Olympus has announced a new 17mm f1.8 lens for Micro 4/3 cameras. This is a welcome addition to the Micro 4/3 world, giving an equivalent field of view to the 35mm lens on a full frame 35mm camera. This is a classic focal length, and comes in second only to 50mm field of view as a "standard" lens.
(Click Here) to read about it on ePhotoZine.
The new lens features Olympus new "ZERO" low reflection lens coatings, and a quick focus mechanism. I have never tried this, but the description says that you slide the focus ring to get approximately in focus, then twist it (like a normal focus ring) to dial in with precision. To me, this sounds like replacing one motion with two, and doesn't sound fast. On the other hand, if your manual focus ring requires a lot of turns to cover the focus range, perhaps this approach is faster.
So what does this lens compete with? First in my mind is the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f1.7. The field of view is slightly different, but not that much. The Panasonic lens is a jewel - tiny, fast, sharp. Otherwise, there's the older Olympus 17mm f2.8 lens. I have never used one, but it sure doesn't get good reviews online. Now, take that with a grain of salt. I bet it's a quite useable lens, just not a premium model like the newly announced 17mm f1.8.
As with all Olympus lenses, there is no in-lens optical stabilization; Olympus builds that into their camera bodies. The Lumix lens doesn't have stabilization either, and in my opinion it's not needed at this focal length, as long as you have a fast aperture (like f1.7 or 1.8).
Based on the new Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens that I have recently purchased, I would predict that this premium lens from Olympus will be a real winner.