Together with the Olympus Pen Lite E-PL5, Olympus is announcing three new lenses (sort of) for Micro Four Thirds. The 17mm f/1.8 is brand new, the 60mm f/2.8 macro lens gets a release date and the 12mm f/2.0 is coming in limited black.
Olympus is announcing the development of a 17mm f/1.8 lens, and it's something you can't actually get until at least the first half of 2013. Six months is a wide window, so it's more of an early heads up than anything. Still, it's exciting news as the 17mm works out to 34mm in 35mm equivalent with Micro Four Third's (MFT) 2x crop factor, a classic field of view in photography. f/1.8 is a nice, bright aperture, and the lens seems to follow in the high-grade lineage of the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 and 45mm f/1.8 with a metallic outer finish and MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) mechanism for fast, quiet auto-focusing.
The new 17mm f/1.8 is also faster than Olympus' previous 17mm f/2.8 which is more than three years old. The only other fast lenses for MFT with a near 35mm field of view are Panasonic's 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens, which is slightly wider than 35mm at 40mm (35mm equivalent), and Voigtländer's 17.5mm f/0.95 lens, which is manual focus only and pricey.
Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens isn't new news, like the 17mm its development was announced earlier this year. But Olympus has confirmed its release date to be early October 2012, unfortunately the local retail price is still anybody's guess.
The 60mm lens works out to have a 120mm focal length equivalent in 35mm and has a closest focusing distance of 19cm, as well as 1x magnification (equivalent to 2x on 35mm cameras). It's also dust and splash proof, ideal for use with the dust and splash proof OM-D E-M5. The lens incorporates 13 lens elements in ten groups with an extensive use of special glass materials to eliminate chromatic aberrations.
The 60mm uses Olympus' MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) mechanism for fast and quiet auto-focus. Not only should you hear no noise during auto-focusing, the overall lens length does not change thanks to the inner-focus design. Other features like focus limit switching and a shooting distance/magnification indicator window enhance the shooting experience.
The LH-49 is a sliding lens hood designed for the 60mm, unfortunately it doesn't come with the lens itself.
We previewed the Olympus 12mm f/2.0 a year ago, but now you can get it in limited black (cue obscure movie quote: "There's something about this that's so black, it's like how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.").
The new edition of this lens comes with a black finish and will be sold in a kit that includes three lens accessories; the LH-48 metallic lens hood in black, the LC-48 metallic lens cap in black and the PRF-D46PRO protection filter. Only 3000 kits will be available worldwide and only 50 units will be here in Singapore from early October. The local retail price is to yet to be announced.