Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO Review

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Introduction

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens is a very fast moderate wide-angle prime which provides an equivalent focal length of 35mm in 35mm full-frame terms. Aimed at keen enthusiasts and professionals, this new lens has a complex construction that is comprised of 15 elements in 11 groups. The autofocus system is designed to be quick and precise, while there are 9 rounded aperture blades for more effective bokeh effects, including something that Olympus refer to as “feathered bokeh” when shooting wide-open at f/1.2. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens is also dustproof, freezeproof and waterproof, making it appealing for those working with similarly weatherproof cameras such as the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO retails for £1199 / $1199 in the UK and US respectively.

Ease of Use

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

Tipping the scales at 390g and measuring 68.2x87mm, the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO is a relatively small and lightweight lens given the very fast maximum aperture of f/1.2 on offer. As seen in the product photos, the Olympus 17mm f/1.2 lens balances very nicely on a professional camera body like the OM-D E-M1 Mark II that we used for this review.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

As with the other PRO Olympus lenses that have been released so far, the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO boasts a solid metal construction that oozes quality and class. There is a red dot at the back of the lens to help you line it up with the lens mount on the camera that you’re using.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

There is a generously sized focusing ring around the lens, which you can use when manually focusing the lens. You can snap back the focusing ring to change from auto focus to manual focus in an extremely quick motion, snapping it back again if you want to switch back to using autofocus. When in the manual focus position, you’ll see focal distances compared with the relevant apertures are displayed.

When in autofocus mode, the focusing ring is very loose and doesn’t do anything, but when snapped into the manual focus mode, there’s a lot more resistance, leading to a pleasing and smooth focusing experience. There are hard stops at either end of the range, meaning you can easily set focusing to infinity quickly.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

For autofocusing, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens is a very quick performer, locking onto the relevant subject almost instantaneously. It also copes well with darker lighting conditions, without too much hunting. It’s also very quiet in operation, making it good to use with a silent shutter in quiet environments for more candid shots.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

As the Olympus 17mm f/1.2 lens has an internal focusing mechanism, the length of the lens barrel does not change and the filter thread does not rotate on focus, which is good news for those using polariser filters.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

Just below the focusing ring is a function button, marked L-Fn, which can be customised via the camera’s main menu to control a number of different actions. One useful function is depth of field preview – this allows you to see how your image will look at the selected if you hold down the L-Fn button, and is particularly handy when working in narrow apertures.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PROOlympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

The Olympus 17mm f/1.2 is dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof (down to -10°C).

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens has a 62mm filter diameter. A good quality lens hood is supplied in the box if you’re shooting in bright conditions and want to shield the lens from direct sunlight.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

Optical image stabilisation is not built-in to the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens, instead relying on in-camera stabilisation systems.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

Focal Range

At the 17mm focal length the angle of view is 65 degrees.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

Chromatic Aberrations

Lateral chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, are very well controlled with this lens – the examples below show the worst-case scenario you are likely to encounter.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
Light Fall-off and Distortion

When shooting wide open at f/1.2, some obvious light fall-off is visible in the corners, as shown below. The effect is lessened by f/1.4, and again by f/2.0. By f/2.8 it’s completely gone in JPEG images, with some slight shading visible in the raw file. You’re far less likely to notice any light fall off, even when shooting at the maximum aperture, when it comes to normal subjects. There’s almost no distortion visible in either the RAW files or the JPG files.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

Macro

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens offers a minimum focusing distance of 0.2 metres and a maximum image magnification of 0.15x (0.30x in 35mm terms). This means that you can get relatively close to the subject, and thanks to the very wide aperture, it makes for quite a good choice for traditional macro subjects, such as flowers.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO

Bokeh

Bokeh is the term to describe the out-of-focus areas in an image. It can be described in various terms, including smooth, creamy, beautiful, harsh etc. The lens design comprises of 9 circular aperture diaphragm blades which results in a rounded, natural and very pleasing looking bokeh. Bokeh evaluation can be extremely subjective however, so we’ve included some examples shot at all the various apertures so that you can judge for yourself.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
f/1.2
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
f/1.4
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
f/1.8
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
f/2
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
f/2.8
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
f/4
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
f/5.6
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
f/8
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
f/11
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
f/16
Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Sharpness at 17mm

For this test, the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens was attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M1 II camera, which in turn was mounted on a sturdy tripod. The self-timer was used in order to avoid any vibrations that may result from tripping the shutter. Slight tonal changes are due to slight changes in natural light during the session.

The full frame

The full frame at 17mm

Centre sharpness is outstanding even when shooting wide-open at f/1.2, so you confidently shoot at any aperture except f/16, which suffers a little from diffraction. Impressively, the edges are just as sharp as the centre, with f/1.2-f/11 again producing the sharpest results.

Aperture Centre Crop Edge Crop
f/1.2 f1_2.jpg f1_2.jpg
f/1.4 f1_4.jpg f1_4.jpg
f/2 f2.jpg f2.jpg
f/2.8 f2_8.jpg f2_8.jpg
f/4 f4.jpg f4.jpg
f/5.6 f5_6.jpg f5_6.jpg
f/8 f8.jpg f8.jpg
f/11 f11.jpg f11.jpg
f/16 f16.jpg f16.jpg

Sample Images

The thumbnails below link to full-sized samples taken with the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens mounted on an Olympus OM-D E-M1 II camera body.

1/125s · f/1.2 · ISO 200

1/60s · f/1.2 · ISO 200

1/500s · f/1.2 · ISO 200

1/200s · f/2.8 · ISO 200

1/3200s · f/1.2 · ISO 200

1/400s · f/5.6 · ISO 200

1/2500s · f/1.2 · ISO 200

1/250s · f/8 · ISO 200

Specifications

Focal Length

  • Focal length : 17mm
  • Focal length (equiv. 35mm) : 34mm

Lens Construction

  • Angle of view : 65°
  • Closest focusing distance : 0.2m
  • Lens configuration : 15 elements 11 groups
  • Maximum image magnification : 0.15x (Micro Four Thirds) / 0.30x (35mm format)
  • ED-DSA lens elements : 1
  • SED lens elements : 1
  • ED lens elements : 3
  • Super HR elements : 1
  • Aspherical glass elements : 1
  • Lens mechanism : Inner focus

Aperture

  • Maximum aperture : 1:1.2
  • Minimum aperture : 1:16
  • Number of aperture blades : 9 Circular aperture diaphragm for natural background blurring

Pro Features

  • Dust, splash & freezeproof : Yes
  • Lens Hood locking : Safety button
  • L-Fn Button : Yes
  • MF Clutch : Yes

Dimensions

  • Filter diamater : 62mm
  • Length : 87mm
  • Diameter : 68.2mm
  • Weight : 390g

Cover & Cap

  • Lens Cap : LC-62F
  • Lens Hood : LH-66C

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Conclusion

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO delivers simply outstanding image quality. It’s pin-sharp even when shooting wide-open at f/1.2, both in the centre and at the edges of the frame, something that we rarely get to say about any lens. Bokeh is beautifully rendered thanks to the 9 circular aperture blades, with the so-called “feathered bokeh” when shooting wide-open at f/1.2 delivering a subtle yet addictive look, whilst vignetting, distortion and chromatic aberrations are all very well controlled. Overall, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about in terms of the image quality.

The same praise can also be applied to the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO’s build quality. At 390g, it doesn’t weigh too much for such a fast lens, and it’s very similar in size and weight to the other PRO lenses that we’ve reviewed, feeling perfectly at home on the OM-D E-M1 Mark II body that we used for this review. Focusing is reliably quick and accurate, while manual focusing is made very easy by the snap focusing ring and smooth, damped mechanism.

If you can afford the pro-level pricetag of £1199 / $1199, then you certainly get a pro-level lens in return. This is our favourite M.Zuiko F1.2 PRO prime lens so far, thanks to the outstanding sharpness and superb bokeh when shooting wide-open.

(photographyblog.com, https://goo.gl/HMGDF3)

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