The M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 MSC lens is on my short list of "must have" lenses for the Micro Four Thirds mount. I am a big fan of the 35mm equivalent lens perspective and this lens fits perfectly between the Olympus 12mm f/2 and the 45mm f/1.8 if you're looking to build the ideal kit of Olympus prime lenses with fast-and-silent MSC focusing. In real-world use I cannot say the image quality of the new 17mm lens is dramatically better than the old 17mm f/2.8 pancake. The new lens has better edge-to-edge sharpness and a brighter f/1.8 aperture with faster and quieter autofocus. However, the color quality and center sharpness of both the old and new 17mm lenses are largely the same.
I found the image quality to be quite good for this price range but if you already have the old 17mm f/2.8 pancake you might not want to spend the extra cash to upgrade unless the f/1.8 aperture and the new MSC auto focus are important to you. The quick-clutch manual focus ring is pretty great for quick and smooth manual focus control but the fact that the manual focus ring isn't mechanically coupled to the AF means you might find it frustrating to use if you want to quickly switch back and forth between auto focus and manual focus. For me, that little quirk of the quick-clutch manual focus ring isn't a deal breaker for what amounts to an otherwise great lens. The 17mm f/1.8 lens is the kind of lens I want to use almost all the time. I won't butcher the fabulous Olympus OM-D E-M5 by gluing this lens to it, but Olympus is going to have to send some very tough repo men to wrestle this lens back from me. If you value a great "wide normal" lens like I do, you'll want to buy this lens for your Micro Four Thirds camera.
The Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8 prime lens is available for $599.99.
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