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Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 Lens Review

Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the brand new Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH. Micro Four Thirds lens for Panasonic and Olympus cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH
Price : £665
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm (6)

This 3x zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds system cameras, provides a field of view equivalent to a 24-70mm lens on a 35mm camera. It also sports optical image stabilisation, a silent focusing motor and a lightweight, compact design. The maximum aperture remains constant at f/2.8 throughout the zoom range.

Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 Handling and Features


Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm (7)

This lens feels very solidly built, despite being lightweight and compact. It is constructed from high quality plastics, that have a dark grey gun-metal finish and the lens mount is made from metal. Even though this lens has a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture, it only weighs 305g, which makes it feel right at home on even the most compact Micro Four Thirds camera bodies, such as the Panasonic Lumix GF3 used for testing. The lens is designed to be resistant to dust and moisture, making it suitable for using in inclement conditions.

Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm (8)

The zoom extends by around half an inch as it it is moved to the telephoto end of the range and the action is smooth, not tightening up at any point in the range. The zoom mechanism has just enough resistance to prevent zoom creep with the camera pointed downwards.

Focusing is performed internally, so the 58mm filter thread does not rotate, making this lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters. Autofocus is very swift and accurate and the manual focus ring is well damped, making fine adjustments easy to apply.

Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm (11)

The optical image stabiliser allows sharp hand held images to be taken at shutters speeds as low as 1/10sec at 35mm, which is roughly three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would allow otherwise. If extreme care is taken, sharp, hand held shots are even possible at 1/5sec and 35mm.

Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 Performance

At 12mm and f/2.8 sharpness in the centre of the frame is already approaching excellent levels, and the clarity towards the edges of the frame is fairly good. Stopping down to f/4 results in outstanding sharpness in the centre of the frame, and good sharpness towards the edges.

At 23mm, overall sharpness increases a little, with outstanding sharpness being recorded in the centre at maximum aperture and good sharpness towards the edges of the frame. Again, stopping down to f/4 results in an increase in centre sharpness, but does little to improve sharpness towards the edges, which remains good.

Finally at 35mm, sharpness across the frame increases again, although clarity in the centre doesn't reach the lofty heights it did at shorter focal lengths. Even so, sharpness is excellent in the centre of the frame between f/2.8 and f//5.6 and resolution is very good towards the edges at these apertures too.

MTF@12mm
MTF@12mm 
MTF@23mm
MTF@23mm
MTF@35mm
MTF@35mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are kept under control well throughout the zoom range, only rising slightly at 12mm and f/22. This setting is affected strongly by diffraction, so is probably best avoided anyway.

CA@12mm
CA@12mm 
CA@23mm
CA@23mm
CA@35mm
CA@35mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is reasonably well controlled for a wide aperture lens. At 12mm the corners are 1.37 stops darker than the image centre and at 35mm the corners are 1.27 stops darker. Stopping down to f/5.6 results in visually uniform illumination throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is well controlled at either end of the zoom range with only 0.543% barrel and 0.483% pincushion distortion detected by Imatest at 12mm and 35mm respectively. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so any curvature is relatively straightforward to correct in image editing software afterwards if required.

No issues with flare were encountered during testing. The Nano Surface Coatings applied to this lens help to keep contrast high, even when shooting into the light. A petal shaped hood comes supplied with the lens, which does a decent job of protecting the front element from extraneous light that may cause issues.

Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH Sample Photos


Value For Money

When the lens becomes available, it will retail for around £999, which puts in in line with pro 24-70mm zooms from other manufacturers for other systems.

There are currently no other 24-70mm equivalent f/2.8 zooms available for Micro Four Thirds. The closest equivalent is the Olympus 14-35mm f/2, which has a constant maximum aperture twice as bright as this lens, but lacks image stabilisation and costs a whopping £1799. This Olympus lens would need to be used with an adapter on a Micro Four Thirds body and is much more bulky than the lens reviewed here.

Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 Verdict

With the advent of more professionally orientated Micro Four Thirds camera bodies, it makes sense that Panasonic would want to release a weather-sealed professional spec f/2.8 zoom. The price at around £999, is typical of these kinds of lenses.

Performance-wise, this lens delivers sharp, contrasty images with low CA and distortion, which should be expected of a pro-spec zoom.

 
  The lens delivers sharp, contrasty images with low CA and distortion, which should be expected of a pro-spec zoom.

Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 Pros

Excellent sharpness, especially in the centre
Low distortion
Weather sealed build
Fast focusing
Constant f/2.8 aperture
Image stabilisation
Compact size

Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 Cons

Although the high price is typical of pro spec f/2.8 zooms, it may put this lens beyond the reach of many

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Panasonic Lumix G X VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length12mm - 35mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size58mm
35mm equivalent24mm - 70mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus25cm
StabilisedYes
Construction
Blades7
Elements14
Groups9
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens cap, Reap Cap, Lens Pouch, Manual
Dimensions
Weight305g
Height73.8mm

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Comments


Chaitanya 4 14 1 India
21 May 2012 6:29AM
certainly interested in seeing Panasonic's weather sealed camera body for this lens.

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walkerr 11
21 May 2012 6:55AM
That would look very nice on a OM-D Smile
Carrera_c 4 254 3 United Kingdom
21 May 2012 3:07PM
I wonder how this lens really compares when measured against the Full-Frame 24-70 2.8 offerings from Nikon, Canon, Sigma, etc. With this large aperture I was hoping for big things from this lens, but looking at the earlier reviews for the other Panasonic zoom lenses the sharpness doesn't seem to be as big a step up as I'd hoped (especially for the price difference), and compared with the review for the Sigma DG 24-70 2.8, the sigma seems to blow it out of the water for sharpness.

However I always take these charts with a pinch of salt anyway and will wait until I can see for myself in the real world.
Zyran 2
21 May 2012 4:54PM
Oh how I miss Sheffield.

Seems like a great lens.
21 May 2012 10:45PM
Not bad, but... OM-D + New Panny will cost near $2500 Smile More than Sony A77 + 16-50mm and close to Canon 60D + 24-70mm
walkerr 11
22 May 2012 6:28AM
True - the idea of one lens system that fits a "compact" and SLR body is still appealing to me, although now I have EOS and MFT fit lenses, I guess the money is already spent!
kodachrome 2 453
23 May 2012 12:45PM
No doubt about it this lens a great performer but not at that price. It pushes me further in the direction of the Samsung NX20 and the superb but affordable NX lenses.

If Panasonic and Olympus are trying to 'price' their products in the high end market then they are going to be the losers. People will just turn to other cheaper but just as good products.
theorderingone 10 2.4k United Kingdom
23 May 2012 3:57PM

Quote: No doubt about it this lens a great performer but not at that price. It pushes me further in the direction of the Samsung NX20 and the superb but affordable NX lenses.

If Panasonic and Olympus are trying to 'price' their products in the high end market then they are going to be the losers. People will just turn to other cheaper but just as good products.

Remember, this lens has only just been announced. The street price may differ when it becomes available.
24 May 2012 10:25AM
Even if the price drops, it would have to quite a big reduction for most ordinary people, like me be able to afford it, sub 600 !

What is needed is more 3rd party affordable lenses form Sigma, Tamron, Tokina etc to fit micro 4/3rds.
27 May 2012 7:15PM
The performance looks really good as it should for the price, which is fair if you look at similar lenses like the Nikon 17-55mm. Prices normally go down too, e.g. the Canon 17-55mm listed at $1900 but is available for $1100 since it's a 10 year lens after all. Also, the 12-35mm could be available in a kit when the GH3 comes out, which (hopefully) should cost $2000 or less.

@Carrera_c: When I look at the mtf charts for the Sigma 24-70mm DG , I see it is below Excellent, below good and below fair for the averaged sharpness at 24, 35 and 70mm when wide open. The Panasonic has above good average sharpness and goes to almost excellent as you zoom in at wide open. Technically, the Panasonic blows the Sigma out of the water.

@theorderingone: No other mirrorless system have a native bright, fixed aperture zoom like this. They also don't have wide angle zooms like the Oly 9-18mm and Pany 7-14mm, while the Oly is pretty affordable. Other m4/3 lenses can be cheaper than their equivalents, e.g. the Oly 14-150mm and Pany 14-140mm are (currently) cheaper than the NX 18-200mm.
27 May 2012 7:35PM
Oh, last bit was meant for kodachrome, not theorderingone. PS I don't get how the release of higher end product affects the availability of the lower and more affordable lenses; you can still buy them.
pcady 2
1 Jul 2012 3:53AM
Is the lens parfocal? Those of us interested in it for video have yet to get an answer to this question.
WIDICK 2
27 Jul 2012 9:16PM
I must be missing something. According to my reading of the review of the old Panasonic 14-45mm lens which received 4 1/2 stars for performance, it out performs the 12-35mm in terms of image quality on just about all scores. While the 12-35mm is a wider aperture lens, I don't see how it mertits 5 stars for performance or justifies it's price. I'm frankly disappointed.
walkerr 11
29 Jul 2012 11:22AM

Quote: I must be missing something. According to my reading of the review of the old Panasonic 14-45mm lens which received 4 1/2 stars for performance, it out performs the 12-35mm in terms of image quality on just about all scores. While the 12-35mm is a wider aperture lens, I don't see how it mertits 5 stars for performance or justifies it's price. I'm frankly disappointed.

If I was buying this lens - the things which would appeal to me would be:

* 12mm - I have the 14mm already, and it's good - but I always hanker for a 24mm equivalent, 28mm just doesn't quite cut it.
* f2.8 - also big fan of faster glass
* weather sealed
* decent image quality

But on that last part, I'd go and try a couple of samples at a shop for myself to rate the IQ - if it were up to scratch for my needs, the above would make it a worthwhile option (assuming I had the spare cash, which sadly I don't at this stage).
14 Feb 2013 2:44AM
Hi all MFT enthusiasts! I'd like some insight on picking the best zoom Lens out of the 5 or 6 in this range. I've looked at the reviews and was going to buy the Pany 12-35 f2.8 but am having second thoughts after comparing all the Ephotozine results with other sites--plus $$$.

Of the lenses reviewed, the choice comes down to three: Pany 12-35mm for speed (DOF) and good IQ, Pany 14-45mm for price and excellent IQ, Oly 12-50mm Macro for diversity and good IQ. The 12-35 f2.8 seemed like a no brainer, but the IQ is less than expected... No chance for me to handle before buying, so I've got to rely on the forums and reviews for insight. Any deep and articulate thoughts would be appreciated, prefer not to read a bunch of one liners like "buy the 12-35, dude".

It would be nice to hear from people that have experience with the two Panasonics because I can borrow the Oly. Things like contrast and color are subjective but count. This is going on an Oly E-M5
walkerr 11
14 Feb 2013 6:52AM
Hi @Robotele

A big factor to consider IMO is the body you're using it on. Quick apart from OIS vs IBIS - I have found (and others note) that generally Pany lenses work best on Pany bodies, and likewise for Oly lenses.

I have the old Pany 14-45 on my GF1 - and it gives plenty good enough results for me. When I got my OM-D I *nearly* didn't go with the 12-50 kit lens because of having the Pany already, but reviews persuaded me the added cost of the kit was worth it. I'm glad I did - it's a slow lens, but the IQ is also good enough, and having Macro and weatherproofing is a bonus. It's my go everywhere lens on the OM-D. *BUT* I probably wouldn't have bought it standalone, and definitely not for a Pany. If you have a Pany body, I'd get the 12-35 f2.8 if you have the budget, and the 14-45 if not.

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