Olympus reveals high-end 17mm and 45mm f/1.2 prime lenses

Ahead of the 2017 Photo Plus Expo, Olympus announced two new prime lenses in its Pro lineup for the Micro Four Thirds system. The lenses, a 45mm and a 17mm, both feature bright, f/1.2 apertures and are dust and weather sealed, making them a good fit for weather-sealed cameras like the OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

With a 34mm full-frame equivalent field of view, the M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 Pro combines a modest wide angle with a fast aperture. It’s a good all-around focal length but should be especially suitable for street, event, and environmental portrait photography in a variety of lighting conditions.

The lens boasts 15 elements in 11 groups, including a newly developed ED-DSA element which combines the characteristics of both extra-low dispersion and dual super aspherical elements. According to Olympus, this saves weight while maintaining good control over chromatic aberration.

The M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 Pro offers a 90mm full-frame equivalent field of view, perfect for portraits. Built with 14 elements in 10 groups, it incorporates three bonded lens elements to again compensate for chromatic aberration, which is more common in wide-aperture lenses.

Olympus also emphasized that it paid special attention to the quality of the focus roll-off, going for a “feathered bokeh” look that is about more than simply achieving a shallow depth of field. We are not sure how the effect will play out in practice, but this might help the smaller Micro Four Thirds format compete against its larger-sensor peers when it comes to portrait photography. Larger sensors are often seen as having a benefit when it comes to portraiture as they achieve a shallower depth of field and the same aperture.

Both lenses also feature nanocoatings to help reduce ghosting and flaring, and nearly silent autofocus motors for quiet and fast performance in both still and video modes.

The 45mm F1.2 Pro will be available in late November, while photographers will have to wait until January to pick up the 17mm F1.2 Pro. Both lenses will retail for $1,200, putting them below the cost of the competing Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2, although considerably higher than the $400 Panasonic 42.5 f/1.7 lens.