Yes, there is nirvana, twice. If you have following my site you would know that I have been very excited about two new lenses from Panasonic. The other one of them has been introduced and it is just now becoming available in the US. I had already purchased the the first one, the Panasonic Lumix X Vario 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Power O.I.S. it has lived on my GH2 ever since. After seeing the new lens at the Kenmore Camera show last month, I waited to till it was available. Then out came my debit card and over a thousand and a half dollars later, I ordered it. Two days later it arrived but I was traveling for Thanksgiving so I had to wait till I got home! I am not disappointed! I have the brand spanking new wonder lens: the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Power O.I.S. It has not been left off of my other GH2. That is one of the advantages of having two GH2's.
The New View
This is the most expensive lens I have bought including when I had Canon L lenses and my Lumix G X 12-35mm f2.8. I did not buy the Canon L EF 70-200 f2.8 because it was too expensive, large and heavy. I bought the Canon L EF 70-200 f4 IS because it was very sharp, smaller and lighter. It was used on my Canon 60D a lot. A truly wonderful lens. Like both of the Canon's, this lens has weather sealing and is made to a higher standard than their regular lenses. Panasonic choose to brand this lens as well with their upscale X designation. Unlike the Canons, this lens is much smaller and lighter. It will become one of the lenses that I always carry with me.
This lens is the ideal interview lens for MicroFourThirds. The 12-35mm is a little short for interviews because the camera has to be closer than some people are comfortable. Being a video guy who likes to take stills, this lens fills a big gap for me. I have wanted a F2.8, O.I.S. tele lens for shooting video. O.I.S. really combats the shakes and helps eliminate rolling shutter. Being a zoom is a plus, or should I say variable prime.
Boy This Is Small
What we have here is a small, lightweight, fast, ruggedized O.I.S. telephoto zoom lens. On the my GH2 the lens seems to belong there but at the same time it seems small for a tele zoom. It is in diameter about the same as my Lumix 14-140 variable aperture zoom. The weight is about the same too. It fits nicely into my hands and the zoom does not extend when it is zoomed to 100mm with that magical F2.8 aperture. The main barrel seems like metal. The zoom feels very smooth. Smooth enough to shoot during movies. The lens's balance is very good.
What can we say, this lens is very sharp. Sharp in the center and sharp in the corners. There is very little chromatic aberration in the corners of the lens. Also there is the ability to separate your subject from the background because of the fast F2.8 aperture. On the tele end this is very easy.
Autofocus is fast and silent on all my cameras. The manual focus ring feels like metal and is very responsive in manual mode. It takes some turning to change focus so I feel rack focusing while be easy. It is not fast like the cheaper lenses. Also if you zoom in and focus the lens seems to keep the focus as you zoom out.
One Stable Lens
With the GH2 I leave the O.I.S. on as this one of the reasons I bought the lens. It is Panasonic's new Power O.I.S. which is very effective while hand holding the camera. I like that Panasonic has put the O.I.S. switch on the barrel of the lens as I turn it on and off quite often. I turn it off on the EM-5 as that camera has internal image stabilization which is quit effective. They fight each other if both are turned on and it is easier to turn off the lens than going into the menus and turning off the camera's. The O.I.S. is needed more on this lens than it's shorter sibling.
There is a clicking sound from the aperture even at the full F2.8 on the GH2 when not shooting movies but it goes away when shooting. What a relief. On the EM-5 there very little sound from the aperture. On my 14-140 the aperture changes while zooming and the video see variances of light as the zoom takes pace even when the lens is stopped down a aperture stop that is smaller than the smallest aperture on the telephoto side. This is why I wanted a constant aperture lens. If there is any change it is slight and is nothing to worry about.
Worth The Wait
I have to say it has been worth the wait. This lens will get a lot of use by me. Panasonic pulled out all the stops on this one as well. Is as good as we thought it might be? Yes! What more could we ask for? Some are saying the price is to high, but this is a “luxury” lens like the one from the other guys. Their's is much bigger, heavier and expensive. What we get for this expense is a lens that bring MicroFourThirds into the big leagues with it professionalism with a fast tele zoom.
When Panasonic showed the prototype of this lens they also showed a 12-35mm F2.8. O.I.S. This new wonder tele zoom was introduced at Photokina this year in Germany.
I have posted stills taken with the lens on flickr.
Here is a video review of the lens actually on a camera shooting video on my GH2.