I dropped into the new Sydney outlet of Brisbane-based photography hardware retailer CameraPro this week and walked into a presentation by an Olympus Australia representative.
The new store is located at 507 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010, and the showroom was opened this week although the store’s Click & Collect service has already been running for a few weeks.
It will be interesting to see how CameraPro Sydney develops given the loss of a number of camera stores across Sydney in recent years, notably L&P, Foto Reisel and Paxton’s, and I wish them well and hope for the best.
Although the Devonshire Street showroom looks small, I note that the building’s second floor is unoccupied and I was told that it has a top deck as well.
I bought this lens some time after it came out so never thought to reviews [sic] it. Quote a few photographers have taken me to task about that so here, at last, is my take on it. There’s no shortage of standard zooms for Micro Four Thirds but the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Constant Aperture Pro zoom should be towards the top of any buyer’s list.
Former Fleet Street newspaper photographer David Thorpe remains one of the very best digital camera and lens reviewers on YouTube and I thoroughly recommend him for those interested in the Micro Four Thirds format.
He has to buy the gear that he reviews so he makes somewhat infrequent appearances on his YouTube channel and limits his coverage to the Olympus and Panasonic cameras and lenses that he uses for his own freelance work.
Likewise, Panasonic Australia seems to have fallen off in it support for local reviewers while Olympus Australia has never been interested in helping out with review units, so my current coverage of both company’s hardware and firmware is limited to items that I already own, or based on articles by others.
Thank goodness, then, for reviewers like David Thorpe and others too numerous to list here!
Other M43 lenses that David Thorpe uses and recommends
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 lens with lens shade, also available in black.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro telephoto zoom lens.
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS collapsible standard zoom lens.
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric wide to standard zoom lens. Image courtesy of Panasonic Australia.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ Power Zoom kit lens, now sadly discontinued but apparently one of the best-kept secrets of the Micro Four Thirds format, widely praised by pros and enthusiasts, and now only available secondhand for high prices.
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 II Aspheric Power OIS “all-in-one” wide-to-telephoto zoom lens.
I own two of the six lenses that receive high recommendations from David Thorpe, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom and the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric near-pancake sized collapsible standard zoom.
Both have their joys and their workarounds, but both are firmly established as my default zoom lenses for different reasons and different subjects and applications.
Foremost amongst their differences is that the M.Zuiko Pro 12-40mm f/2.8 can be purchased standalone or bundled with a high-end Olympus camera while the 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 can only be purchased bundled with a lower-end Panasonic camera.
I managed to find my 12-32mm zoom lens online at eBay Australia, bought it for a good price, and have been very happy with it ever since.
It is not a lens for all seasons though, lacking a manual focusing ring and an aperture ring, and with a 37mm filter diameter so narrow that it necessitates stacking step-up rings to get it to industry-standard 77mm or 82mm or investing in a set of smaller diameter fixed and variable neutral density filters.
For those reasons I have yet to create videos with my 12-32mm lens, relying instead on the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 with its 62mm filter diameter, excellent manual clutch focusing, solid build, beautiful optics, and great weather and dust resistance.
Despite the effectiveness of Panasonic Lumix cameras’ back button focus, I have often resorted to retracting my 12-40mm’s manual clutch focus ring to quickly zero in on a key detail, and the usefulness of fast and accurate manual focusing when shooting video cannot be disputed.
The one thing that stops the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro from being the perfect standard zoom lens for stills and video is its lack of an aperture ring.
Aperture rings are one of the major areas where Micro Four Thirds consortium partners Olympus and Panasonic appear to have begged to differ, with Olympus lenses have them not at all and Panasonic building them into some and not all of their lenses.
One of the most intriguing Panasonic lenses with a form of manual clutch focus is the company’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric wide-to-normal zoom lens.
I had the chance to briefly try one out at the last SMPTE in Sydney and while the lens’ range from 20mm to 50mm equivalent is impressive and incredibly useful for documentary photography and video, I was a little nonplussed by the lens’ lack of hard stops at each end of the focusing scale.
Hard stops aid in easier, faster focusing when your eyes are glued to the camera’s EVF or LCD monitor, as I quickly discovered after investing in my 12-40mm f/2.8, but if I was buying into Micro Four Thirds video nowadays then Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric would be the first and possibly only lens I would buy alongside a Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, DC-GH5S or the coming DC-GH6.
If I had the funds and the need for more M43 lenses with manual clutch focus and autofocus capabilities, though, then I would certainly invest them in Olympus’ excellent though aperture-ringless M.Zuiko Pro primes and zooms, so impressive is their optics and performance.
“Panasonic Leica 10-25mm 1.7 is the fastest zoom lens from Panasonic/Leica. How is it’s build quality, image quality (sharpness,vignetting,CA,flare,distortion..etc)? Could this be a great lens for videographers or vloggers? How does it compare to the Leica prime lenses and what are the pros and cons of this lens? We’ll talk about all of these in this review.”
Photo by Richard – Panasonic Leica 10-25mm f/1.7 Review – article – “When Panasonic told me about this lens, they told me this is a lens that can replace multiple prime lenses. I was skeptical because zoom lens rarely can match the quality of prime lens. But after testing this lens, I agree with them. If you are a pro photographer or videographer who is currently rely on multiple prime lenses within this focal length range, I think you should consider switching to this amazing lens. It would make your life a lot easier without sacrificing the image quality.”
“Panasonic are showing a working version of the new Leica 10-25mm f/1.7 Micro Four Thirds lens, at The Photography Show 2019, at the Birmingham NEC. We had a hands-on look at the new lens, which was first shown, in prototype form, at Photokina 2018. The lens gives the equivalent of 20mm to 50mm, and is lighter than it looks, considering the (large) size of the lens….”
When I went looking for the best lens for documentary photography and video after I decided to invest in Panasonic’s Lumix Micro Four Thirds camera range, I read about and tried out a number of options including adapted and native prime and zoom lenses.
The M.Zuiko Pro lens collection’s manual clutch focus mechanism that is activated by retracting the focus-by-wire control ring towards the camera body.
“Pulling focus with focus-by-wire sucks,” as they say in the video industry.
I rapidly obtained critically sharp focus for stills with the M.Zuiko Pro 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom more times than I did with the Panasonic lens’ focusing control ring or the camera’s autofocus functionality, and that capability outweighed the Lumix 12-35mm lens’ rather attractive optical image stabilization.
I still rely on my M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens for mission-critical work after having tried out and invested in a number of Lumix prime and zoom lenses, and may well be adding more M.Zuiko Pro primes and zooms in future.
Then news leaked out of Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 zoom lens being in development, full feature set then unknown as it still is, and things shifted somewhat.
This lens is the closest so far to the ideal zoom lens I had visualized when buying into the Micro Four Thirds system.
I had imagined a lens with a range encompassing every single focal length I rely upon when shooting documentary photographs and video, with the exception of the portrait and big close-up range of 75mm through 85mm and 90mm to 105mm.
Imagine that focal length range in a similarly fast and wide maximum aperture standard-to-telephoto companion zoom lens.
Questions persisted for some time as to whether the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 would have optical image stabilization and whether it would come with manual clutch focus.
Many professional photographers and videographers have reportedly been asking Panasonic for the latter in new lenses for quite some time now, to no avail.
It is great to finally see a little more of the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 in Joseph Waller’s photographs for ePHOTOzine of a pre-production version, but there is no mention nor evidence of a manual clutch focus mechanism in the article and its photographs.
I have asked a contact who is attending The Photography Show 2019 in Birmingham to see if she can get hold of the lens and confirm whether or not it actually has the crucial focusing functionality.
Watch this space!
Meanwhile I am wondering what Olympus has in store with its most recently updated lens roadmap, especially in regard to the “Wide Zoom” and “Standard Zoom” items, not to forget “Bright Prime Lens” and “Telephoto Zoom Lens” which appears twice.
Imagine all those lenses with the brilliant M.Zuiko Pro manual clutch focus mechanism.
Kiss goodbye to the frustrations of pulling focus via fly-by-wire.
My Birmingham contact is pretty sure that the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7’s aperture ring is declicked.
Now waiting for her to have hands on with the lens and confirm whether there is a manual clutch focus mechanism.
Well I think that is evidence enough that Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 will have manual clutch focusing mechanism and thus accurate and repeatable focus pulling for video.
It will also have the ability to quickly and accurately set hyperfocal distance, a necessity when zone focusing for high-speed forms of documentary or photographing in the street, as well as landscape photography.
Hyperfocal distance can be calculated using online forms or mobile apps, and a number of options can be found online here.
Fully manual focus lenses such as the Leica M-Series rangefinder camera lenses illustrated up this page provide beautifully-etched scales allowing quick calculation of hyperfocal distance, a functionality I often yearn for when photographing in public with digital cameras and lenses.
Whet now remains is for a late pre-production Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom lens to find its way into the hands of professional cinematographers and photographers for extensive testing and reporting on its mechanical and optical quality.
This lens has the potential to replace a range of prime lenses in one’s daily gear kit, in my case the 35mm sensor equivalents of 21mm, 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and 50mm.
Neither Olympus nor Panasonic supply all those focal lengths as prime lenses, though I hope that situation will change in the near future.
The Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric will not be a cheap lens given Panasonic’s ambitions in producing it, but whatever its price on release, it would be wise to compare it to what those five focal lengths might cost as f/1.7 prime lenses.
There are other potential benefits.
The Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric’s filter diameter is 77mm, and I would recommend attaching a Breakthrough Photography 77mm to 82mm knurled brass step-up ring to it for attaching 82mm diameter fixed and variable neutral density filters when shooting video.
Whether the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom lens is heavy or not, its size would benefit from attaching a vertical battery grip to your camera if it is a Panasonic.
I like most cameras to be equipped with vertical battery grips for added power when shooting video and ease of handholding in portrait photography.
The countdown to NAB 2019 is well advanced and it will be interesting to see if Panasonic shows off mockups of the coming Lumix DC-GH6 hybrid M43 camera.
I am hoping that Panasonic will combine the best of the Lumix DC-GH5 and GH5S in the GH6 while taking into account the challenges presented by the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Fujifilm’s X-T3 and X-H1 while bearing in mind the coming X-H2, as well as the 35mm sensor-equipped mirrorless cameras now released by Canon, Nikon, Leica and, indeed, Panasonic itself.
While the Super 35 format has its many attractions, the smaller and lighter cameras and lenses of Super 16 moviemaking still allow you to go places where the larger 35mm cameras and lenses can draw undue attention.
The photographs of the 10-25mm f/1.7 lens published by ePHOTOzine and Photography Blog appear to have been shot on mobile phones and optical exaggerations make it hard to accurately judge the lens’ size in relation to the camera or the hands holding them.
Nonetheless, I have no problem with the idea of carrying this one lens about almost permanently attached to any Panasonic M43 camera whether with battery grip or not, or a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Camera 4K for that matter, though I would be tempted to consider the Zhiyun-Tech Weebill Lab or Crane 3 Lab as appropriate if stabilization is a necessity when shooting with the BMPCC 4K.
“Panasonic is displaying the new 10-25mm f/1.7 at the CP+ show. But thewy [sic] did not disclose any detail yet about pricing and shipment start….”
If Panasonic gets everything right with this lens it will be in high demand by available light/available darkness documentary photographers and videographers relying on Micro Four Thirds hybrid video/stills cameras like Panasonic’s Lumix DC-G9, Lumix DC-GH5, Lumix DC-GX9 and more, as well as videographers using the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K.
I have written elsewhere on this website about this lens and others in the same ballpark, but if this lens is to have everything I want then it needs:
Choice of clickless and clicking aperture stops
Manual clutch focus
Optical image stabilization aka OIS
As the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 is still in development, any images released at the moment must be considered to be of pre-production or dummy models and we can only speculate about the lens’ actual specifications.
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds
I have been asking Panasonic, either directly or through friendly staff members, to ensure that new lenses for its Micro Four Thirds system cameras have manual clutch focus built in for years now, always without positive result. Until now, sort of…
The very first M43 lens I bought for my first M43 camera was the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens, and besides its many excellent optical and mechanical qualities, the biggest reason I chose it over Panasonic’s own Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS standard zoom was its manual clutch focus mechanism.
Coming from decades of relying on non-autofocus, non-autoexposure cameras equipped with manual-only prime lenses, I was not ready to fully commit my photography and cinematography practises to focus-by-wire prime and zoom lenses without hard stops at both ends of the focussing scale.
There have been many times in recent years when the only way of achieving fast and deadly accurate focus has been manually, with my 12-40mm M.Zuiko Pro lens most often on my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 rangefinder-style camera, in conditions where my focus-by-wire and autofocus-only lenses have let me down.
With the 12-40mm, all one needs do is snap the focussing ring towards myself, rotate it a little until the required part of the image pops into sharp focus, then shoot.
Manual clutch focussing mechanisms offer a surety of fast, repeatable, accurate focusing that autofocusing does not and, and when I was considering investing in Fujifilm’s X-System cameras and lenses, I was pleased to discover that it offers three manual clutch focus lenses.
I wish that every Fujifilm Fujinon XF and GF lens had manual clutch focus just as I wish the same for all of Panasonic’s Leica and Lumix M43 lenses.
That lack of manual clutch focus in the latter lens system heavily tipped the balance for me towards Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lenses and I hope to be investing in more of them soon.
I had thought that Panasonic was impervious to the idea of manual clutch focus for any of its lenses, until perusing photographs of the first three Panasonic S-Series lenses and discovered that, lo and behold, two of the three have manual clutch focussing mechanisms.
Thank you, Panasonic!
I hope that many more S-Series lenses will follow this fine example.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4.0 OIS and Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 lenses, both with manual clutch focus
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200 f/4.0 OIS telephoto zoom lens with manual clutch focus.
Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 fast prime lens with manual clutch focus.
Aperture ring on the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 lens
A second welcome feature of one out of Panasonic’s three new S-Series lenses is the aperture ring on the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 lens.
My ideal lens form factor for documentary stills and video in all sensor formats would include manual clutch focus to supplement the choice of linear or non-linear focus-by-wire, and an aperture ring with the choice of clickless or clicking stops.
“… There’s a lot of good things to say about the Fujifilm lens hoods though. They do come included with the lenses, and provide more than adequate light shielding and protection for the front lens element. They can be mounted reversed to save space in your bag, and are made of solid mass-colored plastic to resist dents and scratches (the 18 and 35 metal ones are the exception for both last attributes).
But they remain cumbersome, tend to come off or knock loose when banging around in crowds, are a pain to mount/unmount when changing lenses, and look quite a bit, well… boring….
… Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives available. Some come from traditional third party accessory brands, others spawn out of Chinese workshops courtesy of eBay….”
Some third-party lens hoods for Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens
JJC LH-JXF23 lens hood for Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens. I also have one on my XF 56mm f/1.2 R.
JJC LH-JXF23II lens hood for Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens. Note the focusing ring retracted for manual clutch focus.
Vello LHF-XF23 lens hood for Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens.
Vello LHF-XF23II lens hood for Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens.
Recently I bit the bullet and ordered a JJC brand lens hood for the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens (equivalent to 35mm in 35mm sensor cameras) as a replacement for the plastic petal lens hood that was supplied with the lens.
I have been going without a lens hood for quite some time now, relying for protection on the excellent Breakthrough Photography 62mm knurled brass traction framed UV filter I keep permanently mounted on that lens.
I find that lens hoods are essential protection when using my cameras in city crowds where people seem to enjoy smashing into each other or hurling out of shop doorways at high speed without bothering to look.
I often wonder if many people now live in virtual worlds in their own minds, where other people are simply background figures to be walked through as if random collections of pixels on a screen.
Fujifilm’s supplied petal lens hood protrudes into my X-Pro2’s optical viewfinder and it can often be annoying to lose sight of that part of the frame, even though I usually have my camera set so that its electronic rangefinder shows a full view of the scene at the lower right of the OVF.
The JJC lens hood, bought from an Australian-based supplier of several Chinese accessories brands including JJC, arrived faster than if I had bought its Fujifilm or Vello equivalents from B&H or ebay and it is working out well, being robust and protective of the front element and filter of my most-used lens.
It has already done its job while photographing an event in some heavily packed rooms where the participants seem to have limited vision or simply did not care who and what they bumped into.
I am looking for an alternative lens hood though, something lighter and smaller and with vents in exactly the right place to allow less obscured vision through the X-Pro2’s OVF, in the same way that Leica’s vented lens hoods work with the company’s M-Series rangefinder lenses.
The article I have linked to here is one of the most researched on the subject of lens hoods for Fujifilm lenses, and through it I have located an eBay supplier in China that makes multiple-vented 62mm screw-in lens hoods.
Shortly after I bought the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens, I came across a European supplier of third-party Fujifilm accessories who claimed that their lightweight 62mm vented screw-in lens hood had vents that did not obscure vision through the OVF.
It did the opposite.
Caveat emptor, I suppose.
With luck and the article by XTRAS, I may have found a lightweight vented lens hood that actually does its job.
“A few weeks ago, our founder, CEO and main investor Stefan Immes had a serious traffic accident, which he barely survived. Although we have been able to talk to him and although, for a very short time of the day he has become the astute, humorous and positive entrepreneur we know, it is now clear that due to the severity of the injuries he will not be able to continue running the company in the foreseeable future.
For a company of 15 employees only, this entails a large number of changes. Currently, we are in the process of reorganization and are trying to establish a working system as no successor regulation can yet be found for the Net SE Group. For this reason, we are currently undergoing a restructuring process with an as yet unknown outcome for the individual divisions….”
Other Meyer Optik Görlitz lenses as of August 2018
Sad news indeed about Meyer Optik Görlitz CEO Stefan Immes and I hope that the company can successfully reorganize and get back into full production of its innovative and revived art lenses.
I wish to see more, not fewer, makers of these characterful lens types in the world and would hate to see the end of the Meyer Optik Görlitz initiative especially given their aims as stated in their latest Kickstarter campaign:
We restored the Meyer-Optik brand to build lenses that are distinguished in their uniqueness. Today, our lenses are made for those who want more than standard shots for their everyday photography. These lenses are special hand-made optics designed for the artistic photographer who craves a special unique look.
Although I appreciate the precision of most contemporary lens designs, I have had practical firsthand experience of antique and revived historical lenses aka “fine art” or “art” lenses and know there is a place for them in almost every photographer’s and moviemaker’s gear kit.
I wish the Meyer Optik Görlitz company the very best in their reorganization, and look forward to them reviving and updating many more famous and historical lenses in future.
Meanwhile I am glad to know that other companies such as Lomography are also on the classic lens revival trail and look forward to one day being able to try out a cross section of such lenses.