My little present to myself unexpectedly showed up Saturday and I didn’t find out until yesterday. I had missed getting my mail on Saturday and when I checked on Sunday a surprise package was crammed in to my mail box (mental note Postman, the side you put mail in on is LARGER than the side I can get my mail out of. Sheesh). In large part a surprise because the tracking information said it wasn’t supposed to show up until this Wednesday and still showed a “depart sort facility” as its last tracking update.
Oh well, it’s here now and in good working order. What it is, is an Olympus m.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8. Legion have been the complaints that it is overly soft, has terrible fringing and chromatic aberrations, is slow to focus, is loud focusing, etc. Well, with a mere half a dozen shots with it that I’ve actually examined in LR4.1, one 2 minute 720p video that I only glanced at so far and a few map test “chart” photos that I have also looked over briefly, I’d say it isn’t entirely true.
Oh, it doesn’t seem super sharp, but it also isn’t tragic either. Seems in general just fine, perfectly usable and able to produce decent results. CA and fringing does seem very high, but (except for one file) I was able to completely remove the CA and fringing in LR4.1. It is slower to focus than all of the IF lenses I have (14-42 MkII, 40-150, 14, 30 and 45mm lenses). On the OM-D E-M5 the difference on high contrast targets is almost negligible. On low contrast targets it is worse, but by about the same % difference, the difference is both focus slower, but focusing (I am making a number up) 30-50% slower for the 17mm means on a low contrast target there is a much larger fraction of a second lag in focusing. It is also noisier, but not something I’d think you’d notice at more than double arms reach in a quite room and with just a little background noise anyone other than the photographer is unlikely to hear it (its a little quieter and focuses somewhat faster than the 14-42mm MkI did).
Something I have noticed on the lens, if you have the E-M5 “reset infinity focus” or whatever the name of the setting is, turned off the lens barrel will NOT retract when you shut the camera off. Normally it extends about 2mm when the camera is started up and has maybe 3mm focus throw from infinity to close focus. So you probably want to enable reset infinity focus so that the lens closes up all the way when off/demounting the lens (both to save bag space and reduce the chance of lens/motor damage if it gets whacked with the barrel extended bouncing around in your camera bag).
Also, first shot with the lens.
Olympus 17mm, f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO400
Way to early to tell if I am going to like the lens in the end, but so far t’ain’t bad. Still would love a redesigned, internal focusing 17mm f/2 lens with better IQ, but I won’t hold my breath. It is getting me to think that I may want to consolidate around the following set of primes, Olympus 12mm f/2, Olympus 17mm f/2.8, Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 and Olympus 45mm f/1.8. Its pretty close to what I used to use, 24/35/50/85mm primes on my OM-1 and I still frame things in my mind’s eye like that. We’ll see, I certainly don’t have the money to get the 12mm or 25mm any time soon.