Richard Wong: Panasonic Leica 10-25 mm f/ 1.7 In-Depth Review

“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.”

panasonic_leica_dg_vario-summilux_10-25mm_f1.7_aspheric_01_1024px
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric wide to standard zoom lens.

Links

  • 4/3 RumorsPanasonic Leica 10-25mm f/1.7 In-Depth Review by Richard Wong
  • Photo by RichardPanasonic 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.”
  • Richard WongPanasonic Leica 10-25 mm f/ 1.7 In-Depth Review – video

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  • Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH. LensB&H
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ePHOTOzine: Panasonic Leica DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH Hands-On

https://www.ephotozine.com/article/panasonic-leica-dg-vario-summilux-10-25mm-f-1-7-asph-hands-on-33371

“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….”

panasonic_leica_dg_vario-summilux_10-25mm_f1.7_01_1024px
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 zoom lens currently under development. It may prove to be a great primary lens for available light documentary moviemaking and photography on M43-mount cameras including those made by Blackmagic Design, Olympus and Panasonic. Photograph originally published at CVP.com, showing manual clutch focus mechanism in operation. Photographs by Joseph Waller of ePHOTOzine do not show a manual clutch focus mechanism however. So far it is unknown as to whether the mechanism will make it into the final version of t he lens. Double the numbers on the zoom ring for their 35mm equivalents – 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 36mm and 50mm.

Commentary

olympus_m-zuiko_digital_ed_45mm_f1-2_white_square_upright_clutch_1024px_60.jpg
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens with manual clutch focusing via retracting focus control ring. Equivalent to 90mm in the 35mm sensor format. If only ALL lenses offered manual clutch focus!

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.

After narrowing the options down, it was a contest between the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro and, after a lengthy tryout of both lenses, the Olympus zoom lens won hands-down.

The single biggest reason?

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.

leica_summilux+_lineup_21-90mm_square_1920px_80pc
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 amongst the most essential for documentary photography and photojournalism as well as video.

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!

olympus_lens_roadmap_2019-02-13_1920px
Olympus lens roadmap as of February 13, 2019.

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.

Postscript

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.

Post-postscript

Photography Blog posts pictorial confirmation that manual clutch focusing has finally come to a Panasonic lens.

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.

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom lens and Lumix DC-G9 camera. Photographed by Joshua Waller for ePHOTOzine.

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.

Of all the brands of aluminium and brass step-up rings I have tried, those made by Breakthrough Photography have proven to be the best and are unique in their top quality machining and easy-handling traction frame.

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.

zhiyun-tech_weebill_lab_01_1024px
Zhiyun-Tech Weebill Lab gimbal stabilizer.

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.

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OlympusEuropePhoto: #olympusLIVE | PART 1 | Olympus OM-D E-M1X Press Release Conference Hamburg 24.01.2019

“Brought to you live from Hamburg: The newest Olympus camera in professional photography! Watch here the playlist of the full show of the OM-D E-M1X release event. This clip summarizes the official Press Release Conference on January 23rd, 2019, with guests from Olympus Tokyo….”

olympus_om-d_e-m1x_square_1024px_01
Olympus OM-S E-M1X Micro Four Thirds camera with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro lens.

Commentary

For me, the Micro Four Thirds sensor format occupies the place that 35mm inhabited during the analog era and so it is well-suited to the photographic genres that were dominated by 35mm cameras such as sports, wildlife, photojournalism, some subgenres of documentary and specific approaches to fashion photography.

Other sensor formats occupy places once owned by larger analog formats, for example Fujifilm’s X-Trans APS-C has taken the place of some 120 roll film formats while Fujifilm’s G-Series Bayer sensor-equipped medium format cameras have taken the place of 4″x5″ sheet film and the company’s coming GFX 100 will likely match if not surpass the image quality of 8″x10″ sheet film cameras.

Similar analogies apply to other sensor formats such as 35mm where 20+ megapixels sensors amply match if not surpass the quality once obtained by medium format roll film and circa 50 megapixels sensors are inching on the door of sheet film’s house.

Complaints that MFT camera sensors may not be as sensitive as those of larger formats are silly given the mobility, weather resistance and smaller lenses with stellar performance the smaller format affords.

If you need larger sensor cameras, invest in them and let MFT be what it excels at just as one should allow cameras of other sensor formats and body types to be what they were designed to be.

Pretending otherwise is silly.

I am rather fond of the Micro Four Thirds format as it gave me access to the pro-quality video capabilities I could not afford at the time and its cameras proved to be rather good for documentary stills photography and photojournalism too.

If I were working for newspapers and magazines as I used to, MFT cameras and lenses would constitute my core daily working kit, supplemented by equipment in other sensor formats as projects demanded.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1X would be in contention as would the excellent Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses.

The Micro Four Thirds sensor format is perfectly adequate for those genres and applications.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X with lenses and accessories

The Olympus Lens Roadmap, February 2019

olympus_lens_roadmap_2019-02-13_1920px
Olympus lens roadmap as of February, 2019.

Olympus has been doing a great job of fleshing out its professional-quality M.Zuiko Pro lens collection but gaps remain in its prime and zoom lens offerings and rumours of new lenses, particularly new fast prime lenses, have appeared over the last couple of years without results.

I am rather fond of the M.Zuiko Pro lens series, with my most-used being the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom, and I have been hoping that Olympus will add more prime lenses.

I chose the 12-40mm f/2.8 over what might have been the more logical choice given I use Panasonic cameras, Panasonic’s Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens, for several reasons:

  • Manual clutch focus – essential in my opinion for achieving fast, accurate, repeatable focus especially when shooting documentary video.
  • Longer focal length range – 24mm to 80mm in 35mm sensor equivalents, extending the long end into the realm of ideal focal lengths for portraiture.
  • Excellent optical performance – all throughout the lens’ focal length range.
  • Excellent mechanical and optical design and manufacturing. 
olympus_m-zuiko_primes_square_17_25_45_1024px_02_60
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

Olympus’ release of its first three fast M.Zuiko Pro prime lenses was very pleasing, but I have long been hoping for the addition of 10.5mm and 14mm prime lenses, equivalent in 35mm terms to 21mm and 28mm, both of which are essentials for documentary photography and video.

While 10.5mm is available wit in the M.Zuiko Pro 7-14mm f/2.8 zoom, that lens requires the use of large, unwieldy and costly adapters for attaching neutral density filters when shooting video.

A 10.5mm M.Zuiko Pro prime lens is a much better choice and it does not need to be as fast as its M.Zuiko Pro siblings with their f/1.2 maximum aperture.

The same applies to an M.Zuiko Pro 14mm prime lens.

Both lenses would be perfectly fine with maximum apertures of from, say, f/1.8 through to f/2.8, though faster is always appreciated in available darkness.

One of Olympus’ new items in its February 2019 lens roadmap, “Bright Prime Lenses”, is encouraging and it appears to be placed somewhere between 10mm and 60mm.

I would love to see wide aperture prime lenses added in popular focal lengths such as the following, in their M43 and 35mm sensor equivalents:

  • 10.5mm – 21mm
  • 14mm – 28mm
  • 37.5mm – 75mm
  • 52.5mm – 105mm

Two other new items in the lens roadmap have me intrigued, “Wide Zoom Lens” and “Standard Zoom Lens”.

I would like to see Olympus take on Panasonic over the latter’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 fast zoom lens that was announced with scant details back in late 2018.

This lens may well be the one I had been looking for when I first bought into Micro Four Thirds, containing most of the focal lengths I need on a daily basis for documentary stills and video, and something similar coming from Olympus for its M.Zuiko Pro lens collection can only be a good thing.

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Frank Glencairn: Why the new Pocket Cinema Camera 2.0 isn’t actually a successor of the original Pocket, and why it doesn’t mat[t]er.

https://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/why-the-new-pocket-cinema-camera-2-0-isnt-actually-a-successor-of-the-original-pocket-and-why-it-doesnt-mater/

“… So it’s that time of the year, when the whole industry looks at Vegas, eagerly awaiting the new game-changer collection. And this time, Blackmagic pretty much mopped the floor, with all the other new cameras that came out this year, by taking the GH5s (IMX294 or variant) sensor, building a better camera with it, and selling it for have [sic] of the price, while throwing in a full blown, Hollywood grade postproduction package on top of it….

… It’s not as small and stealthy as the original Pocket, but it’s a pretty amazing camera, that still lets you steal shots, while looking like a tourist with a DSLR, if you have to (come on – we all did that at least a few times).

It’s a good size and weight to put it on a one hand gimbal and run all day with it. And if you don’t have the budget for an Ursa, it’s a great camera that you can rig up cine style with all the bells and whistles, and shoot commercials or even narrative….”

blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k_bmpcc4k_06_1024px_60pc
Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens, able to be easily handheld in ways that its Blackmagic cinema and production camera ancestors never could.

Blackmagic Production Camera 4K aka BMPC 4K in EF and PL mounts

Now that Blackmagic Design has removed the pages for its Blackmagic Cinema and Production cameras with Canon EF, Micro Four Thirds and PL lens mounts from its website, good quality product shots are harder to find and so worth preserving here for future reference and comparison with new products like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.

The images in this gallery are of the last models in Blackmagic Design’s now-defunct camera series, the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K with EF or PL lens mounts, and apparently were intended for use in the production of serial television series rather than cinema productions.

I have not had the pleasure of using any of Blackmagic Design’s cinema or production cameras, but the proprietor of a production equipment rental service once told me that local well-funded documentary producers were particularly fond of using his Blackmagic rental cameras with Canon EF L-series lenses and adapted Nikon stills photography lenses.

Australian-based Director of Photography John Brawley has often had early access to Blackmagic Design cameras and has shared early footage from them, so it is worth checking his blog every so often.

Mr Brawley is an enthusiast for Micro Four Thirds system lens and Olympus M43 cameras, and it will be interesting to see what he makes of the BMPCC 4K in conjunction with his ever-growing collection of Olympus and SLR Magic lenses, illustrated above.

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Panasonic Announces Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS Telephoto Zoom Lens, H-ES50200

Panasonic has announced the latest lens in its Leica DG Vario-Elmarit zoom lens series, the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS “ultra telephoto” according to Panasonic’s parlance, offering the equivalent of 100mm to 400mm in the 35mm sensor format. 

panasonic_leica_dg_vario-elmarit_50-200mm_f2.8-4.0_slant_1024px_60%
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS telephoto zoom lens

The addition of the optional DMW-TC14 1.4x teleconverter or DMW-TC20 2.0x teleconverter extends the lens’ default maximum focal length of 200mm to 280mm or 400mm depending on which teleconverter, in 35mm sensor terms equivalent to 560mm or 800mm.

Adding either teleconverter will reduce the lens’ effective aperture due to teleconverter’s light loss effect but at the gain of considerable ultra-telephoto optical reach.

The lens’ Power OIS stabilization works effectively alone on cameras such as the GH5S or more effectively again in conjunction with Dual IS 2-capable in-body stabilized cameras like Panasonic’s G9 or GH5, or previous-generation Dual IS as on the GX8.

The Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm’s focal length range with and without either teleconverter are testimony to the relative affordability, size and weight advantages of the Micro Four Thirds sensor format compared to the price, size and weight of its near-equivalents within the 35mm sensor format camera and lens systems.

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS

Commentary

Panasonic’s Leica DG prime and zoom lens series now numbers ten with the addition of the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS, making this lens the third Vario-Elmarit f/2.8-4.0 lens in the series.

Panasonic’s expansion of its Leica optics-equipped Leica DG lens range with the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens is a welcome signal that the company is taking seriously M43’s viability as a professional-quality format for stills photography and moviemaking.

Leica lenses possess certain qualities regardless of the cameras for which they are designed, namely rich, warm colour, high sharpness and high micro-contrast.

That makes them particularly suitable for subjects and genres that benefit from the exposition of fine detail and lush colour like sports and wildlife, although Panasonic’s Lumix G own-brand lens series has some fine qualities such as small size, light weight and lower cost.

All lens designs are compromises to some degree, especially when price, size and weight are factors and the Vario-Elmarit lenses have compromised with variable maximum apertures, each having a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at their wide end and f/4.0 throughout most of their focal length range.

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS mounted on Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, water-splashed to demonstrate weather-sealing on lens and camera.

Accordingly, they are effectively f/4.0 lenses, adding some limitations, in my experience, to their uses under indoors and poor outdoors available light aka available darkness especially when shooting video.

Fast prime lenses such as the costlier but faster and still compact Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power OIS and the Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 Aspheric Power OIS should be considered.

Alternatively, if Dual IS and Dual IS 2 are not absolutely essential for your work, consider Olympus’ great-for-video repeatable manual clutch focus-equipped M.Zuiko Pro professional lens series with its f/2.8 zoom lens fixed maximum apertures and f/1.2 maximum aperture prime lenses.

As borne out by my experience with Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm, the effects of variable maximum apertures are less limiting in stills photography where faster shutter speeds, higher ISOs and Dual IS and Dual IS 2 come into play.

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  • Panasonic DMW-TC14 1.4x TeleconverterB&H
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  • Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 POWER O.I.S. LensB&H
  • Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. LensB&H
  • Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. LensB&H
  • Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. LensB&H

News Shooter: Building a lens kit for the Panasonic GH5

http://www.newsshooter.com/2017/06/27/building-lens-kit-panasonic-gh5/

“The Panasonic GH5 is a popular new camera, in stock and shipping from most of the usual retailers, but have you thought about what lenses you should get for shooting video? In this post I’ll help you get started…”

Commentary

I had been in two minds about linking to Erik Naso’s otherwise excellent article when it first appeared earlier in the year due to its minimal inclusion of the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lens range.

He writes:

“Also worth looking at are the Olympus M. Zuiko models. These are high quality lenses that tend to get ignored. I’m guilty of this myself. They are more expensive but have a heavier pro build quality and are high performance sharp lenses.”

I have been singing the praises of the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro range based on relying on the 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens for several years with my GH4 and GX8, plus tryouts of other lenses in the range, most recently the 45mm f/1.2 Pro and 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens line-up as of late October 2017.

Although Mr Naso recommends four non-M.Zuiko Pro lenses besides the 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro – the 17mm f/1.8, 25mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8 and 75mm f/1.8 – only the 17mm lens shares the manual clutch focus standard in the M.Zuiko Pro lens range.

As the folks at Calgary’s The Camera Store point out in their excellent video linked to below, shooting video with focus-by-wire lenses really does suck especially if you need accurate, repeatable manual focus.

The M.Zuiko Pro lenses may cost more than others but their high optical and mechanical design and top quality manufacturing, weather resistance and especially their manual clutch focussing justify the expenditure in my opinion.

Panasonic’s recent firmware update for the GH5 permitting the camera to recognize and attach functions to the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses’ barrel-mounted L-Fn button is further justification for taking these lenses very seriously indeed for professional photography and video production.

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  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital MC-14 1.4x TeleconverterB&H

Panasonic Lumix GH5 Firmware Update Version 2.2, Yet Another Great Reason to Choose Olympus M.Zuiko Pro Lenses?

Panasonic has released version 2.2 of its firmware for the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 hybrid Micro Four Thirds/Super 16 stills and video camera, and it contains one item that appears especially useful for users of the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional-quality prime and zoom lenses. 

The GH5 may well now recognize the Lens Fn button on M.Zuiko Pro lenses as well as Panasonic’s own Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power OIS telephoto thus enabling your choice from a set of nine lens-related functions that can be allocated to it.  

Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Super 16 Micro Four Thirds camera with Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS standard zoom lens.

As I do not currently have a GH5 I cannot put version 2.2 of the firmware to the test, but am expecting a review loaner to arrive in the very near future and will try it out with M.Zuiko Pro lenses then report back here.

The Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power OIS lens, showing the Fn button on the lens barrel.

Update contents for DC-GH5

  1. Function can be assigned to the Fn button of the interchangeable lens including H-ES200.
  2. Video recording stability in VFR (Variable Frame Rate) mode is improved

Those optional Fn button settings include:

  • Focus Stop
  • AF/AE Lock
  • AF-On
  • Stabilizer
  • Focus Area Set
  • AF-Mode/MF – I have this set as my L-Fn function for magnifying the view through the lens while manually focussing.
  • Preview
  • Off
  • Restore to Default

I have often looked at the L-Fn buttons on M.Zuiko Pro lenses and wondered whether Panasonic would ever add the ability to choose useful lens-related settings to it when using these lenses on Panasonic Lumix cameras.

I hope that the addition of this functionality to the GH5 heralds more such firmware updates for current and recently-released Lumix cameras such as the GX8, GH4 and others.

One can never have access to too many customizable function buttons, I have found.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional-quality prime and zoom lens family as of November 2017. Note the L-Fn function buttons on the lens barrels.

The addition of lens function button settings on the GH5 and hopefully other Lumix cameras such as the coming G9 makes the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens family even more attractive.

Three current top-end Panasonic Lumix cameras with Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses attached, each lens having a function button on the barrel. Panasonic, thank you for enabling the L-Fn button in version 2.2 of the GH5’s firmware but please add the same functionality in all future, current and recent Lumix cameras. Image created at Compact Camera Meter at CameraSize.com..

The most attractive feature of the M.Zuiko Pro lenses, besides their remarkable optical and mechanical qualities, is their manual clutch focus mechanism that allows for repeatable focussing in a way that is not permitted by the nonlinear focus-by-wire of other lenses.

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  • Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 POWER O.I.S. Lens (H-ES200)B&H
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Fujifilm Releases Firmware Updates for X-T2, X-T20 and GFX 50S, Still No Live Zebras for Perfect Exposure when Shooting

Fujifilm has released its firmware updates for the X-T2, X-T20 and GFX 50S APS-C/Super 35 and medium format cameras, along with the new, free Fujifilm X Raw Studio raw convertor and Fujifilm X Acquire 1.7 for settings back-ups, restoration and tethered shooting on Mac or Windows computers, while firmware updates for the X-Pro2 and X100F remain on-course for late December 2017. 

Fujifilm’s support for Super 35 video in the X-T2 flagship DSLR-style mirrorless camera appears partially complete. Looks like we may need to wait for the Fujifilm X-H1 for the arrival of a full set of top-end professional video features some time in 2018.

Of the three Fujifilm cameras in question, I am most familiar with the X-T2 having been lucky enough to have borrowed a review loaner, so will confine my comments here to that but readers interested in the X-T20 and GFX 50S may wish to read up on their firmware updates in my list of links below.

I am currently the proud owner of an X-Pro2 rangefinder camera and am looking forward to late December’s release of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 Version 4.00 firmware for 4K video mode, tethered shooting, new autofocus algorithm and support for Fujifilm Raw Studio and Fujifilm X Acquire.

How to access RGB histograms and overexposed areas blinkies, from page 1 of the X-T2 New Features Guide Version 3.00. But is this the whole story?

Version 3.00 of the X-T2’s firmware does not include the much-requested exposure zebras persistent in shooting mode, one of the two most essential firmware features needed for professional-quality work, along with focus peaking which previous firmware did have.

Instead, Fujifilm has included “overexposed areas blink” aka “blinkies” which is activated by pressing “the function button to which Histogram has been assigned” as per Fujifilm’s X-T2 New Features Guide Version 3.00.

The Guide does not specify whether the RGB histogram and overexposure blinkies can be viewed and remain persistent while shooting photographs or video thus allowing exposure adjustment as the light changes.

Having both the blinkies and the RGB histogram on-screen while shooting as illustrated in the Guide would be distracting to say the least, and blinkies alone while shooting would have been preferable.

Fujifilm’s blindness to zebras persists

Percentage-adjustable exposure zebras as featured on numerous contemporary and recent digital cameras and camcorders would have been even better again, but Fujifilm seems to have a persistent blindness to zebras as I have mentioned in many articles on this website, most recently Fujifilm… I’m Cross Over Your Aversion to Zebras.

This zebra blindness is surprising given Fujifilm’s legendary willingness to listen to its user base as well as its famous Kaizen – “improvement” or “change for the better” – philosophy.

Is there something Fujifilm knows that thousands of professional and enthusiast moviemakers do not?

A cunning plan?

Does Fujifilm have a cunning plan?

Is Fujifilm really serious about fully supporting professional-quality video functionality in its cameras?

Will exposure zebras and other essential pro video features like internal F-Log recording, on-camera headphone ports and many more hardware and firmware functions eventually find their way into a future, more video-worthy version of the X-T2 or one of its descendants?

Or is Fujifilm having a cunning laugh at video functionality while continuing to aim its cameras more at photographers than videographers?

I would love Fujifilm to take some hints out of Panasonic’s and Samsung’s books, and their cameras’ many cutting-edge video achievements, to produce a truly remarkable, market-leading Super 35/APS-C hybrid video/stills camera.

If FujiRumors’ report that the Fujifilm X-H1 will be Fuji’s [sic] first IBIS Camera (no longer X-T2S) is correct, and their rumour accuracy has proven to be high in the past, then will the X-H1 be the very first Fujifilm camera worthy of being attached to Fujifilm’s new Fujinon MK Series X-Mount Ciné zoom lenses, currently only available with Sony E-Mounts as the Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9 Lens (Sony E-Mount) and
Fujinon MK50-135mm T2.9 Lens (Sony E-Mount).

Leaning elsewhere for video, but…

Right now, I am not holding my breath but am leaning heavily towards Panasonic’s mature Super 16/Micro Four Thirds offerings now and in the very near future for video in combination with Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro manual clutch focus prime and zoom lenses.

For immersive fly-on-the-wall documentary stills photography on the other hand, nothing beats a real digital rangefinder camera and Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 hits the spot in combination with Fujifilm’s Fujinon aperture-ring-equipped manual clutch focus prime lenses like the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R, my current favourite documentary photography lens.

More power to Fujifilm’s advanced hybrid rangefinder and fast manual clutch focus prime lens arm, as it were, and I am looking forward to December’s firmware update for the X-Pro2.

I am relishing being able to shoot great 4K video on this wonderful rangefinder camera at long last.

Postscript

FujiRumors has shared a video showing how focus peaking and overexposure blinkies flash when both are switched on.

I hope there is an option to at least turn the flashing off as I would find this  irritating when shooting, just as I did when viewing this video.

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Image Credits

Image concept and quick hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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  • Fujifilm GFX 50S Medium Format Mirrorless CameraB&H
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  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H

Olympus Australia Summer Bonus Promotion, Up to AU$300 Off for Eligible M.Zuiko Pro, OM-D and Pen Cameras and Lenses

Olympus Australia is running its Summer Bonus promotion from 1st November 2017 to 31st January 2018 for Australian and New Zealand residents purchasing eligible Olympus cameras and lenses within the promotional period. Terms and conditions apply

Eligible Olympus cameras and lenses include the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-D E-M5 Mark II, Pen-F cameras and a range of M.Zuiko Pro professional prime and zoom lenses.

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  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Olympus PEN-F Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
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  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H