“At a time when Olympus and Panasonic lens prices are going through the roof, Sigma offers these three f/1.4 ‘Contemporary’ lenses at sensible prices. Do they sacrifice sharpness, focus speed or build quality to price? Having owned, used and reviewed – many Sigma lenses over the years, I didn’t anticipate any nasty surprises and I didn’t find any. There were some nice surprises, though….”
Sigma 16mm f/1.4, 30mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime lenses for E-mount and M43-mount cameras
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime lens for Micro Four Thirds mount and Sony E-mount cameras.
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime lens for Micro Four Thirds mount and Sony E-mount cameras.
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime lens for Micro Four Thirds mount and Sony E-mount cameras.
Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art APS-C zoom lens.
Former Fleet Street press photographer David Thorpe is one of the least-known yet most-respected YouTube reviewers with a speciality in Micro Four Thirds system cameras and lenses, though I suspect he will be bending that speciality soon with coming reviews of Panasonic’s Lumix S-Series S1 and S1R 35mm sensor format cameras and lenses.
I have no hands-on experience of Sigma lenses whether prime or zoom, though I was lucky enough to inspect Paul Leeming’s Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens with Canon EF-mount that he has adapted for his Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and was impressed enough with its optics and construction that I am hoping to buy one of my own some time soon.
Clearly Sigma has something good going for it with its membership of the L-Mount alliance alongside Panasonic and Leica, and Mr Thorpe’s review of these three Sigma Contemporary collection prime lenses supports that impression.
With their 35mm sensor format equivalent focal lengths of 32mm, 60mm and 112mm, and fast, wide maximum apertures of f/1.4, and very reasonable pricing, these three lenses look well worth considering for use in stills photography.
I am now looking for some hard-core technical reviews of them for consideration as video lenses too.
My current impression of Sigma’s Contemporary lenses is that they are designed to work in connection with in-camera and image editing raw processing software for correction of any possible optical distortion, whereas Sigma’s Art lens collection that includes the 18-35mm f/1.8 zoom is reportedly designed to the finest of optical standards to obviate the need for correction in software.
That aside, I have been looking for a medium telephoto portrait lens for Micro Four Thirds for some time now, and Sigma’s 56mm f/1.4 DC DN C may well fill the bill.
I originally got into portrait photography with Nikon’s Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4.0 lens and focal lengths closer to 105mm in the 35mm sensor format are my first choice for work in the genre, so the 112mm equivalent of the 56mm lens is not a bad approximation.
The Sigma 56mm offers the advantage of a wide aperture to blur distracting backgrounds if necessary.
Similarly, I discovered long ago that my preferred main focal length for immersive documentary and photojournalism work is 28mm in the 35mm sensor format, and Sigma’s 16mm f/1.4 DC DN C with its 32mm equivalent focal length is not too far from that.
I like to be able to use my lenses for cinematography and photography, and prefer lenses that perform well in both applications given raw processing can correct optical distortions in still images but non-linear editing software cannot do the same for video.
My favourite raw processing software for raw files shot on Panasonic cameras is DxO PhotoLab so I am hoping that DxO has added camera-and-lens profiles for all three of these Sigma lenses for recent and current Lumix cameras to its database.
Off to DxOMark and time to drop into some camera stores to touch, try and shoot some sample pix with these three lenses so I can crack some raw files open in DxO PhotoLab, DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint.
“Recently we visited the 2018 CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan and booked an in-depth interview with Panasonic. Among the topics covered were the company’s new twin flagships, the Lumix GH5S and G9, as well as how Panasonic hopes to grow their appeal to professional and advanced amateur stills photographers….”
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 professional rangefinder-style camera with Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 Aspheric Power OIS lens. Note the tilting EVF, turning the GX8 into a waist-level viewfinder camera on command, enabling discrete waist-level shooting as on long-gone classics like Rolleiflex’s normal, wide and telephoto lens-equipped twin lens reflex aka TLR cameras, for example.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 with fixed Leica DC Vario-Summilux f/1.7-2.8 zoom lens.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 with interchangeable Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS zoom lens.
Panasonic’s Lumix DC-G9 DSLR-style stills-oriented camera and the Lumix DC-GH5S DSLR-style video-oriented are remarkable achievements of which the company can be justly proud, but it is good to read that Panasonic does not intend to rest on its laurels when it comes to new stills photography camera offerings.
… Our business philosophy is based on ‘changing photography.’ And any change we make must be a benefit for the customer, and for the last two or three years, we’ve really focused on our video capabilities. But we still want to satisfy stills-focused users with our philosophy….
I really want to see Panasonic adhere to that philosophy and to change photography as much as it has changed video for independent documentary photographers and videographers like me.
I hope that coming Lumix stills-oriented cameras will not suffer the fate of Panasonic’s professional rangefinder-style flagship Lumix DMC-GX8, which was “replaced” with the non-professional Lumix DC-GX9 aka Lumix GX7 Mark III rangefinder-style aimed at enthusiasts and street photographers.
DSLR-style cameras do not and cannot “replace” rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras.
I will repeat that.
DSLR-style cameras do not and cannot “replace” rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras, and so the Lumix DC-G9, no matter how great it may be for sports and wildlife photography, does not and cannot “replace” the Lumix DMC-GX8.
Panasonic, we are waiting to hear that you will be coming up with a professional rangefinder-style successor to the Lumix DMC-GX8.
Meanwhile we are also waiting to hear what you intend to do to come up with successors to two cameras which fill a currently unfulfilled need, that of eminently portable compact rangefinder-style cameras with fixed or interchangeable lenses small enough to carry anytime anywhere in any general-purpose bag or dedicated small camera bags such as the attach-to-anything Think Tank Photo Little Stuffit! V3.0.
Right now there is no successor to either the Lumix DMC-GM5 or the Lumix DMC-LX100 and there needs to be, just as there must be a real successor to the Lumix DMC-GX8.
“The most compact and versatile high magnification macro lens.
This lens is optimized for macro shooting between 2.5X – 5X life size. The lens is specially designed with an extended working distance (45mm at 2.5x & 40mm at 2x)and smaller lens barrel. This allow a sufficient lighting on the object for easier shooting in the field. The lens is much more compact and lighter than other comparative products. This lens also provides a relatively greater depth of field compared to other extreme macro lens in the market. The Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X is developed for both professional and leisure macro photography, to be used on the field or in indoor set-up…..”
“… A long list of assets with only one more serious flaw and a record-breaking resolution performance – we don’t doubt that the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45 mm f/1.2 PRO deserves our ‘Editors’ Choice’ badge. Our summary is exceptionally short but there’s really nothing to talk about. It’s another excellent Micro 4/3 lens. …”
As our gallery below indicates, the Micro Four Thirds format is not without some notable choices in fast zoom lenses and faster prime lenses in short to medium telephoto focal lengths suitable for the traditional approach to portrait photography and for closeup and big closeup shots in moviemaking, so the LensTip Editor’s Choice Award for the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45 mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens is noteworthy indeed.
Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95
SLR Magic HyperPrime Cine 50mm T0.95
Veydra 50mm T2.2 Mini Prime, equivalent to 75mm when used on a Fujifilm or Sony APS-C camera.
Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 Power OIS prime lens. Considered a benchmark lens in its focal length but it is priced accordingly.
Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 II Power OIS
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro telephoto zoom lens.
“… At the Cp+ show Panasonic is displaying that history tree table….”
Panasonic’s latest action in apparently replacing the professional-quality Lumix DMC-GX8 with the enthusiast-level Lumix DC-GX9, more accurately named the Lumix DC-GX7 Mark III in Japan, has the many professional users of the GX8 asking questions that are simply not being answered.
Two recently published graphics, the Panasonic camera family tree displayed on a wall at the CP+ trade show in Japan and a different Lumix G camera family tree distributed as part of the company’s celebrations of the launch of the first Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) camera, the Lumix DMC-G1, back in 2008, are inducing even more questions that remain unanswered.
Is Panasonic’s professional rangefinder-style camera line really now dead, with the GX8 the very last of its kind?
Where is the update for the GM5, the best small, discrete, near-invisible camera for street photography and unobtrusive documentary photography I have ever seen?
I missed out on buying my own GM5 and have been searching fruitlessly ever since for a tiny but top-quality camera equipped with interchangeable pancake prime or zoom lenses to be carried at all times wherever I go.
Until Panasonic shocked and disappointed its professional stills and video user base with the GX9 aka GX7 Mark III, I had been planning on adding a GX9, what should have been the real GX9, to my kit for use in documentary moviemaking and photography.
Now that may never happen.
Now I am wondering if I should be spending my money on Fujifilm cameras instead even though there are no direct substitutes for the GX8 and GM5 in Fujifilm’s otherwise promising camera collection.
Fujifilm’s rangefinder-style X-E3 does not have the GX8’s unique tilting EVF nor its more pro-quality stills and video features although it is reportedly a great little interchangeable lens camera for stills and video though crippled by Fujifilm’s bizarre aversion to exposure zebras.
The X-E3 might otherwise make for a good, discrete, near-invisible documentary and street camera when equipped with Fujifilm’s only pancake lens, the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8, though I have yet to obtain an X-E3 review loaner to put this hope to the test.
There is also the fact that Fujifilm does not make other equally good pancake prime lenses and nothing like Panasonic’s amazing though awfully under-rated Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Mega OIS zoom lens.
Fujifilm’s real-rangefinder fixed-lens APS-C-sensored X-100F makes for a great little documentary and street photography camera though it badly needs its own version of the Fujifilm MHG-X100 hand grip, a crucial accessory given the X100F’s small, slippery body.
Panasonic’s recent design, manufacturing, marketing and naming decisions and lack of communication about them have thrown me and not a few other professional users into a quandary to the point where we are wondering if we should be looking at other makers’ products even though the Micro Four Thirds Super 16 format has its many advantages and those other makers also have their own bizarre blindspots and weird omissions.
Then there is the question of the GX8’s unique and irreplaceable tilting EVF, the one thing that allows me to shoot in the magnified waist-level viewfinder manner of great classic analog cameras like the Rolleiflex TLRs and that no other camera maker emulates in the digital era, not even with tilting monitors you have to squint at and shade with your hand in order to have a hope of seeing well enough under bright outdoor light.
If Panasonic no longer makes the stills cameras I need and my GX8 finally wears out after too many shutter actuations, I face kissing goodbye to a way of seeing and photographing upon which I built my style, my career and my life.
There is so much more to the GX8 and the technology it gave me and that is mostly absent from the GX9 than an homage to some of the best of the past, as I was reminded on absentmindedly picking up and handling my GX8 just now.
Its combination of fully-articulated touchscreen, touch focussing, tilting viewfinder mechanism and beautiful, brilliant EVF screen is an incredibly potent one for unobtrusive, immersive documentary and portrait photography often at times mere centimetres away from your subjects.
If you are lucky enough to have a GX8, pick it up, turn it on, flip up its EVF, open its monitor to the left and tilted slightly flat, place your left thumb on the touchscreen to perfectly nail focus, operate the camera’s buttons and dials with the fingers of your right hand, all simultaneously, and feel the power and control in your hands, the GX8’s uncanny ability to help you capture the perfect moment.
Now consider what has been lost to us with the GX9.
“We’ve taken a look at the Panasonic lenses that we’ve reviewed to date, crunched some numbers and have combined the results in a round-up that features the highest scoring lenses so you can make a more informed choice when making your next purchase….”
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 Aspheric Power OIS prime lens, top of the list in ePHOTOzine’s Top 12 Best Panasonic Lenses 2018 list.
Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS lens, not on the list but still an excellent and more affordable choice.
With a dearth of local retail outlets where one might see and try before one may choose to buy and an over-reliance on online reviews that are often not specific enough, sites with well-qualified reviewers and enough history to have broad, deep overviews prove invaluable.
I came across ePHOTOzine through the video reviews of former Fleet Street photographer David Thorpe and thus discovered his articles for the magazine as well as his own website, and now ePHOTOzine benefits by basking in his expert glow.
I have had few enough opportunities to discover the many pleasures and challenges of Panasonic Lumix and Leica Micro Four Thirds lenses in real life, and so rely on these “best lenses” lists to better my understanding.
Given an unlimited bank account I would first choose Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lenses for my professional documentary stills and video work given their many advantages and especially their manual clutch focus, but photography is my daily passion as well as my less frequent paid work and so cheaper, smaller hardware has its uses too.
Right now I am considering adding a handful of tiny Panasonic Lumix G lenses to my smaller daily carry kit bag, for use with smaller cameras like my beloved Panasonic Lumix GX8, and ePHOTOzine’s list as well as the ones below is proving invaluable to me as I hope they will to you too.
I will be buying some of these lenses online and secondhand as local camera stores seem have given up on buying and selling secondhand gear, and the usual caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies.
If purchasing from sites like eBay ensure that the seller provides a good selection of close-up photographs, all the correct information and model details, and pay through PayPal so that refunds can be made if the lens does not live up to its description.
Above all else, do your research and if you have access to stores that sell secondhand then give them a go before buying online as there is no substitute for try before you buy.
Here is my own long list of small, discrete Panasonic Lumix G lenses for purchase secondhand:
Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II Aspheric – my favourite M43 focal length for immersive documentary photography, equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm sensor format. Bizarrely, seems to have vanished from B&H’s listings.
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS – highly recommended by David Thorpe as a daily “walk-around” lens, but has also vanished from B&H.
This is my three-lens shortlist of small, reasonably fast Panasonic primes:
Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II Aspheric
Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II Aspheric
Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS
If I could carry just one prime lens for any format it would be the equivalent of 35mm in the 35mm sensor format, which is 17.5mm in Micro Four Thirds.
Panasonic does not make a 17.5mm lens though, and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 is reportedly suboptimal for effective video and stills use, so my affordable one lens solution needs must be a zoom lens that includes that focal length and others:
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS, or
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II Aspheric Mega OIS
“The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 is the brand’s highest-end stills-oriented camera, sitting beside the video-oriented Lumix DC-GH5 at the top of the product lineup….
… It seemed for a little while there, the two biggest players in the Micro Four Thirds world were splitting off into their own separate niches with Olympus going after the pro stills crowd by way of the EM-1 series and Panasonic, the pro video crowd with the GH series.
No longer is this the case: the Panasonic G9 looks to take a square shot at the heart of the market Olympus is after with the OM-D E-M1 II….”
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 with Panasonic DMW-BGG9 Battery Grip and Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens.
Panasonic DC-G9 with DMW-BGG9 battery grip and Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens.
Angelbird 64GB AV Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card – B&H
Angelbird 128GB AV Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card – B&H
Angelbird 256GB Match Pack for the Panasonic EVA1 – B&H – special promotional packaging of two Angelbird 128GB AV Pro UHS-II SDXC memory cards that are just as usable in other cameras than the AU-EVA1 that also have UHS-II SD card slots.
“Hands-on and previews:
First impression at Dpreview. Cameras.reviewed. Test by Imaging Resource. GH5 vs A7sII by Dpreview. Review by Photographyblog. Review by Jacob James. Hands-on by CameraJabber. GH5 vs GH5s at CameraJabber. Spanish hands-on by Photolari. GH5 vs GH5 by Mirrorlesscomparison….”