Ming Thein: Review: The Olympus M.Zuiko 17/1.2 PRO

https://blog.mingthein.com/2018/01/01/review-the-olympus-m-zuiko-17-1-2-pro/

“… The lens is incredibly sharp even when shooting wide open. The sharpness is uniform from edge to edge. The bokeh is beautiful and soft, resulting in pleasing and natural looking images. Technical flaws are well controlled with no noticeable distortion, minimal chromatic aberration and good flare control. AF is speedy and reliable. the lens just works and it exceeded my expectations….

… Of the three F1.2 lenses, I am surprised to conclude that this 17mm F1.2 is my personal favourite.”

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens, equivalent to 23mm in APS-C/Super 35 and 35mm in the 35mm sensor format. Note the retracted focussing ring for manual clutch focus, invaluable for shooting video.

Commentary

I have been recommending the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro collection of fast maximum aperture prime and zoom lenses for their many attributes of use to cinematographers – their affordability and low weight and small size compared to their 35mm sensor format equivalents, mechanical durability, weather resistance and high optical quality as well as their small set of filter diameters allowing for a smaller set of step-up rings and neutral density filters.

The recent addition by Panasonic of the ability to allocate lens-related, barrel-mounted L-Fn functionality to M.Zuiko Pro lenses via firmware when used on the GH5 has added yet another reason to seriously consider M.Zuiko Pro lenses for video production.

I hope that Panasonic will add that L-Fn functionality to the G9, GH4 and GX8 as well as other Lumix cameras in a new set of firmware updates.

Size, weight, price and capability are relative traits.

Ming Thein reviewer Robin Wong writes:

A genuine concern, however, is the diminishing benefit of Micro Four Thirds systems having smaller, more portable lenses. These new F1.2 PRO lenses are no smaller or lighter than their DSLR counterparts.

Maybe so, and at USD1,199.00 the three M.Zuiko Pro prime lenses are not a great deal cheaper than their f/1.2 Canon equivalents in the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM and EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lenses, but the GH5 possesses video production traits simply not available on Canon EOS DSLRs.

I have not tried any of the Olympus M.Zuiko f/1.8 lenses to which Mr Wong compares the M.Zuiko Pro primes, but have used and owned some of Panasonic’s excellent and affordable little f/1.7 or slower Lumix G prime lenses which are well-matched to the smaller Lumix cameras for fast, discrete stills photography.

Professional video production is something else, often demanding the use of step-up rings, variable and fixed ND filters of 77m or 82mm filter diameters, follow focus devices and focus gearing slipped over manual clutch focus rings for accurate and repeatable focus.

Try doing all that with, say, Panasonic’s Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II, Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 Aspheric, Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II Aspheric, Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric, Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 Aspheric or Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS lenses.

Earlier today I was travelling down suburban streets emptied by withering 40-degree-plus laser-beam sunlight, with Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens mounted on the GH5 and a couple of other small Lumix G lenses on standby should I spot a likely fellow citizen to commemorate with 10-bit 4:2:2 4K HLG HDR video footage.

The 25mm had a Heliopan 46-77mm brass step-up ring mounted on its front, attached to a Genustech 77mm Eclipse ND Fader variable neutral density filter.

Other f/1.7 lenses have even smaller filter diameters and even shorter barrels, ruling out easy manual focussing by hand or with a follow focus.

In my estimation, and my experience with the 12-40mm f/2.8 and other zoom lenses in the M.Zuiko Pro collection, their size and weight are just about right for serious video production.

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  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM LensB&H
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera  – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H