Olympus 17mm 1.8 Lens Review


Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 35mm f2.8 Canon FD Lens using High Res Shot UnEdited

I got this lens quite last minute before my trip to Cuba. Actually, I got it about an hour before leaving for the airport. Before this, I had the Olympus 25mm 1.8 lens that I got with my OM-D E-M5 Mark II a few days earlier. I love the 50mm focal length but I just didn’t like the build and the continuous wire focus ring on the 25mm. I also felt it overall lacked in the build for its price. The image quality was great and the autofocus was on point, but I like to have the option for solid manual focus and I want a solid build. So last minute I went and returned the 25mm for the 17mm and I’m very happy about it.


Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8 edited in Lightroom

The 35mm (actually 34mm with this lens but close enough) focal length you get with the 17mm Olympus is quite something. I was a bit skeptical before this about it since I’m overall on team 50mm. Since using the 35mm I have to say I find myself playing on both teams now. It gives crips solid shots at about 4.0 and up and you can also get some beautiful bokeh in if you stop it down a bit. You should see some samples here and linked below is my Instagram where you should be able to see more. The focus ring is great too, if you pull back on it, it will lock into place and switch to manual focus. It’s not actually manual focus, its still focus by wire. It just simulates old-school manual focus and it does it extremely well. You won’t have the same speed you would with pulling the focus ring around like you would with say a vintage lens but it’s pretty close and it’s as good as it will ever get for focus by wire.


Shot on the iPhone 6s Plus

The overall build is perfect. Small, solid metal/quality plastic construction all around. It felt heavier than the larger 25mm I had before, if not denser. I was never worried about breaking it in use and when I would bump it into things it seemed to bump back just as hard. I’ll be honest I hate using neck straps and rarely do but it was simply too hot in Cuba for me to carry my backpack around which means my Peak Design Capture Clip couldn’t be used. If you read/heard my review on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II you would understand I didn’t overall like the grip even though I’m used to it now. So I had to use a strap and let me tell you did my camera and lens take a beating. I would get up from tables and the lens and camera go smashing nose first into the edge of the table. They would both shrug it off like it was nothing. I expect this kind of solidarity coming from the OM-D E-M5 Mark II which was built for it but not the lens. Simply put I was impressed at how well it can take a beating.


Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8

In conclusion, I would say it was worth every penny. When I got it I thought I would return it if I didn’t like it. (Same with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II) In the end, I couldn’t let either of them go. The only thing that would make this lens perfect in my eyes as if it had weather sealing. Can’t have it all I guess. If you are looking at this lens I highly recommend it and if you are thinking about this vs his brother the 25mm, I still highly recommend this over that. Now that’s not a 35mm vs 50mm thing that this particular 17mm vs that particular 25mm thing. If you want to see my comparison and thoughts on the 35mm focal length vs the 50mm focal length check the links below. I can’t say more good things about this lens from a general use standpoint and a street photographer standpoint.

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OM-D E-M5 Mark II Review

OM-D E-M5 Mark II Review


Shot on the Sony A6000 edited in Lightroom

I have been using the OM-D E-M5 Mark II extensively for about 2 weeks now. I got it just before going on my trip to Cuba expecting to test it out on the trip. In short, I am very happy with this camera but it’s not perfect. So let’s start there with the cons.


The Grip


Shot on the iPhone 6s Plus

I didn’t like the grip right from the start. My hand is larger than most and it was just too uncomfortable for me. I never felt confident about holding it like I do with other cameras like my Sony A6000. Due to the size and weight of it, I found it to dig into my ring finger most the time, kind of between the side of my nail and the next closest knuckle. I was always worried about dropping it randomly so to make up for that I would hold it more often in my left hand while cupping it from under with the lens. I also found myself mistakenly clicking the button located on the front of the camera. I’m not sure what it would be assigned to on a stock camera since one of the first things I did when I got it was going in and change all the buttons to my liking. I had to key bind it to nothing for a while since I couldn’t find a use for it, it would mess with my shots when I click it by mistake or hand it over to a friend. Whenever I would hand it to a friend I can see them also click it by mistake every time. Now all this being said after about 3 days of handling and use I got used to it. My hands have naturally adapted to the weight and grip of the camera. I don’t notice it anymore. I feel I am nitpicking a bit with this flaw. To be honest I like the camera quite a bit and most of these flaws may come off as nitpicks.

The Menus


Shot on the iPhone 6s Plus

Don’t let me get started on these menus, simply put…they suck. I don’t know who signed off on this but I have made better wireframe layouts for menus in my sleep. I feel the best way they could have went about it is increase separation. Which is how I feel most companies handle their menus. If an item can be placed into a category, simply give it its own dedicated one. What Olympus here seems to be trying to do is lower the amount of clutter but combining things here and there. It looks like there is less clutter but what ends up happening is features you would need fast access to are then hidden away within other menus. One excuse that can be given is this camera has crazy amounts of customization and in the process of that the menus can be “complicated”. I know “complicated” and this is just “messy”. I doubt this will happen but maybe Olympus will come out with a software fix for this.

Micro Four Thirds and 16MP

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Shot on the iPhone 6s Plus

This is one of the things I was worried about when getting this camera. This is my first M4/3 camera having only used the Panasonic GH4 before this at an event just to try out. I felt it was excellent for video but I didn’t know what to really expect for photography. With my A6000 which is an APS-C sized sensor at 1.5 crop, I would find myself with a lack of light at times. Ending up having to fiddle with the settings and make compromises to my shot to make it work. I also saw 16MP to possibly be a problem due to not allowing me to print larger or crop further. My worry about the lack of light was not that big a deal. It handled really well in dimly lit situations as good if not better than my A6000. If you don’t pixel peep at the individual grains it would give you very solid images in low light. The 16MP, on the other hand, has been a bit to work around. I feel I am more careful with my shots when taking them to make up for the megapixel size so I don’t have to crop into the shot later. It’s not a deal breaker or huge for me. The way I shoot allows me a lot of wiggle room for things like this but it would be a much bigger problem for others. If you expect to do large prints or be cropping in a post a lot I would have to say Micro Four Thirds is not for you. (Only exception being is if you are a product photographer and you plan to take advantage of “High Res Shot”. If it’s not moving it will look brilliant with a 4K shot in the end.)

Little Bits of Annoyance


Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8 lightly edited in Lightroom

I won’t state all my little annoyances here but there is one that stands out to me and I’m going to talk about here at the end of the Cons mainly because it is maybe the smallest problem the camera has but it is my biggest personal annoyance. Now I do understand that this con might mean nothing to you but coming from a design and media background it makes me wonder if they even bothered testing the camera out properly before release it. Now my little problem with this camera is Focus Peaking turning off when I switch to manual through the lens or when using a vintage lens. Yes, you are probably asking yourself, “Do people really still manually focus in photography?”…Yes they do. Magnification and Focus Peaking work as manual focus aids to allow you to manually focus on your subject more accurately and faster. It may not be as fast as today’s autofocus but I still find it to overall more reliable. Even though I find autofocus to be getting better and better every year.

All that out of the way, Why? Why does this feature that exists as a manual focus aid get turned off automatically when switching to manual through the lens or when using vintage lenses? It works fine when I flip my AF to MF switch but it just loses it mind when any combination of this is done. My A6000 doesn’t do that. This is what makes me think no one tested this out in development enough. This would have been one of the first things I tried if I was working on this camera. It is one of the first things I tried when I got it. I may be coming off as being really pissed about this and its kind of true. I feel the Devil is in the details and it’s such a simple detail that should not have been overlooked. Now there is a workaround for this and it’s not to bad. You can set one of the Function Buttons on the camera as a Focus Peaking on/off button. So when the camera decides to turn it off on its own you just click that button to turn it on again. The button I personally use and recommend is the small round button located on the front of the camera when your ring finger or middle finger meets the grip. The same button I talked about above when we went over the grip. I like this spot a lot since its easy to get to and miss clicking it won’t change any setting that would affect the end result. It’s simply a toggle for focus peaking. If its on and you need it, great. If its off and you need it just click the button once.


The Build

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Shot on the iPhone 6s Plus

Now, this is debatable, but after a bit of thinking this over I think this may be the best-built camera I have ever used, and I have used many different cameras from Canon, Nikon, and Sony. I’m talking about all of the A7 line and the top Canons and Nikons. I like the build of this more. Let’s just say this, If I were to drop my Sony A6000 on my foot I would be worried about my A6000 maybe breaking. If I dropped my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II on my foot, call an ambulance because I most likely need medical care. The military should have a look at this camera because this is how you should build tanks. The weather sealing, the machining and the quality of parts are as good as it gets for a pro-grade camera.

High Res Shot


Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8


Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8 cropped

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II has all the features you expect from mirrorless cameras, focus peaking, magnification, HDR, swivel touchscreen, great amounts of customization, and wifi to name a few, but it also has great new features like High Res Shot. It allows you to take a 4K picture the only catch being subject cant move at all. So things like people are out of the question. Like I said above, product photographers will have a great time with this. The few times I tested it out, I was very surprised by the result. It can also maybe be used for some landscape shots such as waterfalls. Since any kind of movement will blur the image you can get some really cool 4K shallow shots with this feature. I personally have not tried this but in theory, it should work. Having written all this and then taking the pictures you see above I realized there is a lot of potential in using Hight Res Shot for macro photography. Just look at how much you can crop and how close you can get in the second picture.

In Body Stabilization


Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the Canon FD 135mm f3.5 handheld from my room, edited in Lightroom

I’m not much of a video shooter any more but the advantages that IBS brings to photography is excellent as well. I like to use vintage lenses. I own the Canon FD 35mm, 50mm, and 135mm. On the OM-D E-M5 Mark II Micro Four Thirds sensor these focal lengths are all doubled to 70mm, 100mm, and 270mm. These lenses are extremely adorable and shoot amazing images and video. The problem with them is being vintage they have no image stabilization and no autofocus. Now autofocus isn’t a problem with features like magnification and focuses peaking but image stabilization can’t be helped. When you are trying to pull focus and also shoot a stable shot there can be a lot of motion fuzz or blur in the final images. This coming from maybe slightly missing focus and the lack of stabilization. Now with the IBS in the OM-D E-M5 Mark II, there are no problems at all. Sharp clear, bokehlicious images and video all around.

Micro Four Thirds


Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 25mm f1.8 edited on Lightroom

M4/3 might have its limitations when it comes to light and megapixels but it also has its advantages. As stated above all mm based on full frame standards are doubled. For instance, the 50mm becomes a 100mm. Same goes for a lens at say 300mm, it would be an effective 600mm on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II M4/3 body. This allows you to get a ridiculous range while still maintaining a smaller form factor. I have used full frame cameras with some long telephoto zooms and comparing the size and weight of some of those zooms to the M4/3 counterpart is laughable. The size of some of these full frame lenses really seems to be overcompensating for something.

Image Quality


Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8 edited in Lightroom

I don’t know what Olympus is doing to get these images to look as good as they do. Maybe unicorn horns or angel tears but the images and colors that come out of the OM-D E-M5 Mark II are simply beautiful. I don’t shoot in jpg, I did when I started photography but I got off it quick after seeing what can be done with RAW shooting. That being said this is a camera I would actually consider shooting in jpg here and there. I probably still won’t because again, even though it gives out excellent images it will still look better after processing in RAW, but damn did I come close a few times to hitting jpg. The colors and sharpness are something special from this camera. Now part of it has a lot to do with the lens I used which in this case the Olympus 17mm 1.8. I picked this lens over the Olympus 25mm 1.8. If you want to know why keep an eye out for my next post “35mm vs 50mm”. Speaking on only on the (35mm) Olympus 17mm 1.8 I have to say its an excellent lens.

This lens teamed up with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II just might be the perfect all around team. The 35mm focal length handles everything really well. For a travel combo, I can’t think of anything better when it comes to primes. The only thing better for an all round use combo/travel combo would be some sort of zoom with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Personally I really can’t stand zooms for many reasons I won’t state here. If you are not sure why I don’t like zooms, you are most likely new to photography, just prefer zooms over primes, (Really?) or shoot very different subject matter. (Wildlife for instance) Whatever kind of shooter you might be there is a lens combo that will work well for you and the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. For me personally its some combination of a 35mm 50mm and 100mm prime. I’ll make a separate review on the 17mm 1.8 lenses itself or talk about it on my podcast. Either way, check the bottom of this post for links to related subjects.

Twitter – @DarksterMedia

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Olympus 17mm 1.8 Lens Review

College Street Bar Hopping Review

Sneaky Dee’s

Sneaky Dee’s is a place me and my friends frequent when we go down to drink on College street. Its usually the bar we end on but we decided to start on it this time because we had a huge craving for Buzz Amber. Buzz Amber is my team’s favorite all-around beer of choice. I secretly still prefer Guinness overall but Buzz Amber is a tie or very close second. We discovered Buzz Amber at Sneaky Dee’s the first time we went drinking on College street. It was the last bar of the night that time and we just asked for something cheap and left it up to the waiter. The moment we tried it we loved it. It’s a very smooth dark beer. Very easy to drink and not notice how drunk you are getting. If any of you are ever at Sneaky Dee’s I highly recommend trying it.

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This was the first time we went to Mullins. My friend saw it on the way when were meeting up. We decided to give it a try after Sneaky Dee’s and we loved it. It wasn’t busy and there wasn’t any loud annoying music playing. The whole side of the place was one big window they left open. It was nice having the breeze flow into the bar. The people working there were also very nice. We asked them for what they would recommend as the drink of choice to represent the Mullen. They brought us 2 pints of Guinness. I cant complain. My favorite beer at a really nice comfy open window bar. Will visit again for sure.



I’m more of a whiskey, vodka, beer kind of a guy so things like martinis throw me off a bit. But we were trying new things and said what the hell it looks nice so let’s give it a try. We quickly noticed how “dated” the place was which made me and my friend laugh at the situation. We got our seats and went up to the bar and I asked for something that looks good in a picture but isn’t a girl drink. The bartender laughed and thought for a second. She told us that would be a “Caipirinha” which is a Brazilian drink. I and my friend agreed after drinking it that it’s simply an alcoholic lemonade. We liked it but the overall place wasn’t our style. If you are looking for a place to take a date but want to be on the fancy side or you’re a fan of martinis I recommend Touche. If you are not one of these than I would say keep looking.



So we are walking and at this point, you have to understand we are pretty drunk. We see Ryoji across the street and decide we should go over. We get inside and see how nice the place is. I mean its very pretty and out of all the places we went to it has the best lighting. As you can probably tell from looking at the pictures. We asked the waiters what they would recommend and they both said different drinks. We said we will get one of each and try it. Now again we were drunk so we forgot to get the names of the drinks written down but we both agreed we liked the drink in the shorter glass more. It had this slightly grassy taste that went down very smooth. The other one was more of a sweet and sour flavor. We didn’t hate it but we wouldn’t order that drink again. Overall great place. We plan to go back there to try the food next time.

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Smokes Poutinerie

Remember how before when we crossed the street to get to Ryoji. Well, we are even drunker now and we are stupid in general. We had completely forgotten we crossed the street. So we continue down the street and start seeing stores we are sure we passed on the opposite side of the street. Now again let me remind you we are very drunk now and also very stupid. We start to talk about how its such a dumb idea to double up the same store on the same street. We go on about how bad of a business idea that is. on the second store we saw that doubled up I got suspicious. One store on the same street doubling up, ok. Two stores on the same street? No somethings not right here. It wasn’t until we hit the 4th store I realized we are walking backward on the opposite side of the street. We walked for a solid 8 to 10 minutes in the wrong direction before I realized we went the wrong way. We couldn’t stop laughing at how dumb the situation was and then had to speed walk all the way to Smokes. -_-

Now that all that’s^ out of the way. Let’s talk about Smokes Poutinerie. What can I say? It’s the best poutine in the city if you ask me. My friends would agree with that statement. What you see photographed down below is the triple pork poutine. Just writing about it now is making me salivate. I think if I was able to without getting fat I would eat this every day. I mean just look at it. Do I need to say anymore? Do yourself a favor and get some poutine at Smokes Poutinerie. Unless you’re a vegetarian. I mean they do have vegetarian options but meh. It’s just not the same.

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Track & Field

I’m going to say right off the bat this place is not my style. Music too loud, drinks were on the more expensive side. The crowd was very young and hipster. I just wasn’t able to feel comfortable there and relax. I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. That being said. If you are a fan of the whole hipster type stuff than you would like this place. Also if you’re a single guy between 20 and 25 it’s a good place to go since it was filled with girls. Again not my scene but it is someone’s scene. Everyone there seemed to be having a good time. My friend overall didn’t mind it but he really liked the music. The DJ was playing a lot of pretty cool old school music. As a DJ myself I can’t be too impressed about downloading a best of 80s track list and playing it. The good music alone doesn’t validate the place for me. Your results may vary. Oh and we forgot to write the name of the drink we got here as well. It was alright…I wish I can say more but I was pretty drunk by this point and it wasn’t that memorable of a drink, to begin with.

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The Emmet Ray 

We were so drunk by this point I couldn’t function as a photographer. Hence why I don’t have many good pictures of the Emmet Ray here. I was so drunk I knocked my glass of whiskey over on the table and didn’t want it going to waste so I drank it off the table. >:P Yea I was pretty drunk. My beard smelled like Glenfarclas 12yrs for the rest of the night. That being said the Emmet Ray is one of if not my favorite bar on College Street. The live jazz band always playing quality jazz at the back of the place alone is worth a visit. The whiskey selection is simply amazing. Over 230 different kinds of whiskey. If you are a fan of whiskey this is a place you got to go to.


Back to Sneaky Dee’s

After whiskey at the Emmet Ray, we decided we had to go back to Sneaky Dee’s for one last round of Buzz Amber to close off the night. We did just that. All in all, it was a great night. Would do this again for sure.

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All shots were taken by me using a Sony a6000 with a 35mm Canon FD vintage lens. Lastly a special thanks to my friend Arash for coming along and helping me drink.

The Taken King Proves Year One Destiny Was Beta (Don’t Buy TTK YET p2)


I agree with everything said here. I was planing to get The Taken King but due to BDobbinsFTW videos and thinking it over. I think I will be dropping Destiny for the foreseeable future. With Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Halo 5 coming out soon I’m not to worried about quality content. I am lucky enough to own both a PS4 and a Xbox One. If I did not have a Xbox One I might be forced to get The Taken King. Honestly if I didn’t have Halo The MCC I would probably be playing more Destiny now and hating it. Quite the predicament for some people. I can see this actually getting some Xbox Ones sold.