Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 17mm f/1.8 Review

July 24, 2013 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The beautifully crafted, all-metal Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 is a strong performer in the optical department, offering very good sharpness wide open, and excellent performance when stopped down to f/2.8 or f/4. The f/5.6 and f/8 settings also yield perfectly usable results, with good sharpness uniformity across most of the frame. As typical with smaller formats, diffraction takes its toll on resolution at f/11 and beyond, but this is hardly the lens's fault. Lateral chromatic aberrations are almost a non-issue and longitudinal CAs are not very intrusive, either, which is very good news for such a fast lens. At maximum aperture, there is some light fall-off in the image corners, but this essentially disappears upon stopping down to f/2.8. As common with wide-angle lenses, there is visible barrel distortion in the raw files, but this is quite well corrected in-camera and in most raw converters. Bokeh is really pleasant when shooting subjects that are fairly close to the camera.

In terms of its overall aesthetics, craftsmanship and mechanical quality, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 is a jewel of a lens that's a pleasure to look at and a joy to use. The “Snapshot Focus mechanism” is a useful and well-implemented feature that works really well and makes zone focusing easy. This is good news for all the street photographers amongst you, who haven't exactly been spoiled for choice in this age of modern lenses that seldom feature a distance scale let alone a usable depth-of-field scale. Those who prefer to work with auto focus will be delighted that the lens focuses very quickly and quietly.

Overall, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.8 is a huge step up from the pancake-style M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/2.8, being sharper, faster and quicker to focus, while offering better build quality and more features in a slightly bigger and heavier – but still tiny and lightweight – package. This does come at a hefty price premium though, with the new lens being about 70-90% dearer.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 3.5