The New Olympus 17  & 45 f/1.2. First shots and thoughts!

The New Olympus 17  & 45 f/1.2. First shots and thoughts!

By Steve Huff

Hey to all! It’s been a busy hectic week. Not much time to work here on the website but it’s all for a good reason! I am out in South Carolina shooting and using the new Olympus lenses. The new 17 f/1.2 and 45 f/1.2 Pro lenses. If you missed it, you can see my 25 f/1.2 lens review HERE. 

THIS IS NOT my review, but rather some shots and thoughts after two days of using the lenses. Tomorrow morning I will be headed back home to Phoenix AZ and lucky me, I get to bring these lenses with me for extended testing. So soon, I will do some comparisons with the Olympus 45 1.8, the Panasonic Nocticron f/1.2 and show the difference with the bokeh wide open and then stopped down some. That will all be in my full review.

But for now, check out the video below while I was “on location” using the lens.

These lenses are the same size, shape and build as the 25 f/1.2, which I have reviewed and spoken of a few times. I LOVE the 25 and own it. It’s gorgeous. In fact, I know of THREE shooters who owned Leica and Olympus. Two of them sold off their Leica 50 Lux after getting the 25 f/1.2 Pro, as it gives us a 50mm FOV and they LOVED the way it rendered an image. That says a lot about the quality of these lenses.

You can click images for larger but most are OOC JPEGS. Check out the 1st image below, this is with the 17mm f/1.2. Is this depth of field shallow enough for you? Hehehe. The light was overcast and dull BTW.

The samples I am posting here are 90% OOC JPEGS. Many were shot in VIVID mode, some in Natural.

What makes these three lenses in the Olympus lineup so special, to me anyway, is the feathered bokeh they all feature. There are three types of Bokeh. RING which most find to be the ugliest. Then SOLID which is what we are all used to. For example, Nikon and Canon lenses feature solid bokeh. Then we have FEATHERED which is used in the three Olympus f/1.2 Pro lenses.

A few with the 45 at f/1.2. 

This delivers, IMO, a beautiful out of focus rendering, or “Bokeh” that makes these lenses unique. I know of pro’s who shoot the EM1 MKII and they LOVE the system. While I have been shooting Sony, Leica and Olympus for a while (and love them all for different reasons) I always found Olympus to be a company that really gets us, the photographers and enthusiasts.

By releasing fast f/1.2 lenses like these for the system, it shows they are listening to US, the ones who use the gear. These lenses are very welcome to the Micro 4/3 system and all feature a manual focus clutch as well. BTW, these all have very nice mechanical feeling manual focus when you engage the clutch. However Olympus did the MF implementation is amazing as when you pull the clutch, you have hard stops for infinity and close focus. Unlike most “focus by wire” lenses it will not just turn and turn and turn. There’s also a weightiness to it when you focus. Some have told me these f/1.2 lenses have mechanical manual focus and some say it is not. I thought it was mechanical when using it as it was so convincing but after more use and looking into it I think they are focus by wire but Olympus found a way to make them feel and work like real mechanical focus lenses, when the clutch is engaged.

Whatever they did, it is lovely and works great when you want to shoot manual focus.

They are not cheap, nor are they small but size wise, they are a perfect fit for the EM1 MKII, and a bit large on a PEN-F. Compared to high speed full frame lenses, they are small. ; )

The quality of these lenses, the new 17 and 45, so far…are GORGEOUS. They bring M 4/3 to the next level of performance, but I have always been a sucker for fast glass. Olympus says these were designed, built and made to be shot wide open at f/1.2. At f/1.2 an f/1.4 you will get the unique “Feathered Bokeh” quality. Stop it down to f/1.8 and you will start to see standard SOLID bokeh.

And a JPEG with a 100% crop at f/1.2 with focus on the eyelashes. 

Stay tuned for more from these lenses!

AVAILABILITY:

The 17mm f/1.2 will ship in January, and the 45mm f/1.2 is available NOW. Price is around $1200. Stay tuned for more from these two lenses!

Order the 45 f/1.2 from Amazon

Order the 45 f/1.2 from B&H Photo

Pre-Order the 17 f/1.2 from B&H Photo

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30 Comments

  1. Thank you for this review. I would like to have some test comparison with the 45mm 1.8 and event with the 75mm 1.8. I like the bokeh of the 75mm but I prefer the 45mm focal. I would then resale the 75mm to buy the 45 pro. I would also be curious to see some comparison with the Sony 85mm 1.8. With a Sony 7ii as the combo Sony A7 with Sony cheap lens and EM1 with 45mm pro are quite similar on the pricing. That would be a genius stupid test as your like to do.

  2. Just bought the 45

    I only waited until today because I wanted to see reviews showing it to be the 45 incarnation of the 25 that I own.

    The user-experience w the 25 is just off the hook great. When you pick it up it is like you’ve picked up the lens equivalent of a faberge egg. Then you use the lens and it inly gets better.

    I really like the 45 focal length and perhaps oddly, I like it as a walk around lens. Ya I know that’s weird, but seeing from the distances suited to the 45 suits me well. I like it.

    I have the 7-14 oly pro which is super cool, but the 25 & 45 for me are just awesome.

    Can’t wait for big brown truck!!!!!

    Thx for the review Steve. You always tell it honest and let folks make their own calls. I like that you’re never a shill

  3. Hi Steve

    Have been following your site with great interest for years. Thanks for the good work and sharing your passion with us.

    Today I am seeking for your opinion as I have the budget for just one of the Olympus new 1.2 Pro lenses and I hesitate between the 25mm and 45mm which are 2 focal length that I know I could be happy with to do a mix of portrait, street and a Landscape. Question : is there one of the 1.2 pro lenses would you prefer over the others in terms of bokeh/definition/signature or are they equivalent?

    Hope you’ll have time to answer to that specific question 🙂

    Thanks, Hugues

    • The Bokeh quality and color and contrast is exactly the same between the three f/1.2 primes. No lens is better than the other in IQ from what I see. My personal fave is still the 25 as it offers a 50mm FOV but all three are gorgeous. Go with whatever FL you like the most. 35, 50 or 90 FOV Equivalents. The 45 will offer the shallowest DOF due to the focal length.

  4. Hey there – how would you compare this (and the 25mm 1,2 pro) vs the Fuji equivalents – especially the 56 1.2 APD? I’m chasing that feathered bokeh… how the bokeh compares is the big deal for me
    Thanks

    • Honestly I used the Fuji APD for a week and was not a huge fan of it. I much prefer these but if I were a Fuji user, of course I would probably prefer the Fuji as that would be the system I owned. If one owns a system, the best lens is the best one that fits for them on that system. The Fuji 56 gets great reviews, but when I tried it I just couldn’t get into the overall vibe of the IQ and rendering but thats my personal tastes. It’s a beautiful lens nonetheless. I love the Olympus for it’s build quality, MF clutch, f/1.2 aperture and the sharpness and rendering wide open. Probably can’t go wrong with either lens but of you shoot Olympus, preferably an EM1 I or II, the 17 25 or 45 will deliver the goods without question. They are premium lenses.

  5. Two horses (horses heads) photo : I can see why your two photography buddies sold their Lux 50 for Olympus F1.2

    45mm is my most focal length. Your Nocticron (42.5/1.2) review said Nocticron was 90℅ close to Leica Lux. Well Olympus 45/1.2 you say is even nicer (closer to Lux say 95℅) then the Oly will look fine on PenF.

  6. These lenses do look terrific. I won’t say that I feel the desire to own them, but they are winners for sure.

    I still find it hard to believe that a lot of people are using 135 sensors when Micro 4/3 offers so much more. Not for every type of photographer, of course, but for the small majority. If I ever refresh my equipment, I’m going to consider this system.

    • true for some occasions. outdoor in good light, m43 cameras rock! and an E-M1 with these pro lenses: awesome!

      indoor with dim lights, m43 looses ground and most of us do every family pictures… and many of us buy APS-C or FF. makes sense in a way…

      these f/1.2 lenses, as gorgeous as the manual focus and the optical design are… they are designed for a E-M1 and that is a huge setup…
      I compare it to my X-Pro1 with the f/2 “fujicrons”, and size is what I went after.

  7. Thanks for the review, I see strong fringing in some shots, isnt it supposed to be corrected in camera?

    • Yes, it is. That was the first thing I noticed. It is to be expected with a lens of this aperture, but it definitely needs to be mentioned.

  8. Well, wire or mechanical MF, (I really do not care)
    some VERY beautiful shots as usual Steve, and after reading your Canon review, I strongly suspect you could be send a wooden camera look a like, and still make superb pictures……
    Keep up the good work, your are a ongoing source of inspiration for me.

    Bo

  9. Then engage MF while the lens is on the camera. The remove the lens and see if focus can be changed as described above.
    The Olympus US web site only claims a “manual focus clutch”; nothing about mechanical manual focus for the 25/1.2. This review: https://unlockingolympus.com/2017/03/olympus-25mm-f1-2-vs-25mm-f1-8-lens-review-part-1/
    Had the following, “Olympus nailed the focus clutch this time! Absolutely nailed it. There is nothing higher I can praise but how perfect Olympus made the manual focus on the 25mm. It is so smooth that I thought I was using a real mechanical lens for a moment! Since drive by wire came manual focus has never been the same. It just doesn’t seem as smooth, or sometimes there is a slight delay or stepping of focus. Often focus was smoother without the clutch engaged in most Olympus lenses. The 25mm pro with the manual focus clutch engaged is the smoothest manual focus I have ever experienced on a focus-by-wire camera. Absolutely a pleasure. Olympus needs this to be their benchmark for all future and current lenses they make when it comes to manual focus. Absolute joy.”
    BTW, in the Olympus menus the camera can be set to either respond to, or ignore the position of the manual focus “clutch”. If the it was an actual mechanical clutch engaging a manual focus mechanism, the camera body couldn’t ignore the MF setting.

  10. I have the 12-40/2.8 & 17/1.8 Olympus lenses that have the same manual focus sliding focus AF/MF focus ring. They do not manually, mechanically focus the lens. The way to determine if the focus ring mechanically focus the lens is to do the following:
    – Mount the lens on the camera
    – Turn the camera on and set the aperture to f 1.2
    – Turn the camera off and remove the lens (it will remain set to f 1.2)
    – With the lens set to MF hold it in front of a ground glass, or white piece of paper so that it forms an image on the glass or paper
    – Holding the lens at a steady distance from the glass or paper rotate the focus ring and observe if the the image goes in and out of focus.
    – If the focus doesn’t change, it’s fly by wire.

    • I was told it uses a mechanical Manual Focus. When put into manual mode, it FEELS mechanical and has hard stops, unlike traditional focus by wire lenses that just continually turn. When you engage MF, you feel the weightiness and the lens will stop at each end, for close or infinity. However it is done, it performs and really feels like a real mechanical lens with manual focus. But only when you engage the MF clutch. It may be focus by wire but these lenses do not perform or feel like the usual focus by wire lenses when MF is engaged. Doesn’t matter to me how it is done, as long as it feels right and works like a real manual lens. These do. Thank you.

      • Olympus went to a much more sophisticated manual fly-by-wire design that mimics the characteristics of a manual focus lens in their 1.2 Pro lenses. Aside from the cost of mechanical focus components, it might be difficult to comply with micro 4/3 interface standards.

  11. In looking at your review of the oly 25 1.2 I didn’t see any mention of the
    “feathered bokeh,” but I believe I remember you saying it has the same build as these lenses, yes? So I assume that 25mm lens offers the same style bokeh? Also what do you think about this with the PenF compared to the new Leica CL with their 35mm 1.4 T lens? Any ASPC v mic4/3 conversation aside it would seem these set ups could be direct competition for each other. Fast, shallow exceptional lenses, and camera bodies with classic styling. I guess the Leica offers opportunity to use M lenses (which I own,) but Pen offers good video and IBIS. This is a TOUGH call. Your thoughts?

    • As I said in the video, all lenses are the same size, exactly. Same lens barrel. Each lens is consistent in IQ and Bokeh across the range so when you shoot with all three your work, as a body, will all have the same look, feel and Bokeh. Yes. Thank you.

  12. Been shooting the 45 Pro for a couple of days now. About the best thing I can say is that I don’t miss the Nocticron AT ALL and the Oly looks and feels gorgeous on my silver E-M5 II with the HLD-8G grip. It’s the perfect weight, size and balance (the Noc was a bit too fat for Oly bodies). The focus ring is buttery smooth with just the right amount of feedback. Tack sharp wide open with delicious bokeh. Another phenomenal lens from Olympus and a must have for portrait shooters.

  13. I’m pretty sure they are still focus-by-wire, just really well done, and with the nice hard stops. My 12-100mm and 25/1.2 are definitely focus by wire, you can even see it “stepping” if you adjust focus while in 14x magnified view.

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