Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S Review

Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S Review - John Riley reviews the Panasonic Leica DG 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S. telephoto prime lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras, with the 1.4x teleconverter.

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Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm f/2.8 POWER O.I.S in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Panasonic Leica 200mm F2,8 Front Oblique View

A 200mm f/2.8 lens might seems a fairly standard offering, but when we consider this is for MFT format and we apply the 2x crop factor, we are left with a field of view comparable to a 400mm f/2.8 on a 35mm-format full frame camera. Fit the 1.4x teleconverter and the resulting 280mm f/4 optic has a  “35mm-equivalent” of 560mm f/4, a very exciting prospect. The resulting package is also extremely compact, a fraction of the size and weight of comparable-effect full frame lenses. Coupled up to the Panasonic Lumix G6 camera body used for this review, let's see if this all lives up to the promise.

Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S. Handling and Features

Panasonic Leica 200mm F2,8 On Lumix G6

This is clearly from the outset a beautifully made lens. All the controls are super-smooth in operation, everything fits together with precision and the overall finish is exemplary. Weighing in at 1245g, this might seem heavy for the format, but consider the alternatives in larger formats and we really have a relatively light package for the intended purposes. There is a standard 77mm filter thread, outside of which the barrel is smooth where it accepts a slide-on lens hood. The hood is secured by a small knurled screw that tightens a band within the hood, firmly and evenly gripping the lens. It's all designed very well and fits perfectly.

Behind here we find a large aperture ring. An A setting is provided should we wish to control the aperture from the camera, or values can be directly set on the ring in 1/3 stop increments. The detents have just the right feel and the ring operates very smoothly.

There is a wide manual focus ring, although little need was found to switch from AF. The AF system locks on very efficiently. Moving closer again to the camera body, we find two switches on the lens barrel. The first is a focus limiter, allowing AF to operate over the full range or restricting it to between 3m and infinity. The second is a Memory switch. This enables a focus position to be retained and recalled by pressing a small button between the two switches. The Fn setting on this switch enables a camera function to be allocated to the button, after which pressing the button will set the function on the camera. This latter feature depends upon the camera body used supporting the function. Focusing is down to 1.15m, giving a maximum magnification of 0.2x.

Closer to the camera body lies the tripod foot and ring. This is very solid and secure and loosening a knurled knob also allows for camera orientation to be set. This works very elegantly, a lovely simple bit of design.

Finally we have two switches on the lens body closest to the camera. The AF/MF switch lies just above an on/off switch for the Power OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) system. The lens is also rated as being dust, splash and freeze proof, making it ideal for using outdoors in demanding situations.

Panasonic Leica 200mm F2,8 Side View With Converter

Optical construction of the lens comprises 15 elements in 13 groups, two of which are Ultra-Extra Low Dispersion. The diaphragm has 9 blades, aiming to improve the quality of the out of focus areas, or bokeh.

1.4x Teleconverter DMW-TC14

This Teleconverter is provided with the lens, turning it into a very useful 280mm f/4. The minimum focus distance remains the same, so magnification is also increased. The converter comprises 6 elements in 4 groups. It adds just 115g to the weight of the lens. The pulling power of this combination is very powerful, having a “35mm-format” equivalent of a 560mm f/4, a very attractive proposition.

Panasonic Leica 1,4x Teleconverter For 200mm F2,8

Overall handling is very slick, regardless of whether the TC is used or not. In fact, adding the TC seems to make no difference to AF speed or usability in any way. Using the lens in the studio for portraits might not seem the intuitive thing to do, but in fact this works very well. The perspective at the distances required makes excellent head and shoulder portraits. Out in the field, wildlife, nature, landscape, all fall within the types of subjects that can be handled with ease.

Although we do need to remember that shutter speeds will still need to be high to arrest subject movement, here we have a very powerful telephoto lens that handles with the same ease as a much more modest one.

Panasonic Leica 200mm F2,8 Rear Oblique View

Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S. Performance

Looking at the lens alone, centrally sharpness is excellent from f/2.8 to f/11. It is very good at f/16 until diffraction pulls down the performance at f/22, although even here it remains a good standard. The edges start of as very good at f/2.8, rise to excellent from f/4 to f/11 and back to very good at f/16. At f/22 sharpness is good, but diffraction does take the bite off it.

Adding the TC does mean some reduction in performance, as we might expect, but centrally it remains excellent from f/4 to f/8, is very good at f/11 and f/16 and good at f/22. Diffraction at f/32 makes for soft images and in fact the camera EXIF reports this as still being f/22. The edges suffer the most, being good at f/4 and f/5.6, very good at f/8 and f/11 and good at f/16. beyond this, images become soft at f/22 and f/32. This is actually all pretty good, as using wide apertures with subjects centrally placed results in very nice, crisp images.

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm f/2.8 POWER O.I.S MTF Charts

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G6 using Imatest.


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is extremely well corrected. Using the lens alone CA is kept under one half of a pixel centre and edge. Adding the TC gives a mild increase of CA, but it still hovers around the half a pixel value. This is unlikely to need any further correction in either case.

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm f/2.8 POWER O.I.S Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) 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 G6 using Imatest.

 

Distortion figures are also very impressive. With the lens alone we have +0.22% pincushion distortion. With the TC added we have -0.45% barrel distortion. Both these figures mean that the lens is very close to rectilinear and distortion is unlikely to be noticed. For very critical work it could be further corrected in software.

Flare is not a problem either, it being marked by its total absence.

Bokeh is of course the smoothness of the gradation of out of focus areas and all long lenses are already ahead of the game by virtue of the reduced depth of field. This lens excels in having ultra-smooth bokeh, making it ideal for quality images with diffused backgrounds.

The OIS system is a very welcome addition and it was with ease that a full 6 stops advantage could be enjoyed. That is amazing. However, it is worth remembering that this does nothing to address subject movement, so for much wildlife photography it may well be best to switch OIS off.


Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm f/2.8 POWER O.I.S Sample Photos

 

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm f/2.8 POWER O.I.S Other sample images

 

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm f/2.8 POWER O.I.S Aperture range

 

Value For Money

The Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 lens, including the Teleconverter DMW-TC14, is priced at £2699. This may well be a very large sum of money, but let's consider what a 35mm-format full frame user might have to choose to obtain a similar field of view.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM, £9,499
Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, £7,999
Nikon AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, £10,499
Nikon AF-S 500mm f/4E FL ED VR, £8,999
HD Pentax-DA 560mm f/5.6 ED AW, £3,709
Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports, £4,999

These figures speak for themselves.

For more options have a look at the Top 11 Best Panasonic Lenses, the Top 35 Best Micro Four Thirds Lenses, or the Top 10 Best Super Telephoto prime lenses.

 

Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S. Verdict

The Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S is a cracking good lens that is highly functional, with a very useful teleconverter that extends the possibilities. Yes, the price hurts, but the alternatives hurt even more. This is such a pleasure to use and the results are just as satisfying, even with the fairly modest pixel count of the Panasonic Lumix G6. A definite Editor's Choice.

Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S. Pros

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Low CA
  • No flare
  • Fast AF, and close focus
  • Beautifully designed and engineered
  • Very usable TC
  • Superb OIS
  • Dust, moisture and freezeproof
  • Compact

Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S. Cons

  • Price

Features4.5/5
Handling5/5
Performance5/5
Value4.5/5
Overall Verdict

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm f/2.8 POWER O.I.S Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length200mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size77mm
StabilisedYes
35mm equivalent400mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnification0.2x
Focusing
Min Focus115cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements15
Groups13
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight1245g
Height174mm

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Comments


BerD 1 United Kingdom
24 Dec 2017 8:47AM
Wait..... so judging from reviews of 200mm and 100-400mm on ephotozine, 200mm is just faster than 100-400mm, but actually not as sharp at either 200mm and 280/300mm?

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24 Dec 2017 2:30PM
We have to relate the resolution figures to the potential maximum for any sensor, so the text gives the relative levels some means of comparison. Excellent means excellent, for example, only exceeded where sometimes sharpness becomes outstanding, which is a very high barrier to break. Some explanation overall is always needed as lenses have all sorts of characteristics and merits that cannot be totally expressed in bald figures.
ChrisV Plus
11 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
26 Dec 2017 9:07PM

Quote:The Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 lens, including the Teleconverter DMW-TC14, is priced at £2699. This may well be a very large sum of money, but let's consider what a 35mm-format full frame user might have to choose to obtain a similar field of view.


Canon 400mm f5.6L for example? It’s a grand or so. You can’t compare this with a 35mm format 400mm f2.8 because it will always be two stops behind in light gathering. I haven’t looked at mtf charts, but I’d take a gamble this isnít going to beat the Canon for resolution either. I’d wager it won’t even outperform the excellent 70-200 OEM f2.8 zooms from Sony CaNikon either. The only likely advantage it has might be focus speed wide open and unless you’re talking quite specific circumstances, that’s not going to get you a long way.

So is this a decent performing gobsmackingly expensive 200 f2.8 prime, or a hideously, ridiculously overpriced 400 f5.6? Half a point knocked off for the price making it still a five star lens? Would you buy it yourself? Seriously?

I can’t for the life of me see how the price of this lens is anywhere close to justified. Four Thirds lenses have only become this expensive recently and I can’t help but think it’s a marketing decision. It needs discouraging.
27 Dec 2017 10:36AM
Re:”You can’t compare this with a 35mm format 400mm f2.8 because it will always be two stops behind in light gathering.” I’m getting fed up educating FF Santas when you compare m4/3 lens to 35mm you multiply focal length x2 but don’t touch apperture. F2.8 stays 2.8 everywhere. If you don’t like this lens go kiss Canon and be happy.
This is my first time commenting on Ephotozine. So far I have found the reviews excellent and quite helpful. I was excited to hear about the release of the Panasonic 200mm f/2.8 and it's great to learn that optically it does quite well. But...

I find the price appalling. And really find it deceptive that the Ephotozine reviewer picked lenses like the Canon 400mm f/2.8 to help justify the price. Really? If we are going to talk equivalency, then as ChrisV mentioned, Canon's 400mm f.6 would be much more appropriate.

On the other hand, the nice thing is that a 200mm f/2.8 is MUCH smaller than a 400mm f/5.6. To that end, IF this was priced better it could made sense.

By the way, I own the Canon 200mm f/2.8L II and have the Kipon autofocus adapter to MFT. I get very sharp results, especially if stopped down to f/4. Use is limited since only single autofocus is supported, and focus accuracy isn't 100%. Good for casually walking around when there's birdlife though. And you can have the whole setup for $1000. Much much cheaper! And the Canon lens doubles as a great outdoor portrait lens on my 6D.

(Nizmo: The entrance pupil of a 200mm f/2.8 is 71mm but a 400mm f/2.8 has an entrance pupil diameter that's double that, at 143mm. That's why a 400mm f5.6 is a much better comparison. It has a 71mm entrance pupil just like a 200mm f/2.8. Here's another way to look at it. Remember that ISO on a full frame and MFT really aren't equivalent in terms of grain, assuming similar sensor technologies. If a photo is taken on full-frame at 400mm f/5.6, the same photo isn't 200mm f/5.6 on MFT, because the MFT will be grainier. Instead, you have to drop the aperture to f/2.8 to get the same level of grain, and to also to get the same depth of field.)
ChrisV Plus
11 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
28 Dec 2017 5:50PM

Quote:Re:ĒYou canít compare this with a 35mm format 400mm f2.8 because it will always be two stops behind in light gathering.Ē Iím getting fed up educating FF Santas when you compare m4/3 lens to 35mm you multiply focal length x2 but donít touch apperture. F2.8 stays 2.8 everywhere. If you donít like this lens go kiss Canon and be happy.


Youíre not Ďeducatingí anyone. I mainly use MfT and it does the job most of the time. But Agate, above has already explained why equivalence is real. You need to assess overall the implications of what any particular combination of lens and sensor is going to get you. I like MfT gear for the weight advantage. But if Iím going to buy a premium specialist lens I expect performance to match price. Recent MfT offerings increasingly fall short on that front and if there isnít a change in that policy (I find a premium f4 walk around lens on this format for example completely uninteresting - even before you factor in crazy prices) I wonít be investing much more in the system.
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
29 Dec 2017 7:34PM
This equivalence business is irrelevant, a discussion of angels on pin heads. This Micro Four Thirds lens will not work on what is called (absurdly) a Full Frame camera. It is a Micro Four Thirds lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras. A 17x13mm sensor is full frame for a Micro Four Thirds camera.

Just as 36x24mm sensor cameras are a system and ecosystem within themselves, so are Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, Medium Format and plate cameras. You choose one for its overall package of features. The availability of a lens like this in a system does not halt production of all the alternatives.

There is not much to be said about sensor sizes, simply that all things being equal, the bigger a sensor the better the noise performance and the bigger its lenses will have to be. All photographic equipment is a compromise somewhere, often between back pain and noise performance. My stock sales alone have risen greatly since I went over to Micro Four Thirds a few years ago - because I always have a camera with me capable of saleable quality images even when I'm out walking or on public transport.

A lens like this 200mm f/2.8 is highly specialist, one for which very few people have a need. Not so many will be made, therefore it must be expensive. Ditto the Olympus 300mm f/4. If a DSLR and 400mm f/2.8 is so much better value, surely the logic would just be to buy that?

As for the prices, I bought an 8-18mm Panasonic lens for about £1,000 as I recall. I actually think that is pretty good value, as is my 40-150 f/2.8 Olympus. I don't see that the high price of a lens I don't own makes them less good value. Just don't buy it, surely?


ChrisV Plus
11 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
29 Dec 2017 11:15PM
Dave, youíll note Iíve made no mention of Ďfull frameí Iíve mentioned 35mm format. It is shorthand some people use and I suppose itís because many are happy enough to talk about Ďequivalentí focal lengths. The first person to talk about FF is the poster who thought it was fine to compare a 200mm to a 400mm lens, but got a bit twitchy about the equivalence in terms of aperture. You donít get one without the other since DoF character and of course, noise, will have that two stops difference. I donít doubt these will sell in small numbers, but theyíd sell a damn sight more if they priced it at what youíd expect to pay for a 200mm f2.8 or indeed a 400mm f5.6. I can believe they would cost more to construct than the latter, but I doubt it would cost even as much as the former for the larger format.

Good quality MfT lenses have always been slightly on the pricey side, but most were decent value up to two or three years ago. They then seemed to discover they could charge really silly prices for glass (thatís Olympus and Panasonic - there are some great value optics from third parties). Some of the wider optics I can accept are complex to develop (although Samyang do a 7.5 fisheye cheap as chips). This lens and many others just seem to me to be ridiculously overpriced..

Youíre right of course I could think a 16-35 f2.8 makes a lot more sense and is better value than your 8-18 and I do - which is why Iíve never bought a standard wide and will take out a bigger camera when I know I will need that sort of AoV.

If PanOly persist in their current lens pricing strategy, future purchases might follow that same logic.

As you know I like the smaller format cameras, but Iím not willing to accept the compromise for the convenience if I have to pay through the nose for it into the bargain.
StrayCat 14 19.1k 3 Canada
30 Dec 2017 7:30AM
They certainly won't be mass produced at those prices, unless they have lots of storage space.
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
8 Jan 2018 1:10PM

Quote:As you know I like the smaller format cameras, but Iím not willing to accept the compromise for the convenience if I have to pay through the nose for it into the bargain.


I understand your view completely but I don't think that specialist lenses are covered by it. There are very good value Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses available. One of the reasons for this is the price paid for high end items by a limited number of people.

Personally, if an expensive lens means I don't have to use my car but can walk or cycle to my destination instead, I don't mind paying for that. I well remember a cupboard full of very expensive lenses in the office which none of the photographers ever used. Anyone who has ever tried to use a 400mm f/2.8, for example will understand why.

If Micro Four Thirds is judged by the same quality standards as 35x24mm sensors models, it will be found wanting. But if size and convenience are taken into the equation, it all looks different and the 200mm f/2.8 makes sense. I'll never buy one because I have no use for it whatsoever. I should also add that I have no attachment to Micro Four Thirds at all. If something came along that answered my needs better, I'd buy it immediately.
28 Jan 2018 7:40PM
I'm an agreement with many of the other posters, Panasonic is doing themselves a disservice by charging so much. As for size and weight, I think I'd rather buy a Nikon D7200 and their new 300mm F4 with the fresnel lens. Even with the heavier body, it's still going to weigh less than any m43 combo with this lens (the Nikon combo will probably be around 300g lighter). And it will have more reach and likely have better C-AF. And the Nikon lens is $1,000 cheaper and will be much easier to sell if you ever had to sell it. I don't see any advantage to this lens. And this is coming from someone that owns a m43 camera.
5 Apr 2018 7:31PM
I've ever made my choice: a 2d hand Canon EF-L 200:2.8-II with EF to M4/3 adapter + x1.4 + a Speedbooster is much more cheap and much more valuable. I just loose WP built, AF speed, Dual-IS and surely a little sharpness, but then the whole package just cost me ~1000 Ä, is much lighter and can be used on my Canon Eos too... and I win a 140:2 (280:2 eq in 24x36) ! No more to say...

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