Faced with the choice of having just one lens what would it be? A prime lens or a zoom lens? If it had to be a prime lens then the vast majority of photographers would choose a focal length of either 35mm or 50mm. The latter is closest to the same field of vision as the naked eye, whereas a 35mm lens is a moderate wide angle. Both are very versatile but of the two my personal choice would be a 35mm lens.
I use a micro four thirds camera, the Olympus OMD EM5, which has a crop factor of x2, so the equivalent focal length for this camera format is 17.5mm. Although I can cover both 35mm and 50mm full frame focal lengths using the Panasonic 12 to 35 f2.8 zoom lens, there is nothing quite like having a compact, fast and sharp prime lens attached to the camera. Any prime lens encourages a more creative approach to photography. You have to frame your shot by moving your feet as opposed to twisting a barrel on the lens. A wide aperture can give a more limited depth of field, throwing backgrounds out of focus. In this respect it will never be a match for a full frame camera, but for my requirements this lens more than serves its purpose.
|The Olympus 17mm f1.8 prime lens|
So in the past few days I decided to buy the Olympus 17mm f1.8 lens. In no way is this a review, but the all metal lens in black looks wonderful on the camera, is very fast to auto focus and has a ring which can be pulled back for manual focusing. It also reveals a distance scale which combined with the Depth of Field markings allow ‘zone focusing’, a technique often used by street photographers.
|The 17mm on the Olympus OMD EM5|
Having only had the lens for a few days I have not yet had the chance to put it through its paces but I already think it could well become my default choice when I want to travel light with just the camera and a single lens.
I did though have the opportunity to take a couple of shots of Cowdray Ruins in Midhurst. I set the camera to take both RAW and JPEG (Fine). Set to f8, ISO 200 and a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second, the JPEG straight out of the camera is I think very pleasing. Sharp across the frame and good colours from the Olympus processor.
|Cowdray Ruins – JPEG straight out of the camera|
The RAW version was of course just asking to be converted to black and white…….
|The first mono version|
|This is the same image as the one at the top of this post
but with a ‘coffee’ tint added in Silver Efex Pro2
As an aside the Ruins at Cowdray in Midhurst, West Sussex are truly magnificent and I will definitely be returning to explore the photographic opportunites at some point in the future.