The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm F1.2 PRO is a moderate wide angle that, together with the simultaneously announced 45 mm f/1.2 and the previously released Olympus 25mm f/1.2, completes a beautiful trio of bright Olympus PRO lenses.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
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The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm F1.2 PRO is a moderate wide angle. The field of view corresponds to that of a 35 mm on a full-frame or 35-mm camera. The previously released 25mm is a standard lens, and the 45mm F1.2 is a beautiful medium telephoto lens for portraits, for example. Together, they form a beautiful trio with which many photographers can handle most of their shooting situations. The high brightness of the lenses makes them usable under almost all lighting conditions and ensures that you can play with the background blur as a photographer. The large aperture of F1.2, together with the 9-bladed aperture and a special optical design, ensures that the bokeh is beautiful. At least, if it looks like that of the previously tested 25mm F1.2, but we assume it will.
The optical design of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm F1.2 PRO includes aspherical lens elements and newly developed ED-DSA lenses. That stands for Extra-low Dispersion Dual Super Aspherical. Olympus claims that it is the first manufacturer that can produce these lens elements in large numbers. These lenses should ensure that a smaller number of lens elements can be used. That makes it possible to design a lighter lens with a total length that corresponds to that of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2 PRO. This construction also compensates for a number of lens errors that often occur with wide-angle lenses, such as chromatic aberration, distortion and colors running.
The three bright F1.2 lenses from Olympus share the same build, operation and filter size. As a PRO lens, this 17mm is also resistant to (splash) water, dust and freezing. The autofocus is extremely fast and silent in combination with, for example, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. If desired, you can easily switch to manual focus by pulling the focus ring slightly backwards. The M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm F1.2 PRO also has a Z Coating with Nano technology. The shortest setting distance is only 20 centimeters, so you can also photograph very close to your subject.
-Focal length: 17 mm (35-mm equivalent ca. 34 mm)
-Maximum aperture: F1.2
-Lens construction: 15 elements in 11 groups
– Z CoatingNano technology
-Resistant to dust, splash water and temperatures down to -10°C
-Field of view: 65 degrees
BUILD AND autofocus
The Olympus M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.2 PRO is clearly a lens from the PRO series. It is resistant to the elements and is solidly built. The dimensions are approximately the same as those of the 25mm f/1.2 that was released previously. Side by side, you really have to look at the numbers to know which lens you are working with. That is sometimes difficult when changing lenses if you also have the 45mm in the bag. But it also means that the lenses quickly feel familiar. They all work and feel exactly the same. The balance is good on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II and excellent on the E-M1 models. The 17mm has, just like the 25mm and the 45mm, a focus clutch that allows you to quickly change from autofocus to manual focus and back. The focus clutch works faster and more intuitively than setting manual focus in the menu.
The M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.2 PRO focuses quickly and almost silently. The lens is therefore extremely useful for fast documentary photography. For example, if you prefer using focus on the hyperfocal setting for candid street photography, you can easily click the focus ring back to switch to manual focus. The manual focus has hard stops at infinity and close-up. As a result, you never turn too far with manual focus, and you can set to a distance of a few meters by feel.
The bokeh of the M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.2 PRO is very nice, especially given the very short focal length. To take full advantage of the beautiful blur that this 17mm can create at full aperture, you do have to make sure that you are close to your subject and that the distance to the background is preferably as large as possible. The so-called ‘feathered bokeh’ that you can get at 17mm means that you will not get any hard edges for blurred objects in the background. For example, you do not see noisy double images around twigs or other fine details. The blur therefore generally looks pretty organic. Only with very bright light sources do you still get a hard edge. You get this feathered bokeh only when you are really working at full aperture. As soon as you stop down, the depth of field quickly increases, and you do not have much bokeh left.
The M.Zuiko Digital ED 17 mm f/1.2 PRO does not have image stabilization. Mind you, it’s also not necessary, because the Olympus cameras have image stabilization in the body. Without stabilization, the sharpness decreases rapidly at times slower than 1/15th of a second. With image stabilization, you can still get decent quality at a quarter of a second. In combination with the high brightness, you can shoot at very low ISO values for a long time and get the maximum quality out of the camera.
The optical performance of the M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.2 PRO is exemplary. Especially in jpeg, where the files benefit from the automatic corrections in the camera, the sharpness is already very high immediately at full aperture. Even the corners already score well at f/1.2, and they remain that way over almost the entire aperture range. In RAW, you see that the lens scores slightly lower at full aperture. That has to do, among other things, with the vignetting, which is just over one and a half stops at full aperture in uncorrected files. In our measurements, this results in slightly lower contrast and therefore slightly lower scores. However, that is easily corrected in post-processing.
The same applies for the distortion. In jpeg, it’s completely absent; in RAW, you can expect distortion of approximately 3.6% uncorrected. With the automatic corrections on, you will of course not notice it, and the files are simply excellent. The practice shots therefore look great. Obviously, you buy a bright lens like this because of the high brightness and the associated bokeh. The 17mm invites use at full aperture, and it’s nice that it can be used at full aperture very well. At f/1.2, you can find some chromatic aberration by looking at the pixel level, but it’s minimal, and the contrast and sharpness are already fine. The vignetting is a bit more than one and a half stops in uncorrected files and about 1.2 stops in jpeg at full aperture. Nothing to worry about. You stop down with this lens primarily to get extra depth of field, not for a jump in image quality.
ConclusiON: REVIEW Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
- High image quality
- Sharp at the largest aperture
- Professional build
- Big and heavy for an MFT wide angle
- Hefty price
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The Olympus 17 mm f/1.2 PRO is, given the quality and capabilities, completely worth its price.
The Olympus M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.2 PRO is a sublime wide angle for the Micro Four Thirds system. Voigtlander makes a number of lenses for this system with an even higher brightness, but they aren’t autofocus, and the image quality at full aperture is lower than that of the Olympus PRO lenses. With this M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.2 PRO, you get excellent image quality at full aperture, and it’s very easy to put the focus exactly where you want it. And that is of course important with lenses that have as little depth of field at full aperture as this 17mm. Add to that the solid build and sealing, and you have an almost ideal wide angle. For Micro Four Thirds, it’s a relatively big lens, but if you compare it with bright wide-angles for 35mm, then those dimensions are not bad at all. Only the price tag actually remains. The Olympus M.Zuiko 17 mm f/1.2 PRO is not cheap, but in view of the quality and the capabilities, the lens is completely worth the money.