Reasons To Go For Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 PRO

Olympus F1.2 prime lenses have been the subject of question when it comes to what Micro Four Thirds stand for - a camera system that is truly compact and small. The Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 PRO is a lot larger and heavier than the F1.8 counterpart, and priced significantly higher too. Is the heftier price tag and the bulkier build justified with the better optics, F1.2 bright aperture, feathered bokeh and weather-sealing? I am exploring this in my latest video on Youtube. 


If you are a street photographer, or buying a camera for travel and you want to shave off as much weight as possible from your gear, the M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 is obviously not for you. The F1.8 smaller compact form factor is a perfect fit to any Olympus OM-D or PEN camera and being so light and tiny, it does not add much weight and bulk to your luggage. If you want to keep your gear minimal, the F1.8 primes is the way to go. 

However, if you are a professional photographer like me who shoots for a living, and intend to provide the best possible results from my Olympus OM-D for my clients, then the F1.2 lens makes perfect sense. The optical construction is superior, rendering images that are looking super sharp yet having the "feathered bokeh" characteristics which the F1.8 lenses do not deliver. The feathered bokeh is also what sets the Olympus F1.2 PRO prime lenses apart from other alternatives such as Panasonic 15mm F1.7 or Sigma 16mm F1.4, both amazing lenses that I have tested, reviewed and written before in this blog. The feathered bokeh renders beautifully smooth background and giving that 3D pop to the images.



Also the brighter aperture of F1.2 make a huge difference in comparison to F1.8, giving one full stop of advantage when it comes to high ISO shooting. The weather-sealing allows me to shoot in the rain, which happens a lot in this tropical weather. 

Some people voiced their complaint that the 17mm F1.2 PRO (and other Olympus F1.2 PRO lenses) is too bulky, and is counter-productive to what a  Micro Four Thirds system is. Here is the kicker - you cannot have a small F1.2 lens, if you do, then there will be some compromise, the images will not be sharp wide open, horrible soft corners, annoying purple fringing, heavy vignetting, etc. I'd rather have an F1.2 lens with great image output, with PRO grade build, than a sub-par lens just with the label F1.2 opening. There is just no other way to go around it, the lens has to be this size. If you are against the size, why attack the lens? You have the F1.8 version. 

Also, I never found the size to be difficult to manage. The 17mm F1.2 is about the same size as the 12-40mm F2.8 PRO which was designed to match E-M1 and E-M1 Mark II perfectly. It was such a good combo, handling was balanced and the lens does not feel front heavy at all.  The 17mm F1.2 being slightly smaller and lighter, surely has no issue with camera handling. 

Are we expecting PRO level lenses to be extremely tiny? We can't have everything can we? But the good news is, we have options. And choices are always good. 

Do you own an Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2? What are your experiences using that lens? I would love to hear from you!


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8 comments:

  1. I was fortunately able to try out this lens at an Olympus event, and I was a little worried clipping it to my tiny Pen (E-PL8). There was no problem! It's actually quite light and with your left hand under the lens it handles fine. The f1.2 allows for gorgeous separation. I didn't buy it because it IS too big to carry in my "kit of tiny primes," but it's a great lens and fits the little cameras with no issue.

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    1. If you have a PEN, the smaller F1.8 version is a better option, better balance when handling too.

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  2. The pros and cons of Primes and Pros.. LOL.. Right on point Robin.. I have the 25 & 45 prime, and the 17 & 45 pro.. Each has it's time & place.. I'm still learning to use the 17 effectively.. My wife likes to carry the smaller primes, which is perfect for her smaller carry kit.. I also plan to fill in the missing 17 prime, and 25 pro, as the right ones pop up on the used market.. ;-)

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    1. I am not a huge fan of 35mm equivalent focal length, I have voiced this up several times over the years blogging here. But I acknowledge that it is a popular choice when it comes to reportage/documentary and street photography work.

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  3. First thanks for the review. I have both the M.Zuiko 17mm 1.8 and 1.2 and love them both. The 1.8 is one of my favorite lenses. It is small and jewel like (I love the feel off it) and is reasonably sharp and fast. It feels great on an EM5 or EM10. However, the 1.8 can't really compete with the 1.2 in terms of sharpness and brightness, especially when paired with the EM1 mk2. The images are noticeably better, no pixel peeping required. I also find the ergonomics better when the 17mm 1.32 is paired with the EM1 mk2

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    1. Indeed, if you are using the E-M1 Mark II, the 17mm F1.2 just fits on the camera perfectly! I don't get how people can complain so much about the lens being too big and heavy. It is F1.2, and for what it is the size is perfectly reasonable and manageable! The optics/quality is outstanding.

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  4. How do the 1.2 primes compare to the 12-40 pro lens Robin?
    I sold my primes f1.8 to fund the 12-40 as it added something the 1.8 lacked.

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  5. I use the 17 mm f:2.8 and the 45 mm f:1.8 on my pen mini. I never print larger than a3 and I find that my prints are as sharp as they need to be. I mostly shoot mountain landscapes, and I bring my kit in my backpack for several hours at a time often over more than a thousand meters of elevation. The f:1.2 primes are not for me.

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