It has been months since I last blogged. Something tells me until life changes it won’t pick up much. The 17/1.8 has settled in as one of my main go to lenses. I love it, but I wish it was sharper. Not terrible, not wonderful either. I love the FoV, the focusing speed, focus ring, Bokeh and the aperture (though f/1.4 wouldn’t be terrible…)


I recently traded up my OM-D E-M5 for a used OM-D E-M5 MkII. I kicked myself for awhile jumping on one, then it arrived and over the last few weeks (actually almost immediately) I went from kicking myself and regretting parting with the money to loving the thing and thinking I got an immense bargain. Pretty much every feature I was looking forward to ended up being “worth while”. At least on a pixel peeping level, the lack of AA filter and/processing engine improvements is noticeable, especially on the 17/1.8, but all of the lenses. The 17/1.8 is more noticeable on pictures before and after the upgrade and some of the others are more noticeable only in the handful of side-by-side pictures I took on both bodies so I could compare exactly the same shot between the two bodies. The new anti-shock feature is also very apparent with some lenses and some shutter speeds. I didn’t notice shutter shock much…until I got the 17/1.8 and it was extensively prone to shutter shock in the 1/10-1/30s range. No more. Between all of these, the 17/1.8 is like a new lens. Still at the bottom of my collection of really excellent primes (12/2, 25/1.4, 45/1.8, 60 2.8 and that 17/1.8), but it is simply last among very good to great lenses, instead of being a very distant finisher. Not something I am concerned about with image quality at anything at 13×19 print size…which is pretty much never for me (what does get printed is about 80% 8×10 and 15% 5×7 with the rare few larger).

High ISO noise (1600 and higher) is slightly improved. I’d call it 1/3rd of a stop better luminance noise improvement and about 2/3rds of a stop of chroma noise improvement at ISO6400 and higher. The lower levels of ISO1600-3200 all show some improvement, it just isn’t much. ISO800 and below is pretty much a wash. Previously I’d do almost anything I could to max out at ISO3200. ISO6400 was only if there was no way to get the shot otherwise and ISO12800 was B&W only (but it was fine for that, just very grainy). Now, well, ISO25,600 still isn’t really usable, even with B&W, but ISO12800 can actually be used in color, but super iffy for that. ISO6400 is fine and I don’t feel as much need to push ridiculous shutter speeds to maintain ISO5000 or less.

On the shutter speeds, that extra stop for 1/8000s over 1/4000s is really nice. As is the better IBIS, which I definitely notice. I could generally manage 3 stops of extra handholding with ease and 4 stops with care. Now, 4 stops with ease and 5 stops with care is perfectly doable. The video stabilization is also very nice on the new body as are the full 1080p; not so nice on 16GB SD cards, time to get 32GB cards :-(.

I have still not tried the new composition functions or the high resolution mode, but I look forward to trying them at some point.

I don’t use all of the fancy new buttons and the mode selection switch, but I do use some of them (having a dedicated DoF preview button is nice). The only User Interface “issue” I am still mastering is having the WB and the ISO on the same button as I frequently accidently switch the WB with the front dial instead of the ISO like I intend (and switch which dial does which also means that the directional arrows then control WB instead of ISO). I’ll get used to it eventually and my prior tendencies are getting better.

I do love the fully rotatable screen. Annoying to just flip it up/down, you have to pull it out and rotate it around so much, but I’ll take it for the extra range of motion in the screen.

Wifi is also really nice. I don’t always need a camera remote, but when I do, having the ability to do it through my phone is super nice (and this Thanksgiving I don’t have to spend 30+ seconds per picture for the family pictures. 12s timer, plus running back to reset it, getting everyone to look back at the camera, etc.).

Oh, and that EVF. I don’t really notice a resolution change (I think it is roughly the same DPI as the old one), but I do notice smoother motion in the EVF as well as it being MUCH bigger with, seemingly better eye relief. Much better eye cup. The rear LCD so far seems to have a bit better contrast display and is sharper. Some have complained about the switch from OLED to LCD, but I think that the LCD on the MkII is better overall than the OLED was on the MkI.

Overall, other than a nit or two, I have zero REAL complaints about the new E-M5 model.

At some point I’ll have the time to throw together a full on M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8 review, but for now here is my mini-review (also Disney vacation photography blog to come).

To start with, this is a very worthy successor to the M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8. It focuses faster (my fastest focusing lens), is quieter, 1 1/3rd stops faster, Bokeh quality on roughly the same level (and a lot easier to get out of focus parts of the image), CA is improved some and resolution is a bit better (though, honestly not a huge amount better). It is also still a fairly small lens and the pull back ring for manual focus can be useful from time to time. A lot easier to toggle manual focus than hitting a button first (really, it is).


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/2, 1/40s, ISO400

The lens also seems to handhold a bit better at really slow shutter speeds. I have a number of 1/3-1/4s shots that turned out nice and sharp with the 17mm f/1.8 (though it is a bit hit and miss) and with the 17 2.8, anything slower than 1/5s was as rare as hens teeth for sharpness. I think some of it is just how to hold the camera as the slightly larger lens gives a better grip than the pancake does.


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/2.5, 1/100s, ISO1600

There is a fair amount of vignetting wide open. At a guess in the range of 1.5 stops, but this mostly disappears with just a little stopping down. It’s noticably reduced at just f/2 and by f/2.8 it is mostly gone. Ghosting and veiling is reasonably well controlled and lens flare is very minimal.


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/13, 1/800s, ISO200

Lens resolution is a bit more disappointing than what I had hoped. I knew it was no stand out star, but I guess I am just spoiled by so many other amazing lenses, like the 12/2, 25/1.4, 45/1.8 and 60/2.8 (especially the 60/2.8). Most of my other lenses you can see some mild improvement stopping down one stop and then very slight improvement stopping down one more stop (exception, the 25/1.4 that sees modest center and corner improvement at f/2, a fairly large jump in corner resolution at f/2.8 and a little more at f/4, but the center is already at max at f/2.8, but even at f/1.4 it is very good).


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/2.2, 1/1600s, ISO200

The 17mm f/1.8 has what I would consider very good center resolution wide open, but only okay corner resolution. It continues improving center and corner until at least f/4.5 or f/5 where it hits its maximum resolution. At that point it would have what I consider excellent center resolution and good corner resolution (never really hits very good corner resolution, there appears to be a fair amount of aspherical aberration going on). It is all arbitrary, but if I had to do a 1 to 10 scale, comparing it to the old 17/2.8, the 17/2.8 wide open was maybe a 7.5 in the center and a 5.5 in the corners and at f/5.6 it was maybe an 8 in the center and a 6 in the corners. The 17/1.8 wide open is maybe a 7.5 in the center and a 5.5 in the corners, at f/2.8 it is maybe an 8 in the center and a 6.2 in the corners and at f/5.6 it is maybe an 8.5 in the center and a 7 in the corners. As good or slightly better than the 17/2.8 at the same apertures, but never excellent. I’d consider the 12/2 a 9 in the center and an 7.5 in the corners wide open and a 9.5 in the center and an 8.5 in the corners at f/4 (the 60/2.8 I’d consider a 9.5 and a 9 center and corners wide open and a 10 and a 9.5 respectively at f/4)*.

It can easily produce an 11×14 and look nice and crisp in a print, even in the extreme corners, if stopped down even a little. There is slight softness in the corners noticeable wide open. If you got nose grease on the prints you’d probably notice even stopped down a little, but from lap distance you’ll never notice a difference. Perfectly acceptable to me and still at least a bit better than the 17/2.8 (but oh, for the resolution of the 12/2 in a 17mm lens…and don’t talk to me of the PL15mm f/1.7. Maybe some day, but its a little wider than I’d really like and it still costs an appreciable amount more).


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/2, 1/60s, ISO1600

The focal length is nice and handy for environmental portraiture and the aperture is wide enough to get some nice blur, especially if you get a bit close to your subject. Of course if you get close enough you’ll get some pretty nasty perspective distortion, but it is still perfectly usable as a portrait lens, which something wider is really hard to do, unless you are only using it for full body portraits or larger (with 17mm you can still do half length portraits and mostly be okay). It also tends to be a great walk about lens. Sometimes something longer or wider is good, but a combination of mostly wanting to shot my family at Disney, wanting to keep lenses changes down and go lighter (I’ll discuss that in my Disney piece. I’ve got a lot more pictures I need/want to pull from for that blog) and 17mm just generally working pretty well, the 17mm f/1.8 was used for something like 60% of my pictures at Disney (if you cut out the ones I did at Animal Kingdom where the 60/2.8 was nearly glued to my E-M5, it is closer to 80%). At least pre-17/1.8 my PL25/1.4 was used for probably 60-70% of my photography, but with the increase quality of the 17/1.8 over the 17/2.8, the shallower depth of field, faster focus and extra light gathering, I am thinking that the PL25/1.4 is probably going to get pushed closer to half of my photography. Maybe even less! GASP!

It doesn’t mean I don’t adore the 25/1.4. I really, really do. Heck, I like the lens better than my 17/1.8 for a variety of reasons (FoV, resolution, Bokeh, CA, etc., but not everything is done with a 50mm equivalent field of view and the 17mm does make a better one lens walk-about kit).


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/2.8, 1/320s, ISO3200

Some of the few other notes I have on the 17mm f/1.8 is that the CA is improved over the 17mm f/2.8. It is still apparent in some cases, but better. Also that focusing. Oh that focusing. So fast, so utterly silent so generally accurate. One note I do have as some other users/reviewers have remarked, there does seem to be a certain amount of field curvature, which I think is part of what is impacting lens resolution in the corners at infinity which is probably partly why stopping down continues to make noticeable corner improvement up in to the f/5 range, where as the center sees a fairly large jump from 1.8 to 2.8, but then only very minor improvements. It doesn’t make f/1.8 shots focused at infinity useless, but it does make the corners softer.


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/1.8, 1/2500s, ISO200

The color and saturation with the lens are very good and contrast decent, though not exceptional.

overall the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 is a nice lens, but not exceptional. I wish Olympus had focused a bit more on the astigmatism and field curvature with the lens, even if it meant a slightly larger lens. That said, I certainly don’t regret my decision to buy the lens and I’ll definitely be using it a heck of a lot more than I used my old 17mm f/2.8. If you can pickup a used copy, I think it is an excellent purchase for the price. Brand spanking new…I don’t know. On sale (often $50 off and I think I’ve seen it $100 off new once), I’d probably bite the bullet. Without having used the 15mm f/1.7, but having read extensive reviews (and having once stayed at a holiday inn express), the extra price of the 15mm f/1.7 seems worthwhile if you could get the PL15mm on sale compared to a full price 17mm f/1.8. Sale versus sale or full price versus full price, I’d probably still have to come down on the side of the Olympus. Unless of course you want the slightly wider angle of view or need to go really big in prints and need the extra resolution.

The Olympus 17mm f/1.8 is a good enough lens that will probably satisfy you, but I still wish it was a little better or a little cheaper (or both. Both would be nice).


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/1.8, 1/10s, ISO640

I’ll dream of the day that maybe Olympus or Panasonic will come out with a really high quality 17mm f/1.2-1.4 or something. Who knows, it could happen. Micro 4/3rds seems like it has a lot of life left to it, so maybe someday.

*A further note on resolution, having owned a Panasonic 14mm f/2.5, the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 is very similar in resolution and performance. It has much better CA control, faster focusing, but similar contrast and resolution. Maybe a hair better in the center and slightly worse in the corners. Obv different field of view as well as being a full stop faster.

Quickie Oly 17/1.8


Olympus f/1.8: f/1.8, 1/15s, ISO400

So the lens showed up last week. I still haven’t had a lot of time with it, but I am enjoying the little I have had with it. It doesn’t seem quite up to the level of my other M.Zuiko primes, but it is noticeably better than the 17/2.8 that it replaced (say, 90% of the resolution of the 12/2, instead of maybe 75% of the resolution, which is what the 17/2.8 seemed like). Sharper at f/1.8 than the 17/2.8 was at its best aperture (which was about f/4.5). The little I have played with the 17/1.8, it seems sharpest around f/4-5. It seems that center sharpness doesn’t improve much stopped down from f/1.8, but 50% out to extreme corner sharpness and contrast does improve some (like maybe from G to VG level, where as center starts at VG+ and maybe moves up to EX-). Vignetting noticeable improves from f/1.8 to even just f/2, but especially by f/2.8. I’d guess there is at least 1.5 stops of vignetting wide open and at f/2.8 it seems closer to only half a stop.


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/2.2, 1/20s, ISO200

I’ve only had maybe an hour of running around with it on an overcast day indoors and outside.

I do love how incredibly fast it focuses and a real 46mm filter thread doesn’t hurt (its not much longer than the 17/2.8 was with a 37->46mm filter adapter mounted on it).


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/1.8, 1/80s, ISO800

One thing I did find while playing with it are two things. One, the eye cup on my E-M5 is cracked in two places, though it hasn’t fallen off yet. So new one ordered and I’ll slip that in to my camera bag until the old one DOES fall apart completely (I think it is because a few times recently I’ve grabbed the camera with my thumb under the eye cup and probably broke it that way). The second is, I REALLY needed to clean my sensor. I found a smudge on the bottom corner (after cleaning, I did notice that the corresponding reversed corner was slightly clearer, though only noticeable 50% enlargement). The “really needed to clean my sensor” was as a result of “being stupid”. Not mildly, but extremely. At my brother-in-laws wedding, the day after I was hanging out on the beach with a number of friends and relatives. Well, I had my camera along and was taking pictures. Did a lens change a couple of times and noticed on the final one that there were a few specs of dust/sand on the sensor which the sensor shake cleaning didn’t seem to be removing (I tried mounting the lens, turning on, back off and removing lens to check). So in my brilliant sun addled (there may have been ONE drink involved too) mind, why not blow them off myself? Of course being a silly human and not a sensor cleaning dry blower, I got bits of saliva on it.


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/1.8, 1/200s, ISO200

DOH! So then it was attempting to very, very, VERY gently and carefully clean it off with a clean and dry cotton T-shirt I happened to have with me, combined with and careful blowing on it to fog it up. I did manage to get it mostly cleaned, but I apparently missed a corner. I would have just shelved it, but I needed the camera for another 36 hours and there wasn’t a way to get alcohol swabs or anything else to do a proper cleaning that weekend. A few q-tips, some isopropyl alcohol and being super careful and the sensor is now extremely clean! Pocket rocket is getting packed from now on and no more using my own breath to blow off a sensor EVER. I’ll just live with some dust spots on the picture if I have to until I get back to my hotel room in the future and clean it off properly. That said, I am rather impressed with the sensor


Olympus 17mm f/1.8: f/4.5, 1/15s, ISO400


A recent change is upon me. I’ve decided to finally swap my M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8 for the 17mm f/1.8. Hopefully I’ll have the new lens before the year officially ends and the old one will be getting a home with a new owner rather soon. This move is driven not simply from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), but to also have a bit better two lens walk around kit. The 17mm f/2.8 performs fine, but the f2.8 can sometimes be a bit limiting, as can the slow focusing speed and the quality could of course be higher.

My family is taking a trip back to Florida in a few weeks to take the kids to Disney world, and I am hoping to use a two lens kit in an itty bitty bag with my E-M5, just the 17/1.8 and the 45/1.8. I toyed with the idea of the 12/2 and 25/1.4, but that seemed like it would possibly be too wide too often since the focus is a bit more on “cute kids having fun”. I’ll of course have my whole kit and slightly larger (but still small) shoulder bag along sitting in my room in case I figure I need more backup or a different lens line-up.

That and I find that 17mm seems to be my go to focal length for full body portraits indoors and for better environmental outdoor portraits instead of my 25mm, and the 17/2.8 just isn’t fast enough for a number of those indoor usages, especially with young kids who are NOT fans of holding still (IBIS only goes so far).

The Panasonic 15mm f/1.7 is extremely interesting to me, but my budget just doesn’t come near to stretching the extra ~$150 or so to buy it, even on sale (which, since I am getting my 17mm f1.8 used is the better part of 50% more). Maybe some day my income will catch up with my GAS and I’ll be able to get a 15mm f/1.7 instead (in addition? :-P), but that day is no where close.

Especially not with this rumored OM-D E-M5II on the horizon. I wonder what kidney I’ll have to sell to finance it, the 17/1.8 is already costing me my 17/2.8, no huge loss, but also my Zuiko 24mm f/2.8 OM mount lens :(. I guess a couple more years (or more) before I can really seriously consider that M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8

Brief Summer Recap

Generally people do these in the fall. Like, early in the fall. Though, technically it is still fall, so I may be a couple of months late, but not a season late!

This summer was kind of crazy. My brother-in-law was on the cusp of getting married (which happened in October), so there was a separate bachelor and bachelorette party my wife and I attended. Tons of time at the beach. There was prepping for back to school WAY too soon. On and on. I did manage to squeeze in some opportunities for pictures, but in the interests of not boring everyone with a trillion pictures of my family, I’ll keep it simple.


Sigma 60mm f/2.8: f/5, 1/2000s, ISO200


Panasonic 25mm f/1.4: f/3.2, 1/4000s, ISO200

Not dead (yet)

I know it has been the better part of a year since posting and writing a new page. I guess things sometimes wax and wane with interests. I haven’t lost (much) zeal for photography, but my life has just been so busy that blogging has always seemed to take a back seat to everything else going on. I won’t make any false promises about getting better on blogging, but it is at least what I’d like to do. Things seem to be getting exciting in the m4/3 world, at least for me. There is a 12-40/2.8, which sounds amazing (even if I am not big on zooms). The 40-150/2.8 just came out and whether or not I am a fan of zooms, I am extremely interested in it. Though it might be more of a “bucket list” purchase for a “bucket list” trip. It plus the 1.4x teleconverter seem almost perfect as a wildlife combination. Also Olympus has announced a 7-14/2.8 and a 300/4.

I am not sure if, when or ever any other long/medium telephotos might come along, but I really do hope eventually someone will do something like a 150/4, or 40-150/4 or something like that (maybe even a 50-200/4). Something a lot more affordable, but in the medium to long telephoto range. There appears to be plenty of time. m4/3 seems to be thriving, which can only be a good thing.

Money is tight, but I am certainly hoping to replace my Olympus 17mm f/2.8 with the 17mm f/1.8 sometime soon. I have a big family trip coming up and it plus the 45/1.8 and a tiny camera bag would be a perfect walk-around kit to simplify things. Also with the strong rumors (confirmed?) about the E-M5 replacement coming in February, it has me nearly giddy. The E-M5 has treated me very well, but I can see some nice features in the E-M1, and my hope is after a all this time, that the E-M6 (or whatever it’ll be called) will have certain improvements over even the E-M1 (higher MP? Better DR? Better high ISO noise?). Even if its quality is no better than the E-M1, a package closer to the size of the E-M5 and price would be a nice upgrade (faster shutter, slightly better DR and noise, better EVF, check, check, check and more check). Sadly, it won’t be a run out and buy thing for me like the E-M5 was…but maybe Christmas next year?

I have lots of catching up on blogging from the past 8 months, which I have every intention of doing (the road is paved). Until then, at least one small picture.


Panasonic 25mm f/1.4: f/1.6, 1/4000s, ISO200

The long winter

I apologize for not posting at all in months now. My only excuse is that it has been a longgggg winter. I am not sure if it was the weather or having two kids in school now, but myself and my whole family seemed to be sick every three weeks since Halloween. Typical pattern would be one person would come down with something and then it would run through the entire family for the next week, a week of everyone feeling like crud and then a week of everyone feeling better, rinse and repeat. Mostly colds, some sinus infections, pink eye and a really nasty stomach bug that happily coincided with an ice storm and a two-day power outage.

Fortunately, we had the chance to get away from most of the misery for a few days in mid February and drive to Florida for a family reunion. Unfortunately THAT coincided with a massive winter storm that blew through the East coast…the ENTIRE East coast. We timed it about as well as we could, hitting only really nasty weather through southern Virginia, hitting North Carolina and South Carolina after the freezing rain had melted from salting and before the really heavy snow hit Virginia and Maryland. Still, the 17 hour drive turned in to a 22 hour marathon.

A few pictures from that nice getaway and hopefully I’ll have more over the next few weeks as the weather warms, and I hope, life returns a bit more to normal.


Panasonic 25mm f/1.4: f/2.8, 1/2500s, ISO200


Olympus 12mm f/2: f/4.5, 1/1000s, ISO200


Olympus 12mm f/2: f/2.8, 1/2500s, ISO200


Olympus 17mm f/2.8: f/3.5, 1/1000s, ISO200


Panasonic 25mm f/2.8: f/4.5, 1/400s, ISO200


Olympus 45mm f/1.8: f/2.8, 1/4000s, ISO200


Olympus 45mm f/1.8: f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO200


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