9.05.2017

I just had to go out and do a quick test of a lens I'll probably use less than most of my other lenses. It's the Panasonic/Leica 8-18mm.



As most loyal readers probably know I think of wide angle and ultra wide angle lenses as an afterthought. But when shooting commercial work there are often requests to, "get the whole lab, from side to side, in the shot." Or, "Can you get this entire group in the shot from about 10 feet away?" Or, "Let's shoot this scene from inside the car/truck/plane/boat." And in those situations client retention does call for some focal length flexibility. In my full frame Canon days my widest lens was the 20mm f2.8 and I used it whenever I needed to do architecture. With the full frame Sonys I try to make everything fit into the 24mm wide end of the 24-70mm zoom but use the Rokinon 14mm when I know I'll have time to spend correcting its massive distortion...(a lens profile in Lightroom is a big help). 

So now that I've dived into the Panasonic cameras and am putting together what I think will be a video centric imaging system I've decided not to dance around the need for some wide angle coverage and to buy a lens that simplifies that kind of photography. There were really two choices: the Olympus 7-14mm Pro series lens and the Panasonic/Leica 8-18mm. I chose the Panasonic/Leica for three reasons (of which only two are cogent and only one is a deal maker....). First off I liked the industrial design of the lens. It looks cool. Don't discount cool looks entirely. Design is, by nature, somewhat sneaky in that it makes a certain statement. The Panasonic/Leica says, "Well integrated with the camera." 

My second reason for buying it is my theory that while Olympus and Panasonic cameras will read each other's lens firmware maybe Panasonic camera has some special sauce sprinkled in that allows it to optimize the wide performance of the lens just a little bit more. And finally, most importantly, I can stick a 67mm variable neutral density filter right on the front of the lens while the Olympus requires a whole new, fumbly apparatus with which to use filters at all. 

I didn't want to wait until the 30 day return privilege at Precision Camera passed me by to check out the lens performance so after a meeting about a video project with my favorite producer/director I headed downtown to shoot random wide shots of random stuff. I also stopped by Whole Foods to pick up a couple of Lemon Hazelnut Scones (LHS) for afternoon tea with my favorite art director/designer and to have some sushi for lunch. 

I came home and put four dozen files into Lightroom and looked as them dispassionately. The lens is sharp, the software correction works well. There's no discernible loss of sharpness in the corners at f5.6 (which is a good f-stop at which to shoot wide images) and the lens resolves nice detail even at the widest setting. In short, the lens is perfect for the limited use it will probably see on my cameras. But it's good to have it in the bag for those "just in case" moments. Not what I would consider a sexy lens but one which will round out the image capabilities of the Panasonic package. 





9 comments:

runbei said...

Delicious cloud. Aah.

Art in LA said...

I have a telephoto bias too. Do you have or ever shoot with a fisheye? I take mine out sometimes (it's just an attachment that goes on my Sony 16mm e-mount) ... I just love the weird warping and distortion. Pure fun.

Michael Matthews said...

That looks quite nice...the lead-off shot in particular. Have you made use of the Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8? I see the older model which does not work in tandem with the newer cameras' IBIS is now being offered new at a price several hundred bucks below its replacement. Most of Griffin Hammond's "Sriracha" video was shot with it. The result was impressive. I'm feeling tempted.

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Art, the last fisheye I owned was Nikon's 10.5 mm from back in the early days of digital. You could use their software to make the files rectilinear. I used it twice. Once to shoot a huge auditorium and a second time to shoot at a printing shop. The printing shop shoot was successful. I didn't like it for the architecture...

Kirk Tuck said...

MM, I had the 12-35mm back in 2013 when I was shooting a lot of stuff with a brace of GH4s. While I liked the lens a lot I think the 12-100mm f4.0 is pretty amazing as well. My current preference is to have one "all purpose" lens for those most used focal lengths. I'm wondering though, how does the Panasonic 12-35mm (old style) compare to the Olympus 12-40mm? If anyone else out there has an opinion about it I'd love to hear...

Michael Matthews said...

Memo to me: search before you ask. Of course you used the Panasonic 12-35 and wrote about it. I guess my question should have been the one you posed: does the Panasonic 12-35 measure up, in everything other than the additional 5 mm of reach, to the Olympus 12-40? If so, the current pricing makes it attractive to my always constrained budget.

Kirk Tuck said...

MM, I remember that selling off the 12-35mm and the 35-100mm in that camera shedding was sad for me. Both of those lenses were pretty much flawless. The 12-35mm (original) is a favorite of many photo friends who've been steadfast in their allegiance to the m4:3 world. They are great.

Art in LA said...

For me, the fisheye is great for "surreal architecture" shots. I love the Salvador Dali-esque lines I get when shooting skyscrapers. The close focusing and extreme DOF make it really easy to shoot -- flowers, pets, cars. You should rent/borrow a fisheye from Precision, take a stroll in downtown Austin, or that graffiti park near you. I bet you'd have fun with it!

mikepeters said...

Kirk, I've had the 12-35 and 35-100 v1's and now have the 12-40, the 40-150, and 12-100. You see where I'm going with this. I found my 12-35 v1 was not really crisp in the outer areas of the frame, the 12-40 does not exhibit this. However in most instances it wasn't a problem.

My main reason for switching was that my 35-100 broke when it hit the deck, and I really wanted the extra range of the 40-150 anyway. And if I got that, with the opposite way zoom, the 12-35 would have to make way for the matching 12-40 so my zooms would all go in the same direction. Took me a year to get used to it! The focus clutch mechanism is brilliant, and that's just a really nice touch that all three share.

That being said, on the wide end I'd also get the Pana/Leica 8-18 for the ability to put a variable ND on when shooting video outside.