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Apr 20

Review: Panasonic Lumix 35-100mm f/4-5.6 OIS

This past fall, Panasonic made several announcements in advance of Photokina, but one that flew under the radar a bit was the addition of a very compact 35-100mm f/4-5.6 lens. The new 35-100mm is a slower option that sits alongside the excellent 35-100mm f/2.8 from Panasonic. This new lens, which gives the same field of view as the classic 70-200mm telephoto zooms on 35mm cameras, is exceptionally small, making it an ideal choice for inclusion in super-lightweight travel kits. If you’re like me, though, such a lens is only really a useful option if the optics are good as well. Let’s find out how good small can be.

Panasonic 35-100mm f/4-5.6 OIS on the Lumix GX1

Panasonic 35-100mm f/4-5.6 OIS on the Lumix GX1

If you’re not familiar with my reviews, I review from a real world shooting perspective. You won’t find lens charts or resolution numbers here. There are plenty of other sites that cover those. I review products on how they act for me as a photographic tool.

Construction and Handling

The first thing that strikes you when you first see the new 35-100mm f/4-5.6 is its size. The lens is almost impossibly small. Most telephoto lenses, by necessity, are relatively long lenses. The smaller 4/3 sensor size has allowed many telephoto options for the Micro 4/3 system to shrink the overall lens size, but none compare to the miniaturization that the 35-100mm achieves.

The lens is a collapsible design, and when collapsed, it’s no larger than the collapsible 14-42mm kit zoom from Olympus. It’s the same diameter as the Micro 4/3 lens mount and only about 1.5 inches in length. As such, the lens works extremely well on any of the Micro 4/3 bodies, and seems geared towards the smaller cameras such as the Panasonic GM1 and GM5 or the Olympus E-PL7. I used the lens on both the OM-D E-M5 and the Panasonic GX1, and it felt great on both bodies.

The 35-100mm is a collapsible design that extends during use

The 35-100mm is a collapsible design that extends during use

The lens isn’t a high-end lens with regards to construction, but it’s fairly well assembled. The 35-100mm has a metal lens mount and lightweight metal exterior. The inner lens barrel, which extends when put into shooting position, and extends further when zooming towards 100mm, is made of plastic. The inner tube can wobble a bit if pressure is applied, but there’s very limited play in general use. The zoom ring opens the lens into shooting position, and is well damped for zooming through the focal range. There is a semi-hard stop at 35mm to let you know you’ve reached the end of the zoom through. Proceeding past this stop will collapse the lens. The focus ring operates smoothly, but is only lightly damped.

The extremely small size makes this lens an ideal travel companion, and it fits in very well with lenses such as the Olympus 9-18mm and the Panasonic pancake zoom 12-32mm. In fact, all three lenses together weigh less than 400g and would cover an incredible range from ultra-wide angle to medium telephoto.

Autofocus and Image Stabilization

The 35-100mm f/4-5.6 focuses very quickly and accurately. The autofocus motor is virtually silent and the lens was sure and confident in focusing on both camera bodies used for testing.

The lens also features Panasonic’s optical image stabilizer, dubbed Mega OIS. The OIS on the 35-100mm is surprisingly effective, especially sing the ‘Mega OIS’ moniker is Panasonic’s standard level IS system. The ‘higher-end’ stabilization is named ‘Power OIS.’ The optical stabilizer allowed me to achieve sharp images consistently at around 1/15s, which equates to a shutter speed around 3.5 stops slower than what normally is needed for sharp shots.  Like many stabilizer systems for Micro 4/3, you do need to watch when using the optical stabilizer at speeds around 1/60s, as it can be prone to some blurring due to shutter shock around that speed.

Continue: Image Quality

About the author

Jordan Steele

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Admiring Light; Photographer; Electrical Engineer and Dad

13 comments

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  1. Shiv

    Nice review! I picked up the Lumix 35-100m f4 lens before a trip to the Carribean – there was a $50 off sale going on and most retailers were selling it for $349. On my trip, I took the DMC-GM1 camera, the 12-32mm lens that comes with the GM1 and the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 (mostly for night/available light). This proved to be a very compact yet versatile kit. I was very impressed with the quality of the shots I was able to take with the 35-100mm f4 lens. I’m surprised that there isn’t more “buzz” online about this lens as the size, quality, and price make it very attractive.

  2. Joe Kashi

    I initially hesitated buying this lens due to sparse initial reviews and uninspiring optical results with other Panasonic telephoto zoom lenses. I finally bought this lens when it was briefly on sale at BH. I won’t keep a lens that is not optically acceptable under a wide range of circumstances.

    For its size and price, it’s really quite good optically and versatile. I took in a night Red Sox game while back at MIT last week and did not find the f/4-f/5.6 maximum aperture to be a problem, even under the Fenway lights, with an E-P5 at ISO 800. We got crisp, quite detailed burst-mode photos without problems.

    I also tested this lens, and many other M4/3 optics, on an Olympus E-M5 Mark II in its 9216-pixel high-resolution RAW mode, processed with DXO 10.4 and Lightroom 6. Under these more rigorous conditions, the 35-100 was not quite up to the best M4/3 prime lenses, but still acceptable at f/5.6 with some judicious DXO pre-processing.

    It’s an excellent travel lens, as well as a more than adequate all-around M4/3 telephoto.

  3. John R. Parks

    I’m considering this lens (the Pan. 35-100 f/4-5.6 OIS) for use on an Olympus E-M10 II, but what about the OIS? There’s no switch. Do I have to turn the camera’s image stabilization off to use it? And how would the AF work with the E-M10? Would I have to alter the camera menu setting for that?

    Thanks,

    John~

    1. Jordan Steele

      The AF will work just fine. For IS, you can can choose in the camera to use either the IBIS or the OIS. By default it’ll shut off the OIS and use the IBIS (and I’d suggest leaving it that way…with most lenses, the Oly’s excellent IBIS is superior to the OIS on almost all Panasonic lenses. ) If you like, though, the setting is “Lens IS Priority,” and it’s the second to last item in the Gears->C menu. Set to Off to use IBIS and to On to use the lens OIS.

      On older Olympus bodies like the original E-M5 (and likely the original E-M10), you can’t use lens based IS at all…it just uses the IBIS.

      1. John R. Parks

        Thanks for your response to my question. I had decided on this lens over the Olympus 40-150 f/4-5.6 even though it costs more and does not have quite the reach, but I didn’t know how the Olympus body would handle that OIS. —John~

  4. Benoit

    Hello Jordan,

    I am actually working for french television as an assistant and we are making a 90 minutes documentary about Le puy du fou, a huge entertainment park in France. With my G7, I have a 25 mm and a 7.5 mm. Plus some old non stibilized Pentax telephotos (the result is shaky and unusable). I want to film spectacles with a telephoto (to follow actors in close up), so I would need some lenses like the 14-140 or the 35-100 f2.8. The problem is that some users refers to huge problems of jitters, shakiness, despite the image stabilization which make footage clearly unusable, even on a tripod… What is about the 35-100 f4 when filming at 100 mm on a good Fluid head tripod while slowly panning and tilting ?

    Thank you in advance for your answer, and thanks for your blog,

    Benoit

    1. Jordan Steele

      I’m really not the person to ask. I shoot so little video that I really can’t give advice on how certain lenses perform in video in certain situations…simply not enough experience there. I shoot 99.9% stills.

    2. ukeolo

      Hello, I just received a brand new 35-100 f4-5.6 and I am sad to report that my copy shows this strange behaviour… I would describe it as ‘hiccup’ when the stabiliser is turned on in camera (gm1)… video are ok, and I think also stills are ok, but during live view this is really annoying.. any solution? the lens firmware is updated.. too bad..

  5. sakis doumas

    Hello,nice review,do you recommend this lens or the 45-150 as a first zoom lens for gx80?
    I can find this lens bulk cheaper than the 45-150..
    Thank you

  6. Moreno Tagliapietra

    Hi, when I want to travel light, I use the lens combination mentioned in this review – Olympus 9-18mm, Panasonic pancake zoom 12-32mm and 35-100mm f/4-5.6 on two OMD bodies. It’s an extremely small and lightweight system that, with proper shooting and processing, allows me to print enlargements up to 24×36″ with my own Epson printers (I sell my prints as a part-tine fine art pro). I love my M43 pro lenses but this combination is the most fun and comfortable with which to work.

  7. Pavel

    I really enjoy the approach you take towards lens and body reviews. The real world approach, is what makes the most sense in the field, not charts and myopic specs, and it’s a refreshing, practical angle.

    What I get the most, however, is that you are a photographer with a unique eye, and more talent than most photographers who lean towards testing ever, have or hope to one day have. You really are very, very talented and have a way of making the every-day, mundane details of one’s surroundings look interesting. Perhaps you should consider putting many of your images up for sale.

    1. Jordan Steele

      Thanks! I do sell prints of my images, though I haven’t built an online storefront or anything. I generally sell between 10 and 20 prints each year. (not because of limitation, but because that’s how often people ask to buy one).

      If you’re interested in purchasing any image, just drop me a line and I can have a print shipped.

  8. bryanjames

    I got this lens for 120euros as a backup. never really used it. stumbled across this review and I relaly love the results. will try it out next weekend

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