Olympus 17mm f/1.8 Review

I’ve been using the Olympus 17mm 1.8 prime now for a little over a week and I enjoy the lens. It focuses quickly and the colors are generally pleasing. As others have noted, it’s not always the sharpest and focusing with the manual focus ring is not accurate. That ring is also a little lose on my copy of the lens. However I am in love with this lens because it’s extremely versatile, light, and has enabled me to start carrying my camera daily with me again.

I will say I like the colors better with the 25mm 1.8 but that lens focuses pretty slowly at times and is not a great lens for showing the background behind a subject. Here are some sample shots with this lens:


Disclaimer: this shot ended up being cropped quite a bit. If I knew I was going to see deer I would have brought a zoom lens with me.




Not a perfect lens by any means but I definitely recommend it for travel and general use. If you know you prefer telephoto lenses and dislike having to correct for distortion or crooked photos then go for the 25mm. Otherwise this is a great lens.


Olympus Premium Primes: 12mm vs. 17mm vs. 25mm (also a few iPhone shots for reference)

I have recently acquired the Olympus 17mm f/1.8. It’s a lens I’ve been meaning to pick up since last year when I sold off the 12mm f/2. I absolutely loved the 12mm and it’s probably my favorite lens I’ve ever owned but due to its fixed wide-angle of view it became impractical in most situations so I sold it last summer.

The Olympus 17mm does not disappoint. While the build quality is not as solid as the 12mm, the color profile of this lens sits somewhat in between qualities from the 12 and 25mm Olympus primes. It’s also much more versatile than either the 12 or 25mm lenses, or at least for my own personal style of shooting. I thought I’d share some of my favorite shots from these three focal lengths so you can decide for yourself which one is for you.

Olympus 12mm f/2 (24mm full frame)



Olympus 25mm f/1.8 (50mm full frame) 





Olympus 17mm f/1.8 (35mm full frame) 





Personally I felt like in the last year my photographs have become more technically pleasing but even when using my zoom lens I find myself stuck in what I choose to photograph and how I frame my subjects. Through extensive use of my lovely but somewhat limiting 25mm lens (50mm full frame eq.) I have developed a sort of tunnel vision where the only compositions I make are face on close-ups of things with the background pleasantly blurred.

While these photos have their place, I don’t want to look back in ten years and have my only keepsakes be boring photos of aesthetically beautiful plant life and pretty shots of my coffee. So while I end up taking less overall photos when shooting with wider focal lengths and less of those photos end up as keepers, I want to make more of an effort to shoot compositions and stories, instead of chasing after bokeh.

The great thing about the 35mm eq. focal length (17 on Olympus) is that it is similar to a focal length familiar to a lot of millennials, the smart phone camera focal length of around 30mm eq. I consider this to be the prime lens of the people, widely available, versatile, easy to use and already included in a device a lot of us already own. So with that in mind here are a few of my favorite iPhone shots.

Iphone 5 and SE (~30mm full frame eq, 15mm micro 4/3) 



Freiburg buildlings.jpg

Hope you enjoyed this post 🙂



My Olympus Camera Kit


Over the past year I have been in the process of researching camera gear and equipping myself with higher quality lenses. I am moving to Stuttgart in less than a month to pursue my Masters so I am happy to have pieced together a great kit before embarking to Europe. Here is what I shoot and edit with and what I think of each piece of gear:

Computer: Macbook Air 13″,  2014 

It’s light, easy to use. I haven’t had issues with it since owning it (other than that it disconnects randomly from the internet a few times a week, but that’s pretty minor). I know I should probably upgrade editing software but I rely mostly on iPhoto and the free instagram editor for my instagram photos. I downloaded a Lightroom trial a few months ago but it felt joyless and time consuming to use so I have decided not to buy it. I don’t shoot in RAW though so I can mostly get away with light edits from iPhoto. The laptop sleeve is from Society 6 .

Camera Body: Olympus Em5 Mark ii 

Great, quick, lightweight micro 4/3 camera. The jpegs come out great SOOC. The dials are well constructed. It’s weather-sealed when paired with the proper lenses. I’d only upgrade cameras if Olympus comes out with an Em5 Mark iii or if Fujifilm ever implemented 5 axis stabilization (although a new Fujifilm is a bit out of my price range).

Favorite lens: Olympus 25mm F/1.8


I. Love. This. Lens. I love it. It makes everything look dreamy. It’s a safe focal length for if you were to leave the house with just one prime lens. I keep telling myself I need to use my Olympus pro zoom more, because of the versatility, but my heart always leans towards the creamy, lightweight Olympus 25mm.

Olympus 12mm F/2


This lens autofocuses so fast. It’s great for sunsets. I used it a lot the last time I was in D.C. to take architectural snapshots. It’s the lens I keep in my camera bag for when I realize that I’ve reached the limits of what my 25mm lens can do in terms of autofocus or capturing a wider scene. Though it can’t create the bokeh that a normal focal length lens can, it will still deliver that dream like quality that compels one to buy a prime lens in the first place. It’s also my lightest lens which is a plus.


I’ve just recently sold off my 12mm lens. As nice as it is, if I were shooting at 12mm I’m much more likely to use my zoom lens which offers almost as shallow depth of field. I may use the money to buy a 17mm prime. I may just try out the minimalist two lens approach. Either way it’s a relief to get the money back from something I just wasn’t using very much anymore. 

Olympus 12-40 F/2.8 (WR)


It’s the most versatile lens I own. The autofocus is stellar even when the lights go off. I also rarely use it these days which causes me guilt. If I were traveling more, especially to a rainier destination like the Pacific Northwest or Denmark it would probably stay on my camera all the time. In fact I invested into weather-sealing in the first place because I was sad that I took so few pictures during my study abroad in Denmark since it was always raining or really foggy outside. I suppose this lens is the swiss army knife of my camera bag. It can do everything I need it to, but it’s a little overkill for sunny days and city streets.

Iphone SE


My backup camera for when my Olympus isn’t with me. I used this camera a lot during the eclipse because I needed the wide focal length. I had only brought a 25mm prime with me. The iPhone camera is very underrated I think. (Phone case also from Society 6.)


Bonus gear: Moleskine Pocket Notebook

This past year I have been in the habit of keeping a notebook around to jot down to-do lists and wish lists. I just got this cute little Moleskine last week at Marshall’s for 4 dollars which is a steal for this brand of notebook. They retail for around 14 at this size. I have a page in the back of this notebook where I write down dream lenses for my camera. The list reads as follows:

  • Olympus 17mm F/1.8
  • Panasonic 15mm F/1.7
  • Leica 9-18 F/2.8-4
  • Leica 12-60 F/2.8-4
  • Olympus 25mm F/1.2

Hope you’ve found this post informative or at the very least entertaining.

❤ Adri


Olympus 12-40 F/2.8 Lens Review

I have read from many Olympus photographers that the 12-40 F/2.8 zoom lens is the one lens people say they can’t live without. When I saw it refurbished for a great price I jumped on it. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, as it is much bigger than my kit zoom, but while it is awkwardly large, it’s not nearly as heavy as I thought it would be. Lens flare is well controlled even when shooting into the sun.


Each lens from Olympus has its own unique profile and so far I’m enjoying the look of my new zoom. So far my favorite lens has been my 25mm F/1.8 prime, but the Olympus 12-40 is incredibly versatile and performs even better in low light somehow. The 25mm prime technically opens wider, but because it struggles to focus in low light I actually prefer either my 12mm F/2 lens or the new Olympus zoom if it’s dark out.


If you’re on the fence about whether or not to upgrade to this lens I would only do it if you either find a good deal like I did or if zoom capability in low light is a must have for your photos. Otherwise the Olympus 12-50 takes aesthetically pleasing photos in all light conditions (albeit with some focusing difficulty at night). I don’t own the 14-42 lens anymore because I had one break on me a few years back, but I also really enjoy the photos I took with that lens and it’s delightfully lightweight. In short, with Olympus optics you are always in good hands and with the 12-40 lens you can travel fairly light with a capable tool that “does it all” with ease.

Olympus 25mm F/1.8 Review

The Olympus 25mm F/1.8 is my second acquisition in my quest to upgrade from my camera’s kit lens. I was nervous before it came in the mail last week because even though everyone swears by the so called “nifty fifty” lens as a classic and economical focal length, a staple to any photographer’s kit, I felt it was a very narrow focal length to use as a walk-around lens. Perhaps I should have gone with the 17mm? , I thought.


I was wrong. This lens is amazing. No, it will not give you the panorama view of my other prime lens, the 12mm F/2. It will however give you consistently beautiful and creamy bokeh with very minimal distortion.


If you need a lens for close-ups and casual snaps of things you want to remember or if you are looking for a versatile portrait lens, look no further. Of course the new Olympus 25mm F/1.2 has just come out. Its mystical image quality is so good that the reviewer Steve Huff has said he’s sold off some Leica gear to purchase it, so that tells you something. That lens is retailing for over $1000 right now which is more than I paid for my camera body. For those that aren’t professionals that’s a huge investment. Also the F/1.2 lens is enormous due to its wide aperture and weather sealing. I’d say if you did portraiture often, you live in a very rainy place like Seattle, or if you know that you’d only use the 25mm lens in your work, spring for the Pro lens. If not the Olympus 25mm F/1.8 is a more than adequate consolation prize.


Adri ❤

Olympus 12mm F/2 Lens Review

Hello Internet. Long time no see. Today I wanted to discuss the subject of prime lenses, more specifically the Olympus 12mm F/2 lens (24mm Full Frame Equivalent). A few months ago I decided the best investment I could make to grow in my photography would be to try out prime lenses (single focal length lenses). I became paralyzed with the choices available. I knew I loved landscape and architecture photography, but at the same time I also had been taking a lot of close up photos of plant life. After much deliberation and also finding a sale on a refurbished 12mm lens I decided to try out this semi wide angle focal length as my first prime lens.

First impression: Amazing clarity, insane focusing speed, dreamy color rendition.


Second impression: I am spending a lot of time squatting and contorting in weird angles just to get close to things. I was so frustrated after a while with this limitation that I switched back to my zoom. Still I ended up going back to the prime lens for all the aforementioned strengths it has. It’s okay to miss a few shots every now and then. I had on the 12mm on a walk when we saw some deer. They were closer than deer normally allow you to be but because I had on just the 12mm there was no way to get a decent photograph of the deer family before us.

However, if I would have just had my zoom lens on me I wouldn’t have gotten a great photo because it was dark outside at the time and the aperture on my zoom wouldn’t have been wide enough. This scenario made me realize I should invest in a 25mm prime lens. They’re more affordable and a bit more versatile for everyday snapshots. I’ve been loving the first shots I’ve gotten with it but sometimes I miss the wide field of view from the 12mm. Thankfully for me there’s no need to choose. Both lenses are small enough to carry with me on my adventures, and for times when I don’t have the patience or I’m on a trip there’s always my handy dandy zoom lens.

Love ❤

Color Me Adri

My Personal History with Photography: From Point and Shoot and beyond

These days I’ve been doing a lot of camera day dreaming. I plan to do a separate post about cameras that I love but are beyond my price range. The more serious part of me is pretty sure that my next camera is going to be the Olympus OMD-EM10, which is more suited to my needs and desire to have manual control dials.

Photo from getolympus.com

While researching different camera brands I came across a number of comparison sites and photo blogs that I love, so I figure I’d share those links:



Mathieu Gasquet (youtube)


This list could extend on forever but I’ll just end it right here.

It’s no secret to those who know me that I’m very brand loyal to Olympus. I understand that they don’t necessarily stay on the cutting edge of technology in the imaging side of things, but quite frankly I’m just used to using these cameras and their stabilization and focusing capabilities are quite fast. Olympus produces lightweight cameras that are durable and relatively inexpensive compared to other pricier brands like Nikon and Sony.

My first ever camera was one of those old Nikon Coolpix point and shoots. I don’t remember what the model was even called, but since it shot at anywhere from 3-6 mega pixels depending on how far it was zoomed, the model name isn’t even worth the mention. Regardless I loved that camera. I loved having the option to take snapshots wherever I went. I was ecstatic at the time that I could take more than the 25 photos I would have otherwise taken with a disposable film camera from the grocery store. I could even print the photos at home on our printer, which was cool because we’d just recently upgraded to a color printer.

When I began painting in middle school I used these poorly pixellated paper printouts as reference photos for my equally bad quality landscape paintings. (You’ve got to start somewhere right?) Initially no one foresaw that digital cameras would ever surpass film in definition, color depth, and so on. Even as large digital SLR’s began to enter the scene I always assumed I’d continue to take snapshots on crappy 6 megapixel point and shoots, simply because SLR’s were quite costly and much too big for me to hold up for longer than 5 minutes at a time.

Enter the Olympus EPen 1, which I believe came out around 2008. It was one of the first mirrorless 4/3 digital cameras. It took a while for people to understand that this technology would soon take over the digital photography world and make it less and less attractive to own a bulky, boxy SLR.

My first high quality camera was the famed Olympus EPL1, which my parents graciously bought me in the fall of 2011. When I think back, having a decent quality camera really boosted the quality of my paintings as I could now actually see the details in my pictures. The EPL1 shot at 12 mega pixels and retained these pixels even with zoom, since mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras typically are used with optical zoom lenses instead of digital zoom (which crops to the center to zoom and thus cutting out digital data as one zooms further and further).


Beautiful Low light performance from the Olympus EPL1 (Seattle’s Discover Bay in Winter)

It was a beautiful camera and it turned out beautiful Jpeg files, even more beautiful than any of the Olympus cameras I’ve used after it. It did lag quite a bit so when I got to college I decided to sell it to buy a camera with faster performance. My next Olympus camera was the Pen-mini 1, which was indeed a very quick and small camera. Even though the specifications for this camera looked similar on paper to the Pen lite 1, the mini had horrible white balance issues. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t fix in iPhoto but I hated just how much editing I had to do to each file just to get the picture to look normal again.

Even with its small size the Olympus pen mini is still able to create amazing results. I loved having my pen mini with me in Europe (even when my kit lens broke on me in Zürich).

This past spring I sold my mini to get an Olympus Pen Lite 5, which is an amazing camera. I barely have to edit the files unless I took them in weird lighting or at night. This model gave me an extra 4 megapixels which allows me to sell a considerable variety of print products on Society 6 and Redbubble. I couldn’t have enabled nearly as many products with the 12 mega pixels on my pen mini or my iPhone (which has honestly become my second favorite camera since it is the one I’m almost always guaranteed to have on me.)

It amazes me how far digital cameras have advanced technologically since those first micro 4/3 cameras came out. Sometimes I wonder if my pictures would be better if I bought the fanciest camera on the block or some extra lenses but new products are always coming out. There’s no need to go chasing after the next new thing. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to have the latest gear, but for now I don’t necessarily want a bunch of high res ultra focused shots. I don’t want to distract my eye from the compositions and the colors of nature that first drew me to photography. I’d rather make small upgrades in cameras then jump up to some ultra capable camera right now when all I’m used to is small mirorless models with the kit lens the camera was sold with. I am excited though to see how these technologies progress over time for when it makes more sense for me to own a fancier camera.

Stay tuned for subsequent posts and if you’re into instagram follow me there at: @colormeadri