Peter Forsgård: Panasonic 10-25mm F1.7 – [FASTEST Wide-Angle Zoom] – video – Commentary

Panasonic 10-25mm F1.7 is the fastest Wide-Angle Zoom for MFT bodies…. Panasonic 10-25mm f1.7 lens was introduced in Photokina 2018. It was not until May 2019 when it was officially launched. It [is] the fastest wide-angle zoom for MFT.

Correction: This unique lens is better described as the fastest wide-to-standard zoom lens.

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Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric wide to standard zoom lens. Image courtesy of Panasonic Australia.

The recent publication by 4/3 Rumors of Peter Forsgård’s intro video about the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric reminded me that I had yet to try one out myself or even simply clap eyes on one in our ever diminishing local camera stores.

Time, I thought, to look deeper into this intriguing lens to determine if I should place it on my documentary stills and video hardware wishlist, or forgo it in favour of that other uniquely fast zoom lens, the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens.

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Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 with Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric wide to standard zoom lens. I would love to try out this combination in the field for documentary stills and video storytelling. Some say that the lens somehow works better with the G9 than with the GH5 or GH5S. Image courtesy of Panasonic Australia.
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The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional prime and zoom lens collection as of late 2017, all with manual clutch focus, invaluable for fast, accurate and repeatable manual focusing as well as linear focus-by-wire and autofocus. Image courtesy of Olympus Australia.

Peter Forsgård has yet to produce a more in-depth video about the lens and his results with it, and there is the fact that he is using it on Olympus OM-D cameras rather the more videocentric Lumix GH5, GH5S  and G9 hybrid cameras from Panasonic for which the lens was clearly designed.

Its clickless aperture ring only works on Panasonic Lumix cameras but clickless is of more use for moviemaking than stills photography and Olympus seems to have fallen well behind Panasonic in the video half of the hybrid camera equation.

Australian/American Director of Photography and Olympus Visionary John Brawley is one of the few I have encountered who shoots serious video with that brand’s hybrid cameras but I can better understand his love of Olympus lenses, especially the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional-quality collection with the lenses’ manual clutch focus via retractable ring and hard stops at each end of the focusing scale.

I spotted the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom lens at SMPTE’s Metexpo in July 2019 but could not borrow it for a quick tryout at the show. Pity, as I still have some unanswered questions about it.
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Will Panasonic’s DFD autofocus approach the speed of PDAF autofocus camera systems some day? Fujinon XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR on Fujifilm X-Pro3. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

The Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric is Panasonic’s very first manual clutch focus lens and not before time.

Focus-by-wire only lenses can be problematic for moviemaking with some more unusable than others although they can work acceptably for stills photography especially when relying on back-button focus in manual focus aka MF mode.

I have not done much video using autofocus on any camera and lens combination, partly because I only had manual focus during the analog era and became comfortable with it, and more to the point because autofocus on video and hybrid cameras was unreliable up until recently.

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Has the S5 improved Panasonic’s DFD autofocus enough yet? Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 with Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens. Image courtesy of Panasonic Australia.

I still set my cameras to manual focus by default when prepping for a project, and the unpredictability of documentary photography and moviemaking means I often need to snap into manual focus in an instant, easily done by rapidly retracting the focusing ring.

Hard stops in manual focusing mean I can train myself in approximating the right focus point fast without looking at the focusing scale, then refine focus through the viewfinder or monitor.

The Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric, on the other hand, allows its focusing ring to travel beyond extreme left or right of the focusing scale, and I remain unsure as to the usefulness of this behaviour.

A question only firsthand experience can answer.

Gerald Undone: Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 Lens Review (vs Sigma 18-35 + Speed Booster)

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Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art EF-mount fast zoom lens can be adapted for a range of Super 35/APS-C cameras or for cameras with larger sensors that can be set to Super 35/APS-C. Image courtesy of Sigma Australia.

Mr Undone is currently the first and sometimes only YouTube reviewer I watch these days and his in-depth, fast-talking rundowns amply reward the effort.

The highly adaptable Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art EF-mount fast zoom lens is high up on my wishlist for use with several camera systems and sensor sizes, but the lure of one lens with a focal range from 10mm through 14mm, 17mm, 20mm and 25mm is strong.

In 35mm sensor terms that equates to 20mm, 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and 50mm, only lacking my longer favourite focal lengths of 75mm and 105mm.

The lens’ image quality at each of those focal lengths is reportedly almost as good as that of pro-quality premium-priced lenses such as Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes, a feat only matched by Fujifilm’s shorter Red Badge zooms.

I will keep looking for reviews and videos about Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7, but I found Gerald Undone’s comparison with Sigma’s 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens the most useful so far.

There are pros and cons to both lenses and the choice depends on these currently unanswered questions about the 10-25mm:

  • Exactly how much curvature is there at its wide end of lens? I find too much curvature irritating especially when the frame contains horizontal parallels and I am following a figure walking through it.
  • How much vignetting is there at all focal lengths but most especially at the wide end?
  • How well is skin rendered by it given not all lenses are equal in doing this?
  • Does the lens have that classic warm and three-dimensional Leica lens micro-contrast and resolution?
  • I love the idea of an emotive wide-angle closeup on a face and upper body using a wide aperture to throw figure and background into stark contrast, but how well does the lens render this look?
  • Why did we not have a choice between clicked and clickless aperture ring given de-clicked works best for video while clicked is best for stills?
  • Is Panasonic working on the perfect companion for the 10-25mm, a similarly-designed 25-50+mm f/1.7 zoom lens?
  • I am accustomed to hard stops at each end of the focusing scale on manual clutch focus lenses, but how useful or not are the 10-25mm’s software stops?
  • Although I still rely heavily on manual focus for video and back-button focus for stills, great autofocus in both modes certainly has its uses. Will Panasonic’s reliance on DFD aka depth-from-defocus instead of PDAF aka phase-detection autofocus continue to be its Achilles’ Heel?

Questions remain about the viability of the Micro Four Thirds system given Olympus’ recent sale of its camera and lens division to JIP and Panasonic’s big investment in 35mm SLR-style cameras.

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The Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 Aspheric prime lens is well-balanced on the GX8. Image courtesy of Panasonic Australia.

Panasonic staffers say that work continues on the company’s M43 cameras and lenses, but where is the much-requested pro-quality successor to the GX8 rangefinder-style hybrid workhorse, and when can we expect the GH6?

With the Lumix DC-S5, Panasonic has demonstrated it can make 35mm sensor cameras smaller than its M43 cameras.

If Panasonic follows the same path with the successors to its other two first generation S-Series cameras, the S1R and the S1H, will there be less incentive to stick with M43?

Right now I love the choice between the GH-series and G-series M43 cameras’ Super 16 and 35mm film handling and aesthetics, and those of the S-Series cameras’ Super 35 and 120 roll-film look and feel.

But DxO’s PhotoLab raw editing software and Topaz Labs’ Gigapixel AI image enlargement application radically reduce the need for larger sensors to produce better image quality.

Likewise, I wonder how much difference is really noticeable onscreen between Super 16 4K and Super 35 4K.

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Sigma 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art APS-C zoom lens.

Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 may be an amazing M43-only lens with an incredibly useful focal range for documentary stills and video, but Sigma’s 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens is adaptable to a range of Super 35/APS-C and Super 16/M43 cameras, helping future-proof one’s investment in lens and adapters.

Furthermore, the 18-35mm already has a longer companion lens in the form of Sigma’s 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom, though there is no obvious companion lens on the wide end though there is that gap between 35mm and 50mm.

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Viltrox To Release More X-Mount Lenses After Its Viltrox PFU RBMH 85MM F1.8 STM Telephoto Prime

Chinese lens, lights and accessories maker Viltrox appears to have successfully reverse-engineered Fujifilm’s lens-to-camera communications protocol and recently released its first X-Mount autofocus prime lens for Fujifilm X cameras, the Viltrox PFU RBMH 85MM F1.8 STM telephoto. 

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Viltrox PFU RBMH 85MM F1.8 STM prime lens for Fujifilm X-Mount cameras.
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Leica worked out the best prime lens focal length line-up for documentary photography and photojournalism in 35mm years ago and it remains the benchmark and role model for other lens makers to this very day. The only focal length missing from this lens collection is 40mm, which Leica made for the Leica CL rangefinder camera which was later taken over by Minolta as the Minolta CLE with 40mm standard lens as well as a 28mm and 90mm lens. Too many contemporary lens makers leave out 28mm and 75mm lenses and their equivalents for other sensor formats. Why? Both these focal lengths are the most essential for documentary photography and photojournalism.

According to reports from Fuji Rumors, the next three Viltrox X-mount cabs off the rank, as it were, will be 23mm f/1.4, 33mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.4 autofocus prime lenses and I am hoping for more after that.

I am also hoping that Viltrox will come up with other focal lengths useful in documentary cinematography and photography, such as those equivalent to 21mm, 28mm, 75mm and 105mm in the 35mm sensor format.

Fujifilm does not appear to be in any hurry to update its ageing and quirky Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 prime lens, equivalent to the documentary-essential 28mm focal length, and there is no sign on the Fujifilm X-mount lens roadmap of the documentary and portrait-essential focal length of 70mm, that is, 105mm in the 35mm sensor format.

Early reviews of the Viltrox PFU RBMH 85MM F1.8 STM prime lens note that it may not be as sharp or have as much micro-contrast and resolution as Fujifilm’s own X-mount lenses, but given Viltrox’s much lower prices and the fact that many cinematographers do not need nor want maximum sharpness in their lenses, a matched set of Viltrox prime lenses may be very attractive for some.

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You either love it or hate it. Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L USM zoom lens, prone to the all-too-common aperture control ribbon cable failure that can apparently cost a fortune to have fixed in Australia. Otherwise a remarkably popular lens with videographers using it natively and adapted on a wide range of cameras and sensor sizes.

Why else would Canon’s also optically-quirky and poorly-manufactured Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM kit zoom lens have proven to be popular amongst cinematographers whether adapted or not, despite better-designed and better-made alternatives such as Sigma’s 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art lens for Canon EF or two other Canon alternatives such as the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens and the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM kit zoom?

I happily used the 24-105mm f/4L IS USM kit zoom that came with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II for some applications in cinematography and photography until it fell apart just after its warranty expired, and hope to be using this lens again soon, when it is finally repaired, this time mated to my Fujifilm cameras via an EF-to-X adapter.

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  • Viltrox EF-FX2 0.71x Lens Mount Adapter for Canon EF-Mount Lens to FUJIFILM X-Mount CameraB&H
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