Dec 192012

In the last post I have shown some test shots taken with the new Olympus 17/1.8, and I found its performance definitely acceptable, taken for itself and also compared to its competitors.

I have also mused about why I think that public perception sees this lens in an undeservedly unfavorable light. What I didn’t do was showing any proper pictures taken with that lens.

Here are four of them, three taken on Monday evening, the Image of the Day on Tuesday night.

Ever since I sold the 20/1.4, I somehow missed a lens in that focal range. I bought the Panasonic 25/1.4 because everybody raves about it, and while I love its performance, I sometimes want something wider.

The 17/1.8 is equivalent to 34 mm on full frame. 35 mm is one of the classic focal lengths for street photography, 50 mm is the other, 24 and 28 are frequently too wide, 85 mm and longer may also appeal to some photographers. It’s hard to argue though, that 34 mm is within the core range that most photographers find comfortable for street use.

To me this lens fits like a glove. It is unobtrusive, it makes fine images, it is fast, and otherwise it just works. You put it on your camera and you forget about it. It’s a tool, and as such it is a fine one.

Some people think this lens is too expensive, especially compared to the Panasonic 20/1.7. Is it?

I don’t think so. Its build is much better, its autofocus performance is better, and while the 20/1.7 may be slightly sharper, I always had a problem with purple fringing. Of course this is an especially grave fault for me, because I really like to shoot into the light, but I guess it should be a consideration for everyone. Purple fringing on the 20/1.7 can be excessive, five, seven pixels wide, and when it occurs, it relentlessly eats into high-contrast edges. You can ease the pain by selectively desaturating, but you can’t properly correct it.

If I have to choose between the two, I rather take the Olympus. It is more reliable, it gives me less surprises. I use it and I don’t have to double-check. I always get what I expected.

Of course this is no final judgment. I have yet to see how the lens performs with the sun in or near the frame, if it ghosts or flares. Obviously this is important to me. So far I am satisfied though.

The Song of the Day is “Use Me“, a collaboration of Mick Jagger and Lenny Kravitz on Jagger’s 1993 solo album “Wandering Spirit”. Hear it on YouTube.

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