Olympus 17mm ƒ1.8 Micro Four Thirds Lens With Awesome ‘Snap-Focus’ Mode

The natural upgrade for iPhoneographers wanting a little bit more than their awesome cameraphone can offer is Micro Four Thirds — it’s small but gives fantastic results.

And the obvious, almost obligatory Micro Four Thirds lens was — until now — the Panasonic Lumix 20mm ƒ1.7, a fixed-focal-length wonder: perfect for low-light and amazing shallow depth-of-field images.

But there’s a new challenger from Olympus: the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f1.8.

The lens is as high-end as you’d expect from a prime bearing the Zuiko name, and has all the multi-coatings, fancy aperture shapes and aspherical elements you could want. It is also a little wider (34mm equivalent vs. the 40mm equivalent of the Panasonic) and a smidgen slower (in terms of light-gathering ability, not actual speed).

But the thing that gets me excited is the “snap-focus” mode. Slide the focus ring back towards you and manual focus mode is engaged. Not only does this reveal manual focus-distance markings on the lens barrel, it also adds a damper to the motion of the lens (making it feel like an old manual-focus objective) and even adds stops to either end, so the collar doesn’t keep spinning when you hit either infinity or closest focus.

Sounds pretty awesome, right? It’s also pricey, coming in at around $500, but many of us will just squint and try to ignore that number when it goes on sale in December.

About the author

Charlie Sorrel Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie  on Twitter at @mistercharlie.

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