Do you have any news when it will arrive on US? No Eta still?…

  • peevee

    A large from element is necessary for proper light gathering. At their apertures and covered circles, many m43 lenses are bigger than they need to be to house the tiny pieces of glass.

    • peevee

      Look at the Oly 75 mm. If the 17-20 mm would be made like this, it would be f/0.5.

    • its inherited from the original FT conceot i guess, even if they made the mFT mount a bit smaller: the FT lens mount had twice the diameter of the sensor if i remember correctly,needed for the telecentric design. So you must not look at sensor size but at lensmount as well.

  • J.S.

    The lens looks really good! I also like that its made of metal. But when its not as good as the Panasonic 20 in some major aspects, its difficult to me to spend more money on it.
    btw I’m first ;-)

  • Amonynoose

    Looks like I can’t write here either. Maybe if I change my nickname/email?

    • Anonymoose

      Test 3

      • Anonymoose

        So it looks like I have to enter a different email each time if I want to write something…

  • Anonymous

    Man this lens has been shredded worse than anything in the past year or so. I sort of surprised Olympus didn’t just pull the plug on it. :)

    • I’m curious as to why people are drawing this conclusion before even using the lens. Robin Wong’s only knock on the lens was the focal length, he’s not used to use a 35mm eqv lens (which I find hard to imagine). Some of the other reviewers got hung up on software correction. However, when I look at actual photos, opposed to test charts, the 17mm looks great.

      For all practical purposes the 20mm and the new 17mm are a wash in real world use. With the notable exceptions that the new 17mm has lower CA’s, autofocuses much faster, and thanks to the manual focus clutch it is easier to MF. That’s not really a knock on either lens. The 20mm is an excellent lens to start with, and there is only $140 price difference between them. I personally am more than happy to pay a measly $140 more for a lens with better AF and MF clutch. Others may not, and that’s fine too.

      • Yes, I always thought that the 20mm was a clinical lens with the topmost consumer oriented characteristic. Too much sharpness and contrast, mostly in the center of the image, with CA in spades, cold colour signature, less microcontrast.

        Consumers forgot what is a good lens, which is basically *good across the frame*, wt. good colour signature, etc.

        For the same reason I am very expectant of the fabled 25/1.8 which might be even better at a fraction of the price of the Panaleica. Wait and see.

        • photographer

          I can’t really listen to more of your *&(“* here on forums… just to add that if you do your homework you’ll find that this lens isn’t sharper at ANY GIVEN POINT compared to 20mm.

          Yes 20mm is sharper in the center than on edges, but Oly one is soft evenly in the center as well as the edges ;-) Resolution is but just one side of the story – but on m43 sensors very important.

          anyway, not a big deal, every manufacturer can produce average lens, isn’t it like it SONY?

          • photographer

            btw Admin, there is £50 cashback to Panasonic 20mm in the UK – which makes it twice as cheap as this lens.

            And is twice as good imo – so not a big deal deciding which to get.

            • MikeS

              I’ll likely be selling my 20mm once this lens is in my hands.

              • Anonymous

                A fool and his money shall soon part and will make someone happy when he sells his 20mm lens.

                • Dave

                  A fool and his money shall soon part? Well, you must be losing some money soon then, because you are being the foolish one. The lens being discussed is very very good, and your bias is very obvious. Yours and other’s as well.

                  I have no Pana Oly bias. I happen to enjoy this SYSTEM we all have, and have combined Oly and Pana optics currently on an Oly body.

                  So get over yourself and quit playing the fool.

          • Anonymous

            Although I don’t always agree with amalric, I don’t find his comments particularly offensive. Anyway — “photographer” — have you tested the lens since you know it it is not as sharp as the Pana 20/1.7 anywhere? As I read the tests I’ve seen, it *is* sharper at the edges. Well, we’ll see. I also seem to recall one comment that the AF missed slightly. Sounded strange. But more thorough tests will surely follow.

            • photographer

              there was a test (look for it, even linked here) comparing sharpness between the two. Oly lost. Even at the edges.

              I don’t know which test you have seen.

              • Anonymous

                I don’t kow either which one I read :-). Anyways, Pekka Potka seems to say that the 17/1.8 and the 20/1.7 have approximately equal sharpness in the corners, but that the Pana lens is sharper in the center. It also sems like he is saying you will not be able to tell the difference when printing at A3 size. The key difference is probably the AF speed, and partially the color rendishening. Whether that is worth the upgrade cost will probably depend on the use of the lens.

                • Point for me, for i will have 17mm 1.8 is short DOF and good bokèh.

          • COPE2

            You know who doesn’t care about what other people deem a good tool to utilize? ANY GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER IN HISTORY. Grow up, use what works for you and let others be. Prick.

        • Walter Freeman

          Out of curiosity, how is “too much contrast” a problem? You’re not going to get more than 100% MTF, are you? Any less than 100% MTF means “some of the light goes somewhere where it’s not supposed to”.

          I can always make a less steep tone curve, but I don’t want my optics trying to do it for me by spraying stray light around (which is what “low contrast” means).

          That said, uncorrected chromatic aberration is a universally bad thing, and these software corrections ain’t perfect.

          • Actually someone noticed that the 20mm is so sharp that it creates artefacts.

            Sharpness is not a good in itself, resolution is. However what matters is the whole rendition of the lens.

            After all you are not to win any challenge for sharpness, you want a lens that can follow easily your ideas.

            The 20mm reputation was built around using it to take portraits at night of brats near the lampshade after office. :)

            Very common but not so interesting for those who have different genes :) Oops!

            • photographer

              please stop please.

              resolution = directly relates to the sharpness of the lens.

              This isn’t a portraiture focal length (34mm) not even a lens that can create creamy bokeh (you need F-stop 100) of comments from Amazon/Adorama/BHPhoto etc can’t be wrong about panasonic. Each lens has faults. Even Panny.

              • photographer

                hmm…comment was shortened by the system – so trying once more

                please stop please.

                resolution = directly relates to the sharpness of the lens.

                This isn’t a portraiture focal length (34mm) not even a lens that can create creamy bokeh (you need F-stop 100) of comments from Amazon/Adorama/BHPhoto etc can’t be wrong about panasonic. Each lens has faults. Even Panny.

                • photographer

                  last time – maybe LT tag is making a problem in here….

                  please stop please.

                  resolution = directly relates to the sharpness of the lens.

                  This isn’t a portraiture focal length (34mm) not even a lens that can create creamy bokeh (you need F-stop lower 1.4 and longer focal length for that unless you want horrific perspective distortion by shooting too close) so you want as sharp lens as possible. Even when you shoot environmental portraits, too much sharpness isn’t bad as the facial features/skin occupy much smaller area of the frame (compared to portraiture photography) so you don’t risk bringing up the wrinkles to frame too much.

                  You can create sharpening artifacts only in RAW conversion/post-processing, if you forget to switch it off (is stupidly on by default in LR). The lens itself can’t create one (that relates to halo sharpening artifacts).

                  Pana is more compact, black! and has better image with better character overall (that relates probably to longer focal length cca 38mm by PP). And is twice as cheap. The only problem for me is chromatic aberration – which really sucks so you need to take care when shooting high contrast areas.

                  And Oly fixed that (I have oly body so no Panasonic in body correction) in this lens – but is very little remedy in it to want it. But I’ve needed to say one good thing about this ‘average’ lens.

                  btw, hundreds (that’s >100) of comments from Amazon/Adorama/BHPhoto etc can’t be wrong about panasonic. Each lens has faults. Even Panny.

        • “Too much contrast”. Amalric has spoken :)

          • No, it’s not Amalric, but one of the reviewers, who remarked that the beauty of the 17mm was its MICROcontrast i.e. clarity, in respect to the MACROcontrast of the 20mm.

            In fact some of us use legacy lenses because of their less contrasty, more natural tone rendition, like in film.

            We are not all addicts looking for heavy psychedelic effects after all. We are not looking for the rough dragster, but the smooth effortless riding.

            YMMV :)

            • If the 17 had more so called “micro-contrast” (which used to be called acutance, or local contrast, or edge contrast) than the 20, then it would be sharper, for sharpness is the combination of resolution and local contrast.

              The 17 is not sharper than the 20 however, despite pretty fine resolution charts. Which suggests to me that its local contrast is actually worse, contrary to some reviewers’ subjective opinions.

              • Again it’s not my opinion, but one of the reviewers’. I never had the lens between my hands, nor did you.

                What I can say is that above a certain lpmm, say 50 lpmm the human eye can make no difference, unless you use absurd magnification.

                Other qualities begin to play, especially evenness across the frame, tonal transition, colour signature, clarity – all of which the 17mm seems to have in spades.

                And it makes quite a difference for a photog, compared to the moneyed amateurs which usually prefers the other brand. :)

                Are you a man or a corporal? – like Toto’, the Italian comic actor once quipped :)

      • adaptor-or-die

        Exactly this. Robin Wong complained about focal length, yet was able to conjur up all kinds of decent results? His complaints was it wasn’t a 25mm! People flap on about how they already have the 20mm G or the 17mm ZD, but this isn’t the same lens. It’s not just another Tessar elemented pancake … and the surprise it costs more? It’s all metal, comes with both manual and fly-by-wire, a more complex element layout. No suprise it costs more than the kit pancakes? The biggest marketing blunder was it wasn’t a new focal length. Which is probably in the works anyway. It’s not like optic makers toss out new len models like a bag of oranges? When you look at the recent ZD primes as group; 12mm 17mm 45mm 75mm [I know I’m skipping] the gaps are going to fill in, the line is already impressive. Panasonic hasn’t lagged behind either.

        NEX has what 3 Zeiss options? Fuji has 3 lenses and how many bodies?

        • DT

          My 20mm does not create any artefacts–just a great picture and video. I don’t see any problem in corners either. Take after take, this has been the “must have” lens. Every m/43 lens has a sweet spot, and the wide open, the 20mm is amazing, but stop it down one half stop and it is more amazing. Plus it is a real pancake. Bolt it on to an Olly for the best photos, or the GH2/GH3 for video.

          • Anonymous

            But it *does* have a terribly slow AF compared to more modern lenses, in particular in low light. And it definitely gives a blueish/yellowish color shade.

            • photographer

              I need blueish color shade to compensate for overly-redish OMD ;-)

              and it focuses fast on OM-D, faster than 90% compact cameras out there, and are user complaining? Faster than 100% mobile phones out there, and flickr is made out of it mostly ;-)

              Panasonic is still waiting to be dethroned…

              • Clueless.

                You are not a photographer.

              • Kabe

                It focuses fast on your OM-D? If you actually have used it, then you have had a different 20mm than the one I had or the other ones i’ve tried:

                On my OM-D the Pana 20 is so slow that I sold it for this very reason, it was not even near the speed of the kit lens (which has quite fast AF). The new 17 is so fast that no Olympus user who likes to focus fast will keep the Pana – and I have tried the lens on my camera and ordered the day after.

                • photographer

                  better than any Canon I had (Canon powershot G9/10/G12, Canon G1X and Canon mirrorless one) – I agree it can miss a moment but all the ppl here are saying like it can’t focus at and how horrible it is.

                  Because you’re flattered by fast E-P3 focusing speed (or lighting fast OM-D) using Oly lenses (45mm F1.7). But 2 years ago – you would die for such a fast focusing speed, on _any_ camera.

                  Look on Fuji..ah, why I am even responding

                • photographer

                  another videos:

                  fast focus of 20mm F1.7 on OM-D:

                  and lighting fast focus on E-P3 (still finding a way how he did that):

                  enjoy, and exchange your faulty lens, update the firmware and/or set OM-D to burst mode

  • Stupig

    Look at the Batman avatar. Now look to its right. You see three green buttons. Click on the rightmost one to load all pictures.

    • blt

      thanks stupig!

    • photographer

      better than any Canon I had (Canon powershot G9/10/G12, Canon G1X and Canon mirrorless one) – I agree it can miss a moment but all the ppl here are saying like it can’t focus at and how horrible it is.

      Because you’re flattered by fast E-P3 focusing speed (or lighting fast OM-D) using Oly lenses (45mm F1.7). But 2 years ago – you would die for such a fast focusing speed, on _any_ camera.

      Look on Fuji..ah, why I am even responding

  • Anonymous

    WTF, where is the black one?

    • Mr. Reeee

      It’s hidden with the lens hood. ;-)

  • blt

    Looks like it might be OK but I can’t see it tempting me away from my 20mm. The price does not justify the better AF for me.

    I must say I never really know what to think from pics like this on the net. Firstly the image size is mostly always too small to really tell what the quality is like. Secondly having not been there at the time I don’t know what the ‘real picture’ looked like in the first place.

    Finally I must say that the lens looks pretty rubbish on the silver body. What with the silvers being different. I am not at all one of these people who moan daily about the lack of black lens. I am hardly bothered at all.
    But when the time comes, my OMD will be black – because I would much rather a camera of 2 colours than a camera with 3 colours.

  • Olympus finally manage to create a 35mm FX equiv. lens to match the performance (or maybe not…) of the “3 years old” and amazing Panasonic Lumix G 20/1.7 ASPH.
    Beside the slow speed autofocus, the purple fringing (witch can be fixed very easily in ACR) & the construction, the 20/1.7 has better contrast, better resolution (center & corners), better Bokeh, LoCA and spherochromatism and finally it looks so cute & sexy paired with the black OM-D!
    I don’t belive Olympus has given us enough reasons to upgrade (and to spent 550€…) from the 20/1.7 to the ugly looking 17/1.8.

    • Christian G

      Is the idea that the 20mm is sharper in the corners supported by the MTF-charts?

    • Anonymous

      Better bokeh? Go back and look at the photos. One of the complaints of the 20mm is its noisy bokey (not to mention, noisy AF). The boken on the 17 is substantially better.

      • photographer

        yes you are right, this (much better bokeh) and low chromatic aberration (horrible on Pany) are the only 2 tempting things for me. Autofocus isn’t an issue, but is need addition.

        but this isn’t bokehlicious lens – it’s most common lens with me to be discreet and small and I hardly have some bokeh in the background with it (creamy one I mean).

        Oly is silver (shouting) and big. Not a lens I grab anytime I go out. And for specialized shots (when I feel like _really_ shooting) I grab Pana 25mm F1.4. Destroys both and then some ;-)

        • Anonymous

          Correct. I am happy with my Oly 12mm for wide/street and the 25mm Panaleica for bokkeh and normal shooting.All caveats aside, I think this is a much better lens than the 20 for all of its hang-ups, but I just don’t need this focal length.

  • Gek22

    panasonic to sell teh camera business….. i told you before!!!!

    • adaptor-or-die

      you like the rumour monger aspect? Everyone will be abandoning compacts, why is that any kind of surprise. One word, cellphones.

      • 3212321

        learn to read simpleton.. they will not make cameras anymore… not onyl P&S.

    • Optical1

      First off, they are talking about Panasonic selling their Sanyo camera business – not Panasonic.

      Secondly, how can you trust an article headlined: “End of an Error”? It should obviously be ‘End of an Era’.

      This is not an article I would cite with trust.

    • peevee

      “Panasonic seems to be planning to flog its Sanyo digital camera business to Japanese private equity fund Advantage Partners by the end of March.

      Apparently a final decision will be made by the end of the year, but it appears that the sale is almost certain to go ahead. Under the deal Advantage Partners will pay several hundreds of millions of yen for the business, which makes digital cameras for Olympus.”

      Pana, Sanyo and Oly in one sentence – sounds like total BS.

  • Bob B.

    “Extraordinary” is TOTAL market hype. Good to Very Good lens: Yes. Extraordinary: no. I do not need to test it. Many did that for me. Not in the market for that anyway…but hey…Olympus…cut the crap. :-)

    • Bob B.

      oh..yes…the Oly 75mm is an extraordinary lens!!!! No hype.

  • 43shot

    The reason there are not solid reviews is because I was told by Olympus that soon the special edition black model will be released for $300 more with the optical quality needed to please everyone. In fact all new lenses wil be silver to match the lower number of silver bodies and then they will update the quality with the black models. The SE version of the 75mm will be $450 more and come with a cleaning rag AND a hood! Great deal if you ask me and that plack color is sooooooooo special edition I can hardly contain myself and my credit card. Best photo scam ever Olympus.

  • One of Olympus’ best lenses, the universally raved-about 50 f2, has a small front element.

  • Camaman

    Extraordinary would mean that it is black…

  • Looks good to me, I have the 25mm f1.4 and the 17mm f2.8… SP a 20mm f1.7 isnt an option especially as my 17 has the slow focus covered. However a Fast focus HG lens at 35mm will do me just fine.

    I skipped on the 75mm from Olympus as it was too long for my shooting and got a 43rds samyang 85mm f1.4 for $250 which I will use for more delibereate and artistic styled shots, or ones where I am happy with missed focus etc. SO the $500 saved will either go towards this, or go towards the hybrid AF body which supports 43rds glass.

    Either way, boy have we got a lot of choice, stop complaining :)

  • Christian G

    The say I see it, the 20mm has quite a steep falloff in sharpness in the corners wide open, just look at the MTF-charts..

    That’s the appeal of the 17mm to me, its sharper in the corners + much better autofocus and manual focus.

  • Es

    This lens can be pre-ordered for 550 euros on

    Incidentally, I just picked up a used Fuji x100 for 570 euros, which included a leather case.

  • Mar

    Olympus is behaving like Apple recently, throwing around all those buzzwords like “amazing”, “excellent”, “extraordinary”, “beautiful” etc hoping market will listen to their ramblings.

    I can’t believe people are buying it, they actually believe m43 has great lenses… haha, if it wasn’t funny it would be sad. :)

  • Mar

    RE: Panasonic 20mm
    That’s just another AVERAGE lens, easily beaten into a pulp by any good ZD zoom (not m.ZD!).

    It’s actually quite expensive considering it’s limited use, low quantity of glass, lack of weather sealing, quite a lot of distortion and slow and noisy AF (almost like the dreaded 50mm macro which at least had weather sealing and fantastic IQ).

    Take a look here for ZD14-35mm vs P20mm comparison :)

    • photographer

      I agree, for example ZD 14-54mkII is my favorite lens. Too bad is more than 1 stop slower at 40mm and almost 3 times as expensive.

      Panasonic 20mm can be had for cca £220 right now (including £50 cashback) which makes it an excellent value lens. It is not like you’ve paid 10 times more for leica.

      But you’re forgetting the fact that is VERY SMALL and VERY LIGHT, and there are ppl there (like me) which puts this as a main criteria.

      weather sealing? Ah, come’n, you’re like the kid that _just_ learned that he have internet in plane…and out of sudden, it stopped working. So he started whining that he’s life ended. Too bad he was doing it while sitting in the plane…

    • blt

      Hang on. . . your telling me that a compact prime costing £250 is not quite as good as a comparatively massive lens costing £1500?

      Someone call the camera police!

    • blt

      Hang on. . . your telling me that a compact prime costing £250 is not quite as good as a comparatively massive lens costing £1500?

      Someone call the camera police!

  • quiquelbola

    Yes this is beautiful amazing great extraordinary silver lens and Im going to buy it as soon as posible

    • photographer

      it’s not only silver, it’s special unique silver color – you won’t find silver gradient like it. go buy buy ;-)

      • quiquelbola

        Not only this….I must tell you that Ihave owned the 20mm pana for two years I think is an extraordinary lens but after seeing the pic taken whith the new oly of some phothographers I think the 17mm 1.8 would be even better

  • Kind of weird how this release date posting turned into a debate thread about how the Pany 20mm is better!?

    I have been waiting for this posting because I ordered it and wanted to know when my lens was coming. Sounds like it might be a couple more weeks:(

  • Have a look at the 100% crops of the blue shirt collar and the girls eye. VERY impressive.

    • blt

      Thanks Christian G – Those pictures on that review are very promising. Though he must be stuffing the 17mm right in peoples faces for some of those shots.

  • Anonymous

    Here is a comparison chart between the two lenses

    • photographer

      lame and ‘fake’

      logic & usage says Panasonic is getting much better by closing aperture (even vignetting will completely disappear making images at edges brighter/sharper since F2.8) and at this graph Panasonic is the same at F1.7, F2.0, F2.8 and even at F5.6 where the lens is the most stellar (somewhere between 4.0-5.6). Haha can’t be true.

      maybe a sample variations in his lens he tested – but OTOH Panasonic 20mm is very simple lens with just 2 aspherical elements, not much to go wrong there in such a clean design.

  • What are people going on about, a 40mm equivalent is not a 35mm lens. A 40mm lens which focuses so slowly that if people are moving around it may struggle to get focus (experience for me from the 17mm f2.8 of a slow focusing lens).

    So stop making a silly comparison! Different focal length, and a clear benefit to photographers. Dont want it, well those grapes are sour anyway right?

    • photographer

      for first, this Oly is 34mm. For 2nd, Panasonic 20mm is around 38mm (due to PP tests). Not a big difference.

      I prefer later view, 34mm is too wide for my vision. 25mm Leica is on the other hand too close to be general lens, but everything just looks better there if you’re in mood.

      focusing is alright, it’s not a disaster at all what ppl try to say here. At least on OM-D and latest Panasonic lens firmware.

      hey, and it’s BLACK! ;-) So you aren’t pointing with some ‘zoom’ shiny penis at ppl on the streets (that’s what they will think about the lens design)

      • Dont be silly and leave it zipped up. I have the 25mm, I dont need a 20mm that focusses as slowly as my 17mm. Sometimes with street photography the instant speed of this modern CDAF can catch a moment, while a racking focus will let it slip by time and time again.

        I love the way you make a big deal out of the colour of a lens, but ignore a REAL shortcomming such as slow AF… which one do you think impacts a photographer and which impacts a poser?

  • The problem might be that we expect all Olympus lenses to be extremely good. Good or very good is not enough anymore lol.

    • Indeed, it reminds me of P. Smith’s song ‘Want More’.

      Instead if we were a bit patient, we would wait for the lens to drop by the 400 $ mark, and then have a terrific buy.

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