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Olympus Develops M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 Lens

Olympus is developing a new, fast moderate wide-angle lens for the Micro Four Thirds system, featuring a maximum aperture of f/1.8 plus depth-of-field and distance indicators. These come into play when the lens is set to MF mode, enabling users to utilise the time-honoured technique of zone focusing, which is great news for street photographers. More than a full stop faster than the existing Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/2.8 (read review), the new M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 features the faster MSC (Movie & Stills Compatible) auto focus mechanism and is expected to be of similar quality as the well-regarded Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12mm f/2 lens launched earlier this year. Note that this is currently at the development stage and more details will be announced nearer the launch.

Update: Have a look at our gallery of 22 hands-on photos!

Olympus Press Release


This is an extremely bright, large-aperture, high-resolution lens and a must-have for anyone looking to capture exceptional images on the spur of the moment. The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 17mm 1:1.8 is packed with the same advanced optical technologies that have proved so successful on other high-end Olympus lenses, including the silver version of the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm 1:2.0 ‘Street Photography’ lens launched earlier this year. Attractive circular bokeh is a common strength, with none of the off-axis aberration or colour fringe effects that can otherwise spoil your shot. Both lenses also make it especially easy to set the depth of field for stills with intentional background blurring. Snapshot specialists will appreciate built-in depth of field and distance indicators that show the distance at which objects are in focus, so you can focus instantly without having to look at the camera display. These indicators come into play in Manual mode, which you activate by pulling back the focus ring.

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1:1.8 lens is currently at the development stage and more details will be announced nearer the launch.

Published: Monday, September 17, 2012

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Reader Comments

  1. Oh no, another 'must have' lens for the micro 4/3 system! Does it ever stop? No, I guess not, because we don't want it to stop. Bye bye Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, hello Olympus 17mm f/1.8.

    Number Five at 09:08am on Sunday, September 30, 2012

  2. Olympus has this for sale on its website. I would be very interested in an in-depth review of the lens.

    Karla at 08:11pm on Wednesday, October 03, 2012

  3. Me too! This might be the lens I've been waiting for. A very versatile focal length and if the image quality is as good or better then the Panasonic 20mm and the Olympus 12mm, I definitely want one. I hope it is released onto the marked very soon.

    Bao at 01:01pm on Friday, October 05, 2012

  4. Bob it is available for sale already and in stock on the Olympus website.

    Karla at 01:15pm on Friday, October 05, 2012

  5. Karla,

    This lens has not been released yet. We've published a number of hands-on photos of the prototype shown at photokina, which you can see here:

    Maybe you are confusing it with the 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens, which is a smaller but slower lens that does not bear the MSC designation and lacks a distance scale too. That lens has been available for a couple of years. We even published a review:

    Or perhaps you are confusing it with the 12mm f/2 lens, which is much wider and marginally slower but has a similar design:

    Zoltan Arva-Toth at 02:29pm on Friday, October 05, 2012

  6. Zoltan - you are correct! I was confusing it with the 17mm f2.8. I appreciate you pointing that out as I am still learning and missed that fine detail. Thanks!

    Karla at 06:12pm on Friday, October 05, 2012

  7. Zoltan - I am new and learning! I do want a wide angle lens such as this new 17mm or the 12mm. Understanding that you do not have full hands on experience using the lens that is in development - but what would you expect the differences to be between the 12mm f/2 and the new 17mm f/1.8? I greatly appreciate your insight and time.

    Karla at 01:02pm on Friday, October 12, 2012

  8. Karla,

    While Olympus has been touting the 12mm as a "Street Photography Lens" I personally believe that the tighter field of view of the 17mm will make it better suited to that purpose. On the other hand if you need a wide-angle lens for landscape or architectural photography, the 12mm is probably the better choice simply because it is significantly wider.

    Zoltan Arva-Toth at 06:57pm on Friday, October 12, 2012

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